The Devil has been unjustly maligned, blamed for everything from warts to volcanic eruptions, from haemorrhoids to earthquakes and crop failures to plagues:
I believe that far from being evil the Devil was of good character, an angel of good intent and high ideals who was sacrificed in the interests of political expediency.
Now before we debate the truth of my contention we must accept that the Devil actually exists. Christians who believe in the existence of a creator God, heaven and angels must, by believing in the existence of supernatural entities, by logical extension also believe that the Devil and hell exist. I will therefore proceed on that assumption.
The most authoritative source of information on the Devil and his abode is of course that weapon of mass deception – the Bible, and this shall be my prime source. As the Devil's dwelling abode is not the subject of this article we'll simply say that hell is a very inhospitable place.
In the Old Testament our alleged villain was referred to as Satan. Because of the vilification campaign on his character he changed his name and in the New Testament is known as the Devil. He also adopted other aliases such as Beelzebub and Lucifer.
Satan is the Hebrew word for "adversary." Being an adversary simply means having contrary interests or opposing views. It doesn't necessarily imply evil or malicious intent.
In clearing the Devil's name I intend showing that the Devil's adversary is a perverse God who plays mind games and shifts the blame for his own shortcomings on to a third party. God's attitude towards his adversaries is not exactly benevolent. In 1 Samuel 2:10 we read, "the adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces and out of heaven shall be thunder upon them."
The word 'Devil' has many connotations, among them, a wicked or sadistic person, an evil spirit, the prince of darkness and a malevolent person. But these are the definitions in Christian theology and represent the beliefs of millions who never bothered to seek the truth. So let's put together a composite of the Devil with quotations from the Bible to ascertain a more benign picture of the Devil's persona.
In 2 Peter Chap 2 and Isaiah 14 the Devil is described as supremely beautiful and dazzling in brightness. We read he was God's super archangel and right hand man, trained to administer God's government, highly recommended and hand picked by God himself.
The Devil's principal charge was to 'impart knowledge and enlightenment'. So what went wrong in the Garden of Eden?
Genesis chapter 3. Picture the scene: A balmy evening in the Garden of Eden. A happy, carefree, nudist couple stroll hand in hand through their vegetarian ecosystem. No high rise developments; no motorcars spewing pollution; no speed cameras. Birds sing, bullfrogs serenade among the lotus blossoms, perfume of many flowers permeates the air, and trees bend under the weight of fruit.
God decrees that the couple may eat of every fruit bar one on the pain of death.
Suddenly from a marijuana patch, up pops Satan wearing a snazzy snakeskin suit. Satan approaches Eve saying, "Hey little sister, try a bite of this apple, it'll flip your lid and give you good vibes."
The Devil was in fact only trying to do his duty to impart knowledge and enlightenment. He tells Eve that she won't die if she takes a bite, so she goes ahead and then, Oh my God, shock, horror she sees herself naked.
Now remember that God created everything that creepeth on the earth and had it seems the ability to change his archangel into an extinct species of talking snake. By forbidding Eve to do one thing and then telling his creation to tempt her God was playing mind games. So why should the Devil get the blame?
A further example of mind games can be read in Genesis 22 where God tells Abraham to barbecue his son, Isaac. What sort of sick mind are we dealing with? It certainly wasn't the Devil's.
That people are prepared to sacrifice themselves or others for a particular belief doesn't necessarily make that belief true, right or good. Kamikaze pilots died for their emperor god and suicide bombers today kill innocents in the name of Allah. The Nuremberg trials in 1945-46 found the Nazi leaders guilty of crimes against peace, waging wars of aggression and crimes against humanity. Similar atrocities are detailed throughout the Bible and attributed to God.
Nowhere is the Devil objectively cited as the instigator or the perpetrator of malevolent deeds.
Meanwhile back in the garden, in a fit of tantrums God turns it into a thorn and weed covered wasteland, condemns all women to painful childbirth, and tosses Adam and Eve into the wilderness.
Rumour has it that armed with the knowledge that it is better to conceal than reveal Eve went to Surfers Paradise, opened a boutique and sold bikinis.
Now the hypocrisy is that God, having implied that covering one's nakedness was wrong, he then makes the couple coats of skin (verse 21). That's even better than John Howard's "no GST" and Bob Carr's "no more tolls."
The poor Devil, alias the snake, having been made the fall guy, was then cursed and condemned to eat dust for all of the days of his life. The Devil is portrayed as the guilty party when in fact he was the innocent tool. From the beginning of creation therefore the Devil has been unjustly maligned.
What's more, having blamed
the Devil and
cast him out without any right of appeal, God condemns himself out of
In Isaiah 45:7 God says, "I make peace and create evil, I the Lord do all these things." In Nehemiah 13:18 we read confirmation of God creating evil where it says," did not our God bring all this evil upon us?"
