Demonic epistemology

About this exorcist guy…You know how the pope likes to put up this front of being rational and scholarly and reasonable? Well…the church he’s at the top of has exorcists. The Chief Exorcist of Rome is very emphatic on the point that Satan is for real and that anyone who says otherwise is engaged in ‘true heresy.’ Satan is not a metaphor, or an abstraction, Satan is a fella. Father Gabriele Amorth wants everyone to make no mistake about that.

Those modern theologians who identify Satan with the abstract idea of evil are completely mistaken. Theirs is true heresy; that is, it is openly in contrast with the Bible, the Fathers, and the Magisterium of the Church.

So much for all those people who keep trying to say that the ‘New Atheists’ go after crude targets that no one actually believes in. I think the Catholic church and its hierarchy count as someone? Someone with a fair amount of influence?

The other interesting point here is the question of how the exorcist knows what he is so confident that he knows. Apparently because of the Bible, the Fathers, and the Magisterium of the Church – but why does he think those are reliable sources of knowledge? Because he thinks God wrote or ‘revealed’ the Bible, presumably – but the question is why. Frankly I never really understand that – why grown-up people believe that with, apparently, no qualms. I don’t understand it because what would a Bible that wasn’t written or revealed by God look like? It would look the same. There is nothing about the Bible that makes it unmistakable that it’s a book by God rather than by humans. What is it that makes the exorcist and his friends so sure that it was? How do they know what they know? They don’t, of course, but why do they think they know?

And another thing. Why do we hear so much indignant complaining about ‘the New Atheists’ and so little about the Old Theists? Why do so many putative intellectuals treat unapologetic atheism as some kind of outrage and blithely ignore the combination of nonsense and mental torture that believers in Satan sprinkle around the landscape? Why does not Tina Beattie criticize the exorcist instead of talking stark nonsense about atheism?

The demonisation of religion that is perpetuated by a certain, very dull kind of anglo-american atheist materialism, allows us to escape our own responsibility for a burgeoning global climate of violence and confrontation.

Why does Tina Beattie say that kind of thing (and a lot more of it) instead of rebuking Father Gabriele Amorth? I’m genuinely curious. Why do people like Tina Beattie get outraged by explicit atheists and not by explicit demonologists and exorcists? Why does she think (apparently) that the former do more harm than the latter?

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