The Paranormal Conspiracy

I’m happy to be able to participate in the Patheos Book Club about Timothy Dailey’s book, The Paranormal Conspiracy: The Truth about Ghosts, Aliens and Mysterious Beings.

A quote on the front cover describes the book as a mix between Mythbusters and Frank Peretti. In reading the book, I saw plenty of the latter, but nothing whatsoever of the former.

The book surveys a range of unusual phenomena old and new, from purported reincarnations to UFOs to the Cicada 3301 cryptography puzzle.

Dailey’s view is that all of these things are the work of demons, and that this is how to best explain the apparent reality of the phenomena, combined with evidence of unreality and the frustrating lack of clear evidence.

From my perspective, Dailey isn’t being nearly skeptical enough. But I think it is easy to see why. If alien abductions and lost cities and spiritualism can be merely human deceptions, or perhaps genuinely sincere human beliefs which involve self-deception, then that would leave the purported supernatural elements and experiences in Dailey’s own religious tradition open to the same criticisms and challenges.

It is much safer to say that other religions and spiritual claims involve real experiences of the supernatural but which have a diabolical origin, than to say that those who have such experiences may simply be wrong, as that has the corollary that I too might have had spiritual experiences and yet be wrong.

And so the book is an expression of the conservative Christian desire for certainty and for matters to be clear-cut, black and white.

And so I can certainly recommend reflecting on the kinds of purported phenomena that Dailey surveys in his book. But I cannot recommend responding to those phenomena in the way Dailey does. Other than the purported combination of evidence of reality and lack of evidence, the existence of demons and their involvement in these phenomena is not something that Dailey demonstrates, but merely something that he assumes. And there is no need to read an approximately 200-page book in order to learn that someone asserts that these things have a demonic origin.

Not aliens, demons

 

 

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  • Phil Ledgerwood

    Well, “E.T. phone home” is an anagram for “The Omen: Hope!” Obviously a plea for the birth of the antichrist child. It’s also an anagram for “Thee, hop on me!” which is probably an ancient rap lyric of some kind.

    Seriously, though, if someone instead suggested that paranormal events were all evidence of angelic activity and cited some of the trippier things in Ezekiel as proof texts, how would such a debate even proceed?

    • David Evans

      One consideration would be that the alleged spirits contacted by mediums are often found to be lying. That would be expected behavior for demons but not for angels.

      • Phil Ledgerwood

        Sure they do. 1 Kings 22:19-23

        • David Evans

          True, but that was in the old days when God approved of genocide and slavery. I’m sure angels are better behaved now.

  • Perfect assessment!

  • Jonathan Bernier

    Does anyone know in what (and from where) he has his Ph.D? Because last time I heard “Demons did it” is generally not considered state of the art in any academic field.

  • arcseconds

    I don’t doubt that many of the people claim to have had these sorts of experience really have had the experience, even if it isn’t veridical. So ‘self-deception’ doesn’t sound quite right, at least for some instances. They’re not deceived about the experience (they really did have the experience of their dead family members in a tunnel of light or whatever), what they’re doing is rejecting the explanation that it’s a malfunction of their brain, or something.

    Rejecting an explanation that’s being imposed on you from outside isn’t self-deception. In fact, it might be better called ‘self-definition’, and in other cases where we don’t agree with the external explanation either, we would say it’s exactly that.

    • Phil Ledgerwood

      That’s a good point. There’s a difference between lying and being wrong.

      I generally think of self-deception as what people do when confronted with something they suspect is true but cannot accept.

  • There are similarities here to the First Apology of Justin Martyr who explains away all mythologies and supernatural tales that compete with Christianity, by saying that they are produced by demons – even arguing that the demons had some shadowy foreknowledge of Christ and were able to spread mythologies about resurrections, healings, ascensions, etc. long before Christ was born, just to distract from the true story.

    Among other references, see his chapter 54:

    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0126.htm