Paranormal Vs Religion?
by Louise van der Eijk
The area of sociology I plan to investigate is linked to religion and whether or not secularisation is evident.
I have always taken an interest in the supernatural and over the last few years I have noticed an increase in the popularity of the supernatural and its increasing presence in, for example,. coverage by the media.
I think science is another interesting topic to cover as it claims to be rational and is set to prove that certain things are predictable because they follow a law of cause and effect. Because science can be proven, it is claimed that many people put their faith in it for they can rely on it. I am anxious to find out if these factors could in any way be related to a decline in religion.
Therefore my aim is to interview a wide range of the general public and obtain information as to whether the supernatural and/or scientific views are influencing those of religion. Many people would link the supernatural in with religion e.g. the phenomena of ghosts (Spiritualism) but many aspects of the paranormal world have nothing to do with religion. Such things include psychokinesis which is the ability to move the path of objects just at will; telepathy which is being able to pick up thoughts of other people; Extra Sensory Perception (ESP) which is knowing things before they happen etc. These three phenomena fit into the category ‘mind over matter’ which is a widely spread belief among parapsychologists.
In my interview I will take people with a big age difference to see if age has any effect on their opinions on religious beliefs and matters of the supernatural.
I think that less and less people are believing in God and that the supernatural and science are factors contributing to this. Therefore my hypothesis is:
“The development of science has lead to a decline in religious belief but because people need something (spiritual and/or unexplainable) to believe in, this has produced an increasing interest and level of belief within the paranormal.”
I am referring to the paranormal here as any aspects of the paranormal. This could be a belief in ghosts watching over us, UFO phenomena and aliens who are watching us, the abilities of the mind (psychokinesis etc.) and that we are more than we are told we are etc.
By using open questionnaires and informal interviews I hope to support this view.
Because I am studying quite a sensitive area within sociology, I will need to give some thought as to what methods will be suitable for my research.
One major debate within sociological research is which research methods to use. Positivists believe that sociology is a science and therefore behaviours and societies follow a law of cause and effect. Therefore positivists use large quantities of data and opinions i.e. quantitative data. Positivists believe that data should be representative to the whole population so they can then generalise. This is why they are in favour of conducting research obtaining large amounts of data. They want their data to be reliable in order to apply it to the general population. When data is reliable, it basically means that if anyone else would conduct the same piece of research they should get the same results. The opposing term is validity which is favoured by phenomenologists, who would rather see the truth behind people’s answers and actions. This is because they don’t see society as running on a law of cause and effect, so in order to come up with why certain people behave in a certain way, phenomenologists must interview subjects on an individual basis to achieve this. Phenomenologists hold a more interpretive approach to sociology and they aim for reason. Therefore the research used by phenomenologists is qualitative i.e. the data obtained contains quality and true opinions of an individual.
The technique of triangulation will be taken into account. I will use both a qualitative and a quantitative method for my research because I have time limits and I know my samples will be relatively small. By using both valid and reliable data the strengthening of one method will make up for the weakening of another method. Therefore I will consider carefully which appropriate quantitative and qualitative data I will use.
The views on religion and belief in God are very much varied throughout the population. A questionnaire using structured questions for quantitative data might be difficult to assess as the meaning behind people’s answers might be different from the answers they actually give. The classic example of a question where the meaning is hard to know is: “Do you believe in God?” Yes/No? As my research is exactly like this I have decided not to use this kind of questionnaire. Analysing data from questionnaire which contains only open questions will be difficult to assess, so my questionnaire won’t be entirely of this kind either. I am also not too content using the mail questionnaire as I know general response rates are very low. In the course of my life I have had numerous mail questionnaires sent to me and I don’t recall sending even one back!
As a result of this I have decided to use a combination of open and structured questions. This way I can analyse certain questions easily while for others which have deeper meanings behind the answers I can leave open spaces for the answer. This will make analysing difficult but with certain questions, the meanings are slightly more important. Leaving open spaces also gives me the opportunity to take up areas I might not have thought of.
