Science in Christian Perspective
From JASA 9 (June 1957): 11-14.
As I type this manuscript there is something strange occurring, which I do not understand. How is it that the thoughts in my mind may be enacted into physical energy and cause material changes to occur in this erstwhile blank piece of paper? How do I make my fingers move as I type? Frankly, I do not know. It is remarkable that a mere thought leads to a totally coordinated effect in the cells, muscles, atoms and molecules. I do not even have to know the muscles and tendons which go into action as I type. Indeedd (There, don't you see. The moment I began to analyse how I type, these errors begin to creep in.) This is one of the mysterious things that are related to the so-called psi phenomena, of which extrasensory perception is one example. This is an example of "mind over matter" which cannot be denied. Those who do research in psi, refer to this as psychokinesis, the ability of the human mind to bring about changes in the material world. We might question whether a mere wish of a worldly gambler could change the arrangement of dice in his game. We do, however have power over the muscles of our body. Is man perhaps a "transformer" used to "step down" psychic force to a state of physical energy?
For more than twenty-five years, we have been hearing reports about the "psychic research" coming from the Psychological Laboratories of Duke University.* Are these experimental data acceptable scrip
B., New World of the Mind,
New York, William Sloane, 1953.
turally? Some tell me that I should not investigate such matters, because they are "of the devil". Should we dare to say such a thing about anyones activities unless we were sure of it? The Authority to which to appeal is the Word of God. Are these then Satanic activities that are being investigated? If it is a natural function, as Dr. J. Rhine claims that it is, then it is a part of God's created universe and thus cannot be Satanic, but could be used by Satan.
Are the experimental data from Duke University a revelation? If so, why do all human beings seem to be endowed with them? Again, if be revelation, where is the rightful place of Scriptures in relation to it?
This study is made for the purpose of presenting problems that arise for the Christian in these matters of extrasensory perception and related functions. Any implied solutions and conclusions are only tentatively presented.
Perhaps a few scriptural considerations are confirmed by this research. We recognize that the Bible needs no confirmation from science in order to validate it. Rather, the truth of science is confirmed by its coincidence with Biblical Truth.
Real facts are sure to be consistent with Scripture, because God is still in charge of His created universe. If scientific data are not thus consistent, they are not true. We are here dealing only with the facts of this research data. The statistics must be validated elsewhere. Our position, is not in any of the several psychologies of the world, but a scripiturally based psychology. Any facts added thereto by science must be consistent with the Word. "If it is not according to this Word, it is because there is no Light in them" (Isa. 8:20)
The research done at Duke University has been done on a bias of liberal theology. Dr. Rhine was once a candidate for the liberal Christian pulpit. His conflict has always been against materialism in psychology, which would explain all human nature on a physical basis. We may concur in Rhine's stand.
Hower, Dr. Rhine is a vitalist. He explains vitalism, as "the hypothesis of a special non-physical life force". (p. 168) The Christian position is sometimes called vitalism, but it is a more specific form of it, namely that this "life force" was implanted by the Creator and is maintained by the mediate supervision over all nature by His Spirit. The non-scriptural vitalist tends to identify the life with a god, and thus he tends to worship the inner self, in what is known as a pantheism.
Rhine says that his findings reveal a basis for a concept of "extra-physical energy". That there is such extra-physical energy, we need not doubt, for "power belongeth to God" (Ps. 629:11 ) and "the Gospel of Christ is the power of God". (Rom. 1:16) However, Rhine is not speaking of the power of God, but rather an extraphysical energy as an integral part of our own natural constitutions. In this, we are willing to become convinced.
We also recognize the same distinction between body and soul as Rhine postulates in his "mind-body problem," recognizing here a distinction without making it a hard and fast dualism. How else can we believe the intermediate state ' when we go to be with the Lord, while our bodies shall rest in the grave, if the Lord tarry. For all practical purposes, our present make-up is soul and body. However there is a third part, now not functional, the human spirit. The spirit is like an unlighted candle (Prov. 20:27), a dried up fountain, a collapsed uppermost story of a three story house, until regeneration.
