"The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism."
— Sir William Osler
The Devil and Satan
And we may add to the
sentiment in the above quote, "the greater the superstition and mysticism."
In the annals of human life
experience there is nothing much more tragic than the potent, abiding,
and debilitating fear of something that is not real. I have some
experience with this because as a youngster in a fundamentalist
denomination I was told from the pulpit more than once in the 1950s that
if we teenagers went to a movie theater to see a movie, "we were placing
our feet on the Devil's ground." What was even worse is that we were
told every so often that "we never
know when we may be on the Devil's ground." Fortunately, I didn't pay
that much attention to that latter teaching. But the point is: SHAME
on a denomination that allows this egregious fear-mongering. So, let us take a
candid look at the Christian concepts of the Devil and Satan.
Elsewhere in this site it is
explained that these two conceptual entities are NOT the same, and yet
Christendom in its careless and ignorant propaganda fuses—CONFUSES—or conflates the
two into being the same bugaboo nightmare individual. A little careful
research just in the encyclopedias will show this conflation to not hold true.
Diabolos, the Divider, known
in Christianity as the Devil, is generally believed to be a fallen high
ranking or super angel—some believe the very first created being—that
rebelled against the cosmos or system ordained by God and became an
implacable and vicious foe.. Probably the most
prominent explanation for this is that he wanted to be equal to Jesus
the creator and was jealous and resentful that this could not be.
Another is that he was jealous and resentful of Adam because of God's regard.
Satan—the word means blocker,
obstructer, or adversary—in the Old Testament and orthodox Judaistic
myth is NOT a fallen angel but plays a role in testing God's children.
The somewhat comparable figure in Islam is known as Iblis or Shaitan,
and is generally considered to be a fallen jinn. Whatever!
In one guise or another this
figure in the vast amount of Christian, Islamic and Judaistic legend and
myth has been identified as the serpent in the Garden of Eden, the
dragon, the originator of evil in the universe and war in heaven, the
dark lord Ahriman, Azazel the despoiler of earthly women, Beelzebub lord
of the flies, Lucifer the morning star, the Slavonic Tchort, etc. The serious student of
astral catastrophism will recognize the strong connection to the raging,
destructive planets of Venus and Mars. Again, whatever!
However, since Jesus
personified the original lie by using the term Diabolos and describing
it/him as the "father of lies" going around "like a roaring lion", the
issue must be dealt with.
The first major point against
believing in a literal Devil is that in a perfect setting of equality,
cooperation, plenitude, justice, no higher or lower ranks, no favoritism, there is
just no room for jealousy to blossom in an unfallen being of intelligence.
Another major point is that
EVEN IF such a being somehow developed, it would seem to be unjust and
ignoble for God to turn this now completely evil, sociopathic super
being with ranks and ranks of equally evil henchmen loose on his
innocent children. Kind of like turning a large pack of rabid dogs loose
in the backyard where the children are playing. What responsible parent
would DO THAT? And for such an incredibly important and powerful enemy,
Jesus didn't really say much directly about how to deal with this agency of danger.
Another is the tragicomic
taxation upon one's imagination to conceive of a being so bereft of
redeeming qualities that he would nurse an angry resentment while being
free and still viable and alive without the support of the life source for eons of time.
Those superstitious people
that wallow in guilt and fear seemingly NEED the Devil to assuage themselves. No
matter how low they sink, they always have someone who is worse AND
someone else they can blame instead of themselves and their own spiritual/intellectual irresponsibility.
The fathomless questions that
come are legion. Where do the demons live, how do they maintain their
lives, how do they get along, why don't they turn on each other, what
are their restrictions, etc.?
What is astoundingly pathetic
is that many believe in this evil agency more fervently than they
believe in the agency of merit. In the major religions, you pretty much
have to be afraid of both God and the Devil. What a nightmare!