Ghosts; demons and exorcisms: What are we to believe?


John Mark Ministries link to a Australian Newspaper report about a Roman Catholic Priest who came to Australia. This was no ordinary visit, for this priest is the exorcist for London’s Westminster Archdiocese and the co-founder of the International Association of Exorcists in Rome and was leading a quiet forum on the ancient rite of exorcism.

Michael Patton; from Credo House / Parchment and Pen links an audio file in which he, Sam Storms and Tim Kimberly discuss what they call Closet Doctrines. In it they have a laugh about various topics and at one part went on a tangent from the main conversation regarding demons and ghosts and how in the circles they are part of; it seems to be a taboo subject.

I made a brief comment on a recent post in regards to pastoral no no’s   A reader who is a passionate atheist made a series of comments against the whole notion of the existence of demons basing his opinions on the basis of science alone…

Yet not all in the scientific community believe in his assessment. Take Dr Amin Muhammad Gadit, M.D., who is a professor of psychiatry at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada. He wrote an article for the Psychiatric News, which is the newspaper of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and is published on the first and third Fridays of each month. He writes of his experience

Having worked for a number of years in a developing country, seeing several patients with different clinical conditions expressing belief in jinni possession, all of whom had a low literacy level, I was surprised initially when I came across such a situation in Canada. Though I had theoretical knowledge of such types of beliefs and syndromes, which are prevalent all over the globe, the practical experience of dealing with such patients was a fascinating experience for me.

A number of years ago I was supporting a couple who were doing mission work in the outback of Australia within a aboriginal community. They have since moved elsewhere. Steve told me the story about the time when a Aboriginal medicine man came into the village and pointed his bone at a mother who was carrying a baby and said; Dead man’s fingernail in babies belly… and he walked off. The baby immediately started to scream in agony and was inconsolable. Someone ran to get Steve who  then rebuked the spirit behind the curse of the medicine man and the baby became instantly calm once again.

I also lived in a house in 1990 which was haunted. I wasn’t a Christian at the time. I would hear the kitchen draws rattle around of a night. The contents within the draws and  cupboards would be rearranged and one night when I heard all the rattling around I crept down the hallway with my shotgun; thinking there was an intruder and  the rattling stopped as soon as I crossed the doorway into the kitchen.

One particular night I woke up and saw an apparition beside the bed. It was big; ugly; and seemed to be even blacker than the room. To say I was scared was an understatement. I yelled out; #$^&#$  off in the name of Jesus. It changed its appearance to that of a cheeky impish child and I felt sorry for it in my heart. As soon as I felt sorry for it; it changed again and was even more scarier then it was before…I shouted out #@^^&@^ go in the name of Jesus ..&%*^&#&# Go go go… and it went. I was so scared from this event that I turned every light on in the house and did so for a number of weeks. One particular day I came home and was about to come through the back door. My dog; which a Staffie Ridgeback was standing at the back door; its back arched; every hair standing upright and was making a very funny strangled growling type noise. When I put my hand on the door knob; it seemed that every hair on my body stood on end and I felt this absolute sense of pure evil and fear when I did so.

Something in me broke and I went looking to find the local priest or a minister who could come and help… Eventually I did find someone who came with a group of people and they prayed through the house and the presence was gone and I never experienced that presence again.

In 1997 I became a Christian and later in the year was released from some personal bondages in 3 areas; which perhaps is a story in itself for another time.

So the question I ask you is what do you think about the subject of Ghosts, demons and exorcisms?

About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
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18 Responses to Ghosts; demons and exorcisms: What are we to believe?

  1. tildeb says:

    You will note that Doctor Gadit does not say that he believes jinni/demons are real… although he may. What he does say is that many do believe in them (note the increase in prevalence among the illiterate versus very few in Canada with a high literacy rate) and that this has ramifications for successful treatment, treatment that the scientific community should deal with in a more serious manner.

    As for me being a ‘passionate’ atheist, I am passionate about finding out what’s true and the ways and means and methods to do this. Faith-based belief fails in this undertaking. So my current understanding is that belief in ghosts and demons is superstitious nonsense and that exorcisms can sometimes be an effective treatment for those so afflicted by the power of their faith-based beliefs.

  2. Craig Benno says:

    By default you have denied yourself any scientific creditability. Scientists are observers and therefore are into observing and hearing of others experiences.

    Your comments are like those of a hypothetical doctor whose patient approaches him with a sore leg. The doctor immediately prescribes him some asthma medication and dismisses his complaint of having a sore leg because he cannot see anything wrong with it.

    I also notice you have not even engaged in mine and others experiences of whom I have written… Yet a REAL scientist is actively involved in the listening process of hearing others experiences…

    Also there are known medical conditions that have no scientific proof of its existence. Take Chronic Fatigue as one of them. No one knows what causes it. No one knows how to cure it. Some believe it to be all in the mind. Others in the scientific community take it very seriously because of the sheer number of people who have and still do experience Chronic Fatigue…. under the criteria you have set… you have to say there is no such thing as Chronic Fatigue.

