Is dowsing sinful?

Is dowsing sinful?

Dowsing is in the same vein as Ouija boards (which I’d steer clear of if you don’t know what your doing its metaphysical Omegle) Both are considered superstitious and occult. HOWEVER in medieval times I’m pretty sure there was dowsing going on.

(also you may need to define that for the non-new-age-y folks :slight_smile: )

You mean like water witching? Only if it includes an animal sacrifice to Baal.

That’s a form of dowsing. But it has nothing to do with animal sacrifice to Baal. It’s an issue of not leaving all supernatural power to God (Yahweh).

I know how conversations go online, so let me try to be clear. I double checked to see I know what dowsing is. It depends on your intent. If you are water witching with the expectation or hope of being able to feel a natural, scientific, physical reaction of the rod or stick you are holding to the presence of water below ground, then it would seem perfectly ok. If, however, you are hoping for magic, witchcraft, or the efficaciousness of your animal sacrifice to Baal to lead you to water, it is sinful.

Like pendulums? Yeah, it’s a form of divination, a big no-no.

I don’t thing they are necessarily same sort of thing to all people. Ouija boards are clearly an appeal to the supernatural. But some people who use dowsing to find water today are under the impression that the forces acting on a dowsing rod are natural. Such people are mistaken. There is no scientific evidence that natural forces can cause a rod to detect the presence of water any better than pure chance. However the people who believe that such a natural (but unknown) cause exists are not sinning. The are merely ignorant of scientific fact.

(looks like white sheep beat me to it several posts ago while I was composing this)

Having grown up in a place where water was scarce and hard to find, I have a little experience with water witching. I see nothing sinful about it. There was a rancher around, who was a devout Catholic, went to mass everyday, very down-to-earth and practical. Many people would call on him to locate the correct placement of a new well. He certainly did not see that it was anything supernatural or evil or dependent on spirits. He could not explain how it worked, but was convinced it was due to actual physical process. The results were sometimes quite impressive. I knew one person who drilled a well and it came up dry, called this guy in and he ended up drilling a second well approximately 100 feet from the first attempt and found ample water.
Now, I am not saying it works, I would be quite skeptical, it was likely dumb luck when it did work, but I certainly would not classify it with ouigi boards or some such. No one thought they were doing anything evil or supernatural, even if they believed in it.

I also grew up in a dry place and was around water witching quite a bit. I had never heard of any sort of spiritual element to it until today.

Yet. There’s no scientific evidence of a natural process at work…yet. At one time, the science of the day held the earth to be flat and germs didn’t exist, either.

If your point is that science does advance over time, then of course it does. But that does not mean we should distrust the science of our day today - not unless overwhelming evidence were presented to challenge the immense body of experimental evidence that supports the science of our day. As for dowsing, a number of carefully controlled scientific experiments have been conducted with those whose claim some skill in this, and every single one of them showed no ability better than chance.

But how relevant are those experiments? Do they closely replicate the field conditions? Doubtful.

I am entirely up in the air on the matter and have no idea if it works or not. I have seen several wells drilled based on water witching and they all worked. I’ve known water well drilling companies that used water witching to place their wells. Perhaps it was merely supplemental, but I can’t help thinking they wouldn’t do it if they didn’t think it helped.

I’ve never seen definitive proof that it doesn’t work. A good way to go would be to compare hit and miss ratios between water witching and other methods of discovery in a single region in real fields. The data most likely already exists and would just have to be collected.

If one of those “field conditions” necessary for the thing to work is that no one is watching them, I would call that requirement “unreasonable”. Once you eliminate all the unreasonable requirements for such a test, you will find very little to object to in the scientific tests that have been performed. Read the Wikipedia article on dowsing for a description of some of the tests.

. A good way to go would be to compare hit and miss ratios between water witching and other methods of discovery in a single region in real fields. The data most likely already exists and would just have to be collected.

This would be a very unreliable test. If the hit and miss ratios of people using dowsing are compared with the hit and miss ratios of different people who do not use dowsing, then any difference in the ratios is likely to be caused by differences in the people. Perhaps the well drillers in a certain area who use dowsing just happen to be people who, by choice, select jobs that are more likely to succeed. Or maybe they just have more experience in the field that has led them to form unconscious awareness of surface features that correlate with water below. When testing for the effect of one variable (dowsing), it is important to hold all other possibly relevant variables constant. The method you describe only attempts to hold one variable constant - the general geographical region. That is better than nothing. But it assumes that all the other variables average out statistically. And they might, if you removed the element of choice from the well drillers and randomly assigned dowsing or non-dowsing to every driller on every job, which of course is not practical, since well drillers are people, not laboratory mice.

In this case, it would be nice to get a scientific reference. I have heard speculation that some people are sensitive to magnetic fields and the presence of water underground can be found. I’ve seen examples of it but don’t know, and am skeptical that it works in a natural/scientific sense.

I would say yes to the sinful aspect. I mean, dowsing for water has been around for a long time and I think good scientific studies have been conducted but I’ve never read anything conclusive. So this falls under divination.


I agree with you that dowsing does not work in a natural/scientific sense. But the question of whether it is sinful depends on whether the person believes it works by natural means. The scientific question has no bearing at all on the sinfulness question.

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