Do Demons Exist?

I have never been afraid of demons—except for that night of the howling cat just after seeing The Exorcist. As a pentecostal in my early twenties I decided my mission was to battle evil at its source. This involved ‘spiritual warfare’ or taking on the demons themselves.

There seemed to be demons everywhere, and our pastor routinely cast demons out of those praying at the altar. Demons were thick in our community, but after a while my interest faded and I noticed that when I stopped looking–they stopped coming around. Leave them alone, and they will leave you alone.

I concluded that my spiritual warfare was only in my imagination and the imaginations of my fellow warriors. Sometime after that I researched what the Bible says about demons and concluded that demons do not even exist.

A demoniac in the synagogue by James Tissot 1836-1902

A demoniac in the synagogue by James Tissot 1836-1902

Jesus Casts Out Demons

Last time we talked about Jesus’ healings in Capernaum, but I omitted part of the passage from Mark 1 so I could discuss it later. Here it is:

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.”

We have seen that Jesus is a healer, but what are we to make of this? Something happened here, and those who observed it understood that Jesus was dealing with an impure spirit that possessed and controlled a man. Were they correct?

I believe in the supernatural, but sometimes we are too quick to see it all around us. And I think this is the case in today’s story.

Demons in Jewish Belief

If we begin in the Old Testament we find that demons were not part of the Jewish experience or belief system. But when we come to the New Testament demons are a fixed part of their belief. How did this happen?

I think the big event that changed the thinking of the Jewish people in this regard occurred during their captivity and deportation to Babylon by the Babylonians who defeated them. The Jews don’t seem to have been much affected by exposure to Babylonian religion, but after a time Persia defeated the Babylonians, and the Jews found themselves under Persian rule.

Persia was much friendlier than the Babylonians, and the Jews seemed to find popular elements of the Persian religion (think Zoroastrianism) that were compatible with their own religion. Some of these elements were the contest between the good God and an evil adversary; the potential of burning hell after death; and the existence of invisible spirits both good and evil.

Persia finally allowed many of the Jews to return to Judah and re-establish their nation and culture. They brought with them a belief in demons. In fact, some combined these beliefs with an obscure passage in Genesis to develop a novel scenario about fallen spirits (angels) and their ultimate punishment in an abyss of fire. This concocted story is written in detail in the apocalyptic book of Enoch, as I have described before.

What Do We Make of Jesus Casting Out Demons?

If there is no such things as demons, then what was going on when Jesus cast out demons from this poor man and others? I agree that it was something very significant. Just as Jesus was known consistently in the gospels as a healer, the many stories of his dealing with demons are also consistent.

Certainly, observers thought these people were possessed by unclean spirits. Jesus might simply have accommodated their belief in demons, or he may have understood as much himself. We are not to think of earthly Jesus as omniscient, with full knowledge of all things in the Universe. A very important aspect of Jesus’ earthly ministry was his humanity and its limitations. Though Jesus was unique, he was still part of his human time and culture.

Lets take a brief look at other demon scenarios to see if they help. The first is from Luke 11:

Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed.

Here, the sign of demon possession is muteness—a common affliction. Jesus healed it.

From Luke 9:

A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him.

In this report, the issue very much resembles epilepsy. Jesus healed it.

From Luke 8:

When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.

This seems to be a case of mental illness. Jesus healed it. In fact, all examples in the gospels of Jesus casting out a demon seem to be various illnesses the people of that time did not understand and attributed to demon possession. My opinion is that these were genuine healings but were no different from Jesus’ healing of more identifiable illnesses like fevers and leprosy. No actual demons were required.

The Significance of Jesus’ Healings

As I mentioned last time, Jesus’ healings pointed to the initiation of the kingdom of God on earth; these ‘demonic’ healings are more of the same. But the kingdom event further comes to light in a shocking twist that Jesus adds to his healings. We will talk about that next time.

Special Additional Note

If you are interested in the related issue of the existence and fall of Satan, here are articles I have written on that subject:

Is the Fall of Satan a Myth?
The Fall of Satan in Isaiah 14
The Fall of Satan in Ezekiel 28
The Fall of Satan in Revelation 12
The Fall of Satan in the Book of Enoch
Satan in the Old Testament
Was Satan the Serpent in Eden?
Was Satan in the Desert with Jesus?
Does Satan Exist?


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74 Responses to Do Demons Exist?

