How should a Christian understand orbs?

Many people have been puzzled by the appearance of “orbs”—spherical spots of light—in their photographs. These orbs can be various sizes, but usually they are small, white, and round. Most significantly, orbs are not apparent to the naked eye; they only show up in pictures and sometimes on video. Some people view orbs as evidence of paranormal or supernatural activity in a “haunted” location. Many others, including Christians, have a different perspective on the existence of orbs.

Some ghost chasers and paranormal investigators claim that orbs are manifestations of departed human spirits. They say that, as some ghosts seek to communicate with the living, the ghosts will exert psychic energy to make their presence visible, at least on film. From a Christian point of view, this theory has a major problem: there are no such things as ghosts, in the sense of “departed spirits of once-living humans.” The Bible teaches that, when a person dies, he or she is immediately in one of two places, heaven or hell (Luke 16:22–23). There is no time for “wandering” or “haunting.” There are spirits in this world, however—unclean spirits (demons) and holy spirits (angels).

Some Christians believe that orbs are real. If they see an orb in a picture taken inside their home, they conclude that there are spirits in the house. If they believe the spirits to be demonic, they might call a pastor or priest over to “cleanse” the house or pray through the rooms. If they believe the orbs are good, they might take comfort in the fact that God has sent His angels to watch over them. Again, from a biblical perspective, these theories have a problem. The Bible never mentions orbs. It never hints that spirits, good or bad, will manifest themselves to us as spherical globs of light. We have no reason to believe that our modern technology can coax a spirit to make itself visible. The belief that an orb is an angel or demon “caught on film” is based on ideas that do not come from the Bible.

There is a logical explanation for orbs. Orbs are almost always photographed 1) indoors, 2) using a flash, 3) on a digital camera, 4) with a low-resolution lens. These facts have led many to conclude that orbs are, in reality, dust particles floating between the camera and the subject of the photograph. The theory is that these airborne particles reflect the light of the camera’s flash. They appear blurry or transparent because they are out of focus; they are not visible to the naked eye because they must illuminated by the flash. Other small particles in the air, such as pollen, rain, or snow, can produce the same “orbs.”

Our belief in the supernatural does not come from photographic “proof” but from the Word of God. The Bible is our guide. Whether or not orbs have a supernatural origin does not change the fact that a Christian is to love God fearlessly, keep his eyes on Jesus, and be filled with the Spirit. “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

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