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Chapter 7: The Demon-Haunted World 
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 Chapter 7: The Demon-Haunted World
Chapter 7: The Demon-Haunted World

Please use this thread for discussion Chapter 7: The Demon-Haunted World.

We read and discussed this book back in 2003 and then had a live chat session with Ann Druyan. We've decided to pull this discussion out of the BookTalk.org Archives and give the book a second reading/discussion and chat with Ann Druyan. Ann has agreed to another live chat too.

Below you can read the older posts. Just look at the dates on each post to see if they are from the original discussion or the current discussion. Many of the members from 2003 are still members now so don't be shy about responding to their posts.

-- Chris O'Connor





I was just reading through Chapter 7, The Demon-Haunted World

I will not comment until I am finished, but as the chapter contains much about demons, witchcraft, and the use of the Malleus Maleficarum to torture and burn witches, I thought it would be of use to post a link to the full text...in case anyone is interested in reading it in further detail.

Interesting stuff.



Thu Aug 15, 2002 7:29 am


Post More on Demons and Aliens
Further observations and insight from Chapter 7:

In the Malleus, Kramer and Sprenger reveal that "devils...busy themselves by interfering with the process of normal copulation, by obtaining human semen, and themselves transferring it."

Then later:

There is no spaceship in these [demon] stories. But most of the central elements of the alien abduction account are present, including sexually obsessive non-humans who live in the sky, walk through walls, communicate telepathically, and perform breeding experiments on the human species.

It is a strange coincidence that both past and present reports of human contact with those supernatural forces (demons and aliens, respectively) have so many common factors...and that sexuality is such a huge integral component. Sagan makes a compelling argument that the human inner psyche may need to create such visions, dreams or hallucinations to satisfy longings, fulfil suppressed desires or assuage feelings of guilt.



Fri Aug 16, 2002 8:34 am
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Post Re: More on Demons and Aliens
Forgive me for my post to come, since I don't have the book in front of me to quote from...

I also enjoy the part where Sagan is discussing the presence of incubi and succubi. If I recall correctly, he states something to the effect that they must exist (in the mentality of the middle ages), because virgin women would never sleep around before they were married. Supernatural elements were the only explanation, because Satan is like that. Its an odd disparity with the common thought, that humanity was inherently flawed towards bad (original sin), and yet they could do no wrong in the case of pre-marital liaisons....



Fri Aug 16, 2002 6:09 pm
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Post Re: More on Demons and Aliens
Quote from the Mallius link above:

"It has been estimated by Dr. Marija Gimbutas, professor of archaeology at the University of California, that as many as 9 million people, overwhelmingly women, were burned or hanged during the witch-craze."

Good Gaaaaaaaaaaawd! I had no idea it was anywhere near that many!



Sun Aug 18, 2002 9:16 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 7: The Demon-Haunted World
From this point forward all posts are new and a part of our current discussion. Posts up to this point were from the previous discussion of The Demon-Haunted World.



Tue Jan 13, 2015 5:59 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 7: The Demon-Haunted World
This chapter was interesting and horrific in equal parts.

I hadn't thought about the similarities between demons and aliens. Well, I hadn't really thought about either of them much at all.

The witches passages are terrifying. In reading them I realised that it isn't demons, aliens, monsters or devils that scare me, but man's inhumanity to man. Inhumanity isn't really the word is it? Too much of an understatement. There are no depths to which humanity won't sink in perpetrating suffering. Recent revelations of child abuse by people in powerful positions have certainly made me wonder where their inspiration comes from.

I prefer to concentrate on joy and poetry and humour. But, I am enjoying this exercise in seeing what science can protect us from, and indeed, its lighting a candle in the dark.

I wouldn't read malleus maleficarum if you paid me a pension.


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Post Re: Chapter 7: The Demon-Haunted World
yeah don't blame ya but it is interesting

Quote:
The Malleus Maleficarum asserts that three elements are necessary for witchcraft: the evil intentions of the witch, the help of the Devil, and the Permission of God.


great to see the good bishop turfed him out.