  1. tonycutty says:

    The way I see it is that Jesus believed in demons, and therefore so do I. However, some of the healings were clearly cases of mental illness – like the foaming at the mouth being possibly epilepsy. In those cases, where the writers cite a demon being present, they were possibly putting their own interpretation on the events. But to me, if Jesus addresses a demon, there is one present. And I have less reason to believe, in those instances, that the writers put the words into Jesus’s mouth, algthough of course this is possible.

    And then there is my own experience. I have personally not only seen people ‘bound’ by demons and being delivered, but I have also experienced phenomena such as cold, clawed hands slapping my face in the night (when I was fully awake), someone else who had their hands around my throat and they released as soon as I began praying in Spirit language under my breath, (or what little I had of it left! 😉 and similar…but these are not things I dwell on as evidence; rather I would point to the subtle, nasty workings of ‘things’ that are clearly evil in situations and people’s lives…how can I not believe at least in evil, but also in the personification of such evil in the form of demons, with some of the stuff I’ve seen? And the effects of things like Ouija boards are well-known, if not by documented evidence, at least by lore; most spiritualists, even, will not touch those things because they see it as a gateway to some of the most nasty stuff there is. And I am a professional scientist, remember; I believe in rationality, data and evidence, but even though there is of course no empirical evidence to show that these things exist, I have seen enough to convince even my very, very cynical mind that they do indeed exist.

    That said, I do believe that demons and Satan get far too much press. They are defeated, they are beaten, and for the believer they are irrelevant. Most of the time when demons get the blame for things, it’s nothing of the kind happening. They prefer to work by stealth anyway; if we once identify them, we can deal with them and that’s the last thing they want! And what’s the point of a gift of discernment of spirits if there are no such things? I believe in angels; I have had encounters with them – why not also demons, which are supposedly of the same order of beings?

    Also remember that it is not really possible to prove that something doesn’t exist. And in any case we are dealing here with things that are to a large extent outside our natural sensory range. We simply don’t have enough real knowledge of things spiritual to have the data to say that demons (or angels for that matter) don’t exist.


    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tony, you express yourself very well. I admit that there is no way to be absolutely certain, but I think the evidence is against the existence of demons–especially as defined as fallen angels who follow Satan.

      There are personal experiences, as you describe. But I am more inclined to attribute them to psychological forces than to fallen angels. You did a good job in dealing with the beliefs of the gospel writers being included in the text. I am not sure that Jesus believed in demons himself, in which case he would be accommodating the culture. On the other hand, Jesus was bound by his culture to some extent and might well have accepted the popular view of demons. But in any case–he healed the ‘possessed’ of the illness.

      As I said, I cannot be 100% certain, but this is where the evidence leads me.


      • tonycutty says:

        Mmm. Fair do’s. Remember, though, C.S. Lewis’s writing where he said that two opposite errors can exist about these forces: either an unhealthy interest in them, or a disbelief in them. I suppose that too is partly why I fall somewhere in between the two camps 😉


        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          I admire Lewis; he is one of my favorite authors and has had a tremendous impact on my life, but this is a case where I depart from his view.


  2. There’s nothing like the movie The Exorcist in the Bible and much traditional teaching I’ve heard and read doesn’t come from the Bible either but from cultural influences outside of Judaism. I agree that Jesus was healing mental illnesses and the accounts of it were written in the vernacular of the day. Having said that, we all have our ‘demons’ that must be faced and caste out some, more than others.


  3. Chas says:

    I’m with Tim in his belief that these demons in the gospels show us the limited understanding of people at that time. We now know that physical imbalances in the brain, such as epilepsy, cause fits, and perhaps schizophrenia, where the dreaming state becomes as real as the awake. They also did not understand the effects of what we call depression and other mental illnesses. Since these were not ‘normal’ they attributed them all to some evil influence.


  4. Edie Taylor says:

    It seems to me that belief in demons as a foreign entity in the body encourages a person to avoid responsibility for his or her being part of the problem, or for the observer to avoid an honest but difficult understanding of the situation and recognize his/her own part in it. It’s not clear to me whether Jesus believed in demons or not; he was part of his culture but continually growing in understanding in the power of love.


    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Edie, I totally agree with this potential effect of belief in demons! Sometimes I have seen people complain of the demons of pride, gluttony, or lust. It comes from within us, not from outside agents. I also agree about Jesus.


  5. gcleaver2014 says:

    I likewise find the incoherent theological babel of demons and satan believed by and taught in many (most?) Christian churches an unfortunate result of the typical ignorance still present and dominating in sp many Christian churches in the 21st century. It seems that the majority of Christians do not understand the evolution that Judaic beliefs underwent during the inter-testament era as a result of the influence of other mid-east religions, Zoroastrianism in particular. The truth of the origin of this aspect of Christian theology is a hard pill to swallow for many Christians churches. It means they have to accept that a still present major Christian belief found its origin in another religion other than Judaism.

