Telepathy (the ability to read another’s thoughts) and telekinesis (the ability to move an object with one’s mind) are stalwart tools in the realm of superheroes. From Star Wars to the X-Men, mental powers seem to be ubiquitous. But what does the Bible say about such “super powers”?
The Bible actually has quite a bit to say about knowing another’s thoughts. Genesis 6:5 says, “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” In 1 Chronicles 28:9, David tells his son Solomon, “The LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts.” Psalm 94:11 says, “The LORD knows the thoughts of man.” And Jesus knew the thoughts of the scribes in Matthew 9:4. But we cannot know the thoughts of another. First Corinthians 2:11 says, “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?” God did not create humans to be able to communicate simply through thought. Instead, he gave us forms of communication that require much more work and humility, forms that breed community instead of simple, quick information transfers.
There are those who seem to have abilities that resemble telepathy. Mothers are particularly good at this. But it isn’t anything mysterious. It’s simply knowing others well enough, and knowing their situation well enough, to be able to make an accurate, educated guess about their motives. Job exemplifies this in Job 21:27 when he tells one of his “comforters,” “Behold, I know your thoughts, and the plans by which you would wrong me.” He knows his friend well, and he’s sat through enough lectures to be able to figure out where Zophar is coming from. That’s not telepathy. That’s just paying attention.
The Bible also mentions cases of objects moving or changing into something else. In Genesis 5:24 “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” In I Kings 17:15, a widow’s flour and oil miraculously continue to provide throughout a long drought. In the next chapter, fire falls from heaven to consume a water-saturated sacrifice. In John 2, water turns into wine. But in all these cases, the purpose of the transformation or movement of materials was to glorify God and authenticate His messenger. At no time was it used merely for convenience or for frivolous purposes.
It is possible, however, for the enemy to use similar signs to draw attention to himself. Moses faced this when Pharaoh’s magicians turned their staffs into snakes (Exodus 7:12) and brought up frogs (Exodus 8:7). It is possible even now for people to make strange things happen. But we must examine what exactly is going on. Humans cannot use their minds to move or create objects. Those in the spirit realm can. So, every mysterious occurrence must be powered either by God or the enemy. If God is glorified through the event, if He caused the event to occur to validate His prophet, we can deduce the event occurred through Him. If, however, the event was frivolous and had nothing to do with God’s glory, it must have come through another source. And the Bible makes it clear that witchcraft and sorcery are to be avoided at all costs.
God made humans to interact in specific ways, ways that foster community and glorify Him. Some people may be blessed with a keen insight, but that doesn’t mean they have telepathy. The prophets of old were given the ability to ask God to act on their behalf in miraculous ways, but they didn’t have powers of psycho-kinesis. We are to look to the Holy Spirit for our strength. Trying to read another’s thoughts, move objects around a room, or create an energy ball takes time and effort away from the business of loving God and loving others and opens a dangerous door into the world of the occult.