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Leaps of Faith: Science, Miracles and the Search for Supernatural Consolation

Leaps of Faith: Science, Miracles and the Search for Supernatural Consolation

Autore/i: Humphrey Nicholas

Editore: Copernicus

with a new foreword by Daniel Dennett.

pp. 244, New York

How many of us believe in telepathy? Or in ghosts? Or the power of prayer? In this provocative and disturbing book Nicholas Humphrey discusses why so many people still cling, like children seeking reassurance, to belief in supernatural forces: an immaterial soul, universal connectedness and life after death.
Using a novel approach, the “Argument from Unwarranted Design”, Humphrey mounts a devastating critique of the existing evidence for the paranormal, ranging from miracles to the laboratory evidence for extrasensory perception. He asks why so many sensible people nonetheless refuse to give up the search, and especially why certain exceptional individuals may still become convinced they themselves have supernatural powers. He explains the psychology of what he calls “paranormal fundamentalism” — the unshakable belief that, whatever the evidence, “there must be something there”, and traces this to our deep-seated attachment to a mind-body dualism.
In the end, Humphrey argues, it is not only the facts of science but the laws of logic that rule out the truth of most paranormal claims. Yet does this mean the real world we live in is poorer than it might be? Far from it. In a surprising twist, he concludes that the world as it is, governed by natural laws without the possibility of psychic powers or supernatural intervention, has been and is the best cradle for human development.
Leaps of Faith is a witty, philosophical, shocking, and thoroughly absorbing look at our most closely held beliefs about religion, nature, and each other.

Nicholas Humphrey is Professor of Psychology at The New School University and a Research Fellow in Philosophy at the London School of Economics.

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