What have you heard from religious people if you present this question. I have heard the whole so many different stories...

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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?
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.
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?!"
Job:
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?
I agree with this and recently posted it as a topic for debate.
http://www.thinkatheist.com/forum/topics/is-there-such-a-thing-as-good

Personally I believe these concepts are control tools and nothing more.
I do not believe either exist....

But I Love the theist thinking I'm friends with the dark one.
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.
no one is arguing that god is omnipotent. you're trying to prove something about a non-fact, a fictional character. Now that's fine if you want to engage in theological debate, but you should return to the empirical effects of religious epistemology.

god needs satan in order to be god. that's why he allows satan to exist. The prospect of satan and hell have caused the most anguish in people's lives. therefore, if someone doesn't believe in satan, than they are not truly christian. Finally, i'd say to them: good for you... now go one god further.
i agree with your point that Christians have a failing conception of god. by religious epistemology i do not mean faith per se, rather that which they have faith in. the beliefs they hold on faith must be unreasonable ideas (i.e. god is omnipotent) otherwise they would not have to take them on faith. my point was that these beliefs (as part of religious epistemology-interpreted from the bible) shape the individuals world-view. moreover, they affect the social action of that individual (in other words, they have an empirical effect).

you are pointing out that, god indeed cannot be who christians perceive god to be since satan/evil exists. yes, absolutely. but my suggestion, namely, that god needs satan, approaches the question from a secular perspective. this is where we seem to disagree, but we shouldn't because there is more than one explanation. mine is from a sociological perspective and yours a pious perspective.
yes, that sounds right.
I was raised with the idea that Satan was jealous of God... but, what book are you or I getting these ideas out of?

God NEEDS Satan? I thought God didn't and cannot NEED anything or anyone. That concept negates his divinity. And why should humans be held accountable to God's NEED of, essentially, evil?

God is the root of Evil. Period. He created Satan; Satan is evil; therefore, God created Evil. That is deductive reasoning... really no argument. I would say that makes God evil.

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