Supernatural skeptics don’t know what they’re missing

I have frequently used Ouija boards and spirit boxes in my performances, attempting to conjure up the dead before a live audience.

I like Ouija boards. I’ve used them since I was a teenager.  More recently I’ve messed around with electric spirit boxes, also known as Frank’s boxes after their inventor Frank Sumption.  They’re radio receivers which allow you to listen to and record voices of the dead, also known as EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena) or Raudive voices, after one of their early discoverers.  Over the past two years I have frequently used Ouija boards and spirit boxes in my performance art, attempting to conjure up the dead as my co-stars before a live audience.  At one of the universities where I teach playwriting and screenwriting part-time I am also the faculty adviser for a student-led paranormal investigation club.  Friends and fans assume I am a true believer but the truth is that I am not.  I am a healthy skeptic.  And that’s depressing for me because it means that on some level I feel certain there’s nothing out there. I try contacting the spirit world before live audiences to keep an element of hope simmering on the back burner of my mind.

Given the many millions of religious folks in the world (surveys tell us time and again that the vast majority of us believe in an afterlife) I am not alone in my desire for proof of a promise made long ago.  I don’t want to be told it by a clergyman or a book or a website. I want to see it.  Because of the world’s overwhelming belief in an afterlife I am always amazed at the number of people who are absolutely petrified of Ouija boards. Shouldn’t we be elated when the pointer, properly called a planchette, moves and spells out things?  Shouldn’t we jump for joy when a spirit box calls out to us?  Instead we flee in terror at the most innocuous of communications.  I’m reminded of my good friend Steve who received a strict Catholic upbringing.  Once as a teenager he played around with a Ouija board and it spelled out his dog’s name: HOBO.  He ran shrieking from the room, convinced he’d made contact with the Devil himself.  Several years later he became a teacher in a Catholic high school. He laughs now when recalling that he used his experience as a way of convincing his young charges not to dabble with the supernatural.  “Mark my words, Ouija boards are evil. I once played with one and it spelled out my pet’s name.”  Cue The Exorcist theme song.

Psychologists tell us that what makes the planchette move on a Ouija board isn’t a ghost, angel or demon. The movements are caused by subconscious ideomotor impulses.  Let’s roll with that for a moment. If it’s true, I remain fascinated because it means the average human mind is far more perceptive and imaginative than we realize and perhaps even telepathic.  When two strangers sit at a Ouija board and it spells out detailed facts about a third party standing in the room with them, or creates a character with a full name, birth date, death date, personality, home, family and street address, fluency in a foreign language, science starts to seem but one more belief system with as many holes as any spiritual sideshow.

Thanks to all the ghost hunting shows the big craze for true believers these days is spirit boxes.  Imagine an AM/FM transistor radio stuck on permanent scan. Now imagine you can control the scan rate and that you set it to, say, 250 milliseconds, or 1/4 of a second.  It automatically scans through the dial, stopping not just on radio stations but on every frequency on the band, for 1/4 of a second, before skipping to the next frequency. 88.1, 88.2, 88.3… Most of these are static.  Every so often you get a blip of random audio as it scans past a broadcast.  You turn on a video or audio recorder to document your session.  You now ask a question into the air and await a response.  Sometimes the responses are immediate and crystal clear.  Others are difficult to understand beneath all the static and only come to light during amplified playback.  Some responses have to be slowed down and have their volume boosted to improve clarity.  In my experience, a five-minute recording might contain 20 or 30 audible “responses.”  Only about 10 of these will be easily understandable to the average listener.  So while the results are not as instantly gratifying or dramatic as using a Ouija board in front of an audience, the results after post-production can be quite stunning and difficult to explain away.

Skeptics will try, though. I chuckled when I first Googled “EVPs debunked” and read various naysayers’ biased conclusions. They generally start from their subjective presupposition that listening to the dead is impossible, then loop to their own self-gratifying conclusion that spirit boxes are indeed not receiving voices from the dead.  They postulate that the voices are entirely composed of snippets from radio stations or bleed-through from neighbors’ cell phones, neither of which they seem to have bothered to verify firsthand, and neither of which explain how a single voice could complete an entire sentence over a stretch of several quarter-second frequencies, or how these voices call out names of people in the room at that moment.

