Dubious Christian Claims: Demon-Possession

Another common reason I hear from my Christian friends for their belief in Christianity, aside from prophecies, special pleading, and stuff that looks Christian-ey, is that they’ve seen people healed from diseases and demon-possession via the “power of prayer.”

I’ve already explored the faith-healing nonsense in a previous post, so I won’t bring it up again here, except to say that if the Christian god were really interested in showing his “power” through healing, he should pick less ambiguous ways of doing so. Like growing back amputated limbs, for instance.

Instead, I want to focus on the demon-possession claim, and why I do not believe that demons (a) exist, (b) possess humans, and (c) can be exorcised by a believer.

The first and most obvious reason why you shouldn’t believe that demons exist is because there is absolutely no evidence that demons exist. None. Zip. Zero. Nada. According to Christian mythology, demons (and their leader, the devil) are fallen angels who lost their “angel” status and were banished from heaven when they were convinced to rebel against Yahweh.

This story, like the virgin birth of Athena, or the battle between Rama and Ravana, is impossible to verify. Apart from that, it doesn’t make a lick of sense. To accept this story as true, we would have to believe that Lucifer was able to convince a third of heaven’s legions (which, for all you math majors out there, is a clear minority) to rebel against their creator, whom they all knew was all-powerful and all-knowing.

Did Lucifer actually expect to win? That would make him so unbelievably stupid, that we should hardly consider him a real threat. Didn’t Yahweh know that this would happen? Presumably, even before he created Lucifer? Couldn’t he have just erased the traitors from existence, rather than unleashing them on Earth to wreak havoc? Plus, doesn’t this go against the traditional view of heaven as a place without war or conflict? If heaven is just like Earth (plus mandatory eternal servitude and groveling), why should we aspire to go there?

Let’s get off the impossibly flawed logic of this story, and just assume that it’s true. Why would demons possess humans? Isn’t it in Satan’s best interest to be on the down low, to convince people that he doesn’t exist? And probably the most obvious logical shortcoming of all… why is it that these “demon possessions” only seem happen in a church or at a church function–the very place that would have people qualified to stop it? That’s like staging a robbery at a police station.

This is the common thread in nearly all demon-possession stories recounted to me. “So-and-so got possessed by a demon during a church meeting, or a youth retreat, or a prayer rally.” It never seems to happen anywhere that isn’t “hallowed,” like the mall, or at parties, or in our evil, secular public school classrooms. (If you dispute this, I require proof. A newspaper article would do.)

Know why? Because if I’m at the mall and I see someone start convulsing and drop to the floor, I’m calling an ambulance. Because they’re having a seizure.

The more I hear these stories about demon-possession and exorcism, the less credible they sound, and the more gullible the story-tellers start to seem. And I have little incentive to take people seriously who can’t learn to be rational about these kinds of things. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

And that’s about all I have to say about that. For now.

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