I do not believe in the existence of Satan. I regard Christianity as a false religion, and Jehovah’s arch-enemy has no more actual existence than Jehovah himself. There is no devil, there are no demons, demonic possession is superstitious nonsense, and satanic ritual abuse has no more substance than tales of alien abduction.
Here is what I fundamentally believe about life. Man is a mammal; he is not special, not made in the image of God. He possesses a brain, heart, lungs, flesh and bones, like any other mammal. Nothing in the animal kingdom possesses any inherent right to life, as observed by the constant struggle to survive, predator against prey. Mankind is a part of this arrangement, different only in the level of advancement bestowed upon him by his brain. For aeons, man has sought to account for his predicament by inventing myths about a fall from grace – stories that provide a tangible reason for the pain and suffering of fleshly existence, as well as offering the hope of something better. But today, man is in a position to understand life more clearly. Every fractal level of the universe is engaged in this same battle. Under the microscope, tiny organisms engage in warfare. The same principle exists in an asteroid colliding with a planet, or a star going supernova. The universe is inescapably hostile. Why would man be exempt from a principle that permeates every observable level of existence, from sub-atomic particles to the forces spanning the girth of entire galaxies? Now we can understand that the old myths were wrong. Nothing went metaphysically wrong with the human race in the distant past. Everything is as it should be. The great challenge is to be self-realised enough to understand this and embrace it, rather than to seek solace in wishful thinking.
Believe it or not, what I have just described underpins a philosophy called Satanism. The Hebrew word Satan means “adversary.” Satanism is the understanding that a fundamental property of the universe is that it is adversarial – satanic, if you will. Satanism is not the belief in a being called Satan.
The obvious question is: “Why call it Satanism, if you don’t believe in Satan?” Well, if I accused someone of being mercurial, what does that mean? It means he’s unpredictable, volatile, prone to being calm one minute and angry the next. Does it mean that he’s are a worshipper of the Roman god Mercury? Of course not. “But Mercury is a planet,” you point out. Yes, and the planet was named after a god. So were the days of the week. You see, we name things after ancient gods because of their symbolic relevance. Mercury was a god of trade, swiftly running from place to place. This to-and-fro motion is the essence of what it means to be mercurial.
What, then, does it mean to be satanic? It means that you embrace the adversary within yourself. Conflict, as well as cooperation, is a fact of existence that can never be extinguished. It does not mean that you are unethical – unless you see pacifism as the ultimate standard of moral excellence.
There are several drawbacks that come with the label Satanist.
1. Saying “I’m a Satanist” will provoke widespread misunderstanding of what you believe, because the masses, fed on a diet of pop culture and Christian propaganda, think that Satanism is literal devil-worship. Unlike Thor, Satan is still far too alive in the minds of the population, making it especially difficult for them to understand the use of that name as a mere symbol. The term Satanism could really only function effectively as a socially acceptable label in a post-Christian world.
2. Satanism (like Christianity) is defined in different ways by different people. The most popular faction seems to be the atheistic symbolic version, but there are also theistic Satanists. Among the latter, you will find a fairly intelligent theism that recognises all gods as different expressions of one God. The name of this God is abrbitrary; it might as well be Satan as any other name. Then there are those who worship the literal Satan of the Bible, which makes no sense whatsoever; if you believe the Christian worldview, choose Christ. Another absurd expression of Satanism is an organisation called the Joy of Satan, which incorporates the ancient astronaut theories of Zecharia Sitchin into their ideology. Expressions of Satanism are manifold, from the sublime to the ridiculous.
3. Sadly, not all professing Satanists are ethical (just as not all professing Christians are ethical). I’m not talking about ridiculous tales of child sacrifice, just that the label can unfortunately act as a homing beacon for immoral persons who wish to use it to justify destructive behaviour (having probably never read Anton LaVey’s Satanic Bible).
The above drawbacks are deal-breakers for me. I view Satanism as something that I passed through, rather than something that can usefully define who I am. In studying Satanism, I gained valuable insights about life that I may not have learned elsewhere. In anything I research, whatever truth I glean from it becomes a part of me, and then I move on to other avenues of learning. “Satanist” may be a useful label for those who like to be provocative, who find it fun to be misunderstood. But that’s like allowing yourself to be caught up in trivial games when there’s more important work to be done.
As for my ethics, I don’t smoke; I don’t get drunk; I’m not sexually promiscuous; I don’t do recreational drugs; I cherish my close friends; I live and let live with those who live and let live; I deal honestly with everyone who deserves honesty. I’m no saint, but I do try to live a peaceable, productive and happy life. My ethics are based on the only thing worth basing ethics on: the awareness of the consequences of my actions.
I am guilty of the great crime of thinking different from the masses. To some, that makes me the rebel, the outcast, the villain, if for no other reason than “You can’t please everybody.” So, you understand the symbolic relevance of identification with the villain. When someone asks me what I am, I say that I am an individualist. It’s accurate, but it’s not nearly as potent and rich in meaning as Satanist. When you really think about it, is there any other word that would suffice?