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Paranormal is an umbrella term that is used to describe a wide variety of reported anomalous phenomena, beyond the range of scientific or religious explanation. Although many of these are not truly matters of faith or spirituality, they are categorized here because they represent unproven or unprovable beliefs.

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Feature Article


When Does Paranormal Become Normal?


We use the word "paranormal" in reference to things that are outside the range of normal experience or scientific explanation. Its prefix (para) is derived from the Latin for "outside" or "against," so a paranormal experience is one that is outside the realm of scientific understanding.

Yet most, if not all, of what we now accept as scientific fact had its beginnings in a theory that was not fully understood or accepted by the scientific community.

Science has accomplished a great deal over the past five hundred years, and perhaps its most basic function is to investigate the natural world, and it might be argued that its area of service has recently expanded to include the universe.

Scientists have made some remarkable discoveries, and there are no doubt many more to be made, but there are probably also a lot things of that will never explained through science. It seems reasonable that there are truths about the natural world that cannot be discovered or proven through science. These areas, beyond the grasp of science, may well be the domain of the paranormal, and of religion.

The mention of religion introduces another uncomfortable question to the discussion. Generally, when we think about the paranormal, the things that come to mind include ghosts, UFOs, and people with psychic powers. Yet, regardless of the definition you use, couldn't religion be placed within the realm of the paranormal, as well? The nature of religion is that it is accepted on faith, after all.

The true atheist would probably have no trouble categorizing all of religion under the heading of the paranormal. Since most scientists are said to be atheists, this may well be the consensus of the scientific community. We are not likely to read such a declaration from the scientific community any time soon, however.

Scientists are funded, largely, by non-scientists and, at least in the United States, a large majority of the population believes in a deity, and they would not tolerate having their god lumped in with the likes of Bigfoot, little green men, or children who can bend spoons with their minds.

To the Christian, God is real, and the evidence of God can be seen all around us. This is true for adherents of other deistic religions, as well.

People generally equate the paranormal with beliefs that are held only by people who are either crazy or awfully naive. This may well be true of many paranormal experiences, but it is not necessarily true of all. It is possible that, with advances in scientific research, phenomena currently labeled as paranormal may become more understood, and accepted by the scientific community.

I am quite certain that the world was round, and that it revolved around the sun, long before the scientific community accepted these ideas, and I am equally certain that quarks existed before scientists were able to detect them.

It is also quite likely that species have existed before they were formally discovered by human beings, and that there are, indeed, species yet to be discovered or classified. Might one of these species be a vampire or a chupacabra?

Probably not, but it is almost certain that there will be discoveries equally remarkable.



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