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View Poll Results: Is Demonic Possession real or group hysteria?
Absolutely real 10 18.87%
Probably real 2 3.77%
It's real, but you have to invite evil influences into your life 8 15.09%
No, not real; anyone claiming this is a mental case. 28 52.83%
There is a good force and a bad force in our universe-a person has to decide which force they choose to serve 2 3.77%
diamondbruno#9, do you have your own church and gospel? 3 5.66%
diamond you always make the best threads; cutting edge, pushing the intellectual and religious envelope; Bravo 6 11.32%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 53. You may not vote on this poll

 
 
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Old 03-28-2008, 06:42 PM   #286
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In the very brief time I've been able to look this up today, I came across this on a forum where psychologists respond to questions sent in by people. I have no idea who this particular doctor is, or what his area of specialty is, but he's essentially giving the same response that I was attempting to give last night, except his explanation is much more clear than mine.

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Question By a Reader | Reply By Dr Joseph M Carver, PhD | 28 January 2008

Q: I am a third year college Mass Communication student in the Phillippines and am doing an Investigative research on exorcism. Part of this is to deeply explore “possession” as its main root. For my questions, is possession merely a case of psychological illness? Is it all about a person’s mental state and there is no such thing as “demon possession”? I hope you can reply on this one for it will be of great help in my research that I am conducting.


A: A similar question was asked when we started the Ask the Psychologist forum. I’ll provide that reply as well as additional comments.

Psychiatric illness has been present for thousands of years. During those years, the symptoms were thought to be related to demonic possession, a disturbance of “humors”, tree spirits, etc. Modern psychiatry and psychology recognize that symptoms and behaviors once felt to be related to demonic possession are related to disturbances in brain chemistry.

How do we know these symptoms and behaviors are related to brain chemistry? First, we can artifically duplicate almost any recognized symptom or behavior by using medications and chemicals that are known to change brain chemistry. We can create paranoia, hallucinations, etc. Almost all paranoid individuals feel they are being “possessed” in some manner — typically that something is trying to influence, monitor, or control their thoughts. Second, we can reduce and sometimes eliminate these same symptoms with the proper medications. Third, when treating folks with severe psychiatric illness, the same symptoms return when they stop their medications…then go away again when the medications are returned.

Lastly, this current model works across cultures. While each culture has specific demons and labels for unusual behavior, the psychiatric process is the same and can be treated with the same, universal medications.

It’s also important to remember that psychiatric illness exaggerates and amplifies the existing cultural, spiritual, and personal beliefs of the individual. In short, people who believe in demonic possession are the only ones who experience it. A non-believer is unlikely to experience demonic possession. It’s also true that in most cases, only folks who have a prior belief in alien life ever report being abducted. Psychiatric symptoms, while similar in their neurochemistry, are influenced by the experience and culture of the individual. In paranoia, the person believes they are being watched by the police in their country. An individual who only speaks English never has a hallucination in a another language…that kind of thing.

In response to your question, possession of any kind is considered a psychological issue by the majority of mental health professionals. Individuals who believe they are possessed by demons/spirits/aliens/technology are often encountered in psychiatry. In each case, the basic symptoms of the illness and sense of possession are the same. Given the same symptoms of paranoia and feelings of external control, some view it as demon possession, some feel they are controlled by orbiting satellites, and still others feel they are being controlled by microchips placed in their brain during a dental procedure. Each person interprets their symptoms through their own belief system, culture, and level of social sophistication.
Link

I'll continue to look for scholarly articles later.
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Old 03-28-2008, 07:09 PM   #287
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Quote:
Originally posted by INDY500

That's so bleak in it's implications


Your vision is bleak because the universe DOES seem to care about us.


I don't get why his view is bleak. It's really not. As an agnostic, every day I look at aspects of the world in awe, while choosing to view them in a scientific as opposed to a creationist view. That doesn't make them any less awesome to me. If anything, it makes them ever more so.

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So either the Universe somehow cares for us or we're just that 1 in a 100 billion trillion oddity that's bound to occur with that many stars around.
You're anthropomorphizing the universe. I believe, and science points to the latter.