Quote:
Kramer wrote the Malleus shortly after being expelled from Innsbruck by the local bishop after a failed attempt to conduct his own witchcraft prosecution. Kramer's purpose in writing the book was to explain his own views on witchcraft, systematically refute arguments claiming that witchcraft does not exist, discredit those who expressed skepticism about its reality,


oddly enough i have seen the modern version of this in local churches.

the old "the Devil is real" schtick, yeah he's real alright and he lives between your ears :lol: use a bit of critical thinking to cast him out :-D



Sat Jan 24, 2015 7:44 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 7: The Demon-Haunted World
Right out of the gate, Sagan provides evidence that he is uniformed regarding traditional religions and their relationship with science:

Quote:
So in an age when traditional religions have been under withering fire from science, is it not natural to wrap up the old gods and demons in scientific raiment and call them aliens?


I am not going to either encourage or participate in a debate about religion. But for Sagan to say that traditional religions (ie the catholic church) have been under "withering fire from science" is an utterance of gibberish.

Catholicism, for one, has never been on record as being at odds with science. Frankly, the Church was never "under fire" about evolution. Nothing in their cannon states denies evolution.

It is a branch of literalism that has been at odds with scientific explanandum, not Catholicism.
Literalism is not a representative of traditional religion.


Buddhism, to my knowledge, also has never been under fire from science.

"An Author of All" is the perspective religion has offered. It is a philosophical perspective.


The exploration of nature by means of scientific methodology does not offer teleological or atheistic conclusions.

Science is a tool for observing phenomena that are observable: and able to measured.
AS such..,


Quote:
Scientific methodology includes the following:

Objective observation: Measurement and data (possibly although not necessarily using mathematics as a tool)
Evidence

Experiment and/or observation as benchmarks for testing hypotheses

Induction: reasoning to establish general rules or conclusions drawn from facts or examples

Repetition

Critical analysis

Verification and testing: critical exposure to scrutiny, peer review and assessment


Quote:
Science is the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence.


http://www.sciencecouncil.org/definition


Sagan needs to stick (well, he's actually dead now) to searching for those little green men he believes exist despite not having an ounce of evidence (see above).



Last edited by ant on Wed Jan 28, 2015 6:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Jan 28, 2015 6:17 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 7: The Demon-Haunted World
Quote:
I am not going to either encourage or participate in a debate about religion. But for Sagan to say that traditional religions (ie the catholic church) have been under "withering fire from science" is an utterance of gibberish.


This sort of comment will encourage debate whether you want it to or not. I think you're wrong. Religion has without a doubt been under withering fire from science. There is conflict between religion and science, in practice if not in theory. There the rubber hits the road, there is conflict. No amount of hedging will make it otherwise.


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Wed Jan 28, 2015 7:12 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 7: The Demon-Haunted World
indeed :-D

http://christianity.net.au/questions/question37

Quote:
Why are many parts of the bible inconsistent with scientific fact?

Why are many parts of the bible inconsistent with Scientific fact? How did Adam actually live for 930 years? This surely is impossible. Genetic research shows that Africans were the “first” race on earth, what is the Bible’s take on this? I am a Christian but many of my non-Christian friends have been challenging the Historical and Scientific “inconsistencies” in the bible. What can I say when such arguments become slightly aggressive?

- Anonymous

Thanks for your questions.

Historical and Scientific challenges to the Bible are issues that many people struggle with. And while many apparent inconsistencies can be explained through careful investigation, there will always be things that puzzle us and can’t be explained. When there are apparent inconsistencies between the bible and science, the Christian’s stance toward the Bible is to trust what God has told us and recognise that we may not have the whole picture.


let's look at another religion :adore:

http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Scientific_Er ... _the_Quran

Quote:
Stars are Missiles Shot at Devils
Main Article: Mistranslations of Qur'an 67:5

The author of the Qur'an does not seem to know the difference between stars (giant balls of gas thousands of times larger than the earth) and meteorites which are small rocky masses of debris which brighten up after entering the earth's atmosphere. Many ancient people confused the two, as meteorites look like stars that are streaking across the sky; this is why there were often called shooting stars or falling stars. In the following verse, the Qur'an claims that Allah uses stars as missiles to ward away devils. This repeats a common Arab myth at the time the Qur'an was first recited.

And verily We have beautified the world's heaven with stars/lamps, and We have made them missiles for the devils, and for them We have prepared the doom of flame.
Qur'an 67:5
Except such as snatch away something by stealth, and they are pursued by a flaming fire, of piercing brightness.
Qur'an 37:10


perhaps final revelation has been claimed too early :)



Wed Jan 28, 2015 9:34 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 7: The Demon-Haunted World
ant wrote:
It is a branch of literalism that has been at odds with scientific explanandum, not Catholicism.