My aim is to hand out 30 questionnaires to 5 male and 5 female under 24’s, 5 males and 5 females aged between 25 and 54, and 5 males and 5 females aged over 55.
The reason I want to take the age difference is to see if there is a variation in their opinions on religious beliefs and matters of the supernatural, which is my aim throughout the coursework.
I am hoping to carry out this quantitative research where the subjects are easily available. For the students I will be looking in the college library. My sister has agreed to hand out some of the questionnaires to the lecturers at her college and my mother, who works for ‘Care in the Community’ is able to hand out questionnaires to 55+’s. The research conditions are overall very different but this is one of the limitations when working in such a short time-span.
The original idea was to go to the city centre of Newcastle and ask the people walking past if they were willing to take part. This way I could select males and females of the right age. Also as Newcastle is a busy city the survey could have been done in a relatively short space of time. However I decided not to conduct my research like this as I had the impression that the people walking past were either in a hurry or probably thought “Oh no, another survey!”. Because of this, I thought that the people who were willing to be questioned would be more likely to quickly go through the questionnaires and therefore not answer them truthfully. As I want my data to be as honest as possible decided to reject this idea.
The sample I will use is an opportunity sample because I select people who are available there and then. Random sampling according to names and addresses will be difficult as I need a wide age range. Therefore opportunity sampling is the most appropriate method.
For this questionnaire I will conduct a pilot study. Before conducting my quantitative data I will hand out the questionnaire to one or two people I know to see if they fully understand every question. This will save any problems I may face when conducting the actual study.
Looking at the alternatives I have with qualitative data I have rejected participant observation as it is of no relevance to this particular project. Instead I have chosen the structured informal interview. Here the participants are given questions but they have a certain degree of freedom when responding and they are allowed to go in depth with their answers. This way I can obtain genuine opinions and views of the participants I interview and it allows me to compare their data to some extent.
A Dictaphone will be used in all interviews. This will be useful if I need to draw back on any specific data and I won’t need to write things down very quickly which gives me the benefit of paying attention to what the participant has to say.
My aim is to interview a wide range of people from the population. My target sample is 10 people which include: 2 priests, 2 people involved with the paranormal, 2 sceptics, 2 students (aged under 25) and 2 older people (aged over 65). With this I hope to have covered most of the population that deals with religion and the paranormal.
The people I select for my interviews will be part of an opportunity sample for the same reason – I will need a wide range of people, from priests to students. With random sampling it is impossible to guess how old a person is and what they do for a living. As I need to select specific people for the interviews, an opportunity sample will, again, be the most appropriate.
As far back in history as civilisation goes, religion has always been a major social organisation. Approximately 1500 BC ancient Greeks and Romans believed in many Gods. A few thousand years before that ancient Egyptians worshipped their Gods. Even today, after the many changes of the 20th century it seems that a belief in a Christian God and other Gods is still among us.
However, this belief seems to have weakened slightly and many sociologists argue that we live in a secular society. Wilson believes secularisation has taken place. His definition of secularisation is “the process whereby religious thinking, practice and institutions lose social influence”. Secularisation, which in more simple terms means becoming non-religious can be measured in several ways.
One way of measuring religious belief is looking at church attendance. Wilson, who relied heavily on statistics, argues that church attendance is declining. He quotes that “The decline in organised religious participation indicates a way in which the churches are losing direct influence over the ideas and activities of man.”
Martin argues that the reason why less and less people are attending churches now is because we have the freedom to choose whether we want to go or not. He argues that in Victorian Britain, people were forced to go to church because it signified their being middle class, and so they went for a more non-religious purpose.
Statistics have shown a rapid decline in church attendance. An article in ‘The Guardian’ (March 1997) showed how in 1970, over 1,500,000 people attended the Church of England. In 1995, only one generation later, this figure fell by a third. Less than a quarter of children are now being baptised. This was more than 2/3 in 1950. Also confirmations continue to decline at the rate of 4000 less each year.
