Thursday, 23 August 2012

Wild claims and healthy skepticism

Roger Olson wrote an excellent article encouraging Christians to be more sceptical at times. It is a hard balance, some are sceptical about everything, others buy every new claim and conspiracy theory. I think it fine to be open to the possibility of conspiracy so long one is able to be disabused of the idea. I think healthy scepticism need not be derided either. Possibly a slowness to come to firm conclusions when the is lack of data may be the best option.
I have long been of the opinion that Christians need to be led by their spiritual leaders into a default attitude of healthy skepticism regarding wild claims of supernatural occurrences. I think non-Christians also need to be educated to exercise a certain amount of common sense skepticism about things that seem blatantly doubtful such as alien abductions.
He discusses healings, cults and Satanism, and predominantly recovered memories of childhood abuse.
She revealed to me that under counseling she had recovered memories of being ritually abused as a child—by members of her church. I tried to suspend disbelief which is clearly what she wanted. But then she continued to tell me how, until recently, she had no memories of any of these events. Only under intense counseling by this man (an unlicensed, independent “pastoral counselor”) had she “recovered” these memories.

My skepticism began to kick in (which I did not show) as she continued her story. Gradually, over several months, she “remembered” more and more about the events. By the end, she had come to “remember” that the pastor and his wife, all the deacons and their wives, and even her parents were present at these Satanic ceremonies and participated in sexually, ritually abusing her and other children. Then she dropped the bomb. The whole town, including the mayor and every civic leader and business owner—hundreds of people—were involved in this intergenerational Satanic cult that encompassed the whole town and even the whole county.
I agree generally with the article so am reluctant to offer correction. However I think a couple of issues are worth noting.

The first is mentioned above: conspiracies are a possibility, though we probably shouldn't see them under every bush.

The second is that an explanation of phenomena is required. We may not know the explanation which is fine if we lack information. It may be that people are lying, or that they are convinced of a falsehood by another. Nevertheless demonic deception remains a possibility; whether confusing the mind, or deceptive appearances.

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