I was reading Barbara Walker’s wonderful book Man Made God: A Collection of Essays and it happened to mention the tempting of Eve in the Garden of Eden. Today, most Christians consider the snake that tempted Eve to be Satan/Devil/Lucifer who, as Paradise Lost would have it, came back from hell to corrupt God’s greatest creation and put mankind onto the path of sin.
Anyways, this brought me back to something that I had known when I was a Christian (but chose to ignore at that time) and that is that Satan was the one who told the truth about the fruit of knowledge. God specifically said that Adam and Eve will die if the fruit was eaten, and yet they did not. Satan, on the other hand, said that eating the fruit will open their eyes and make them know the difference between good and evil. Although one can sort-of kind-of reinteret God’s words to mean something else (i.e., God didn’t mean they would die right away, only that death would immediately be introduced into the world) but there’s no denying the fact that Satan actually told the truth to Adam and Eve (despite being called the father of lies…).
After reflecting on this it occurred to me that in some ways Satan is like the titan Prometheus in Greek mythology, who brought fire to mankind and was punished for it by Zeus. Satan, or Lucifer (the “light-bearer”), brought the light of knowledge to mankind, foiling God’s plan to keep mankind naive and ignorant. In many ways, humankind should see itself as indebted to Satan and he should be treated as the patron saint of science and technology (as well as all other branches of knowledge). Instead, we have the world’s great religions treating Satan as the enemy and God as the savior! If I still believed in a god then Satan would be the ideal god for me: a god who tells the truth (unlike God and his mysteries) and who encouraged learning and knowledge (unlike God who demands everyone become like ignorant children).
Of course when you think about it a lot of this Satan/devil stuff doesn’t make sense at all. Hell is supposed to be Satan’s domain where the wicked are tortured for all eternity, yet why would Satan want to punish one of his own? Shouldn’t God’s angels be the ones putting evil people through their torments? Frankly, if I was Satan, I would make hell one continuous party for my enlightened followers, with a beer volcanoes and… oh wait, that’s already taken by his noodly appendages :p
Anyways, just some thoughts on Satan…