Next they’ll tell you that gullible spirit box users are simply victims of a psychological phenomenon called pareidolia, a fancy word for seeing faces in clouds.  In other words, with EVPs you’re only hearing what you want to hear.  If I was hearing what I’d want I’d be hearing Granny saying, “Hi, Jeff, it’s me, Orelia, and I’m fine. My emphysema’s cured and feel great.”  I’d hear Jesus Christ  telling me that I’m blessed and definitely going to Heaven.  I’d hear next week’s winning lottery numbers.  I have never heard any of these things. In fact I have sometimes heard things I do not want to hear, like “go to hell” or “leave us alone.”

The naysayers also have a habit of ruthlessly ridiculing true believers; so much for objectivity. When your only way to combat an idea you don’t like is to resort to sarcasm then you haven’t got a leg to stand on.  Many of them enjoy pointing out that if the dead really are able to speak to us they sure don’t have much wisdom to pass along to us if all they can do is call out names and random words.  Again these skeptics are arrogantly, and I might add lazily, drawing self-serving conclusions.  A little research would have pointed them to some pretty phenomenal ghost whisperers.  Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Merrill’s epic poem The Changing Light at Sandover was written over a period of many years via a homemade Ouija board that he used regularly with his partner David.  Rosemary Brown, a British housewife in the 1960s, regularly took dictation from, and performed original musical compositions by, the ghosts of Mozart, Bach, Beethoven and other dead composers.  Some of these original works were conducted by Leonard Bernstein for the BBC.  Brown always insisted she was not the writer of these works but merely their transmitter.   In the 19-teens a Ouija board spirit named Patience Worth dictated several novels and a number of poems to St. Louis neighbors Pearl Curran and Emily Hutchings. The ghostly Patience Worth’s works were published under her own name and well-reviewed in national publications.  Apparently the dead have plenty to share with us.  During my stage seances I usually make a point of asking spirits if they have any advice for us, the living.  The most memorable answer I have gotten to date came from the spirit box calling out to the audience in crystal clear voice, “have courage.”

The Tibetan Book of the Dead explains that after death some spirits become terrified and confused by the choices presented to them, and rather than transmigrating into their next incarnation they wind up hiding in forgotten, swirling eddies along the river of time. They are lonely, frightened, sad, happy, sarcastic, sincere, faithful, and sometimes angry.  This Tibetan view sits well with me. After years of contacting the dead (or subconscious ideomotor impulses depending on your beliefs) my own conclusion is that they — at least those who are in a place where they’re able to communicate with us — are pretty much like you and me.  There are nice ones, mean ones, sociable ones, loners, even ones who seem suspicious of me at first rather than the other way around.  Some know more than others but they are not omniscient.  You do get the occasional sarcastic or even hostile (note that I did not say evil) presence but that only spices up the show.  I have never felt a reason to fear them outright so let me say something loud and clear:  fear the living.  Ever been mugged by a ghost?  Ever been shot at by a ghost? Ever been conned out of your money by a demon or seen a ghost driving drunk the wrong way down the interstate killing an entire family in a minivan in the oncoming lane?  Right.  Fear the living and give the ghosts a break.

Indeed my audiences and I have had far more positive and uplifting experiences with the so-called dead than we have had terrifying or negative events but I am not here to convince you of my beliefs.  It’s Halloween time and I know why you’re reading this article.  You want to be spooked, so rather than sharing one of my heartwarming Ouija accounts I leave you with the following recollection from my teens that I often recount during my shows.  It’s autobiographical and happened in the presence of four other eyewitnesses. It’s the story of the New Year’s Eve when Jimi Hendrix’s ghost possessed a kitten and made it play a guitar, then set fire to a Christmas tree.

I was 19 and capping off my coming-of-age years in southwestern Virginia. It was the year before I moved to New York City to go to film school.  I was at my friend Robin’s New Year’s Eve party with a bunch of people. We were stoned and drunk and sitting around her candle-lit kitchen table in the dark.  The mood was right for the conversation to turn toward séances.  Someone said, too bad we don’t have a Ouija board.

