Re: The Devil’s Ministry

godlesscranium

Read an interesting post titled The Devil’s Ministry, and I wanted to comment on it. So let’s get started.

She starts her post with this:

The greatest and most effective lie of the Devil is the lie that he doesn’t exist!!! So many people are comfortable believing this lie, while he continues his ministry in their lives…leading them farther and farther away from the truth. If you don’t believe he exists, you won’t resist him, you won’t suspect him, you won’t watch out for him, and you won’t even know you are in danger! He’s got you right where he wants you.

So this is the crux of what I wanted to address. I could go on about how silly I think believing in the devil is but that’s not what I find interesting about this paragraph.

If not believing the devil exists is such a boon to his ‘ministry’, then why do Christians fight so hard to demonize atheists? I mean, if not believing works in the devil’s favor, why wouldn’t the same be true of Jesus?

Jesus could also influence our decisions – just like this supposed devil – because we don’t suspect his influence and don’t believe he exists. This would effectively make the atheist the most valuable of human players…right?

While Christians sit around and try to figure out what God meant when he inspired or wrote the bible; while they’re busy making thousands of sects, each of which believe something slightly different, God could be busy working on the blank slates of atheists.

According to Christian scripture, God is so much more powerful than the Devil. Shouldn’t he be better at this shadow game than his evil counterpart?

If however, you do believe there is such a thing as the Devil, or you suspect that there just might be, but you’re not altogether sure…you could get spooked by him. You might be afraid at the thought or idea of him. You might be weary of people who talk about him, afraid that he will suddenly show up and frighten you to death. However, because you are not altogether oblivious to his devices, he will work harder to trick you, through white lies.

I’m not sure what getting spooked by him would entail? If it works out to his advantage to remain unknown, why would he reveal himself? If this is such a powerful tool, why did God not realize it and use it to his own advantage?

I’m also not afraid of the thought or idea of him, because I don’t think he exists. Just like I’m not scared at the prospect of a dragon landing on my house and blowing me to smithereens.

Although…that would be cool. Not the smithereens part, but the dragon part…freaking awesome!

Anyhow, I was going to write about the whole Hamilton play vs. Mike Pence thing, but decided not to bother for now.

You guys and gals get this instead. Cheers!

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106 Comments

  1. This devil belief stuff does my head in. But with my armchair anthropologist’s hat on, I remember being very impressed by the fact that when East African peoples were being bombarded with Christian dogma they were at first (until suitably bamboozled – along with being told how barbaric they were) very perplexed by the notions of hell, evil and the devil.

    They and their ancestors had survived for millennia without any idea of such things. Their ethics and moral codes were dictated by strict ancestral custom and law. And while they generally believed in a Creator, and gave thanks in his direction, this being was most of the time considered too remote to be much bothered with human affairs.

    What mattered was how people treated each other, and honouring their immediate ancestors and the moral code/wisdom they had handed down to the living. When people did something wrong/ committed a crime there were means of dealing with this: by recognizing obligations to the dead and/or making reparation to living injured parties. Such ‘cleansing’/restitution operations usually involved/were witnessed by the whole community.

    This obviated the entire guilt-trip-finger-pointing business, which is absolutely the most fertile ground for any kind of devil belief. Not saying the traditional African way always worked perfectly, but it seemed a darn sight healthier and more civilized than the harmful, scarred-for-life behaviour that the manipulative guilt-trippers go in for.

    • One of the devastating problems with pop culture is that it idealizes the primitive and demonizes the civilized.

      Primitive, unchrisitanized man lives a short, brutal life.

      And that’s the good part.

      Pre-Christian and non-Christian civilizations turned war and fruits of war into virtue. In these we have civilizations where justice is and was, always the advantage of the strong.

      The strong, cunning and cruel rule the battlefields, the countryside and the streets.

      That is one reason why only Christian Western Civilization developed past the slave, the beast of burden and war as the engines of the economy.

      The core Christian value is to love they neighbor.

      No other civilization in human history has been able to do that as well as Christian Western Civilization.

