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Why do people believe in the Devil

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In a recent interview in New York magazine, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia acknowledged his belief in Satan.

Scalia said that “I even believe in the Devil…..Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that…. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore…. What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.”

Dualistic theology — the idea that the world is divided into two parts, good and evil, and that humans are affected by a constant struggle between the two for domination — is common to many religions, and especially prominent in Roman Catholicism.

Though the Catholic Church has gradually moved away from more traditional and literal interpretations of Hell and Satan, Scalia is not alone; according to a 2007 Baylor Religion Survey, over half of Americans (54 percent) “absolutely believe in Satan.”

In their book “Paranormal America,” sociologists Christopher Bader, F. Carson Mencken, and Joseph Baker note:

“Americans are deeply divided on the nature of evil. Researchers have found that a person’s views about the nature of evil and the role of evil impact other behaviors and beliefs. For instance, beliefs about Satan were a strong predictor of participation in social movements, rallies, petitions, pickets, and membership associated with the Moral Majority. More recently, strong views of religious evil have been found to be associated with intolerance of homosexuality.”

During the 2008 run-up to the presidential elections, then-Senator Barack Obama was asked by pastor Rick Warren if he believed in evil.Obama replied, “Evil does exist. I mean, I think we see evil all the time. We see evil in Darfur. We see evil, sadly, on the streets of our cities. We see evil in parents who viciously abuse their children.”

While much in religion and theology is considered metaphorical and allegorical, as Scalia notedbelief in Satan as a literal incarnation of evil is common among many Roman Catholics. Fundamentalist Christian literature contains countless books describing Satan, demons, and devils as real, literal, incarnate entities that cause a wide variety of ills ranging from marital strife and “unclean thoughts” to depression, disease and death.

Belief in a literal Satan also plays an important role in Christian eschatology, the study of end-of-days prophecies. Those who believe that the end times are upon us have been especially popular.

Perpetual doomsayer Hal Lindsey wrote a best-selling and influential 1972 book titled “Satan Is Alive And Well on Planet Earth” in which he discussed — and cited evidence of — a literal Satan walking among us. A quarter-century later Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins hit on similar themes in their “Left Behind” books that sold over 65 million copies and remain one of the best-selling fiction series in print.

Many Christians also believe that occult divination tools such as Tarot cards, pendulums, and Ouija boards can connect with, and even summon, evil spirits including Satan. Some even promote conspiracy theories involving Satan, claiming for example that credit cards and bar codes are not only “marks of the Beast” (i.e., Satan), but signs of an impending and demonic New World Order.

This is part of a broader trend of biblical literalism. Many believe that Earth was created by God in only seven days,  in the case of so-called “intelligent design” creationism, less than 10,000 years ago. Another common belief is that Noah’s Ark really existed (and that it’s periodically re-discovered on a Turkish mountain), and so on.

In Roman Catholicism bread and wine are believed to literally — not just figuratively—become the flesh and blood of Jesus as soon as the faithful put it in their mouths, in a process called transubstantiation. (Of course it is possible to scientifically determine that this does not in fact happen — an x-ray or a stomach pump could easily show that the sacrament of the Eucharist does not literally change from bread to human flesh when consumed.)

People still believe in the Devil because there’s still a need for him to exist. He still plays an important role in many people’s belief systems and even daily lives. Writer and Christian apologist C.S. Lewis, in his 1942 book “The Screwtape Letters,” wrote:

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors.”  

by on Oct. 10, 2013 at 3:27 PM
Replies (51-53):
by Platinum Member on Oct. 10, 2013 at 5:40 PM

I wasn't really asking, just posting the title of the article I posted here. I'm aware of why people believe in the Devil. Generally speaking people want to be able to blame something for their bad behavior or have reasons why bad things happen in the world. And of course if a person believes in the Christian God they would have to believe in the Devil ie Satan/Lucifer because God says he exists. 

Quoting FoxFire363:

So what you're really asking is why people believe in a difference between right and wrong? Well, because there are clearly things in this world that cause suffering and there are just as clearly things that can be done to prevent that suffering or at least mitigate the level of it that occurs. 

