Do you believe in Supernatural Phenomena?

Supernatural Phenomena
Hearing about supernatural phenomena or so called paranormal phenomena can be captivating. The idea that there are sentient entities, other than what are known to humans, that cause things to go bump in the night is both enthralling and disturbing and we, as curious beings, are naturally drawn to them. But the world is divided on exactly what causes these phenomena. Some people dismiss them as mistaken identities and others attribute them to beings unknown to humans. The latter group places faith in the unknown and accepts occurrences without explanation, similar to religious faith. Therefore a logical hypothesis would be that people who believe in the supernatural tend to be more religious.

The definition of supernatural, or paranormal, activity is an event or perception without scientific explanation, such as alien abductions; real ghost sightings; disembodied voices; and extrasensory perception. When comparing the supernatural and religion to one another, there is a lot of overlap. If a person believes that an apparition, for example, is not caused by a known force but rather is the ghost of former person, then he or she accepts this without any scientific explanation. The same can be seen in religion: in the Christian faith, for example, it is believed that once a human dies, his soul travels into the afterlife. Neither of these beliefs can be backed up by any science and therefore people accept this based on faith. If religious people are already faithful, it is likely they would accept other strange occurrences without explanation as well.

Frank Borzellieri, writer for Skeptic magazine, conducted a study to test exactly that. He created a 43-question, online survey asking questions that related to the participant's religious beliefs and their personal opinion on the supposed alien landing in 1947 in Roswell, New Mexico. The key question he posed was, Do you believe in the two major contentions that define the Roswell incident that extraterrestrials landed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, and that the government covered it up? The results, based on the responses of 1,066 participants, showed that the strongest correlations were Atheists, of which 55.1% did not believe extraterrestrials landed in Roswell, and the Somewhat Religious, of which 34.8 % did believe aliens crashed in New Mexico. A second statistic, evaluating which specific religious groups tended to be believe in this event, showed that the largest group, of which 47.8% believed in Roswell, were spiritual, but were not part of a specific religion.

The evidence supports the hypothesis that people who are already faithful, however not strictly religious, are more open to accepting other inexplicable phenomena. The factors that cause people to accept the supernatural range from previously held beliefs, to environmental factors, such as stress prompting superstition, to a person's level of education. In a continued study of Borzellieri's, the researcher concluded that 42.3% of people without a college degree believed in Roswell, while only 23.9% people with a college degree believed it to be true.

The strongest correlation, however, remains with the religious. This acceptance without proof can be traced to the fact that neither traditional religion, nor paranormal activity can be proven by the scientific method. Therefore spiritual people are more willing to accept strange occurrences. But why is it that believers are mostly spiritual and not fundamentalist religious? The Discovery News article, Superstitious Beliefs Getting More Common, attributes this to spiritual people being more open to accepting the unknown, but not so rigid in their religious beliefs so as to reject the idea of supernatural phenomena.

It is true, people who believe in supernatural phenomena are more likely to be religious. However, in this context, religious is defined as open to spirituality and not fundamentalist believers. The evidence is correlational and shows that an open mind to religion is likely to mean an open mind to anything mysterious and inexplicable. Whether supernatural phenomena are caused by otherworldly beings or by natural laws of physics, the realm of the paranormal is vast and gripping, and deserves a second look from both believers and non-believers alike.

Written By: Kimeko Neil, United States

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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

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