Holy hypnosis sent to baffle materialists

In a recent discussion of news that creationist-allied campaigners are suggesting neuroscience implies a non-materialist (e.g. soul-based) human existence, I mentioned this was old news as Nobel-prize winning physiologist John Eccles had argued much the same in the early 20th century.

However, I recently got back to reading The Discovery of the Unconscious, Ellenberger’s huge book and remarkably thorough history of psychodynamic psychiatry, and discovered this gem on p161 that mentions a similar view from 1846.

It discusses the church’s view of hypnotism, then called magnetism, and how one notable French priest was arguing that its effects were so startling that it must have been sent by God to piss off scientists.

…in 1846, the celebrated Dominican preacher Father Lacordaire declared in one of his sermons in Notre Dame Cathedral that he believed in magnetism, which, he felt consisted of “natural but irregular forces which cannot be reduced to scientific formulas and which are being used by God in order to confound contemporary materialism”.

The Catholic church has traditionally had an ambivalent relationship with hypnosis, and banned its members from the practice from the 1880s until 1955, as we discussed previously.

Link to more about The Discovery of the Unconscious.
Link to previous post on LSD, hypnosis and the church.

3 Comments

  1. Posted November 10, 2008 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Unlike most science guys, I do not refute the existence, at least theoretically, of telepathy, hypnosis and other para-psychological phenomena. Magnetic aura or not, scientists have now harnessed (telepathic?) EEG signals into performing them ‘work’ at a distant site (you may do a Google search). We should always be open-minded and dismiss only when evidences point to the contrary.

  2. ronwagn
    Posted November 11, 2008 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    The problem with science is that they see themselves as the center of all reality. They do not explore the unconscious. They do not know the reality of mystical experience. The true mystic sees the entire cosmic reality, and knows that that science addresses only what can be perceived by their limited perceptions. They believe that matter is the ultimate reality. It is, in a sense, their god. They do not examine the greater vision of total reality. A reality that is not totally knowable by mortal minds.

    • jdl1.0
      Posted January 17, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      Who is they? Who is science? Please cite sources when you attempt to attack an entire group of people. I am studying physics in a San Francisco college and not a single one of my teachers thinks that “matter is the ultimate reality.”

      Scientists explore the unconscious and sub-conscious all the time. Go get an introductory textbook on neurobiology and give it a cursory glance before making silly assertions.

      The scientists I’ve met and talked with (a couple dozen so far), and the ones whose works I’ve read (probably close to 100 by now) don’t see themselves “as the center of all reality.” That is a straw man fallacy created by you in order to make your position look better because you have a terrible argument full of holes.

      You talk about a “greater vision of total reality.” What is total reality? What is a vision of it? You use words, but they don’t make sense and they have no meaning. Science doesn’t tell us what IS the case, it merely offers one explanation of an infinite amount of explanations. Typically, it offers the best explanation, and it is always wrong (and known to be wrong by ALL scientists) and thus refined or thrown out when a better explanation comes along.

      Whatever “absolute truth” you claim to possess is worthless because you cannot show where you are wrong, you cannot make useful predictions with it, and your explanations are not simple in that they raise more questions than they answer.

      Science has proven to be powerful and useful. It has always been shown to be wrong, and subsequently corrected. With this method it has given us everything we have, while other methods, e.g., religion, pseudo-science, astrology, myth, etc., have given us nothing. Yet people insist on hypocritically using and abusing science to attack science and promote lies and myths. It is irony to the greatest degree.

      I dare you to demonstrate your crackpot ideas without using any technology or methods given us by science. I dare you to demonstrate your claim that science is at fault without using science in your proof.


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