    • Reminds me of Chief Red Jacket’s speech:

      Brother: Continue to listen. You say that you are sent to instruct us how to worship the Great Spirit agreeable to His mind. And if we do not take hold of the religion which you white people teach, we shall be unhappy hereafter. You say that you are right, and we are lost. How do you know this to be true? We understand that your religion is written in a book. If it was intended for us as well as for you, why has not the Great Spirit given it to us, and not only to us, but why did He not give to our forefathers knowledge of that book, with the means of understanding it rightly? We only know what you tell us about it. How shall we know when to believe, being so often deceived by the white man?

      Brother: You say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all agree, as you can all read the book?

      Brother: We do not understand these things. We are told that your religion was given to your forefathers and has been handed down — father to son. We also have a religion, which was given to our forefathers, and has been handed down to us, their children. We worship that way. It teaches us to be thankful for all the favors we receive; to love each other, and to be united. We never quarrel about religion.

      Brother: the Great Spirit has made us all, but He has made a great difference between his white and red children. He has given us a different complexion and different customs. To you He has given the arts. To these He has not opened our eyes. We know these things to be true. *Since He has made so great a difference between us in other things,* why may we not conclude that He has given us a different religion *according to our understanding?* The Great Spirit does right. He knows what is best for his children; we are satisfied.

      Brother: We do not wish to destroy your religion, or to take it from you. We only want to enjoy our own.

      Brother: You say you have not come to get our land or our money, but to enlighten our minds. I will now tell you that I have been at your meetings, and saw you collecting money from the meeting. I cannot tell what this money was intended for, but suppose it was for your minister, and if we should conform to your way of thinking, perhaps you may want some from us.

      Brother: We are told that you have been preaching to the white people in this place. These people are our neighbors. We are acquainted with them. We will wait a little while, and see what effect your preaching has upon them. If we find it does them good, and makes them honest, and less disposed to cheat Indians, we will then consider again what you have said.

      https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/nativeamericans/chiefredjacket.htm

      One of my favorite speeches of all time. 🙂

      • And a very fine and humane speech, GC, and precisely what I was talking about. This speech could have been made across many other continents, and by very many cultures, some of whom were deliberately and officially exterminated by colonial governments. As I write this I’m listening to a BBC radio discussion of the mass destruction and deliberate concealment of incriminating British colonial records as we retreated from Empire. Not pretty stories of the doings of this, my ‘civilizing’, Christian nation.

  2. Here in lies the fundamental error of this post:

    “Jesus could also influence our decisions – just like this supposed devil – because we don’t suspect his influence and don’t believe he exists.”

    For this premise to be an effective counter argument to the post in question, Jesus and the Devil must have the same nature.

    That is, good would be the same as evil.

    The atheist cannot know the difference between good and evil if he believes that the influence of good or evil upon our decisions is the same.

    To benefit from good requires conscious, directed effort and habitual denial of the baser part of our human nature.

    That is what virtue (the pursuit of excellence) is all about.

    Virtue takes work, will, sweat, sacrifice and leads to health, wealth and wisdom.

    Vice is the habitual pursuit of satisfying our appetites.

    Vice is easy and leads to physical, mental, emotional destruction.

    Therefore, it is obvious that Jesus and Devil address different parts of our human nature.

    Following Jesus takes work and leads to good.

    Following the Devil is easy and leads to evil.

    • Here in lies the fundamental error of this post:

      “Jesus could also influence our decisions – just like this supposed devil – because we don’t suspect his influence and don’t believe he exists.”

      For this premise to be an effective counter argument to the post in question, Jesus and the Devil must have the same nature.

      That is, good would be the same as evil.”

      This is the most sensible thing I’ve seen you say. It is exactly what I was thinking as an overall problem with the line of reasoning presented here. As usual however you don’t know when to quite when you are ahead.

      “The atheist cannot know the difference between good and evil if he believes that the influence of good or evil upon our decisions is the same.”

      You seem to think that atheist believe in good and evil agents. Most atheists tend to look as actions that cause harm or benefit and try to understand the reasons why such behavior has occurred. For instance someone experiencing traumatic events during their childhood that was undiagnosed, and having inattentive parents, can be a much stronger predictor of why people engage in harmful behavior like addiction or violence. It is no more easy or difficult, it all depends on how you were raised. I find it takes no effort to be kind. Many behaviors are rather easy based on the type of nurturing environment that we are raised in. The fact that you apply intentionality to the universe is how the human brain is wired, because we are a social species in which our brain very much has to determine the intentions of other forms of life. That doesn’t mean the universe has intention, or that the cards were against you at the blackjack table. The fact that our brains apply intentionality to everything is a just a byproduct of our evolution.