In a fit of bad temper for the mess he's made of creation God says in Genesis 6 verse 7, "I will destroy man whom I have created and will send wild beasts among you which shall destroy you and your cattle".
And we're told that the Devil is the bad guy?
So scared of the truth coming out God even threatens debaters. In the second book of Romans, chapter 1 verses 29-32 we read that according to God "debaters are worthy of death." So much for the seekers of truth.
Now there's one interesting aside to the Garden of Eden story, which goes to show that the Devil's intent to wise up Adam and Eve was of more value to human kind than God denying them knowledge.
In Numbers 21:8-9 we read, "The Lord said unto Moses, "Make thee a serpent of brass and set it upon a pole and it shall come to pass that any one that is bitten – when he looketh upon it – shall live." I put it to you, if you were bitten by a poisonous snake would you put your faith in the Devil's knowledge of anti-venin or God's brass snake on a pole?
Now you may remember that the Devil was condemned to eat dust for the rest of his days. This would no doubt have clogged up his vocal chords and made speech extremely difficult. However like a character in a soapie who dies this week and comes back to life the next, the Devil evidently got his voice back. In Job chapters 1 and 2 we read, "Job was man of substance. He owned 7000 sheep, 3 000 camels, 500 oxen and 500 asses. He also owned a very large house on a vast tract of land. He was perfect and upright and feared God."
Every feast day he would get together with his wife, seven sons and three daughters and offer burnt offerings to the Lord. One day God called in Satan and asked for his opinion of Job saying, "there is none like him on Earth, he is perfect and upright and feared God, what do you think?"
Satan, evidently now with full voice, gave a truthful answer by pointing out that God had given Job everything and that Job had nothing to fear.
Then out of the blue God burns all Job's sheep and servants, sends the Chaldeans to carry away Job's camels and creates a cyclone to blow down his house killing all his sons. Naturally Job was peeved. He tore his clothes, shaved his head and fell to the ground. Instead of cursing God for doing this to him he said, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Not satisfied, God then commands Satan to smite Job with boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.
Now it can be seen that once again the Devil gets the blame for doing the dirty work and yet in fact he was only carrying out God's instructions.
Most of you would agree that germs, bacteria and viruses cause disease. God created them all along with everything else that creepeth on earth.
According to the Bible however, the Devil is the one who caused illness, sickness, infirmity and malformation. Luke 13 v 11-16 for example refers to a woman "whom Satan hath bound." Throughout the New Testament the cause of many diseases is attributed to the Devil and the various forms of mental maladies were all spoken of as being possessed by the Devil.
In the case of the plague or Black Death which took the lives of millions world wide it would seem that God must have cloned many devils. We now know that rats and fleas both of which were created by God carried the plague. But once again the Devil and his mates got the blame and were unjustly maligned.
By giving us the means to attain knowledge the Devil has allowed mankind to achieve the standard of life we now enjoy. God on the other hand has presided over the worst excesses. The wholesale slaughter of the Midianites. (Numbers 31) The massacre of the whole nation of Heshbon. (Deuteronomy 2) The total destruction of the seven nations of Canaan. (Deuteronomy 7) The massacre at Jericho. (Josh 6) The assassination of Sisera. (Judges 5) and the murder of 185,000 Assyrians (2nd book of Kings). The list is endless.
When the Crusaders pillaged the Middle East they did so in the name of God, not the Devil. The Inquisition tortured and murdered hundreds of thousands in God's name not the Devil's. Before suicide bombers press the button to kill innocents they praise God not the Devil. More crimes against humanity have been committed in God's name than any other entity in history.
In summary, throughout history the Devil has been made the fall guy for God's mistakes, shortcomings and crimes. He has been slandered, defamed and libelled and denied the right of reply. The right to debate. The right to state his case. The right to a fair trial and to free speech. Picture the scene
Even Saddam Hussein accused of crimes against humanity and with the blood of thousands on his hands has been given the right to a fair trial. Why not the Devil whose only 'crime' has been to offer mankind wisdom and knowledge?
As tolerant beings, and in
that great Australian
tradition of giving a bloke a fair go, let's grant absolution to the
who has been unjustly maligned.
THE DEVIL – JUSTLY MALIGNED
(Investigator 110, 2006
A THEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION
For the purpose of his article "The Devil – Unjustly Maligned" Mr Edwards assumed "the Devil and hell exist." (Investigator 105)
Edwards' article, therefore, was theological. It examined biblical teaching on the Devil. It was not an investigation on whether the Devil and Demons exist – which was debated in #101 to #104.
Therefore we'll examine whether Edwards' theology is correct.