Wilson recognises a few reasons as to why less and less people are attending church. He argues that in modern societies there is a growth of the entertainment industry. New forms of leisure are taking over. People have now more freedom of choice whereas in the past this was not the case. People had to go to church. Wilson also identifies the many changes of the last century within science and technology as a possible explanation for secularisation. Weber calls it the ‘disenchantment of the world.’ Weber argues that people now use the most efficient technical means (rational action) to achieve worldly ends.
However, there are many arguments against this view. One question is whether science has really replaced religion as there seems to be a continued belief in God. Also religion seems to be important as people need answers to their questions which science cannot explain. The emphasis within science is how do things happen while in religion it is on why things happen.
Martin also doesn’t believe that science is influencing our religious beliefs and he points this out by asking how rational man actually is. People still tend to be rather superstitious and other things such as horoscopes are very popular, even today. However, not everyone believes that church attendance is a representative method to measure religious belief.
Of course there are many sociologists who argue that secularisation is not taking place. Secularisation is according to Bellah not evident. He argues that people are moving away from churches and dominant religions and they are privatising their beliefs. He also argues that religion can be practised in many different ways.
The upcoming of many religious sects would support his idea but sociologists interpret the rise of sects very differently. Wilson argues that an increase in sects supports religion because it shows how people have a continued belief in God. They might be moving away from dominant religions but the belief in God is still there. However, sects can also be seen as evidence for secularisation because the influence of churches and more dominant religions is weakening.
Luckmann and Berger hold a slightly different view on religion. They don’t necessarily see religion as people having to worship God or Jesus Christ, rather they see religion more as a device used by humans by which we interpret the world and give meaning to it. They call it the “Universe of Meaning” and this is the main function of religion. As the “Universe of Meaning” is universally accepted it is seen as a product of society, and it therefore helps to produce society.
However, they argue that a single universe of meaning is weakening because of the diversification in religious denominations. These denominations have their own views and own philosophy of the meaning of life and because of this, religion is losing its influence over us.
Luckmann and Berger argue that church attendance is not the most important factor in religious belief within a society rather religion is “the key factor in endowing a man’s existence with meaning.” They argue that if religious belief is being represented by church attendance then secularisation is taking place. However, if it is seen as any meaning system by which men interpret the world then religion is alive and well and an important element of human existence and social cohesion. Because of these two quite opposite views it is hard to measure whether secularisation is actually taking place.
The same argument could be used with the increased interest in the paranormal. Maybe in history people couldn’t be open to it because it was uncommon, especially in the years of the witch hunt and the inquisitions, but now people are fascinated by it; the media has picked this up, giving us enough feedback to keep us enjoying and believing in this phenomenon.
Surveys on whether people believe in God have also shown that less and less people put their faith in religion. Probably the most recent survey on religious belief (and the paranormal) was in the ‘Daily Mail’ (February 1998).
The size of this survey was extremely large, holding 1092 interviews. Findings showed that now only 63% believe in God compared to 76% in 1990.
Findings on the internet showed a survey in ‘Newsweek’ (March 31 1997) on prayer. It showed how 25% of people pray once a day and 29% pray more than once a day. This is a total of 54% of the population. This figure is less than the percentage of people who actually believe in God, which shows that less people put their religion into practise.
The strength of religious belief does vary between modern societies. A 1996 Gallup Poll of American adults showed how a staggering 96% believed in God. In a 1976 Gallup Poll, 34% said they were born again Christians. I was in America only 2 weeks ago and noticed that religion is very much part of the American way of life. We passed many different churches ranging from Lutheran to Calvery to Trinity churches. We were on the beach and were amused to hear how 2 older people had brought a portable radio and were listening to one of the religious broadcasting channels!
America is well known for its ‘obsession’ with religion and ‘getting the message across’. America holds a high number of televangelists and religious TV channels. Herberg argues that the reason why religion is so popular in America is because it is a way of expressing their identity. He quotes: “Not to be – that is not to identify oneself and be identified as – either a Protestant, a Catholic or a Jew is somehow not to be an American”.
There seems to have been an increase in the popularity within the paranormal over recent years. It has found an increasing presence in the media e.g. programmes like the X-files are becoming increasingly popular.
