Friday, December 17, 2010

The Devil Did It!

Fundamentalist Protestantism has this great safety mechanism for shutting down lines of questioning that might lead people to realize how inconsistent and impossible it is. If a good reason to disbelieve is found, or if solid "evidence" for God is shown to be not-so-solid, you can always pull out that old scapegoat, the Devil.

Why does God hurt good people? The Devil did it!
Why are there so many religions that are similar in so many ways to Christianity (I'm looking at you, Mithras)? The Devil did it!
Why is it that the more educated people are, the more likely they are to not believe in God? The Devil did it!
How have scientists found so much evidence for evolution, the origins of life, and big bang cosmology? The Devil did it!

See, the bible is full of admonitions to beware false prophets, antichrists and the deceiver (Satan). Problem is, how do you know which ones are true and which are false? Some Protestants go so far as to say that Satan is running the world. That mainstream media and secular government are both under his thrall. In that case, everything in the world is a carefully orchestrated conspiracy with one super powerful spirit being running the show (a being that can possess people's minds and show them things that aren't there). So, how can you trust anything?

They usually stop at outsiders, though. When someone from another religion says something they dislike, or when a new law is passed that disagrees with a tenet of their religion, that's when the Devil is responsible. But take it to the logical conclusion. If this conspiracy exists, your friends at church could be demons in disguise. Your pastor could be gleefully leading you down the road to hell. Your spouse could be a succubus, sent to tempt you. The bible (and all books) could have been written by the Devil himself.

But the Devil is just a psychological trick. He's designed to be just powerful enough that he can be blamed for anything that isn't part of the status quo. Whoever you are, your teacher is the right one. Any that disagree are all minions of the devil.

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