      “To benefit from good requires conscious, directed effort and habitual denial of the baser part of our human nature.”

      This is counter to what scientific evidence reveals. Children are actually naturally empathetic. This seems logical since as a social species cooperation is key and cooperation is best achieved through kindness and love over fear and coercion. http://www.developmentalscience.com/blog/2012/12/02/is-empathy-learned-or-are-we-born-with-it

      And the rest, as I pointed out before are just baseless assertions that are your opinion and nothing more.

  3. well, as to the Pence thing, I couldnt understand a word of that they were saying, so that one went right by me. You on the other hand are much clearer.

    as to the ‘devil made me do it”, all of it’s lazy. It’s an excuse for anyone who screws up to blame the devil. It’s an excuse for anyone who does well to refuse direct credit and praise jesus for helping. You sort of fall through the cracks in all of this, taking neither the blame nor the credit for a single thing in your life.

    Does anyone here see the weirdness in this? The devil is just as important to Christianity as Christ is, because you need a bad guy in any drama to balance out all that goodness. God plays a kind of ringmaster, but jesus and the devil duke it out in each tortured soul, and it makes them feel really good when Jesus wins and really bad when the devil wins. But none of them take responsiblity for a single thing.

    What that means is, if you commit a robbery, or beat someone up, and end up in jail, it wasnt YOUR fault, it was the devil. At some level in your soul you are convinced it wasnt your fault at all, because the devil told you to do stuff. Which may explain why the Christians outnumber the atheists by a huge majority in prison.

    and one extrapolation further down the road: when you live your life like that, leaning on two sky fairies, your personal moral strength is stuck on zero, isnt it. you have the spiritual backbone of a crawfish.

    • Judy,

      “The Devil made me do it,” is a joke, since being able to consciously take responsibility for one’s actions is at the foundation of Christian doctrine.

      As for Christians filling up the prisons, that’s a good thing.

      Christians know the difference between right and wrong.

      That means a stay in the slam would be salutary.

      Could you even imagine a prison full of non-Christian people who didn’t know the difference between good and evil?

      I mean, they’d do their time in prison and then go out, commit crime, get caught and then get thrown back into prison again and again.

      Based on that reality, just because someone calls themselves a Christian doesn’t mean that they are.

      And that means your anti-Christian feelings are not based in rational thought.

      • It seems obvious to me that both gods and devils exist inside your own head and can be attributed to whatever events you desire.

        You claim “to consciously take responsibility for one’s actions is at the foundation of Christian doctrine.”

        This may be true, however where do you draw the line as to your own conscious responsibility, your Gods’ guidance or the Devils influence?

        For example, did the hundreds if not thousands of elderly priests in Christian denominations who would have lived many decades of their life preaching for Christ somehow made the wrong conscious decisions to commit the most horrendous crimes against children or were they all highjacked by the Devil?

        This tells me if a devil exists it has far more power and cunning than any god if he can persuade a dedicated servant of God to commit crimes over decades of service. This suggests to me that the rest of us have virtually no chance at all of rejecting any of the devil’s influence.

        Of course, I expect the claim that these priests may not have really been Christians. Even old George Pell who did nothing about these crimes in Australia and was promoted to the Popes right hand must also not really be a Christian. If this is so we must conclude if the Devil exists he has taken over where God used to be and I ask who can you trust?

        • Sky,

          In your comment you said:

          “It seems obvious to me that both gods and devils exist inside your own head and can be attributed to whatever events you desire.”

          Things aren’t true simply because they “seem” that way to you.

          Regarding the pedophile priests:

          One of them said in an interview that he felt that what he was doing was right (good) because he was “loving” the young boys.

          Such depravity illustrates the need for God-given ethics or at least ethics that are based in Natural Law theory.

          Under Natural Law theory, an adult who sexually abuses a child is liable to grave punishment.

          Reasonably then, pedophile priests are wolves in sheep’s clothing, that it they are sexual predators who use the priesthood to disguise their truly evil motives.

          That places pedophile priests in the category of those who call themselves Christians but really are not.

          • OK Som, to further this issue, you said. “Things aren’t true simply because they “seem” that way to you.”

