Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee. And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!” For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness.
Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?”
And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him. And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss.
Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them. Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned.
The exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac, as it is called, tells us that possessions need not be continuous, that abnormal and even normally impossible physicality can result, that there is room for plenty of demons in any object, and that animal rights can be violated.
The last seems like a joke, but it is described in earnest in the great Wikipedia (“Spalde, Annika; Strindlund, Pelle (2012). ‘Doesn’t Jesus Treat Animals as Property?'”). Proving, of course, that man is infinitely idiotic. Note that this conclusion follows even if you don’t (yet) believe in demonic possession.
Now you might not have heard of it, but there is an official fallacy named after this true event called the Gadarene Swine Fallacy. Shortly, it is the false conclusion of saying the one man going against the mass is wrong because he isn’t following the mass. It is thus a form of the Voting Fallacy (the favorite of Democracies everywhere). The GSF is named after the last part of the incident, where the possessed pigs were caused to drown. Supposing the doomed swine in their headlong rush must be going in the right direction because there are so many is the fallacy.
We can, of course, turn it around and apply it to the masses today. The “mass” of elites, that is. They do not acknowledge (openly, at any rate) demonic possession, or even the reality of demons. The reason they do not is usually “This is the Current Year”, which is to say, The Wrong Side of History Fallacy. And this is because most do not give the matter any thought: they go along with the mass.
Possession does pique the general interest, however. The Atlantic recently released the too-many-words article “American Exorcism: Priests are fielding more requests than ever for help with demonic possession, and a centuries-old practice is finding new footing in the modern world.”
The conviction that demons exist—and that they exist to harass, derange, and smite human beings—stretches back as far as religion itself. In ancient Mesopotamia, Babylonian priests performed exorcisms by casting wax figurines of demons into a fire. The Hindu Vedas, thought to have been written between 1500 and 500 b.c., refer to supernatural beings—known as asuras, but largely understood today as demons—that challenge the gods and sabotage human affairs. For the ancient Greeks, too, demonlike creatures lurked on the shadowy fringes of the human world.
But far from being confined to a past of Demiurges and evil eyes, belief in demonic possession is widespread in the United States today. Polls conducted in recent decades by Gallup and the data firm YouGov suggest that roughly half of Americans believe demonic possession is real.
This multitude of similar stories from all human cultures and history is what is called (or used to be called) evidence; observations that were taken as sufficient proof of the reality of demons. Only now our elites take the same data and say, in effect, that because these similar stories exist, they must all be false.
There are, of course, fakes, frauds, fictions. But to say that because a fraud is discovered that therefore all claims are therefore frauds is the Fraud Fallacy. Just because a bamboozling inventor claims to have designed a heavier-than-air powered flight machine (that crashes at every attempt), does not mean no such machine can exist. And have tiny seats and pricing models which must have been written under the influence of demons.
There has been a change of mind in some elites. Possession is admitted, and even seen to be on the rise. There is a recent odd peer-reviewed paper “The Growing Evidence for ‘Demonic Possession’: What Should Psychiatry’s Response be?” (note the scare quotes) by one Stafford Betty (great name) in Journal of Religion and Health.
Betty’s metaphysics are a confused jumble of ideas typical of modern scientists. But he is willing to concede the possibility of demons and possession, and he thinks psychiatry should conduct more rigorous studies of the phenomena. A seemingly good idea. But only seemingly because, of course, if demons are real (and they are), they, being quite a bit smarter than scientists, and known recalitrants, might not cooperate.