    • tildeb says:

      Science is based on the idea that we can gain understanding of our universe by applying principles of logic, observation, experimentation and reason. Its epistemology is methodological naturalism. Anything outside of this is unknowable. What you are presenting is your attribution of certain events and then asserting that it comes from some realm unknowable in ways that are unknowable. It remains your job to show why your attributions should be taken seriously when you have no way to determine except by faith-based beliefs I show are superstitions grounded in nothing knowable that demons are real and active.

      Demons and chronic fatigue are not compatible comparisons. No supernatural claims are made by those in the medical profession regarding the overwhelming fatigue some patients have. Like autism that covers a spectrum of behavioural disorders, so too does chronic fatigue cover a spectrum of symptoms. But if any medical doctor were to suggest that the cause of the malady was an evil spirit, then he or she has left the real world, left the world of medicine, and has entered into superstitious mumbo jumbo. The symptoms would remain, of course, and those would be real enough, but the ATTRIBUTION would divorce that doctor from ever finding out the root cause(s) of the medical condition in the same way that hacking to death accused witches will never find the answer to cholera.

      • Craig Benno says:


        You have done a magnificent job of being consistent and again have failed to interact with what I have presented in this post. You have not engaged with the various stories I presented of both my and others experience; perhaps because you dismiss them out of hand as either being lies or plain fantasy and something this sits outside of your comfort zone.

        Well done I applaud you for your consistent efforts.

  3. Pingback: Pastors of significance. | Trinitarian Dance

  4. TL says:

    Demons are real. Ghosts are IMO demons, maybe some are what people call familiar spirits.

    In the secular realm there has been for a while a lot of communicating with angel guides. What happens is the person who is involved with it gets really emotionally and mentally messed up.

    A long time ago, I knew a psychologist who concluded that all mentally insane (over the edge) people are demon possessed. He had realized that all the psychological counseling only shows what the problems are but cannot bring healing. Only prayer had any actual effect on bringing some degree of sanity.

    This is an important subject that has been avoided by most Christians and Christian leaders for a while.

    • Craig Benno says:

      While I will agree that dealing with angel guides are very dangerous; I don’t believe that all mentally insane people are so because of demonic involvement. Certainly though the issues can be exasperated by the demonic… There have been known cases of brain injury that causes severe mental illness… that border into the insane…I do note / assume however that you are making a difference between insanity and mental illness.

      • TL says:

        yes, I don’t think mental illnesses due to brain imbalances (whether thru injuries, illness, or birth defects of any sort) are the same as insanities.

      • tildeb says:

        Pray tell: what differentiates demon possessions from brain damage, angel guides from mental illness? If there is no difference, then why introduce the notion of some supernatural element as if it were real but different from a biological dysfunction?

        Consider for a moment the possibility that all supernatural claims are false. How can you disprove this?

        Now consider for a moment the possibility that all supernatural claims are true. How can you prove this?

        What constitutes meaningful evidence in either case? What constitutes verification that can be applied equally and as objectively as possible so that we have something to go by, something that can be brought to bear on whether or not these claims are true?

        As I wrote in a more recent post <a href=""here, facts matter. They inform what’s true. What, then, are the facts about supernatural claims if we honestly want to know if such extraordinary claims of supernatural agencies are IN FACT true?

        If you cannot answer these questions cohesively, then you must accept some level of doubt, some level of skepticism about all such claims. Failure to do that is a failure to respect what’s true, and a failure to respect what’s true is clear indication of intentional intellectual dishonesty.

  5. Craig Benno says:

    Tildeb… you have no right to engage in this subject till you have engaged with what I wrote in regards to my personal story… which you have clearly failed to do; even though asked a couple of times to do so.

    • tildeb says:

      But I already have, Craig. I wrote

      What you are presenting is your attribution of certain events and then asserting that it comes from some realm unknowable in ways that are unknowable. It remains your job to show why your attributions should be taken seriously when you have no way to determine except by faith-based beliefs I show are superstitions grounded in nothing knowable that demons are real and active.

      Asking me to ‘explain’ your attributions is simply this: it is your brain that sees, and it is your brain that interprets, and it is your brain that attributes. The truth of what you experienced as an exterior entity is outside of your brain – we often call these supportive indications outside of the person who claims such an experience as ‘evidence’ – and until you have some way to verify your attributions with such things as outside evidence, then your reported experience offers us exactly zero proof for demons and other supernatural critters your brain attributes to be true.

      • Craig Benno says:

        How do you interpret what happened ?

      • tildeb says:

        If you are asking me what happened to you during these experiences, my honest answer is I don’t know. If you are asking me where I would look for answers, my advice is to look to yourself here in the natural world. That includes ‘interpreting’ what you experienced as a reflection of yourself imposed on the world.

        I, too, have experienced something similar but I will not jump to a conclusion or pretend that I have satisfactory answers based only on what I believe to be true. My beliefs are not reliable indicators of what is true and I know – as do you – that my perceptions can be fooled far too easily. After all, that’s how magicians make their living! To myself, however, I honestly admit I don’t know what is true in relation to my experiences. And that’s okay; there are many mysteries of the worlds we inhabit that provide us with insufficient evidence to arrive at a good conclusion… especially about states of existence beyond anything we can know. We are in no way equipped to have access to realms of ‘reality’ that isn’t this one here and now. (About the sixteenth dimension we can know absolutely nothing because we can’t access it in any way that provides us with any kind of understanding upon which our knowledge is built.)

