What’s really in the dark?

I enjoy horror movies and science fiction TV shows. Whenever the two intersect I tend to be very pleased. In Season 4 of the revived Doctor Who series there was an episode called “Silence in the Library.” It was basically a two part episode dealing with an alien, flesh-eating parasite that lives in the darkness.In fact it was the two-part episode “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances” with a very horror movie tone that got me into the revived Doctor Who series in the first place.

But, what really is hiding in the dark?

There are all sorts of myths, religions, urban legends and superstitions about what lies in the darkness when the lights go out. Things like monsters or ghosts are very common. One question that often comes out of this sort of pondering would be, why are we afraid of the dark to being with. The short answer is because we can’t see in the dark. We are afraid what we can’t explain. More specifically we are afraid of the unknown. We know in our minds that darkness is really the absence of light. But is that really the case?

Let’s look at a few instances of possible supernatural activity that might shed some light on this subject. So what about monsters, ghosts, spirits, demons, etc., do we really think these things are hiding in the shadows? Or is it likely we just fabricate these types of explanations to placate our sensibilities? After all, it’s easier to make something up that fits into our experiences than it is to ask questions. It’s even harder to explore the world around us if we start off afraid.

Everyone knows someone who has heard, or shared, a ghost story. We are all drawn to ghost stories for the simple reason they justify our fears. If you tell yourself that cold sensation you get walking past the “haunted” painting in the hallway late at night when you are waling to the bathroom is a spirit stuck in this world, it makes sense so you accept it. The scientific mind would look for a rational alternative explanation. Perhaps a draft coming from somewhere in the walls. Or maybe it’s just your imagination from watching too many episodes of Tales from the Crypt.

One thing about ghost stories is nearly every culture has some belief in spirits. Some attribute them to the deceased unable to pass on to the next life. In some culture they are demons who have turned their backs on the creator, waging a war of good against evil. Spirits and spiritual things do not always fit into the mind of the rational skeptic. The next issue then is, do you believe in ghosts?

This comes up a lot. No matter if you are a Christian, atheist, or adherent to some other belief system; the question of belief in spirits and ghosts usually comes up at some point. Without getting into documented cases just consider that everything you can’t explain doesn’t have to have an explanation either. The scientific principal of the easiest explanation is usually the best doesn’t always apply. What if the easiest explanation for that shiver you get is a result of a spirit passing by your presence? Isn’t it easier to freely admit there could be a ghost than it is to try and offer and number of explanations? Just some things to consider.

Do I personally believe in ghosts? The short answer is I don’t know. I believe that in a universe as vast as ours there are some things we can’t explain. That doesn’t mean that we need to jump to any conclusions. We just need to keep in mind that you don’t have to immediately dismiss a supernatural or spiritual explanation for something that isn’t so easy to explain otherwise. I sometimes question what lies in the dark. I think we all get the feeling we are being watched at times. We experience this feeling even when we are certain we are alone. I once lived in an old house in the country. I swear I could hear the sounds of a little girl crying in the attic late at night. My sister, who lived a few blocks away came by to visit me one day and asked if I was babysitting because she could hear a little girl crying upstairs. We checked it out and there was nothing.

I used to tell a story about my childhood. We had this painting that I swear I could sometimes see a little girl hiding in the woods, while other times there was no sign of this girl. My sisters each have reported seeing different things in that very same painting over the years. We had my mom so convinced it was haunted she got rid of the painting. I don’t know for certain if I believe in ghosts. But I am 100 percent convinced there are spiritual, perhaps even supernatural, forces at play in our universe. Even if we do not currently have the scientific capability of detecting these forces.

One of the reasons I enjoy horror movies so much is because they often do make me think about what might be hiding in the shadows.

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