A Dialogue Between Satan and a Christian

Satan: [W]hat does the god do in whom you believe?

Christian: He created you as an angel, but you rebelled and fell.

Satan: When your children rebel, do you punish them eternally?

Christian: You were an angel and should have known better.

Satan: But apparently I did not know better, and it was, you say, God that created me. Tell me, do you really believe in angels?

Christian: No.

Satan: But there are angels in your Scripture.

Christian: I do not take them literally.

Satan: Do you take me literally?

Christian: No.

Satan: You believe in God, and you believe that atheists are very wrong. What is it that you believe and they deny? What exactly are you saying when you say that God exists? [ … ]

Christian: I believe that God exists.

Satan: I can see that this statement means a great deal to you, and you have expressed very well what it means to you. But while I understand how you feel, I still do not understand what it is that, you think, exists, or in what way it exists. Does God take up space as you do?

Christian: Of course not.

Satan: Why, then, do you say that he exists?

Christian: Surely, many things exist that do not take up space.

Satan: Name three.

Christian: Does a dream take up space? Or a feeling? Or a thought?

Satan: Is God a dream, a feeling, or a thought?

Christian: Certainly not.

Satan: Try again.

Christian: What of justice?

Satan: What of justice indeed? Does it exist? Is it not an idea, or if you prefer, an ideal? Something toward which men aspire? Injustice exists, but justice is a name for what does not exist.

Christian: You admit that injustice exists. Does that take up space?

Satan: Injustice is a word that sums up a complex state of affairs together with the speaker’s reaction to it. It is not an entity.

Christian: Love exists.

Satan: Love is another word that does not designate an entity but a highly complicated pattern of feeling, thought, and behavior.

Christian: I never said that God was an entity.

Satan: But when you speak of God, do you not mean a mere concept or a pattern of human feeling, thought, and behavior. And I do not know what exactly you do mean. And I think you don’t know yourself.

Christian: If you do not know what I mean when I speak of God, read Scripture.

Satan: You know that I can cite Scripture to my purpose.

Christian: You must not take verses out of context –

Satan: Like preachers and theologians?

Quoted from Walter Kaufmann, Critique of Religion and Philosophy (Princeton University Press: 1958) pp. 245-247


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