manicstreetpreacher hits 60 posts for 2009!
Paul S Jenkins over at Notes from an Evil Burnee has posted the podcast links to an appearance by Professor Chris French, whose superb lecture on paranormal experiences for Merseyside Skeptics’ Society I reported earlier this year, discussing whether angels exist on Radio 4’s Beyond Belief. The presenter, Ernie Rea, is joined by French, Emma Heathcote-James spiritualist author of Seeing Angels and Greek Orthodox priest, Father Gregory Hallam.
The show’s title is all too apt: it really does defy belief! I can barely accept what my own ears tell me; that Auntie is giving airtime to such spurious nonsense. If I’d have been there I would have been tempted to swing a punch at Emma Heathcote-James just to see whether her guardian angel would do anything to protect her! She clearly accepts that visions of guardian angels are the paranormal experiences flavour of the month following on from previous crazes such as ghosts and alien abductions, but like Fox Mulder from the X-Files, the woman just wants to believe…
Heathcote-James is so wrapped up in it that she has either deluded herself into believing anything she hears about angels or is preying on basket cases (like the woman they interviewed partway through) in order to sell books.
Philosopher Stephen Law has blogged on this show as well and describes Heathcote-James as “very irritating” and has reproduced a typical piece of theological obscurantism from Father Gregory Hallam. Hallam’s retort is in response to Chris French’s suggestion of 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.
Thanks for clearing that one up for us, Greg…