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Secular moral law is the bad model. Who is the arbitrator of "man centered" morality.
The self? How does the self differentiate between good and bad with no external measure?
...
Society? Maybe, but then good and bad become the changing preferences of the majority, not absolutes.
Humans do not need a higher power to instill a sense of right and wrong into them. As A_Wanderer has pointed out many times, our beliefs and views of right and wrong have evolved from early humankind's biology and social learning of what it takes to propagate our species. For most of us, what we sense as being right and wrong are things that are mutually beneficial to us and all of society. I don't understand why this is so difficult to grasp.
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Old 03-28-2008, 08:01 PM   #288
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Originally posted by VintagePunk


I don't get why his view is bleak. It's really not. As an agnostic, every day I look at aspects of the world in awe, while choosing to view them in a scientific as opposed to a creationist view. That doesn't make them any less awesome to me. If anything, it makes them ever more so.



You're anthropomorphizing the universe. I believe, and science points to the latter.










No, because that means we have approx 60-80 years on earth and we're done, I say it's just snippet of our eternal existence along with most believers and people of faith.

Humans do need and have a higher power whether they want to accept or not. God won't force us. This higher power has instilled a sense of right and wrong, reason and conscience into us,unlike animals-altho some animals can reason to a degree. . Science proves this.

More later I'm off to the gym to work out my animal instincts for a while. God put those in us too, as a test I think to teach us to master ourselves.

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Old 03-28-2008, 08:18 PM   #289
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Originally posted by INDY500

Secular moral law is the bad model.
What is secular MORAL law?

I actually kind of fear that you may honestly believe that a secular legal system is a bad model and we should move to a theocratic one instead.
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Old 03-28-2008, 09:02 PM   #290
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Quote:
Originally posted by INDY500

That's so bleak in it's implications


Your vision is bleak because the universe DOES seem to care about us. Tell me where I'm wrong.
14 Billion years ago the entire Universe exploded from a point 1000x times smaller than this " . "
It expands with just the correct velocity and mass so as not to recollapse upon itself or spread itself so thin so as not to form matter.
It placed our solar system in just the right location of a spiral galaxy -- too far away and we couldn't inherit the building blocks of life (C, N and O) and heavy metals from long dead stars -- too close to the center and radiation and gravitation excesses would make life or a stable planetary system impossible.
It gave us just one sun. An average, stable sun insuring time enough for planets to form -- planet formation itself a rarity.
It placed our planet at just the correct distance from the Sun with, over time, an appropriate atmosphere so as to allow H2O to exist in all 3 forms; ice, liquid and vapor. An absolute necessity for life to exist.
And finally, gave us just one moon of just the right size to stabilize our rotation and axis.

So either the Universe somehow cares for us or we're just that 1 in a 100 billion trillion oddity that's bound to occur with that many stars around.

Let me ask you this. You deny the existence of the metaphysical or supernatural, do you also deny any possibility at all of extraterrestrial life due to a equally complete lack of credible scientific evidence?

Well how many true psychopaths are there compared to sociopaths? Why not ask why God allows any illness including mental? Or for that matter, demon possession?

Secular moral law is the bad model. Who is the arbitrator of "man centered" morality.
The self? How does the self differentiate between good and bad with no external measure?
The State? Well I'm sure you realize the problem with this at either extreme, religious or secular.
Society? Maybe, but then good and bad become the changing preferences of the majority, not absolutes.
The difference between the supernatural and extra-terrestrials is that by definition the supernatural cannot exist. Life is a product of physics and chemistry, there is no prohibition against it like there is for the supernatural.

As far as the rarity of the planet Earth that is an anthropic argument. If the universe was different in terms of physics then a sentient organism would be different than us. The fact that we are finding terrestrial exoplanets around other stars is very revealing, just recently astronomers detected organic molecules in the atmosphere of an exoplanet. Constraining the probability of planets will place Earth in some sort of context. Arguing the it must be divine based on the conditional nature of natural history overlooking the likelihoods is wrong from the start.

As far as caring for us I don't see it. Does nucleosynthesis in the core of a star care for us? Does gravity care for us? Does organic chemistry care for us? Natural processes do not seem to be driven by any actor that wants to look after anything.