    The demon-filled paradigm taught by much of Christianity can be psychologically, emotionally and spiritually damaging to a person. The ignorance upon which these beliefs are based, and the propagation of this ignorance by a vast number of Christian leaders keeps believers locked in a primitive perception of reality and such a misunderstanding of God. A worldview claiming demonic beings at war with God present a picture almost as primitive as that of the Greeks, with a creator God not much greater than Zeus. “God at War: The Bible and Spiritual Conflict” by Gregory Boyd is an example of how endemic primitive theological nonsense remains in so many denominations and theologians. The lack of logical, rational cognitive analysis of such belief fill the pages of books like Boyd’s.

    In contrast, I found the discussion on the website blog “Fishing the Abyss” regarding the specific manner in which Jesus’ was portrayed as casting out of demons very enlightening. (See That discussion furthermore considers more generally the manner in which the gospels describe Jesus conducting other miracles as well. Jewish writings indicate the Jewish populace of the time believed that many rabbi could perform miracles. However, as Marvin Wilson discusses in his book “Our Father Abraham”, it was believed there were limitations to the degrees to which rabbi could perform miracles. For example, it was believed that rabbi could NOT (i) cure blindness that existed from birth, (ii) cast out demons in mute people (because it was believed the rabbi needed to know the name of the demon to cast it out), nor (iii) raise the dead after 3 days. The miracles accredited to Jesus often go beyond these limits, with the gospel writers intending to show that Jesus healing powers went far beyond those of what was believed an ordinary rabbi could do. As a Jewish person, Jesus himself was likely raised to believe in the existence of demons, demon possession, and casting out of demons, Thus as He prayed to God the Creator to heal people, Jesus may indeed have believed demons were being cast out. And the stories of him apparently performing this may have been written to claim he did it in a manner that no other rabbi could. (That Jesus falsely believed in demon possession himself, based on Jewish theology of the time seems more likely to me than that Jesus knew better, but was willing to go along with a generally accepted falsehood, rather than teach the truth. False belief is not a sin. In contrast, intentionally promoting false belief would be (in my opinion).


    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Gerald, it is good to hear from you!

      Thanks for sharing these very helpful insights. One reason I suspect Jesus used natural forces to heal people (including those thought to be possessed by demons) is that Jesus is not the only seemingly legitimate healer in history. If other healers somehow accessed natural healing forces, rather than manipulating physics, then it is likely that Jesus used them as well.

      I read the article you linked in your comment; it is very interesting. I like the way he compares Jesus’ superior healings to the limitations of the healing Rabbis.

      By the way, I have been fascinated by string theory for years even though I don’t understand much about it. I have read your articles on the subject on Biologos. Can you suggest a good basic book on string theory for laymen? I used to love Asimov for being able to break down difficult scientific concepts for common people; something like that is what I am hoping for.

      Have a great day! ~Tim


    • Chas says:

      gc, I agree with you regarding the influence of Zoroastrianism on Judaism, and there is also a noticeable influence from Greek beliefs and mythology. I was not aware of these beliefs in rabbinic healing capabilities; certainly the gospel writers would have wished to claim greater things for Jesus. They would also have wished to outdo the healings (and other miracles) that were claimed for Elijah and Elisha in the OT.
      I agree with you that false belief is not a sin, because we here have all come a long way out of false beliefs. To knowingly promote false belief would be promulgating a lie, so it would be a sin (i.e. could lead to someone suffering).


  6. Drew says:

    I’m impressed with the number of educated and non-religious people who currently report paranormal experiences with ghosts, demons and other shadowy beings. Also, I’m not sure that the majority of those reporting such experiences can be described as looking for them, so it seems that seeking the experience does not provide part of an explanation for their experience, and also that prior obliviousness to the paranormal did not in their cases operate as a protection from paranormal experiences. Nor do most of them frame their experiences in the context of spiritual warfare between good and evil, though some who are operating on Christian and other traditional religious belief systems do. The spiritual warfare framework is probably the primary source of ignorant fear and paranoia in relation to paranormal phenomena, but it is not a plausible framework. Close to no reports of paranormal phenomena I’m aware of today involve reference to entities claiming to be part of a war between God and Satan. Given the significant level of educated, non-religious reports of paranormal phenomena, I believe it’s more intellectually responsible to treat such reports as having credence and to support curiosity in this area. Once belief in the paranormal finds some distance from the religious framework, I believe there is less reason to be concerned about credulous hysteria. And it’s important to keep in mind that, just like not everyone has seen snow, not everyone has had a manifest experience with a ghost. But those who have not seen snow should not pressure those who believe they have into disbelieving their own experiences. It’s more important to develop a critical awareness of such experiences, including the skeptical possibility of psychological overinterpretation, by keeping an open and analytical mind. So, I think I agree with C. S. Lewis on this one.


