In March of 2012, Dr. Richard E. Gallagher—of the New York Medical College—released a report that no doubt raised eyebrows among his esteemed colleagues. In this report, a woman named “Julia” (a pseudonym used to protect her identity) was said to have been possessed by an unseen force. Julia was described as entering into insane trances, speaking in very dark tones and in languages she had never previously studied, exhibiting a supernatural understanding about the people working on her case, and at one point, she even supposedly levitated six inches in the air for an extended period of time.
Just like others who have made claims of this nature, Gallagher has been labeled a fraud and a failed psychiatrist by many since the publishing of his findings. He was well respected prior to his reckless decision to step outside the bounds of naturalism, and a laughingstock to a lot of “educated folks” thereafter. Funny how that works. In the end, maybe his accounts were factual and maybe there weren’t. Regardless, Gallagher was describing what scores of people before him (and after him) have talked about for millennia.
The notion that otherworldly beings can interact with us is most definitely not new. In fact, it is about as old as even the most primitive beliefs in superhuman deities like God (or the gods). More than that, the thought that some of these beings carry with them malevolent intentions can be seen in just about every major religion or culture that has ever existed. You might even say that, on the whole, the cultures of the past have shared somewhat of an obsession with the prospect of dark forces. Humanity is indeed rich in traditions about evil entities.
The Persian religion, Zoroastrianism, contained a group of dark beings called the daevas, which were essentially considered to be adversaries of the “one wise Lord” Ahura Mazda and his creation. There is also the notion of an ultimate evil entity within Zoroastrianism, which is the Evil Spirit Ahriman. Further, there were good beings named ahuras, which are eerily similar to the angelic beings discussed within the Bible. Hindu belief has regarded the counterpart of the ahuras—who are known as the asuras—as evil entities that would resemble what the Bible describes as demons. The Egyptians believed in an evil god named Set who fell from the grace of the pantheon after murdering his brother. They also believed in demonic activity. For example, the demon Nehebkau—who was sometimes regarded as an earth spirit and a source of strength for the other gods—was often viewed as being a menacing monster: a sort of serpent/human hybrid who could affect the souls of the dead. As a Christian, this sounds a bit familiar, know? Islam affirms the existence of the Devil (called Iblis, or Shaitan). He is thought to command the darker group of supernatural beings called “shaitans,” who belong to a class of entities called djinni or jinni (genies, to you and me).
It should go without saying that the Bible is absolutely loaded with examples of ill-intentioned, non-human entities. I will not begin to discuss all of these examples, but a few should make the point. The first thing to mention is that Jesus’ initial popularity—his earliest “claim to fame,” as it were—came as an exorcist. Really, it’s true. In the Gospel of Mark—which has long been thought of as the first gospel account to be written—Jesus’ very first miracle came in the form of an exorcism. Mark 1:21-25 records this event, and this is precisely what caused Jesus’ fame to spread across the entire region of Galilee afterwards (1:28). Jesus would later cast multitudes of demons out of individuals (Lk. 4:31-35). As usual, the people were absolutely astonished by his ability to deliver individuals from demonic influence, and his fame continued to spread (4:37). Jesus of course met the ultimate evil entity (Satan) at the very beginning of his ministry, when he was tempted in three different ways so that he might give up on his mission (Mt. 4:1-11).
Countless other examples could be mentioned about Jesus’ encounters with evil entities. Forget the fact that he commissioned his disciples to tangle with these dark forces as well. In one such occurrence, seventy-two of Jesus’ followers attested to having been able to cast out demons (Lk. 10:17). In terms of all alleged exorcists in world history, Jesus most certainly ranks at the top.
Jesus was the exorcist of all exorcists.
Evil entities are spoken of throughout the world, in every major culture, and in just about every religious tradition you could look at. The attempt to either reduce all of these claims to an unidentified psychological disorder or to relegate them to the land of delusion has not satisfied most of us; if we are being honest, it is hard to ignore that something real is going on here. Even in a country where spiritual skepticism and fear of organized religion is at an all-time high, a large number of Americans still appear to believe in demonic activity of some sort. In fact, the belief is growing within our youth. As recent at 2012, Public Policy Poll reported that 63% of Americans, ages 18-29, who were polled admitted to the belief that demonic forces can in some way control human beings. The belief doesn’t seem to be leaving anytime soon.
Clearly, something is going on here. But what? If evil entities of a higher order really do exist, then what type of beings are they?
Those who come from the “ancient astronaut” background hold to the idea that these dark entities are actually extraterrestrials from somewhere else in the cosmos. This view can be seen very clearly on one particularly interesting episode of the show Ancient Aliens, called “Dark Forces.” I do not find this view to be laughable in the least. On the contrary, I think that ancient astronaut theory has plenty of merits, and that its proponents are often closer to identifying the nature of our Creator than many who live within religious communities. But on this particular point, I find that possessions and dark activity are best explained in another way. There are two major reasons why I believe this is the case.