As far as making my argument that the existence of genetic diseases is Gods doing that seems the conclusion of special creation. Why not ask why God made such obvious design flaws. Your theistic model has to sweep these things under the rug, a materialist model does not.
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Old 03-28-2008, 10:03 PM   #291
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Originally posted by VintagePunk


I don't get why his view is bleak.
I've thought it through in the past, utilizing my most cynical view of life while thinking up the worst possible scenarios and here's what I gather (please keep in mind that this does not, in any way, shape or form, dwell on the positives of an atheistic outlook, but merely the negatives). You, me, all of us are essentially based on an accident, a reproductive system that originated from the way cells and, ultimately, atoms assembled themselves. You have 60-80 years of life, and you get to live it as a person with a flawed, imperfect viewpoint of life, limited knowledge, and you get to spend a significant (though varied) amount of your life sick with countless diseases, a birth defect, or perhaps a debilitating injury you received later on in life. Many people don't even get that 60-80 years. And for what? So your brain can one day shut down and your body become part of soil. If you don't make a mark in your allotted time, people will inevitably forget you even existed, as even your own family line will one day die off. The moments of joy you have here are basically just sensations that are enjoyable for the present, but really don't matter much in the long run, and even posting here on this forum is kind of a waste, really. But we already know that. (It is no matter what outlook you have, but we just can't resist. )

It's a wonder to me why folks take so much pleasure is bashing and badgering those with a theistic belief system. If anything, I would think that, rather than attempting to disprove the belief system of their choosing, they would much rather attempt to validate it, as it is indeed a much more hopeful outlook on things. People always say that evolution makes creation more amazing, (and perhaps it does, because the chances of things occurring in that manner and manifesting themselves as they do to us today are slim indeed, and certainly would have needed those millions of years to get going), but it leaves me with the question of "why should I care if it's amazing"? Nature is sure lovely to look at (yet occasionally quite horrific) but, ultimately, who the fuck cares whether or not it exists if it has no purpose? Who the fuck cares what I do if no one's going to remember it or if it ultimately has no effect on the future?

However, I don't believe any of that. Perhaps I'm just a no BS kind of guy, but I can't live in simply the now. I need to hope that what I'm doing at this moment has some effect on what happens to myself and others far longer than however many years of life I've been given. I wouldn't be able to get out of bed in the morning. Therefore, I have great respect for those who believe differently than I, simply because I would be incredibly depressed if I forced myself to believe that way. I don't believe that most of the world is like me, and I believe that if it were somehow proven that God is a farce (though, based on the definition of science and its general purpose alone, it would be impossible to use natural means to prove or disprove something immaterial) people would be able to piece their lives back together and change their perspectives accordingly. It's just not something that I would adjust well to. This is largely because of my own long-running struggle to cope with the idea that I will indeed die someday, and partially because of the way that I've been wired up. Others wouldn't be nearly so negative about it.

Sorry for the essay answer, but I wanted to give you all an idea of why I believe the way I do. It's mostly because of some personal experiences that I would rather keep as such, but there's also a negative streak in me that is attracted to the positive (and perhaps naively optimistic), if you get my meaning.
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Old 03-29-2008, 12:47 AM   #292
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That was really well thought out and articulated, LM. I enjoyed reading it. I've got some comments on a couple of your points.

Quote:
I've thought it through in the past, utilizing my most cynical view of life while thinking up the worst possible scenarios and here's what I gather (please keep in mind that this does not, in any way, shape or form, dwell on the positives of an atheistic outlook, but merely the negatives). You, me, all of us are essentially based on an accident, a reproductive system that originated from the way cells and, ultimately, atoms assembled themselves. You have 60-80 years of life, and you get to live it as a person with a flawed, imperfect viewpoint of life, limited knowledge, and you get to spend a significant (though varied) amount of your life sick with countless diseases, a birth defect, or perhaps a debilitating injury you received later on in life. Many people don't even get that 60-80 years. And for what? So your brain can one day shut down and your body become part of soil. If you don't make a mark in your allotted time, people will inevitably forget you even existed, as even your own family line will one day die off. The moments of joy you have here are basically just sensations that are enjoyable for the present, but really don't matter much in the long run, and even posting here on this forum is kind of a waste, really. But we already know that. (It is no matter what outlook you have, but we just can't resist. )
It's a testament to our varying outlooks as humans, I suppose, but none of the things you cite as problematic to you bother me. I've accepted all that, and I'm fine with it. As you put it, "the moments of joy [we] have here" are enough for me. In the here and now, I impact my environment, and the people in it, hopefully mostly in positive ways. Unless I make some significant contribution to the world (science, literature, an invention, something historically, or any of the myriad things people are remembered for), then yes, I likely will be forgotten, but that's okay, because in my view, I'll have no awareness of it, anyway.

