In the fifth grade, a Sister of Mercy ( a bit of irony here) told the class I was in, stories about how certain saints were tormented by Satan. Her stories would relate episodes of Satan, not only tempting the particular saint, but also of his unsolicited appearances, some times in forms of the most grotesque nature, i.e. a horned biped, half goat and half monkey, with hoofs and a tail. Before I heard these stories my concept of Satan was of an interior voice of temptation enticing me towards bad ends. After hearing these stories, my concept of Satan had expanded to a substantive, menacing form, capable of making appearances at will. This expanded perception of Satan, plus my imagination caused me many sleepless nights of possible appearances by Satan right in my bedroom. What was more, I knew that if the saints and Jesus the Christ could not prevent such visitations, how could I? It seemed to me just a matter of time before my sin infested soul would be made to submit to the Devil's will, and reap my punishment of eternal damnation.
The belief in Satan as an omnipotent god, essentially evil, is extremely damaging to the human soul. It puts such an entity on par with the God of Goodness, and because there is more evil in our world, the Devil gets a home court advantage; not the most hopeful set of circumstances for those human's aspiring for good. Yet the fact is, that a belief in Satan as a separate and omnipotent power, is a fundamental doctrine of most all sects of the Christian religions. Every Christian priest, preacher, evangelist, and theologian the world over uses Satan as the fountainhead for all the evil manifested on earth, and then proclaims in the same breath, that they are the sword of the righteous hand of God that can smite down that evil being. No Satan could be more persistent in slandering his enemy or more spiteful in his hatred than the priests, preachers, evangelists, and theologians are cursing him as the father of all evil. In that vehemence against Satan by the ecclesiastical agents of God and Jesus the Christ, resides an unforeseen paradox of a most profound nature.
In there spite, rage, and vehement denouncement of Satan resides the very same evil, on par or exceeding any alleged exhibition of spite and rage by Satan that they are condemning. There is an old Latin adage, "demon est deus inversus," the meaning is, demon is god inverted. This adage defines evil as the lining of god and immediately presents a deep paradox; God, the "ideal" of good , is also the initiator of evil. If God is the Universal Root of every thing in Nature, were comes evil if not from the same womb? In answering that question we are forced to either accept the emanation of good and evil as off shoots from the same Tree of Being, or to believe in two eternal absolutes, as is expounded Christian doctrine.
The idea of two Eternal Absolutes is an absurdity of the highest order, and laughs in the face of all that is reasonable and logical. Infinite God can not be separated in any manner, without destroying its infiniteness. Even in the world of the finite, if a whole or unity is separated, its original unity is not maintained. It does not become two separate wholes, with the same unification as its original unity. Thus the idea of an infinite or absolute God or Good co-existing with an infinite or absolute Devil is absurd. Yet, this very same absurd idea of two eternal absolutes is one of the fundamental doctrines taught and believed in by most Christina religions of our day.
The biblical authority for such a belief seems to come from, James, Gen. Ep. of James, 1, 13. "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God, for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man." If evil does not come from God, as is stated by James, and cannot be a random creation because God would have to create it, it must come from some other absolute source. This absolute source was made to blend in with the biblical account of the "Fall of Satan." and his hosts from heaven. Satan, the wisest and most beautiful of the Lord's Archangels, decides, "Better to reign hell than to serve in heaven"...Satan is made to "fall" from heaven to earth, thus becoming the fountainhead for all terrestrial evil. This complex allegory of the "Fall," when taken literally as does Christian doctrine, presents many logical flaws. For instance, if Lord God caused Satan's fall, isn't it a clear act of a superior not an equal. Isn't Omniscient God the effective cause for Satan's appearance on earth, and mustn't God accept responsibility for Satan's spread of evil? Further, if infinite God
is of a superior quality than Satan, but sets Himself as Satan's adversary, isn't this action at least contrary to the idea of an infinite God?
In addition to the above logical flaws there is an even greater inconsistency in the Christian doctrines of two eternal absolutes, which comes directly from Jesus the Christ's own mouth: "Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from all evil." "Lead us not into temptation," is addressed daily to "Our Father, which art in heaven." It is crystal clear that the petitioner of this prayer believes he is asking God the Father, whom, he believes is a source of afflictions and troubles, to lead him not into temptation but deliver him from all evil. Jesus the Christ seems to set the paradox clearly on the side of evil as the lining of God. If accepted literally, the two teachings of Christ and James severely contradict each other, and what known Christion teaching can reconcile the two?
Here is a recent up-date to the prayer, "Our Father," The sentence, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from all evil," has been deleted from the prayer by Pope Francis, He has the power of infallibility, when it comes to decisions of faith and morals. Make your own decision of why the Pope changed that sentence.
There exist a teaching, however, which leads to the pathway of truth, and it comes from the ancient doctrine of Pantheism. Antiquity knew of no absolute 'bad god or evil devil.' Pagan thought represented good and evil as twin brothers, born from the same mother-Nature. We can find this same thought echoed within the ancient written and oral traditions of cultures the world over. For instance, in an ancient creation story told by the Cherokee Indians of North America:
"Star Woman was impregnated by fruitful winds, stirring her seed to fruition. These winds surrounded Mother Earth, obscuring light, until her sons captured the fire of inspiration, manifest as lighting flashing forth from the winds of Thunder Bird. From Star Woman first came two sons of opposite natures. One son, whose face like ascending light was born in a natural manner. The second son, whose face was likened to descending light, argued and fought against the natural order of things; he was born from beneath his mother's arm, causing her death." ( pps. 31-32, Voices of Our ancestors).
With every people through out the world, except for the Christians Nations, the devil is to this day no worse an entity than the opposite aspect of the dual nature of the Creator. Evil is treated as force, which is antagonistic, but at the same time essential to Good, as giving it vitality and existence. Good and Evil are twins. Separate them, by cutting off one from the other, and they both die. Neither exist per se, since each has to be generated and created out of the other, in order to come into being. It is the mortal human mind which separates them in order that they can be objects of perception and bring some understanding.
Satan never assumed an anthropomorphic existence, until the creation, by humans. of an anthropomorphic, personal god. The personal god, proclaimed as absolute good and merciful, needed a scape-goat to explain the crudity and injustices perpetuated by him. Also, Satan as a personal devil was needed by the Christion Church to up hold the dogma of Jesus the Christ as the second in their trinity. They are indebted to the Devil and his minions, for their Savior, but if not for them, there would be no Redeemer and no Christian Church as it is now known.
The concept of Satan as an absolute entity is so basic to the religious syntax of Christianity that the above inquiry about its existence may seem as offensive, even blasphemous. Satan is wrapped up so tight and thick with fear, that most Christians are troubled by the mere thought of him. Consequently, most Christians adopt the attitude of fearful avoidance when it comes to any conceptual contact with Satan, leaving such for the demon "experts:" the priests, preachers, evangelists, and theologians. Not only are most Christians fearful and terrified of any association with Satan, but also terrified by the wrath incurred by God and by the Church for such association. The only condition under which Satan can be used safely, without fear, is to use him to scape-goat responsibility of their bad conduct. "The Devil made me do it." "I take some responsibility for my bad conduct, but the Devil initiated my will to act, thus releasing me from full responsibility."
Keeping in mind the great fear, divine wrath, and moral relief surrounding the concept of Satan, it isn't difficult to understand the great volatility inherent in any examination. Yet, there is a great need for close examination of the Christian concept of Satan, because as it now stands it leads to gross contradiction with the result that confuses and clouds the pathway to true understanding and spiritual growth.