Richard Smoley is a respect religious scholar who thinks magic is real.
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Audio Clip: [00:00:00] You mean I have to live out the rest of my life in this body? No f*****g way. You got me into this, you get me out. I can’t do that Chucky. Why not? Cause you’re an abomination. An outbreak against nature. Now you prefer to take everything I’ve taught you and use it for evil, and you have to be stopped.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:00:29] That’s Chucky from, I don’t know, one of my Chucky movies. And he’s consulting with the Voodoo doctor that got him into this mess in the first place. Of course, this is more movie fantasy. But again, is it? For anyone who’s really studied magic very much like today’s awesome guests, Richard Smoley, the lines can get rather blurry. You reference black magic, that’s going to be, immediately that’s where everyone goes?
Richard Smoley: [00:01:02] Well I think there is a certain reality to it. Irish taxi driver in Honolulu, who got involved with a native Hawaiian girl and her mother really did not like this at all. She told him whole off but he didn’t. And he suddenly started to become subject to paralysis from the feet up little by little by little by little. So then someone who was familiar with these things said, I think there might be some magic involved here, let me go and talk to this mother. I don’t know, maybe there is maybe not but I think that maybe if he gets on the next boat to the mainland things will be alright. And you know, that evening, this cab driver was right and took the next boat to San Francisco.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:01:51] And speaking of blurry lines, what happens when we apply that same sensibility to Oh, Christianity, Is Jesus an egregore?
Richard Smoley: [00:02:04] No, I think Jesus was a historical figure and…
Alex Tsakiris: [00:02:08] Is Christ Consciousness an egregore because Jesus as a historical figure is kind of a cop out. I mean,Bart Ehrman, who is essentially an atheist thinks Jesus is a historical figure too. He was some wandering guy who went around and said a couple of things. You almost come to the point of saying that in the book, the truth about magic, you say the Christian Gods can best be understand as an egregore. The Tibetan Buddhists call it a Tulpa.
Richard Smoley: [00:02:35] I wouldn’t say so.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:02:37] This is a great level three chat with a truly remarkable researcher and knowledgeable guy. I gave him a pretty hard time, but I have the ultimate respect for Richard. Let’s get right to the interview. Welcome to Skeptiko where we explore controversial science and spirituality with leading researchers, thinkers and their critics. Today we welcome Richard Smoely to Skeptiko. Richard of course,is a Harvard and Oxford trained scholar in religion and philosophy, and a recognized expert on all sorts of stuff related to Christian mysticism, Gnosticism, Theosophy and all other kinds of stuff that we like to talk about here on Skeptiko. Richard has a new book out The Truth About Magic, which I’m sure we’ll talk quite a bit about. But I’m hoping we can also get him to talk about some of his other research and some of his other work, particularly one that I’ve referenced before on this show and in my book, How God Became God, what scholars are really saying about God and the Bible,