Quote:

It's a wonder to me why folks take so much pleasure is bashing and badgering those with a theistic belief system. If anything, I would think that, rather than attempting to disprove the belief system of their choosing, they would much rather attempt to validate it, as it is indeed a much more hopeful outlook on things. People always say that evolution makes creation more amazing, (and perhaps it does, because the chances of things occurring in that manner and manifesting themselves as they do to us today are slim indeed, and certainly would have needed those millions of years to get going), but it leaves me with the question of "why should I care if it's amazing"? Nature is sure lovely to look at (yet occasionally quite horrific) but, ultimately, who the fuck cares whether or not it exists if it has no purpose? Who the fuck cares what I do if no one's going to remember it or if it ultimately has no effect on the future?
[/B]
I hope you aren't grouping me with those who are badgering people with other beliefs. I don't think you are, but just in case, I'm stating for the record that probably what motivates me in discussions like this, and what appealed to me the most about your post specifically is that I enjoy hearing about the processes people go through in arriving at their thoughts and beliefs, and their reasoning behind them, as much as I do about the actual thoughts and beliefs themselves.

That said, you're talking about something abstract, something based entirely on belief, or faith, something that's immaterial, as you state. In other words, it's not falsifiable. From my perspective, the onus is not on the non-believer to verify the claims of religion, and yet, the religious cannot prove it either, since it's non-empirical. It always comes down to a stalemate. I have no interest in bashing or badgering, though. Some of the people I'm closest to are very religious, and I respect their right to believe in what they do, and hopefully they feel the same way toward me. I just don't happen to agree with them.
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Old 03-29-2008, 01:12 AM   #293
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Originally posted by VintagePunk
That was really well thought out and articulated, LM. I enjoyed reading it.
Glad you enjoyed it. I basically went back into darkest parts of my psyche, wrung it out and threw it on everyone. I'm not nearly that nihilistic in everyday life. But it's certainly been something I've thought about in the past.

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It's a testament to our varying outlooks as humans, I suppose, but none of the things you cite as problematic to you bother me. I've accepted all that, and I'm fine with it. As you put it, "the moments of joy [we] have here" are enough for me.
This I'm really glad to hear, as it illustrates my point near the bottom of my post perfectly; not all of us are wired up the same, and will respond to these situations differently depending on their personality or drive.

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In the here and now, I impact my environment, and the people in it, hopefully mostly in positive ways. Unless I make some significant contribution to the world (science, literature, an invention, something historically, or any of the myriad things people are remembered for), then yes, I likely will be forgotten, but that's okay, because in my view, I'll have no awareness of it, anyway.
For me, and I know this will sound odd because I spend so much time on this forum, I feel really, really bad if I'm not accomplishing something. Why that is exactly I can't be sure, but it's impossible for me to just be. To enjoy things as they are. So, as a result, the idea that what I do accomplish could someday be forgotten scares the shit out of me. This is something I know a lot of people share, and it's part of what would cause an average lifespan with no hope of an afterlife to be uncomfortable for me. I need a psychiatrist's chair and a water cooler right about now.

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I hope you aren't grouping me with those who are badgering people with other beliefs. I don't think you are, but just in case, I'm stating for the record that probably what motivates me in discussions like this, and what appealed to me the most about your post specifically is that I enjoy hearing about the processes people go through in arriving at their thoughts and beliefs, and their reasoning behind them, as much as I do about the actual thoughts and beliefs themselves.
Nah, of course not. But they're all over the internet. Of course, how they spend their time is their business, so I won't expound upon this further. Plus, I don't want to come off as whiny or something. I think one thing that makes posts that discuss faith interesting (or simply more tolerable for some), is to get to hear people really dig deep and discuss why they are where they are today with their beliefs. It adds humanity to their story, and prevents it from sounding like they were kidnapped in a burlap bag and brainwashed by an evangelical preacher from the south.

