” A hellishly hot welcome to the latest Zingcreed blog. Demons will be dealt with in this Post; indeed they will be given a good thrashing!”
Who today believes in the literal existence of demons and devils? It appears a lot of American and African Christians do. Such beliefs are part and parcel of their conservative theology. They go hand in hand with a belief in heaven and hell; with a belief in the inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures and with a strong desire to convert other people to seeing things their way. (This is called “Saving peoples’ souls”) No picking and choosing – it’s the whole package or nothing!
I have as much respect for dorks who believe in demons as I do for people who believe in Father Christmas, the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny or Irish Leprichauns. Unless they’re under 6 years old that is, when they can’t be expected to know any better – their critical faculties are not developed. Unfortunately Evangelicals, Fundamentalists and Born Again dorks in general often don’t give up these beliefs as they get older; a clear case of retarded development. Like Peter Pan they don’t want to grow up!
Many adult Christians have never questioned the belief package they learned as children. Adult minds see things things in different ways and ask “on who’s authority am I supposed to believe this” or “this contradicts my everyday experience” or even “have I been manipulated?”
Adults are supposed to be less gullible than kids; but some forms of faith (I’m referring to the intellectually dishonest forms) seem to anaesthetise the critical faculties. As I noticed on the Alpha Course, people seem to leave their brains at the door when they enter church premises. Religion all too often creates a fog in the brain!
So, demons are in the Bible.
Yes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a more useful, modern way of describing the phenomena attributed to them.
The Gospel writers, St Paul and Jesus himself believed in demonic possession.
Granted, but they were wrong. They were children of their time and didn’t know any better, though they could have done. Hippocrates had already explained how sickness could be explained in terms of natural causes, 300 years BCE. What a pity JC wasn’t aware of his writings. It would have saved us 2000 years of quackery.
Mental illness especially must have been particularly hard to comprehend, in fact impossible to understand in the first century. Supernatural explanations were at hand, and the illiterate population found them helpful and plausible. And the snake oil merchants and exorcists no doubt made a killing.
But when our knowledge of the phenomena developed and we began to understand mental illness as a nervous system pathology, we ultimately abandoned the concept of demons altogether. Neuroscience explained the symptoms rather than elaborate metaphysics.
Take Dalton’s atomic theory as a parallel. In the 18th century he said all matter is made of indivisible particles called atoms which cannot be created or destroyed. That was fine for 200 years and a useful tool for scientists working in the field; then in the 1930’s Rutherford at Cambridge smashed the atom and we discovered protons, neutrons and electrons etc. So, overnight scientists around the world had to abandon one paradigm and accept a better one. Fine – that’s what science demands. Contrast evangelicals who are tied to an outmoded paradigm that was burst asunder centuries ago. It’s their loss. They’re apparently comfortable with being behind the times, and uncomfortable at the thought of change which is seen as a threat rather than as the challenge and the opportunity which it is.
There is no excuse for holding onto an out of date explanation, one which is far less useful, medically speaking, and far less insightful than the current view. Would you really go to an unqualified charlatan faith healer in a church or to a qualified health practitioner in a clinic for a diagnosis and (hopefully!) effective treatment?
Interestingly, the fundamentalists’ poster boy Jim Packer says “As the devil is God’s devil (that is Luther’s phrase), so the demons are God’s demons, defeated enemies (Col. 2:15) whose limited power is prolonged only for the advancement of God’s glory as his people contend with them.” (ii) i.e. God put demons there as a stumbling block for us, so that he may claim all the glory when we overcome them! Did I read that right???
Demons are for dorks!!
Related Zingcreed Posts:
144: I accuse #6: “The UCKG is a religious racket”
249: Angels my arse!
What Conservative Christians believe,(and I don’t!)
253: Exorcism: the current Catholic Service against Satan and the rebellious angels
699: Families torture ‘possessed’ kids
027: On surviving the Alpha course (the case of Victoria Climbie & Toronto effect)
523: How faith can harm your health #6: US church kids die
(i) McCormick, M.S. “Atheism and the case against Christ” Prometheus (2012) p. 283
(ii) Packer, J.I. “Concise Theology” IVP (1993) p.58