Somehow, instinctively, I knew what to do!  I asked for a blank sheet of paper and Robin brought me one.  On it I wrote the letters A through Z, YES and NO and the numbers 1 through 10.   For a planchette we used–I had just the thing–a credit card.  Turned face down the raised letters gave it a very small surface area. One corner of the card we designated as the pointer. My friends Adam, Mary Etta, and Scott sat around it and each of them put just one finger gently on it.  I stood aside as the Questioner and said: ‘We come in a spirit of peace to make new friends.  Is there anybody out there who’d like to speak with us tonight?’  The planchette moved purposefully back and forth from A to Z, A to Z, over and over. I am the Alpha and the Omega. The first and the last. ”Oh really?” I asked.  “You’re Jesus Christ?” YES.

Now, I’ve been through this enough times to have learned a thing or two about spirits, or subconscious ideomotor impulses depending upon your beliefs. You throw open the door and they rush in like rioters raiding a dressing room, and they don whatever costumes they find there. Mark Twain. Jesus. Satan. You never know who you’re going to get when you open the Pandora’s Box that is your dreamworld. Do you think a Hindu gets Jesus and Satan and Mark Twain on the board?  They don’t. I’ve checked. The next question to ask the spirit is, ‘Where are you now?’  Nine times out of ten the answer I get is ZION. And they’re not talking about Israel.  They’re using an old Christian term for Heaven, borrowed of course from the Hebrew Bible.We’re marching to Zion, 
Beautiful, beautiful Zion; 

Marching upward to Zion, 

The beautiful city of God. 
So anyway the board’s really cookin’ now. I’d point to Scott and ask, “How old is Scott?” and the board would get it right.  “How old is Adam?” The board would get it right. Pretty soon we start getting bored with watching it guess ages so I up the ante and ask, “Are you in the room with us now?”  It moves to YES and starts coyly circling the word.

“Can you see us?”

YES

“Can you see our…underwear?”

YES

“Alright. I’m wearing white boxer shorts.  They have stripes. What color are the stripes?”

RED

I nearly faint. I pull up the waistband of my underwear to show everyone that my stripes are indeed red.  Everyone laughs. I point to Adam.  “What color underwear is Adam wearing?”

WHITE

Adam pulls up his waistband and sure enough he’s wearing your basic Fruit of the Looms.  Everybody laughs again.

“What color underwear is Mary Etta wearing?”

BLUE

She pulls up the waistband of her panties. Yep, they’re blue.

“What color is Scott’s underwear’?”

UGLY

“Ugly?”  Scott pulls up the waistband of his boxers and they’re black and orange plaid! Everybody howls with laughter. Our guards are down, we’re embracing the spirits. Inviting them inside…

Next Adam wants to talk to Jimi Hendrix.  Adam’s a guitar virtuoso. In fact his acoustic guitar’s right there on the floor sitting in its open case. He’d been playing it earlier. He and I had sung Blue Christmas, me doing my best Elvis impression.

I’ll have a blue Christmas without you
I’ll be so blue just thinking about you

Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree–

I didn’t know then that that line was a macabre foreshadowing. You’ll see what I mean. Adam asks the spirits if they can put Jimi on, and the board says YES. We change places. I sit down and touch the planchette now, and Adam stands and asks the questions.

“Is that you, Jimi?”

YES

He asks a few biographical questions. Sure enough the board gets them right.  Adam is amazed. I mean obscure questions like what year Jimi was born, what year certain albums came out, who sat in on certain sessions. Jimi’s getting every question right.    Then Adam drops the bomb.  “Jimi, can you play my guitar?”

We all fall silent.

YES

“All you have to do is pluck one of my guitar string, Jimi.  Can you do that?”

And the credit card starts circling YES. I mean with such force that it flies off the paper sometimes and we have to put it back on and touch it again, and it shoots back to YES and starts circling it, faster and faster in tight little loops.

We’re all chanting, “Yes, yes, yes, yes!”

And then, out of nowhere, I kid you not, Robin’s little black kitten comes running in from the darkened living room and makes a beeline for that guitar and starts smacking at one of the strings. Everybody freaked. Mary Etta’s running around flipping on all the lights and blowing out the candles.  Robin’s screaming at me going, “I hate you, Jeff Stanley. I was never scared of this house before and now you’ve made it haunted!”

