“Unusual Forces”: A Conceptual Model of the Realm between Naturalistic and Supernatural Healing
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In contemporary research on spiritual healing, the traditional way to view healing is as occurring either because of naturalistic means (i.e., explainable by the popular scientific method and by reference to existing scientific theories) or by supernatural means (i.e., explainable as miraculous or due to God or a divine power acting “ex nihilo”). In addition, there exists a third category of explanations for healing posited by some investigators, invoking a variety of unusual forces, whereby healing cannot be described as attributable solely to either supernatural or naturalistic categories. This thesis explores explanations for healing attributed to this third category, and presents a conceptual model-taxonomy categorizing the various ways that healing due to such forces has been described. After first explaining the need for a conceptual model, this thesis next presents an overview of current explanations proposed from those working within numerous scholarly disciplines, including the philosophy and history of medicine, consciousness research, prayer research, Christian religion and theology, and transpersonal psychology. By presenting a conceptual model that differentiates these explanations on the basis of the concept of nonlocality, this thesis provides a way to make sense of cases of healing attributed to such forces. This model will thereby aid in providing a foundation for further theoretical discussion, research, and practice in regard to different types of spiritual healing.