To believe in an objective difference between right and wrong (God and not God) implies the existence of immortal souls, spirits that exist non-physically, and continue existing even after the mortal physical body dies (naturally becomes unable to continue living in the physical sense). So, in this sense, ghosts do exist. We are, in fact, part-ghost right now, in the way that “ghost” means a non-physical spirit.

But, as humans, it is often tempting to “humanize” our understanding of the nature of immortal souls so that they are understood to exist as humanly as we do now, just without physical bodies, as if they’d float around the physical world and communicate with and/or frighten us physically living people.

This makes no sense. Think about the nature of truth; when something is true, its truth exists outside or beyond the physical constructs of space and time. Its existence is not dependent on a specific location or time the way that physical phenomena is. So it is with the difference between right and wrong, and so it is with God, and so it is with our immortal souls. When our souls separate from our physical bodies, they also separate from the physical constructs of space and time. We can understand this to be true even while it is currently impossible to understand what that sort of existence is like. But it does allow us to understand how the common notion of “ghosts as spirits wandering around the physical world” is at best a silly notion of spiritual ignorance, at worst a temptation away from God (truth).

So a lot of “ghostly phenomenon” does not pass the true-faith-in-God test. Ghost Hunters and such shows may be entertaining, but to truly believe them is to reject the true nature of God, whether it be for the corrupted desire for unnatural powers (that is, the desire to communicate with the dead; not because it can be done but is just dangerous (it can’t be done, but we can easily spiritually deceive ourselves into believing it can, like a spiritual placebo effect, through which we can credit perfectly natural mental abilities (such as talking to oneself) to ghostly activity), but because the desire for that sort of experience is not in union with a desire for God (love and truth)), or simply out of a spiritual misunderstanding of the nature of God and immortal souls (as opposed to the incomplete understanding of the nature of God we all naturally experience as part of our temporary physical existence).

That said, we know that God can interact with us in our physical existence through our non-physical spirits; otherwise we would be incapable of understanding that there exists an objective difference between right and wrong, and would be incapable of believing in Him. (I am considering our “sense” of God as a form of “interaction” — I do not mean to imply that God often physically moves things around in front of us to prove His existence to us — He obviously doesn’t — I do not think He would desire for our faith in Him to be based on tricks of changing the laws of physics, which would probably do more harm to us than good.) God must also, then, be capable of allowing, in proper conditions, the spirits of the physically departed to spiritually appear to or communicate with physically living beings for the sake of the spirit of the physically living (not for a ghost’s “unfinished business”). It is also important to note that, when this happens, it happens through and with God; it is not some departed spirit acting of its own volition, and it is never done in response to a living being requesting or desiring such contact, which, as I stated before, is a spiritually disordered request.

Categories: Philosophy

5 Comments

Kristina · June 8, 2012 at 12:34 PM

Just stumbled upon this.. but I do like your thoughts. (Not to mention your music is lovely.)

I find it unfortunate that so many I know fall for things like ghosts and ignore God and mistake what these “spirits” may really be.. (my own mother is addicted to the show.)

With that said, I think I’ll continue to follow your blog!

S P Hannifin · June 9, 2012 at 5:37 AM

Thanks for the comment!

I can certainly understand the temptation to believe in the nature of ghosts as presented on shows like Ghost Hunters. After all, it seems to give physical credence to a belief in the after life. And I do not reject the belief in the existence of a non-physical spirit or an after life, so I cannot dismiss claims of ghost-sightings based on some materialist worldview (as if I believe only the physical is real; the nature of love and truth is non-physical, yet if anything they are more real than the physical world, as the existence of the physical world is made possible through them).

Unfortunately not very many religious resources seem to have much to say on the nature of ghosts, and I have known several people who claim to have seen ghosts. I came to the conclusions above after prayer and reflection. Ghosts that would knock on walls or say inaudible things into tape recorders ultimately just doesn’t make any sense to my understanding of the nature of the immortal soul (as limited as my present understanding is). However, when “visions” of ghosts (spirits of the physically deceased) are described as part of deeper religious experiences, I cannot necessarily deny their possibility. (Though, in such cases, such experiences were really not meant for me, so whether or not I believe them is really irrelevant; that is, I am not spiritually called on to confirm or deny someone else’s religious experience, as long as it does not conflict with my understand to be true. (For example, if someone claimed to have had a religious experience in which it was revealed to him that Barney the Dinosaur had to be worshiped for eternal salvation, there will obviously be no doubt in my mind that the man is either lying or is severely delusional.))

I didn’t get into the subject of demons in my original post, but I did read some articles on the Internet that claimed that if people sought to communicate with ghosts, they’d actually invite in demons. I think that’s partly true, as to turn away from God by giving into a temptation is to “obey the devil” (which we all unfortunately do sometimes as part of our human existence). But I think many of the articles I read about “inviting in demons” encouraged a misunderstanding of the nature of demons (another subject that is often not written about much). I have not yet reflected much on the nature of demons (and I’m not sure I want to; not because I fear them in and of themselves (I don’t), but because I’m not sure it’s necessarily that interesting of a topic in and of itself when compared to a pondering of God), but I don’t think demons are separate spirits that can interact with the physical world either, as if they could replace the notion of ghosts I rejected (that is, Ghost Hunters are not actually Demon Hunters, they’re Let’s Attribute This Worldly Unexplained Phenomenon to Disembodied Spirits Hunters).

