What diseases known to modern science would be considered demonic? Thank you
This is an interesting question. Actually, we had a conference on “Christianity and the Paranormal” a few years ago at which we had a presenter take a stab at this question. (The audio is available at www.ipibooks.com) Please allow me to reword your question into a more answerable form. What diseases that we know of today might be interpreted by some as actually being demon possession? I am not a trained psychologist, and therefore, I am not qualified to answer this question. However, I am broadly aware that there are personality dissociative-types of conditions which easily could be interpreted as demon possession. Some have proposed that extreme forms of schizophrenia may be one explanation. I have always believed that some of the conditions which were interpreted as demon possession in ancient times were in fact mental/psychogical illness. A number of studies have been done on individual cases of extreme personality disorders which would easily be thought of as “possession.” In the talk we had at our conference, the speaker claimed that many for sure, probably most, and possibly even all phenomena which have been diagnosed by various religions as demon possession can be explained by the modern science of psychology. Please forgive me for not listing the names of such diseases/conditions, as I would be stepping into areas in which I simply do not have the expertise to be useful.
This brings me to the important question, as I see it. Is it possible that ALL conditions which have been interpreted as due to demon possession are, in fact, only natural conditions? If so, this would mean that demon possession is simply not real at all. My answer is that science will not be helpful here. Science only deals with natural phenomena. Science is literally useless when it comes to the supernatural. This means that it will always be difficult to prove the reality of demon possession. It is one of those things that must be experienced to be believed in. But such anecdotal evidence is outside the possibility of providing proof. Atheistic scientists want to believe that they can settle this question, but this is not the case.
But… Let me give you two reason that I, personally, believe that demon possession is real. First, is that Jesus clearly believed in demon possession. Some have proposed that he simply accommodated the ignorant beliefs of his contemporaries. In other words, he did not actually believe in demon possession, but only acted as if he did so as to help people with their conditions. I completely reject this position. If we read what Jesus did in his ministry, for example having conversations with demons or driving them into pigs who then rushed into the Sea of Galilee, I believe that this is to be rejected out-of-hand. Jesus believed in demons and in demon-possession, and he is God-in-the-flesh. I believe in demon possession. This does not mean that all claimed cases of demon possession are real. In fact, I personally believe that the many and probably even a majority of such claims are due to natural psychological conditions. Nevertheless, I believe that in some cases demon possession is real.
The second reason I believe in the phenomenon of demon possession is that I am aware of anecdotal evidence which has convinced me that, in certain cases, demon possession is real. Remember that I am a scientist, and I have already said that such anecdotes are not scientific evidence, and I absolutely do not claim that they are. This acceptance of anecdotal evidence is a personal thing, due to personal stories from people I know well. I have spent time in parts of Africa, Mexico and South Asia where such experiences are not uncommon, and I have been convinced in certain cases. Like I said, this is a personal thing for me, and I do not expect those who do not know me to accept the reality of demon possession just because I am aware of anecdotes which have convinced me. But… It is one of the two reasons I believe in demon possession, so I thought I would mention it.
Sorry that, to be honest, I did not answer the actual question you asked, but I hope I shed at least some light on the question. I am afraid that you need to ask the technical question of a qualified specialist in what used to be called “abnormal psychology.”