| Let's Take A Look At Satan
Used by permission, from the Agnostic Review of Christianity website
It could easily be argued that the biggest villain in history is Satan. After all, according to Christian doctrine it was Satan who tricked Eve into eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil which set in motion an incredibly unfortunate chain of events known as the "fall of man". Here's the story:
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
Notice that the text says nothing about Satan. It states that a talking serpent confronted Eve and deceived her into eating the forbidden fruit.
Also according to Christianity, all of mankind is under the curse of "original sin" which postulates that all are born into sin and deserve to spend eternity in hell unless they are saved by the Christian man/god savior named Jesus. The curse of original sin via Adam and Eve is established in the following New Testament verses:
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.
For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
In other words, all of mankind which has existed in the past, exists at this time, and that will exist in the future are cursed as a result of Satan tricking Eve in the Garden of Eden. Eve then persuaded Adam to also eat the fruit and thus both of them and all their descendants were doomed to be "sinners".
Let's take a closer look at this character called Satan, who Christians proclaim is the source of all these problems in the world. To begin, as already noted, Satan never appears in the story of Adam and Eve which is described in the book of Genesis. Satan's name never even appears in the book of Genesis at all. Eve was tricked by a "talking serpent" which is never identified as a being called Satan.
Where do Christians get this idea that the talking serpent in the Garden of Eden was Satan? They establish their claim on a few verses, none of which are found in the Old Testament (OT). Two New Testament (NT) verses are:
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
But these verses are built on thin air. We have NO reference from the OT which confirms that Satan is a serpent, or a talking serpent, or that Satan was even in the Garden of Eden. The Christian claim that it was Satan who tricked Eve is entirely concocted from a few verses in the NT which cannot be confirmed by any OT scripture.
Jesus was recorded as saying he saw Satan fall from heaven:
And he (Jesus) said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
This also cannot be confirmed by the OT as there is no scripture which establishes this. Also lost in all the Christian advertising about Satan is that God cursed the serpent who tricked Eve.
And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
The serpent will be doomed to crawling on it's belly and it will eat dust all the days of it's life. God didn't mention if the serpents ability to talk would be taken away so we don't know if the serpent would be able to talk after the curse was invoked.
Now if this serpent was really Satan as Christians proclaim to the world, then we have a few problems here:
Satan was doomed to crawl on his belly and eat dust all the days of his life. However the NT states that Satan tempted Jesus long after the incident in the Garden of Eden.
Again, the devil (Satan) taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
If Satan took Jesus to the top of a very high mountain, it would have taken a rather long time since Satan was doomed to crawl on his belly the whole trip. And how could Jesus bow down and worship Satan if Satan was already on his belly? Could Jesus have bowed down lower than the ground itself?
And if Satan was the talking serpent who was doomed by God to crawl on his belly, how then could we have the following verses from the book of Job?:
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
(Satan in the Old Testament is man's accuser, and not an adversary of God)
Satan is one of the angels or sons of God. The text does not say that a talking serpent also presented himself before God. Satan says he has been roaming the earth, going back and forth in it. This would have taken a great deal of time if Satan was crawling on his belly, occasionally stopping from time to time to eat some dust. In other words, there is no reason to believe that God EVER cursed Satan with the same curse that he used on the talking serpent in the Garden of Eden.
Contrary to what mainstream Christianity proclaims to the world, the talking serpent and Satan are not the same entity and have nothing to do with each other.
The OT does not support the assertions by Christians that Satan is responsible for the deception of Eve and Adam. Nor does the OT support the often made Christian claim that Satan is the source of "evil" and the enemy of God.
There is not one instance in the OT where Satan disobeys a command from God. The book of Job also reveals that Satan and God wanted to wager against each other regarding the character of mankind who Satan would like to find fault with. God then suggests to Satan that he consider Job for a test of endurance.
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?
God then gives permission for Satan to begin the torment of Job:
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.
This sets in motion a series of deaths and calamities upon the livestock, servants, and family of the righteous Job so that God and Satan can see which of them is right about the character of Job.
All of these events were allowed by God. Satan was given permission to use whatever means he deemed appropriate to "test" Job. However God instructs Satan not to harm Job himself.
Satan obeys the guidelines which God gave to him. As Job doesn't curse God, the torture is continued as God again suggests that Job would be an ideal candidate for this type of cosmic wager between two "higher" beings. The angels once again present themselves before God in Job 2 and Satan again asserts he is roaming the earth. God then, for the second time, suggests the unfortunate (yet righteous) Job as a good candidate for a torture test..
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? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.
The cosmic wager continues with new guidelines issued by God:
Job 2:5-7 (Satan states)
But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.
And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.
So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.
Job is then subjected to a number of revolting physical ailments and torments. As an aside, the fact that the blameless, righteous Job was afflicted with physical torments of any type exposes a major Bible contradiction in that Prov 12:21 declares:
There shall no evil happen to the just: but the wicked shall be filled with mischief.
During the entire scenario in which this cosmic wager between God and Satan plays out, Satan never once disobeys God. Satan never "rebels" and shows no signs of ever having fallen from heaven as Jesus declared in Luke 10:18. It is God who recommends (twice) that the righteous Job would be a good candidate for torture. Job's servants, his cattle and his children are all killed as part of this cosmic wager and God never lifts so much as a holy finger to restore those who were exterminated in the process of this wager being played out. Nor does God express any concern over the fact that innocent bystanders were killed.
