PAR 503 Science, Religion, and the Paranormal
What do ghosts have to say about God? What role do science and religion have to play in our understanding of the paranormal, and vice-versa? In this course, 40-year paranormal researcher and double seminary graduate Paul Eno discusses the deeply intertwined history of religion, science and the paranormal, what each has to say about the other today, and the practical lessons to be drawn from it all in paranormal research. Eno explains, “Any student of folklore will tell you that all our religions had their origins in (for all intents and purposes) the paranormal. They resulted from the primal and universal human need to explain the unexplained, especially death.”
Paul F. Eno, Ph.B c/o New River Press/Barking Cat Books 645 Fairmount St. Woonsocket, RI 02895-4012 Personal Consultation Line: (866) 894-3141 (IMU e-mail address)
Required Text and Learning Materials:
Eno, Paul F.: Turning Home: God, Ghosts and Human Destiny, New River Press, 2006. ISBN: 9781891724060 www.newriverpress.com/catalog.htm OPTIONAL TEXTS: (We will discuss these, but students will not be tested on them. If students do wish to buy them, they are available new or used at Amazon.com.):
- Watson, Lyall: Gifts of Unknown Things, any edition.
- Fox, Robin Lane: Pagans and Christians, any edition.
Upon completing the course, students should:
- Know the origins and history of religious, scientific and paranormal beliefs and how they relate.
- Recognize the areas of human history in which the paranormal has played a crucial role.
- Know how people today have come to believe what they do.
- Know how to deal with people of various religions in paranormal matters.
- Know how to deal with scientists and skeptics in paranormal matters.
- Know how to deal with the clergy of various religions in paranormal matters.
- This course will take the student on a surprising journey from the first known religions of our remote ancestors, through an alternate translation of the Book of Genesis, and contemporary documents such as the Kharsag Epics of the Sumerians and the intimate relationship of the paranormal to it all.
- This will bring us to the ancient, medieval and modern history of religion and the paranormal as they relate to each other. One section will deal with “What ghosts have to say about God”: implications about God and belief as drawn from the instructors’ own experience and from that of students.
- Then we will learn about people, what they believe and why. This will include common misconceptions about their own religions, persistence of paranormal beliefs, and the modern disconnect between many people and the religions they grew up in. We will look at the New Age phenomenon and the possible return of paganism on a large scale, with a potential religion based on a cosmic understanding of the paranormal.
- Finally, we will discuss the practicalities of dealing with people in paranormal situations, vis-à-vis their own religious beliefs.
Reading materials, Internet-based audio presentations with graphics, live chats and/or Skype-based or telephone-based class discussions with the instructor. Tests. There will be at least one individual field assignment for each student (see below) that will require a written report.
Students will be expected to listen to lecture programs and complete readings as assigned. In addition, each student will be asked to interview in detail a clergyperson of his or her choice on the subject of the paranormal and the clergyperson’s religion’s approach to it. A written report to the class will result. A second written assignment will be on a relevant subject of the student’s choice, as agreed to by the instructor. Since group discussion is an essential part of the university experience, students will be expected to participate in interaction with the instructor and other students via telephone, Skype or online, insofar as they are able, at the times provided.
Objective tests, the written report outlined above, and at least minimal participation in group discussions will contribute to each student’s grade.
The instructor maintains “virtual office hours” at his consultation line and IMU e-mail address: Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 8:30 to 10 p.m. (Eastern) Other times by appointment. Weekly live chats will take place Wednesday evenings from 9 to 10 p.m. (Eastern).
100-90 = A; 89-80 = B; 79-70 = C; 69-60 = D