The Hypothesis

It’s often amusing when a character in a story questions the very reality of the world in which they live. Sometimes you are not able to tell whether or not the writer of the script intentionally made a reference to themselves when their character alludes to the fact that they were created. I’m not certain whether or not I had this in mind when I wrote the following paragraph in “Freedom to Die,” but it does add an extra layer of complexity (and amusement, at least to me) to it.

“Mortus clearly understood where data ended and hypotheses began. Life couldn’t be lived without relying on hypotheses: the hypothesis that because one could perceive, what one was perceiving is real and applicable; the hypothesis that because one lived, life was worth living; the hypothesis that since one gathered data using reason and logic, one should continue to do so; the hypothesis that data gathered in the past should stay constant enough that it could be trusted in the future; the hypothesis that a relatively absolute truth was obtainable and should be striven for.”

If you didn’t get what I was trying to get across with this paragraph, don’t worry, you’re not alone. There were times when I was reading over this myself and thought, “well, I’m sure it made sense to me while I was writing it.”

Mortus understood that absolute knowledge is impossible to obtain, thus the repeatedly used word “hypothesis” throughout the paragraph.

To make things easier to explain, let me use an example. Complete the pattern for me: 1,2,1,2,1,? The reasonable answer, of course, is “2,” but that is only because of the information given you. If I had instead given you: 3,3,3,1,2,1,2,1,? The answer would be less simple. Perhaps the answer would be “3” instead of “2,” but then again, perhaps the answer would be something completely different.

Compare the knowledge you have of the rest of life to the pattern example. What you see as “logic,” you see as a continuation of a pattern. Since something has always been a way in your mind, so it will always be. “The hypothesis that data gathered in the past should stay constant enough that it could be trusted in the future.” However, since you weren’t always around, you do not know what was in the past. Sure, you could trace the pattern back to formulate a picture of the past, but you’re putting your faith in the pattern. For all you know, there could be a few 3’s hidden before the 1’s and 2’s that you see.

All you can do is make the most logical choice given the information provided, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

“The hypothesis that a relatively absolute truth was obtainable and should be striven for.”   This is an absolutely essential hypothesis. For if we don’t live under the assumption that an absolute truth exists, we have no right to tell someone they are right or wrong. Things like justice and morality would have no inherent value. If that were the case, we would be locking up people in jail not because they’re wrong or evil, but because their lifestyles were an inconvenient fit with the lifestyles of the majority.

So we have things like science and math around to qualify and quantify what we see, because it only makes sense to live under the assumption that it’s worth learning things. “The hypothesis that since one gathered data using reason and logic, one should continue to do so.” Yet, for some reason, people use this hypothesis for some things, and not everything. For example, in the area of religion, people think that since the concept of God or gods is so much separated from them, they aren’t able to use the same logic we use for everything else to apply to it; since the supernatural can’t be studied by natural means, it must therefore mean unnatural means must be used to study it. That of course is a ridiculous assumption. When one stops using logic to define the metaphysical, one can’t be sure that they are doing the logical thing to do so (no one can be “absolutely sure” of anything when there are no absolutes). Just because the spiritual world exists in dimensions outside of the ones we are accustomed to perceiving, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t also exist in a realm that we can perceive. We can learn about how something works in our own dimension, even if we are unable to understand the fullness of its existence in all dimensions.

I personally believed that “a relatively absolute truth” is “obtainable and should be striven for,” especially because of, an in the case of the supernatural. “The hypothesis that because one lived, life was worth living.” If one couldn’t know what was real or true, what would be the point of our existence? Living just to live seems quite redundant to me.

“The hypothesis that because one could perceive, what one was perceiving is real and applicable.” It’s amusing that Vance Mortus would have this philosophy, being that he is, in fact, not real in the same sense that you or I are real. He is my fictional creation.

As much as it doesn’t make sense not to live like what we are perceiving is real, it can be fun to contemplate what would be real if we were not. You may have heard the famous line by the Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi who, after having a very realistic dream about being a butterfly, stated, “now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.”

A more modern concept of the idea is that we are all in the matrix, a virtual world created by robots in order to keep us imprisoned and pacified.

I’m sure there is an endless list of imaginative stories of ways of how what we see is merely fiction. However, the point of this exploration of the topic wasn’t to show that “nothing is real,” but that “since we see things as real, we must make the most logical decisions in our day to day life, in regards to both our physical and spiritual lives.” That’s my hypothesis.

Creepy Power (May Contain Spoilers)

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.” ~ C. S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters.