I think, instead, “demons” are a way to understand the nature of our own spirit as we turn away from God; we turn to some tempting nothingness that can be understood to be a “demon” because the part of us that is a piece of God cannot turn away from itself, so we can understand it to be a separate entity that lures us away. But it is still us, our Free Will, that is doing the turning away; we cannot be forced by anything to turn away from God; it is only done with our own Free Will. So how are we to understand the nature of where a temptation comes from, whether we give in to it or not? I think that is where the nature of demons and the devil come in; they become part of us when we turn away from God, and are very real in that sense, and can exist as non-physical potentials of what we may accept as part of ourselves if we choose to turn away from God (as long as the nature of our Free Will has the ability to choose to turn away from God, which it won’t forever), but I do not think demons and the devil are separate conscious thinking beings that float around the world of their own volition seeking to scare and hurt and possess people (or are capable of being driven into pigs, for that matter). I think that is too materialist a way of thinking about the spiritual nature of both their and our existence (though not necessarily a harmful way of thinking of it; God certainly understands that we can barely understand spiritual things anyway; as long as we do not become fascinated with trying to communicate with them as if they were separate entities that could be communicated with (the same reason why trying to communicate with ghosts is disordered), or ignore their existence completely as if to be complete materialists (which would probably make us atheists anyway)).

Kristina · June 9, 2012 at 11:17 PM

You’ve expressed some interesting thoughts. I -do- believe ghosts exist, as I have seen them and have had many strange experiences with various things that I couldn’t explain away otherwise. But as for what they are – I’m personally of the opinion that they are indeed demons. I know many people don’t consider them that way, and it’s fine, but for me I feel it’s something I shouldn’t seek out or communicate with and all of that sort of thing because I don’t like to “invite them in” so to speak. My entire life I’ve always been told “demons are always willing to entertain you” and I’ve generally found that to be ‘true’ and enough of a deterrent to make me not want to seek them out. (Though I do admit to being fascinated with them and what they could be for -quite- a while until I realized it’s best to turn away from it. )

I’ve read in the Bible “It is appointed unto men to die once, and then the judgement”, so I’ve always taken that to mean that the soul/spirit either goes to paradise or else wherever the unbelievers end up, and not wandering about in between.

I do have some various ideas on “ghosts” and “demons” as related to things such as the Nephalim and such, but I’ll spare you my big long spew and random train of thought when it comes to that at the moment. ๐Ÿ˜›

S P Hannifin · June 10, 2012 at 1:44 AM

In understanding a demon to be a “temptation away from God”, I can certainly understand the notion that “demons are always willing to entertain you.” For example, if I see a news report on the wealth of Bill Gates, I might be tempted to daydream of having such worldly wealth, the stuff I could buy with it, the places I could go with it, etc. And for a time they will be very comforting daydreams; they will not be ugly and stinky even though they are not aligned with a true desire for God and are, in that way, more terrible than I can possibly imagine. (And they will ultimately be empty daydreams, disallowing me to be happy in the present moment.) I think of demons like that, not some sort of non-human disembodied spirit that can interact with the physical world by itself (since a spirit is, by its nature, non-physical). I don’t understand the notion of the nature of demons being a fascinating subject in and of itself because I do not think of them as physical entities.

So anyway, while I obviously can’t comment on your personal experiences, I still think it is misleading to think of demons or ghosts in materialistic terms, though whether or not it is necessarily harmful depends on what your spirit decides to do with the thought, and if you do not want to “seek them out” anyway, I can’t imagine that being harmful in and of itself.

I remember a friend having a ouija board when I was young, and I was warned about how “evil” it might be to try it, and was naturally interested in it because of how “evil” the adults said it could be. Really it’s not much different than a Magic 8 ball, but because adults were concerned about spirits and demons, they inadvertently encouraged an interest in what they were trying to prevent. It’s not the nature of demons that make ouija boards dangerous, it’s the encouragement of a misunderstanding of their nature that’s dangerous, as if they could be “called upon” or “invited in” in the first place.

For example, if I was wrongly fascinated with the nature of demons, I could “pray” to a demon and invite him to possess me, but if I did so, I’d be allowing myself to believe that I could be possessed in the first place. If I believed that, my mind would be perfectly capable of summoning up some dark thoughts that I’d then associate with my being possessed and I could probably scare the **** out of myself, and in doing so I’d be wrongly confirming to myself my own misunderstanding of the nature of demons.

Similarly, if I were not so dark of spirit, I could imagine that God could “talk to me” by allowing myself to attribute all my Godly thoughts to messages straight from God, and I could go on to have lengthy conversations with myself in full belief that I was conversing with God. (Though He would somehow be incapable of revealing to me lottery numbers or scientific breakthroughs or mind-reading tricks.) Through doing so, I might come to understand some truths (or re-understand some truths I didn’t fully realize I had already known), which might not necessarily be false in and of themselves, but would risk confirming to myself the belief that I could so easily converse with God. In doing so I would greatly risk attributing to God some false but pleasant thought I had.

I also do not think a soul would get stuck wandering “in between” — I think that misunderstanding comes from imagining Heaven or Hell to be like physical places that we could “go” to, when they are not really “places” at all. Perhaps a way to understand the nature of Heaven slightly better is to think about the nature of thought. For example, when we learn and come to understand a new math equation, say a^2+b^2=c^2, we do not “go to” a^2+b^2=c^2; rather our minds “grow” to understand the nature of its truth. a^2+b^2=c^2 may manifest itself physically in some way, or “appear” to the mind of a math student learning to understand the concept for the first time, but its truth does not exist physically. Just as it makes no sense for a^2+b^2=c^2 to go knock over a table somewhere or whisper some message in the darkness, it makes no sense of the spirit of the deceased to do such things. They are no longer physical beings.

Kristina · June 10, 2012 at 2:11 PM

I think I understand what you’re trying to say.. (*Is definitely not a math person, though.*) Thanks for the nice discussion! ๐Ÿ˜€

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