Monday, January 24, 2011

Desire to Believe

The Desire to Believe and the Way it Shapes Perception.
(Christians Don't Lie part 3)

In my article about Ghosts, I started with some personal experiences. Here I continue my thoughts on the topic, but will widen the perspective to include some related issues.

I had an interest in strange phenomena from my childhood. I think it started with UFOs. I grew up during the “space race” and like many young boys at the time I became fascinated with the space programme. Around the same time UFOs were getting a lot of publicity with many parts of England experiencing a “UFO flap”.

Somewhere along the way my interest broadened to include other unexplained things. It was an interest I kept well into adulthood and I read a great deal over the years about UFOs, the Bermuda Triangle, ghosts, and anything else that defied rational explanation. I strongly believed there was something beyond our everyday world and I was so willing to believe that I never considered that any of the things I read might be less than truthful. Why would anyone make these things up? I was beyond trusting, I was totally gullible. I believed some of the wildest claims.

Even after becoming a Christian in my teens I managed to keep one foot in each camp – without seeing any contradiction between the two. Somehow I kept things separated in my mind. My main concession was to attribute experiences of ghosts, aliens and other aspects of “the unexplained” to demonic activity. That conclusion was even supported by some UFO writers who didn’t have a Christian bias. Jacques Vallee, John Keel and Whitley Streiber all made comparisons between UFO activity and folkloric accounts of demons – suggesting that UFOs were a modern day way of interpreting what previous generations had seen as spiritual entities: fairies demons, angels etc.

Those non-religious writers confirmed my own conclusions. But they were conclusions based on the assumption that the reports of experiences were trustworthy. Here I would like to stress an important point. Note the change in emphasis at the beginning of this paragraph, from “experiences” to “reports of experiences”.

My own understanding began to change slowly. Perhaps this started with my personal UFO encounter.
One morning I was driving to work. The road followed the shores of a lake so there was a clear view across the water with an open unobstructed sky. I saw something above me, coming across from the lake. I glanced up and saw it was a very strange, clearly mechanical object. It had a narrow, elongated hourglass-like shape. After my brief sight of the object I turned my attention back to the road and then looked up again for a second look. This time everything became clear. The object turned and revealed itself to be a common light plane. My initial view of it had been from an unusual angle and my mind hadn’t correctly processed what I saw.

This experience reminded me of a UFO report I’d read a few years earlier. I think it came from a book called The Flying Saucerers by Arthur Shuttlewood. Shuttlewood was a prominent figure in the 1960s UFO “flap” that helped spark my childhood interest. In that book he wrote of an experience where a UFO approached him, changed into a plane when it was overhead, and then after passing turned back into a UFO. I think the similarity to my experience is easy to see – the big difference being the degree to which each observer (myself/Shuttlewood) was willing to continue believing an extraordinary conclusion even when faced with clear evidence for a very ordinary explanation.
I can only wonder what the results of my own experience may have been if I hadn’t taken that second look to see that the object was only a plane, if that first glimpse had remained as the only “fact” to build my conclusions upon.

Around the same time as my “UFO” experience, I was introduced to a new concept related to UFOs, one that I didn’t come to understand until many years later. I had written to a well known British UFO expert and had mentioned a series of iconic UFO sightings. In her reply she referred to those sightings as mostly “media hype”, it was a concept that I later realised could be extended to other reported experiences of anomalous phenomena. And I had to consider the extent of which our knowledge and understanding of those phenomena is totally dependant on the quality and veracity of the information we receive.

Another eye-opening encounter I had was with the writings of Jim Schnabel. His book Round in Circles rescued me from any remaining gullibility. The book was about crop circles, but instead of merely investigating the circles himself, he also spent time with the major players in crop circle research – the ones who provide US with the reports about all of the various formations found (mainly) around southern England. He clearly showed how public understanding of the crop circles was formed by the information being fed to them by investigators who were often far from objective in their reporting. Schnabel gave the example of a crude circle he had personally created being announced as “genuine” – even though his own muddy footprints were clearly evident across the circle
Not surprisingly Schnabel was accused of being an agent of CIA disinformation by those who refused to be swayed from their belief.

Basically, people believe what they want to believe. They are not swayed by evidence. They do not even consider evidence. They will merely collect and refer to stories that seemingly support what they believe, no matter how dubious those accounts may be. And Christians aren’t immune to this. We are often too quick to swallow the same kind of stories, but instead of seeing spirits of the dead, or alien spacecraft we interpret these things as demonic manifestations. Effectively we give “credit” to demons when in most cases credit is definitely not due.
Before we think of attributing a reported experience to demonic manifestation, we should be certain that the experience was a reality and not a misperception, a misunderstanding or even a lie. Through being too credulous in accepting everything as valid, we can effectively undermine the evidence and acceptance of those experiences that ARE genuine.


Onesimus said...

See also:

UnprofitableServant said...

Hi Brother,

Well, we know from the scriptures that satan is the father of lies and that being the case, anything, anyone and anything that denies Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:11, 1 Corinthians 12:3), come in the flesh (1 John 4:2) and the Son of God (1 John 4:15) is not of God.

