Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Demons of stupidity

I know one of my readers is gonna hate me for it, but today I am gonna do a post on exorcisms. Exorcisms, while rightly frowned upon by Psychologists, are maintaining their popularity amongst the masses. Hell, even some Religious intellectuals like philosopher JP Moreland and Biblical scholar Clint Arnold claim that not only are exorcisms real, but that they can prove them. Believers will usually state that, although most exorcisms are frauds or psychiatric- a small few are genuine. According to Moreland, genuine exorcisms are ones in which the possessed has Clairvoyance, can levitate, can toss objects with their mind or exhibits other supernatural powers. In other words- the only real exorcisms are the ones where the possessed act like the girl from The Exorcist.

Honestly- I'm amazed at how arrogant some of these demon believers are. To say that they are certain of it should entail some pretty strong evidence. But that's not what we get. We get testimony. Oddly enough, no one ever thinks to enter an exorcism with a video camera. I remember reading an article from Joe Nickell in which, during one exorcism that was filmed, four priests were holding down a small girl claiming that, if they let go, she would've levitated! It makes me wonder why they let go of very good evidence when they had the chance to use it, doesn't it? Of course, these could be cases of mass hysteria, in which the small group of people become extremely excited and misinterpret mundane events into supernatural ones. This is well documented and, surprise surprise, scientifically verifiable through experiments!

Of course, Moreland is correct in that some very smart people not only believe in exorcisms, but also claim to have seen the supernatural side-effects of them personally. What he doesn't do, however, is give a comprehensive list of psychologists that believe in them. You see, Moreland seems to believe that anyone that's gone to college can be a credible witness to a supernatural event. He is wrong. And to make matters worse, the above study was actually done on college students who would, by his criteria, be credible witness'!

Now, I'd expect psychologists to take claims of exorcisms less seriously than, well, a Philosopher like Moreland or a historian like Clint, since they are aware of the limitations of human memory- and the capacity for invention, exaggeration, etc; Non-surprisingly, even a simple visit to Wikipedia reveals that:
"Demonic possession is not a valid psychiatric or medical diagnosis recognized by either the DSM-IV or the ICD-10."
So professional Psychologists say no. Now, I'll grant supporters that maybe, just maybe, these Psychologists just haven't seen the evidence. I don't know. What I do know, however, is that emphasis on cases that defy the psychological explanations should be given. I have read some of 3 Crucial Questions about Spiritual Warfare and Kingdom Triangle: Recover the Christian mind, Renovate the Soul Restore the Spirit's power, so I know what kind of cases they make. They'll claim the demon could see into the exorcists past- but they don't like to share how accurate or vague the claim was. They will also say that objects flew, yet not even bother with corroboratory testimony to ensure the witness' saw the same thing. Overall- they just don't demonstrate a strong understanding of the Psychology necessary to deem something a miracle.

Now to conclude, I just want to point out that exorcisms are not exclusive to Christianity. According to that Wikipedia entry I quoted earlier, they occur in many of the world Religions- especially in Africa, where they are healed by Shamans. Most reasonable exorcist apologists, however, avoid this by stating that 99% of exorcisms are "true" exorcisms, while the rest are fantasies. All I ask is to go 1% further.

No comments:

Post a Comment