Is Satan really the good guy?
Debate Rounds (5)
I recognize that you are atheist and I will let you know that I am Christian. Could we first lay down some assumptions of the debate?
1) Let us assume that God and Satan do exist.
2) Let us assume that the Bible is a trustworthy collection of accounts of man's experiences with God or the supernatural, though not infallible.
3) Let us also assume the Jesus is God incarnate.
These assumptions make the debate clearer. Would you like to edit, add, or delete any of the assumptions? Do you agree with the assumptions for the sake of debate?
So, I accept the challenge that "there are more indications in the bible that Satan has always been on our side, and God has always been against us." I will argue the opposite: there are far more indications that Satan has not always been on our side, and that God has always been on our side.
I would like to thank you for accepting my challenge, as well as agree with your terms of the debate. good luck.
I am going to start with some simple reasons as to why I believe Satan really isn't a bad guy.
1.God allowed Satan to exist
God, being the omnipotent, loving creator he is, fashioned all life out of the dust. I can assume we can both agree stories dictate that Lucifer/Satan was an angel who was thrown from Heaven for going against the will of God. Why did God, all-knowing, and famous for his hatred of evil, not simply erase the being who would be blamed for evil for centuries to come?
2. Satan gave and encouraged free thought
In the beginning when God created Adam and Eve he t the n the garden of Eden and told them not to eat the forbidden fruit, for it contains the knowledge of good and evil. If that was the case, there was no way either of them knew that eating the fruit and disobeying God was wrong, because they did not have hat knowledge yet. God's punishment for them seems a bit severe does it not? Essentially, God committed the first murder by taking Adam and Eve's eternal life. By tricking the first humans, Satan gave mankind the knowledge of good and evil.
3. God is hypocritical
Right after giving Moses the ten commandments, God let Moses order the Levites to go on mass murdering rampages. God also condemns man for committing evils, despite committing them himself. God lies to prophets, encourages the discrimination of others, and murders countless people himself.
4. God murders countless people
Satan kills a grand total of 10 people according to the bible. The numbers provided by the bible of the amount of people killed by God is 2,476,633, but the estimated total is slightly higher at 25,000,000.
Point 1) Satan is not bad in and of himself. Although, he can make choices that are not good, despite his intrinsic goodness inherited by God's creation. Moreover, I don't believe God cast Lucifer/Satan out of Heaven, but Satan cast himself out because he wanted no part of his "citizenship" of the kingdom of Heaven. This preserves God's goodness and promotes His gracious nature in that He still loves Satan even if He largely disagrees with his choices.
Point 2) I would think that we can agree that free will and free thought are virtually synonymous. We are all created with free will (the freedom of choice). Let us assume that making a choice takes some level of thought (conscious or subconscious). If it is accepted that God gave free will, it can be logically deduced that God also gave free thought.
Moreover, Adam and Eve, without the knowledge of good and evil could not know to trust one another. But they did. This leads me to believe that the first temptation is either 1) misunderstood by the reader and/or the writer, or 2) metaphorical in nature. The latter is corroborated in that Jesus said nothing is evil in and of itself (Mark 7), but it is rather made evil by a certain condition of the heart. Similarly, the tree itself cannot be evil for God cannot create evil.
Point 3 and 4) I will answer both these point here. They bring up a very interesting topic about biblical interpretation. Since God does not change (if He is perfect what needs to be changed? Nothing), the very same character as the one in the Old Testament should be exemplified in the accounts of Jesus. Thus, if we interpret something in the Old Testament that contradicts the nature of Jesus, our interpretation of the Old Testament should change.
The Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are considered more historically trustworthy accounts than any other ancient text we've ever had. They can also be somewhat corroborated with the other Gospel accounts (Gospel of Thomas, Mary, Judas--although the historical trustworthiness of these is disputed) and secular accounts (Tacitus, Josephus, letters between Pilate and Herod) ["Historical Reliability Gospels" by Craig Blomberg]. This is where I reason that if the Old Testament interpretation contradicts something demonstrated by Jesus, the former should be challenged, not the latter.
Jesus never killed a single person (in fact, resurrected many). Jesus never struck a person or gave sickness. Even in His outburst in the Temple (Matthew 21:13-14, Mark 11:15-19), He overturned tables not people. In fact there are MORE accounts of Jesus healing people--every person that came to Him.
