There is an almost universal belief in the existence of angels. Whether one thinks of them as messengers from God, guardians offering protection, or mere non-corporeal remnants of the departed, people love the idea of angels.
But are they real?
I suppose this depends on one’s definition of reality. If you believe something to be real, if you perceive this belief as real, then to many that is enough.
There are all sorts of anecdotal stories offered as proof of angels. Yet they show the depth of faith held by the believers not sound evidence of the existence of angels.
I prefer something more definitive than just faith. Many of us have experience with a phenomenon known as “sensed presence.” This is the experience of sensing another being in a room or nearby without being able to “see” the being. To those who experience this, it is very real. Add in some tragedy in one’s life, say a recent death of a loved one, and it’s easy to see how one could interpret the experience as contact from beyond death.
Although the experience is quite real, a supernatural explanation for the cause is not.
For those indoctrinated early on with religious stories of angels as messengers or guardians, one has all the elements necessary for a false yet powerful belief in their existence.
There have been a number of scientific studies wherein the “sensed presence” phenomenon was recreated in a carefully controlled environment by exposing people to small magnetic fields.
At a time when science was in its infancy it’s easy to see how a misunderstood phenomenon could be explained as supernatural.
I think modern science offers a more rational explanation.
But wait, what about the case of the infant in the submerged car? The one where the mother died on impact. Officers called to the scene 14 hours later reported hearing a woman’s voice pleading for help. That had to be an angel. That had to be the mother as a guardian angel leading the officers to the child.
There’s a difference between not having the explanation and there being no explanation or a supernatural one. Not understanding what happened in this case does not mean it had to be angels.
There is a phenomenon known as mass hysteria or mass hallucinations. Normally rational people can report all sorts of perceived sounds or visions. A more reasoned explanation is the shared trauma of finding an infant showing signs of life then struggling to save the child filtered through a collective, yet changing, memory.
When one is under stress, particularly in a life or death struggle, the mind does all sort of things to protect itself.
It is hard to think it was pure chance that the child survived the crash and was rescued. It is more comforting to think the rescuers were guided there by the power of a mother’s love in the form of an angel’s voice.
One characteristic of angels has always troubled me. Why do Angels have wings? Over time I’ve discovered there is a simple answer.
Angels are figments of the human imagination.
We made them up and attached wings to them as a way to explain their ability to fly. The frailty of our human efforts to explain things we do not understand is showing.