I will only believe in demons if...
JWs are known to have an obsession and preoccupation with demons.
This obsession and preoccupation is not without merit given that Jesus, his disciples/apostles, and the general public of 1st century CE Judea and Galilee are reported as believing in the existence of demonic spirits and in the possibility of demon possession of an individual.
Exorcism formed a large part of Jesus' ministry on earth. The Gospels and the book of Acts describe many exorcisms where Jesus and his disciples release people from demonic possession.
But how do demons get inside a person's brain or body? Can someone please explain how this happens?
I used to uphold the JW view of demons when a JW but now will only believe in demons if there is an objective way to test for or distinguish between demons and the following possibilities:
- some form of dissociation (dissociation/dissociative disorder)
- multiple personalities (multiple personality disorder)
- a fugue state
- uncontrolled emotional reactions
- seizure-like responses
- panic-like responses
- psychosis (a spectrum disorder)
- schizophrenia (a spectrum disorder)
- the unconscious dynamics of the brain;
altered/trance-like state of consciousness experiences arising from deep/intense/strong contemplative meditation or other intensive spiritual practices such as deep/intense/strong praying and fasting, in which the rational left brain is suppressed and quieted and the perceptive faculties of the intuitive right brain are awakened, unleashing thoughts, images, impressions, visions, voices, words, from the depths of the subconscious in the process. These thoughts, impressions, images, visions, voices, words etc emerge from the deep, intuitive levels of the right brain as the subconscious mind begins to "speak" to the person who is in an altered/trance-like state of consciousness.
I am all ears if someone can come up with an objective way to test for or distinguish between demons and these various conditions.
George Burns: God said: Let there be Satan so people don't blame everything on me, and let there be lawyers so people don't blame everything on Satan. Seriously, I didn't believe in demons when I was JW it didn't make any sense.....
Yeah... Even when I was a JW I was still very skeptical of the existence of demons―mostly because my friends from school didn't believe in them either. Just imagine being this awkward teenager who tells his friends about demons, and then they respond, "What century are you living in? What about mental illnesses? You're a moron."
So I never believed in this particular doctrine. But I was still very embarrassed about the fact that other JWs thought demonic possession was possible.
The Old Testament covers about 4000 years of human history .How often is demon posession of humans covered their ? How many exorcisms were performed by the Priests ?
Why is their so much about demons and demon posession in the New Testament and it only covers approximately 100 years and very little in the Old Testament ?
The only source I can cite with any alleged experience in these matters from a Christian perspective is the Roman Catholic Church.
Before I continue, I want to reiterate that I am a Jew. Jews are not in the business of making converts, proselytizing, or actively adding members to our religion. I am also not advocating religion as a panacea or claiming that Jews hold the Roman Catholic Church as the authority in spiritual matters. This is only to add some educational data that might be useful in answering the question posed. No intention is made to suggest that the following information is the "ultimate truth" in the matter.
While Judaism has some demonology in its theology, it is neither universal to Jewish religion nor embraced by every Jew. However some of the basic theological principles did transfer to Catholicism.
According to Catholic teaching (and insight I was given by a priest who served in the past as an exorcist), the Catholic view is that actual possession (an extraordinary and rare situation in that religion's views) is always invited. It never, ever happens to someone who is not in one manner or another dabbling in some activity in which interest or desire invites contact.
The contact can begin quite innocently through curiosity, and the very few "genuine" cases on record seem to have that as an earmark. But, interestingly enough, the Church makes claim to so few cases of genuine demonic possession that it is almost non-existent. This does not mean exorcisms do not occur, as quite many indeed do today, but that rite is not merely the ritual expelling of a demon that has possessed a person, but more often a demon that is harassing a person. The blessing of an object for a holy purpose or to protect it from evil is also an exorcism.
The rite to expell a demon possession is not performed until all scientific explanations and medical procedures have been exhausted. Occasionally the rite may be performed on a mentally ill subject who merely believes they are possessed when medical professionals believe it can help the same. But subjects who claim possession are medical subjects first and a!ways until such a time as no explanation is left and signs are met that theologically fit the pattern of possession.
The Church does not release details about cases and more often than not hides the identities of the current exorcists in practice. Demonology suggests that demons recognize a hierarchy in Christianity, wherein lesser demons can be exercised by some denominations but others require longer standing (older) churches or denominations. This seems to be the unspoken rule recognized by the churches as well for when some churches fail in a possession case, regardless of the formal views they may have about the Holy See, the Catholic Church is always contacted for the most severe cases. Apparently, as demonology suggests, some demons will only be exercised by the oldest Christian authority.
Interesting info regarding the exorcism practice/rite David_Jay.
However, I would be grateful if you could explain in detail:
- How do demons get inside a person's brain or body in the first place? How exactly does this happen?
- Is there an objective way to test for or distinguish between demon possession and the various psychological, psychiatric, biological and physiological conditions mentioned in the OP?
There are no demons. No angels. No "spirits". Stop worrying.
If you can define spirit that would be interesting. I mean what is it exactly?
I wish I knew more than what I offered, deegee. I don't think I could get those answers even from the exorcist however, though I am certain there is always work to attempt to ensure that natural conditions are not mistaken for something else.
I do know that those in the Catholic Church who deal with such things are themselves not afraid to say "we don't know." This I think can be very healing to hear for many of us who were once JWs.
Even after leaving the Watchtower we may spend years trying to find our own truth, but in so doing we might demand "truth" in a form that lives up to standards demanded by Jehovah's Witnesses. Most of these are unrealistic, even unreasonable.
Jehovah's Witnesses insultingly draw definitive parameters around concepts which are supposed to be spiritual and, as a consequence, transcendent. While religion for most is supposed to be a letting go to the great mysteries of life and embracing the mystery of it, Jehovah's Witnesses have reduced religion to a scholastic exercise teaching that something is not worth believing if one cannot explain it.
God, for instance, is for the most part completely "knowable" for Jehovah's Witnesses, with rules made up for God: God cannot be a Trinity, God has to have only one true religion on earth, God will only answer prayers if they contain an utterance of God's name, etc. The most mysterious things are reduced to puppets that more or less always act within rules as expected.
So a healthy asking for answers to such questions may be on the minds of everyone, non-JW as well as JW, but the acknowledgement that such details cannot always reasonably be expected in many cases might be telling of where else the Watchtower still remains in us and may have to be uprooted.
I guess this where an actual leap of faith comes in, not the type taught in Watchtower Land either. There comes a point where even doctors and priests must admit they don't know and just have to do their jobs. Sometimes it means the priest must turn away the "possessed" subject to doctors, and sometimes the doctor must turn away the patient to a priest. We are talking not hypotheticals but of desperate situations where lives hang in the balance. Sometimes you have to take a step into something you neither believe in or understand to save a life.
David are you a Jew by any chance? I had no idea. I guess it's just something you haven't felt bothered to mention in discussions.
Are you being sarcastic?