And in the middle of that we smell something burning.  And we’re like, sniff sniff, what is that? It smells like a fireplace. Only Robin ain’t got no fireplace.  And we run and look in the living room and the freaking Christmas tree is on fire.  They had this red scented candle that had somehow been knocked over, and all of this molten red wax was dripping in a steady stream off the table onto the Christmas tree and setting it aflame. Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree.

We got it out, but after that I marched into that kitchen, balled up that sheet of paper and chucked it in the trash, vowing vowing never to play with homemade Ouija boards again.

From them on, strictly store bought.

Image courtesy of Chantel Beam Photography.

  • DanaB1

    ” a psychological phenomenon called pareidolia, a fancy word for seeing faces in clouds. In other words, with EVPs you’re only hearing what you want to hear.”

    No, that’s not what pareidolia means. It’s the human brain’s tendency to perceive patterns in random information; there’s no implication that the pattern your brain imposes is something positive or something you would be happy to see or hear, although if you have a predetermined pattern you *expect* to see or hear, I would suspect that’s what you’re more likely to see or hear. So in EVP, your mind hears the random bits of sound and interprets them in ways that make them turn into reasonably close actual comprehensible words so that your brain can make sense of them.

  • DanaB1

    ” a psychological phenomenon called pareidolia, a fancy word for seeing faces in clouds. In other words, with EVPs you’re only hearing what you want to hear.”

    No, that’s not what pareidolia means. It’s the human brain’s tendency to perceive patterns in random information; there’s no implication that the pattern your brain imposes is something positive or something you would be happy to see or hear, although if you have a predetermined pattern you *expect* to see or hear, I would suspect that’s what you’re more likely to see or hear. So in EVP, your mind hears the random bits of sound and interprets them in ways that make them turn into reasonably close actual comprehensible words so that your brain can make sense of them.

  • Rongoklunk

    Death is the end of the road. To deny it is nothing more than wishful thinking, as Carl Sagan used to say.
    So who you going to believe, Sagan or this superstitious fool?

  • Rongoklunk

    Death is the end of the road. To deny it is nothing more than wishful thinking, as Carl Sagan used to say.
    So who you going to believe, Sagan or this superstitious fool?

  • Joel Hardman

    I’ll give some credence to EVP when you can suggest to me how the dead give off electrical signals.

  • Joel Hardman

    I’ll give some credence to EVP when you can suggest to me how the dead give off electrical signals.

  • nkri401

    ““You’re Jesus Christ?” YES. ” Really? and then gets into the underwear?

    Couldn’t have asked when is his real birthday or something?

    There was a scene in superman movie about seeing the underwear of Lois.

    Seems like an adolescent fantasy.

  • nkri401

    ““You’re Jesus Christ?” YES. ” Really? and then gets into the underwear?

    Couldn’t have asked when is his real birthday or something?

    There was a scene in superman movie about seeing the underwear of Lois.

    Seems like an adolescent fantasy.

  • smt123

    Skepticism is not the boring, negative mindset of unimaginative people who are afraid to believe in ghosts. Skepticism is the the only honest and really courageous way to discover what is actually true in the universe. That truth has been shown to be more wonderful and incredible than any of the embarrassingly juvenile anecdotes in this piece of drivel.

  • smt123

    Skepticism is not the boring, negative mindset of unimaginative people who are afraid to believe in ghosts. Skepticism is the the only honest and really courageous way to discover what is actually true in the universe. That truth has been shown to be more wonderful and incredible than any of the embarrassingly juvenile anecdotes in this piece of drivel.

  • Sadetec

    The late great Carl Sagan’s excellent book “The Demon Haunted World” is a superb introduction to the scientific method for people not schooled in science. The book explains why scientific answers are not just opinions or beliefs, but testable statements about reality. It demonstrates the various procedures science uses to remove subjectivity from its claims, to better arrive at the real truth. Sagan equips the reader with critical thinking techniques that form a ‘baloney detection kit’ (as he calls it) to make the reader less gullible to pseudo-science claims. I wholeheartedly recommend Sagan’s book to anyone taken in by the claims of this article.

    Those who want to believe in pseudo-science will never accept the answers science presents them. They’ll either conveniently ignore the scientific tests that falsify their beliefs, and/or they’ll seek to denigrate science as just another subjective belief system — as if apples only fall from trees because Newton thought it was right that they should do so, and if humans just had enough faith that gravity isn’t real then we’d all be able to fly like Superman!