The first is something I refer to as the “spatial problem.” Simply put, a being who lives elsewhere in the universe would need to travel quite a long way to get to Earth. But in examples of possession—or even spontaneous human combustion, as discussed in my previous blog—there never seem to be any accounts of witnesses who saw either beings or crafts flying through space, whether on route here or on route “home.” The second issue I would mention here is the “invisibility problem,” and it is very much connected to the spatial problem. How can it be that most accounts of possession or evil influence that we might look at mention nothing about a physical manifestation? Though they can physically appear (as I discuss momentarily), how is it that they have the capacity to avoid being seen? It seems to me that an extraterrestrial who lives within the cosmos would be spotted in their efforts to manipulate individual persons. But they aren’t. They aren’t seen on the way here, on the way back, or even typically while they are here on Earth. How can that be said of something like a traditional alien: a physical being that is confined within our universe?
If not an alien from outer space, then what? Well, let’s consider what types of conditions these beings would have to satisfy. We know that they are often unseen. We know that they can seamlessly interact with us, and cease interacting with us, in an instant. We also know that these beings must be extremely powerful (at least by our standards) in order to control and manipulate human beings. To me, all of this adds up to one probable conclusion: the evil forces at work in our world are not from somewhere else in the cosmos, but are from somewhere outside of it.
True, perhaps an extraterrestrial that lives within our universe could use some sort of cloaking device, the likes of which we are simply unaware of from a technological perspective. Maybe their crafts employ similar technology. Maybe they could even travel enormous distances in a matter of moments while using this cloaking technology. It’s all at least hypothetically possible, but it strains any sense of credibility, to say the least. The speculations would continue to build upon one another as the explanation gets bigger and bigger.
But what if our superhuman tormenters are able to go physically undetected not because of some theoretical cloaking device or some travelling capability that is utterly unfathomable to us, but because they affect us from another realm of existence all-together? What if they don’t need to travel across the universe in a flying machine in order to interact with us?
This seems to be very much how things are described in most of the ancient texts mentioned earlier, and particularly in the Bible. In the Bible, we have two realms of existence—not simply two locations within the universe—being described to us. There are the “heavens,” and there is the “earth.” The heavenly beings live in heaven, and the earthly beings live on Earth. Throughout the entirety of the biblical text, heavenly beings often appear and vanish at will. Angels appear and reappear, as in cases like the story of Lot (Gen. 19) or the angels who appeared at Jesus’ tomb (Jn. 20:11-13). Satan and demonic entities do the same, as seen in the aforementioned temptation of Jesus and the many possession accounts in the New Testament. Even Jesus appears and disappears, as evidenced by his mysterious vanishing act after his walk to Emmaus (Lk. 24:31) or his abrupt appearances to his terrified disciples after the resurrection (Jn. 20:19-29). At no point do we hear talk of smoke, exhaust, or anything else associated with flying crafts.
Not only do heavenly beings appear and reappear at will, they can also interact with us without being seen. It’s almost as if they can assert control and influence without having to be physically present. It’s almost like they can be “here” and be “there” simultaneously. Perhaps their realm lays over top of ours, and perhaps both their power and physical makeup permits them to move between “here” and “there.” Maybe, to them there is no barrier between the two realms, and to us there is.
There can be no doubt that this is a proposition that most of us are not familiar with. Some may even be uncomfortable with this notion. But it is worth considering which scenario makes the best sense of the higher beings that appear so evidently to be involved in our world. Ask yourself: does a being aboard a flying ship who must travel immense distances while using some type of astonishing cloaking technology make better sense of things, or does a being who is able to seamlessly come and go between our realm and another better explain these phenomena?
If we are at least willing to consider the second possibility—a possibility that the Bible seems to allude to—then it may well change our views about many other things. What else could this mean about the overall nature of the being/s who put us here? What could it mean about the nature of their home? What could it mean about the possible events that are going on around us at any given time, that we are often unable to comprehend? I personally find all of this to be incredibly intriguing.
There are many places we could go from here. But for now, “the darkness among us” has been a great place to start.
Asis, Adrian. “6 Cases of ‘Demonic Possession’ That Might Convince You”. The Richest. 2 April, 2014. http://www.therichest.com/rich-list/most-shocking/6-cases-of-demonic-possession-that-might-convince-you/
“Devils and Demons”. Mythencyclopedia.com. http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Cr-Dr/Devils-and-Demons.html
Williams, Jim. “Halloween Poll Results”. Public Policy Polling. Oct. 30, 2012. Polling http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2012/10/halloween-poll-results.html