Rhine hints at a inner core of personality, which we recognize as the inner self, or the Biblical "heart". However, he does not make this definite enough to constitute a true nuclear doctrine of human nature. He does not even mention the image of God in man. This image was spoiled when Adam sinned, so that the light we 'now have is largely soulual, depending upon physical, physiological, sense perception and mental functions. One function. was deleted by the Fall: the capacity to perceive God. However, our total depravity is largely a depletion rather thari a deletion of human functions. Could it be that Rhine is investigating the remnants of certain activities which were strong before the Fall? The unregenerate spirit is dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2: 1). While he does not so state, Rhine's interpretation of his research data may imply the false doctrine of the innate goodness of man. Sin and guilt and the Fall are not mentioned. However, if his data are facts universally found in human nature, we may still accept them as natural functions of the soul.
We may highly approve Rhine's attempt to bring the function of the will back into psychology, which has for the past generation been deleted from its pages. Even the Calvinist is not a determinist, as are most modern psychologists. A limited free will as the determiner of behavior is implied in the Word, regardless of environmental influences.
Agreeing with modern psychology, Rhine recognizes that human personality has an unconscious part. We must re-echo: "Who can know it?" (Jer. 17: 9) E. S. P. is said to be an unconscious function. E. S. P., consciousness and unconscious phenomena, however, are all manifestations of that deep inner self which we are. Many make the mistake of considering mere subjective experience as identical with the inner self, but the subjectivity is but an expression of the inner person. The rich man in hell was really in perdition. Subjective distress was only a part of it.
Duke University research decries the materialistic attempt to foist a uniformity of physical law upon human nature. Yet they seem to be willing to set up a uniformity of non-physical law upon our personalities in such a way as to constitute a legal determinism upon persons and they blandly infer that God can no longer perform miracles. Does this imply that God does not now answer prayer? However, Rhine says that prayers are really answered, not by ESP, but perhaps there is a higher Power. However, he hastily corrects himself by asserting that this higher power is not yet proved by the scientific method. Then is science more valid than the Word of God?The Research Data
Parapschology is that area of psychology which deals with the subject matter
of the Duke experiment and also such matters as the survival of consciousness
after death etc. The function of the personality with
which parapsychology deals is known as the Psi function. The various phenomena are classified thus:
1. Extrasensory Preception (ESP) dealing with incoming data of several varieties:
Telepathy: mind to mind.
Clairvoyance: object to mind.
Pre-cognition: knowing ahead of time.
It is possible that these three may all be the same, or that all may be explained by one of them. ESP is tested by a special pack of cards (five cards of each of five designs, twenty-five in all). If your score is over five in guessing these designs, it is statistically significant.
2. Psychokinesis (PK) is the outgoing effects of the mind upon matter. Dice, thrown by mechanical means are used here. There has been some attempt to explain PK in terms of ESP and vice versa.
3. Animal psi is known as Anpsi. It deals with so called sixth sense, homing and migration. Of course, Rhine follows evolutionary considerations but that need not disturb us. The fact that we are like animals proves nothing about our origin.
4. Psi-missing, which is failure to guess correctly, is now found to operate on a principle. If one wrongly guesses the card just before or just after, it is called displacement. Such cases have plenty of psi, but is is working in the negative.
5. Spontaneous psi is a mysterious, non-laboratory brand of psi which is often so specific and so practically
useful that it is seen as very different from that labora tory brand. Psi is an unconscious, natural function, varying from
person to person, and at various times, It is unpre dictable and uncontrollable. It cannot be practically used and it is considered as a primitive activity deep within the personality. It is affected by fatigue, attitudes and by drugs. When Rhine sought to find an example of outstanding ESP, he cast aside Duninger, because he has been caught faking, but finally selected an Afri can witch doctor, whose uncanny precision of ESP, was indeed amazing.
If these data from Duke are facts then we can view them as natural facts. As we already know, memory, reason, insight, will and conscience: all these have extra sensory features and perhaps extra-physical ones. A thought can raise a fist. If so, then why quibble? Our God-given life force may also do other things without relation to time, space and mass, for we are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Ps. 139:14)
However, the African witch doctor is not an example of a naturally functional psi. He used this psi fun ction in a practical and specific manner which seemed miraculous. It reminds us that there may be Satanic possibilities of psi, if and when a man gives over his personality to the forces of evil.
We know that psi is not ordinarily controllable or practical and cannot ordinarily be used for our warning or protection or for the purpose of "wire-tapping'-' on_ our hapless neighbors. Most people do not even know when their scores are good on the ESP cards. We can see that "pre cognition" is certainly not prophecy in the Biblical sense, and that it need not give us pause from a scriptural standpoint. In its natural form, it does not predict the course of a life, or of a nation. God is the only one Who "declared the former things from the beginning". (Isa. 48:3) or "declared it to thee before it came to pass", (Isa. 48:5. The Word of God does not need to deny this bungling pre-cognition, which can predict nothing except the serial order of cards.
