I just read Linus Torvalds’ post “Demons? Really?” Which is about exorcism in case you don’t want to read his piece. Apparently, there are people who believe that you can drive a demon with prayers from a human body. Which is complete nonsense according to Linus.
What are we talking about here? What is a demon? I’m not sure what the scientific definition would be but I’m pretty sure that the people discussing the topic don’t know either. They don’t care. For them, the demon is not important but to help the possessed.
From our scientific eye, talking about demons and exorcism is ridiculous. We assume that a demon is probably some kind of sickness and the poor victim would be better off in a hospital or psychiatric care. They are just sick. Just imagine when you are in pain. It affects your mood: You become thin-skinned and easily irritated. So the sickness has a mental component.
Treating the sickness would solve the mental issues. So we’re happy and the missionaries must be stupid. Or so we think.
Question: Have you ever been in this situation? In a village thousands of miles away from anywhere? Without clear water, healthy food, and people with a yearly income in the range of $5 or less? Good luck finding medicine for them or sending them to a doctor. They either have no access to such resources or can’t afford it.
What do you do? Walk away, happy with the fact that you know what would help? Or do you stay and try to help to the best of your abilities?
If you stay, what can you do? You have no medicine, you’re no doctor and you probably have no idea what is really going on. There are people around, probably from the same village who think “I don’t know what he has but I don’t want it! Let’s get rid of him before we all get sick!” These people still have to learn that modern science exists. They couldn’t care less because for them, the biggest issue is how to get enough food to survive another week. National Geographics? FDA? These are all non-issues for these people.
For them, the sick are possessed because that is something they can relate to. It explains the unknown. Demons can be shooed away.
So what do you do? Stick to your scientific knowledge? Or do you start to pray to drive the demon out? Showing compassion, doing what is expected from you, possibly triggering the self-healing effects of a placebo? Doing what you can in such a situation?
Yes, we can mock these people because they probably believe that demons really exist. But maybe they have understood hundreds of years ago that science can only help the rich. People who have (almost) unbound access to good water, food and electricity.
Maybe for them, it’s more important to help than to be right.
After having read both your article and Torvald’s, I’d like to thank you for offering a slightly novel viewpoint to me.
I agree with, or at least can see the logic in the themes of your post, but do disagree slightly on some of the more specific points mentioned. Sadly, I lack both the time and willpower to expand on these at the moment!
I had only previously really thought about this issue in terms of God and co. existing or not existing, no middle ground like that mentioned in your post.
It’s easy to go to an extreme and say “the other side is obviously wrong”. We like to do this because it makes our lives more simple. But it’s a sign of strength to be able to tolerate a completely different view on something. Even if I can’t agree, I get stronger by accepting the difference than by rejecting or even by trying to suppress.
Of course, this is the view from a comfortable place. Most of my problems are just luxury. A lot of people out there really struggle with their lives and I’m really trying not to judge them. So I can become strong.
Try this…..think of demons as servants of the devil….just as angels are servants of God. Both are of the spiritual realm, but can interact within our physical world. And yes….demons can be told to leave (a place), “by the power of Jesus Christ, be gone”, and they will leave.
I’m not an expert on the exorcism thing …but it is pretty much the same…commanding them to leave the person (along with prayers). I believe that people can and do sometimes become possessed by demons, as it is acknowledged by the Catholic Church.
Demons aren’t a sickness….they are entities, evil ones at that.
Try this: I don’t believe you. All my personal and spiritual experience tells me you’re wrong. What should we do?
In my world, demons are sicknesses and when you heal the sick person, the “demon” goes away. In your world, the demon exists as an entity and people can order them around.
What is the difference between our views? Well, basically, I call the situation “sickness” and you call it “demon”. Why can’t we simply leave it at that? Why do we both have to be right? Isn’t it enough to help the suffering person? Is it really necessary to be the one who is using the correct term?
Oh, and there are people who believe that “demons” are just souls of the dead who are confused and cling so much to life that they try to occupy the bodies of a living person. Are they wrong? Or are they just using different words for the same thing?
From the scientific standpoint: Can you prove me wrong? In a way that any independent person in the world will agree?
I can’t prove you wrong….and you can’t prove me wrong either. Anyway….you have the right to believe that “demons” are a sickness, and I have the right to believe that “demons” are evil entities.
I believe that “ghosts” are souls of the dead who haven’t passed on to the spirit world.
There is a difference between a “ghost” and a “demon”
We don’t have to prove that either of us are right.
Lets leave it at what it is……just opinions.
Funny how short and painless a discussion can be when people can leave each other alone 🙂
In an unrelated post, I wrote “When you’re right, there is no middle ground”. I hope posts like this make more people think/reflect/meditate about this.