I get asked, on occasion, usually by well-meaning Christian friends, what my views on the Devil are. This is usually asked as a prelude to the “Have you asked Jesus for forgiveness” spiel.
When this happens, I smile and patiently explain that the Devil is a Christian construct and has no place in my personal religious/spiritual views. This is usually followed by a slight cocking of the head to either side, and a confused look on the face. What usually follows is one of the following: “But, don’t you think all the evil in the world comes from one place?” “Humans are born with the Devils touch. Says so in the Bible.” or “Satan is real and if you don’t allow Jesus in your heart, he’ll get you!” As I said, they are well-meaning people. But they fail to understand that in my personal view, there is no “Satan” figure.
On occasion, I will get someone who will ask if I believe evil exists in the world at all. To which I reply, of course evil exists in the world. The fact that I am not sleeping with Angelina Jolie on a nightly basis proves this. (Sorry, Brad!)
All joking aside, I do see evil in the world, but I don’t see one mastermind behind all the evil in the world. There is, in my view, no devil sitting in Hell twisting his mustache and chuckling evilly all Fu Manchu like at all the tasty souls he’s going to eat.
This is a concept in the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and, Theistic Satanism.) The concept holds no real sway in most Pagan faiths.
The Unfolding Revelations of Enlightenment, which I practice, has no devil figure. There is no ultimate source of all evil in the world. The evil is due to the actions of man, himself.
Does this mean that I believe all humans are born inherently evil? No. Nor do I believe they are born inherently good, either. Humans are a blank slate, effectively neutral, until they are taught one or the other. While some influence is derived from genes, what I am speaking of is learned behavior. Racism, for example, is not a transmittable affliction. That is, it’s not passed down from parent to child in the genes. It’s a learned behavior.
A person learns to fear and hate those that are different from himself only because he is taught by a parent (or other figure) that the hated community is evil and must be resisted at all costs.
If you think back over your life, I am sure there were times that your parents told you that certain people aren’t to be trusted or were perverted. My parents, as great as they are in other ways, tried this with me.
My dad told me all sorts of negative things about African-Americans. I didn’t listen. My mom told me that homosexuals are perverts. I didn’t listen. They both told me to stay away from Mexicans. I didn’t listen then, either.
(I want to point out that their views have softened a great deal since then. They are more open-minded now.)
I was able to throw off that programming. Many cannot, or will not. It can be thrown off, if the person is willing to do so. That’s the key point, though. The person has to willing to change his or her views. With out that essential ingredient, nothing will change.
My parents’ views didn’t come from some devil figure, (though they both believe it did), it came from their parents, and their parents before them. So, what does the devil mean to me?