Friday, July 20, 2007

The Big Fight: God vs Satan

I don't typically spend time thinking about the devil at all but just recently, maybe triggered by reading Paradise Lost, I have been. For a long time I've been baffled by the obvious mismatch between God and Satan. The God we meet in the bible is eternally all powerful and all knowing whereas his adversary is a jumped-up celestial being of limited power and influence. So why is the world so in thrall to his charms? I've come up with a possible answer. Imagine you're involved in a game of chess with a grand master. The grand master adheres to the rules fastidiously but you completely disregard the rules every turn and in doing so manage to give the impression to the audience (who don't know the rules) that you're doing quite well.
The golden rule in the celestial chess championship that is our world is that of free will. God has given it to us and will never take it away. Satan, in total rebellion against God, couldn't care less about our free will. Ever since the misty days of the garden he's been dead set on decieving and manipulating the human psyche. No wonder we see such chaos around us, no wonder so many people have warped and twisted ideas about God. But hey, the game's not over yet and despite his endless cheating Satan's never going to win.

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Rodney Olsen said...

I often think of Satan like many high flying criminals that finally get caught out. They know that their time has come but they're determined that if they go down that everyone else will too. They start implicating everyone else they've ever met, not to reduce their own punishment but to make sure that if they have to suffer, everyone else does too.

Matt Wilson said...

Absolutely, and indeed I sometimes wonder if the personality and behaviour of the world's most notorious dictators and crime bosses give us a direct window into the paranoia and power struggles going on in Satan's dark realm.

stevie said...

You guy's should try listening to the re-runs of "Old Harry's Game" on BBC7 (available via the web). Satan is still part of popular culture albeit this comedy fails to reach the literary heights of Milton.

I think the only people obsessed by the Devil are Christians. After all, you're the only ones to believe in such a creature - the rest of us don't believe in your God nor your Devil. The devil is Christianity's tool for ensuring questioning children don't think too hard. That said, He's still a fun character for writers to play around with - from Peter Cook's red socks to Liz Hurley's red minidresses.

If I recall my Sunday School correctly I think that you may even have the problem of which is good versus bad back to front; after all didn't God tell Adam he'd surely die in the same day should he ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. But he lived a long time thereafter. Hmmm. What lie did the serpent tell? That they'd be like God and know the difference between good and evil? Isn't that what happened? How many
slaughters and rapes does the Bible say the Devil ordered? How many for God? I think God is way out in front purely from the biblical claims.



stevie said...

Actually I'm being unfair. To my knowledge God never ordered rape he just permitted it. He did however order genocidal slaughter several times.

Matt Wilson said...

Stevie, I think I need to let you know that you come across as being quite ignorant of the nuanced range of views regarding the person of the devil within the Christian faith, and also within the rest of the major world religions which I'm assuming you don't mean to include when you say 'the rest of us'.

On the whole 'is God good issue' it would seem that like many people including myself you find the Old Testament narratives very morally problematic, for instance the wholesale destruction of cities such as Jericho. I think I'll create a post about this as it's a good discussion topic in its own right.

Anonymous said...

What I find fascinating about this is that it's a fight that God started. He presumably knew, thanks to his omniscience, exactly how things would turn out, yet he plodded on regardless. He even placed the talking snake in the garden of Eden in full knowledge that he'd have to end up killing his son to clean up the fallout. Why?! Why was this necessary. God's not beyond essentially going back to the drawing board (see: the flood) but still he places all the pieces in place so that the result is inevitable. This is surely a mystery, and one worthy of pondering.

Anonymous said...

Good and evil excists for one reason, the fight for are souls.they are in a battle and it has to be won. god uses love and evil has the seven deadly sins to call on, you work it out, why god always ends up with egg on his face.

Anonymous said...

The fight between good and evil, has to come to an end sometime for we all know everthing has an ending.
and what you are learning now is gods way of teaching you that you have a battle ahead for your souls.

Kevin said...

I came across your blog while searching for thinking on the reasons for why Satan does what he/she/it does, or why he/she/it exists, and it appears I haven't found any.

I suppose one conclusion that I can arrive at is that good and evil exist so that the concept of free will would exist. Without evil, would we believe there is free will? Would we even think we are making choices? It seems to me, that the answer is no. Or perhaps it is maybe :).

So if people want to understand why Satan even exists, it's so that we could experience the phenomena we call choice.

Choice really does seem to be a problem, especially when you consider ignorance, that is, why would anyone make an ignorant choice willfully? It appears the only real sin is stupidity, fore if one is to make a choice with true knowing, there wouldn't really be a choice, because who chooses to be stupid when the answer is right before them?

My $0.02.