Monday, September 05, 2005

Exorcising Idiocy

The new film The Exorcism of Emily Rose ( is soon to be released. I'm confident that the film, whether good or bad, will reinvigorate the fictitious debate as to whether possession and exorcism are real. Believe me: The faithful will exploit any and every opportunity to ensnare people in their mindless theistic ways. It is our responsibility, as rational atheists, the publicize the facts about the sham that is exorcism. For, the United States is already hostile to science; we need no more regression.

In that spirit, I provide several links that ably debunk exorcism and possession. I trust everyone will find them useful:

The Skeptical Dictionary's Take:

Dissociative States: Possession and Exorcism by Barry L. Beyerstein: Here

Neuropathology and the Legacy of Spiritual Possession by Barry L. Beyerstein: Here

The Real Story Behind The Exorcist by Benjamin Radford:

Spirits, Witches, & Science: Why The Rise Of Science Encouraged Belief In The Supernatural In 17th-Century England by Richard Olson:

The Haunted Boy: the Facts Behind the Story that Inspired "The Exorcist" by Mark Opsasnick:

A Kinder, Gentler Satan by D. Trull:

Esophagus Exorcism!:

Gold, Mark S. The Good News About Depression: Cures and Treatments in the New Age of Psychiatry (New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1995). This book doesn't deal with exorcism, but it has much material on physical disorders whose symptoms mimic mental illness, in addition to material on symptoms of brain disorders including schizophrenia and hypermania, as well as depression. Many of these illnesses have been, and unfortunately still are, mistaken for demonic possession by those who are ignorant and/or superstitious.: Here

And here is a sarcastic take from James Randi:

If the Pope can't exorcize a demon, who can? Surely Satan will listen to the Pope, and get out of the neighborhood? Father James LeBar appeared on CNN last week to explain how a teenager exorcized by the Head Exorcist in Rome, at a ceremony attended by the Pope, later the same day began shouting nasties and carrying on during a religious service. Is it not incredible that in the year 2000 we are still declaring the reality of demons and such?

Asked about how accurately the movie "The Exorcist" represented a "real" exorcism, LeBar said: "Well, that movie pretty much shows what it's really like. It's a compilation of a number of things that would happen in different exorcisms, but there is the levitation, expectoration, there is the screaming. All of those things take place in a real exorcism." Well, spitting and screaming I can accept. But "levitation" . . .? Is Lance Burton missing something?

The host, Jane Clayson, asked LeBar, "There are a lot of people who might be skeptical of this. How do you differentiate between someone who is truly possessed by the devil and someone who may be seriously mental ill or have other problems?" The exorcist replied, "Well, of course today we have the added benefits of psychiatrists and psychologists and such, so before we would agree to an exorcism, we would have a psychological evaluation, a medical checkup and a psychiatric evaluation as well. And if there is any problems in those areas, they need to be treated first before we go forth with an exorcism." Note that the exorcism apparently goes ahead, regardless. Hey, this is showbiz, and the show must go on.

"Are exorcisms always successful? Do they always chase out the devil?" Jane asked. The priest offered, "Since exorcisms are a prayer of the church, by which we command in the name of Jesus the Devil to leave, they are ultimately always successful. Sometimes it takes a while. There are some cases that have gone on 20, 30 years before the person is finally delivered. No one can say why that happens, but it does."

Father LeBar, let me hazard a layman's guess here. Either there was nothing there in the first place except a dandy way to get attention, or the "afflicted" just lost interest?"

Finally, while we are slaying "demons," let's at long last put The Amityville Horror to rest. It, too, is pure fabrication. Just click here:

The world has plenty of problems with which to deal. We don't need fictional problems occupying our time. Hopefully, this post will be one step in the direction of rationality...




Blogger Aaron Kinney said...

Awesome post! Im actually interested in seeing this movie for entertainment value. But yea, excorcism is pretty ridiculous. Notice that atheists never need an excorcism ;)

2:23 PM  
Blogger The Libertarian Defender said...

LOL. Good point.

Thanks for your kind words.

If that post makes even one believer question the idiocy of the exorcism belief, then my duty is complete!

7:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah... the amazing Randi, I should've known. Of course, everything he says is gospel, right? So you don't believe in God... and that's supposed to affect me how?

The Amityville Horror article on only addresses Weber's side; George Lutz has never admitted fabrication, and neither did the priest who came to bless the house.

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Some people say that God cannot exist; that God is merely a creation of human beings to satisfy some need or hunger for something greater. While it is true that there is an innate hunger for God within man, this no more disproves God than hunger in the stomach disproves food."

- G.K. Chesterton

12:12 PM  
Blogger The Libertarian Defender said...

" Ah... the amazing Randi, I should've known. Of course, everything he says is gospel, right?"

No. Nothing is "gospel." Not even the Gospel is "gospel."

"So you don't believe in God... and that's supposed to affect me how?"

You are on this ATHEIST/LIBERTARIAN blog of your own volition. If you wish to explore the ideas posted here, enjoy them. If you aren't interested, then find a blog that is more to your liking.

"Some people say that God cannot exist; that God is merely a creation of human beings to satisfy some need or hunger for something greater. While it is true that there is an innate hunger for God within man, this no more disproves God than hunger in the stomach disproves food."

That's correct. Human hunger for God does not disprove God. What disproves God is this: There is no evidence for God. In fact, there is equally as much evidence to support the existence of leprechauns, banshees, unicorns and Santa as there is evidence to support the existence of God: that is to say, none.

Thank you for commenting!

6:30 PM  
Blogger Charlie Brown said...

Having done considerable research in the area, I do believe that most forms of "demon possession" can be explained through psychiatry and modern science. Unfortunately, science does not have an explanation for some of the more acute criteria the Roman Catholic church delineates for exorcism: including glossalalia, astral projection, and levitation. And as long as science doesn't have an answer for this phenomena, one can never really close the door on demon possession and exorcism.

8:39 PM  
Blogger The Libertarian Defender said...

Glossolalia [from the Greek, "γλώσσα" (glossa), tongue and "λαλώ" (lalô), to speak] comprises the utterance of what appears (to the casual listener) either as an unknown foreign language, or as simply nonsense syllables; the utterances sometimes occur as part of religious worship (religious glossolalia).

Certain Christians (see below) regard the act of speaking in tongues, as a gift of God through the Holy Spirit--one of the Gifts of the Spirit. Other religions also use glossolalia as a component of worship.

From a linguistic point of view, the syllables that make up instances of glossolalia typically appear to be unpatterned reorganizations of phonemes from the primary language of the person uttering the syllables; thus, the glossolalia of people from Russia, Britain and Brazil all sound quite different from each other, but vaguely resemble the Russian, English, and Portuguese languages, respectively. Linguists generally regard most glossalia as lacking any identifiable semantics, syntax or morphology--i.e., as nonsense and not as language at all.



I don't mean these to be be-all-end-all responses. However, you may wish to retort.

11:29 PM  
Blogger Paul Manata said...

"Notice that atheists never need an excorcism ;)

Neither do true Christians as well. Since the Bible tells us that if God is in control of the house then that house cannot be divided. Actually, I guess since only those that would be possesed are really unbelievers, then I guess us Christians are all alone again. it is the atheist who has more in comon with the posess-e than the Christian. This is kindof lkike the old religions creation account. You know, like the babylonians? Their story has the world coming about by chaos, similar to evolutionary dogma. Ours stands out amongst the rest. We have an ordered, personal God creating an ordered and rational world. So, evolutionism has yet more things in common with other religions and philosophical schools than the ignorant western thinker would like to think.

3:58 AM  

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