Monday, March 30, 2009

Religious Ghosts

By Stephen Ellis

Nobody asked me, but…

One of the biggest problems in dealing with the paranormal is that a lot of people allow their religious beliefs to distort their reason and rationality. This is especially true among the more extreme followers of religion than it is of the mainstream who deem their religion to be beautiful, but not dogmatic. This is not confined to Judaism, Christianity, Islam or even Scientology. Accepting any religious dogma, without question, invariably tends to block rational thought.

Some very simple examples:

In Christianity (especially Catholicism) church members are asked to worship and show reverence to images of Jesus, Mary, St. Peter, St. Paul and several other disciples of Christ. In fact, no one has the slightest idea as to what any of these people even looked like. Artists did not even begin to paint their versions of what these people looked like until approximately 500 AD…five hundred years after their deaths. Yet newspapers are replete with people who claim to have seen images of these people in reflections, in ghosts, in apparitions, etc. Thousands of people will flock to the sites where these apparitions were seen and even worship the ground. If no one really knows what they looked like, how can anyone reasonably claim to have seen visions, ghosts or apparitions of their images?

Islam is no better: There have been thousands of claims by ultra religious Muslims that they have seen the ghost or image of the Archangel, Gabriel, and of their one Prophet, Muhammad. There have been numerous claims that their image(s) have been inscribed on rocks and stones, appeared as ghosts or in dreams, etc. Again, no one has any idea as to what these people actually looked like although a couple of artists’ impression of Muhammad were made during Muhammad’s lifetime, no two artists’ interpretation have given any consistency as to Muhammad’s appearance. Artists have painted the Archangel Gabriel, but since none of the artists had ever seen him, their artwork is pure guesswork. Speaking of images etched on stones, the foundation of Islamic beliefs is that a black stone, approximately 2 inches long by 3 inches wide, similar to millions of similar stones in the deserts of the Middle East, was a stone Ishmael (the founder of Islam) claimed was given to him by the Archangel Gabriel. The stone now rests in what is called the Kaaba, a huge black altar in Mecca (which non-Muslims are forbidden to visit). Ultra religious Muslims bow down…towards Mecca and this stone six times every day. Mecca also claims to have the original Qua’ran (Koran), written in Muhammad’s hand, preserved there. The only problem with this is that most historians have alleged that Muhammad was illiterate.

The Church of Scientology ghosts deserve a special word: The belief of religious Scientologists is that the Earth was inhabited by Alien beings from another planet somewhere in space and these same beings still exist through limitless reincarnation and are the controlling force in the minds of most people. These aliens cannot be seen or heard except through your mind. Actually, this sounds a little like the “aura” theory I have written about so often, but upon closer examination there are several basic differences to be discussed in a future blog. The Church of Scientology believes communication with these aliens is possible…if you donate all your worldly possessions to their church. Got a lot of money to give to the Church? You become a star member and can communicate with spirits of past lives. No money? You’re dog food. Did I mention that the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, was a science-fiction writer who had written and published several science-fiction books…including the cure-all for every problem in life called “Dianetics”?

Perhaps, because of all the horrors and persecution they have undergone, Jews don’t try to conjure up images of Gods or aliens. Ghosts among Jews always seem to be deceased family members with one noted exception: On the Jewish Passover, it is the tradition to open the door to your home so the Ghost of Elijah may enter the room and share in your feast.

Religious Jews, however, are extremely superstitious appear to have strong beliefs that if you violate the laws as written in their Talmud Torah, the Devil will take hold of your life. To prevent this from happening, Jews would traditionally sacrifice a goat or a lamb on an altar. The Talmud Torah is even more interesting: There were actually two Talmud Torahs written, each one quite different than the other. One was the Palestinian Talmud and one was the Babylonian Talmud. Inasmuch as Babylonia (aka: Babylon) was a much wealthier and powerful country than Palestine, the Babylonian Talmud became the accepted version. Yet Chasidic Jews will swear that if you violate one word of the Talmud you are violating the word of God. Doesn’t it seem inconsistent that God would write two completely different versions of a book, often contradicting Himself?

It’s not my position to challenge the beliefs you may have or to say that one religion is better than another. Whatever you choose to believe and whatever traditions you choose to follow, is a matter of your own choosing, your upbringing and the style of life you opt to lead.

The reason these religious paradoxes are set forth here is because they cloud what is becoming the reality of paranormal investigations: Numerous people have claimed “possession” or visitations by demons…usually with goat’s or ram’s horns sprouting from their heads who (allegedly) can only be separated from the possessed body by an exorcism. The fact is that these so-called “demons” were created in Dante’s “Divine Comedy” in 1310 AD where Dante also created images of Heaven and Hell and created a character we now call the Devil, Satan, Belzeboub or Lucifer. Although Satan or Belzeboub is mentioned briefly in some Apocryphal writings, what we now think of as the Devil and Demons and Hell was created in the mind of Dante in the fourteenth century AD.

There have been more than one hundred million claims of ghosts, spirits or hauntings throughout the world since Dante’s Divine Comedy. The type, shape and nature of these paranormal beings has changed with time. It is only within the past one hundred years that physical science and/or paranormal science has begun to document some of these claims and give them any genuine credibility. We have reached a point in time where It is now both reasonable and logical to say that there is “something” paranormal out there that science has failed to be able to explain.

Religion (when not fanatic) is a very good thing and has brought a lot of order and realistic values to a tempestuous world. But don’t let anyone convince you that you have to be Hindu in order to be reincarnated or Catholic in order to get into Heaven or Zoroastrian in order to have contact with the world “beyond”.

As I said…nobody asked me.

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