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Old 12-18-2012, 06:38 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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It seems a common belief among some Christians that there are no such things as ghosts, that they are demons in disguise.

If that's true, what is the purpose of demons going around pretending to be the spirits of dead people, going as far as taking on their image?

To deceive people into believing in ghosts?

In the case of poltergeists, simply to cause mischief?

Why then don't more ghosts possess people who see them/come in contact with them?

Does the Bible REALLY say there are no ghosts? Personally I'm not sure about ghosts, but I think it's open to interpretation. The disciplines once mistook Jesus for a ghost, so they probably believed in ghosts. I'm not sure it's even Biblical that we go to an 'intermediate state', it could be Roman mythology.

I don't see what's so implausible about believing in ghosts AND heaven/hell, that the spirits just wonder the earth until judgement day. Plenty of Christians throughout history have and still believe in ghosts.
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Old 12-18-2012, 09:12 AM
 
Location: Dallas, Texas
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I think you may have accidentally posted this in the wrong subforum.
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Old 12-18-2012, 09:13 AM
 
Location: Dallas, Texas
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That said, I've always to read a story where it turns out ghosts are just atheists who didn't know where to go when they died, so they just stick around here. Chillin'.
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Old 12-18-2012, 04:21 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillmont View Post
I think you may have accidentally posted this in the wrong subforum.
Weird, I don't remember doing so, I guess I must have. Could the mods please move it to the general religion forum?
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Old 01-10-2013, 02:40 PM
 
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Default Ghosts, demons, Bible

It's true some Christians think all ghosts are demons. It depends on their view of the afterlife. Protestants believe you go to heaven or hell immediately. So in their theology, any apparition is automatically either an angel or a demon, it's not likely to be a human soul. Catholics believe there is a temporary state of purgatory where some will go to be purified after death, before that person can be admitted into the presence of God. Sometimes souls in purgatory are allowed brief contact with the living to remind the living to pray for that soul. This speeds the purification process. So Catholics believe that apparitions can be either angels, demons or souls in purgatory (ghosts). If you ask a Jehovah's Witness, any apparition is automatically a demon. They are inordinately preoccupied with demons. Even furniture can be "possessed". There are absolutely no ghosts (human souls) in their theology, as they don't believe in an afterlife.

The bible speaks of ghosts in several places. Matthew tells of the dead appearing in Jerusalem at the death of Jesus. The apostles thought Jesus was a ghost when he was walking on water. 1 Samuel describes a medium conjuring up a ghost at the request of King Saul. Ghosts are definitely in the Bible, and the biblical authors knew the difference between them and demons.

To answer your question on why a demon would want to impersonate the dead, my thoughts are: any ruse to turn people's attention away from God would be a worthwhile pursuit for a demon. To many people, ghosts are proof that there is no heaven or hell. We just die and wander the earth. Belief that ghosts simply wander the earth endlessly is not compatible with God and his plans for us. But it is at least somewhat compatible the the Catholic view of purgatory. Here is a place (actually a state) where a soul can be in limbo between heaven and earth (souls in purgatory are all going to heaven eventually).
So if a demon is impersonating a soul, I think it is merely a red herring to distract from God. Or, it is just a form of amusement for evil or mischievous spirits. Or, they are poor souls in purgatory wanting our prayers.

Oh, by the way, the concept of purgatory is not a Roman invention. Old testament Jews have always believed in a place of purification in the afterlife where your sins can be purged from you, facilitated by the prayers and offerings of the living. Catholics are just carrying on the same belief. There's an excellent description in the Book of 2 Maccabees 12: 38-46 of giving prayers and offerings for the dead so they can be loosed from their sins in the afterlife. This book is in the Catholic Bible and always has been considered sacred scripture since the time of the apostles.

38 Then Judas assembled his army and went to the city of Adullam. As the seventh day was coming on, they purified themselves according to the custom, and kept the sabbath there.
39 On the next day, as had now become necessary, Judas and his men went to take up the bodies of the fallen and to bring them back to lie with their kindred in the sepulchres of their ancestors. 40 Then under the tunic of each one of the dead they found sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. And it became clear to all that this was the reason these men had fallen. 41 So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous judge, who reveals the things that are hidden; 42 and they turned to supplication, praying that the sin that had been committed might be wholly blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened as the result of the sin of those who had fallen. 43 He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. 44 For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. 45 But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, so that they might be delivered from their sin.

This book is one of seven that Martin Luther removed from the Bible after he left the church in the 1500's, which is the reason why Protestants and non-denom Christians are unfamiliar with the concept of purgatory. Christians have always believed in purgatory, as did the Jews.
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Old 01-10-2013, 06:34 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Well, lets look at the evidence before drawing conclusions.


Now here we see a ghost billed as "friendly" which would suggest that he is not demonic...but....we note that he is assisting a witch and how are we to know what evil she might have in mind? Lets call this one a "maybe."


