Students Explore Trinity College Chapel with Paranormal Research Team

Assistant Professor Timothy Landry’s Class Investigates the Intersection of Religion and Science

​Hartford, Connecticut, April 27, 2018—While learning to think critically about the blurry boundaries between science and religion, students in an Anthropology of Religion class at Trinity College recently joined the Connecticut Paranormal Research Team in a search for paranormal activity at the Trinity College Chapel. Timothy R. Landry, assistant professor of anthropology and religious studies, invited the CPRT to Trinity’s campus in order to compare religion and science and to explore how individuals view the world because of them. The event was authorized by College Chaplain and Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life Allison Read.

Landry holds this event every time he teaches Anthropology of Religion. “In the class, I spend a lot of time discussing how the study of religion can tell us about society more broadly. Science and religion have the same interest in understanding the world we live in,” Landry said. “I want my students to think about what it means to develop ‘truth’ about our world. This experience should cause them to think of questions like, ‘What is evidence?’ and, ‘What does it mean to believe in something?’”

Macie Bridge ’21 is one of the students who attended the investigation on April 5. “A huge part of this course has to do with considering the relationship between religion, magic, and supernatural beliefs with modern concepts. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, it was important to see this event so we could have a better understanding of how somebody’s ‘belief’ can interact with physical evidence and scientific data,” she said.

The members of CPRT brought many tools and pieces of equipment for the students in an attempt to locate spirits. The equipment included lights to signal paranormal activity, and screens that could display messages if spirits were attempting to communicate. These tools could sense movement, fluctuations in temperature, or electronic waves that might signal activity.

Once the CPRT members explained the tools, students were able to break into groups and experiment with the devices. Bridge was pleasantly surprised that the members of CPRT allowed the students to use the equipment. “I was actually able to get hands-on experience. It was really fun getting to use the tools ourselves and, personally, that’s how I learn the best,” she said. “It’s important for Trinity to have these events so that students can have these unique experiences and gain perspective on the world around them. I never would have volunteered to go to this kind of thing on my own, but I’m glad to have had the experience and to have learned about the subject area.”

Landry said that his goal is for students to leave the class not just tolerating religious diversity, but appreciating it. “We live in the world where religion is one of the most important human experiences. We all have to learn to respect human diversity and different beliefs,” Landry said.

Written by Lexie Axon ’19