Dark energy is a strange reality. We know it’s there, but we can’t see it. Scientists try to measure it; it defies their instruments; but they know it’s there. It makes up 75% of the universe and is a key reason the galaxies continue to rush apart. But it’s a mystery. There are many things it could be, but precisely is the subject of speculation.
Dark energy reminds me there is so much we don’t know and don’t understand about our universe. In fact when you add in the 25% of the universe that science describes as dark matter, that leaves only 5% made up of stuff that we can see, touch and measure.
Since my meeting with a spirit-caster in Cambodia, a number of people have asked me what I think. Do I believe in the existence of evil spirits?
My answer is dark energy. . Or quantum physics. Quantum physics makes my head spin. Stuff happens at the tiny sub atomic level that breaks all the rules we know about the way the world works. Like observing a particle can change what happened to another one in the past!
These things remind me not to dismiss things that seem weird simply because they’re weird.
The people of biblical times had no trouble believing in spirits. The Gospels tell of dramatic encounters between Jesus and spirits that possessed people. Indeed they even tell of direct encounters between the Devil and Jesus. The New Testament letters speak of demons of the air and non-human principalities and powers.
So do the biblical texts simply reflect the superstitions of a premodern world? Renowned psychiatrist M Scott Peck thinks not. In People of the Lie he reveals how he came to believe in demons after encountering two cases that he could only explain as Satanic possession and where the subjects were only helped via exorcism.
Likewise very reasonable and thoughtful people that I know who have spent time living in traditional cultures have no doubts about the reality of spirits.
Certainly, I don’t want to return to the superstitious outlook of pre modern times where physical illness, mental illness, and strange events were routinely blamed on evil spirits. But that is not the world of the bible. The Gospels distinguish quite clearly between the possessed and those with disabilities or illness. They do not typically attribute unusual events to demons, nor do they suggest that temptation normally comes from the Devil. Yet they see the demonic as a very real part of the world in which they live.
So if the demonic is real why don’t we see it very often, if at all? People from more traditional cultures often have dramatic stories to tell of spirit encounters. Why are there so few in the west? Is it because science has liberated us from superstitious explanations of religions?
Or is it that we attribute to other causes what are at times and in reality a form of possession? Like dark energy are demonic spirits influencing us even though they are unseen and unacknowledged? Could it be that our rampant greed in a world with 1 billion hungry people is demonically influenced? Or is it perhaps as one of my theological college lecturers speculated, that evil spirits can only enter the life of those who invite them in, something rarely done in the west but common in many traditional cultures?
I’m not sure, but if the world is filled with dark energy and quantum events that can change particles in the past, it’s not such a stretch to believe in malevolent spirits.
Some will object to my analogy, suggesting that dark energy and quantum physics are proved by science whereas spirits are the conjecture of superstition. Why not say in a world filled with dark energy belief in the tooth fairy is not such a stretch? My response is that belief must be reasonable. But I don’t think it has to be scientifically proven to be so. Collective experiences and revelation are also sources of truth, even if the certainties are not the same.
What I do take from quantum physics and dark energy is that the universe is still a largely unknown entity filled with all manner of weird and wonderful things. Given the experiences of many people over many centuries and the perspective of the Bible, is it not possible that one of those is the reality of spirits?