Do you believe in Angels, Aliens, Demons, or Ghosts? What about the existence of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster? Learn how our cultural narrative affects our beliefs on paranormal and supernatural activity.
Lessons About Paranormal Activity
We take polls of those who attend our meetings. We do this to help determine their readiness to learn. We’ve found many people believe in the existence of Gods. A large proportion of those who believe in God also believes in Angels. But this belief does not correlate precisely with those who also believe in Demons or Ghosts.
Some people base their beliefs on their experience with supernatural or paranormal activity. Those with encounters with UFOs make up the largest portion. Those who experience other types of spirit apparitions are the second largest group. These people make their personal experience the crucial element of their belief system. We learned that their experience aligned with their beliefs before the encounter. Their experience validated what they already believed, which is an interesting finding.
The Continuum of Belief
Our studies show there isn’t a correlation between beliefs in Aliens and things like Bigfoot. Nor is there a correlation between those who believe in an imaginary friend like God and Aliens. Our research shows beliefs fall into four major groups.
1) Religious Superstition. This group believes in spirit entities like gods, angels, demons, and ghosts.
2) Aliens, UFOs, and Cryptozoology. The second group believes in Aliens, UFOs, and Cryptozoology. Cryptozoology is a pseudoscience that studies unproven living things.
3) Freethinkers or Truth-Seekers. This group aligns with scientifically verifiable things. They do not believe in spirit entities, aliens, or cryptozoological creatures.
4) Fringe Believers/Thinkers. These people share some elements of all four groups. As strange as this seems, there are several people in this group. They typically come from highly religious family backgrounds but have become fringe believers. They hold on to their religion to maintain family and social ties even when they do not believe the superstition behind the belief is real.
We care about what people believe because their beliefs shape their world. Their collective beliefs create a subculture. And subcultures are a barometer of the culture. During times of great stress, paranormal and supernatural occurrences increase.
During a pandemic, people report an increase in paranormal and supernatural activity. Perhaps there is more activity, but it’s more than likely a symptom of stress. Does the increase in stress enable us to see more activity? Or, do people fabricate the paranormal experience to take the mind off of what is causing the stress?
Personal Beliefs About Paranormal Activity
The line between religious superstition and pseudoscience is hazy. And some feel that angels and demons also fall into the category of pseudoscience. Aren’t spirits living things? What about you? Do you believe in both spirit entities, or just one? Do you believe in other spirits, like fairies? How do these differ from belief in other things like aliens, bigfoot, or the Loch Ness monster?
Many people believe in the existence of aliens and unidentified flying objects. What does the belief in Aliens have in common with the belief in spirit apparitions like angels and demons? On the surface, it would seem that they are two different things. If you look at the subculture terminology, you see it is merely different ways to describe and classify paranormal activity.
How we identify and categorize an experience depends upon our worldview or paradigm. Our worldview acts like a filter. It tells how to classify things we encounter. It’s essential to understand and these judgments are not reality. We label and categorize our perceptions on the boundaries of our worldview. We automatically filter the experience to fit in our worldview.
Our beliefs are often a reflection of a particular subculture. Each subculture has its cultural narrative, which becomes a significant part of our worldview. If we examine our beliefs, we can explore our cultural narrative’s various elements.
Paranormal Activity and The Cultural Narrative
There are two primary sources for our cultural narrative. These two sources are folklore and scientifically verifiable evidence. We learn to see the world through our dominant cultural narrative. Whatever dominates this programming will dictate our interpretation of experience.
1) Scientifically verifiable evidence is the first source of our opinion about reality. It comes from what we call scientifically sound sources such as archeology, astronomy, and biology. Science uses evidence and logical reasoning to develop theories that explain things. For example, science validated the theories of gravity from Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. New data enables researchers to revise their views.
2) Folklore is the second primary source of our beliefs about reality. Our beliefs about angels, aliens, demons, and other unknown apparitions come from a folklore subculture. It contains beliefs and stories that attempt to explain phenomena. These stories and beliefs come from mythologies and superstitions. This is where we get our ideas about spirit apparitions, angels, demons, etc.