            I apply your philosophy to your own reply about paedophile priests. It is not that simple to wave the problem away and state that possibly thousands of paedophile priests and the ones that covered it up were not really Christians.

            So why did so many priests abuse children? One answer is that they simply repent their sins and they are forgiven by God, therefore they are Christians.

            SKL

            • Sky,

              The concept of repentance, an English word, is translated from the Greek word, metanoia, which means to turn around, or change directions.

              The habitual nature of the pedophile priests’ predation indicates that they never repented of the great evil they were committing.

              God always forgives, but without a turning around, a change of direction from evil to good, God’s forgiveness doesn’t do any good.

              Confession is a sacrament of healing.

              One cannot be healed by God’s forgiveness without deliberately changing one’s evil ways.

      • it’s one thing, darlin’, to know the difference between right and wrong and it’s another to practice it. Almost every recent televangelist has been cited, defrocked, and in some cases jailed for neglecting to follow their own advice.
        This is not a good example to follow.

        I think at this point you are just spouting seawater, since most of the non believers seem to be doing just fine, morally. You see, they have no devil to blame, they have no God to pray to to forgive their sins. We have no excuse, when we screw up, as to who’s fault it is. We have also learned to ‘fess up and admit when we HAVE made a mess of things. Like adults are supposed to do.

        And just so’s you understand something: most if not all of us so called godless heathens (make that godless immoral heathens) were raised by solid Christian families. Church, bible study, sunday school, the whole thing. But somewhere along the way we noticed that our good christian neighbor was sleeping around, and the bank manager, the one who sang the loudest in the Methodist sing along, was caught with one hand in the till and the other holding a bottle. And you start to wonder why, until they say, well, god forgave me. Im washed clean. sure they were.

        Christians (not all, but some) tend to use ‘forgiveness’ as a leaning post. I call it an excuse.

        My rational thought is just fine, btw. Im not anti christian, I just don’t buy into it on a personal level. . some of my best friends are Christian. We just don’t hiss at each other about it.

  4. “If not believing the devil exists is such a boon to his ‘ministry’, then why do Christians fight so hard to demonize atheists?”

    I can only speak for myself here… But has any one of you heard me say that atheists are doomed to go to hell ??

    I do my best to present the “good news” message of the cross… the Gospel of Christ… I never try to share the Gospel through fear or intimidation…

    God saves sinners who come to Him with godly sorrow, and a repentant heart…seeking Christ to take control of their life through saving faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ…

    God uses redeemed children like me to share their faith with anyone who is not yet a redeemed child of God…

  5. “As for Christians filling up the prisons, that’s a good thing.

    Christians know the difference between right and wrong.”

    If they truly knew, and cared, they would stop doing the wrong and stay the hell outta prison. I suspect they know the difference but trust in the lord to set them free. oh, yep
    Trouble is, they have invented a safety valve. Pray to Jesus and he will forgive your sins. And give you a get out of jail free card for the next pecadillo. Win win, all the way. Even the Catholics do it, you go to confession on Saturday, hold it together long enough to make it to Sunday Mass, and then spend the rest of the week with no one to answer to but the priest on next Saturday afternoon..

    Frankly the whole business smells strongly hypocritical.

    • Judy,

      “If they truly knew, and cared, they would stop doing the wrong and stay the hell outta prison.”

      You stated the point I was trying to make, exactly.

      Regarding the sacrament of confession:

      Repentance has to be sincere or it’s no good.

      If someone thinks they can raise hell all week, every week, and then make it all good simply by going to confession on Saturday and receiving Communion on Sunday, they are sorely mistaken.

  6. It’s another example of the win-win situation religion tries to claim. God exists and when we doubt him he is just testing our faith… The devil exists and if we doubt him he is winning… It reminds me of a victim of domestic abuse that I know, she praised God for bringing him into her life and then praised God for letting him beat her up so she knew he wasn’t a worthy boyfriend. I don’t know how theists cannot see this trend.

  7. I had myself baptized in a river as a northern baptist when I was 16. I loved the minister and his way of teaching. I didn’t say preaching because he wasn’t like that. When I married and moved to Houston, we thought we would go to church. One fifteen minute period was all it took. We took our kids and went home, never to return. My naive young self realized there are many different ways to read and interpret what’s written, spoken, or in that case, yelled, about beliefs, in anything.

