Do Demons Cause Illnesses?

Everyone who believes demons exist has to ask themselves the question; “When I am ill, is it caused by demons?” If you think the New Testament references to demons are about little gods going round doing evil, then you have to say “yes”. In that case, how can you explain the fact that many diseases once blamed on demons can now be cured or controlled by drugs? Malaria is the classic example. Many people in Africa believed until recently that malaria was caused by demons, but now we know that malaria can be cured by quinine and other drugs. Are we then saying that as the demons see the little yellow tablets going down your throat they become frightened and fly away? Some of the diseases which Jesus cured, which are described as being the result of demon possession, have been identified as tetanus or epilepsy – both of which can be relieved by drugs.

A friend of mine comes from a village just outside Kampala in Uganda. He told me once how that people used to believe malaria was caused by demons, but once they saw how the drugs controlled it so easily, they stopped blaming the demons. However, when someone had cerebral malaria (causing serious mental illness) they still blamed the demons. A doctor came from the nearby town and offered them strong anti-malarial drugs as a cure, but they refused because they said they needed something to fight demons not malaria. The doctor returned later and said, “I have a drug which will chase away the demons”; the sick person eagerly took the drug, and became better. The second tablets were just the same as the first ones. The doctor did not believe in demons, but he used the language of the day to get through to the person – just like the “Great Physician”, the Lord Jesus, of 2,000 years ago.

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