Advocating for the Devil, 101

***Disclaimer: If you’re super religious and/or don’t like having your beliefs questioned, you may want to steer clear of this one.***

When I was a junior in college, I took a class in professional arguing. (Well, okay, technically it was Advanced Negotiation, but arguing is more fun to say.) One of the most useful things I learned in that class was how to frame an argument from the other party’s perspective. Not “as if” you were in their position, but lackluster in your conviction–as many politicians like to pretend. (Some call this a “Straw Man” defense, which is exactly as condescending as it sounds.) But truly, sincerely attempting to put yourself in the other position, even for a few moments…essentially, playing Satan himself in the time-honored art of Devil’s Advocacy.

As a result of this training, I have found it’s easier for me to open my mind to the possibility that, well, ANYTHING is possible. Maybe I was already like this before (no time now for the whole “nature v. nurture” debate, I’m afraid), because even as a child, I remember questioning things that literally everyone in my narrow little world believed (or at least pretended) were undoubtedly true. Like the existence of Santa Claus, or the fact that a groundhog could predict weather patterns, and teachers always knew what they were talking about.

I also questioned the undeniable fact that God existed–at least, in the form I was raised to believe he exists. Even before Santa went the way of Hannah Montana, I had a hard time believing that God, Holy Father of all beings in creation, was an omniscient white bearded guy living somewhere in the clouds (or maybe in space) and looking down on us with a judgmental scowl–or, at best, a long-suffering sigh of disappointment. Every minute of every day. To me, that just seemed like a total waste of supreme power. I mean, seriously. As human beings, we can lord over and destroy the insect kingdom on a whim. And sure, when we’re kids, many of us experiment with the phenomenal cosmic power of magnifying glass and direct sunlight v. armies of ants. But eventually, at some point, we outgrow that juvenile need to control, intimidate or destroy lesser beings. Because we have more important/worthwhile things to do with our lives.

Or, at least, some of us do. But that…that is a topic that won’t fit in one blog post. Unlike the existence of The Almighty, which I will attempt to negotiate, from the Devil’s perspective–if you will–in just Ten Steps of Argument (for the Sake of Argument):

  1. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that God (as the majority of today’s God-fearing population sees Him) does not actually exist.
  2. Please remain calm. Let me just remind you (once more, with feeling) that this is an exercise, merely for the sake of rhetoric. I’m not trying to destroy anyone’s core belief system. Honest.
  3. If God does not exist, and no animals that we know of have ever been witnessed worshipping a deity the way we do, it’s probably safe to say that human beings (aka Man) created Him.
  4. If Man created God, the fact that humanity adopted this fictional being on such a mass scale indicates that God fills some kind of important/intrinsic need, for those who believe in him. Right?
  5. Based on past/current events, I think it’s safe to say that not all humans believe in the same God, or worship their chosen God in the same way. Still with me? Awesome. By that fact, it’s probably also acceptable to assume that some people think their God is better (or more real) than everyone else’s God. (Because, let’s be honest: if Man created God, why in the heck would he bother creating a God that would be sub-par when compared to someone else’s idea of God?)
  6. So then…if not all Gods are created equal, but each belief system fully believes that their God is the Best (Realest) God…we can logically assume that the Goodness (Bestness, most Awesomeness) of Any God is entirely subjective. Especially when you consider that, for the victims of any supposedly God-motivated bombing, mass shooting, crusade, inquisition, witch hunt, jihad, etc. and so forth, that God was pretty much the Opposite of Great. Very less than good, in fact.
  7. If Man created God, and God isn’t always Good/Helpful/Necessary for all mankind, thus disproving his existence as a pure (unmitigated) force of goodness, love and tolerance in the world…why do we keep believing that? Is it because, we really needed/need him for some other reason? (Perhaps, some slightly less benevolent, more selfish reason?)
  8. If Man created God, and (as it then follows) the Bible/Koran/Twilight and all those other Holy Texts are based on the opinions of the human beings who wrote them, during the times (historically) when they were written, then it stands to reason that some of that divine knowledge would have expired by now. Some of it, at least. And yet, so many humans choose to keep believing those words, clinging to the Unbreakable (but apparently, very flexible, when it serves their purposes) Rules written hundreds of years ago. So many people seem to believe that What We Knew Then (or thought we knew) is more valuable/applicable/true than What We Know Now. That what we believe is preferable to what we can see with our own eyes, hear with our own ears, touch with our own…well, you get the idea. That secondhand knowledge–supposedly divine in nature–is better than firsthand experience. Thus, the attitude of Believing protects those Ancient Ideas, which promote Unquestioning Belief, which protect those same ideas, and so on and so forth, into eternity.
  9. If Man created God, and his purpose was not to make every human being on earth happier, kinder, more selfless, more alive…what are we doing believing in Him?
  10. What is God’s true purpose in our lives today?
    • Is He just some fictional being we apologize to, after doing very bad things, to make ourselves feel better about the lies we can’t un-say? The mistakes we can’t undo? The people we can’t un-kill?
    • Is He someone to blame, when things don’t go our way?
    • Is He an excuse to treat certain people differently than others, because those people don’t look or act the way we think He wants us to?
    • Is He a big, cuddly and forgiving Grandfather with a bag full of candy and rewards for the righteous?
    • Is God a toga wearing sex machine, with a knack for epic fireworks and seducing humans?
    • Or is He more like a presence, the eternal personification of All Things Good, which cannot ever truly be defined by our puny human imaginations–except, of course, for the fact that we (arguably) created Him in the first place?
    • Is He the Creator of Sick Beats, responsible for every triple platinum album ever?
    • Or is He a giant, invisible child with a magnifying glass, the personification of all the terrible things we as human beings are capable of?

I, of course, have no idea. (Again, just playing Devil’s Advocate here.) But, I do believe it’s worth thinking about–even just to remind yourself of what, and why, you believe.

Feel free to offer your opinions, your arguments, your questions. I’m a big believer in the power of rhetoric. That said, please be respectful and kind in your assent/dissent. Or I will utilize my divine power over this blog to delete your post.