This is simply false. The Catholic Church is a veritable mother lode of irrational beliefs very much at odds with science. The very concept of "original sin" comes from the the fall of man in the Book of Genesis. As we've discussed before, evolutionary theory precludes the existence of a first human. Thus, no Adam and Eve. The entire theology of the Church is built on the literalization of a myth.

Then we have the belief that only those who are baptized can be saved, although it's really just an inititiation rite.

Catholics still pay lip service to transubstantiation—that the bread and wine literally become the body and blood of Christ. This is Catholic doctrine.

There's the idea of the Holy Trinity—God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Uh, lots of scientific problems there.

Papal infallibility?

The Catholic Church has declared that evolution is true, but on the other hand still professes the existence of a "soul" along with a lot of contradictory theological nonsense, of which only a small sampling is mentioned above.

Sagan was right. Many beliefs fostered under religious tradition have fallen by the wayside, exposed and debunked by science. I don't see how you can deny this.


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Post Re: Chapter 7: The Demon-Haunted World
Quote:
ant wrote: Catholicism, for one, has never been on record as being at odds with science. Frankly, the Church was never "under fire" about evolution. Nothing in their cannon states denies evolution.


ant, I think Galileo might differ with you:

Quote:
On this day in 1633, chief inquisitor Father Vincenzo Maculano da Firenzuola, appointed by Pope Urban VIII, begins the inquisition of physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei. Galileo was ordered to turn himself in to the Holy Office to begin trial for holding the belief that the Earth revolves around the Sun, which was deemed heretical by the Catholic Church. Standard practice demanded that the accused be imprisoned and secluded during the trial.

This was the second time that Galileo was in the hot seat for refusing to accept Church orthodoxy that the Earth was the immovable center of the universe: In 1616, he had been forbidden from holding or defending his beliefs. In the 1633 interrogation, Galileo denied that he "held" belief in the Copernican view but continued to write about the issue and evidence as a means of "discussion" rather than belief. The Church had decided the idea that the Sun moved around the Earth was an absolute fact of scripture that could not be disputed, despite the fact that scientists had known for centuries that the Earth was not the center of the universe.


Imo - the bible and the churches are to blame for a lot of disbelief among humanity. People, when they were eventually able to read for themselves, a) being actually literate and b) the bible actually being translated into English, Welsh or whatever, decided that a lot of what is written in the bible, beautiful though it often is, was myth and legend. Then they were tortured and burned for disputing that the Bible was the literal word of God or that the church was the mother of their souls. No wonder they washed their hands of the whole caboodle. I happen to believe that they threw the baby out with the bathwater and that we can have a very deep and rich and fulfilling spiritual life.....but I don't blame anyone for choosing to ignore it. Also, the faith in which a person grows up can often affect the violence with which we turn away from religion. Sagan was Jewish and obviously adored his parents and Judaism does not have much dogma about the afterlife, and leaves a great deal of room for personal opinion. I'm sure he found the death of his parents traumatic.


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Post Re: Chapter 7: The Demon-Haunted World
Hi, Penelope;

Thanks for your thoughts.

I got curious about Sagan's sources in this discussion about the witch hunts of Europe.

I believe his primary source is this book:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0226113078/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

Europe's Inner Demons: The Demonization of Christians in Medieval Christendom by Norman Cohn

Much of the preface can be read by previewing the book. It looks like something I am going to purchase myself so that I can hear it straight from the horse's mouth.
Norman Cohn work has received honors by his election as a Fellow of the British Academy.

Nearly all scientists like Sagan are poor at outlining the complexities of historical events, relationships, and schisms that occur within and between organizations. The schisms are often the primary cause of the radicalization of splinter groups.

Without proper historical context, abhorrent and criminal behavior is commonly held to be the behavior and actions of an entire period. Cohn supposedly adds the context of the gulf created by the protestant reformation during this time in history. The religious AND political systems were being turned upside down. Most of these crimes can be attributed to terrorist activities during the Protestant/Catholic divide.
I need to research this myself, though.

I do not look to scientists for serious historical discussions. They are not experts. Far from it. A man like Sagan who is trying to promote a worldview will cherry-pick from the historical record, commit composition fallacies, numerous amateur "historians fallacies," and hyper generalize, all for the sake of rhetoric.