Quoting Kazoo22:

Read what I wrote. I said "devils" as negative things in general not literal. It's was a figurative term not to be taken literally. It's a cross referencing of one type of religious lingo to describe something in another not something to be taken in literal context. So for example in Paganism people may want to act on negative feelings, but they aren't suppose to now matter how much they want to because you're not suppose to cause harm to people. There were many times my friend became angry at his boss for things he felt weren't right, but instead of trying to send out negative energies (as much as he wanted to) he instead focused on energies within himself to let it go.

So yes while all religions don't have actual demons, there are struggles people go through whether influence from the outside world or from within themselves. 

Quoting FoxFire363:

There are things we are not to act on, in a sense, as we are not to cause harm to others, however we are allowed to feel anyway that we feel with no restrictions. As for those things we are not to act on, they are not considered to be "devils." They're actually considered to by quite normal human impulses (such as wanting to punch somebody who calls you a bitch, for example), but as humans we know that it is not right to cause harm to others, so we don't. They are not considered to be outside influences. Even atheists have negative emotions that they have to choose not to act on in order to stay true to their moral code of choice, does that mean that atheists have "devils"? That notion is absurd. I am telling you that theologically speaking, there is no pagan "devil." 

Quoting Kazoo22:

"devils" and "demons" can have many metaphorical and emotional thoughts behind them. I've heard people refer to their feeling or thoughts as "demons they wrestle with" but are not in fact talking about actual demons. 

Here is what I said:

"Whether it's an actual being or a thought/feeling/trails etc yes they all do. That's why devils was in quotations. It wasn't literal. Some religions do have metaphorical demons or emotions."

So there are no emotions or negative feels you are not to have or act upon?

Quoting FoxFire363:

"Trials" and what not do not constitute a "devil." I am speaking of a personified and/or deified force of evil. There are no evil Gods in my religion. Even the Gods whose purposes are considered "darker" such as Kali the Destroyer are not evil, because destruction serves a purpose in the grand scheme of things. There's none of this belief that good and evil are black and white and there are Deities who serve one and Deities who serve the other. Actually, if you want to go on about "trials" and such, those are not seen as evil either, as they also serve a purpose. The only evil is that which causes harm to another, and that is the sole responsibility of the one perpetrating the evil act. It is not inspired by or created by an outside influence or "devil." So, no there are not any "devils" in my religion. 

Quoting Kazoo22:

Keep reading

Quoting FoxFire363:

No, they do not. My religion has no devil figure at all.

Quoting Kazoo22:

It's not just Christian. Every religions has their own "devils".

Quoting autodidact:

because they were raised christian? 

by Anonymous 3 on Oct. 10, 2013 at 5:57 PM


Quoting strontium:

Quoting Anonymous:

Quoting strontium:

You are right. 

An eye-opening new Pew survey on science and religion reveals a huge God gap between scientists and other Americans. Eighty-three percent of Americans say that they believe in God, while just 33 percent of scientists do. Just 17 percent of Americans are religiously unaffiliated, while nearly three times as many scientists are.

The numbers are a testament to what an odd bird Francis Collins, the prominent geneticist and evanglical who is President Obama's nominee to run the National Institutes of Health, is.

This graph gives the full picture:

well no matter I still love my beautiful scientist

by Sapphire Member on Oct. 10, 2013 at 6:35 PM
Quoting Kazoo22:

So you do believe in him, just not the Christian version. 

Quoting momto2boys973:
Quoting Kazoo22:

You believe in the Christian based God, but not in satan/lucifer?

Quoting momto2boys973:I believe in G-d, but not Satan

I believe in the Jewish view of G-d. Ha Satan (The Satan, pronounced "Sah-tan, meaning "challenger") isn't an evil counterpart of G-d, it's an angel doing G-d's will, making our choices just challenging enough to make them meaningful.

Maybe I should've said I don't believe in the Devil.
But Satan and HaSatan are really 2 different entities, with very different characteristics, so I think it's over stretching to say I believe in Satan. That's like saying that if someone believes on Zeus they believe in G-d, just not the Christian version. Not really, that person believes in a different deity. I believe in a different entity that has a similar name because Christianity borrowed the name from Judaism.
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