The paranormal activity experience runs on a spectrum from folklore to scientific evidence. However, most incidents of unknown activity fall into the realm of folklore. When we can scientifically verify a phenomenon, it becomes factual, verifiable evidence.
For example, in the 1930s, there were reports of living prehistoric fish called the Coelacanth. Scientists considered these reports as unsubstantiated pseudoscience. The fossil record records placed them as extinct in the Late Cretaceous period 60 million years ago. Then fisherman off the coast of South Africa in 1938 brought in recently caught samples of this rare prehistoric relic. Many people are waiting for this discovery with bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. Until we have verifiable evidence, their existence remains folklore.
Facts can become part of folklore. This happens when the cultural narrative mixes superstitions with facts. The factual element adds validity to the substance of the superstition. Some ancient cultures used their knowledge of the sun’s eclipse to validate their mythology. An eclipse is a factual celestial event that can be tracked and predicted. Ancient calendars accurately predict when these events would occur. So, they combined their knowledge of these events with folklore. This gave them the power to use these events to manipulate.
So the experience of paranormal or supernatural events gets labeled depending upon our worldview. If we believe in angels or other spirit apparitions, we will see them when encountering unknown phenomena. If you believe in UFOs, then the same light becomes an alien spacecraft. Both interpretations of the phenomena are accurate in the eyes of the beholder. But neither could be correct.
These two elements become traditions that shape our cultural narrative. There is tension between these two opposing sources. The values of these superstitions are often illogical and promote bias and prejudice. For instance, the belief that a black cat crossing your path brings bad luck is a superstition. In turn, this superstition becomes the justification for killing black cats.
A freethinker is someone who understands their cultural narrative. They care about the difference between folklore and facts. This distinction helps them see beyond the bias and prejudice of folklore and superstition. Understanding the source of our beliefs allows us to examine them and decide whether they make sense. Let’s look at an example.
Beliefs in Angels, Aliens, and Demons
We can trace the origins of these spirit apparitions to earlier religions. Our modern belief systems come from Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, and Assyrian mystery religions. These mythologies became the Abrahamic religions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. The Abrahamic sects are rebranding these mythologies. They adopted all the traditions and symbolism of these superstitions. This is one of the largest rebranding efforts in history.
These ancient mythologies have no basis in fact. The collection of texts often used to substantiate their divine origins has long been discounted. The Rosetta stones discovered in Egypt in 1799 enabled us to decipher Akkadian and Sumerian cuneiform languages. By the 1850s, the mythology behind the Abrahamic religions was known. This revelation was not discounted but explained away as follows:
“Symbolism in a greater or lesser degree is essential to every kind of external worship, and we need not shrink from the conclusion that in the matter of baptisms and washings, of genuflection’s and other acts of reverence, of lights and sweet smelling incense, of flowers and white vestitures, of spiritual unction’s and the imposing of hands, of sacrifice and the rite of the Communion banquet, the Church has borrowed without hesitation from the common stock of significant actions known to all periods and to all nations. In such matters as these, Christianity claims no monopoly or originality.” ― The Catholic Encyclopedia and International Work, Vol. 14 (1907).
“Angel, from the root meaning, one sent: messenger. The Hebrew word used to denote indifferently either divine or human messenger. The Septuagint renders it with both significations. The Latin version however distinguishes the divine spirit from the human… The Angels in the Bible generally appear in the role of God’s messengers to mankind… The Semitic belief in “genii” and in spirits which cause good or evil is well known… Good and Bad Angels. The distinction of good and bad angels constantly appears in the Bible, but it is instructive to note that there is no sign of dualism or conflict between two equal principles. The conflict depicted is rather that waged on earth between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the evil one, but the latter’s inferiority is always supposed.” ― The Catholic Encyclopedia and International Work, Vol. 14 (1907). (1)
The above quote shows that the concept of Angels pre-dates Christianity. They admit that Angels are but one classification of an apparition adopted from Semitic folklore (Genii and Spirits).
It also shows how they try to explain the obvious conflict of the two God system found in the mystery religions. The argument is that the lesser God is assumed to be inferior. However, he or she is not vanquished by the superior God. Angels as agents carry out both good and evil.