The Guinness Book of Records 1998 is the first year ever featuring strange phenomena. Records include hauntings, UFO phenomena and mystery animals. The Guinness Book of Records has been around since 1955 and in all its 43 years, this is the first year it has published strange phenomena. This is just some more practical piece of evidence that the world of the paranormal is on the increase.
A survey taken of the internet was published in ‘The Times’ (December 1980). A total of 1314 people participated. Findings were quite interesting, with 25% believing ESP (Extra Sensory Perception) to be an established fact and 42% believed it to be a possibility. Only 3% believed it to be impossible.
One of the most recent surveys on the paranormal was in the ‘Daily Mail’ (February 1998). This survey had 1092 participants. The findings were extraordinary. The main finding was that just as many people believed in the paranormal as did in God (63%). 64% believe that people can have powers which can’t be explained by science (e.g. psychokinesis, ESP, telepathy). More young people (18 – 34 year olds) believed in the paranormal than old (55+’s). The figure being 69% compared to 51%. However, this last 51% is still the majority of 55+’s.
It seems that there is a correlation somewhere between these two major beliefs as statistics show the paranormal to be on the increase while religion is declining. However, some argue that the increased attention to the paranormal is just a phase as the millennium is near. Many believe that it will die down after the year 2000. This is a possibility as there was a peak of attention and belief in many things paranormal (e.g. witchcraft) just before the year 1000. However, with science and technology blooming we have more insight than we did a thousand years ago, so science could be prepared to find out more about paranormal phenomena. As many people claim to put their faith in science because they can rely on it, the paranormal may some day be defined as normal.
My hypothesis stated that the development of science has lead to a decline in religion but because people need something to believe in they turn to the world of the paranormal. With the help of my questionnaires and interviews I have found this to be partly true.
Because research in this area is very rare it is hard to compare data with already existing research, however, many of the findings support my hypothesis and as this includes an increase of the paranormal, there will probably be more research conducted in the future.
I found I had quite an interesting range of interviewees. My aim was to question 2 people involved in the paranormal, 2 sceptics, 2 priests, 2 students and 2 65+’s. I realised that the hardest would be finding someone involved in the paranormal. In despair I wrote to Uri Geller, not really expecting a response. To my surprise he phoned me personally and invited me down to do the interview at his home. Although I only had half an hour and Uri Geller was the only person I could find who was involved in the paranormal, he is probably the best person to represent this strange world and therefore makes up for 10! He also gave me his consent to use his name in this coursework.
Overall, 72% believed in God (moderate – strong belief) and 75% believed in the paranormal (few – most – all aspects). The survey in the ‘Daily Mail’ (February 1998) showed how 63% believed in God and 63% in the paranormal. Although my findings are slightly higher than those in the ‘Daily Mail’, there is little difference between the belief-in-God rate and belief-in-paranormal.
Quite significantly, with the 30 people I handed the questionnaire to, 1/3 of under 25’s had no belief in God whatsoever while 1 in 10 of the 55+’s did not believe in God. With the belief in the paranormal this was exactly reversed with 1 in 10 of young people not believing in the paranormal and 30% of 55+’s not believing that the paranormal exists. With middle aged people (25 – 55) the scores were fairly mixed with a belief-in-God rate of 60% and a belief-in-paranormal rate of 70%.
The middle aged people who were asked had the highest rate of non-belief in God which was 40%. This could be due to the fact that 70% of the middle aged group were lecturers and therefore have been taught to criticise and question most topic areas. As predicted, older people had a high belief-in-God rate (90%), with 70% a strong belief.
When I interviewed the two 65+’s, both told me how their belief had grown stronger over the years. This had been due to their life experiences which included bereavement, joy and especially thankfulness. Among the interviewees I found how both 65+’s had a strong belief in God while both students believed more in a force than a God. Uri Geller, the only person I could find who was involved in the paranormal, has a fairly strong belief in God and regularly prays. I expected both sceptics to say they were agnostic and had no belief in any God or force whatsoever but one of the sceptics explained to me how he did believe in fate and predestiny. This seemed to be a widespread belief and I found that everybody I asked had a belief that certain things were meant to happen. Uri Geller preferred to use the term synchronicity as opposed to coincidence, and he believes that our lives have been stippled out for us billions and billions of years ago.
