I See Demons!

Question from Alexia:
I would like to know if atheists ever have moments of fear over the idea that they could potentially be wrong, and that there is a nasty afterlife waiting for them? I, as an agnostic theist, do. I feel that if I were to stop believing (the idea has crossed my mind) that I may regret it.

I have had dreams before of seeing hell, and my grandfather had a Near Death Experience where he saw hell and was tortured by evil creatures. I have noticed that in many dreams, near death experiences, and so called revelations, people often report seeing demonic creatures in this so called hell. I would like to get the perspective of atheists. Why is it that if Christians are raised to expect Satan in hell that they never report seeing Satan in these visions, but they commonly report multiple strange beings or creatures attacking them and enjoying it? I read a book from the 1980s about Near Death Experiences by Raymond Moody, and even he says in his research that negative experiencers often report demonic creatures from interviews conducted early on in Near Death research.

What might be the reason for why many of these visions people have involve evil creatures, when the bible says nothing about that? People from the early 1900s have been giving consistent reports with people today in 2017. What would you say, percentage wise, are the odds that a literal hell exists, given the consistency of so many peoples’ “visions” and “revelations” of hell? Is there really going to be multiple reptile looking creatures who enjoy peoples’ misery and torture them forever, swearing at them, taunting them, or is there something else at play here?

Answer by SmartLX:
Atheists do get these moments of fear, but not usually forever. For those like myself who had faith and lost it, the fear of God’s wrath often outlives the belief even though it’s irrational to be afraid of something you no longer believe in. (It’s part of the phenomenon I call “faithdrawal”.) This is to be expected, since emotions can easily defy rationality. I personally avoided this completely by hardly thinking about religion at all for over a decade before realising I was an atheist; my emotional attachment to God and faith had faded away so it didn’t try to reassert itself.

In previous articles like this one I’ve answered the general argument based on the similarity between people’s visions of the afterlife, so read through the link and also just search the site for ‘nde’ to find more on the subject. Here I’ll address the particular question about Satan and lesser demons in Hell. Most Christians get most of their mental images of Hell not from the Bible but from other media, everything from Dante’s Inferno to Constantine to The Simpsons, and sadistic torturer demons have been a fixture in this material for centuries. While you can imagine individual demons looking and behaving any way you like without challenging your theology much, Satan is a major figure on whose appearance the subconscious might be uncomfortable taking a firm position. Thus Satan conveniently does not put in an appearance for people who are just passing through.

And then there are the Christians who do report seeing Satan, which doesn’t really help any argument based on this not happening.

10 thoughts on “I See Demons!”

  1. Fortunately the hell and the satan, that some people dream of, is not the real hell nor the real satan. Hell is not going to be a place where satan. The idea that satan is in charge of hell, is completely false. The idea that hell is even present now, for bad people to be sent to when they die, is completely false. The idea the man has a part of him that continues to live eternally after they die, is completely false. All these ideas have come from the Catholic church, and has been used to become rich and control the parishioners, knowingly or not, to maintain power over them. Man is not an immoral being. So this teaching in the Bible had to be changed so hell could be used to cause fear. But As I said man as he is now is not immortal. God told Adam after he fell, that was not immortal. God told Adam that when he eventually died, that he would go back to the earth. God didn’t say that Adam body would die but that he would go on to heaven or hell. No. He told Adam that he would go back to the ground ground from where he was created. Genesis tell us this in chapter 3 verse 19. “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Please notice that God didn’t say that say that Adam was a spirit and that part of him would die. The Catholic church just put that into their teaching, inspite of the fact that it is not in the Bible. Also God tells us in the same chapter of Genesis that Adam was prevented from becoming immortal. Look at verse 22. ” And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:” So no where is God saying that Adam is immortal. Or that Adam has a part of himself that would go on living after death. In fact, what good would it be for God to tell Adam that he would die, but would continue to live forever. That would be God contradicting Himself. And indeed is a causing the Bible to appear to be contradicting itself, and satan using it to cause people to believe that the Bible is not God’s word.
    But indeed, if we rightly interpret God’s word we will see, that there really aren’t any contradictions in His word. Texts like Ecclesiastes 12:7, “MEV The dust returns to the earth where it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
    NOG Then the dust of mortals goes back to the ground as it was before, and the breath of life goes back to Elohim who gave it.
    NABRE And the dust returns to the earth as it once was, and the life breath returns to God who gave it.”
    I gave a few different translations. One, the first verse gives a mistranslation given, by translators using only what they were taught, to translate and not using the Bible to give them the correct word to use as the translation for the Hebrew form for “Ruach”. The same word in Ecclesiastes 12:7 is the same word used in Geneses 3:19. But in Genesis 3:19 they used “breath” which could not be mistranslated due to the form of how it was used. God breathing into man, had to have been breathing His breath into man. So the mistranslation in Ecclesiastes 12:7 has given rise to a part of man continuing to live after death. But when you compare this concept of this text to other texts in the Bible it causes a contradiction, that can only be solved when you form the correct concept of what the Bible says about man and death. Jesus spoke of Lazarus’s death as a sleep. Ecclesiastes 9,
    5″For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
    6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.”
    These texts show that the concept of man going on to another place after death, is not taught in the Bible. Man goes to sleep. He sleeps until Christ return the second time.

    1 Thessalonians 4:14-17New King James Version (NKJV)
    14″ For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.[a]
    15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
    So the dead, both the righteous and wicked are asleep in the grave. The righteous asleep in Christ. The wicked asleep in but not in Christ.

