In Defense of the Faith |

Dave Hunt

What about Satan as Serpent?

Question: I think one of the great evidences against the authenticity of the Bible is its treatment of the serpent. In the Bible, the serpent is the embodiment of evil, whereas ancient myths and religions give exactly the opposite view. The Bible equates the serpent with the devil, but the most ancient religions, some of which are even practiced  to the present time, almost universally identify the serpent as the Savior, or at least as benevolent and to be worshiped. How can the Bible be true at the same time be so much out of touch with what is clearly the common intuition of humanity?

Response: This is a fascinating subject, and its implications go beyond our ability to understand fully. There is no doubt that the Bible repeatedly identifies Satan both as the serpent and the dragon, not only in Genesis 3 but elsewhere. For example, “And the great dragon was cast ouit, that sold serpent called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world” (Revelation:12:9). In view of the usual human revulsion and fear of both dragons and serpents, one would think that Satan would do everything possible to deny such a connection, yet the opposite seems to be the case, for some strange reason. How intriguing it is that both are so closely associated with nearly all pagan religions. The dragon is found on thousands of temples throughout Asia, while the serpent permeates and even dominates the religion of India.

Serpent Worship Everywhere

In the temples of ancient Egypt and Rome the body of the god Serapis was encircled by the coils of a great serpent. In Hinduism one of the three chief gods, Shiva, has serpents entwined in his hair. Yoga is symbolized as a raft made of cobras, and its goal is to awaken the kundalini power coiled at the base of the human spine in the form of a serpent.Numerous other examples could be given, from the plumed serpent Quetzalcoatl, the Savior-god of the Mayas, to the annual snake dance of the Hopi Indians. One of the greatest authorities on the occult (himself a practitioner of occultism) has written:

Serpent worship in some form permeated nearly all parts of the earth. The serpent mounds of the American Indian; the carved-stone snakes of Central and South America; the hooded cobras of India; Python, the great snake of the Greeks; the sacred serpents of the Druids; the Midgard snake of Scandinavia; the Nagas of Burma, Siam, and Cambodia . . . the mystic serpent of Orpheus; the snakes at the oracle of Delphi . . . the sacred serpents preserved in the Egyptian temples; the Uraeus coiled upon te foreheads of the Pharaohs and priests—all these bear wintess to the universal veneration in which the snake was held. . . .

                     The serpent is . . . the symbol and prototype of the Universal Savior, who redeems the world by giving creation the knowledge of itself. . . .  It has long been viewed as the emblem of immortality. It is the symbol of reincarnation. (Manley P. Hall, The Secret Teachings or all Ages: An Encyclopedic outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Sybolical Philosophy (The Philosophical Research Society, Inc, Lost Angeles, CA 90027, 1969)

In Greek mythology a serpent was wrapped around the Orphic egg, the symbol of the cosmos. Likewise at Delphi, Greece (for centuries the location of the most sought-for and influential oracle of the ancient world, consulted by potentates from as far away as North Africa and Asia Minor), the three legs of the oracular tripod in the inner shrine of the temple were intertwined with serpents. As one further example, consider the Gree and Roman god of medicine, Aesculapius, whose symbol of modern medicine, the caduceus, was derived.

In the temples erected in his honor, Aesculapius was worshiped with snakes because of ancient myth that said he had received a healing herb at the mouth of a serpent. Here again we have the Genesis story perverted: The serpent is not the deceiver and destroyer but the Savior of mankind, replacing Jesus Christ. At graduation ceremonies of medical schools around the world, where prayers to the God of the Bible or to Jesus Christ would not be allowed, graduates, upon receiving their MD degrees, still repeat loudly in unison the Hippocratic oath. It begins, “I swear by Apollo, by Aesculapius, by Hygeia and Panacea, and by all the gods and goddesses. . . .”

Surely the Bible’s depiction of Satan as a serpent and dragon, the deceiver and destroyer of mankind, and then as the god of this world who originates pagan religions, fits the evidence. Furthermore, the very fact that the Bible stands alone against all ancient religions provides further evidence that all of them have a common source and that the inspiration behind the Bible is, exactly as it claims, independent of theirs. In fact, the two sources of inspiration are obviously diametrically opposed.

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