Re: Coercion

From: <>
Date: Mon Apr 19 2004 - 12:17:00 EDT

Josh wrote:

> I'm not a theologian or a philosopher, but when I read that Jesus cast out
> demons from a man and transferred them into a herd of swine, I am lead to
> some serious doubts about the literality of these events based upon modern
> science. For example, we know that many people have schizophrenic disorders which
> are caused by imbalances in the brain's chemistry. The balance of
> neurotransmitters can be adjusted within brains and may assuage the symptoms, though
> perhaps it may not cure it, that is fine. If I am to believe that Satan and
> demons literally exist rather than as a personification of evil and outworkings
> of the human psyche then I must believe that supernatural spirits are unable
> to combat chemicals. That is to say that modern medicine can modify the
> brain's chemistry to such a degree that supernatural spirits no longer can manifest
> their demonic attributes through the conduit host.
> To state this another way, for demons and spirits to be real entities, as
> the gospels portray Jesus as believing and interacting with, then I must
> believe that the human brain must be in a certain state of chemical constituency
> prior to which the demonic force cannot infiltrate the brain to manifest
> satanically. So, if the brain must conform to certain conditions before demonic
> activity can take place, then why go so far as to insert the additional variable
> of satan and demons into the picture?
> So, from my layman's perspective, it is more parsimonious to believe that no
> such explanation is needed. Rather, it is more likely that such beings do
> not exist except as part of the human psyche. But, since Jesus is said to
> actually transfer them to other creatures, I must then also therefore disbelieve
> the literality of the gospel in this account. Perhaps the event was staged,
> perhaps it was fictional. I don't know, but I don't feel in any way compelled
> to take it literally in light of modern discoveries that provide a far more
> parsimonious answer.

Science and popular culture seem to feel very comfortable with the notion
that extraterrestrial intelligence exists "somewhere out there". What reason

have we to stop there? And what reason have we to presume that _only_
matter and its various manifestations such as dark matter exist? Moreover,
for straight forward physical processes, we can expect that what we see
today should be consistent with what we see in the past if it is true. But
should these conclusions always be extrapolated to the actions of willful
agents? Granted if such "life" is limited to as much information as human
agents acting on a stock market (for example), your conclusions are quite
but if we think we can consider ourselves "intelligent life", I don't see why
universe _must_ be limited to our levels of intelligence and perception.

Why should we see ourselves as positioned at (or near) the top of the
mountain in a universe that has yielded no signs of other intelligent life?
It has never stopped anyone serious from speculating about why we
don't detect them.

Admittedly, it is of little use to speculate on the mechanisms of transfer
between humans, spirits and swine, but one must also wonder if a
Christ in a tangibly active earthly ministry would not provoke such
observables. There is no denying that Jesus _could_ have been a
mere charlatan, nevertheless, we are left with an account, and a Christian
accepts on faith the honesty of the witness: irrespective of what may
seem parsimonious to presume in the minds of others.

by Grace alone we proceed,
Received on Mon Apr 19 12:17:31 2004

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