    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Drew, I think our approaches share quite a bit in common:

      * The spiritual warfare framework is probably the primary source of ignorant fear and paranoia in relation to paranormal phenomena.

      * Close to no reports of paranormal phenomena I’m aware of today involve reference to entities claiming to be part of a war between God and Satan.

      * Given the significant level of educated, non-religious reports of paranormal phenomena, I believe it’s more intellectually responsible to treat such reports as having credence and to support curiosity in this area.

      I do not disparage interest in the paranormal. Indeed, in the past I have immersed myself in such study, though I am not active in that today. I think there is a great likelihood of unseen energies or entities around us. What they might be, I have no clue; one possibility I entertain is beings from elsewhere in the Universe. One day, I hope we discover what they are.

      On the other hand, I believe there is a danger in the way some people relate to the possibility of paranormal entities. That response is a superstitious fear of supposed paranormal entities based on unfounded conclusions as to what they are; this includes especially those who follow constructs of fallen angels (demons), ghosts as spirits of departed humans, and nature spirits that either grant favors or must be appeased.

      If there are paranormal entities among us, I think these types of responses are premature and damaging. I support paranormal research, but I am concerned with those who order their life around conclusions regarding paranormal entities that are not yet supportable.

      In the specific reports of Jesus casting out demons, I think they can all be accounted for a healings of conditions unrelated to paranormal entities.

      Thank you so much for your excellent observations. You are obviously well qualified to discuss these issues. Please feel free to follow up.


      • Chas says:

        My Dad, and an elderly friend of his, held the view that all so-called paranormal activity could always be explained – if you had the nerve to investigate! That is my view too. All activity of this type is either something unexpected (like my Dad’s friend experienced in World War One. He heard a strange noise which was repeated every minute or two. As he investigated, he found that it was a toad trying to climb up the sloping side of an old-style sloping-sided canvas tent. When it reached the limit of its friction grip, it slid down, making the strange noise) or from someone deliberately trying to frighten other people. Most so-called paranormal activity undoubtedly comes from the latter cause (that would include people claiming no prior awareness of places supposedly haunted).


  7. Fascinating stuff – both the post and the comments! I had no idea about the possible influence of Zoroastrian-style beliefs on Judaism.

    My own view on demons (or ‘unclean spirits’) is agnostic. I very much want them *not* to exist, and it’s obviously pretty hard to prove in any scientific way that they *do* exist (just as it is with God, angels, miracles and other supernatural entities/phenomena). But at the same time I’m not quite prepared to write them off completely, as they form such a recurring presence in the gospel accounts.

    I agree that many of the reported ‘deliverances’ probably do refer to healing of mental/emotional issues not understood at the time. However, there are a few cases that are harder to explain (if we accept the accounts as accurate reports, which we may well not). The casting out of spirits into a herd of pigs which then stampede and plunge over a cliff-top is one (or did the pigs just get ‘spooked’ – or was it a symbolic rather than literal account?). The incidents where ‘demons’ apparently recognise Jesus and shout abuse at him are also problematic for me.

    20 years ago, as a new Christian who had been involved in the occult, I certainly *felt* that I was oppressed by demons – dark presences which haunted my nightmares and tried to stop me breathing. Looking back though, these experiences may well have been something more like sleep apnea – I just can’t say for certain.

    My tentative view is that ‘demons’ are a metaphor for a reality or experience that we don’t have any real understanding of. That reality may be partly or entirely psychological, or may be partly spiritual or even physical (other dimensions?), but for myself I doubt very much that it’s anything like the popular understanding of demons within charismatic churches.


    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Harvey, I do understand your reluctance to dismiss the presence of demons due to the gospel accounts. This makes sense to me; however I also consider that the writers of the New Testament were products of their particular time and culture. I think it is too much to expect that they would suddenly be enlightened beyond their primitive understanding of ‘demons’ just because they received the good news of Jesus; it did not include comprehensive correction of erroneous cultural views.

