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Let Me Check the Calendar

Entry 1576, on 2013-09-26 at 20:22:33 (Rating 5, Religion)

I'm just wondering what year this is. Is it 2013, or is it still 1913, or 1813, or even 1313? Maybe I should check my calendar... What makes me wonder are the antics of some religious groups who seem to be stuck in a mindset 500 years old where people still think demons and exorcisms are real.

In this case I am referring to three teenage "exorcists" supervised by the father of one of them who is also a reverend (and who claims that by himself cast has out over 15,000 demons) who are visiting the UK to help rid it of a bad case of demonic possession partly caused by reciting spells from Harry Potter.

A newspaper headline about the visit reads: "Teenage exorcists who say Harry Potter has corrupted the world head to Britain armed with Bibles and holy water to tackle a hotbed of cult activity". Believe it or not, this is not satire. This is real. How could you satirise something which has already reached such a pinnacle of unthinkable stupidity?

So these teenage heroes want to rescue London's youngsters who are being possessed after reciting spells in Harry Potter books which invite possession by demons. Yes, apparently the spells in the HP books aren't just rather clumsy Dog Latin (Expecto Patronum, Expelliarmus, Finite Incantatem, Incendio, Locomotor Mortis, Wingardium Leviosa, etc). In fact they are real spells straight from witchcraft which has been gradually perverting the country for hundreds of years. Oh, and "loose morals" are also significantly to blame for the problem as well!

It's not all for the good of humanity though, because individual sessions with these people go along with a "suggested contribution" of 200 pounds. Still, I guess it's worth it if you have a demon you want to get rid of.

It's such a remarkable story that a British TV crew is making a documentary about it. After 6 months you would think the documentary maker would have seen some fairly remarkable and convincing events which would convince him of the seriousness of the whole thing, right? Well no actually. He says after watching the exorcisms for that long he doesn't believe in exorcisms! And anyone who sees an exorcism will soon realise you really have to be a moron to believe this stuff. But most religious people are morons so there are no surprises there!

Do other groups embarrass themselves like this by acting like total fools? Well yes, I guess some do, and I'll discuss them later. But it seems to take religion for people to really go over the edge of reality into a land of total fantasy. Even the Catholic Church - which at least has made a few meagre efforts at modernisation (by accepting the truth of evolution, for example) - still thinks demonic possession and exorcism is true.

OK, fair enough, everyone makes mistakes. The consensus of natural philosophers (I hesitate to call them scientists because the period I'm referring to was prior to the establishment of science in its modern form) used to think that the Earth was at the center of the Universe and that the path of the planets could only be explained by an incredibly complex system of epicycles in the planets' orbits.

But when the evidence changed the consensus also changed. No one said "we can explain the phenomenon so much better using a heliocentric model but we have always believed in a geocentric universe and that's what it says in all our old books so, despite the evidence, we will continue to believe the old idea". No, they realised the old book was wrong and they wrote new books instead which reflected reality much better.

If they had continued to believe the old model despite the vast evidence against it they would have looked like fools because that's exactly what they would have been. And that also describes these religious freaks who believe in demons, and creationism, and the Flood, and Adam and Eve, and all that other abject nonsense.

But it also describes people who think homeopathy, or magnetic bracelets, or the flat Earth, or the Moon hoax, or 9/11 conspiracies, or free energy, or magic water, and a whole pile of other silly things are real. On the other hand these other superstitious beliefs don't tend to be as widely accepted or to last as long as religious superstition. I haven't hard much about 9/11 conspiracies recently for example, despite it being the anniversary of the attack.

So I think religious nonsense is the worst form of nonsense. It seems to be taken the most seriously by its proponents, it is probably the most widely believed, and it is considered by many to be the most unacceptable to ridicule.

Maybe the real problem is that the Harry Potter fantasy world is more realistic and interesting than the Christian fantasy world. Maybe that's the real reason these religious freaks feel so threatened!


