Atheist Richard Dawkins Challenged and Discredited by Scientific Findings in MedjugorjeNovember 12, 2011 No Comments
November 12, 2011 | CatholicDaily.net
(Our Catholic World) – In his highly popular book, The God Delusion, atheist intellectual and Oxford scholar Richard Dawkins alleges that all forms of reported visionary experience must constitute either an illusion, a lucid dream, or some form of hallucination. In other words, visionary experiences cannot be authentic. Professor Dawkins explains:
“Constructing models is something the human brain is very good at. When we are asleep it is called dreaming; when we are awake we call it imagination or, when it is exceptionally vivid, hallucination…If we are gullible, we don’t recognize hallucination or lucid dreaming for what it is and we claim to have seen or heard a ghost; or an angel; or God; or – especially if we happen to be young, female and Catholic – the Virgin Mary. Such visions and manifestations are certainly not good grounds for believing that ghosts or angels, gods or virgins, are actually there.”
It is interesting that Professor Dawkins mentions visions of the Virgin Mary, thus the subject of Marian apparitions, as constructed models of hallucination or lucid dreaming. It is interesting because it is a modern set of Marian apparitions, currently taking place in Europe, which substantially challenge Professor Dawkins’ thesis that all visionary experiences must be hallucinations, lucid dreaming, or cultural constructions of the human mind. There is a modern phenomenon which – to put it modestly – obliterates Professor Dawkins’ claims: this is the phenomenon of the Marian apparitions in Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina, apparitions which began in 1981 and which, as author Randall Sullivan acknowledged, had been subjected to “perhaps more medical and scientific examination than any other purported supernatural event in the history of the human race.”
Scientific Studies on the Apparitions in Medjugorje
Professor Dawkins is a very accomplished scientist, specifically in the fields of zoology and evolutionary biology – on these matters, I do not question his ability or his impressive erudition. Judging by his book, he even knows a little about the brain and neuroscience. I say “a little,” however, for if Professor Dawkins knew how much advances have been made in recent years by neuroscientists in testing visionary experience and mystical phenomena, he would have known that his claims of hallucination or lucid dreaming (as absolute explanations for visionary phenomena) no longer hold any water.
Professor Andrew Newberg, a renowned radiologist at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School who is considered a pioneer in the neuroscientific study of spiritual experiences, and his co-author the late Eugene D’ Aquili, a former professor of psychiatry at Pennsylvania, have explained: “It is possible that with the advent of improved technologies for studying the brain, mystical experiences may finally be differentiated from any type of psychopathology.”
It is appropriate and even ironic that Professor Dawkins invokes the example of Marian apparitions in his book The God Delusion for it is in Medjugorje, where six visionaries have reported experiencing Marian apparitions since 1981 as children, that perhaps more advanced technology has been used to test mystical experiences than anywhere else.
The French doctor Henri Joyeux, an internationally renowned cancer researcher and Professor of Cancerology in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Montpellier, led a team of physicians and scientists to investigate the apparitions of Medjugorje in the 1980s. On a daily basis the six visionaries of Medjugorje entered a deep ecstasy during the same time (5:45 pm in the winter and 6:45 pm in the summer) when they fell to their knees and reported experiencing their apparitions of the Virgin Mary. The frequency of this phenomenon – it’s daily occurrence – allowed Dr. Joyeux and his French team of scientists to study the mystical experiences as they were occurring.
The majority of the studies conducted on the young Medjugorje visionaries, which have ranged from polygraph tests to neurological examinations, psychiatric tests, electrocardiograms, blood pressure and heart rhythm examinations, and electroencephalogram tests measuring brain waves during ecstasies, have not only supported the integrity of the apparitions but have also fully undermined Professor Dawkins’ conclusions in The God Delusion. Let us observe his claims closely and notice what Medjugorje challenges about them.
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