When I was younger a friend of mine told be about his father, who one night got out of bed and started to sleepwalk. His father had been ill for some time. My friend didn’t want to abruptly wake him, so he followed him to make sure he would be OK. He watched as his father went to the garage, took a ladder and proceeded to climb onto the roof. At this point my friend was worried enough that he called out “Dad, what are you doing?”.
His father responded in a very matter of fact way “I’m going to the angel that’s on the roof”. Really worried now, my friend said “what angel?”. “The one on the roof son”, his father replied, “she’s calling me. Can’t you see her? She’s right there!”. My friend decided to watch as his father had his encounter with the angel. When he was done, he helped his father back down and into his bed. The next morning my friend woke up to find that his father had died during the night.
Was that angel real? I say yes. Not in the sense of flesh and blood of course, or something corporeal that, with the exception of my friend’s father perhaps, someone can reach out and touch. But since when is what’s real limited to such a narrow definition? Science certainly doesn’t use such a strict definition. There are many scientifically measurable things that are not flesh and blood or made up of solid gas or liquid. Light is considered as waves of pure energy or “particles” called photons. Or take the neutrino, that has no mass and is so ephemeral that it can easily pass through our planet without stopping. These phenomena have been measured in physics because these things have energy and therefore cause measurable effects.
So, back to the angel. Of course that angel was in the father’s mind and not actually sitting on the roof. But that doesn’t make it any less real. You could argue that the angel was a series of electrical impulses firing off in the father’s brain, which because of severe illness, may have been functioning differently than usual. That is a real phenomena. Real enough to measure? Sure, why not? Scientists who study the brain are getting better at recording brain waves and neuron firings and associating them with a particular event. In time it is very feasible that someone could record that angel that is manifesting itself in the neurological pathways of the brain.
Another reason to consider that angel real is that it had real effects and real consequences. It caused the father to get up, grab a ladder and climb to the roof.
So what about the argument that the angel isn’t real because no one but the father experienced it. Doesn’t science say that a real phenomena must be something that we can all experience. Yes, but to be more precise, a real phenomena is one that is reproducible. That is, anyone else should be able to experience it IF the same experimental conditions were set up. How many of you have actually experienced the many scientifically validated discoveries that exist? Most people haven’t. This is because the experimental conditions that give rise to them are produced in a laboratory at tremendous cost, then re-produced in other laboratories at tremendous cost. The phenomena is confirmed even though most people on earth haven’t seen it.
It isn’t a stretch to say that if someone else set up the same conditions as my friend’s father, the illness, the stress, the neurons firing in an unusual way that evening, they might experience the same angel. That would be reproducible results.