Sunday, March 28, 2004


Do you believe in vampires? Believe it or not, there are places in the world where the belief in vampires is still strong:
On a recent afternoon, the village's single store, which also serves as its lone bar, was filled with men drinking hard as they explained the vampire facts to a stranger. Most had at least one vampire in their family histories, and many were related to vampire victims. Most had learned to kill a vampire while still children.

Theirs is not a Hollywood tale, and they laugh at Hollywood conventions -- that vampires can be warded off by crosses or cloves of garlic, or that they can't be seen in mirrors. Utter nonsense. Vampires were once Catholics, were they not? And if a vampire can be seen, the mirror can see him. And why would you wear garlic around your neck? Are you adding flavor?

No, vampires are humans who have died, commonly babies before baptism or people unfortunate enough to have black cats jump over their coffins. Vampires occur everywhere, but in busy cities no one notices, the men said.

Vampires are obvious when dug up because while they will have been laid to rest on their backs, arms folded neatly across their chests, they will be found on their sides, even their stomachs. They will not have decomposed. Beards will have continued to grow. Their arms will be at their sides, as if they are clawing out of their coffins. And they will have blood -- sometimes dried, sometimes fresh -- around their mouths.

We tend to scoff at these beliefs, but before you ridicule these superstitious people, ask yourself why you don't believe in vampires. I'll wait.

If you are a straightforward materialist who denies anything supernatural, you're on decent philosophical ground to be scoffing at vampires. Most of us have at least some belief in the supernatural, however, and that leaves our reasons somewhat shaky. Sure, it all sounds silly, but silliness isn't a factual argument. I am a Christian, and some of the things I believe sound silly to people who aren't. They don't seem the slightest bit foolish to me. The thing is, even those who think these beliefs ridiculous aren't arguing that they're illogical, at least not within my worldview, just that they're unseemly in theirs. For someone like myself who believes not only that God exists, but also that demons do, vampires seem unlikely--I'm not saying I believe in them--but I can't rule them out entirely.

Before you materialists scoff at my gullibility, consider this: Is regular alien visitation to Earth impossible? If you believe that life on other planets is possible, then regular alien visits may be unlikely, but you can't rule them out entirely.

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