Since we've established the assumption that Jesus is God incarnate, God must also act the same way in the Old Testament as Jesus did in the Gospel accounts. How could we justify this with the available texts though?
Let us read 2 Samuel 24:1. "The Lord's anger burned against Israel again, and He stirred up David against them to say: 'Go, count [the people of] Israel and Judah.'" Reading this the way it is gives us the impression that God was angry with Israel and He ordered David to take census and later there would be a mass murder of people. This seems to support your point, but it contradicts the nature of God personified in Jesus. Seems a tad speculative right now, doesn't it?
Now let us read 1 Chronicles 21:1, which refers to the same exact event at the same exact time, place and context. These are parallel texts. But this passage says, "Satan stood up against Israel and incited David to count [the people of] Israel."
So who ordered the census which would lead to a mass murder? God in His anger, or Satan? I would say Satan because Jesus, as God incarnate, demonstrates an entirely opposite nature. What caused this stark difference in names then? There are 2 possibilities, both of which are complementary of one another.
1) The Jews who wrote 2 Samuel believed Satan was working in favor of God (like a henchman doing the dirty work) but cutting out the middle man and attributing the act to God in His anger. This is called delegated authority. It happens when the president sends you a letter. It probably wasn't the president himself who personally wrote the letter but someone working for him. There are less extreme examples of this in the Bible (e.g. Compare Matthew 8:5 and Luke 7:3). The belief that Satan is God's henchman is abundant in the Old Testament (e.g. 1 Kings 11:14).
2) the Jews who wrote 1 Chronicles (which was written in a period after 2 Samuel which is actually partially characterized by this temporary shift in beliefs from Satan as a minion to an enemy by his choice) believed Satan was not really working for God. This shift in beliefs did not last long but was rebirthed when Jesus came.
If this is accepted, it would also explain the fact that Satan's name is only mentioned 16 times in the Old Testament, whereas He is mentioned nearly 200 times in the New Testament (even though it is significantly shorter in length). What are the implications if this is accepted? Everytime the LORD's anger is referenced in the Old Testament, it should be read as "God or Satan's anger" and weighed against the life of Jesus.
A good friend of mine, Tyler Johnson, once wrote this: "If you cannot sustantiate your belief about the Father with the life of Jesus, your belief [about the Father] is wrong." (quote from Tyler's book "How To Raise The Dead").
Since Jesus never killed anyone, it can be reason that He, as God, never did in the Old Testament either. The remaining possibilities are that it was Satan or another person (either a physical intent to harm or a supernatural type of curse). If we try to maximize the results (a form of statistical analysis), and assume every time God killed someone, it was actually another person, God yields a death count of 0 whereas Satan supposedly kills 10. If this interpretation is deemed logically sound, and if we give Satan the beneit of the doubt, God still kills 10 less people than Satan, thus disproving your claim that there are more indications in the Bible that Satan is really on our side and that God is not.
Satan thus could have killed between 25,000,010 and 10 people, whereas God could have killed none, if we use Jesus as the standard.
Invalid forfeited this round.
Best wishes! Peace and love!
I will be addressing your points accordingly
Point 1) I'll just say it wasn't my intention to prove that God is evil because he cast Satan out of heaven. Whether he left or was thrown out is beside the point. God, being the omniscient creator he is, knew the ramifications of letting Satan exist and yet did nothing. If God is the all-loving creator He is made out to be, why does He create people who will become murderers, rapists, pedophiles and anyone of the sort? Why does he create people who he knows will sin and who he will send to hell for eternity? What loving creator does that? Seeing as Satan is one of the excuses for bad behaviour, why did God allow him to exist.
Point 2) You state that God cannot create evil. If that is the case, then why does evil exist? Where did it come from? I would have liked to just exclude the story of Adam and Eve due to contradictions and misunderstandings, but I feel that would mean we can't use the bible at all.
Point 3 & 4)I would like to start off by addressing the holy trinity. Yes, I agreed to make the assumption that Jesus and God are one and the same. However God (in his omniscient, ubiquitous form) was undoubtedly present at the same time as Jesus. Note that I am not trying to debunk the theory that they are the same. Jesus (in his physical human form) did not kill anyone according to the bible. Although, just because He did not kill anyone in his physical form, does not mean Jesus/God did not kill anyone in His ... "God form" :/.
