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Friday, August 18, 2006

It's Both Moral and Evil

A blogger who, at this point, I know only as Aaron, wrote a brief piece about his lack of surprise that it might soon be politically incorrect to refer to Satan as evil, in response to professor Henry Ansgar Kelly's new book Satan: A Biography (Cambridge University Press). "No one is ever really bad," Aaron sardonically retorts. "They are simply 'misunderstood'." Kelly's book as a subject might be interesting in itself but what has me writing here tonight is the comments that attended Aaron's post. Of particular interest was the exchange between myself and an apparent atheist named Mark (who runs a blog that reviews films, and goes by the name 'Cineaste' online).

Satan, Mark insists, is nothing more than a fiction created by Christians, to give them something upon which they can lay blame for all the evil in the world. "Without Satan to blame everything bad on," he remarks, "Christians would have only God left to blame the ills of the world on. Christians can't have that; hence, they put Lucifer in the story. Satan has an important role to play in the Christian mythology." (We will ignore the fact that he conflates Satan and Lucifer, and his poisoning-the-well assertion that Christianity is mythology.) The part that really grabbed my attention, however, was where he said that people have a tendency to "confuse good and evil with morality." He feels that anything you "think of as 'evil', you are confusing [it] with what you think of as immoral." It grabbed Aaron's attention, too, and he said he found it curious that Mark thinks good and evil are not connected with morality. Mark reaffirmed his feeling that they are not connected, and then added his rejection of all supernatural beings. (With contradictory flair, he claims that if you remove man from the picture then 'nature' is all that's left—as though man were not himself a part of nature.)

I simply had to reply, of course. The following is the exchange between myself and Mark (click here).