      What I really love though, is your concluding paragraph which I think deserves repeating:

      “My tentative view is that ‘demons’ are a metaphor for a reality or experience that we don’t have any real understanding of. That reality may be partly or entirely psychological, or may be partly spiritual or even physical (other dimensions?), but for myself I doubt very much that it’s anything like the popular understanding of demons within charismatic churches.”


    • Edie Taylor says:

      EvangelicalLiberal, you brought back a memory for me. I was raised in a storefront fundamentalist church believing the Bible to be literally true. I remember being horrified by the pigs running off the cliff. I felt sorry for the pigs and the pigs’ owner. I think that was the first time I ever questioned what I had been taught about Jesus and the Bible!


      • Yes, I remember being uncomfortable with the story when I first heard it too (and ever since) – as you say, it just seems very unfair on the pigs and their owner!

        Those who want to take it literally will argue that Jesus had the right and authority to do whatever he liked, but I’d prefer to interpret it symbolically, with the pigs a symbol for ‘uncleanness’ (or un-wholeness) that’s getting swept away by Jesus.


  8. consultgtf says:

    Demons or Devils, were not created by God!
    In Six days of Creation, I am not able find them, it includes Genesis…Snake which spoke to Eve, was again negative thought of Eve…(Not a Separate person!) To become like God.

    We created them, that too it was found more after Jesus NT? How…

    Mathew {4:1} Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
    Are we talking about the same devil Or…
    Mark {16:9} Now when [Jesus] was risen early the first [day] of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. Or…
    Mathew {16:23} But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

    …So, what is devil/Satan/ Evil, is it a separate being or YOU, with negative thoughts? For which God is punishing from Creation, but Till today I am not able to change, I don’t know about YOU.


    • Chas says:

      If they were not created by God (with which I agree), then they don’t exist. The same can be deduced regarding Satan. Why would God have created such a being, knowing what he would supposedly become and do? To have done that would have been perverse. So I agree with you that this is part of us. We begin life innocent, like an empty book, but this is gradually filled with input from other people; some of these people are an influence for good and some for bad. What goes in comes out again later, for good or evil.


      • I think there’s a danger that we take these (or any) biblical ideas too literally, and then when the literal versions don’t make sense we reject them outright and throw out the baby with the bathwater.

        So the idea of a literal Satan and demons created by God clearly doesn’t stack up – but that doesn’t mean there’s no reality behind the primitive picture-language.

        The thing is, there clearly *is* evil in the world. God surely didn’t create evil, but it exists now nevertheless. There are various ways theologians try to understand this – one is that God created a good universe but parts of it became corrupted, perhaps by their own choice. Another is that God created the universe incomplete and immature, giving it scope to grow up into perfection, but parts of it haven’t followed that desired path.

        I don’t accept ‘original sin’, but we’re surely all born with inherited traits and tendencies from our parents and perhaps from our distant evolutionary past. As we mature we need to overcome the tendencies which are unhelpful, the ones which get in the way of our full flourishing.


        • Chas says:

          No, God didn’t create evil, because evil is ultimately caused by destruction acting on the minds of people. Destruction, both physical and spiritual, is part of the universe in which we live. Physical destruction events that lead to death and/or suffering cause damage in the minds of certain people who are exposed to the effects of these events. Once there is damage in the mind of one person, that person can do things that result in damage to the mind of a child. That is how ‘evil’ is promulgated.
          God created a universe in which destruction could exist as a result of its being separated from Him. He chooses not to destroy, so He created a universe to contain processes that could lead to destruction, which would reshape (by the process we call evolution) the first lifeform that He created here, until it became capable of having a relationship with Him.


          • Yes, that makes sense about evolution. The key surely always has to be relationship – that God is seeking to draw us into relationship with him.

            On a purely practical level, I guess it’s not vital that we know exactly how evil came into being – the key thing is how we overcome it, in ourselves and in the world.


          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Harvey, I think you are right that it isn’t vital that we know how evil came into the world. I agree that it is partially a product of our evolutionary development.

            The big question is what do we do about evil tendencies we find within ourselves (and, as you say, in the world). The good news message of Jesus provides us tremendous help with that.


          • Chas says:

            Harvey, you are quire right about God wanting to draw us into relationship with Him. The problem is that our minds might focus on other things that could draw us away from Him. These things might not be recognizable as ‘evil’, but if they draw us away from God they are likely to be harmful to someone and that someone might be ourselves.


      • consultgtf says:

        Great, Thanks. But There is Satan, we humans but put the blame on Devil, Ghost, evil…All are different images of same human.


