Saturday, July 11, 2015

Is spirituality real?

I'm listening to a series of lectures on cds. They're all about skepticism (in a scientific sense). It's all about debunking spiritual "myths," conspiracy theories, clairvoyance and prophetic dreams. That sort of thing. It's fascinating really. The speaker gets into the difference between gender beliefs, social class, intelligence and how they influence what we believe. In a short form he says a skeptic is from Missouri, aka the "show me" state. A skeptic, he says, will believe anything as long as he is shown rational proof of its existence.

It's all very appealing. As I continued to listen I thought, "Yeah, that's me. I don't fall for all the spiritual hype out there." And really who would?

But is that the truth? Is spirituality a hoax? Is it simply explained by statistical analysis? (The author gets into prophetic dreams. How there are so many dreams that we dream that simple statistical chance explains many of them being prophetic.)

Well, don't get me wrong—I am a rationalist. I think reason is a necessary (and excellent) tool for living. But I also believe in spirituality.


Because of my experience. I believe every once in a while (and maybe it's all the time and I'm just not able to perceive it on a regular basis) God anoints my life, directs it so it flows with a grace and effectiveness that tremendously exceeds my natural ability. It's amazing really and the times I'm aware of it I'm so very grateful for it.

A brief example. I am a lousy golfer. But I love this little 9-hole golf course by my apartment called Falling Squirrel. Well, alas, corporate development swallowed up Falling Squirrel and it just closed not even a week ago.

A good friend and I had made plans to play the last day it was open. But the weather was turbulent, the clouds coal-black and a mass of rain was on the radar screen heading right for Falling Squirrel. It was such a shame that we wouldn't be able to play the course one last time (and say goodbye).

Well, it rained for only about ten minutes and then the sun came out! (On the radar the mass of rain that was headed our way just kept disappearing as it got near!) We were able to play the course.

When we got there, the course superintendent warned that the mosquitoes were bad. My friend and I discussed getting a cart (we usually walk) and the course superintendent said, "Hey, it's the last day. The cart's on me."

So off we drove and we had so much fun playing the course. And I (remember I am a lousy golfer) was playing with nearly supernatural skill. (I birdied the second to last hole and parred the very last—and very difficult—hole.)

As we stood on the last hole finishing up (the black clouds were encroaching), the first rain drop hit the bill of my hat. We hustled to my car and a deluge ensued.

The timing. The friendship. The weather. The new-found skill. Everything came together to make for a remarkable good time and for a satisfying goodbye to the course we both loved so much.

Could such good fortune be explained by statistical odds? Maybe. A meteorological quirk, fronts colliding? Yeah, it could. Could the improvement in my golf game have come from the practicing I'd done? Yes.

But I'm telling you I knew in my bones that it was more than any of that. I could just feel it. Everything we did that day had the touch of the magical. Had the touch of God's grace. His anointing.

So, there you have it. Can I prove that spirituality is real? Absolutely not. I'm just grateful to have experienced it that day and look forward to experiencing it more and more.


  1. Now you know why it's impossible to shake the beliefs of non-sceptics. They feel the truth of their beliefs, and that's far more convincing than mere reason.-)

    That's why the primary tenet of my religion is doubt.

    Congratulations on striking it so lucky that day. Too bad it didn't work with the most important thing: the destruction of the course.


  2. Thanks rjb.

    Isn't it possible to have belief and reason simultaneously?

    Most non-sceptics run from doubt. I think doubt is healthy for belief. What good is a belief that can't stand up to the light of reason?

    1. Bullet form. What I can remember.

      Ultimately, belief chooses faith over reason.
      Believers fear doubt - see it as failure.
      If encouraged to doubt, suspect evil.

      I'm sure it was more eloquent the first time.-)


  3. 'Thanks rjb.

    That's an interesting take on doubt. I'll have to ponder that for a while.

    I don't see how faith can not have some element of doubt involved since it's faith and not apprehension. But yeah, it freaks out a lot of believers.

    Personally I think surviving doubts makes your faith grow stronger.

  4. This is not as you meant it, but it has been shown that it does make a believer's faith stronger. They've found that believers in conspiracies profess even stronger faith after being shown incontrovertibly that it is false.

    These are probably the same people who think science is "just a belief system." Meaning, I guess, that scientists are just as bad as they are, so there.-)


  5. How about when people of faith posit faith as a like concept with reason? And they say that unbelievers are unreasonable to equate faith and reason as an 'apples and apples' proposition, as opposed to an 'apples and oranges' one. I always found that laughable and disingenuous (at best). It was like they were trying to use reason's legitimacy to assert faith.

  6. I find it exasperating. If they need to justify their beliefs by demonstrating how "reasonable" and/or "scientific" they are, then all they're doing is showing how inadequate they are. I don't care what people believe. They should feel free to believe whatever they want. I'm a little less sanguine when I see them trying to recruit others to believe along with them. I lose all patience when they insist that their beliefs should have a tangible effect on the rest of the world.

    How about this one? If we don't admit that their beliefs are true, then we're not open-minded enough. In reality, they're not open-minded enough to consider the possibility that they're wrong.


  7. I don't know if I would go so far as to say they are inadequate when they're doing that, I would just say it's a cheap tactic that is easily seen through. It would be as if the scientists asked people to take their word for things on faith.

    Gotta agree with that last point of yours.


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