A Question to the NCLS

Recently Rodney Eivers wrote to the National Church Life Survey people questioning the combining of “Mystical” and “Supernatural” as one category in their research:

Dear NCLS Research

Thank you for your Research News  with its update on various matters including the planning for the survey in 2021.

In reading your Research News, I find I am disturbed that you should combine Mystical with Supernatural as one category. I would see them as being quite separate phenomena. Mystical may apply as far as I am aware to a number of mental states and expressions of consciousness.  This can have a powerful effect on the human psyche but still remains something rational and developed during the evolutionary process. Supernatural, however, I presume, means occurrences beyond the laws of nature as we know them. Behaving in accord with supernatural  suppositions would be regarded by thinking people, I imagine, especially in this 21st century, as being irrational. I am aware of many writers who would, while classing themselves as mystics, not consider they were operating irrationally.

I write this with deep concern about the implication from your surveys that religion and Christianity,  in particular,  comprises the supernatural belief as well as the mystical,  to be valid.                                                                                                                                                                    Rodney Eivers –  UC Forum  http://www.ucforum.unitingchurch.org.au/

He received the following courteous response:

Dear Rodney,

Thank you for taking the time to express your views with us.  

We have used this particular form of wording for many years as it has been used in other international surveys.   This has given us benchmarks of changes over time.  We will reflect on whether there are other options that can achieve this goal of being able to compare with other groups. 

You may also be interested in our more detailed academic work on mysticism among church attenders.  UK colleagues used data from church attenders to reflect on the links between mystical experiences and emotional wellbeing.  In short, the study found no relationship between having mystical experiences and negative wellbeing.

Francis, L. Powell, R and Village, A. (2020). Mystical experience and emotional wellbeing: A study among Australian church leaders. Journal of Beliefs and Values.

Mystical experience and emotional well being

Kind regards,

Amelia Vaeafisi, Administrative Assistant, NCLS Research

oOo

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