    The difference between the natural world and the supernatural world is simple: the supernatural world is what humans would LIKE to be true, while the natural world is what is ACTUALLY true. Scientists have a name for any supernatural or pseudo-science claim that can be proven through tests to actually be true: they call it “science”!

    Science doesn’t know everything, but EVERYTHING we know, we know through science. Science is the only tool we have for separating fact from fiction. If science doesn’t give you the answers you want, it is no doubt tempting to abandon science or to pretend your claims are beyond the reach of science; but be warned… once you let go of science, you lose any ability to separate reality from wishful thinking. Once you let go of science there is no minimum standard ideas have to achieve — ANYTHING becomes true..!

  • Sadetec

    The late great Carl Sagan’s excellent book “The Demon Haunted World” is a superb introduction to the scientific method for people not schooled in science. The book explains why scientific answers are not just opinions or beliefs, but testable statements about reality. It demonstrates the various procedures science uses to remove subjectivity from its claims, to better arrive at the real truth. Sagan equips the reader with critical thinking techniques that form a ‘baloney detection kit’ (as he calls it) to make the reader less gullible to pseudo-science claims. I wholeheartedly recommend Sagan’s book to anyone taken in by the claims of this article.

    Those who want to believe in pseudo-science will never accept the answers science presents them. They’ll either conveniently ignore the scientific tests that falsify their beliefs, and/or they’ll seek to denigrate science as just another subjective belief system — as if apples only fall from trees because Newton thought it was right that they should do so, and if humans just had enough faith that gravity isn’t real then we’d all be able to fly like Superman!

    The difference between the natural world and the supernatural world is simple: the supernatural world is what humans would LIKE to be true, while the natural world is what is ACTUALLY true. Scientists have a name for any supernatural or pseudo-science claim that can be proven through tests to actually be true: they call it “science”!

    Science doesn’t know everything, but EVERYTHING we know, we know through science. Science is the only tool we have for separating fact from fiction. If science doesn’t give you the answers you want, it is no doubt tempting to abandon science or to pretend your claims are beyond the reach of science; but be warned… once you let go of science, you lose any ability to separate reality from wishful thinking. Once you let go of science there is no minimum standard ideas have to achieve — ANYTHING becomes true..!

  • Sadetec

    Exactly. It is the same phenomena as when vinyl records are played backwards and ‘hidden’ lyrics are found.

    The brain works incredibly hard to fill in missing information and normalise unusual information based on past experience, so that the world it experiences around it makes sense. But this compensation happens subconsciously, so although we can prove it is happening through carefully crafted tests, an individual person doesn’t have concious access to the manipulations their own brain has done to translate incoming sounds into words.

    It is incredible that although ghost hunters claim to pick up the voices of long dead spirits, all ghosts always speak the same modern version of the same language as the ghost hunters. We never detect monks talking in Latin, for example. Or anyone talking in Shakespearian English, or with obsolete word pronunciations. The grammar and word semantics are always modern.

    The irony is that believers in the supernatural claim they have access to a rich and wonderful world beyond our own, but in reality they are merely deeply ignorant of how rich and wonderful we know our own natural world to be — especially our brain. As Douglas Adams is claimed to have put it: isn’t the garden amazing enough without having to pretend that there are fairies at the bottom of it?

  • Sadetec

    Exactly. It is the same phenomena as when vinyl records are played backwards and ‘hidden’ lyrics are found.

    The brain works incredibly hard to fill in missing information and normalise unusual information based on past experience, so that the world it experiences around it makes sense. But this compensation happens subconsciously, so although we can prove it is happening through carefully crafted tests, an individual person doesn’t have concious access to the manipulations their own brain has done to translate incoming sounds into words.

    It is incredible that although ghost hunters claim to pick up the voices of long dead spirits, all ghosts always speak the same modern version of the same language as the ghost hunters. We never detect monks talking in Latin, for example. Or anyone talking in Shakespearian English, or with obsolete word pronunciations. The grammar and word semantics are always modern.

    The irony is that believers in the supernatural claim they have access to a rich and wonderful world beyond our own, but in reality they are merely deeply ignorant of how rich and wonderful we know our own natural world to be — especially our brain. As Douglas Adams is claimed to have put it: isn’t the garden amazing enough without having to pretend that there are fairies at the bottom of it?

