Christianity: There’s a Devil in the Detailsby jason on Jan. 04, 2012, under Armageddon, Art & Culture, Biblical Inerrancy, Christian Self-Righteous Arrogance, Christianity, Clarity, Critical Thinking, Ethics, Faith, Fundamentalism, God & Bible, History, Language, Logic, Reason, Religion, Sanity, Science, Willful Ignorance
Here’s another contribution from Jim Wilson:
Satan, the Devil looms large in our collective consciousness. This world has so many problems, difficulties, and unfortunate events that it is very tempting to call upon the existence of an evil supernatural being to explain them. It is often hard not to look at this world and think there are diabolical activities by powerful evil beings behind much of what goes on. Also the notion of cosmic justice greatly appeals to us, and it makes us feel important to see ourselves as being caught in the middle of epic cosmic battle between good and evil. Occam’s razor, however, should be invoked to remind us that much of this can be easily explained by the much more mundane fact that we are an awkward species, struggling to survive in a planet that was not made for us and as such presents many obstacles to our well being. Devils and demons are not needed to explain these things and positing their existence causes more problems than it solves.
This is especially true for Christians who believe that this evil supernatural being exists alongside an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-benevolent supernatural being who apparently cares very much about human well-being. I have to ask how this makes even the slightest bit of sense. Why would God, who is supposedly all powerful and infinitely good, allow an evil supernatural being to go about wreaking havoc on the lives of the people he supposedly cares about, especially when this god knows that this devil’s havoc will result in some of his people being sentenced to eternal torment? If this god wanted to prevent this he could, since he is all powerful. Most believers acknowledge that could easily crush Satan anytime if he wanted to, but he chooses not to.
Some believers claim that God allows the devil to unleash havoc on people’s lives so he will damn himself, and meet an even greater level of God’s wrath. This makes no sense because an all knowing being would not need to see acts of evil done to know what level of wrath the devil deserves. Not to mention that this implies that God is willing to throw some of his people under the bus, just so he can prove a point. This is horrifically immoral and shows a heinous disregard for humanity. It is however perfectly consistent with how God is depicted in the book of Job, where he allows one man to be subjected to a great deal of torment, just to prove a point.
The problem gets worse when we are reminded that this God is actually responsible for creating the devil. Some argue that God created Satan as an Angel and did not intend for him to rebel and attack humanity, but this is completely inconsistent with an all-knowing god or even a competent god. Not to mention that the general Christian view is that all that happens is part of God’s plan which apparently involves allowing the devil and something called sin to inflict pain and suffering on humanity for countless generations, only to culminate in a brutal human sacrifice and the demand that one must believe all this or face eternal suffering. None of this makes a single bit of sense and is profoundly immoral, and really disgusting.
Then there is the problem that we are supposed to accept that an evil supernatural being who wishes to recruit all of our souls works in ridiculous ways, like hanging around the Mississippi delta offering musical abilities in exchange for souls, or participating in fiddle playing contests. I would think that an evil supernatural being would have better and far more appealing means at his disposal. We are expected to believe that all the minor temptations and trivial annoyances in our lives are the devil messing with us. This just makes the devil sound like a ridiculous and petty being. Not to mention that individuals like me are accused of being under the employment of the devil, for nothing other than asking people to question their religious faith. In fact, it is apparently Satan himself that is leading me to doubt what I have been told by Christians and leading me to ask such difficult questions. In short, the Devil made me doubt it.
The role of Satan has evolved considerably within the Judeo-Christian tradition. In his appearance in Job and elsewhere in the old testament, Satan is more of an accuser or devil’s advocate than an evil being, and in Job, God green-lights everything Satan does. It is only a later concept that he is the ultimate evil and the ultimate enemy of humanity. I have heard it convincingly argued that this transformation was the result of Judaism’s contact with the sort of good and evil dualism found in Zoroastrianism.
That said, it is time for people to stop blaming Devils and demons for the bad things that happen to them, and start taking responsibility for their own actions. Not to mention start looking for actual scientific explanations for the problems that plague humanity since this is the only way we will ever solve them.