Edwards inserted the proposition that the Bible is "a weapon of mass deception". This accusation is refuted by hundreds of scientific points in the Bible proved correct, of which examples regularly appear in Investigator. If being regularly correct is "mass deception" what apt label is left for Communism, Nazism, racism, divine right of kings, approval of immorality, Atheism, Social Darwinism, idolatry and other contrary-to-the-Bible beliefs that led to millions of human deaths?
In future articles I'll show that the origin of modern science, modern democracy, and modern law – and therefore our affluence and freedoms – owe much to the Bible. Judged by results, not prejudice, the Bible is a weapon of enlightenment!
Now back to theology:
Edwards correctly stated that the basic meaning of Satan is "adversary". The Bible applies this word to individuals other than the Devil and, as Edwards noted, "It doesn't necessarily imply evil or malicious intent." Well done Mr Edwards.
Edwards also agreed with Christians that the Devil, before becoming the adversary of God, "administered God's government" in Eden.
Isaiah 14 describes the glory of the King of Tyre (a powerful city-state on Israel's coast) and how the King's self-importance made him want authority over everything God created. Certain phrases like "you were in the Garden of Eden" suggests the passage has a two-fold application – to the Devil and to the King of Tyre who reflected the Devil's attitude.
This comparison of the
King of Tyre with
Satan explains why Satan originally chose to oppose God. Impressed with
his own power he wanted more – he wanted to replace God, decide the
of the physical creation, and be worshipped as if God.
ERRONEOUS THEOLOGY – ABRAHAM
Having gained our confidence with several correct points Edwards switched to misrepresentation, to bad theology.
Referring to Genesis 22 Edwards wrote, "God tells Abraham to barbecue his son Isaac. What sort of sick mind are we dealing with?"
Abraham did not "barbecue" Isaac. There were, however, nearby nations that did routinely barbecue kids as part of their worship of idols. Abraham undergoing the emotional trauma of seemingly having to do the same – but then being commanded not to – was a clear lesson that worship of God did not require such a monstrous custom.
From God's earlier word
that Isaac would
have numberless descendants (Genesis 17:15-19) Abraham would have known
that the command to "barbecue" Isaac would be thwarted, which it was.
"sick mind" here, but a teaching of how to worship and not to worship
forcefully clear and re-taught in later parts of the Bible. (Jeremiah
Abraham got his lesson with an emotional impact he could not forget.
ERRONEOUS THEOLOGY – ADAM & EVE
Edwards claimed that God, "told his creation [the Devil] to test her [Eve]". Actually, Edwards got this wrong. By analogy with the Job story – where the Devil asks and gets God's permission to tempt Job – we can speculate that the Devil sought permission to tempt Eve. Being told to do something is a different concept to asking and receiving permission.
God did not, as Edwards put it, in "a fit of tantrums" convert Eden into a "weed covered wasteland" (#105 p. 47)
Rather, Genesis 3:17-19 "cursed is the ground" refers to what Adam would experience outside of Eden. If Edwards were thrown out of a garden, where all his needs were satisfied, into a Turkish desert to scratch for a living he too might develop the attitude "cursed is the ground".
And Edward's expression "condemning all women to painful childbirth" misrepresents what happened. It's not a case of God miraculously altering female physiology to make childbirth more painful. Rather it's a medical consequence of Eve and Adam's new situation after their rebellion.
Adam and Eve initially
going naked does not,
"imply that covering one's nakedness was wrong". (p. 47) Edwards does
clothe every naked person either and this too says nothing about the
or rightness of being naked.
ERRONEOUS THEOLOGY–EVIL & JOB
Isaiah 45:7 says "I [God] make peace and create evil", and Nehemiah 13:18 says, "did not our God bring all this evil upon us?"
Superficially this seems to confuse God with Satan.
However, if God created an environment where good and evil can happen, and if humans need God's guidance to avoid evil but this guidance humans reject and God therefore withholds – in that sense "God brings evil". Evil in that sense is a consequence of human decisions and incompetence.
Consider an analogy. A local government opens a new beach, erects signs to indicate the safe swimming zone, and appoints a lifeguard. Suzie decides she doesn't need lifeguards and goes outside the safe swimming zone and out of his view. Her boyfriend arrives, holds her under and drowns her. The government, the lifeguard, Suzie and the boyfriend all contributed to her death but in different ways. When God "creates evil" it's comparable, in this analogy, to what the local government did (it opened the beach to the public), and to what the lifeguard did (he let Suzie disobey the signs). But when the Bible blames evil on the Devil it's comparable, using the analogy, to the murderer the boyfriend.
We're dealing with different sorts of responsibility.
Edwards summed up Job Chapter 1 with, "Then out of the blue God burns all Job's sheep and…commands Satan to smite Job with boils…" Read it again Mr Edwards. The story actually blames Satan who, at that time, had power over the world, its people, animals and weather. God merely gave Satan permission to act but set limits on him. (Job 1:9-12)
Edwards claimed that God
created germs, bacteria
and viruses. This is not stated in the Bible. However, the implication
that Adam and Eve need never die (Genesis 2:15-17) suggests they
had an immune system able to suppress all dangerous pathogens.
