Any thoughts on the existence of invisible agents as a potent force in human affairs?
Why People Believe Invisible Agents Control the World
A Skeptic's take on souls, spirits, ghosts, gods, demons, angels, aliens and other invisible powers that be
Souls, spirits, ghosts, gods, demons, angels, aliens, intelligent designers, government conspirators, and all manner of invisible agents with power and intention are believed to haunt our world and control our lives. Why?
The answer has two parts, starting with the concept of “patternicity,” which I defined in my December 2008 column as the human tendency to find meaningful patterns in meaningless noise. Consider the face on Mars, the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich, satanic messages in rock music. Of course, some patterns are real. Finding predictive patterns in changing weather, fruiting trees, migrating prey animals and hungry predators was central to the survival of Paleolithic hominids.
The problem is that we did not evolve a baloney-detection device in our brains to discriminate between true and false patterns. So we make two types of errors: a type I error, or false positive, is believing a pattern is real when it is not; a type II error, or false negative, is not believing a pattern is real when it is. If you believe that the rustle in the grass is a dangerous predator when it is just the wind (a type I error), you are more likely to survive than if you believe that the rustle in the grass is just the wind when it is a dangerous predator (a type II error). Because the cost of making a type I error is less than the cost of making a type II error and because there is no time for careful deliberation between patternicities in the split-second world of predator-prey interactions, natural selection would have favored those animals most likely to assume that all patterns are real. Continued...
This here contains some plagiarism (plagiarism from the Watchtower CD is very common on the internet) from the 06/01/2007 Watchtower p. 4, “The Source of Evil Exposed!”
The Root Of All Evil: Manipulating Order Out Of Fear
Not surprisingly, many have rejected what they consider to be wild, superstitious notions about the Devil. Even back in 1726, Daniel Defoe derided people's belief that the Devil was a frightful monster "with bat's wings, horns, cloven foot, long tail, forked tongue, and the like." Such ideas, he said, were "weak fancied trifles" manufactured by "devil-raisers and devil-makers" who "cheated the ignorant world with a devil of their own making."
Is that how you see things? Do you agree that "the devil is in reality man's invention to account for his own sinfulness"? That statement appears in The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, and many who profess to be Christians think that way. Christendom's theologians, says Jeffrey Burton Russell, have by and large "dismissed the Devil and the demons as superstitious relics."
Yet, to some people, the Devil is very real. They reason that there must be some kind of superhuman, malignant force behind the recurrent evils that pervade man's history. "The horrors that the twentieth century has produced," says Russell, provide one reason why "belief in the Devil, after a long lapse, is rapidly reappearing." According to author Don Lewis, a number of modern, educated people who "smile patronisingly" at the superstitious beliefs and fears of "their artless ancestors" are "once again becoming enthralled by the evil element in the supernatural." -Religious Superstition Through the Ages.
The Book of Genesis tells us that Lucifer induced other angels to join him in rebellion. Like he himself, these `Fallen Angels` took an improper and perverse sexual interest in humans with disastrous consequences.
Evil Fills the Earth. In Genesis 6:1,2 we read: "When men started to grow in numbers, and daughters were born to them, then the sons of God began to notice the daughters of men, that they were fair; and they went taking wives for themselves, namely, all whom they chose."
Who were those "sons of God"? The Bible refers to them as the Nephilim, the `Fallen Angels` who joined with Lucifer in rebellion against God. Having copulated with mortal women, they produced a race of hybrids who grew into giants, known in the scriptures as the `Anakim`. They are described as "the mighty ones who were of old, the men of renown" Genesis 6:4.
The Nephilim and their progyny took wickedness to new lows. "The earth came to be ruined in the sight of God and became filled with violence," Gensis 6:11. And it was not long before humanity adopted the violent, depraved ways of the newcomers in their midst.
How did these `Fallen Angels` and their offspring exert such a powerful evil influence on humans? By appealing to mankind's sinful inclination and desires. The result? "All flesh . ruined its way on the earth." Finally, God destroyed that world in a global Deluge, sparing only righteous Noah and his family. (Genesis 6:5, 12-22). The scriptures tell us that the incarnate angels returned to the heavens in disgrace. As debased demons, they continued to oppose God, and they have remained a potent force in human affairs.
Myths Legends or Hidden Truth. Stories about demigods, giants, and a cataclysmic flood are found in ancient mythologies worldwide. For example, the Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh mentions a flood, a ship, and survivors. Gilgamesh himself was described as a lustful, violent demigod, or part god, part man. Aztec mythology tells of an ancient world inhabited by giants and of a great deluge. Norse legend describes a race of giants and a wise man named Bergelmir who constructed a large boat and saved himself and his wife. The combined testimony of all such legends corroborates the Bible's testimony that all humans have descended from the survivors of a deluge that destroyed an ancient wicked world.