For a long, long, time I have believed that demons are metaphors. They represent all that is ugly within us; our capacity for evil, our addictions, our inhumanity towards each other. I never felt the need to find an outside explanation for people’s repressed emotions, those that burst forth in terribly inappropriate ways due to sanctions against certain kinds of behavior. Demons have such a long, robust literary and philosophical life, that much of our collective Western history wouldn’t exist as it does without the concept of pure evil functioning in an ongoing battle with the forces of Good.
Metaphor. Psychology. Culture. Primitive belief. Repressed sexuality or anger. All of this can explain demons to my satisfaction. For many people, however, demons are literal and dangerous. I can’t read books about exorcism without paralyzing fear; I can’t continue an investigation if someone insists that a demon is hanging out there. I’ve read many, many accounts of negative entities inflicting harm on homeowners and hapless adolescents. I know that the study of demons is a hallowed and respected field of its own, with hierarchies, classifications and rank, as one can also do with angels. Of course, if you believe in the literal existence of demons, you must also believe in the actual, concrete existence of angels; and many, many people do.
My question to my readers: if you believe in the existence of demons and angels, what evidence do you have? Why don’t you chalk it up to something more human and mundane? Why demons? Is this a purely religious belief you hold based on faith, or do you have solid, concrete evidence for what you believe to be true? I do not judge your answers, nor do pretend to have an answer. I am looking to learn from you, and I hope you will respond.
–Kirsten A. Thorne