What Is the Bible’s View?
Should You Explore “ESP”?
“MY FAMILY and I locked up our home and left town for a two-week vacation. On a Thursday night, I had a dream in which I could vividly see a burglar breaking a glass panel on the front door, opening the lock, and going inside the house.”
The following day the woman who had this strange dream drove back to town to check on her house. She found that it had been burglarized and that a glass panel of the front door had been smashed.
What enabled this lady to envision an event that took place miles away from where she was? It evidently was a case of extrasensory perception (ESP), the ability of certain persons to obtain knowledge of things without using the known senses of sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch.
Extrasensory perception includes telepathy, or knowledge of someone else’s thoughts or feelings; clairvoyance, meaning awareness of objects, events or persons without using the normal human senses; precognition, or knowledge of the future; psychokinesis, sometimes called “mind over matter,” an ability to control material objects by concentrating on them.
Many people have become fascinated by demonstrations of extrasensory perception. Some feel that it is a “gift” from God and would like to try to develop it themselves. Is ESP really from God? Would it benefit you to explore ESP?
The Scriptures do speak of “spiritual gifts” in the form of supernatural abilities that God gave to certain men of ancient times, especially Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 12:1; Acts 2:22) These powers that truly were from God included, along with much more, all the abilities claimed by persons today who have ESP. But the Bible also states that “false prophets” would be able to “perform many miracles” and even to make accurate predictions on occasion. (Matt. 7:15, 22, The New English Bible; Deut. 13:1-3) How can you tell whether a modern-day manifestation of supernatural knowledge or power such as ESP is from God?
The Bible’s book of Deuteronomy sets forth three essentials for identifying a true prophet, or representative of God: He would speak in Jehovah’s name; if he made predictions, they would always come to pass; and his utterances would promote true worship, being in harmony with God’s revealed word and commandments.—Deut. 13:1-4; 18:20-22.
Do “psychics” who have ESP today meet those requirements? Do their “revelations” have any connection with Jehovah’s name and worship? A woman who developed extrasensory perception by use of Tarot cards said: “Most of what I read was trivia. The maid’s brother would go into the Army, a neighbor would have a baby . . . none of it very important.” And unlike Bible prophecy, ESP predictions often go unfulfilled.
The Bible also says that miraculous powers, which were a feature of the true Christian congregation in its infancy, would one day “be done away with.” (1 Cor. 13:8-11) This came about following the death of the apostles of Jesus Christ, for the Bible clearly shows that these abilities were passed on to others only through the apostles or in their presence. (Acts 8:14-16; 19:6) Thus, any human able to demonstrate supernatural knowledge or power in later centuries, including our day, did not receive that ability from God.
But if this power is not from God, what accounts for the times when really accurate information comes through ESP? Certain carefully controlled experiments have produced results that scientists cannot explain. What is behind this power?
Extrasensory perception, as a means of discovering hidden knowledge or foretelling future events, is a form of divination. The Bible associates divination with wicked spirit forces, or superhuman demons. Note the basis for such a conclusion.
Acts 16:16 speaks of a certain servant girl who “used to furnish her masters with much gain by practicing the art of prediction,” something that extrasensory perceivers do today. But when the apostle Paul expelled from her “a spirit, a demon of divination,” she was no longer able to make accurate predictions. If such could occur even while the apostles were alive, should it surprise anyone that such things occur now?
Is there evidence that some manifestations of ESP today are linked with demon power? Yes. For example, Lewis Spence writes in An Encyclopædia of Occultism: “Clairvoyance [a form of ESP] remains to the present day a prominent feature of the spiritualistic séance.” Interestingly, Uri Geller, a man who has recently received wide publicity for his abilities at extrasensory perception, said of his power: “I believe it is generated through me by an intelligent power in the universe. I believe in God, but I do not believe this is coming from God.” (Italics ours.)
It is not surprising, therefore, that serious harm has resulted to some who have become involved with extrasensory perception. Allen Cohen, a clinical psychologist and director of a drug-abuse institute, says of people who try to explore forces such as ESP: “Through improper meditation, serious illness, or attempts to astrotravel, these people see mystical visions that they can’t integrate properly into their view of life. There is a great and building problem today with the huge numbers who are becoming obsessed and possessed. When you treat their mental disturbance in a normal way they simply aren’t helped.” So why explore something that has been so harmful to others?
ESP can also cause people who need guidance from God to seek it in the wrong place. In this connection Isaiah 8:19 reasons: “And in case they should say to you people: ‘Apply to the spiritistic mediums or to those having a spirit of prediction who are chirping and making utterances in low tones,’ is it not to its God that any people should apply?”
How should a person “apply” to God for counsel in his everyday life and for a sure hope for the future? The psalmist declared: “Your word is a lamp to my foot, and a light to my roadway.” And the apostle Paul wrote: “The sacred secret [involving future blessings for mankind] . . . has been made known through the prophetic scriptures.”—Ps. 119:105; Rom. 16:25, 26.
Extrasensory perception, being linked with spiritism, which the Bible condemns, does not meet God’s approval. (Lev. 20:6: Gal. 5:19-21; Rev. 21:8) Actually ESP can cause people to look to wicked spirit forces for guidance, rather than to God. And many who have delved into extrasensory perception have become “obsessed or possessed.”
No, it is not by exploring ESP, but through study of the Holy Bible, which is unquestionably “inspired of God,” that one can gain insight and counsel that truly come from God.—2 Tim. 3:16.