Would it be a surprise to GK Chesterton that as faith dwindles in his homeland, belief in the supernatural would soar? OK. Let me thumb through my mental index of Chesterton quotes which every good Catholic blogger has handy for every occasion. Ah yes…here it is: “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing- they believe in anything.”
That quote comes to you apropos of this sad story from the UK’s Daily Mail:
Believing in ghosts and little green men from outer space appears a touch easier than having faith in God, according to a survey.
The researchers found that while 54 per cent of us are convinced the Almighty exists, 58 per cent believe in the supernatural…
The research put out to coincide with the DVD release (of the X-Files DVD) also claimed women were more likely to believe in the supernatural than men, and were more likely to visit a medium.
Nearly a quarter of the 3,000 surveyed claimed they had had a paranormal encounter.
Some 37 per cent said aliens and ghosts were the basis of their belief system.
Earlier this year reports released by the National Archives detailed UFO sightings logged by the UK Government. These included a fisherman who described being taken on to a spacecraft – only to be rejected because of his age.
Hey, that last anecdote sums up this whole problem quite nicely. The fisherman claims to have experienced an encounter with the supernatural only to be thrown back into his regular old life completely unaffected. And that’s exactly why belief in the supernatural is more enticing. It’s simply easier than an encounter with God.
About two thousand years ago, a group of fishermen encountered Jesus but He didn’t just take them for a wild ride and then say “OK, ride over. Go back to your regularly scheduled life.” He asked the fishermen to change their lives. He called them to be better than they were before. Nothing was the same.
The merely supernatural makes no demands on us and that’s why so many of us are drawn to it. God, however, calls to us at inconvenient times and asks us to throw away everything we thought we knew. And that’s why we shun it.
It would be much easier to walk along the street, see something odd in the sky and go merrily on our way with a story to entertain the other patrons at the bar. God, on the other hand, often asks us to leave the bar.
November 25, 2008 at 5:51 am
Damned ageist aliens!
November 25, 2008 at 11:58 am
I would have thought he was thrown back because he was too small.
November 25, 2008 at 12:35 pm
Thrown back because he was too old? That wasn’t an alien spacecraft; that was the socialist medical system.
November 25, 2008 at 12:58 pm
“God, on the other hand, often asks us to leave the bar.”
And so, with all thanks to Him who strengthened me, I did.
November 25, 2008 at 1:51 pm
Nice. I love the parallel between fishermen!
There was a story a couple years back about the “Jedi” church in England. My kids thought that was hilarious. It’s amazing what people choose to believe.
November 25, 2008 at 2:06 pm
Upon entering did they receive a light saber or just some crummy Yoda doll?
November 25, 2008 at 2:07 pm
Great post. I have an aunt who believes strongly in the supernatural like ghosts, aliens and yes, even demons. But not God.
We pray for her.
November 25, 2008 at 4:03 pm
Ah, yes, the Chesterton index! So true, so true! I even have many of them in a random rotation of email signatures. I will have to add this one.
People are searching for something. This is the same reason some people join cults or fundamentalist churches, because they need something. I keep thinking, if our churches really gave people direction, we’d lose some folks in the short run, but in the long run we’d have a lot more people in the pews, because we actually can offer, unlike paranormal things and Protestant churches, both the ‘real’ (concrete) and the mystical (intangible).
November 25, 2008 at 4:28 pm
People think Heaven is too incredible to believe in and that “the magic sky daddy” is unrealistic… but then become “Jedi” even though they plainly cannot mind-trick their way out of traffic tickets and crush throats with a thought.
Heck, half of these people probably cut themselves on the potato peeler, they’re supposed to handle a lightsaber?
(Who’s the more foolish, the fool or the fools who follow him?)
November 25, 2008 at 9:04 pm
Oh it gets better!
Two “Vox Nova” bloggers, when not listening to the high holy wisdom of Bono or memorizing the holy texts of Marx, have convinced themselves that their votes for Obama was a vote for pro-life and they still claim to be pro-life!
November 28, 2008 at 2:55 pm
Oh come on! There’s always time for the bar!