As mentioned before the bible is tricky to use because of the ridiculous amount of contradictions. However, if we find evidence supporting either of our cases, that also has a contradiction, it is not reliable. I don't believe it reliable to use as you will be simply making an assumption that the passage supporting your case is the correct one.
Let me answer a few of your questions and objections.
1) I will quote C.S. Lewis from his book, "Mere Christianity," on this topic because he puts it so stinkin' well: "God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can't. If a thing is free to be good it's also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata -of creatures that worked like machines- would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they've got to be free. Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently, He thought it worth the risk. (...) If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will -that is, for making a real world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings- then we may take it it is worth paying."
Essentially, evil is a creation of the created, not an attribute of the created, nor a creation of the Creator. It is illogical to delegate "blame" to God because we have the freedom to choose what to do--He isn't a coercive robotic engineer. The same goes for Satan. In fact, there are certain branches of Christianity that believe Satan will one day decide to no longer be God's enemy (that is, he will cease being against God).
It seems as if you understand this to extent because you say, "why does He create people who will become murderers, rapists, pedophiles and anyone of the sort?" keyword: "will become." You recognize that He did not create them that way. The same goes for how Satan is typically viewed. He was not created as this evil being to reign in hell. Rather, he was created as a highly honored angel in heaven.
Furthermore, hell is not where Satan reigns. Hell is not where people go if they sin. Everybody sins. Hell is also not a torture chamber by God's own doing, but rather our own rejection of He who sustains our very existence. Hell, like Satan's initial rebellion, is essentially the rejection of one's citizenship in Heaven.
Also, existence in hell is not genuinely "eternal". "Eternal" means without beginning and without end. Since we've established that evil and rebellion against God is not an original trait of the created, it must begin at some point. If you even take the evangelical stance, when people die, their existence in hell begins at some point. The alternative interpretation would be that hell is of the eternal realm or of the eternal One.
2) See point 1 for the most part. There are indeed many contradictions (one or two of which I reasoned with in Round 2).
3 & 4) The underlying idea behind Jesus being God incarnate is that He fully and exactly exemplifies the character of the Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus says it pretty well when He says, "I and the Father are one," (John 10:30) and "If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him" (John 14:7). He is claiming His actions to be equivocal in nature with the Father's.
The Bible certainly is a tricky tool (though it is not useless). There are over 40 different authors separated over thousands of years and many from vastly different cultures. There's bound to be some confusion at some point. But these can be easily reasoned with by interpreting the Bible with Jesus as the standard. Otherwise, there will be few answers, many speculations, and many more questions. Even if one does not believe Christ to be God incarnate, it is proper (for the sake of biblical interpretation and understanding) to read every passage in light of the character of Jesus. The converse produces strawman arguments more often than I've seen it produce a true understanding of the message being portrayed.
I don't know if this next paragraph will be relevant, but I will write it anyways in the hope of solidifying an understanding between the two of us.
Most Christians believe the Bible is "inspired by God." What most people don't know is that there are multiple theories about biblical inspiration. For brevity, I will reference only the theory that is relevant to the points I've made. "This view likens inspiration to light passing through the stained glass of a cathedral window. The light is from heaven but it is stained and colored by the glass through which it passes. In the same way, the message of God is said to pass through the heart and mind of the original human author and come out discolored by his personality" [http://www.angelfire.com...].
C.S. Lewis's view on biblical inspiration is almost identical to the dynamic theory of inspiration [http://www.swartzentrover.com...].
So it seems to me that there are two options. To reinterpret the entire Bible in light of the nature demonstrated by Christ (when it comes to God's actions, particularly in the Old Testament), or continue to ask questions based on misunderstandings and obvious contradictions (which are largely reconciled in the former choice), and eventually forming strawman arguments (maybe not even on purpose).
Invalid forfeited this round.
tapostol forfeited this round.
No votes have been placed for this debate.
You are not eligible to vote on this debate
This debate has been configured to only allow voters who meet the requirements set by the debaters. This debate either has an Elo score requirement or is to be voted on by a select panel of judges.