Comment 1 (3631) by sr on 2013-09-26 at 22:34:13:

So much for bashing non-scientific stuff….Exorcism is a non-scientific ritual if done properly, it produces good results. Possession is more often than not a psychological projection. It has nothing to do with demons, its all in the mind. Exorcism exploits the mind’s gullibility by using its very weapons against it. It fools the sub-conscious by creating a situation around it. It says to the mind, “You believe you are possessed? Ok, I will make you believe you are not possessed.”

Modern psychiatry relies on medicines to dampen the mind’s over-activity at such times, but it doesn’t target the issue directly. Exorcism exists around the world in different forms, in every religious faith there is a variation, with different rituals, but same intent…calling all of them ‘morons’ makes you God now…doesn’t it?

You seem to be hurt in some way by religion…where I live, in India, religion has more bullshit than you can ever have, but it has also given me a freedom to see things better than imposed dogma. I have seen exorcism work in little villages, one on my own cousin, not done by christian priests, but local shamans, who use the same principle – shock the brain back into its ground state.

Religious people were more smart in history than you think. They have discovered psychological implications far more advanced than modern psychology ever can. The western society is either dogmatic religious or atheist which condemns religion at every step..

There is no mean line. Being an Indian Hindu, seeing local exorcists at work on my own cousin, I know the method works, I know why it does…angels and demons still don’t matter to me, but my cousin does…


Comment 2 (3632) by OJB on 2013-09-26 at 22:35:03:

So it seems like you’re saying exorcism works through some sort of placebo effect? There are no demons but if people think there are then they might be cured just because of what they believe?

I can accept that, and in some cases exorcism might really achieve some positive outcomes. But if people have problems which they blame on demons then maybe they have a real psychological or medical condition which would be better treated with proper medical techniques.

I also see no reason to think that religion has ever achieved more than modern psychology has. I agree religion is a clever social mechanism which has been effective in maintaining its power, but that is all.

I didn’t call *all* religious people morons (check my original post) but many are (not literally but you know what I mean: just unthinking and ignorant).

I do condemn religion at every step because it’s just so embarrassing to human society. We should be better than this now. We should have moved beyond our childish, superstitious past. The truth is far more interesting than religious myths.


Comment 3 (3633) by sr on 2013-09-27 at 14:37:24:

Religion is not just childish superstition….it needs to progress too, but not be abandoned…science is no replacement for religion…you know what blind science does right?

Religion is the basic need of man…its not a social mechanism only…it is an individualistic need…and people interpret things in a bad way…but in every religion you find gems…

Christianity? Look at jesus, look at saint augustine, look at the desert fathers…
Islam? Look at mevlavi jallaluddin rumi…look at the sufi poets of recent times..look at Kabir…
Hinduism? Try reading Ashtavakra Geeta…it is the atheist’s guide to enlightenment

Look at Buddha, Lao Tzu, Osho, Walt Whitman, the Zen masters… look in your own backyard, religion has reached new unfathomable heights in the field of subjective evolution… religion is nothing embarrassing… it needs to walk with time…

Remember…a person who runs towards religion is on the same level as a person who runs away from religion…I know what you mean to say…religion today is mostly bullshit…and humans will evolve fully only when they can set aside this dogmatic religion…but the people mentioned above are the ladder to climb….


Comment 4 (3634) by OJB on 2013-09-27 at 14:38:39:

I think philosophy, not religion, should guide science. I really don’t think religion has a place at all. And it is superstitious because it believes in a supernatural world for which there is no evidence. And it is childish because (often) people believe religion just because their seniors told them to, or it makes them feel better in this big, scary world.

I don’t think religion is a basic need at all. Clearly an increasing number of people don’t think so either. Maybe at one time it tried to explain stuff we didn’t understand, but now we have better tools for that.

I agree there is a certain amount of reasonably good philosophy in the alleged teachings of various religious figures (and remember that some of those figures could be fictional) but there’s plenty of teaching which is better in philosophy, art, science, etc, as well.

I don’t agree those people are a “ladder to climb”. I think a few good ideas exist in religion but as soon as you commit to a religion through faith your perception of what is good and bad in them is gone. That is not good.


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