    • scraffiti says:

      I like this negative thought idea. I’ve never heard of it before.
      Can you explain how God cursed the snake (negative idea) to crawl on its belly?
      I’ve always had a problem with Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness passage in Matt 4.
      Who was there to record this story?
      Great article and feedback!


      • Chas says:

        scraffiti, you have raised a new, but not unrelated question: does God curse? My view is that we curse ourselves by wrong actions, but it might be that God allows these things to happen, because of our actions, rather than taking His own actions to prevent them from happening. As in Shakespeare: ‘our poisoned chalice returns to our own lips.’


      • consultgtf says:

        A friend will always give his views, It is up to you, to give value! We wanted that badly and when my friend suggested the same, I do it with my OWN self will but but the blame on snake, If see like that there are so many snakes crawling around us. If our hearing capacity is limited to snake voice, we will never hear Gods voice!


  9. gcleaver2014 says:

    Its interesting that no individual or group has ever been able to claim the large monetary reward that the Committee for Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CICOP), founded by Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann at Caltech and others, has been offering for many decades for proven cases of paranormal activity. No substantiated evidence of such activity has ever been produced–all reported cases were ultimately explained as natural occurrences, including intentional hoaxes. (As a Christian I also attended CICOP meetings back when I was at Caltech in the 1980’s.)


    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      It would also be interesting to read investigative reports on the most persuasive of these cases to see how they were debunked.


      • Chas says:

        Tim, I’m reminded of Harry Houdini’s debunking of those who claimed to be clairvoyants. As far as I know, he found them all out in their deceptions. (Although he himself was also a deceiver in a different way). On the other hand, Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, who was able to devise very clever plots in his Sherlock Holmes books, was completely taken in by the clairvoyants. Maybe there is an aspect of our wanting to believe in things.


        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Yes, I was reminded of Houdini’s debunkings in regard to this discussion. As I recall, he did have one situation that he couldn’t debunk which then became very important to him. But I think when debunkers investigate these things, they usually uncover the ruse.

          I think you are right that many of us really want to believe these things, and so the field is filled with charlatans.


          • There will always be charlatans and hoaxes, in the field of miracles and the paranormal more than any other – because people so badly want to believe, to be healed, to see something truly wondrous, to hear from departed loved ones. And if it’s something we’re desperate enough to be true, we’re willing to suspend our healthy scepticism.

            But on the other hand, though 99.9% of reported miracles and paranormal phenomena may be hoaxes or misunderstandings of natural phenomena, that doesn’t *necessarily* mean that the genuine article doesn’t exist.

            Or it might be that what we call paranormal events (ghosts, miracles, deja vu etc) are simply natural phenomena so rare or elusive that they’re practically impossible to study. But quite easy to fake.


          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Harvey, I think you are right that just because there is so much fraud does not mean that there are no paranormal events at all. But I believe most people are on the wrong track in their speculations. Hopefully some day someone will provide proof and a genuine explanation for some of the activity.

            In the meantime, I am not going to be afraid of the unknown or spend much time speculating.


  10. Tami Chanley says:

    Hello! I for one have grown up and was raised the exact same way you were. Not Pentecostal but in the United Methodist church. I so appreciate your posts. And now I know what you know. But I’m still attending “church” because of my 75 year old mom. But dude, I totally get what you have written. And feel the exact same way. But I’m still in the closet. If most people knew how I really felt, I’m pretty sure they would think I was crazy or Satans spawn. lol! Please keep this message private. Because I’m straddling….. The church …. And my own realization. One day I will break out that closet. But I just want to encourage you, and thank you! So how would I send a donation to your cause? My hubs and I aren’t rich by any means. But I want to encourage you to keep on, keeping it on. With love. 🙏❤️

    Sent from my iPad



    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tami, my thoughts are with you as you navigate the issues in your church, and I am glad you are able to provide comfort and support to your elderly mother. I think you have a support group here. Let us know if we can help.

      You asked me to keep this private but it is posted in a public space. Do you want me to delete your comment?


  11. Tami Chanley says:

    And omg! I was forever freaked out at the Exsorcist! Especially when the priest went flying out of the window. Forever freaked me out. I was 19 when I saw that movie. It was horrible. I couldn’t sleep for days. Between that and the movie Left behind. I left the church, because I figured I couldn’t be saved daily. Just horrible! 😦 so I totally resonate with you. For real!

    Sent from my iPad



    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tami, watching The Exorcist now no longer seems frightening to me, and some of the special effects seem old and contrived. But it sure did scare a lot of us when we first saw it. That’s for sure!


