Monday, December 28, 2009

Seeing Angels


Very irritating Emma Heathcote-James on angels. Chris French does his best given the biased format of the programme ... http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00pfpdg BBC Radio 4 "Beyond Belief" 28th December 4pm (available for one week).

Below is a quote from programme from Father Gregory Hallam, Greek Orthodox Priest and believer in angels. Chris French was challenged by Hallam to say what would count as evidence of angels (Hallam perhaps implying that Chris wouldn't allow anything to count as evidence - i.e. that there are no angels is a "faith position" for Chris) - Hallam asked Chris "What actual evidence, Chris, would make you change your mind?" - and Chris suggested we could get objective evidence of angels if e.g. under controlled conditions they provided information to those who claim to communicate with them that could be checked and which could not have been acquired in any other way.

My problem with your answer Chris is you are subjecting these phenomenon to certain criteria and tests in relation to scientific evidence and you're actually talking about a confusion of categories of truth here. I understand that you operate in the realm of anomolistic psychology and that this is a kind of a difficult interface between science and human experience but I think that unless we are actually clear how to assess each piece of evidence according to appropriate criteria we risk just making no sense at all.

From BBC Radio 4 "Beyond Belief" 28th December 4pm (@21 mins)

16 comments:

Hannah said...

Ooooh "energy"

alarm bells ring...
sounds very profound eh;)

Hannah said...

"CATEGORIES" OF TRUTH :I
Poor Chris.

Anonymous said...

Poor Chris, struggled to get his views accross admidst quite biased opposition. There can never be any reconciliation with subjects such as these, people will believe what they want, and at the end of the day does it matter?

Anonymous said...

ooops - across / amidst

MikeN said...

I just love the use of the word "risk" in that final sentence ;)

anticant said...

The flight from reason really is beyond belief, isn't it?

Smörgåsmåsen (formerly Psye) said...

Opacity. That's the word I'm thinking of when reading the quote from Hallam.

By the way, I'd refuse calling anyone except my biological father "father".

Steven Carr said...

What evidence would convince sceptics?

Well, some believers just have to have a dream and they are convinced.

Dreams aren't evidence.

Hannah said...

The flight from reason is more surprising than I would have imagined!

It would have been a lot more interesting if poor Chris had got a proper chance to explain (...erm... sense)...

And it does matter, it matters if you want to have integrity in your beliefs and make good rational judgments and decisions.

Derrida said...

"... we risk just making no sense at all."

Hah!

We know for a fact that people often lie and have false experiences. We don't know for a fact that any supernatural beings exist.

Thus, the evidence for the veracity of angelic experiences has to rule out to a reasonable degree the other two possible explanations, and controlled scientific studies are the only way to do that.

Epistemic laxity lets wishful thinking seep in.

theObserver said...

I would have asked him if he believed the archangel Gabriel swooped down to Muhammad and recited the Koran over the period of a few years. And if not, why not and what would count as evidence.

And what the hell is this recent fascination with angels? The philosophy section in my local book store is now reduced to being a single bookcase (and half of the books are on 'the science of happiness') while the Mind and Spirit section fills a wall and a half. Every time I walk past, I notice ladies devouring books on angels.

Then of course there's Doreen Virtue (phd), angel healer extraordinaire. I wonder which category of truth this priest would put her into.

Kosh3 said...

"I think that unless we are actually clear how to assess each piece of evidence according to appropriate criteria we risk just making no sense at all"

True, but meaningless in this context unless there is actually some problem with the suggestion that one way to examine the question of the existence of angels would be by confirming or disconfirming information purportedly received from them under controlled conditions.

anticant said...

Ladies devouring books on angels? Maybe because they are overwhelmed by the dire (human-created) state of the world, and are seeking solace in what Marx called "the opium of the people"?

Hannah said...

It's true actually. Only yesterday did I frolic into the book store, only to find that the Philosophy section had shrunk, and yet the mystical nonsense section was, as always, booming...

Ron Murphy said...

Funny how at one point Gregory was sceptical about the validity of tests proposed by Chris, but then suddenly changed his mind when listening to one of Emma's more bizarre (to Gregory) examples. He'll accept testimonies that fit his belief, but not others.

edthemanicstreetpreacher said...

I have posted my own (derisive!) opinion of this show on my own blog.

“Very irritating” doesn’t even begin to describe Heathcote-Jones. I don’t know how French didn’t keep himself from knocking her out. Well, I do actually. I emailed my piece to French and he said that she was in a different studio altogether and is very easy on the eye, but that’s hardly the point!

I also saw French give a lecture at the Merseyside Skeptics Society in September and he was brilliant. Full report here.

manic