Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Fanastic

Re-Posted from "Meditations of a Charismatic Calvinist Who Does Not Speak in Tongues"

How should a Christian deal with the various claims of fantastic things in the world? These could include such things as UFOs, ghosts, Bigfoot, and the Loch Ness monster. How are we to explain them? Now for the Christian, there are certain things that can be eliminated as contrary to Christian teaching; (ghosts conflict with the Biblical picture of the afterlife; see Hebrews 9:27; Luke 16:19-31). There may be others which have been given a pseudo-spiritual significance; (some beliefs in UFOs fall into this category). But we are still left with the question of what we think of these things.

We can dismiss them as simply mistakes. Someone saw a weather-balloon or an animal moving at a distance and mistook them for something else. This seems a little simplistic to me as an adequate explanation of all  sightings. Also, such a mistake is much easier to make if you already have an idea that these things exist. There is also the question of fraud. This undoubtedly also happens. There are people who will do things for notoriety or because they like a good story. However, those who see such things are frowned on as crackpots. While this may indeed be the explanation of a specific case, I question that everyone who claims to have seen such things can simply be written off as a fraud.

They could be a legitimate natural phenomenon. Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster could simply be unusual types of animals. (I do not believe Big Foot is the missing link, but it could be an unusual type of ape.) But the fact that the Loch Ness monster never seems to appear when the serious investigators are looking for him makes me cynical. As for UFOs, I tend to lean toward the Klass plasma hypothesis, which makes them a natural phenomena but not extraterrestrial. (This is, they are really an usual type of plasma which is produced under certain conditions, appearing as a large variously-shaped, bright object.) But some such explanation must be considered as a possibility.

Another possibility is that they might be demonic. If we live in a supernatural world, we should not be surprised if we encounter things of supernatural origin. Nor should we be surprised if demonic forces use natural phenomena or  impersonate things that do not exist to accomplish their purposes . While I think it is simplistic to assume all such phenomena are demonic, I think it is also simplistic not to consider the demonic as a possibility. Especially in the cases where there is a direction of worship or something that approximates worship, away from God to some other object. 

But in the end, each case has to be evaluated on its own merits. I think we should avoid the view that dismisses such things out of hand (often with the attitude that people are stupid) or immediately ascribes them all to the demonic. Let us carefully investigate before jumping to conclusions.

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