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  32. freshie says:

    I appreciate your write up on satan but in regards to this topic of the existence of demons i beg to differ because in accordance to the book of Matthew 12-43-45(NIRV) What happens when an evil spirit comes out of a person? It goes through dry areas looking for a place to rest. But it doesn’t find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives there, it finds the house empty. The house has been swept clean and put in order. 45 Then the evil spirit goes and takes with it seven other spirits more evil than itself. They go in and live there. That person is worse off than before. That is how it will be with the evil people of today.” and you didn’t dissect to completion the story of “Jesus and Legion” Luke 8:30(NIRV) “Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
    “Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. 31 And they begged Jesus again and again not to order them to go into the Abyss.
    this correlates with Jude 1:6 Some of the angels didn’t stay where they belonged. They didn’t keep their positions of authority. The Lord has kept those angels in darkness. They are held by chains that last forever. On judgment day, God will judge them. Also 2 Peter 2 4
    God did not spare angels when they sinned. Instead, he sent them to hell. He chained them up in dark prisons. He will keep them there until he judges them
    Both books bare witness to the book of Enoch chapter 15
    1 And He answered and said to me, and I heard His voice: ‘Fear not, Enoch, thou righteous 2 man and scribe of righteousness: approach hither and hear my voice. And go, say to the Watchers of heaven, who have sent thee to intercede for them: “You should intercede” for men, and not men 3 for you: Wherefore have ye left the high, holy, and eternal heaven, and lain with women, and defiled yourselves with the daughters of men and taken to yourselves wives, and done like the children 4 of earth, and begotten giants (as your) sons? And though ye were holy, spiritual, living the eternal life, you have defiled yourselves with the blood of women, and have begotten (children) with the blood of flesh, and, as the children of men, have lusted after flesh and blood as those also do who die 5 and perish. Therefore have I given them wives also that they might impregnate them, and beget 6 children by them, that thus nothing might be wanting to them on earth. But you were formerly 7 spiritual, living the eternal life, and immortal for all generations of the world. And therefore I have not appointed wives for you; for as for the spiritual ones of the heaven, in heaven is their dwelling. 8 And now, the giants, who are produced from the spirits and flesh, shall be called evil spirits upon 9 the earth, and on the earth shall be their dwelling. Evil spirits have proceeded from their bodies; because they are born from men and from the holy Watchers is their beginning and primal origin; 10 they shall be evil spirits on earth, and evil spirits shall they be called. [As for the spirits of heaven, in heaven shall be their dwelling, but as for the spirits of the earth which were born upon the earth, on the earth shall be their dwelling.] And the spirits of the giants afflict, oppress, destroy, attack, do battle, and work destruction on the earth, and cause trouble: they take no food, but nevertheless 12 hunger and thirst, and cause offences. And these spirits shall rise up against the children of men and against the women, because they have proceeded from them.
    [Chapter 16]
    1 From the days of the slaughter and destruction and death of the giants, from the souls of whose flesh the spirits, having gone forth, shall destroy without incurring judgement -thus shall they destroy until the day of the consummation, the great judgement in which the age shall be 2 consummated, over the Watchers and the godless, yea, shall be wholly consummated.” And now as to the watchers who have sent thee to intercede for them, who had been aforetime in heaven, (say 3 to them): “You have been in heaven, but all the mysteries had not yet been revealed to you, and you knew worthless ones, and these in the hardness of your hearts you have made known to the women, and through these mysteries women and men work much evil on earth.” 4 Say to them therefore: ” You have no peace

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Freshie, sorry for the delayed response. I was unexpectedly without my computer for more than a week.

      I have no problem with those who believe in demons, though I cannot agree with them. I do agree with you, however, that Jude is definitely influenced by the Book of Enoch, but I don’t consider the Book of Enoch an authoritative book in any way. It was written about 200 years before the time of Jesus and was almost certainly influenced by contact with Zoroastrianism during the Babylonian captivity.

      I understand ‘demon possession’ in the New Testament to refer to mental disorders rather than attack by alien beings. Jesus does talk about them in Matthew 12 as you indicate, but he frequently used parables, metaphors, and stories based on elements that were well known at the time–such as Enoch.


