My answer would be to break the answer down into two levels: the (probable) specific human agents, and the demonic masters whose plan this truly is (and who fully intend to sacrifice the human agents, when they have performed their function).
The ultimate aim of the demonic powers is mass spiritual damnation, which is one that benefits only the (immortal, spirit) demons - and this is where secular analyses fall-down, since they always try to explain everything in terms of worldly self-interest.
To understand what I mean, CS Lewis's The Screwtape Letters and Screwtape Proposes a Toast helped me to understand the demonic perspective.
Lewis's book The Great Divorce was helpful in understanding why so many people choose Hell when they might choose Heaven; and thereby what are the strategies of the demons.
I agree with this analysis. I would like to add that the demons who pull the strings can only do so because of the corrupt nature of those whose strings are pulled. None of us are perfect, of course, but some of us have determining character defects to do with greed, ambition, selfishness, arrogant pride etc, which mean they can be manipulated relatively easily. Without their knowledge, of course.
Those who wonder how conspiracies can be hatched by people with differing agendas who don't seem united in purpose don't realise that the great majority of these people are unaware that they are merely pawns in a bigger game than they know.
You know, ever since I was a kid, I was sceptical of other people. In my teens, this translated to seeking out conspiracy theories. I didn't think this world was run by benevolent forces - perhaps projecting some of my own pessimism. But conspiracy theories became futile and ridiculous. Even disheartening. It was when I found Christianity that it made sense. That is, fostering vigilance towards an evil world. It is not about power or the 'financial elite' - it is that there are greater unconscious forces of good and evil that we are not in control of.
The basic outlook of secular leftism is that this world is good. People are good, nature is alien.. This inevitably leads to a sort of optimistic, educated naivety of the human condition. People often say this is a Christian heritage, but I would say Christianity provides a much harsher and pessimistic outlook towards humanity and the world, teaching that trust is a scarce commodity that can only be fostered within personal relationships. A pessimistic, dark view of man, but a positive end goal. Modern 'generic' humanism must surely be something else entirely.
@William - I suppose that the demonic manipulation is sometimes of people who simultaneously don't believe in the reality of demons and/but who invite them in to take-over. Looking at most of the famous folk, this combination is probably not rare...
@Eric - Yes. I think the difficulty is that modernity requires us to violate so many of our instincts that it leaves us defenseless against many types of manipulation. This was at one time compensated-for (albeit crudely) the cohesion of religion; but of course now that's gone too. What seems to be (feels to be) required now is a kind of shaking of the head and letting-go-of a whole lot if nonsensical violations and habits of going-along-with nonsense. After which we find (so long as we can maintain this clarity) that after all we can manage; we have spiritual guidance both inner and outer. And that's one reason why this has been a salutary period for some of us.
That's the spiritual challenge. You can see some people becoming aware of this spiritual challenge and then either moving to this new phase, or not. You can also see people who seem to regard it as a point of honour Not to recognise the spiritual challenge at all; and who respond with more and more of the same pseudo-serious, pseudo-commonsensical old materialist nonsense that landed us here.
Definitely. I'm not an academic myself, just a young guy who's had a little too much time to question. I read this biologist once who pointed out that biologically speaking, we are still stone-age people, even if we dress nicer. So the robotic ideals of the 'humanists' should come at no surprise since they refuse to account for the entirety of the human being.
Perhaps the world is like this. A pluralist battlefield of ideas. People are inclined differently (some more material and some more spiritual), and will defend their worldview. Many times it seems like atheists simply lack the need, will or ability to percieve God. I mean a Christian could agree that God doesn't exist since he is not quantifiable or measurable. But what outlook and attitude do you take toward life? That's the dividing line. We need to foster a religion that is as strong as the transhumanist impulse and let as many be saved as want to be saved.
God knows best.
I read your post and the comments. My own belief is that humans are endowed with dangerous instincts that need to be kept in control. I would agree that demons should be 'feared' in the same sense that approaching a cliff's edge should be feared, because we could fall. I think God is way more powerful and significant, though.
I like what C.S. Lewis describes in Mere Christianity, that Christianity is about how the true King has landed in enemy territory and that we need to heed his radio signals.
I really enjoy this blog.
@Jared - The power of God is that of the creator, of the demons merely destroyers.
Yet for salvation each man must freely choose God's side; and the powers of evil need to persuade us, person by person, to reject that (including persuading us Not to regard our-selves as persons, but as animals, group members or some-thing else - not to believe in God etc). How easy this may be, can be seen in Lewis's work. As usual, it depends on the individual, 'case-by'case'.
Anyway, the ultimate power of God is one thing, but the need for an individual to choose God is another - and there the demons may well prevail (to a greater or lesser extent) in the majority, even the vast majority, of people. In these strange times there seem to be more and more people who hate God, Heaven, Creation... and look as if they would/will prefer some version of Hell - like the characters in Lewis's Great Divorce.
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