"Do we really know anything and, if so, what?
And how do we know it?
And how do we know that we know it?
And how do we know that we know that we know it?"
(Jones and Wilson (1987) An Incomplete Education. Page 302).
In a recent posting on the website of The Telegraph Christopher Howse reported on the possible presence of angels amongst us. Suggesting 38 per cent of Britons believe in angels he said ‘a university lecturer’ had criticised parents for dismissing their children’s reports of angel sightings.
Howse doesn’t say who that university lecturer is, but his article raises interesting questions and provoked heated comments from readers. These ranged from numerous reported angel sightings by both adults and children, to a fair number of postings expressing a huge degree of animosity, from those who hadn’t seen angels and knew they never would.
What is it that makes people so angry about the possibility of there being things we are yet to fully understand?
And even if angels don’t ‘exist’ (whatever that might mean), for those who believe they exist they have a very real impact on their lives.
One irate commentator said there has never been any tangible evidence of anything like Angels, Father Christmas or God. I’m guessing he would probably include the tooth fairy in that list. Yet thousands of lucky children have tangible evidence of the tooth fairy’s existence. They believe that if they put a tooth under their pillow at night the tooth fair will come and take it and replace it with a coin.
And thousands of children have their theory proved right by the very tangible evidence of a coin the next morning.
Who or what the tooth fairy may be is disputable, but their belief in the existence of a power which can manifest that coin is strong enough to bring that coin into being. The child who knows there is no tooth fairy refuses to put the tooth under their pillow. And hey presto they too have their proof of its non-existence because they don’t receive a coin.
If we believe there are people – or angels – out there who are there to generate good and positive experiences in our world, then chances are we will come across people and opportunities that generate those good experiences.
Whether or not there is ‘tangible evidence’ of the precise origin of that good experience seems somewhat irrelevant to those whose lives have benefited.