Interestingly, the Church talks about the Septuagint as a document that needs translating? The Church presents the Septuagint as their version of the Tanakh. But, the Septuagint is not a direct or accurate translation. It is a collection of works based on the Tanakh, with many additions and changes. The Septuagint contains entire chapters that are not in the Hebrew source text. It also omits complete sections. It mistranslates sections that tie and provide textual authority to the New Testament.
The Danger of Folklore
The danger of folklore is when it supersedes logic and science as a basis to establish public policy, laws, and regulations. When people place precedence on superstition over evidence, it is possible to maintain any paradox. Thus, it enables people to justify genocide, prejudice, and discrimination.
The downward spiral of negative magical thinking begins with the belief in spirit apparitions like God. Once you place belief in an imaginary friend over logic and rational thinking, then you can accept almost anything.
Your level of exposure to negative programming determines the level of indoctrination. The more you expose yourself, the more susceptible you are to the influence of those to control the programming.
Different Categories of Western Religion Devotees
We can divide those involved in organized religion into categories. These groups range from fringe believers to extremists. Each group is subject to varying degrees of activism. It depends on your exposure to their programming. Self-hypnosis and group hypnosis manipulation programming depend on continual indoctrination. The more you expose yourself to propaganda, the more susceptible you are to radical ideas and ideologies.
1) The fringe believer gives the outward appearance of allegiance to the religion. They attend meetings at special celebrations and festivals. These people are the most likely to have investigated their religion’s origins.
Family or cultural tradition holds the fringe believer captive to the belief system. However, they see inconsistencies. Unfortunately, they will go along with many of the negative social biases. They submit to the discriminatory practices even though they understand they are harmful.
People in this group one step away from becoming freethinkers. All it takes is someone to help them find a way out. A process like Comparative Analysis is one way. This investigative process is a structured way to examine concepts across different belief systems. This will help them leave behind negative stereotypes and prejudice thinking.
2) The moderate believer attends religious services regularly. They are aware of facts that contradict their beliefs, but they do not investigate them. These people often have family and business relationships intertwined with their religion. This cements the religious devotee to the cultural narrative. They are susceptible to extremist ideas and ideologies. This is because of their exposure to groupthink manipulation tactics.
This group is also apt to follow religious TV and radio programming. However, they can also be a real advocate for truth if you can turn their passion away from religious bigotry.
3) The hardline believer is the person who sees their religion as their identity. They attend more than one meeting a week and take advanced courses in the sect. Because of their passion and devotion to the cult, they become middle-management. They lead small groups and help enforce the boundaries of the belief system. As semi-leaders, they are influential in pushing extremist agenda items. They can use self-hypnosis and group hypnosis to affect the beliefs of others.
4) The extremist often becomes one of the sect’s key leaders or cult. They are always charismatic and know how to use groupthink manipulation tactics to their benefit. They seek ways to spark controversy, fear, and anger. They stroke strong emotional ties that motivate members to act on their behalf.
They typically attend several meetings a month. They also listen to radio and TV programs, which further reinforce this programming. Their religion becomes their identity.
The “need to believe” overrides any argument or fact that threatens their worldview, their religion programs them to reject any idea that threatens their worldview. You will waste your time trying to point out factual and logical errors. All this does is create conflict. There’s a better way to win them over.
“Religious people claim that it’s just the fundamentalists of each religion that cause problems. But, there’s got to be something wrong with the religion itself if those who strictly adhere to its most fundamental principles are violent bigots and sexists.” — David G. Mcafee
The reason you should learn about the beliefs of others is that subcultures can control the cultural narrative. Religious devotees are controlled by folklore, superstition, and their leaders. On the other hand, truth-seekers can sort out the facts from fiction. It gives them the ability to make decisions based on facts instead of folklore and superstition.
Is the experience of supernatural or paranormal phenomena real? The phenomena may be real, but how we see and label them will depend upon our worldview.
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(1) The Catholic Encyclopedia and International Work, Vol. 14 (1907)
(2) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia