Read Boyd’s argument here.
When people disagree over theological issues it seems like the opposing parties skip over the good points and focus only on the bad. I want to point out that I think Boyd has made a some good points about demons and their ability to influence the natural world. I also like his point that just because something can be explained scientifically does not rule out the supernatural aspect about it. That being said, I still have to take issue with Boyd’s hypothesis, and I will only relate a few observations in response.
1. Boyd’s explanation of “natural” evil falls short of the Biblical explanation. He says, “I’m summarizing my case for my belief that “natural” evil can only be adequately accounted for if we accept that fallen spirits have, to some extent, interfered with God’s good creational design for nature.” As I have mentioned earlier, Boyd has a problem with over-simplification. There are more things going on in this world than merely fallen spirits messing things up. Now, Boyd would have us believe that God has nothing to do with the bad things that happen; the Bible, however, says otherwise. Consider the case of Saul. After God had rejected Saul, he was plagued by an evil spirit. He had David come and play his harp and sing for him. Whenever David did this, the evil spirit left Saul. It is not exactly clear as to what the evil spirit did to aggravate Saul, but it is clear that his infirmities were related to this evil spirit. So far we square with what Boyd says. But the Bible goes further and states that the evil spirit was “from the Lord,” or “from God.” (1 Sam. 16:14-23; see also the case of Abimelech and the men of Shechem, Judges 9:23; as well as the case where the Lord put a lying spirit in the mouths of the prophets, 1 Kings 22:19-23) I would be interested to see how Boyd weasels his way out of these and other explicit statements. Boyd, for some reason, won’t accept the fact that the infirmities in this world are from God. In fact, death itself, the ultimate infirmity, is a result of God’s sovereign decree. It is man’s lot to die once, (Heb. 9:27) why, because God declared, in judgment upon sinful humans, that the wages of sin would be death.
2. Even though many infirmities in the Bible are caused by evil spirits, not all infirmities are caused by them, nor can we say that all infirmities are a result of God’s judgment. Consider the case of the man who was born blind. The disciples asked Jesus, “Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind.” Jesus answered them, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (John 9:1-7) Now we may conclude that evil spirits were the cause of this man’s blindness, or we may simply say that he was blind as a result of natural causes. I tend to think that it was the latter, but whatever the case may be, it is clear that it was ordered by God for this man to be born blind, so that God might reveal His glory in this man.
3. Perhaps the greatest example of God’s sovereignty in sending spirits to afflict humans is the case of Job. The book of Job begins with Satan looking for a man to tempt. God tells Satan of Job. God permits Satan to harm Job’s resources and possessions but not Job himself. Satan causes great affliction upon Job, yet Job remains faithful to God. Satan, again, approaches God asking permission to harm Job himself. God gives him permission, and Satan afflicts Job with sores, yet he remains faithful to God. The rest of the book is about Job’s friends accusing Job of sin, yet they have no occasion to do so. Job all the while seeks an audience with God so that he might plead his cause. At the end of the book God visits Job in a whirlwind. God does not offer Job proof that He had nothing to do with his afflictions. He does not say to Job that He should not be blamed with Job’s problems. Rather, God affirms His sovereignty and states that Job is a man without knowledge. Job does not say to God, “You are right, it was Satan’s fault. I am sorry for blaming you.” Rather he says, “I know that thou canst do every thing and that no thought can be withholden from thee.”
4. The Bible tells us that sickness and other bad things happen as a result of God’s judgments upon wicked men. But sickness and other bad things can also happen because God is chastening those he loves. (Heb. 12:5-11) It doesn’t matter if the infirmity is caused by an evil spirit or not, God is still the one who ordained it. This should be a terror to those who do not believe in God. For whatever happens to them, whether good or ill, all things are a judgment upon them. Even the gospel itself is a savor unto death for those who do not believe. (2 Cor. 2:16) But for those who are the called according to God’s purposes all things, whether good or ill, are for their good. (Rom. 8:28)
5. This is unrelated to Boyd’s S. I. N. hypothesis, but I still take issue with it. Boyd takes the position that Gen. 6:2, 4 is referring to materialized angelic beings having sex with humans. There is no good argument that this is the case. Many scholars think that the Sons of God and the Daughters of Men are referring to the godly line of Seth and the ungodly line of Cain. Listen to Calvin on this passage: “That ancient figment, concerning the intercourse of angels with women, is abundantly refuted by its own absurdity; and it is surprising that learned men should formerly have been fascinated by ravings so gross and prodigious. The opinion also of the Chaldean paraphrase is frigid; namely, that promiscuous marriages between the sons of nobles, and the daughters of plebeians, is condemned. Moses, then, does not distinguish the sons of God from the daughters of men, because they were of dissimilar nature, or of different origin; but because they were the sons of God by adoption, whom he had set apart for himself; while the rest remained in their original condition.”
The Bible speaks clearly concerning the absolute sovereignty of God. “Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that he did in heaven, and in the earth, in the seas and all the deep places.” (Ps. 135:6) Boyd will not accept this and would rather place us in the hands of evil spirits rather than in the hands of Almighty God. I for one am thankful that God sends us the good along with the bad; I would rather it come from Him than any one else; wouldn’t you?