since the devil is equated with disaster, pain, disease, and suffering, in short, evil, we can see that this is really The Problem of Evil. famously made clear by Epicurus, "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?" Religioustolerance.org treats the topic of Theodicy well.
the one response that the Christians seem to favor for this question is that the existence of the devil, and so of evil generally, enables us to have humility, that through the existence of evil we can glimpse the consequences of failing to accept Christ. sort of a, "if you think this is bad, just wait til...". they seem to think that the existence of evil serves to draw people to God. now whether that's true or not is obviously unprovable, of course there's no evidence for it's truth, but they seem to think that that's a justification for evil and that it absolves their God of creating and propagating evil in the world. pretty sick really. the idea that it's okay for God to cause evil to exist and continue to exist because it ensures that God is worshiped... clearly such an idea is indefensibly immoral on its face.
now whether that's true or not is obviously unprovable, of course there's no evidence for it's truth, but they seem to think that that's a justification for evil and that it absolves their God of creating and propagating evil in the world. pretty sick really. the idea that it's okay for God to cause evil to exist and continue to exist because it ensures that God is worshiped... clearly such an idea is indefensibly immoral on its face.
Beautifully said. What do guys say to theists that say the don't believe in the devil/satan?
to me that's even easier.
if they say satan exists then they usually say that the devil is engaged in a battle with god for the souls of humans or that god and satan have made a wager for our souls- whoever gets the most wins! both of these ideas are ridiculous and contradict their own theology. if satan is engaged in a battle with satan then, first of all, god created satan and is still ultimately responsible for the evil that satan causes, but more importantly perhaps is that these Christians who say this seem to be saying that satan has the same kind of power that their god does. they've raised satan up to the level of their god. presumably if god was more powerful than satan then there would be no battle- god would simply destroy satan and, along with him, evil. accordingly, in what sense is this monotheism? even worse is the idea that god has made a wager with satan for the souls of humans. is their god really so cavalier about the fate of our souls that he would make our souls the matter of a bet? i picture satan and god, one of them losing the wager and having to go running naked through a crowd of people. still, at least in saying that satan exists they can shovel off some of the responsibility- a very little bit mind you- for evil in the world.
now, if someone says that they don't believe satan exists then who's left to cause evil to exist? simple: their god. no doubt they'll disagree and say that it's humans that cause evil to exist through free will choice. but if their god is omniscient, as they claim, then he knows all things backwards and forwards, if their god is omnipotent, again, as they claim, then he has the power to intercede in human events, finally, if their god is omnibenevolent, as they claim, then certainly he would use his ability to see and his power to intercede to actually intercede so that evil wouldn't happen. but their god doesn't do this. he either lacks the foreknowledge of what will occur and so isn't omniscient, he lacks the power to be able to act and so isn't omnipotent, or he has both the foreknowledge and the power but doesn't care to act and so he isn't omnibenevolent. now, the standard objection to this is that god can't intercede to prevent the consequences of our free will choices, even if those choices might result in evil. this is no real objection because if they say their god "can't" intercede then they've limited his power and in so doing they've acknowledged my assertion that their god can't be all three, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent. furthermore, there's a scriptural basis for the understanding that god is fully able to intercede in our free will choices. god can be found throughout Exodus to "hearden the hearts" of the Pharaoh and of the Egyptians as a whole (Ex 4:21, 7:3, 8:15, 8:32, 9:12, 9:34, 10:1, 10:20, 10:27, 11:10, 14:4, 14:8, 14:17, and other examples in Joshua, Samuel, and Isaiah). god is actually acting to make Pharaoh refuse to let the Israelites go from Egypt, he's actually acting to make Pharaoh go after the Israelites when the Israelites leave Egypt. how is that not interfering in someone's free will choices? and what about in heaven? presumably there's no evil in heaven. but is there also no free will in heaven? if there was free will in heaven then there must occasionally be evil in heaven because, according to the Christians, their god can't interfere in our free will choices. if there's no free will in heaven then presumably it's god that takes away free will when you enter into heaven. if god can have people exist in heaven without free will, and therefore without evil, then why not the world at large? simply because you haven't accepted Jesus as your lord and savior? we come full circle and see again that such an idea is clearly immoral on its face.
but all this ignores a major source of evil that has nothing to do with the result of our free will choices: natural disasters. natural disasters cause immeasurable pain, suffering, death, destruction, and misery, in short, evil. what then is the cause of this evil if not god? a person who doesn't believe in satan is no less able to wiggle out of their god causing evil than one who does believe in satan. indeed, disbelieving in satan gives them perhaps even less wiggle room.
but more importantly perhaps is that these Christians who say this seem to be saying that satan has the same kind of power that their god does. they've raised satan up to the level of their god.