      • John Shay says:

        How do we than account for the fact that most of the Persian sources were written post-christian? Even the pre-christian literature which is still dated post christian but pre-christian based on the language does not contain very developed theology such as demons. I believe the evil spirit is mentioned 1-2 times in the Gathas which is the only portion that they try to date prior to the common era. This would be the same thing they we are saying about the underdeveloped concept of satan.( Persians even believed that writing/text was of the devas, up until the Sassian period-several hundred years after Christianity made its mark) We can of course sum it up to the conspiracy that it was all burnt by Alexander the Great, but that is a legend that was built via the 9th century AD but this does not match our historical record of how Alexander treated the persians as well. Much of their eschatology was driven as well by Bundahishn which is the 9 century AD.

        We can even account for the Deuteronomy 32 worldview (DSS) which is becoming widely popular in academia as well as Psalm 82 and how it correlates with cosmic geography and the dispersion of the 70 nations. Which ties in with Pauls gentile mission as well as Christ’s sending of the 70 apostles(70 nations) and how the demons would submit to them. God was reclaiming the nations, but from what? Ancient Israel without a doubt had an idea of the demonic in their worldview, terminology may have changed, but the reality did not.

        The idea of Persian influence is still somewhat debated given that the texts are post christian and much of what is paralleled can be traced back in the OT( apocalyptic language via the prophets of the OT, angels are numerous throughout the OT, the concept of resurrection was driven by the idea of YHWH’s love for creation and the concept of a national resurrection).

        However, with that being said, we see the bible taking the culture they are in and building its revelation around that. Terminology could have easily been taken from the culture that we were subdued in, it happened in the past and it happened in the NT as well. However, Israel did have the concept of demons or foreign gods in their mentality, I would say.

        Just a thought, I would not always chalk up the theology of Jews/Christians through other nations. It seems that is always the tactic, ” Well this seems odd, the Christians must have stolen it”.

        If we are to go by text, much of the data points the other direction of the influence. Either way, the concept of Good and Evil was known throughout the Ancient World, so commonalities make no difference.

        Liked by 1 person

  33. consultgtf says:

    it is only Human Satan! No devil from Hell,

    Liked by 1 person

    • freshie says:

      so is there hell or a lake of fire ? and are they fallen angels? in accordance to the book of Jude 6 GNT “Remember the angels who did not stay within the limits of their proper authority, but abandoned their own dwelling place: they are bound with eternal chains in the darkness below, where God is keeping them for that great Day on which they will be condemned. 7 Remember Sodom and Gomorrah, and the nearby towns, whose people acted as those angels did and indulged in sexual immorality and perversion: they suffer the punishment of eternal fire as a plain warning to all.
      Verses 9 talks about angel Micheal and the Devil
      8 In the same way also, these people have visions which make them sin against their own bodies; they despise God’s authority and insult the glorious beings above. 9 Not even the chief angel Michael did this. In his quarrel with the Devil, when they argued about who would have the body of Moses, Michael did not dare condemn the Devil with insulting words, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
      verse 13 and and 14 talks about God reserved punishment for sinners and quotes the book of Enoch
      13 They are like wild waves of the sea, with their shameful deeds showing up like foam. They are like wandering stars, for whom God has reserved a place forever in the deepest darkness.

      14 It was Enoch, the seventh[b] direct descendant from Adam, who long ago prophesied this about them: “The Lord will come with many thousands of his holy angels 15 to bring judgment on all, to condemn them all for the godless deeds they have performed and for all the terrible words that godless sinners have spoken against him!”
      finally verse 22 talks about delivering some sinners from the fire
      Show mercy toward those who have doubts; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; and to others show mercy mixed with fear, but hate their very clothes, stained by their sinful lusts

      My conclusion the 66 books we regard as the bible is great and i’m very appreciative of the bible but it obvious the believers of old had a better knowledge about the devil and the fallen angels,hell or the lake of fire unfortunately non of the 66 books of the bible thoroughly cover this topics. and that is why we are having this conversation about the physical existence of the devil,demons etc

      Liked by 1 person

      • consultgtf says:

        Still I would like to say/believe, There is no devil from External world!. We are the living devils!

        Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Freshie, in my opinion there is no hell or lake of fire as places of punishment as many believe today. Jude seems to reflect views about the Book of Enoch that were embraced by some in his day. But, as I said before, Enoch was a relatively recent book in the time of Jesus; but Jude thinks this Enoch is the seventh from Adam as listed in Genesis.

        I do not consider Jude to be a very useful book; we don’t know who wrote it or where it came from, and it seems very much out of step with the rest of the writings of the New Testament.

        If you are interested, I have a page of good article by myself and others on the topic of hell:

        And here is a series showing that the fall of Satan (and demons) is a contrived story from misreading unrelated sources. It begins with the following article followed by links to the rest of the articles:


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