Devil fighting has been getting a lot of press lately. Not only did Keanu Reaves’ Constantine open last weekend, but we learned that the Vatican is making a concerted effort to train exorcists. According to the LA Times,
The Catholic church is facing a shortage that you might not have heard about: qualified exorcists.
Thursday about 100 priests stood, prayed for protection, then sat down to begin an eight-week study of how to distinguish and fight demonic possession.
The course at Rome’s Regina Apostolorum, a prestigious pontifical university, represents the first time a Vatican-sanctioned study at this level has been dedicated to exorcism.
In Italy, the number of exorcists has soared over the past 20 years to between 300 and 400, church officials say. But they aren’t enough to handle the avalanche of requests for help from hundreds of tormented people who believe they are possessed. In the United States, the shortage is even more acute.
One of the more interesting things about this story is that it lays bare people’s worldview presuppositions. Many in the media have reacted to this effort with mocking condescension For example, I heard radio talk show host Bill Handel refer this morning to people who think they are possessed as "lunatics" (or something along those lines).
It is important to understand that this reaction is not usually based on any evidence or have any well thought out support. Instead it is based on an article of faith – a belief that says the universe is a closed system of cause and effect and made up of strictly matter. In other words, the mocking reactions are based on a blind trust in philosophical naturalism. There is no evidence for this belief – it is simply accepted. As such, conclusions reached based on this worldview are not as solid as they are made out to be.
For example, if a hurting person has symptoms that could be interpreted as legitimate demon activity, people who hold to naturalism never allow for that theory to be surfaced because they have already decided that can’t be true. Not based on the evidence, or on good science, but on blind faith in their worldview.
As such, they immediately conclude that any problems must have some sort of psychological (biological) basis. (Notice that if only matter exists, there can be no real difference between psychology and biology in a naturalistic worldview – that is why drugs are described for psychological disorders.)
This is a real weakness in contemporary health care, and I, for one, applaud the Vatican for addressing people’s needs at more than a surfacy, physical level. I think the evidence strongly suggests that angels and demons are real and that we do live in a supernatural battle zone. To ignore this theory based on nothing but blind faith seems to me the height of folly.