There was no significant difference between males’ and females’ belief in God (71% for men, 73% for women) however, slightly more males believed in the paranormal (80% for men, 69% for women). This contradicts the findings from the ‘Daily Mail’ survey where 66% of women believed in the paranormal compared to 61% of men.
With the interviewees I found how everybody had some form of belief in the paranormal except for the sceptics, although one of them kept an open mind as to psychokinesis, telepathy and ESP as he believed that the mind has certain abilities we are unaware of. One of the 65+’s wasn’t so sure whether she believed in the paranormal as she wasn’t familiar with the subject. I found this a common thing with older people who had to ask me several questions about it when completing the questionnaire.
The notion that people needed something to believe in was quite strong, with 88% of people filling in the questionnaires confirming this and 100% of interviewees. Even the sceptic and agnostic people who were questioned or interviewed believed this. Uri Geller argues that this is due to people having major struggles in their lives, so to help us with this we can turn back to religion. The question about whether people turned (back) to religion in times of despair was confirmed by 97% of the people questioned which is highly significant.
When asked if religion and belief in God was declining, 71% agreed to this. This conforms to many studies within sociology including the work of Weber, Berger and Wilson. When I asked this question to the priests, both felt that less people are believing in God. While one’s service attendance was quite poor but stable, the other felt this had declined. One priest explained how every December he writes to the parents of every child who has been baptised that year to ask whether they want their child to be confirmed. He also writes to the parents of every child who has been baptised 10 years previously to ask if they want to be confirmed. He said he has been doing this for the past 20 years. Last year he sent 70 letters and not one replied. The year before that he sent 100 letters and again not one replied. He argues that this is the first time this has happened. This shows how rapid the decline in religion can be.
When asked if secularisation could be due to an increase in paranormal, 1/3 believed the paranormal could be a factor in this while 81% said it could be directly or indirectly related to an increase and upcoming of science and technology, which supports my hypothesis.
When asked if people thought that there was an increase in belief in the paranormal, 87% said they felt there was. Only 13% felt this was not the case. Both 65+’s I interviewed hadn’t noticed any increase and both said they were unaware of this taking place. On the contrary both students felt there was an increase in attention within the media and the popularity of programmes especially the X-files had contributed to this belief. Even one of the priests I interviewed, who kept an open mind felt that in a way he was being forced to read about it as we can’t get away from it.
When I asked Uri Geller if he felt that TV shows on the paranormal, high media presence and people like himself contributed to the general population believing less in religion he said that an increase in the paranormal was a possible factor of secularisation but he stressed that in almost every show he does he tries to emphasise his belief in God.
The most interesting difference I found with the questionnaires and interviews was the question about whether people are now more rational. I expected most people to answer “yes” and with the questionnaires this was the case, with 71% answering Yes and 29% answering No. However, to my surprise, 78% of interviewees answered No. Only the 2 sceptics interviewed believed that people were thinking more rationally, partly because people are being educated more and are learning to question things.
With these findings I feel that secularisation is evident (confirmed by 71%) and this is due to science (confirmed by 81%). However, although people need to believe in something they don’t necessarily turn to the paranormal (only 1/3 said this to be possible). They might have a belief somewhere but because church based religion is declining (confirmed by 79%) the belief is not the notion of God as we know him from the bible etc. but more like a force directing us in a certain way. 11 out of 25 described God as a force while only 7 out of 25 described him as the ‘God from the bible’.
When conducting all the necessary research I did encounter a few problems and in certain ways I wish I could have done it again.