"Devil" means "slanderer" or "liar" and Satan "adversary".
The numerous times that science has shown the Bible correct and critics wrong when they criticised it, and also Edwards' own books wherein he refutes many false New Age beliefs, are part of the proof that all humans are deceived as though by a master liar, an ingenius, malignant deceiver.
The Bible calls him the accuser of the brethren, Beelzebub, enemy, father of lies, dragon, murderer, serpent of old, ruler of the world, ruler of the demons, spirit at work in those who are disobedient, tempter, god of this world, deceiver of the whole world, and the wicked one. (Romans 16:20; Ephesians 2:1-2; 6:11-17; Hebrews 2:14-15; John 12:31; 16:11; 1 John 3:8; Jude 1:6; Revelation 12:9; 20:1-3, 10.)
Such descriptions indicate
the Devil's character
and mission. He is thoroughly evil, utterly corrupt, the ultimate
of all human suffering, and the mastermind behind deceitful ideologies,
misguided religions, harmful beliefs, and superstitions. He slanders
and deceives all humans in religion and ethics. His motivation? To rule
all creation and be worshipped in place of God.
The Devil - Justly Maligned
(Investigator 111, 2006 November)
For a nanosecond during my first reading of Anonymous' article The Devil – Justly Maligned, I thought to myself, he does have a sense of humour after all. After the second reading however, I could see that he was serious.
Anonymous refutes my description of the Bible as 'a weapon of mass deception' by raising his oft used and fallacious claim that science has proved the truth of the Bible. The Bible is a litany of contradictions, atrocities, absurdities, unfulfilled prophecies, broken promises, immoralities, indecencies and obscenities. Its description of creation is a deception; false promises deceive people; claiming to foretell the future is deception; and using absurd explanations such the Ark, the Tower of Babel, the Virgin birth, miracles and so on ad nauseam to educate people is also deception.
Although the comparison of the King of Tyre and Satan may be an acceptable explanation in Anonymous' eyes for Satan's opposition to God, it contradicts the alleged omnipotence of God.
By telling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac and then commanding him not to, simply to teach him a lesson, was in modern parlance 'psychological torture.' Surely the product of a 'sick mind.'
According to my reading of Gen.3:17-18 when God punished Adam for eating the forbidden fruit He cursed the ground and said, 'Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee.' To my mind, thorns and thistles are usually associated with wasteland.
If God did not condemn all women to painful childbirth but it was a medical consequence of Eve and Adam's new situation as alluded to by Anonymous, perhaps he would give us a detailed explanation of this remarkable physiological and anatomical miracle. Or does he need to wait until some future scientific evidence surfaces to support his claim?
Although the Bible does not state specifically that God created germs, bacteria and viruses, it does say that God created everything. What's more He claimed that they were all good. As for having an initial immune system to suppress all dangerous pathogens - to quote John MacInroe 'you can't be serious!'
Finally, I said in my
article that while
the word 'Devil' has many derogatory connotations these are definitions
in Christian theology and represent the beliefs of millions who have
bothered to seek the truth.
The Devil – Justly Maligned 2
(Investigator 112, 2007
Mr Edwards (#111 p. 49) again departed from his topic, which was the theology of "the Devil", to accuse the Bible of obscenities and deception.
Such accusations have been refuted in Investigator for about 16 years: I've been examining the Bible statement after statement and always, where relevant, consulting scientific literature. The result proves that the critics, not the Bible, produced a "litany of contradictions, atrocities, absurdities, unfulfilled prophecies, broken promises, immoralities, indecencies and obscenities."
In every investigation I've done, the Bible either turned out correct or was defensible. Edwards needs re-read the material and refresh his memory.
Regarding Abraham and Isaac: Edwards again labels a clear lesson against human sacrifice the "product of a sick mind" (#111 p. 49) and ignores alternatives.
On one side of the balance is a plain lesson against human sacrifice; on the other side are human sacrifices totalling tens of millions of deaths over thousands of years. And the Bible teaches:
Ask anyone therefore what they would prefer – whether a lesson against human sacrifice, or to be sacrificed to honor a stone idol? Which action is "sick", "obscene" and "justly maligned"?
The failure of so many people to distinguish right from wrong in this and other ethical questions is evidence that:
The answer to Edwards' final question, whether "God created germs", depends on how we integrate creation with evolution. Myself, I look to biology for the origins of germs. However, if Adam and Eve were created to live forever, then that implies they had immune systems that made them resistant to all dangerous germs. To test such a possibility we would need to consult research into genetics and the immune system.
Since Edwards had no new
the theology of the Devil and now better understands whom to malign,
hopefully wants to get on with it, our debate seems finished.