Out of the two errors described by C. S. Lewis, it becomes apparent to anyone who follows my writing that I am susceptible to the latter. I’ve always been fascinated by the relationship between the spiritual and the physical. People like me are intrigued by accounts of poltergeists moving objects, possessions granting incredible strength, and prophetic dreams. People even more like me ask extreme questions like “could a demon fly a helicopter?”

In Freedom to Die, I’ve given my answer to this question. In order to start building support for my opinion, I think it best to establish what one can “know” about demons by looking in the Bible. I put “know” in quotation marks not because I question the infallibility of the Bible, but because our interpretation of it is fallible. I want to acknowledge that there is a possible—though in most cases, I would argue, improbable in the context of an broader exploration of the topic—chance that certain references of demons in the day were in lieu of more modern and scientific explanations, and may not necessarily represent spiritual beings.

(Although it will not convince any skeptics, I want to admit before going too much further that I am influenced by the accounts of demonic activity outside of the accounts in the Bible. These accounts are from both people I know personally, and from other accounts that I have heard. I am choosing not to list these cases as support because I believe I can make my case simply by using the Bible. I’m prepared to defend the cases in the Bible as true accounts, but I don’t have ample resources to do the same in the other cases.)
Matthew 9:32-33 – While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”
Mark 1:34 – and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

Mark 9:25-29 – When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

Luke 8:27-33 – When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.

Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.

A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

Luke 10:17 – The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

From these passages, we can make the following assertions about demons:

  1. They are real beings, not just medical conditions. Mark 1:34 shows demons as having inside knowledge of the person of Jesus. Someone with merely a medical condition would not be able to have this knowledge.
  1. They have independent wills and desires. The demons in the Luke 8 story had desires if not emotions as well. They didn’t want to be sent to the Abyss, but rather into a herd of pigs. This proves that demons are more than just some sort of mystical form of negative energy.
  1. They have control over aspects of the physical world. In order for a demon to make a person strong enough to break chains, it would have to have some sort of connection to the physical realm enough to alter the state of a person’s muscles. The same is true for a demon able to prevent a person from speaking.
  1. They are utterly outranked by the power of Jesus. Every case of a demon encounter with Jesus in the Bible shows that Jesus had absolute power over them. It doesn’t matter if there was just one demon, or many, like “Legion.”
  1. Followers of Jesus have some degree of power over demons. Luke 10:17 as well as other passages in the Bible are evidence of this. However, Christians would be naive to think that they have absolute power over demons, like Jesus does. Recall how in Mark 5 the disciples were complaining of being incapable of casting out the demon.

There are many more things we can derive about demons given the evidence in the Bible. I have only listed a few points that I deem to be important.

So, could a demon fly a helicopter?

I’ve shown how a demon has control over physical things, such as muscles and mouths. If demons can take control over sentient pigs such as pigs, given permission, I don’t think it would be a stretch that they could maneuver physical objects required to fly a helicopter.

Possessed helicopters aren’t nearly as scary as possessed people, as the Bible has shown some cases where people themselves were inhabited and inhibited by demons.

But I also showed why one shouldn’t fear demons. At least, not if one is a follower of Jesus. God alone has absolute power over any evil spiritual force. If one is acting according to His will, one doesn’t need to be afraid.

The topic of demonic power is expansive, and I’ve only scratched the surface. I hope, at least, that I’ve provided enough of a basis to understand the reality of demons and the threat it presents. At the very least, I’ve shown the inspiration of the demonic activity in Freedom to Die.

The Inspiration

You’ve probably noticed at the front of some books something along the lines of “the following is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to real people or events is completely coincidental.”  Some of you may have noticed that I have no such disclaimer at the beginning of my novel.

There are in fact characters in my novel based off of some of my friends.  These friends have given me permission to use their likenesses in my novel.

Readers who did not care to look at the author bio on the book’s back cover would still probably be able to guess my personal occupation by reading only a small portion of my novel.  You could say that I’ve put myself into the novel on more than one level (just like I meant more than one thing by the book’s dedication, in case you didn’t catch it).  Although Grocery Avenue is undeniably inspired by my time spent working in grocery stores, it is a completely fictional company that is not intended to be seen as an accurate reflection of any real life store or company.

What might come as a shock to many people is how much of the supernatural elements of the store was based off of events that I believe to be true.

Of course “Prefect” was a completely fictional character, and there was a great deal of conjecture regarding the viewpoint of a demon.  But a significant amount of the supernatural content was based on the accounts of trustworthy people.

Given enough interest, I am willing to go into further detail about the inspiration about anything in my novel.

— Welcome Here! —

Yes, you’ve finally reached the website where you will find insight to both how I wrote this novel and the concepts presented in it. I’ll do my best to address input from a variety of different online venues, but the most reliable way for me to hear what you have to say is for you to email me at admin@stephenselke.cabook1

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