The Galileo Affair is a perfect example. I've done some fairly deep reading on it and have listened to several lectures.
It is a highly complex event. It also is the most popular example of a historical event involving the Church that is given very superficial treatment by celebrity scientists for the sole purpose of demonizing all of Religion.

Thanks :)



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Post Re: Chapter 7: The Demon-Haunted World
Quote:
The Galileo Affair is a perfect example. I've done some fairly deep reading on it and have listened to several lectures.
It is a highly complex event.


all well and good ant, but i dont think it's all about the "Galileo Affair"

the main thing with "religion" is faith, believing things without evidence.

God made man, man will burn in hell if he doesn't repent, yada yada, all well and good but you have to take it on faith, "your faith has made you whole"

the main thing with "science" is not faith, it's more reason, evidence, test, experiment etc etc

so in spite of all these great points you raise it still seems to me that certain people are resistant to the "just take it on faith" line, they rightly say "no, it'll take more than faith to convert me, just because God X says yada yada in book such and such is not sufficient cause for believing"

a leap of faith, thanks but no thanks.

Quote:
Freethought holds that individuals should not accept ideas proposed as truth without recourse to knowledge and reason. Thus, freethinkers strive to build their opinions on the basis of facts, scientific inquiry, and logical principles, independent of any logical fallacies or the intellectually limiting effects of authority, confirmation bias, cognitive bias, conventional wisdom, popular culture, prejudice, sectarianism, tradition, urban legend, and all other dogmas. Regarding religion, freethinkers hold that there is insufficient evidence to support the existence of supernatural phenomena.[5]

A line from Clifford's Credo by the 19th-century British mathematician and philosopher William Kingdon Clifford describes the premise of freethought as: "It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence."[6]



Thu Jan 29, 2015 8:26 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 7: The Demon-Haunted World
I picked up a copy of "Witch Craze" by L. Roper, an Oxford historical scholar.

Much of the prologue of the book discuses the need to critically examine the social, political, and religious psychological states of mind within the context of Europe's "witch craze"

The number of deaths in Europe that can be attributed to the witch craze can never be known exactly because in many regions the records of interrogations that led to convictions or exoneration have been destroyed, or are incomplete. Some records allude to "hundreds" of witches killed.

The land now known as Germany recorded the largest executions by far - around 25k.

By far, the greatest number of deaths were women over the age of 40.
Many that accused this age group were much younger women who's attitudes toward older women were hostile because a perceived threat to their fertility.

Young women who were thought to have found it difficult to become pregnant looked for scapegoats, so to speak.

Also in the context of the time, resources were scarce.
Older women either childless or not able to conceive were considered a threat to consuming much needed resources that the young were in need of.
Solution? Ostracize older women by fantastical means and justify with the enforcement of the ruling political/social governing body at the time - the church.

"In the case of witchcraft, the idea that old women were plotting to root out Christian folk and destroy Christendom made sense to people who were already worried about how their society could reproduce itslef and continue" - "Witch Craze"

This book is a deep and scholarly study of the witch hunting of Europe. It properly takes into account the totality of influences within the proper context of the time.

A common mistake of historical laymen and amateurs like Sagan is that they judge a time and people of the past based on current values and capabilities. Mostly for rhetorical purposes.
What you get is a very watered down version of history.
In Sagan and recently NTD, you get simpleton accusations like "how horrible the church and only the church has been" or "science and reason saved us all "

Progress comes in stages throughout history. That which has inhibited progress is usually a multi layered and complex situation. Rarely can you simply point to you thing and demonize it entirely.

Sagan does this often to advance his philosophy of scientism.



