Saturday, December 12, 2020

December 13 The Astonishing Reliability of the Claims of the Christian Faith Regarding Demon Possession

Reason #13 The Evidence for Supernatural Phenomena from Credible Accounts of Demon Possession

For three months in 1671-1672, Samuel Willard, a minister in Groton, MA, carefully observed and documented the bizarre behaviors of Elizabeth Knapp, whom he believed to be demon possessed. Pastor Willard made detailed notes about the disturbing symptoms of demon possession displayed by Elizabeth—speaking with a guttural voice, experiencing irrational pain and strangulation, suicidal tendencies, violence, bodily contortions, extreme agitation and hysteria, imitation of wild animals, etc. These, of course, are possible to account for without resorting to supernatural explanations.

On the other hand, this evidently conscientious minister also carefully recorded seeing Elizabeth speak with her mouth closed tight, or wide open but without making any movement with her lips or tongue, and seeing a lump swelling to the size of a fist in Elizabeth’s neck when the demon spoke through her body.

When we read these particular aspects of Samuel Willard’s report, if we do not believe them, we are left to decide whether he was grossly naive (entirely unaware of ventriloquism and of how necks might swell), or whether he was simply lying about these things, or whether he was psychologically incapable of accurately reporting the realities of the world around him. These are the only kinds of explanations we have at our disposal for why people intentionally or unintentionally make false assertions. The problem is that Pastor Willard doesn’t seem to be ignorant, dishonest, or mentally unwell.

On April 19, 2012, Latoya Ammons brought her sons, ages 8 and 9, to see their family doctor in Gary, Indiana. At the office of Geoffrey Onyeukwu, M.D., the two children began behaving irrationally, first cursing at the doctor in a deep voice, then falling strangely unconscious. After the doctor’s staff member saw the youngest son, eight years old, "lifted and thrown into the wall with nobody touching him," 911 was called, the boys were transferred to the hospital, and the appropriate police reports and Department of Child Services reports were initiated.

DCS case manager Valerie Washington interviewed the family at the hospital examination room, along with registered nurse Willie Lee Walker. Washington’s report says that she personally observed the nine-year-old boy as he walked backwards up a wall to the ceiling, after which he flipped over his grandmother and landed on his feet. According to the police report, the police later asked Valerie Washington whether the boy had run up the wall, as though performing an acrobatic trick. Washington told them he did not. She said the boy "glided backward on the floor, wall and ceiling." She also told the police she was so frightened when she saw this that she ran out of the room. Nurse Walker confirmed Washington’s report: "He walked up the wall, flipped over her [the grandmother] and stood there." Walker later told newspaper reporters, "There's no way he could've done that," and "We didn't know what was going on. That was crazy.” The DCS report also quoted a doctor at the psychiatric ward saying, “That’s not real, that’s not human. No human can do what that little boy just did.” Later, when a police captain and another DCS case worker visited the Ammons’ home, they reported experiencing additional paranormal phenomena.

So, what shall we do with the reports of these medical professionals, police, and social workers? Are they all ignorant of how the human body interacts with gravity? Are they all lying? Are they all mentally unwell and unable to grasp the reality of what they were experiencing up close that day? All of them?

And were the police officers who were called to the home of a frantic family near Glasgow on August 8, 2016, just ignorant, lying, or insane when they reported seeing untouched clothing flying across rooms in that home, and the family’s small dog lifted off the ground in an unearthly way?

And what shall we do with the assurances of the Ivy League educated professor of clinical psychiatry, Richard Gallagher, who reports that demon possession is a real phenomenon, including instances of victims in trances fluently speaking languages they have never studied and demonstrating uncanny knowledge of individuals’ private lives. He reports that one particular patient once correctly boasted to him that she knew his mother had died of ovarian cancer and that his cats, very uncharacteristically, had behaved wildly the previous night. This same patient was once observed by six people speaking in multiple languages she had, evidently, never learned, and was once observed levitating in the presence of seven people, including two nurses and a nun.

Most of us believe that international spying and espionage, all done in secret, is indeed taking place, even on a daily basis. But proving it—capturing the most sensational moments of it on video, for example—is not something we can easily do. The word “occult” means hidden, or secret, and we shouldn’t expect demonic creatures to blow up their own masterpiece of naturalistic atheism with overt demonstrations of supernatural power. But it seems that sometimes the veil really is lifted, and honest observers see the reality of what the confirmed anti-supernaturalists of our generation hope never to face.

An anti-supernatural worldview can only be maintained by twisting the evidence and grasping at far-fetched explanations for all the credible reports of demon possession that occur around the world even today.

Credible reports of demon possession strongly discredit the anti-supernatural worldviews of atheism.

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