I saw a special with Dave Hunt in which new age people who claim to have been visited and spoken to by so-called aliens were told by said "aliens" that Jesus wasn't God or the Messiah.

There is no question in my mind that these people were visited by demons pretending to be aliens.

I have done extensive research into so-called unexplained phenomena simply to prove them wrong and God right.

Much like Irenaeus filled volumes with refutations against the gnostic heresies of his day.

God Bless Brother

UnprofitableServant said...

And BTW, that Dave Hunt special I watched had these new age people on camera stating these false claims about Jesus.

I'm going to call the local sister whose home I watched it at and get the name of it for you.

I believe it's available on YouTube.

Onesimus said...

I have no doubt that some alleged alien contacts are genuine contacts with demons.

However from over 40 years of interest in these things I have found that the majority of extreme claims are hoaxes/lies which people pass on from person to person until they take on a life of their own.

Those promoting an antichristian message often have their own agenda which they try to support by an appeal to some kind of superior beings, knowing the reference to "aliens" will give their word added "authority" among their intended audience.

One of the very first and most famous "contactees" was George Adamski - I found out in the last couple of days that he was a theosophist and the teachings he attributed to his space brothers were the theosophist teachings he already believed prior to his alleged extra-terrestrial encounters.

UnprofitableServant said...

Hi Onesimus,

OK, she sent me the movie name.

It's called "Megiddo 2" and the clip in question starts at part 6.

I do have to say I found it very disturbing as the people in the clip are channeling demons on camera.

So disturbing was it that I had to leave the room several times.

I've watched short clips of the Toronto madness and Todd Bentley and my reaction was the same. RUN!!

So keep that in mind.

You may want to pray beforehand.

God Bless you.

Onesimus said...

One of the better books I've read on things like "channelling" was called Hungry Ghosts.

It is NOT a Christian book - it was written by someone who got involved with the spirit-world and later came to recognise the evil nature of what he was involved with.

Unfortunately the author didn't turn to Jesus and I heard he committed suicide.

Yes there is a genuine demonic element to a lot of this stuff. The important thing is NOT to assume that all of it is literal demonic activity - there are other things at play as mentioned in my article, and those other things can be USED by satan through disinformation.

He doesn't need to appear as an alien as long as he can make people believe that an alien has been encountered through hoaxes, lies or similar means.

He's just as happy to have someone PRETENDING to channel a spirit as he is with someone genuinely channelling a spirit - as long as people are believing the lies being "channelled".

Anonymous said...

Very ineteresting article and comments. I agree many times UFO encounters are our imaginations playing tricks on us and that there is a demonic element. Here in the states we have a lot of myths concerning Roswell, the UFO and alien Mecca, and about alien abductions. Those accounts I believe lie more of the demonic side. We do need to be very careful about what we believe.

UnprofitableServant said...

Hi Brother,

I hear you. I do.

My burden with all this is that being I've studied this stuff so extensively, I'm called on by brethren frequently to help overthrow the lies of the enemy and to debunk stuff like "UFO's"..

Just yesterday, a sister asked me to send her some info on the connection between demons and aliens because her daughters boyfriend watched a program on the "History Channel" about UFO's that twisted scripture and now he is confused..

Looking into this information can be very vexing at times but if I can help someone throw off delusions and see the truth, it's worth it.

To see someone cast off the kingdom of darkness and enter the kingdom of God's Son is the biggest reward we can possibly see this side of eternity.

Colossians 1:13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,

God Bless

Onesimus said...

Hi Godthinker,

I became convinced that "alien abductions" were demonic encounters. Then I read another book by Jim Schabel called "Dark White" in which he spent time with the most prominent researchers of "abductions".

Again, he showed how their personal interests and beliefs affected their methods of acquiring evidence and also the way they applied the evidence they collected.

Once again we should not base our own assumptions on highly questionable evidence.

Yes, if the evidence was reliable I would see only one valid explanation for the "abductions" and that would be demonic manifestation. However we should be very cautious about accepting the validity of evidence collected through highly flawed means.

The majority of abduction claims have been collected through hypnotism - a highly questionable and not well accepted means of retrieving memories. That method is prone to CREATING memories rather than retrieving them.

I came to this subject as a one time total believer in alien contact. On becoming a Christian I still accepted that the stories were true but adapted my understanding to recognise a demonic rather than alien source.

In more recent years I have realised that the evidence itself is highly questionable.

I don't discount everything, and I still believe there is a demonic aspect - but I see the majority of demonic involvement is centred on perpetuating lies based on evidence that is itself a lie.

Onesimus said...

G'Day Unprofitable Servant,
I have not published your last comment because of the youtube link.
As you said you were reluctant to pass it on to another fellow believer because of the info about a pretrib rapture.

I have to say I have strong doubts about the reliability of the content of the clip regarding the poster's claim to have taken video of aliens/demons (now destroyed of course).

I found the poster presented a fear-full superstitious view of the demonic and coupled that with some doubtful theology regarding the "rapture" (allegedly received direct from God).

The only thing I could agree with from the clip was the truth that Jesus is the only way to God.