“Clearly, outright denial of Satan and demons is not the answer”

Sure it is, if your faculties are intact. And of course it isn’t, if you’re a wacknut like those behind the creationist site Answers in Genesis, who have provided an early Hallowe’en trick and treat with their earnest essay explaining the “evidence” for the existence of demons.

The essay is as long-winded as it is loopy, so I won’t address much of the text itself. But the first paragraph signifies the worthlessness of the claims to come:

Haunted houses, ghosts, demons—our Western culture can’t seem to get enough of the spirit world. The latest Gallup poll indicates that 42% of Americans believe in demon possession, 37% believe in haunted houses, and 32% believe in ghosts. (Not just Americans are enthralled—40% of the British believe in haunted houses, too.)

These numbers are provided as a set-up for the assertion to come: that demons in fact exist. But similar polls indicate that a disarming fraction of the population also believes in UFO’s, the inerrancy of the Bible, the validity of astrology, absurdly unsupported medical remedies, 9/11 “truthism,” and all sorts of paranormal phenomena and woo. That Americans in general are incurious, hairless apes with a near-boundless capacity for embracing ludicrous ideas because they are either fascinating or offer false hope is nothing new. Conflating what people believe with how the world actually operates is a cataclysmic failure demonstrable through any number of trivial examples, such as the fact that, despite the wealth of scientific knowledge in the areas of biology, cosmology, and geology gleaned in recent centuries, something like one-third to one-half of Americans believe in six-day creation. We’re not the brightest bulbs on the planet–although since technically as a species we are, our planet’s collective biomass has its fucking work cut out for it.

The rest of the essay consists mainly of the author’s stubborn insistence that demons exist whether people understand this or not (the typical rhetorical refuge of the infantile, delusional, illogical moron) and the extended claim that passages in the Bible establish the reality of not only demons but “evil” in general, along with all sorts of other scary, nasty shit. Actually, here’s a great example of a textbook logical fallacy known as denail of the antecedent:

Unless we have a biblical view of God, mankind, and the spirit world, we will not have the perspective to understand the evil that plagues our world.

Schematically, this is part a basic syllogism of the form “If A, then B. Not-A. Therefore, not-B.” But in such a scheme, B can be true regardless of the truth of A, rendering the syllogism invalid. I recognize that what some call “evil” exists in huge quantities, but I don’t have to have a biblical view of the worldd for this to be the case. One could write, “Unless it’s raining outside, the roads cannot be wet,” something most people can immediately recognize as bullshit that can be recast as “If it’s raining out, the roads will be wet. The roads are wet. Therefore, it’s raining.” I wonder if the author would agree with the statement, “If a Christian man is attracted to men, then he’s gay. Bob is gay. Therefore, Bob is a Christian.”

For your daily dose of irony, there’s this:

Demons promote primitive religions, magic, superstition … They are the dynamic behind idolatry and their devotees, whether worshipers of the gods Marduk, Asher, Zeus, Jupiter, Apollo, Ra, Diana, Aphrodite, or a host of lesser manmade deities. Witchcraft and astrology are among the earliest false religions that they have inspired in the minds of men. Satanism stands out among their more recent promotions.

Of course, the author gives no reason at all why people should not also view Christianity as a made-man religion that promotes superstition and primitive thinking; he just goes at his argument with the same “because I say so” attitude that even a three-year-old perceives as suspect in a parent, and flies gaily along in the deluded belief that the Bible should be treated as a special case, which is convenient when you are raised as a Christian but amounts to nothing more than special pleading–and signifies a primitive intellect.

In his concluding paragraph, the author again resorts to fallacious logic:

To face successfully the evil in this world, no matter what form it takes, we must recognize the reality and schemes of Satan and his fellow fallen angels, take our stand in the strength and authority of Christ, submit our lives to God, put on the full armor of God, and boldly stand on the truths of God in the face of challenges and temptations by our leashed spiritual enemies.

In other words, “To combat evil, one must be a Jesus freak. Many people are not Jesus freaks. Therefore, we can’t combat evil.” Sane observers understand that the way to combat “evil” is to unfailingly push forward with objective scientific research and view the results for what they are, no matter the psychological consequences. They see the value in things like vaccines, Doppler radar for detecting hurricanes, and offering children a valid education not shackled by the influence of the parochial, arrogant, and failed ideas of the world’s religions. What the author claims here is not just wrong but entirely backward. Then again, consider what his chief premise is.

As an aside, understand that this lengthy burst of insanity is only scratching the surface of the bad thinking evinced on AIG, whose founder, by the way, is also the “brain” behind the infamous creation museum staining the northern Kentucky countryside.

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  1. #1 by Jim Fiore on October 28, 2009 - 7:53 pm

    There are many reasons why I suspect the USA is on a great downhill slide and the existence of AIG, Creation Museum, etc. is one of them.

    One of the few things that makes me hold out any hope is that I have noticed that my recent students at the college tend to be more irreligious than those of two decades ago.

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