Was Marley a demon? He simply employed "Scared Straight" tactics to bring about a change for the better in Scrooge's personality. I say no demon here.


The Ghost Riders in the Sky were very much like Marley, returning to deliver a helpful warning to surviving cowpokes.
"Then cowboy change your ways today or with us you will ride, trying to catch the Devil's hers, across these endless skies." Not demonic.


Beetlejuice....impish, annoying, self centered, mean spirited, spook for hire....not your classic demon, but certainly evil enough to call this one for demonic.


Daniel Gregg...well they don't cast demons in sit coms, so I gotta say non demonic.


Sleepy Hollow's Headless Horseman....nothing redeeming here...definitely demonic.

So, in a survey of six of the most popular ghosts of recent times, we find three non demons, two demons and a possible demon. While this is too tiny a database to project reliable conclusions, it does suggest that being demonic is optional for ghosts, or if not optional, some ghosts are compelled to be demonic while others escape this fate and remain benign.
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Old 01-11-2013, 11:24 AM
 
Location: WV and Eastport, ME
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You know how you get a song stuck in your head sometimes? Thanks, Grandstander! My brain is alternating between the Casper cartoon show theme and Ghost Riders In The Sky.
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Old 01-11-2013, 11:54 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mensaguy View Post
You know how you get a song stuck in your head sometimes? Thanks, Grandstander! My brain is alternating between the Casper cartoon show theme and Ghost Riders In The Sky.
So then....we might say those songs are....haunting you?
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Old 01-11-2013, 11:58 AM
 
Location: The Pacific Northwest
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I don't believe in a biblical-type Hell; nor do I think demons exist.

But on the subject of ghosts, I'm not so sure.
I have known several people, all rational, non-religious, and even slightly cynical types, who have sworn on that they have seen ghosts. Most of them were in their homes, and I remember one guy who said he encountered one while walking the grounds of an old restaraunt fire in his home town where an employee had been killed.

I know, I know. My initial reaction is usually disbelief too. But the thing is, that a couple of these people were so matter-of-fact about their ghostly encounters that they made it seem like an old friend had just visited them. I mean to say, they weren't excited and animated when they told me, like: "Man, you won't believe what I saw last night!!"
No, it was more like, "Yeah, that damn "Bob" --this friend had seen his ghost several times and named it--was at the top of the stairs staring at me this morning when I was cooking breakfast. I wish he would just go away."
Just as if he was talking about his wife, or something. This guy was utterly convinced and entirely deadpan and nonplussed about the whole thing. More annoyed than amazed.
This friend later found-out from an elderly neighbor that a man fitting the ghost's description indeed lived, and died, in that house many years before.
Again: I can't reiterate more strongly how rational and even-minded and non-religious this friend of mine is. He doesn;t attend church or believe in any paranormal stuff--usually--and is a button-down CEO type.

So...I think entities that we call ghosts probably do exist, and that they are merely forms of residual energy ("spirit residue") leftover from that living person. I think this usually happens when the deceased person's life was ended sudden;y and unexpectedly, like ina a trauma or accident of some sort. I think the movie "Ghost" got it pretty much right in how they depicted the ghost world. I think there could be more science--as in some sort of energy fields at work--than paranormal hooey in this matter.

A final caveat: I also think that probably about 80% of the ghost claims are b.s.--either intentionally, by the claimer, or because of an honest mistake. So the same dynamic is at work here as is with psychics, and that is that there are a FEW legitimate cases out there, but the vast majority are fake so they give the whole group a bad rep.
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Old 01-11-2013, 12:10 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lickety_Split View Post

So...I think entities that we call ghosts DO exist, and that they are merely forms of residual energy ("spirit residue") leftover from that living person. I think this usually happens when the deceased person's life was ended sudden;y and unexpectedly, like ina a trauma or accident of some sort. I think the movie "Ghost" got it pretty much right in how they depicted the ghost world. I think there could be more science--as in some sort of energy fields at work--than paranormal hooey in this matter.

.
You profess allegiance to the rationalist approach to matters, and then head right off the reservation with the above.

An application of Occam's Razor is in order here.

We have established via observation and experimentation that the human mind is capable of producing illusions, sometimes with an aura of reality which makes the illusion indistinguishable from reality. The most common evidence is the fact that we all dream, our minds, seemingly on their own without command or desire from us, stage nightly twisted versions of reality which certainly seem at the time to be actually taking place. In short, we have a reasonable explanation for the phenomena of apparently seeing a ghost, which does not require the suspension of natural law to be credible.

The alternative is to interpret these experiences literally, to insist that the illusion had substance or reality. These explanations require that we ignore what we know of natural law and accept that there is some sort of Shadow Physics in operation with different laws.

Occam's Razor tells us that when confronted with two competing explanations for a phenomena, the more likely one is that which requires us to make the fewest possible supporting assumptions. Which of the above two approaches to ghost explanation do you think comes closer to Occam's principle? The one which does not require believing in natural law defying phenomena, or the one which does?
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