When I conducted the pilot questionnaire, a few questions were unclear. One question was “Do you believe there is a God?” Strongly agree – Agree – Disagree – Strongly disagree – Don’t know. When the subject filled this in she notified that she didn’t believe in a God but a force. Therefore she neither agreed nor disagreed with the question. I later changed this question to “Explain to me the strength of your belief in God” and left it open. In the pilot questionnaire I also left out the question “Are you Male or Female?” This same subject picked up on this saying there might be a significant difference between beliefs in males and beliefs in females. I later added this question to my main questionnaire but found no significant difference. However, by adding this question this has now been confirmed.
After having 30 questionnaires completed and returned to me I now wish I could rephrase some of them. Question 18 was “Statistics show that less and less people believe in God”. This is not exactly true and many sociologists would argue against this. To correct it the question should be “Statistics suggest that less and less people believe in God.”
Another question which was probably not very clear was question 22 “Do you think people are now more rational?” 12 out of 30 answered “Don’t know”. This could be due to the fact that these people were unfamiliar with the word “rational” and therefore I should have explained this to them.
With the last 2 questions I said “Please tick one answer”. Now I feel I should have put “You can tick more than one” because I feel more factors contribute to a decline in religion and an increase in paranormal, not just one main factor.
Another problem with my research is the sample size. I only questioned 30 people while the Daily Mail questioned 1092 people. Of course it is impossible to conduct research of that size in such a limited amount of time but it does make the data less representative. Also the fact that both people questioned and people interviewed were part of an opportunity sample reduces the accuracy of the data in representing the population. However, these findings are similar to the findings of much larger research studies that have been conducted.
Another problem could be the honesty of the questionnaires. Some people may have just scanned through them or put down opinions which they don’t really conform to. One of the subjects who filled in a questionnaire ticked in every single box and I realised this when he was up to question 9 so his data was certainly false. I still used his questionnaire for analysis. With his questionnaire being only 1 in 30 this probably wouldn’t have affected the data much.
There could have been an element of bias within the questionnaires as I found that some of the questions might have been phrased to direct the subject to the answer e.g. question 15 was “Do you feel that less and less people believe in God?” while question 16 was “Do you feel that more and more people believe in the paranormal?”. This was the result I was expecting to find and subjects may have picked up on this by ticking “agree” all the time. This way they would have supported my hypothesis.
I did find that I remained unbiased during the interviews and if a subject argued a point which went against my hypothesis I did not try to fight it but went along with it. This way they were free to express their honest opinions.
My target sample for the interviews was 10. However I only found 9 people involved in the paranormal. As Uri Geller is highly representative of the paranormal it would have been interesting to compare his opinions to someone else’s. I considered going to a psychic or Tarot reader but, because I think most are hoaxes, I preferred not to.
The research conditions for all of the interviewees were quite different although they were places where the subjects were comfortable. Most of the interviews took place in the interviewees’ own homes. Only one was situated in a cafe and the 2 doctors’ interviews were held at the hospital in the same room where medical experiments were being conducted. This was definitely not the best place for an interview but the lack of rooms available made it necessary. Although this wouldn’t have affected the data much, in order to obtain valid data the research conditions should have been improved.
There were big time differences in the interviews conducted. Both the sceptics’ interviews lasted only about 10 minutes because with almost every answer they had a clear “yes” or “no”. The priests on the other hand took 45 minutes and 1 hour to interview because they had deeper meanings to their answers and to answer, for example, their beliefs in God they had to explain in some depth. In only one case I found time to be a problem, which was with Uri Geller where I was limited to half an hour. I did ask all the questions I needed but coming out of the interview I wished I’d had more time to discuss some of the questions and as the paranormal is a fascinating subject, more time would have been welcome.
When I interviewed one of the 65+’s, her husband was in the room with us and whenever she hesitated with a question he interrupted. I found this quite annoying, especially when she got used to it and whenever she was uncertain of an answer she would ask him. Nevertheless I used their data for analysis which has proven to be quite useful.
One more point, which wasn’t exactly a problem for me, was the fact that both 65+’s tended to dwell on the question a bit. I found this more amusing than annoying because some of the points raised were genuinely quite interesting. I also thought their dwelling was due to them having had many life experiences and therefore it was found fascinating. It only became a problem when I had to analyse their data and I had to listen and concentrate hard to the tape recorded conversations to figure out what their opinion was.
