Satan and The Problem of Evil
Now the Serpent was the most cunning of the animals that the LORD God had made. The Serpent asked the woman, “Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?” The woman answered the serpent: “We may eat of the fruit of the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, You shall not eat it or even touch it lest you die’.” But the Serpent said to the woman: “You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.” (Genesis 3:1-5) Serpent, Devil, Tempter, , Prince of Darkness, Fallen Angel, the Evil One, Lucifer, Diabolus, all of theses titles refer to the same figure, Satan. The name Satan comes from the Hebrew for adversary. It is theorized that Satan is a symbolic figure for those who opposed the Biblical writers, in the Old Testament the Satan was meaning the other nations, the idol worshipers, and in the New the Pharisees and the Jews who ejected the growing Christian faith from the Jewish community. In the time of the later church, Satan and his works were meaning heretics and such. Anything on the outside that appeared to be a threat became of Satan. It is also a theory that Satan is a real individual, a real spirit, the fallen angel. Some stories hold that selfish pride and lust for power brought about the fall of Lucifer, “the light bearer”. St. Augustine wrote that the Devil was “inflated with pride, he wished to be called God”. The words of the prophet Isaiah illustrate this idea: How you are fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! How are you cut down to the ground, you who mowed down the nations! You said in your heart: I will scale the heavens; above the stars of God I will set up my throne; I will take my seat on the mount of assembly, in the recesses of the North. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will be like the most high.’ Yet down to the nether world you go, into the recesses of Sheol! (Isaiah 14:12-15) St. Thomas Aquinas agreed with this tradition and wrote in his master work, Summa Theologica, that the angel Lucifer sinned against God in seeking to be God. Lucifer did not desire to be subservient to anyone. He did not want happiness through the grace of God, but wished to get for himself, by his own power, that happiness that only God can give. That is to say that Satan wanted control of his final destiny. It is also said that the fall of Satan and his angels was caused by simple sexual lust. When men began to multiply on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of Heaven saw how beautiful the daughters of man were and they took for their wives as many of them as they chose. (Genesis 6:1-2) This passage of refers to ancient Jewish myths and legends omitted from the Bible that describe the origins of “giants” and “demons”. These giants/demons called the nephilim or ” fallen ones” were said to be the offspring of this union between the angels and their human wives, who spread evil about the world. This particular tradition about the fall of the sons of God was particularly popular during the first century. Another theory of Satan’s rebellion against God is that of sibling rivalry. It is said that the angel objected to the creation of man and God’s order to protect him. Lucifer was insulted and annoyed by the idea of what he considered a brother lesser than himself and the other angels and enraged that this lesser brother was the favored child. For his open defiance to God’s will on the matter of mankind the prince of angels was banished and wreaks his revenge on his despised younger brother to this day. Along the same vein of the last theory as to the cause of Satan’s fall is this, that Lucifer so loved God that he refused to serve or prostrate himself before mankind because he considered it to be akin to idolatry, a gross offense against God. This particular theory is appearing more and more in Western Pop culture. For example, in the graphic novel, Dawn: Lucifer’s Halo, by Joseph Linser. Modern writers of fiction have their own ideas about Satan and what his role truly is. The gothic novelist Anne Rice supposes in her novel, Tale of the Body Thief, that “Satan” is merely a job that is rotated among the angels; much like taking out the garbage Sunday night is a chore for a child, tormenting man is a chore for an angel, so to speak. And there they were …two beings seated at the table talking to each other, and just for a moment it seemed normal- two men in conversation…they simply weren’t of the same fabric of everything else..the whole vision was of a different texture. It was God talking to the Devil and telling the Devil that he must go on doing the job. And the Devil didn’t want to do it. He explained that his term had already been too long. The same thing was happening to him that happened to all the others. God said that he understood, but the Devil ought to know how important he was, he couldn’t simply shirk his duties, it wasn’t that simple, God needed him, and he needed him to be strong. And this was very amicable. (75) Support for this idea is found in the book of Job which tells of how god allows Satan to torment a good man, by name Job, to test his faith in the Lord. One day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, Satan also came among them. And the LORD said to Satan, “Whence do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, ” From roaming the earth and patrolling it.