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We were taught that you could be possessed or attacked by demons (spirit monsters) if you sinned, didn’t confess your sins, or gave in to temptation (sex, secular music, doubting god, drugs). The idea that an evil spirit can attach itself to your soul and invade your mind is terrifying for little children. They already have to deal with monsters under their beds; monsters in their brains is a whole other level of scary. Frequently in religion, struggles with mental illness and addiction are attributed to demons and sin. Many Christians are taught to renounce evil spirits and repent of generational sins and curses that might have led to the monster attacks. You could even be attacked by a spirit monster for being a really good Christian; god might test you and growth your faith through demons. It’s all love though!

Many Christians use the supposed existence of demons as evidence for their faith, and proof that those who do not believe are in error. Christians claim to have encountered evil spirits in nightmares. Or, they have witnessed “unbelievers” and “people living in sin” have demons cast out by the power of Jesus. Teachers who teach things out of line with Christianity are often construed as “agents of Satan” (the spirit monster commander in chief).

Interestingly, I believed I had encounters of spirit monsters when I was a Christian. But when I stopped believing in them, they simply vanished. The human mind is incredibly powerful and capable of generating all kinds of images, especially when presented with these images in the form of preaching and stories. If you believe in demons, please also believe in Frankenstein, aliens, and all paranormal experiences: there is just as much evidence for these. I don’t even need to deny that “spirits” might exist. Many religions and spiritualties recognize them. In therapy, people do have outbursts that look like demonic manifestations or exorcisms. Even prominent psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, who believes in a spiritual realm, thinks demonic manifestations are really the result of deep internal psychological issues. It’s not obvious that these kinds of expressions are caused by literal spirits.

If you doubt your faith, listen to secular music, or have sex, there’s no need to fear spirit monsters. It seems that the fear of spirit monsters itself may be the main reason people have frightening experiences of spirit monsters. If you experience an altered state of consciousness or smoke weed, you don’t need to fear getting a demon. Accusing people who don’t believe a religion of having spirit monsters is no way to talk about anything of substance. The ancients believed that the world was a struggle between spiritual forces of good and bad. Perhaps this is outdated wisdom. We might be better off dispensing of ghosts and monsters in our day-to-day living and instead deal with our psychological problems effectively.

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