My main focus in the research was age, interests and background. These last two factors are most needed to compare beliefs within generations and certain groups within society. I found I have covered these quite well, taking under 25’s as my younger group, 26 – 54’s as my middle aged group, and 55+’s as my older group. With the interviews my older group consisted of 2 65+’s. The range of people taken for my research included someone highly involved in the paranormal, 2 priests, 2 sceptics, 2 students and 2 older people. I believe they are representative of the range of people needed to compare beliefs within a society and therefore the two main aims and hypothesis have been relatively controll. I believe my findings can be considered valid and reliable, as far as they go.
Although conducting all the research is harder than it seems, I enjoyed carrying out the interviews. Not only have I learned from the project but also from what the subjects had to say. I enjoyed listening to them and Uri Geller’s interview was an experience in itself. I have also had the opportunity to listen to other people e.g. priests whom I would otherwise never approach. It has given me the opportunity to carry out research, go through research proceedings and experience them for myself. This has proved to be very valuable.
Guinness Book of Records 1998 (Guinness Publishing Ltd, 1997)
Haralambos & Holborn Sociology – Themes and Perspectives (Collins Educational, London, 1995)
Luckmann, T. & Berger, P.L. The Invisible Religion (Macmillen, New York, 1967)
Martin, D. A General Theory of Secularisation (Blackwell, Oxford, 1978)
Weber, M. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1958)
Wilson, B.R. Religion in a Secular Society (C.A. Watts, London, 1966)
Daily Mail Newspaper Survey on the Paranormal (Monday, February 2 1998)
Taken off the internet
The Times Newspaper Questionnaire on the Paranormal (December 20 1980)
Newsweek The Mystery on Prayer (March 31 1997)
Gallup Poll 1996 of American Adults
39333 – 0110
Sample of the pilot questionnaire
Sample of the actual questionnaire
Questions used in interviews
Letter to Uri Geller
Photo of Uri Geller and me
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Questions used in interviews
1. Establish your belief in God. Explain to me the strength of your belief in God.
2. Why do/don’t you believe in God?
3. What started your belief in God?
4. Do you believe in anything paranormal which is unrelated to religion e.g. Psychokinesis, Telepathy, UFO phenomena?
5. Why do/don’t you believe in the paranormal?
6. Have you had any paranormal experiences? If yes, please explain.
7. Do you feel that less and less people are believing in God?
8. Statistics show that less and less people are believing in God. Why do you think this is?
9. Do you think there is an increase of belief and attention within the paranormal?
10. Do you think that the reason why people believe less in God could in any way be due to an increase in the paranormal?
11. Do you think that the reason why people believe less in God could in any way be due to science and technology?
12. Do you think people are now more rational?
13. Do you think people need something to believe in?
Extra questions asked to Uri Geller
1. Are you superstitious?
2. Do you believe in predestination?
Extra questions asked to the priests
1. Do you link the supernatural in with religion?
2. Have you felt (i.e. in one generation) a decline in church attendance?
3. Is there any part within religion that you don’t agree with?
4. Have you ever questioned your belief?
5. Do you feel that it is now harder to practise being a priest than in the past?
Extra questions asked to the sceptics
1. Have you been raised a Christian or ever been to church?
2. Do you thing your educational background i.e. medicine and/or maths has influenced your beliefs in the paranormal and religion?
Extra questions asked to the students
1. Has being a student changed your beliefs in religion and the paranormal in any way?
Extra questions asked to the older people
1. Has your beliefs in religion and the paranormal changed in any way over the years?
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Sir Elton John
“Eternity is down the hall And you sit there bending spoons In your mind, in your mind”
“I Have watched Uri Geller… I have seen that so I am a believer. It was my house key and the only way I would be able to use it is get a hammer and beat it out back flat again.”
“Better than watching Geller bending silver spoons, better than witnessing new born nebulae’s in bloom”