  • Rongoklunk

    Great comments Sadetec.

    You should read Sagan’s “Varieties of Scientific Experience”, which are the “Gifford Lectures” he gave in Scotland in 1985, He talks about the cosmos and the possibility of life on other planets, and also on religion and so-called Intelligent design. The introduction is by his widow Ann Druyan and is outstanding. It’s available in paperback, and is essential reading for nonbelievers.

  • Rongoklunk

    Great comments Sadetec.

    You should read Sagan’s “Varieties of Scientific Experience”, which are the “Gifford Lectures” he gave in Scotland in 1985, He talks about the cosmos and the possibility of life on other planets, and also on religion and so-called Intelligent design. The introduction is by his widow Ann Druyan and is outstanding. It’s available in paperback, and is essential reading for nonbelievers.

  • Pablo Schwartz

    Classical Skepticism can best be expressed in Keats’ notion of “Negative Capability.” Unfortunately the term has since been hijacked by the interchangeable fedora-wearing, neck-bearded “Atheists” one finds on Reddit ..

  • Pablo Schwartz

    Classical Skepticism can best be expressed in Keats’ notion of “Negative Capability.” Unfortunately the term has since been hijacked by the interchangeable fedora-wearing, neck-bearded “Atheists” one finds on Reddit ..

  • Secular1

    What a arrogant piece of unscientific nonsense this article is. If this author has tall claims, i challenge him to publish his results from his Ouija board and the frequency hopping every 0.25 seconds. Then let’s see how well these experiments can be replicated, without the experimenters a priori acceptance of these hypotheses.

  • Secular1

    What a arrogant piece of unscientific nonsense this article is. If this author has tall claims, i challenge him to publish his results from his Ouija board and the frequency hopping every 0.25 seconds. Then let’s see how well these experiments can be replicated, without the experimenters a priori acceptance of these hypotheses.

  • godrocks

    @Secular 1, you stillsound like a Maoist (“Religion is poison!”). Your social Darwinism is highly disturbing. You arrogantly place yourself at the top of an evolutionary chain in which and your fellow science belief system worshippers are highly intelligent and everyone who believes in a superior being is primitive.

    @Sadatec, you say the difference between the natural world and the supernatural world is simple: the supernatural world is what humans would LIKE to be true, while the natural world is what is ACTUALLY true. Correction: the natural world is what science is pretty sure is true but which changes like the wind with every new theory that comes along. To suggest it’s not a belief system is in itself irrational, especially for lay people who subscribe to science and scientists as infallible gods. They’re just buying into another belief system that is used as propaganda with far more disastrous results historically than religious propaganda.

    At the end of the 19th century the worship of science was at its height. So much faith was placed in its promise to make the world a better, safer, more peaceful place that they hailed the coming 20th century as “the Century of Progress.” Well, it wasn’t even halfway over (1945) before the wonders of science had made it the bloodiest century in human history. Here’s what rational, Atheist leaders brought us: Pol Pot slaughtering millions in the name of social engineering and “improving” Cambodia. Joseph Stalin starving over 20 million to death under his scientific collectivized farming program. Chairman “religion is poison” Mao’s so-called “Great Leap Forward” program, a collection of misguided policies created by economic and agricultural “science” which killed somewhere between 20 million and 65 million people.

    I could go on but you get my point. The savagery wrought by religion, superstition, and a belief in the supernatural is a drop in the bucket when compared to “rational” followers of science.

  • godrocks

    @Secular 1, you stillsound like a Maoist (“Religion is poison!”). Your social Darwinism is highly disturbing. You arrogantly place yourself at the top of an evolutionary chain in which and your fellow science belief system worshippers are highly intelligent and everyone who believes in a superior being is primitive.

    @Sadatec, you say the difference between the natural world and the supernatural world is simple: the supernatural world is what humans would LIKE to be true, while the natural world is what is ACTUALLY true. Correction: the natural world is what science is pretty sure is true but which changes like the wind with every new theory that comes along. To suggest it’s not a belief system is in itself irrational, especially for lay people who subscribe to science and scientists as infallible gods. They’re just buying into another belief system that is used as propaganda with far more disastrous results historically than religious propaganda.

