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Fr. Carlos Martins (profile, personal YouTube channel), author of The Exorcist Files, has made the following declarations in a recent interview entitled Famous EXORCIST Reveals His Worst CASE:

So in the room, when an exorcism is occurring, there might be different signs that you see, like I said, inanimate objects moving, sudden fluctuations in temperature, bizarre bodily contortions on the part of the victim, and so forth. So, but something that you need to know, that your viewers need to know, that these, that such things are only done to scare the exorcist and his team. So, if I were to bring you into a room--I'm just talking as a thought experiment--if you were to be present at an exorcism, if I were to invite you to come along and be as an intercessor, you walk in the room and all of a sudden you see a chair starting to float in the air by itself. So that might raise your blood pressure up a little bit, right? Okay. It might make you a little bit apprehensive, okay? So my immediate counsel to you, so how I would instruct you before even going into the room, is I would say never ever ever run. Because the Devil is a minor reality. And if you ... the devil is more afraid of you, as a baptized Christian, as a Son of God the Father, than you are of him. If you run, then you've bought into the lie that he's trying to create. Right. So now let's say I brought you into the room, that chair floated, you made it through that experience. Let's say on another exorcism I come in, I bring you in again, and you see a chair floating again. Would you be as scared as you would be the first time? No. What about the 22nd time you see a chair floating? Would you be as scared as the first time? No. Absolutely you're right. And after time 122 you would be even less. In fact, you might not even put down your cup of coffee [...]

Fr. Carlos has also said in a video on his channel:

You know, people are fixed on the devil's power. They're fixed on what he can do. And they ask me what have you seen, have you seen levitation, have you been hit with objects flying through the air, and I'll say ... yeah, I've seen all of these things. But you know what? They're not the scary stuff. When you see a chair levitate for the 83rd time it gets old, but confronting the mind of the devil, the source of every perversion, every sin, every wickedness, every bad thing, that's scary.

Despite testimonies from exorcists like Fr. Carlos Martins, many skeptics remain unconvinced, demanding substantial evidence such as actual footage of an exorcism or an exorcism conducted in a controlled setting with comprehensive measuring and recording devices.

How do Christians who believe in exorcisms respond to skeptics demanding convincing evidence?


APPENDIX - Quotes from skeptical sources

After initially advertising his “skeptical” approach to evaluating claims of possession, Gallagher commits the common error of confusing skepticism with cynicism. He states, “while the American Psychiatric Association has no official opinion on these affairs, the field (like society at large) is full of unpersuadable skeptics and occasionally doctrinaire materialists who are often oddly vitriolic in their opposition to all things spiritual.” Unwillingness to entertain a remarkable claim (cynicism) differs greatly from demanding evidence that is as remarkable as the claim (skepticism). A skeptical thinker could, in principle, be persuaded to consider the possibility of demonic possession if the data were overwhelming. Nothing that Gallagher offers as evidence for demonic possession, however, approaches the realm of the extraordinary.

Source: Superstition Masquerading as Science, by Dean McKay, Rachel Ammirati, Scott O. Lilienfeld

NOTE FROM TED: While demonic possession is a myth unsupported by any scientific evidence, several claims in this talk around dissociative identity disorder and mental health are only representative of the speaker’s personal understanding. As the speaker states, please consult a mental health professional and do not look to this talk for medical advice.

Source: the description under the video The myth of demonic possession | Hassaan Tohid | TEDxUAlberta

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  • Not everything is worth responding to. Most real exorcisms probably don't look like anything spectacular. Christians shouldn't be concerned about convincing people of the truth of exorcisms, but of the truth of the gospel.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented May 19 at 0:42
  • @curiousdannii Capturing Christianity has been uploading interviews with exorcists, presumably with apologetic ends. Here is an example.
    – user61679
    Commented May 19 at 1:31
  • @GratefulDisciple Great suggestion, although 493 pages is not an amount that I can easily fit into my schedule given how busy I am lately. There appears to be a documentary by the same name. That seems to be much more manageable.
    – user61679
    Commented May 19 at 3:39
  • @Mark I haven't seen the movie (not planning to) since the value of that book to me is the theological anthropology of possession in the section "Manual of Possession" starting on page 408 to which the 4-5 case studies are illustrations, whether they end up possibly fictitious or largely embellishments. Book is the only proper medium for this. Commented May 19 at 4:10
  • @GratefulDisciple I added quotes from two sources that were recommended to me here. Any thoughts?
    – user61679
    Commented May 19 at 19:37

3 Answers 3

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2000 years ago the Sanhedrin had extensive evidence of exorcisms performed by Jesus and they still had Him put to death. In short, no amount of evidence was going to convince them to believe something they didn't want to believe.

Calling for video evidence would just entertain a game in shifting the goalposts -- as soon as video evidence were supplied, claims would emerge that the video had been staged or doctored.

This is a case where the phrase seeing is believing could be turned around to believing is seeing. Once one has a firm, foundational belief in God, it is much easier to see God's miracles for what they are.

Luke 16:31 seems applicable here:

And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

If someone rejects the evidence God has offered as "not good enough", I don't see that an exorcism would have any more impact than seeing one return from the dead.