        Also like you, after a period of time these experiences stopped… but without any kind of religiously inspired interventions. That doesn’t make my experiences any kind of reliable indicator of what is ‘real’ beyond my perceptions and brain interpretations than it does yours, nor does it justify the need for religious intervention.

        I’m just being truthful that substituting proclamations of knowledge in place of I-don’t-knows is not honest even if honestly believed. Granting these proclamations of knowledge legitimacy is in all probability a thinking error.

  6. TL says:

    Trying to prove that the supernatural is real falls along the same problems of proving God is real and alive, and Christ is God who died for our salvation and came to earth as a human via God the Holy Spirit. Yes, we have Biblical claims that give us understanding for those who choose to believe the Bible. But ultimately we are going to come up with experiential claims of those who say that they know God is real and Christ is Lord because of what He did in my life.

    In a similar way we know that angels are real also, because some people have seen them and been spoken to by them. Demons are fallen angels as the Bible instructs us. And as in the Bible there are stories of many who have encountered angels, there are many throughout history who have encountered angels both of God’s army and of those fallen angels.

    So my answer to you tildeb, is that both the Bible and history tell us that demons are real and that they do great damage to those humans they engage with, including causing people to go insane.

    • tildeb says:

      Indeed it does fall along the same problem as any faith-based beliefs in the supernatural: lack of verification and lack of evidence. If the guy next door – let’s call him Bob – reports waking up at 4 am beside his pool and says he had a fascinating chat with a Yeti who spoke English with a Scottish accent urging him and all the other neighbours to invest in a land deal in Tuvalu, a remarkable critter who later dove into the pool never to reappear, will you accept the same argument you present here that the Yeti was probably real?

      I didn’t think so. And for very good, very sound reasons.

      So my question to you is this (you don’t have to answer me): why allow religious beliefs in supernatural events and critters to hold a special exemption in your mind from the same healthy skepticism?

      That’s the question that I think is very interesting and worth a mull or two. I think it speaks volumes about how we exercise our reasoning when so many otherwise normal and rational people privilege supernatural claims as long as it comes through some religious lens. It indicate clearly to me that, when it comes to religious beliefs, the best explanation is that people FIRST grant their religious beliefs to be true. THEN they begin figuring out ways to gain supportive evidence while discarding contrary evidence and excusing the lack of evidence that should be there as part of the mystic… something we clearly wouldn’t allow in any other area of our lives because we know such assumptions are as often wrong as right with no way to discern between them.

      Such is the case with your demons-are-real line of thinking. You believe they are real, that they cause effect (which means they must have some physical component capable of interacting in our physical reality), yet suspend your disbelief in spite of a lack of corroborating physical evidence with a rationalization that some kind of oogity boogity prevents us from finding it.

      You wouldn’t accept this rationalization from Bob because it makes no sense without some way to independently verify the claim as even possible long before we even get to ‘true’. For all you know Bob hallucinates regularly or works for a desperate land developer in Tuvalu. In other words, there is probably some other explanation that is much more reasonable. Why not hold claims about god to at least the same standard?

  7. Hello Craig and others.

    I have had experiences with the supernatural, both before and after becoming a Christian. The bible acknowledges the reality of spirits and demons etc, but my understanding as a Christian is that I am not to seek to engage with such things.

    When I was 3, I remember seeing a lady in my house. Every night o would wake up and go to my parents bed, and one occasion where I went to do this, a lady was at my door. She wasn’t see through or anything and I used to remember what she was wearing. She had short black hair. When o tried to go past her she tried to catch me. I shut the door and thoughtnit was a bad dream Annie would wake up soon. I didn’t wake up and I definitely felt awake and conscious I tried again to go to my parents room and she tried to catch me in the hall way and I went back to my room again and closed the door. It took me a long time to get back to sleep.

    There are many other experiences I could share but my comment woul be way too long.

    I am not a great fan of deliverance style prayer. I have had people pray for me and have experienced profound improvement to the point where people said I even looked different. I think that for prayer ministry to be effective, the persons praying for you need to be listening and discerning and open to God keeping the focus on God. Where they speak words or go in a certain direction, the person receiving should feel safe, able to be as open or closed as they are comfortable with and able to accept or reject for themselves what they feel God is saying. Beneficial prayer sessions I have had have rarely drawn attention to dot glory to demons. And I know some girls who have been traumatized by prayer ministry corrupted by manipulation and demon obsession.

    I would also like to draw attention to comments made about mental illness. My life has been ravaged by mental illness in the past. While I believe that demonic interference has been an aspect of that in the past, it is a very complex issue that has taken many years to be able to manage. I am on medication and I see a psychiatrist regularly and a psychologist on and off depending on my needs. And I have a great church family around me and I get prayer from friends when I feel led to. I think too many Christians simplify mental illness and other things they don’t fully understand

  8. PS sorry for the typos I wrote all that on my iphone

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