    At the end of the 19th century the worship of science was at its height. So much faith was placed in its promise to make the world a better, safer, more peaceful place that they hailed the coming 20th century as “the Century of Progress.” Well, it wasn’t even halfway over (1945) before the wonders of science had made it the bloodiest century in human history. Here’s what rational, Atheist leaders brought us: Pol Pot slaughtering millions in the name of social engineering and “improving” Cambodia. Joseph Stalin starving over 20 million to death under his scientific collectivized farming program. Chairman “religion is poison” Mao’s so-called “Great Leap Forward” program, a collection of misguided policies created by economic and agricultural “science” which killed somewhere between 20 million and 65 million people.

    I could go on but you get my point. The savagery wrought by religion, superstition, and a belief in the supernatural is a drop in the bucket when compared to “rational” followers of science.

  • godrocks

    ps – you all scare the bejesus outta me.

  • godrocks

    ps – you all scare the bejesus outta me.

  • electriclady123

    Ralph Waldo Emerson on a science-only view of the world, from his journals. I think he’s suggesting that science and religion/superstition can share our consciousness, I’m not sure why all the all-or-nothing bickering above by arrogant, dogmatic people who sound as bad as any religious zealot.

    “The farm, by training the physical, rectifies and invigorates the metaphysical and moral nature.

    “Now so bad we are that the world is stripped of love and of terror. Here came the other night an Aurora so wonderful, a curtain of red and blue and silver glory, that In any other age or
    nation it would have moved the awe and words of men and mingled with the profoundest senti-ments of religion and love, — and we all saw it with cold, arithmetical eyes, we knew how many colors shone, how many degrees it extended, how many hours it lasted, and of this heavenly flower we beheld nothing more : a primrose by the brim of the river of time. Shall we not wish back again the Seven Whistlers, the Flying Dutchman, the lucky and unlucky days, and the terrors of the Day of Doom?

    “I lament that I find in me no enthusiasm, no resources for the instruction and guidance of the people, when they shall discover that their present guides are blind.”

  • electriclady123

    Ralph Waldo Emerson on a science-only view of the world, from his journals. I think he’s suggesting that science and religion/superstition can share our consciousness, I’m not sure why all the all-or-nothing bickering above by arrogant, dogmatic people who sound as bad as any religious zealot.

    “The farm, by training the physical, rectifies and invigorates the metaphysical and moral nature.

    “Now so bad we are that the world is stripped of love and of terror. Here came the other night an Aurora so wonderful, a curtain of red and blue and silver glory, that In any other age or
    nation it would have moved the awe and words of men and mingled with the profoundest senti-ments of religion and love, — and we all saw it with cold, arithmetical eyes, we knew how many colors shone, how many degrees it extended, how many hours it lasted, and of this heavenly flower we beheld nothing more : a primrose by the brim of the river of time. Shall we not wish back again the Seven Whistlers, the Flying Dutchman, the lucky and unlucky days, and the terrors of the Day of Doom?

    “I lament that I find in me no enthusiasm, no resources for the instruction and guidance of the people, when they shall discover that their present guides are blind.”

  • electriclady123

    So in other words in layman’s terms it’s sort of the audio equivalent of…seeing face in clouds? Got it, thanks for the pretentious, condescending, unnecessary clarification.

  • electriclady123

    So in other words in layman’s terms it’s sort of the audio equivalent of…seeing face in clouds? Got it, thanks for the pretentious, condescending, unnecessary clarification.

  • Pablo Schwartz

    seeing faces in clouds, making a “progress” narrative out of the fossil record / six of one, a half dozen of the other ..

  • Pablo Schwartz

    seeing faces in clouds, making a “progress” narrative out of the fossil record / six of one, a half dozen of the other ..

Read More Articles

shutterstock_53190298
Fundamentalist Arguments Against Fundamentalism

The all-or-nothing approach to the Bible used by skeptics and fundamentalists alike is flawed.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

shutterstock_185995553
How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

HIFR
Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

shutterstock_186364295
This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

noplaceonearth
An Untold Story of Bondage to Freedom: Passover 1943

How a foxhole that led to a 77-mile cave system saved the lives of 38 Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust.

shutterstock_148333673
Friend or Foe? Learning from Judas About Friendship with Jesus

We call Judas a betrayer. Jesus called him “friend.”

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

SONY DSC
Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.