Remember how, during the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama said that we are the change we have been waiting for? Well, I was thinking about this in terms of paranormal phenomenon. So many people are looking beyond themselves, out into the world, for evidence of God, UFOs, monsters, and ghosts. They think that this kind of search would be a vindication of the idea that we are not alone and we are more than blind and determinate physics and chemistry shuffling in the void.
But then it occurred to me. The very first paranormal phenomenon in history appears to be, well, us. Think about it. How weird the first one of us was when he or she entered the scene just one hundred thousand years ago! Who would have believed it? One of us, at some point in history, had a barely conscious mother, an animal really, and yet we found ourselves to be thinking in ways unlike our mother. In fact, we found ourselves thinking like absolutely nobody before us had ever done before (at least insofar as we know). And then we reproduced and found that our kids were more like us than our animal grandparents. And then they reproduced, and there was suddenly a sort of alien invasion of self-conscious minds that had invaded the blind, atheist, and materialist universe. There were ghosts in the machines! Meat was making cave wall art! A world that might have seemed, at first look, to be exactly the kind of universe any atheist would expect to see (that is, one of matter acting like, well, matter), suddenly saw the intrusion of ghostly minds (with free will!) in a way akin to the shattering appearance of the monolith in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
In other words, we are the paranormal phenomenon that we have been waiting for! If you’re young and smart, and think there might be something to paranormal phenomena, and maybe want to even be a paranormal investigator, throw yourself into becoming a neurologist, because that’s where the action is! Absolutely nobody looking at the way things had gone for fourteen billion years previous to us would have believed that we were coming. But here we are. Our very existence is a disjuncture as huge and baffling as any landing of UFOs on the White House lawn or Jesus coming in the clouds would be. We need accounting for. In an atheist universe we don’t make sense.