The Logic of Satan
Posted by spritzophrenia on May 18, 2010
I’ve never appreciated those christians who major on Satan and demons. (Although as an agnostic I notice I’ve blogged on Satan or Satanism several times in the last few months.) Why not listen to Burn In Hell by Twisted Sister while reading? It’s today’s blog background music. 
Methinks the idea of God, and Jesus as God’s incarnate son provides quite enough mystery to spend one’s time on. “Shaitan” and demons can be found in Islam and some other religions too and of course Lucifer first appears in the Jewish scriptures. The Bible actually says very little about the Devil as he’s also called. Nevertheless, I got to musing on the nature of of Satan. For the sake of this blog I’ll assume the christian theist conception of him exists.
I think that if Satan is real there is no humour about him. Not that he cannot take pleasure – I discuss this idea below – but he’s not a laughing clown in red pajamas. Satan is never described in the Bible. Movies often depict him as a figure of fun, eg in Little Nicky and even horror movies often make the devil out to be more camp than creepy. Why is this wrong? Because humour is a good, an invention of God. Satan is not a figure of fun.
If anything, I think satan could be compared to a shark – a cold, ruthless killing machine with no feelings. That’s why I’ve used Pinhead from Hellraiser as the illustration for this post. Unfeeling lust after pain is much more scary – and realistic in my opinion. I rather suspect Clive Barker was thinking along these lines when he wrote it.
It’s long been a standard argument that evil cannot create anything, only alter something already created. The argument “God created everything, therefore God created evil” has been dismissed since Augustine (c 300 CE) as evil is not regarded as a creation, but a distortion or lack of good. A “privation” of good, to use the terminology. Eg disease is seen as a warping of an existing good, not as a creation in its own right. Hence the devil can’t create humour.
What about pleasure though? Most beings require some sort of motivation. Simplistically, humans and other animals are motivated by either pleasure or pain. What motivates something evil? I think every being needs a motivation, otherwise why do anything at all? Even an evil being is motivated by some sort of pleasure. Therefore evil can use the inventions/creations of good even though they do not author them. Perhaps there are a base set of goods that an evil being uses, the minimum set of “goods”. For example, existence itself is a good. For Satan to exist, he is inadvertently glorifying the creator. I’m assuming here that an evil being only exists for malice and destruction; it’s quite conceivable that an evil being could take pleasure in flowers, love and friendship. Only the being’s motivations and goals would be entirely selfish. Rather like us humans, right?
So yes, Satan can take pleasure in doing whatever Satan does. Lying and deceiving, perhaps, according to the New Testament.
On reflection, I’m not completely happy with all of my conclusions. Some of my alleged logic is perhaps not so logical after all. I started out thinking that Satan had to be humourless and then began to doubt this. Nevertheless, I shall post rather than say nothing. What are your thoughts?
If you want some fun, try taking the Dante’s inferno test to see which of the 9 levels of hell you’d end up on, based on Dante’s 13th century Divine Comedy. I made it to level two. Inferno is Dante’s interpretation, the idea of purgatory, nine levels, the punishments and even some of the sins are not from the Bible.
1. As you’ll see from the lyrics, Burn In Hell by Twisted Sister is actually an exhortation to live a moral life, not a celebration of hell. Twisted Sister were the first band I saw live and I still rate that as a great show.
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