How are Christians to evaluate the claims of contemporary psychics?

For most Americans, the evidence for extrasensory perception (ESP) is compelling: Jeane Dixon’s gift of prophecy enables her to foresee President Kennedy’s assassination. Police psychics Dorothy Allison and Peter Hurkos solve cases that dumbfound detectives. Ordinary people have spontaneous dreams of dreaded events—only to discover that their dreams are reality. In widely heralded new laboratory experiments, parapsychologists (psychologists who study “paranormal” happenings) have been astonished at gifted psychics who, against all odds, can discern the contents of sealed envelopes, influence the roll of a die, or draw a picture of what someone else is viewing at an unknown remote location.

Why, then, are research psychologists so overwhelmingly skeptical of all such claims? Is it simple close-mindedness, bred by a mechanistic world view that has no room for supernatural mysteries? And how should Christians view such claims? Should we welcome them as evidence for the supernatural? Fear them as evidence of the demonic? Disregard them as utter nonsense?

The Paranormal: Grounds For Skepticism

One can no more disprove the possibility of paranormal phenomena than one can disprove the existence of Santa Claus. But if one could discover no reliable evidence for Santa Claus, and if there were good reasons for thinking the claim implausible, then, pending new and convincing evidence, it would be rational to disbelieve. In the case of ESP, the most respectable of the paranormal claims, there are at least a half-dozen grounds for disbelief.

1. Parapsychology’s defenders and critics agree: there has never been a reproducible psychic experiment, nor any individual who can ...

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