  2. SmartLx, Why aren’t the sites that I am trying to copy and paste not being allowed to go with my regular post?

    1. I don’t know what it is Gerald, but every so often you aren’t recognised as you and I have to approve your new “first” post again. It’s pretty clear what happened this time though, you put your name as Gerad.

  3. Belief and non belief in god and/or whatever else are automatic actions ang lack of them, they are not based on one’s will.
    It’s like loving or hating someone, you don’t decide to love or hate, you just do without your will for doing so.
    Both are based on whatever one finds as proof of something one believes in, while in the case of love, it is purely chemical and genetic. No decision about belief or not, love or hate, or something in between, which we call agnosticism in the case of ‘god’ and being uninvolved in the case of love.
    Btw, there is no such thing as free will, say neurologists and I humbly agree

    1. I’m sorry. But you are wrong. One must you both faith and reasoning to believe in God. Faith comes in to cause you to question. Reasoning comes in to satisfy that faith. Unlike belief in evolution, where those who accept it by faith, must ignore logic and therefore turn off their power of reasoning, so that they can believe in evolution and their minds don’t keep trying to tell them they are wrong, and keep them from having peace. For Creationists, all the evidence points to the fact that God is. We don’t have to ignore anything. We don’t need to make up or invent evidence. We find it without having to worry about our theory being wrong.

  4. Love is dependent upon chemicals eh? Well what about the love that one person has to give their life for another? Is that a chemical reaction also? No. It is pure choice at making a decision to do what is right. Sure some one’s reasoning could be skewed, because of that person not looking clearly at the factors. So they become enamored for the wrong reasons to the wrong person. But love and hate is far more than chemicals. When we look at the injustice of something happening like what happened in Texas. Or the atrocities that have happened around the world, the people depend on what they know is right to use as a reason to hate, or show love. And this is the same reason people choose to accept Christ. They look at the evidence as well as looking at what their heart is saying. They use them both to decide that there must be God. And for the ones who ultimately reject God, listening to the tempter instead of the evidence that screams out that God exists, they are ignoring the obvious evidence that tells us that God is.

  5. No … absolutely no fear of being potentially wrong as far as I am concerned. As per Pascal’s wager we should be afraid … and thus bet on their being a god and act as if there is one … but I’m sure a god would easily see through all that.
    I confess I was a tad superstitious for some time even after I had decided that religion was ridiculous. But that superstition’s long gone as well.
    In case of being wrong Bertrand Russell is alleged to have said he would simply say “Not much evidence God, not much evidence”, before being cast out to hell. And I’ll probably stand in queue behind him with a lot of other atheists.

    As far as visions of hell, demons being reptile like creatures etc. is concerned … well it varies from culture to culture and religion to religion. Hindus for e.g. are more likely to see their demons (asuras, as they are called) to be unusually dark and hairy, with fangs, claws and supernatural abilities but absolutely no tails and not at all reptile like. People following Islam would probably see their demons as “ethereal” or invisible beings that cause mischief but that have to be fought against, not be afraid of etc. And I think Islam allows them (except the class they call Shayateen) to be good, evil or neutral.

    Fear of reptiles is an inbuilt in human beings (as is fear of furry things with claws and fangs, of rotting things, of decay etc. – all this calls directly to the survival instinct and gets us into flight or fight mode) so its not surprising that our demons and ghosts are that way (dead, decomposing, reptilian, furry, rotting, twisted and contorted etc.).

    I keep reading religious and philosophical works now and then … its an old indulgence I can’t tear myself away from. But its an indulgence nonetheless and I know it doesn’t amount to too much productivity. The reason I do it is one often comes across gems of philosophical thought in such works after sifting through a lot of chaff. I came across something interesting recently.
    Looks like we must “with fear and trembling our own salvation work out”.
    That’s something I’d tend to agree with 🙂 … and for some of us probably salvation lies in NOT postulating a god to replace our ignorance and bewilderment but in marching on trying to find answers to all the strange questions our minds come up with and all the intriguing phenomena one observes in nature, despite our fairly limited capacities as organic beings.
    That’s a lot of fear and trembling for sure.
    Not easy but well worth the effort of our ephemeral existences.

  6. Rohit. Part of your, or let’s say all of your, “comfortableness” stems from you accepting that there are scientists who insist that it is impossible that God is. You do so, even though you have one foot dangling from a very narrow foot path, on the side of a precipice. Since there is no tangible proof to support the claims of those scientists who say there is not God, and since their is no evidence that supports the claims of scientists saying that life could have evolved on its own, then it would be to your advantage to look at the possibility that there is God. No, looking into it is not enough. And just using God as a fire escape would not be enough to be “saved”. But at least you begin to have the faith that you may need to properly analyze the evidence about life not being able to have developed by “accident”. But there is nothing that backs up the speculations of those scientists. And there are a lot of scientists who themselves doubt and even reject the possibility that life some how won the lottery and found itself alive, inspite of all the odds.
    In fact the faith that some have that there could not be God, is much more than it takes to know that He is. Over and over again the evolutionists and scientists are delving more and more into of realm of spirituality for their belief in evolution, finding out that none of the assumptions that have been made that evolution could have done, have any kind of substantive evidence.

  7. SmartLx, I’m getting this error when I copy and paste. “ERROR: Your comment appears to be spam.”

    1. If you’re copying and pasting large amounts of text from existing sources, I’d rather you didn’t anyway. Put in a link instead.

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