  8. “The greatest and most effective lie of the Devil is the lie that he doesn’t exist”?

    This is one of those statements that Christians accept uncritically. Along with others such as,

    “There are no atheists in fox holes”

    “You only left Christianity because you wanted to sin”, or ‘You left Christianity because you are angry at God”

    “Atheists really believe there is a God but suppress this belief”

    I hear these arguments so often, because they are part of the standard Christian Apologist toolkit. But they are repeated as though fact when even a little but of thought shows they are far from self evident or proven.

    Something the Christian should ponder is “Why did ‘God’ create the Devil?”.

  9. I would be interested in your views on the Pence/Hamilton matter.

    It did not sit well with me.

    I live in Australia and after the Nice Terrorist Attack a TV presenter expressed their reservations about Islamic immigration. Well that created a shitstorm and the person was roundly condemned by all and sundry as a racist.

    But what the critics fail to see is that this is a subject that the community as a whole has the right to have a view on. To shut down any discussion as racist is counterproductive.

    Interestingly a recent opinion poll showed 50% of Australians wished to curtail Muslim immigration. But rather than accept people have legitimate concerns the media instead wrings its hands and ponders why people are so racist. Missing entirely that the concern is not race but religion. Many people have concluded that there is a problem in Islam an that to call it a religion of peace is not credible.

    Now Christianity has had its issues on the past, but the key point is that those problems were in the past, whereas the issues with Islam are very much in the present.

    Sorry I got a bit sidetracked here. But I find more and more people are sick of being told by the media how they should think and being forced to accept double standards where tolerance and openness seems to be a one way rather than a two way street.

    Even though I am no longer a Christian I have some empathy for my former brethren. I see that a town on Indiana has renamed Good Friday, ‘Spring Holiday’. Now to me these sorts of steps are totally counterproductive and fail to recognise the Christian heritage and culture. Good luck expecting any sort of quid pro quo in a Muslim country.

    Best I stop this rant. I suppose what I am saying is that part of the appeal of Trump was a reaction against the thought police and political correctness. I would never have voted for Trump if I was in the US, but I do understand how these sort of issue encouraged some to do so.

    • Fair enough. I’ll likely write about it tomorrow. 🙂

      I agree that immigration is a big deal and needs to be talked about. I read a story yesterday from Austria where a ten year old was raped at a swimming pool by a refugee, because he thought he was entitled since it had been 4 months since he’d last had sex. The boy was both physically and mentally traumatized.

      The courts convicted him but his conviction was later overturned because they said it was unclear whether the boy had said no.

      Even typing this fills me with rage. But it shows the dangers of not being able to discuss things honestly and openly.

  10. “The greatest and most effective lie of the Devil is the lie that he doesn’t exist!!!”

    When Jesus was accused of casting out demons through the power of Satan, he replied that Satan cannot be divided against himself or else his kingdom would not stand. It seems that if Satan were convincing people that he doesn’t exist, this would also be him divided against himself.

  11. Hi GC,

    Thanks for the share! I found this post on Google… can you believe there wasn’t even a link to my original on Google? I’ve got to work on my SEO. I also didn’t get a linkback notification, which is strange.

    Okay, well, I read this post, and I don’t get it.

    But what is obvious to me was you didn’t get my post either…

    Ummmm…….

    I am yet to read the comments. If I feel inspired, I may comment. But I doubt it.

    Cheers!

    • “can you believe there wasn’t even a link to my original on Google? I’ve got to work on my SEO. I also didn’t get a linkback notification, which is strange.”

      I wonder if it’s because I linked to your new site instead of WP.

      “But what is obvious to me was you didn’t get my post either…”

      How can you ascertain that if you self-admittedly didn’t get what I said in my post?

      • Well I link to my posts all the time on my new site and I get trackbacks. No p 🙂

        Regarding me not getting your post, it was more like, I don’t get the point, not that I don’t understand what you said. I just thought it was a waste of an opportunity to really tackle the issues. There was nothing challenging about what you wrote, just mockery and speculation. But you got lots of likes and comments…so if that was what you were going for, then I guess it wasn’t a complete waste.

        Cheers, Ufuoma.

  12. Pingback: The Logic and Science of God’s Existence | Nan's Notebook

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