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Ask the Patriarch 168
Satan Sabotaging The Passion

from: Glenn

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About the film the 'passion' you state that random events do happen.  Now througout the film the sexless satan figure makes quite a few appearences. As I said beforem while the composure was putting the score to the film the picture would freeze on it and howling would come from the speakers.  How high are the odds of that happening.  You said you knew something about how filming work, by that I mean the equipment.  What could go wrong with the equipment that explains these happening?

The Patriarch replies:


You essentially asked this question in Ask The Patriarch 140. I replied:

When someone presents a supernatural reason for an event, it is up to that person to prove that the supernatural is the most probable reason, and not up to the innocent bystander to disprove it. In all your examples there is no need for the supernatural. And it is the least probable excuse.


In summary, when strange things happen, do not look to the supernatural first. Be skeptical. Be skeptical of the stories themselves. They may not be true, they may be exaggerations, misunderstandings, or outright falsehoods. In the case of a film, they may be pure invention for the purpose of publicity. And even if the story is demonstrably true, look for a rational reason rather than the supernatural. In the end, if you cannot find a rational reason, there is nothing wrong with "I don't know." That is more honest than assigning credit to a supernatural being for which there is no verifiable evidence.

When in spite of that, you returned to this subject in another e-mail, I wrote Meditation 543 and stated:

Let's be honest. I was not there. I don't have access to the equipment involved, nor to the unidentified witnesses. So, any explanations for the supposed occurrences (in the unlikely event they actually happened) would be pure speculation. But what I have proposed above as possible solutions to the questions posed are a thousand times more probable than some sort of unspecified supernatural reason. And if you, Glenn, want to believe there is a supernatural cause, that's your own choice. But, if you want others to accept such a belief, it is your responsibility to prove it, not demand that a skeptic disprove it.

Those comments still stand. I neither have to explain nor disprove. It is not necessary to do so. And you have not even attempted to prove something supernatural happened - you just continue to expect me to explain that which there is no necessity for me to explain. I have already told you that I don't know what happened, but have provided some hypothetical possiblities so you could see that resort to the supernatural was not necessary. Unfortunately, you continue to want to believe in supernatural reasons when there is absolutely no need nor justification to do so. Consequently, I will provide a few further thoughts to end this fruitless exchange.

I suggest you look at the interview in which Debney claimed these events happened. It is not that hard to find it via a simple web search. (which is why I am not providing the link - you should fully research these issues personally if you are going to question them.)[1]

If you read that interview, you will find that it's quite clear he was using computer editing.[2] (As do most film composers these days.)

I do not know what computer(s) Debney was using, what operating system he was using, what software he was using, and how much he was pushing the limits of the overall system.

What I do know from personal experience is that under Windows 95, 98, and XP, unexpected and unexplained software crashes can occur. And they can occur over and over again. As an example, over an extended period, I frequently experienced 10 or more frustrating crashes a day maintaining this web site. Eventually, I discovered the cause was...

... not the devil... (and I never suspected it was)
... not some deity offended by what I was doing... (and I never suspected it was)
... but a scratch file which was used internally by the web design package and which was being appended rather than overwritten and thus had become bloated and was using far too much memory. I deleted that scratch file (just a scratch file - not Old Scratch) and the problem was resolved.

Was it a computer glitch something like that which caused Debney's problems? I don't know. I don't know what his setup was. I am not in a position to research what was going on. Any response is purely hypothetical. However, given all the possible variables with hardware and software, and all the things that can go wrong, a technical issue is a far more reasonable explanation than "the devil must have done it!"

Glenn, I am not going to discuss this issue further. I have better things to do than waste my time with unnecessary research to explain unsubstantiated and unresearched reports of the supernatural.


  1. John Debney - the composer reported as making the claims - is a name which Glenn has not brought up once in his correspondence. I had to find it myself by researching who was making the claim of Satan interfering with his work. It makes me question whether Glenn did any research before repeatedly raising this issue.
  2. A year ago, when writing Meditation 534, I was unable to find the interview on the web, which is why I assumed in that article electromechanical editing equipment rather than computer editing. But, as I have been clear in in my replies to Glenn, I did not then, nor do I even know now what the actual set-up was.