Sat Jan 31, 2015 2:19 pm
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King Henry IV, Part 1 - by William ShakespeareAtheist Mind, Humanist Heart - by Lex Bayer and John FigdorSense and Goodness Without God - by Richard CarrierFrankenstein - by Mary ShelleyThe Big Questions - by Simon BlackburnScience Was Born of Christianity - by Stacy TrasancosThe Happiness Hypothesis - by Jonathan HaidtA Game of Thrones - by George R. R. MartinTempesta's Dream - by Vincent LoCocoWhy Nations Fail - by Daron Acemoglu and James RobinsonThe Drowning Girl - Caitlin R. KiernanThe Consolations of the Forest - by Sylvain TessonThe Complete Heretic's Guide to Western Religion: The Mormons - by David FitzgeraldA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - by James JoyceThe Divine Comedy - by Dante AlighieriThe Magic of Reality - by Richard DawkinsDubliners - by James JoyceMy Name Is Red - by Orhan PamukThe World Until Yesterday - by Jared DiamondThe Man Who Was Thursday - by by G. K. ChestertonThe Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven PinkerLord Jim by Joseph ConradThe Hobbit by J. R. R. TolkienThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsAtlas Shrugged by Ayn RandThinking, Fast and Slow - by Daniel KahnemanThe Righteous Mind - by Jonathan HaidtWorld War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max BrooksMoby Dick: or, the Whale by Herman MelvilleA Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer EganLost Memory of Skin: A Novel by Russell BanksThe Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. KuhnHobbes: Leviathan by Thomas HobbesThe House of the Spirits - by Isabel AllendeArguably: Essays by Christopher HitchensThe Falls: A Novel (P.S.) by Joyce Carol OatesChrist in Egypt by D.M. MurdockThe Glass Bead Game: A Novel by Hermann HesseA Devil's Chaplain by Richard DawkinsThe Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph CampbellThe Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor DostoyevskyThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainThe Moral Landscape by Sam HarrisThe Decameron by Giovanni BoccaccioThe Road by Cormac McCarthyThe Grand Design by Stephen HawkingThe Evolution of God by Robert WrightThe Tin Drum by Gunter GrassGood Omens by Neil GaimanPredictably Irrational by Dan ArielyThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki MurakamiALONE: Orphaned on the Ocean by Richard Logan & Tere Duperrault FassbenderDon Quixote by Miguel De CervantesMusicophilia by Oliver SacksDiary of a Madman and Other Stories by Nikolai GogolThe Passion of the Western Mind by Richard TarnasThe Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le GuinThe Genius of the Beast by Howard BloomAlice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll Empire of Illusion by Chris HedgesThe Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner The Extended Phenotype by Richard DawkinsSmoke and Mirrors by Neil GaimanThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsWhen Good Thinking Goes Bad by Todd C. RinioloHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiAmerican Gods: A Novel by Neil GaimanPrimates and Philosophers by Frans de WaalThe Enormous Room by E.E. CummingsThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeGod Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher HitchensThe Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama Paradise Lost by John Milton Bad Money by Kevin PhillipsThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettGodless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists by Dan BarkerThe Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienThe Limits of Power by Andrew BacevichLolita by Vladimir NabokovOrlando by Virginia Woolf On Being Certain by Robert A. Burton50 reasons people give for believing in a god by Guy P. HarrisonWalden: Or, Life in the Woods by Henry David ThoreauExile and the Kingdom by Albert CamusOur Inner Ape by Frans de WaalYour Inner Fish by Neil ShubinNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthyThe Age of American Unreason by Susan JacobyTen Theories of Human Nature by Leslie Stevenson & David HabermanHeart of Darkness by Joseph ConradThe Stuff of Thought by Stephen PinkerA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniThe Lucifer Effect by Philip ZimbardoResponsibility and Judgment by Hannah ArendtInterventions by Noam ChomskyGodless in America by George A. RickerReligious Expression and the American Constitution by Franklyn S. HaimanDeep Economy by Phil McKibbenThe God Delusion by Richard DawkinsThe Third Chimpanzee by Jared DiamondThe Woman in the Dunes by Abe KoboEvolution vs. Creationism by Eugenie C. ScottThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanI, Claudius by Robert GravesBreaking The Spell by Daniel C. DennettA Peace to End All Peace by David FromkinThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe End of Faith by Sam HarrisEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonValue and Virtue in a Godless Universe by Erik J. WielenbergThe March by E. L DoctorowThe Ethical Brain by Michael GazzanigaFreethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan JacobyCollapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared DiamondThe Battle for God by Karen ArmstrongThe Future of Life by Edward O. WilsonWhat is Good? by A. C. GraylingCivilization and Its Enemies by Lee HarrisPale Blue Dot by Carl SaganHow We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God by Michael ShermerLooking for Spinoza by Antonio DamasioLies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al FrankenThe Red Queen by Matt RidleyThe Blank Slate by Stephen PinkerUnweaving the Rainbow by Richard DawkinsAtheism: A Reader edited by S.T. JoshiGlobal Brain by Howard BloomThe Lucifer Principle by Howard BloomGuns, Germs and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Demon-Haunted World by Carl SaganBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownFuture Shock by Alvin Toffler

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