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3 Bumps

Are you really the Devil?

Different perspective than our resident frut loop uses to explain why we all won't convert:

Pagans are frequently asked if we worship the Devil, and it’s not unusual for more hostile and fundamentalist followers of monotheism to assume that’s what we are about. There is that whole business with the Goat Footed God, after all. A lot of Pagans will tell you that the Devil has nothing to do with Paganism. Some will tell you that the Christians appropriated nature gods like Pan and Herne to make their hate figure – mostly to put the old Pagans out of business. For most Pagans, the Devil is part of a Christian pantheon, and doesn’t have much to do with us.

Nature worshipers know that good and evil are relative concepts. Good for the hound is evil for the hare. Good for the growing fox cubs is evil for the diminished duck family they feed on. Actions have consequences for well or woe, and a lot of what we get is informed by what we think it means in the first place.

Then, as that great natural philosopher Eddie Izzard observed, how can nature be evil? There’s a lovely sketch of his imagining the actions of an evil giraffe. The whole idea of evil is nonsense once we step away from humans.

Izzard video

Creatures do what they must to survive and thrive. They fight and kill, they hunt to eat, but even when the nastiest predator is chewing the leg off the cutest prey creature, we aren’t tempted to call that evil.

Evil is a human condition. It’s not about survival selfishness or short term stupidity (I’m not a fan of those, but the rest of nature does this stuff too). Evil is, to my mind, what we’re doing when we deliberately cause pain and suffering to others, for our own amusement. Evil is taking joy in acts of cruelty. It is making other living, feeling things suffer just to please you. Dog fights and testing cosmetics on animals would be on my list. Rape. Abusing others for financial gain. Human trafficking. Child abuse. Things that serve no needful purpose, just gratify the perpetrator, or whoever pays the perpetrator. There’s plenty of it out there.

In the Christian tradition, the Devil is there to provide temptation. Most stories I’ve run into seem to be more about self-indulgence, sex, wealth, breaking ‘God’s Laws’ and the like. War, burning heretics, using slave labour – these have often been part of the accepted face of civilization and not laid at the Devil’s door at all. There are Pagan Gods who go around doing things that are hardly exemplary, especially Greek Gods raping their victims. There are however no Pagan deities I know of who personify evil, or, for that matter, good. Pagan deities may be chaotic, destructive, and challenging, but we recognise that as just part of how the world works. It’s not evil, any more than a wolf eating a cute bunny rabbit is evil. It’s just not a lot of fun for the rabbit.

I don’t personally believe in the Devil as a deity-like figure. He’s not part of my pantheon. I think he’s a way of putting outside of us all the things we don’t want to admit are part of being human. We kill and torture, rape and abuse. We are cruel for our own amusement, and far too many of us get our jollies by using and reducing others. It might be more useful to ascribe all those horrors to aspects of the human condition and tackle it within ourselves, rather than imagining we were tempted, or that doing evil was suggested to us, or that we are in any way less than totally responsible for the wrongs we perpetrate. Once we admit that the monsters are on the inside, that evil wears human faces, then we stand a better chance of dealing with it and not becoming a manifestation of it ourselves.

The Devil is us.

Answer Question

Asked by NotPanicking at 9:43 AM on Jun. 12, 2013 in Religious Debate

Level 51 (421,174 Credits)
Answers (16)
  • damn you caught me... Actually I was told yesterday I was the spawn of the devil. So he's my dad.

    Answer by LostSoul88 at 9:51 AM on Jun. 12, 2013

  • Thanks, now I have INXS stuck in my head.

    The devil inside
    The devil inside
    Every single one of us the devil inside

    Here come the world
    With the look in its eye
    Future uncertain but certainly slight
    Look at the faces
    Listen to the bells
    It's hard to believe we need a place called hell


    Answer by anng.atlanta at 10:03 AM on Jun. 12, 2013

  • I don't believe that evil lives inside each of us as a natural consequence of being human. I think it can and does, but I don't think as a matter of course, it does. I think we invite and nurture that which makes us self centered and that feeds on itself


    Answer by snookyfritz at 10:33 AM on Jun. 12, 2013

  • I'm pretty sure we've been over this. I am in fact the devil, hence my profile picture.....Shall we go question on what I do with all those souls again? Or the ones where it has been confirmed by our "local" cafemom Christians?

    Answer by KristiS11384 at 11:18 AM on Jun. 12, 2013

  • I was born on Christmas. I am the Anne-ti-Christ.

    Answer by PartyGalAnne at 1:11 PM on Jun. 12, 2013

  • I believe human beings all have the potential to do good and the potential to do evil, and they make choices every moment which to act on. Sometimes they aren't thinking through their choices clearly, and some may be so used to making choices that harm others they don't even pause to consider their actions anymore. But the tug-of-war is always a possibility.

    Answer by Ballad at 2:02 PM on Jun. 12, 2013

  • But what about the fact that one's good is another's evil? Fox eats the duck, from the duck's perspective the fox is evil, but all the fox is doing is what nature expects of him - to eat and survive.

    Comment by NotPanicking (original poster) at 2:04 PM on Jun. 12, 2013

  • I don't think the duck thinks the fox is evil. It just feels fear. Animals don't reason in that way. Humans do and a grown man raping a small child isn't quite so subjective or based on the man "needing" to rape the child for survival, while a fox must kill the duck to survive

    Answer by snookyfritz at 3:06 PM on Jun. 12, 2013

  • But humans do reason that way. Evil is based on fear. Is fearing the rapist a legitimate thought process? Yes. But what about fearing the person who has a different religion? Is that logical? Rational? The rapist, the Muslim, the atheist and the Pagan are feared equally, and labelled as evil, equally, but does that mean they are all evil?

    Comment by NotPanicking (original poster) at 3:10 PM on Jun. 12, 2013

  • I think those that equate Muslims, Atheists, Pagans, etc as 'evil' are deliberately trying to be divisive. It's a Us vs. Them attitude that is so often seen against any group you don't belong to, whether it's a nation, a religion, a race, or a football team. People are told these groups are evil so members don't leave, won't associate with them, or allow the 'good' party to politically/legally harm them. It promotes the 'good' group as being better than the rest, recruiting more members, which all boils down to more money, job security, and power.

    Answer by anng.atlanta at 3:30 PM on Jun. 12, 2013

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