I was having dinner with a friend the other day, and we were discussing her beliefs (Catholic) vs mine (Atheist/skeptic). Friendly chat here, nothing mean.
During the discussion, she told me a story which she swears is true. I respectfully replied that I simply didn’t believe it happened the way she described it, and gave some examples of what may have been misconstrued. But. It’s interesting enough that I’d like to post it here.
Obviously, without eyewitness accounts, we won’t get more than conjecture out of this, but I’d love to hear from fellow skeptics on how they would explain these phenomenons from their POV. No, I don’t need validation for my beliefs (heh), just curious on other folks’ thoughts.
The events were described as happening like this: This woman, let’s call her Jen (because, as the joke goes, EVERYONE knows a Jen) was dating a guy (I dunno, let’s call him Mark). Well, Jen found a book on “black magic” in Mark’s house, took it home, skimmed through it and was very disturbed. Clashed with her Catholic faith and all. So she returned the book to Mark, but asked him to get rid of it as she wasn’t comfortable coming to his house with that book there. He agreed to discard the book.
So she was surprised when she went back to his place the following week and saw the book laying out on the open. She was angry, as he had promised to get rid of the book. He said he didn’t want to fight about a stupid book, picked it up, and threw it into the lit fireplace in his living room.
This is where is gets weird. She swears that a strand of fire immediately shot out of the fireplace and flew across the room right between the two of them, and that it was accompanied by three very disctinct, very human sounding screams. That both of them witnesses the flame and heard the screams, and that it was so intense her boyfriend stopped believing in atheism and went back to his Catholic roots.
Yeah, yeah. I know it’s got the ring of propaganda all over it, but this was a friendly chat between friends and I had to pry the story out of her (she was reluctant to tell it for a while).
Option 1 is she made the whole story up, which in this instance I don’t believe is the case.
Option 2 is it happened like she said it did, that some spirits were freed from the book and they were pissed. I don’t buy that for a second.
So assuming two people witnessed the fire and the screams, what would you consider to be option 3?
She asked me how I could be a skeptic if her story was true, and I replied that the situation was primed for them to see normal events and mentally attribute supernatural elements to them (fighting over a magic book, throwing it into a fire).
I figured that throwing a book into a fireplace could easily dislodge something and force a flame to shoot out. And I suggested that the screams could have been air escaping from the burning wood, or something else that could have sounded like a scream but wasn’t. Again, triggered by an impact in the fireplace. But she swore they were clearly three human screams in succession.
Anyway, as much as it’s just a mental exercise at this point, would love to hear some dopers’ input on this.