Are Group Visions Possible?

I have received a number of interesting responses to my claim in yesterday’s post that it is possible for groups of people to have the same non-veridical vision (that is, hallucinations).  I used the phenomenon of the Blessed Virgin Mary: she seems to appear a good deal, to groups of people – sometimes large groups.  In this post I thought I would respond to two of the highly intelligent demurrals.

 

DEMURRAL:

As a former evangelical Protestant we believed that Roman Catholics who ...

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Are “Group Hallucinations” Possible? The Case of Mary.

Several people have asked me about my claim that “group hallucinations” are possible – that is, that a “vision” can be seen by many people at once.  It seems counter-intuitive: aren’t hallucinations by definition the inner workings of a person’s mind?  How can more than one person have the same hallucination at the same time?

Well, I’m not sure how that works, psychologically.  My guess is that there is a strong sociological component as well – i.e., that something weird is ...

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The Virgin Birth and Jesus’ Brothers

I am now ready to end this thread of posts dealing with the stories of Jesus’ virgin birth – told differently in Matthew and Luke, not at all in John, and seemingly argued against in the Gospel of Mark.

Earlier I should have given some terminology so that we could all be on the sam page.   There are different terms that are often confused:

  • Immaculate Conception. This doctrine is *not* about Jesus’ mother conceiving as a virgin; it is about Mary’s *own* ...
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Jesus and Mary Magdalene

I pointed out in my last post that most people simply assume that Jesus was not married because there is no mention of his wife in any of our sources, or any mention that he ever had a wife. And so it is assumed that he did not have one. As Karen King pointed out in our discussion the other night at the Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, that is an argument from silence, and ...

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Visions of Mary

I wrote chapter five of How Jesus Became God today; there will be nine chapters altogether.  In this one I am talking about the visions of Jesus that the disciples had.  I think they really had visions.  Whether that’s because Jesus really appeared to them or because they were hallucinating is the difference between believers and unbelievers, and as a historian, I don’t feel particularly inclined to judge one way or the other.  As a non-believer, of course, I, well, ...

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