“A very warm welcome to the latest Zingcreed Post. The title contains the crude Anglo-Saxon word for buttocks. This is to express my strength of feeling over the fact that some people can be so stupid, in my humble opinion, as to believe in angels. Thanks to Christianity and other religions, a lot of people fill their heads with a lot of rubbish. ANGELS DO NOT EXIST!! I wonder if a reader or someone in WordPress will object to my use of this word? (arse, that is, not angels!)” Peter Turner, M.A., M.Sc.
While on holiday in Trinidad, West Indies, this month I visited the local SDA bookshop, which also sells healthy approved food products. Did you know that Adventists are some of the healthiest people around? The National Geographic did a piece on the community of Linda Loma in California where there’s a high concentration of them. A comparison of their health and life expectancy with that of the non-SDA control group showed they came out top. The doctors put this down to diet. You see, I can say positive things about a group I have attacked in 4 Posts so far!
Anyway, there I found the well printed and colourful Adventist church magazine “Priorities” (i) which put the case for the existence of angels. This included a piece by a man who was caught in a burning caravan and felt someone’s arms around him pulling him free. He interpreted this sensation as being the presence of his ‘guardian angel’. Other instances are given of recent ‘angelic’ interventions in human life. Sadly, none were recorded on camera.
Jim Packer in his fundamentalists’ handbook (p. 57) tells us, with a straight face, that angelic activity, which has been quiet since Jesus’ ascension, will be prominent again when Christ returns. (iv)
Any glance in a concordance will show you that the bible is chokka with refs to angels. The Adventist magazine fills several pages with the relevant quotes, which seem to fall into 4 categories:
(a) Protection and deliverance
(c) Comfort and help
From these I concluded that in biblical times many, if not all people, believed in the literal existence of angels. This included the apostles, the writers of the gospels (not the same thing), right down to Jesus himself.
Let it be said: THEY WERE 100% WRONG. There were no angels then, there are no angels now. The apostles were wrong, the 4 gospel writers were wrong, St Paul was wrong, Jesus himself was wrong. And because people believed something ridiculous thousands of years ago that’s no reason for us to believe it today.
In those days people believed the earth was flat. Should we believe it too, just because they did?
In those days people believed the sun went round the earth. They were wrong.
In those days people believed in astrology. We know better.
In those days they didn’t know disease was caused by micro-organisms. We do.
And so on.
So why do 50% of Americans believe they are protected by guardian angels? (ii)
American Atheist writer Matthew McCormick asserts that “there are predictable, well documented physiological causes that produce these experiences (like seeing angels) on a regular basis in a significant percentage of the human population. ”
Here are just a few of the physiological causes responsible:
(b) brain trauma
(c) sleep deprivation
(g) altered states of consciousness
(i) mental illness
(j) bipolar disorder
(k) blood loss
(l) sudden drops in blood pressure
(n) auditory and visual hallucinations.
McCormick adds “Give me a group of subjects… and we can have them all raving about seeing angels in a few hours. Now we realize we must approach those stories with the appropriate level of skepticism, and when we do, a huge portion of the edifice of belief in God, Christian and otherwise, collapses.” (iii) Perhaps the Adventist magazine writer has a point too when he says people tend to believe in angels because they feel vulnerable and insecure on the crime-ridden streets today. Sadly, wishing for a celestial escort doesn’t make it come true; it remains just wishful thinking.
(i) “Priorities. Principles of life at everyone’s reach” November 2013 issue. iadpa.org
(ii) Julia Duin “Half of Americans believe in angels” Washington Times 19/9/08
(iii) McCormick, Matthew S. “Atheism and the case against Christ” Prometheus Books (2012) p.276
(iv) Packer, J.I. “Concise theology. A guide to historic Christian beliefs” IVP (1993)
Related Zingcreed Posts:
Demons are for dorks!
What Conservative Christians believe (and I don’t)
Exorcism: the Catholic service against Satan and the rebellious angels
027: On surviving the alpha course (Toronto effect & Victoria Climbie case)
699: Families torture ‘possessed’ kids
144: I accuse #6: “The UCKG is a religious racket!”