How do Christians who believe in exorcisms respond to skeptics demanding convincing evidence?

They generally don't consider this a worthwhile argument to engage in. Jesus encouraged people to learn the truth through following the Holy Spirit (see John 16:13), not through chasing evil spirits.

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  • Thanks HTTR for your answer. What are your thoughts on this related question?
    – user61679
    Commented May 20 at 5:21
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    @Mark that's an interesting thought. If Satan prefers people under his influence to believe that he does not exist, I don't see why he (or his minions) would cooperate with an experiment on exorcism--why not just leave before the experiment begins so as to ruin the test? Re non-scientific justified beliefs...belief in science is a non-scientific belief but that doesn't mean it isn't justified (science doesn't rest on a foundation of science--or of turtles =)--it rests on a foundation of philosophy). Commented May 21 at 2:07
  • "why not just leave before the experiment begins" - so your hypothesis is that one can skip the entire exorcism ritual and instead get rid of the demon by just having a scientist walk up to them? And you're saying we shouldn't do that? That sounds like a trivially easy way to help the victim - is that not the goal? Although your hypothesis seems to be disproven by e.g. Annaliese Mitchel who was evaluated by medical experts and the supposed demon remained (but then none of the 67 exorcisms worked either, and she died).
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented May 22 at 14:20
  • @NotThatGuy...leaving and coming back after the experiment is foiled would work too. I'm not saying this is the devil's regular MO, I just don't see why he'd want to cooperate and this would be one way to be difficult. The idea of an exorcism is that a devil is cast out and can't come back. But of course that doesn't mean everyone claiming to act in Jesus' name really has His sanction (see Matt 7:21-23) Commented May 23 at 0:52
  • If the demon can freely leave and come back, why can't they do that to avoid priests? If (1 hypothesis) the priest is able to perform a ritual/exorcism to prevent the demon from coming back even after the demon left, surely they can also do that under strict scientific observation? I don't see how "the demon can reliably avoid detection under scientific observation" and "the demon can not reliably avoid detection by priests" can both be true. Also, Mitchel had symptoms even while under scientific observation, which seems to disprove your hypothesis at face value (if she was possessed).
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented May 24 at 1:41
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How do Christians who believe in exorcisms respond to skeptics demanding convincing evidence?

Fr. Gabriele Amorth mentioned in one of his books that Satan desires that modern men deny his existence. It works out that he can do more damage to mankind if men do not believe he is real!

Christianity is more concerned with the salvation of mankind rather than trying to explain the existence of Satan and his minions.

So how do Christians who believe in exorcisms respond to skeptics demanding convincing evidence?

Do not concern oneself with such skeptics. True skeptics will not believe in this spiritual realm until grace opens that door. Rather, pray that the truths of the Gospels will be accepted into their hearts!

Fr. Carlos Martins downplays what could be viewed within an exorcism. To say that such and ”such things are only done to scare the exorcist and his team,” is not exactly true. Mark my words, people get hurt (seriously hurt) during exorcism. I know an exorcist that almost lost his arm during an exorcism. These realities are to be taken very seriously.

As for demanding actual footage of an exorcism or an exorcism conducted in a controlled setting with comprehensive measuring and recording devices, these measures are generally forbidden by the Catholic Church. Victims of diabolical possession have an absolute right to privacy and the Church must safeguard that right very forcefully. Only rare and extraordinary cases ever get known publicly. Exorcists have to insist that those assisting with an exorcism are forbidden to talk to the demon and about the exorcism in such a way that the victims and those involved could be named in a particular case of exorcism.

Believe me, you never get used to the antics of the Demon within exorcisms. They scare the hell out of you! And the worst thing is that they are totally real!

Listening to the Gospel and leading a holy life is much more important. Get baptized and lead a holy life!

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I am Roman Catholic, so I fall in your group "Christians". And as I have assisted at an exorcism, I think I also qualify as "...who believe in exorcisms".

To be honest, I am educated enough to understand how a skeptic can keep his/her belief. There is no way I could convince a skeptic that doesn't want to be convinced.

Even more, I really, really don't care if a skeptic demands anything. They can demand as much as they want. I am absolutely not interested in answering that demand.

But when that same skeptic finds the need to ask for help from an exorcist I will be very happy to inform the exorcist of our diocese.

It may be weird for skeptics that not everybody is willing to jump through the hoop they "demand". Still, there is a big difference between people who have questions out of interest or curiosity and skeptics demanding things.

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  • I don't know of (m)any people who "demand". But to a non-believer, exorcism are basically just abuse. So "I really don't care" sounds a lot like abusive doctors saying they don't care what you think of how they treat their patients, or abusive parents saying they don't care what you think of how they treat their children, or an abusive husband saying they don't care what you think of how they treat their wife. That response certainly leaves a lot to be desired, and in every other case, you'd have a nice long prison sentence to look forward to, if you can't justify that treatment.
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented May 20 at 14:30
  • I answered the question. And I congratulate you with your respons.
    – ABM K
    Commented May 20 at 14:50

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