Satan is simply one of God's court of angels, whose function is to find fault in man and to be his accuser. Satan was created by God and serves Gods purpose. Who is the villain in this story? There isn't one verse in the entire OT where a character named Satan ever disobeys God or is identified as a fallen rebellious angel. Another insightful example into the nature of the Bible God and Satan is found in the following:
1 Chron 21:1
And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.
This verse would appear to indicate that Satan stirred up trouble against Israel. However from another book in the Bible, the same incident is described much differently.
2 Sam 24:1
And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.
What we have here is one event with two different protagonists. In one case it was God who incited David to take a census of Israel, while in another case it was Satan who incited David.
Bible apologists will often attempt to explain this contradiction away by claiming that God simply used Satan to accomplish his work of inciting David in an attempt to smooth over this glaring problem.
The problem doesn't go away however. It manifests into an even bigger problem if the NT claims about Satan are to be believed. If Satan is a rebellious angel who was cast down from heaven, there is no reason to believe that he would wish to cooperate with God in any way.
If Satan was the tool which God used to incite David then that means Satan is easily used and controlled by God. God can harness Satan anytime he wishes. This leads to the embarrassing conclusion that all the hype and hoopla from Christians about Satan being a clever, deceitful enemy who sneaks up on people and leads them into sin, overlooks the fact that all the time, God is controlling and using Satan to accomplish whatever whims he wishes to indulge in. Satan is but a puppet on the manipulative hand of God. The incredibly "evil" Satan is in actuality, one of God's tools which God uses to do his will.
The most disturbing conclusion awaits just ahead. If it was God who incited David to take a census of Israel, either by himself or using Satan to do it, we are left with a revolting display of Godly behavior. After the census was taken, the story continues:
2 Sam 24:10-15
And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.
For when David was up in the morning, the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying,
Go and say unto David, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.
So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days' pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me.
And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.
So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.
God first incites or moves David to take a census:
2 Sam 24:1
And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.
David does exactly as he is moved to do by God. David then realizes he sinned. How David realizes this is unknown.
How was doing what God moved him to do a sin? The "sin" was in numbering the Levites, which is a violation according to Num 1:49 and Num 26:62. This explanation is only found in the 1 Chron 21 version of this story and is not found in the 2 Sam 24 version.
1 Chron 21:5-8
And Joab gave the sum of the number of the people unto David. And all they of Israel were a thousand thousand and an hundred thousand men that drew sword: and Judah was four hundred threescore and ten thousand men that drew sword.
But Levi and Benjamin counted he not among them: for the king's word was abominable to Joab.
And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel.
And David said unto God, I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing: but now, I beseech thee, do away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.
Note: The census count totals also differ. The 1 Chron 21 version records a total of 1,570,000 men and the 2 Sam 24 version records 1,300,000 men.
The manipulation of David by God in which God "moves", compels, or silently instructs David to order an improper census is based on God being angry at Israel.
The "sin" David committed was inspired by God, not by David. God was using David as a tool to take vengence on Israel for some unspecified transgression. If David had ordered a proper census, God would have had no valid reason to punish Israel.
An improper census was needed to generate a sin, which is then used as a reason for God to vent his wrath.
This whole census episode reeks of Godly manipulation.
Of course, Christian apologists will claim that it was David who committed the sin, so God's hands are clean.
However, the Bible elsewhere states that David had always done what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the days of his life, except in one matter (adultery) which is unrelated to this census issue:
1 Kings 15:5
Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.
If, as this verse proclaims, David obeyed God and did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord and turned not aside from any thing that God commanded him, except in one matter unrelated to the census, then he did not sin in the matter of the census. David was manipulated by God to "sin" when David ordered an improper census.
And if he sinned by carrying out God's will, what do you suppose would have happened if he had disobeyed and decided not to take a census?
As 2 Sam 24:10-15 shows, the Bible God then sinks deeper into psychosis by offering David three "options" of punishment for his "sin". David turns the decision over to God after declaring that he doesn't want to fall into the hands of men and God proceeds to kill 70,000 people by using a plague on them.
The Bible God has incited a man to do his bidding, then establishes that by following his instructions, the man has sinned. God then exterminates 70,000 innocent people for the "sin" of a man who was following God's instructions in the first place. This is the same God Christians claim is all holy, all righteous, all loving, who cannot tolerate sin, deserving of all praise and worship, and who holds the moral high ground of the universe. These same Christians chirp about how loving their God is, while decrying Satan as the epitome of "evil" who is responsible for all the ills of mankind and the world.
In light of the behavior demonstrated by God and not by Satan, it would be hard to find a verse more absurd than the following often quoted verse used by Christians to inspire their faith in God:
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Satan).
In reality, the evidence from the Bible indicates that it's God who is the schemer and not Satan.
This is the type of theological swamp in which Christianity has laid it's foundations . The next time you hear a Christian attempt to tap dance around these types of disturbing issues relating to their God and their arch enemy Satan, the response should be: If you really believe the Bible is the word of a God worthy of your worship, then you're stuck with exactly the type God you deserve.