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That said, you're talking about something abstract, something based entirely on belief, or faith, something that's immaterial, as you state. In other words, it's not falsifiable. From my perspective, the onus is not on the non-believer to verify the claims of religion, and yet, the religious cannot prove it either, since it's non-empirical. It always comes down to a stalemate. I have no interest in bashing or badgering, though. Some of the people I'm closest to are very religious, and I respect their right to believe in what they do, and hopefully they feel the same way toward me. I just don't happen to agree with them.
Great point, and it's partially why I try to avoid most "religious debates", because they tend to result in mud-slinging and hurt feelings with no positive answer reached. However, discussions on spirituality where those involved can have respect for others' beliefs can be intriguing and valuable. Those I enjoy reading.
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Old 03-29-2008, 03:00 AM   #294
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What makes an afterlife so great? It wouldn't stop your legacy from being dumped into the dustbin of history, dead people are not making big contributions to anything and likely never will.
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Old 03-29-2008, 03:20 AM   #295
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Depends on which afterlife you go to, wouldn't it? I honestly wouldn't know what it's like exactly, but if it's a positive one, you've got to think it's better than nothing. I like being alive, and wouldn't mind extending it if at all possible.
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Old 03-29-2008, 04:12 AM   #296
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In the end, I think we all believe what we want to believe.

I know I've said that before, but I'm just saying on this particular topic, it remains true as well.

I do find it puzzling though that many of my fellow believers discount demon possession. After all, what really is the difference between God and the devil--both are thoroughly unscientific, totally unprovable ideas. If you can't get comfortable with the unscientific nature of faith, then perhaps faith is not for you? I don't mean that to sound disrespectful in any way, I'm just wondering if there is a theological reason for disbelieving in demons--because for a person of faith, I don't see how the
"unscientific" nature of demons would be enough.

One other thought, my brother is a paranoid schizophrenic and we are a religous family (though, he, himself is an atheist). We never once confused his condition with demon possession.
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Old 03-29-2008, 08:27 AM   #297
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Originally posted by LemonMelon


It's a wonder to me why folks take so much pleasure is bashing and badgering those with a theistic belief system.
Same goes for someone like me with religious people. I'm puzzled not only why an atheist would take pleasure in badgering and bashing one with a theistic belief system, but also why a religious person would take so much pleasure in badgering and bashing one with an atheistic belief system.

I prefer those folks who restrain from that.
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Old 03-29-2008, 09:01 AM   #298
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Originally posted by anitram


What is secular MORAL law?

I actually kind of fear that you may honestly believe that a secular legal system is a bad model and we should move to a theocratic one instead.
Is slavery only morally wrong now using OUR subjective opinions or was (and is) it objectively wrong even when socially acceptable and legal by rule of Pharaoh, Caesar, King or even post-enlightenment democracies?
Which is to say, is human law the final say or is there a higher absolute or natural law against which they must be judged?

Quote:
"Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law."
Which do you consider the source of your basic rights? Do you consider them unalienable or can they be taken away by "rule of law"?
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Old 03-29-2008, 09:14 AM   #299
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Slavery didn't vanish with Christianity taking over.

Do you see me as a threat only because I don't believe at all? Do you think that through me being a non-believer I think in any way different about respect, just behaviour or charity?
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Old 03-29-2008, 10:09 AM   #300
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[B]The difference between the supernatural and extra-terrestrials is that by definition the supernatural cannot exist. Life is a product of physics and chemistry, there is no prohibition against it like there is for the supernatural.
Only by a strict materialistic definition which completely denies a world beyond that which can be detected empirically and in which, by definition, the laws of nature and time as we understand them may not be applicable.

That is interesting about the atmospheric Methane. I hadn't heard about that. Perhaps cows rule their planet and eat humans on a bun.
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