On the other hand it is interesting to find that there may be a deep inner non-physical activity, which either God or Satan might control in order to produce miracles or signs. Since psi is found in all men, we cannot view it as a process of the human spirit, for that spirit is dead in most men, unless it be sleepily turning in its grave. This brings us to a new kind of extrasensory perception already known for 2,000 years. Rhine's psi, in the form of psychokinesis, is an emaciated counter-part of God's power of prayer. Have you noticed the Scripture passages which tell of things perceived by children of God only, without the functioning of the sense organs of the body? If you make a study of these passages, you will be astounded to learn that revelation and illumination come to the children of God without sense perception.
The context of such a passage will tell you whether it is the sense organs of the body or the corresponding function in inner self, by which we may learn things without sense perception. Here is one where both kinds of perception are described. "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God". (Rom. 10: 17). This is how Salvation begins. You hear the Gospel through the ears of the body and of the heart. You may hear the Gospel through the ears alone and not be saved, but when these inner perceptions begin, then we know that regeneration has taken place, otherwise there would still be no life in the inner spirit. When our ears are opened, then we have the God-given faith of Salvation. In fact, these inner perceptions cannot function at all until God enlightens them through hearing. Then you may turn your gaze and "Look unto Me all ye ends of the earth and be ye saved" (Isa. 45:22). The proper activity of a child of God is "Looking unto Jesus" (Heb. 12:2). If we lift up our faces to Him, we can praise Him even in the presence of our enemies. (Ps. 27:6). However, we tend to gaze on anything on the horizontal plane until we learn that He is the lifter up of our heads. (Ps. 3:3.) All the latter passages above are dealing with this inner perception which is without sense organs. On the other hand, we have no difficulty deciding what eyes are meant when Peter said to the begger; "Look on us." (Acts 3:4) Further conformation that there is an inner set of perceptions in addition to those of our sense organs is found in the Williams translation of Eph. 1:19, which speaks of the "eyes of the heart". It could have been "eyes of the spirit" for indeed, it is both.
What does all this mean? It means that God's Word recognizes a deep inner part of the child of God which can catch perceptions without senses, through the Word, or otherwise. It is an extra-sensory perception of His revelation to His own. Who knows? Perhaps it is through the medium of what Rhine calls "Psi"?
Rhine gives many instances of what he calls spontaneous psi in which people learn hidden things in times of emergency or are warned of impending danger. Many of these instances were in people of rather doubtful Salvation. However, there were many instances of such life-saving impressions in the life of that great Christian leader, R. E. Neighbor. It is unthinkable that these experiences could have come through any source except the Hand of God. A. W. Bailey, about to be bitten by a poisonous snake in Africa, was saved through the prayer of a woman in Maine, who did not know for months why she was led to pray for him.+
However, such spontaneous knowledge may also be the lying wonders of the enemy. If these illuminations are not consistent with Bible Truth, they are lying wonders. The Christian need not fear this enemy. No one who is born again could willfully give himself over to Satanic influence, although he might sometimes be influenced by it.
Some have read "He understandeth our thought afar off." (Ps. 139:2) and they have asked: "Does God have ESP?" The answer is, "No." He has omniscience. Again one may ask, "Does God have PK" when we read: "He uttereth His Voice; the earth melted". (Ps. 36:6). This is His Omnipotence.
Rhine says (p. 227) that the data of science constitute a revelation. We would recognize that they are part of His common Revelation in nature, yet he ap parently does not recognize any special revelation: the Word of God.
On page 219, he indicates that scientific inquiry into man's spiritual nature can add to the knowledge learned by the old methods. The old methods he explains as " unusual experiences." I suppose these unusual experience are supposed to include original revelation of the Word, but he does not say so. We recognize the Word as the only valid Authority and that scientific facts, if true facts, may only be an adjunct in any explanation of man's spiritual nature. Incidentally, Rhine explains the human spirit as "esprit de corps". That only.
On p. 231, we find it said that the revelational religion will not counter the claims of Communism. Little does he realize that revelational religion of Christ has only answer for Communism, and that his own liberal views are often held by those who-uphold a radical viewpoint. God will-take-care of Communism in His own time. It will not be accomplished by the efforts of man. May God be true and every man a liar!