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you noticed my servant, Job, and that there is no one on earth like him, blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil?” But Satan answered the LORD and said, “Is it for nothing that Job is God fearing? Have you not surrounded him and his family and all that he has with your protection? You have blessed the work of his hands and his livestock are spread over the land. But put forth your hand and touch anything that he has, and surely he will blaspheme you to your face.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand upon his person.” So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD. (Job 1:6-12) Christian tradition shows an ever lasting conflict between good and evil, God and his angels versus Satan and his angels. The Gospels show Jesus holding back the evil one, fighting for the redemption of man, paying his debts and answering for his sins. Time after time Jesus is shown defeating Satan by forgiving sins, casting out demons, and even battling with the silver tongued Lucifer himself in a manner that reflects Jesus’ many confrontations with the scribes . Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” He said in reply, “It is written One does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’ Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, You shall not put the LORD your God to the test’ ” The devil took him to a very high mountain , and showed him all of the kingdoms of the world in all their magnificence and he said to him, “All this I shall give to you if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” At this Jesus said to him, “Get away Satan it is written: The Lord you God shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.’ ” (Matthew 4:1-10) One does not need to go far to see just how interested in Satan mankind is. Books, both fiction and non, are written about him, songs are written about him, movies are based on him and the internet is overflowing with Satanic sites. The human fascination and attraction with the evil one according to Dr. Elaine Pagels in her book, The Origins of Satan , is based on “the way he expresses qualities that go beyond what we ordinarily recognize as human. Satan evokes more than just the greed, envy, lust, and anger we identify with our own worst impulses, and more than what we call brutality, which imputes to human beings a resemblance to animals. Thousands of years of tradition have characterized Satan as instead a spirit. Originally he was obey of God’s angels, but a fallen one. Now he stands alone in rebellion against God and in his frustrated rage he mirrors aspects of our own confrontations with otherness.” (xvii) In the past 30 years a cultish group calling themselves the Church of Satan has emerged. A member of the Satanic Church, Don David Scott, defines Satan as such, “the opposition to all Judeo-Christian ideals and ideology. Satan is the personification of evil where evil means fleshy, unspiritual and ungodly. Satan represents the fulfillment of the fleshy life, the enjoyment of the here and now and the liberation of the psyche from the chains of Judeo-Christian guilt…He is the mighty adversary of the inhuman death-cult religions. He is the light springing from the darkness of history. He is the true friend of man kind.” (2) The Church’s founder, Anton Le Vey has outlined what he calls the nine Satanic statements and they are as follows: (1) Satan represents indulgence, instead of abstinence! (2) Satan represents vital existence, instead of spiritual pipe dreams! (3) Satan represents undefiled wisdom, instead of hypocritical self-deceit! (4) Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it, instead of love wasted on ingrates! (5) Satan represents vengeance, instead of turning the other cheek! (6) Satan represents responsibility for the responsible, instead of concern for psychic vampires! (7) Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better more often worse than those that walk on all fours, who, because of his “divine and intellectual development” has become the most vicious animal of them all! (8) Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification! (9) Satan has been the best friend that the church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all of these years! Who is Satan, where did he come from? It is my understanding that he is a real entity, not just a concept of evil or a mirror of our own flaws. He is the adversery. He is the antithesis of God by his very definition. He is all of those things which are inhertly evil. To say that he is friendly with God or to even go so far as to say that he loves God is to destroy him. He is no longer Satan, but something else.
Works Consulted Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologica Part 1 Question 63 Article 3 . Online. http://ww.newadvent.org/summa/106303.htm. Geivett, R. Douglas. Evil and the Evidence for God . Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993. Le Vey, Anton. “The Nine Satanic Statements”. School of Satan Home Page . Online http://rcip.com/aenima7/antichrist.htm. Pagels, Elaine. The Origin of Satan. New York: Random, 1995 Rice, Anne. Tale of the Body Thief. New York: Ballantine Books, 1992 Scott, Don David. Who is Satan?. Online. http://rcip.com/aenima7/stext.html.
Satan and the problem of evil
Satan and The Problem of Evil