My studies at Thorneloe College have now taken me to an eerie but fascinating area, that of the supernatural or ‘Paranormal’.
From one point of view all Bible history is a chronicle of paranormal experiences. They can be interpreted as the intervention of God in human history since the beginning of time, in establishing “the kingdom of heaven upon earth:. Over and over again, the process has been interrupted by humans abusing the freewill given them, with consequences of war, injustice and suffering for innocent and guilty alike, but it has always continued.
Paranormal phenomena, however, have not been confined to the Jewish nation or to the Christian church. Viewed from one angle, the whole of the animal creation, with the remarkable sophistication of instincts and abilities of even very primitive creatures, appears supernatural. Aboriginals have a highly developed sense of the sacredness of the earth and of sacred spaces. Shamans exhibit remarkable powers of communication and of healing. Yogis, Tibetan Lamas, Indian Fakirs and Chinese Acupuncturists, even English Kings and Roman Emperors, have records of unusual healings, often connected with ecstasy, hypnosis and faith. And so on.
Within the Christian tradition, the Gospel writers give us a picture of Jesus attracting immense crowds wherever he went because of his powers of healing. He promised that his own followers would be able to perform even “greater works”, “because I go to the Father”. Saint Peter, who briefly walked on water at Jesus’s invitation during Gospel times, had healing power and twice escaped from jail under most mysterious conditions after Pentecost. St. Paul is recorded as being an instrument of miraculous healing. Shrines such as that at Lourdes or the tomb of the Jansenist Abbe Paris became centres of healing and remarkable and well authenticated spiritual phenomena. In modern times, Edgar Cayce conducted a remarkable ministry of healing with the help of a spirit guide. Gary Craig’s Emotional Freedom procedure has proved an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, curing within days conditions that had defied conventional treatment for years.
This being the case, it seems a great pity that, ever since the Reformation and the Enlightenment of the seventeenth century, mainline churches have become shy in displaying the powers that the Gospels promised would be theirs. Such a religion so easily degenerates into a cosy social organization of rituals and rules, without the spiritual powers, particularly those of healing, exhibited in other times and places. St. Paul calls this “Having the form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.”
William Tiller, a professor of engineering at Stanford University in California, has spent many years outside his regular academic duties researching the ability of humans to influence physical processes through the deliberate exercise of intention—in religious terms, exploring the power of prayer. More than that, he has made ‘Intention imprinted electric devices’ through which this intention can be stored for continued use. With these he has been able either to increase or to decrease the alkalinity of water, to increase the speed of development of enzymes and fruit flies, to communicate from one experimental device to another, and over time, to develop increasing sensitivity in particular persons and places to the power of intention, thus paralleling the Christian experience of sacred spaces of unusual power, and the secular world’s experience of locations said to be haunted by ghosts.
His theory behind these phenomena is that our physical universe of time and three dimensions of space is limited by a ‘speed of light’ barrier, rather similar to the sound barrier that once limited the speed at which aircraft could fly. However, beyond the speed of light, a second universe exists that is indirectly connected with the physical universe we know, and is accessible and moldable by human consciousness.
Tiller’s books—“Science and Human Transformation”, and “Conscious Acts of Creation” outline his approach and findings in extreme detail. One hopes that in his writings, the groundwork has been laid for a study acceptable to the scientific community of phenomena that religious people have experienced over many, many years—and that the religious community will be itself reinforced in its faith that indeed there is a world that lies beyond the material one in which we are currently imprisoned, and we all have a power and a place to enter it through intentional prayer.