Exactly! I've always marveled at the seeming omnipresence and omnipotence Christians attribute to Satan - "the devil is in him" or "this is the work of the devil" or "that was guided by the hand of the devil". These are the very same statements they make about God. Some entity with limitless power is responsible for every action, but they attribute it to different beings depending on whether they interpret the action as "good" or "evil".
Surely some evil deity is afoot, and a benevolent entity to counterbalance it, otherwise all disasters and Very Bad Things are products of mere chaos. Our minds can't handle that. We'd rather an intelligent force, even an evil one, be behind the wheel of hurricanes and murders than forces we don't understand - because we fear what we don't understand.
no doubt. they seem to grant satan the same attributes as they do their god. again, in what sense then is Christianity monotheistic? 2 gods, a good and an evil, that do battle for fate of human souls. 2 gods.
For this reason, as ridiculous as they are as well, polytheistic mythologies such as ancient Norse, Greek, or Native American religions are actually more believable. They don't claim that any individual God is all powerful, or all knowing. So the epic battles for souls and the likes are actually more logically possible then those described in Abrahamic faiths. Now I'm obviously not trying to push these religions, I just find some irony in the fact that followers of today's modern religions scoff at these mythologies, when in fact their own religions are more silly.
even worse is the idea that god has made a wager with satan for the souls of humans. is their god really so cavalier about the fate of our souls that he would make our souls the matter of a bet?
Yes... apparentlty he is. I have discovered this during the course of my bible reading project. God making a Bet with Satan over a human soul is what the whole book of Job is about. Funny, Christians seem to miss this. Basically Satan bets god that he can get Job to pledge his soul to Satan and God says, "You're on." Then God basically lets the devil torture Jobn and when Job dares to ask why.... god says basically "Who are you to ask this of me?!"
1:8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
1:9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
1:10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
1:11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
1:12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD
[After being tortured for a while Job asks God why he did such horrible things]
10:1 My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.
10:2 I will say unto God, Do not condemn me; shew me wherefore thou contendest with me.
10:3 Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress, that thou shouldest despise the work of thine hands, and shine upon the counsel of the wicked?
10:4 Hast thou eyes of flesh? or seest thou as man seeth?
10:5 Are thy days as the days of man? are thy years as man's days,
10:6 That thou enquirest after mine iniquity, and searchest after my sin?
10:7 Thou knowest that I am not wicked; and there is none that can deliver out of thine hand.
10:8 Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; yet thou dost destroy me.
10:9 Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again?
10:10 Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese?
10:11 Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews.
10:12 Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.
10:13 And these things hast thou hid in thine heart: I know that this is with thee.
10:14 If I sin, then thou markest me, and thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity.
10:15 If I be wicked, woe unto me; and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head. I am full of confusion; therefore see thou mine affliction;
10:16 For it increaseth. Thou huntest me as a fierce lion: and again thou shewest thyself marvellous upon me.
10:17 Thou renewest thy witnesses against me, and increasest thine indignation upon me; changes and war are against me.
38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
40:2 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.
A way to circumnavigate the entire problem is the idea that evil does not actually exist as something fixed. It's a perspective. There is no real "good" and "evil"... merely the lables we put on events and our reactions to them. A better question is why shouldn't "God" allow evil to exist?
Well, the reason God cast Lucifer out of the kingdom of heaven was because (having so much love for God) Lucifer would not bow to humans. Therefore, because Lucifer would not follow God's commandment (for all angels to serve humans) he was cast out. So if looked at from this perspective, God cannot destroy Lucifer for loving him too much. Now, this is the official story but it has no more value than any other piece of literature. The fact is that God needsSatan. It takes the one to know the other.
and even in this as an explanation, such as it is, there is a contradiction in the attributes assigned to god. if god is omniscient then he would have seen that ordering the angels to serve humans would have resulted in Lucifer's free will choice to disobey out of his love for god and that that would result in the evil that we see around us. if he is in fact omnipotent then he would have acted to correct such a circumstance before it ever occurred. if he is omniscient and he is omnipotent but didn't act then, having had foreknowledge of the evil that would result and the ability to change the course of the future, he is not omnibenevolent.
furthermore, to say that god can not destroy Lucifer for loving him too much is to once again limit god's power and so rule out his being omnipotent.