What About Satan?
Question: The Bible blames evil on a mythological figure it calls the devil, or Satan. There is absolutely no evidence that imps and gnomes and gremlins and devils even exist. Furthermore, we don’t need that hypothesis. Everything can be explained without it. Name one evil in our world that man is not capable of committing without any help from the so-called devil and his demons!
Response: The Bible never mentions such imaginary creatures as imps, gnomes, fairies, gremlins, etc., nor do these products of superstition have anything whatsoever to do with Christianity. The perverse attempt on the part of critics to pretend that Christians believe in such entities betrays their proud prejudice: “A man of thought and sense does not believe in the existence of the Devil. He feels certain that imps, goblins, demons, and evil spirits exist only in the imagination of the ignorant and frightened…. Back of this belief there is no evidence, and there never has been…. Now take the Devil out of the New Testament, and you also take the veracity of Christ; with that veracity you take the divinity; with that divinity you take the atonement, and when you take the atonement, the great fabric known as Christianity becomes a shapeless ruin” (Robert Green Ingersoll).
That they find it necessary to resort to ridicule and overstatement also reveals how weak the skeptics’ position really is. Let the critics at least be honest and stick to the facts. The Bible does not blame all evil on Satan or demons. In fact it actually says, “Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed” (James:1:14). Of course man is capable of all the evil being committed in the world; he is the one who is actually doing it. That does not prove, however, that there may not be an outside influence at work. A young man who robs a bank is clearly capable of doing so, but that doesn’t nullify the fact that his partner in crime initiated the idea and goaded him into joining him.
Eve was certainly capable of eating the forbidden fruit, and actually did so. That did not, however, negate the possibility that Satan, speaking through the serpent, put her up to it. Nor would the fact of Satan’s involvement excuse Eve. She was held accountable by God for her sin. Far from forcing mankind to sin, Satan plays rather the part of tempter, teasing man with evil desires to which he is not only susceptible but inclined.
It is not man’s duty to fight off Satan but to rest in the victory Christ has won and to trust in Him both for salvation and for victory over sin and temptation. Although we acknowledge Satan’s existence, we resist the seductive impulse to become fascinated with him or to imagine we can directly engage him in battle. As C.S. Lewis said:
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve 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 and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight. [C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (Fleming H. Revell, 1976), Preface.]