Category Archives: Booklet on Satan

Basing the Reality of Satan on the Problem of evil

This post begins the actual construction of a Conceptual Model of what it would be like for Satan to be a reality. We begin with a variation of the familiar problem of evil.

If God is all-good and all-powerful and the sole creator of reality as we experience reality and we do not deserve reality as we experience reality to have sin and suffering, then reality as we experience it would not have sin and suffering.

But: God is all good and all powerful.

And: Reality as we experience it has sin and suffering.

Hence, God is not the sole creator of reality as we experience it or we deserve reality as we experience it to have sin and suffering.

The disjunctive conclusion is an inclusive disjunction, viz., both disjuncts can be true. Here, it is plausible, as we shall see, that if both are true they are connected. First, though, we should note that a creator other than God is not equal to God. For, a creator equal to God would be God. So, the creator other than God is only a deputy creator created by God with the capability of acting against what God would have in reality as we experience it. In other words it has the greatest possible Free Will .

For the remainder of this post, I will not us the phrase “reality as we experience it” but only the word “reality.” I mean by “sin” choosing reality to be different from the way a perfect creator would have it be. Since, in another post, I interpret moral laws as Divine Commands , I use “sin” above to refer to the evil brought about by choices of beings capable of choosing to obey or disobey God, viz. beings with Agenct Causality,

If the deputy creator acted against God’s will in creating reality choosing it to be different from God’s way, then we could say this deputy creator, and our candidate for Satan, comitted a cosmic sin. Why, though, should the sin of the deputy creator, viz. Satan, be inflicted on humanity by having reality be so full of sin and suffering? Why should any sins of humans bring about such a cosmic catastrophe unless some original human sin is linked with Satan’s cosmic sin? The plausible link is that Satan led humans to choose to commit its sin. So, humans deserve what Satan deserves for its sin. (I prefer to use”it” to refer to Satan. The evil intentions of an agent cause seem more uncanny when it is simply some being capable of choosing evil. )

This linkage of Satan and humanity in a choice for reality not to be as God would have it be entails that reality with its sin, suffering and death is as it ought to be. For choices that what is good ought not be are choices that some harm ought to be. Hence, the cosmic choice of Satan and humanity that the highest possible created good, viz reality as God would have it, is a choice that harm, destruction of what is good ought to be in reality.

Put it this way. For the construction of my model I assume that the original choice for the deputy creator was binary: Choose the greatest good, which is what the Creator would have, or choose the greatest harm which is total annihilation of the greatest good. What Satan chooses is a condition contradictory to what god would choose; not merely contrary to it. Even if the deputy creator would have reality be a little bit different than God would have it, the deputy creator would first have to make the cosmic choice to set aside, to disobey, the plan of the creator. That choice to set aside the good of the creator is the choice of the cosmic harm that the good God wills be destroyed. Our Genesis Myth puts it well. First Satan tempted Adam & Eve to set aside God’s plan. That disobedience is Adam & Eve’s original sin which brings upon them the same cosmic curse as that upon Satan. The subsequent choices of Adam and Eve – choices of humanity- have not been for total annihilation. They have been choices of how reality ought to be according to human inclinations and desires. Satan, the deputy creator, had no choices beyond the first choice: To create as God wills or will for no creation at all.

Of course, the preceding requires justification of many assumptions. A major assumption is that God created a deputy creator. Some reasons for creating a deputy creator are in Rationality of Belief in Satan. Another major assumption is correctness of a Retribution Punishment. This is an assumptionthat choice of what is wrong is a creation of an ad hoc moral norm that some harm ought to be. It is an ad hoc norm because it was created by a choice and can be removed by some suffering of the harm that ought to be. I have called these ad hoc norms that some harm ought to be Moral Harm. I will now start to call a moral harm a curse.

But elaboration of this curse is for another post. Here I conclude by noting how the structure of my model for the reality of Satan is set by a way of “solving the problem of evil. The model is built by elaborating upon, although not fully justifying the many crucial assumptions in the above “solution.”

Example of Agency At Work

In my construction of a model of what it would be like for there to be Satan, freewill is a fundamental “buliding block” of the model. For any Satan worthy of the name has to exercise freewill in defiance of his Creator. The notion of personal agency is crucial in the concept of freewill. So, a paradigm of agency is helpful. I chose this example from my experience because on this occasion I realized that an act of agency, free choosing, is separable from being conscious of it.

On Wednesday afternoon, January 3, 2024, while standing for about an hour ironing some clothes I started to feel very tired with aches throughout my body. I thought that I might be getting a flu although I had been recently vacinated. I did not sleep well Wednesday night. I frequently awoke and noticed that 5:55AM, the time at which my alarm was set, was rapdily approaching. I dreaded the prospect of getting out of bed to began my schedule for Thursday morning. I outline my schedule to bring out that I have the character of a man who pushes himself hard at 88. That outline supports a prediction about how I might likely respond to a challenge about facing a physical hardship. But plausible predicatability is not evidence against freedom of a decision; let alone that it was not I who made the decision.

The schedule was to bring my wife coffee at 6:15AM, talk a bit, recite Matins with my wife, walk about two miles, bike a mile to my parish church for 8:30AM mass and then bike six miles to work until 1130 AM at a St. Vincent de Paul free clothing store. Then I would bike another six miles to home. The temperatures were in the low 30s. I felt very sick but I could not say clearly what was wrong: no sore throat, no fever, no coughing.

I chose to go back to bed at 6:30AM. But that is not the free choice I want to exhibit. Before going back to bed, I asked my wife to wake me up by 8AM; at which time I would decide whether to bike to mass and then to the Clothing Center or stay in bed and have my wife contact the Clothing Center to report my absence. (She planned to drive to the Center to drop off some clothing donations.) It was warm and comfortable in bed. But I slept fitfully thinking about whether or not to stay in bed all morning or bike to mass and work at the Clothing Center.

Myriad pros and cons went through my mind. I thought about being comfortable. Staying in bed would be comfortable but boring if I could not sleep. On one hand, I worried that I would be giving into weakness. On the other, I worried that I would be giving in to vanity about being tough if rested all morning. Irealized that vanity should not mislead me into prolonging whatever this sickness might be.There were moral thoughts about not spreading whatever my sickness was. There were contrary moral thoughts about the need for people to staff the Center. There was, however, no decisive moral claim. This was not to be a moral decision. I simply could not decide what I was going to do. Or better: I was not conscious about how I was to decide

About five minutes to eight, I heard my wife coming up the stairs to get my decision. What was I going to do? I was not sure even as she came through the door. Then I threw the blankets back, sat at the edge of my bed and said that I was going to bike to mass and the Clothing Center. I had the intentions of facing the cold and going ahead with my regular Thursday morning plans. That was my choice and I was conscious of it. I was not so much conscious of it as a free choice. I was mostly conscious of it as the choice I made. I was even a bit surprised that I made the choice to keep my schedule; and rather proud of myself for making the choice to confront physical discomfort.

What is the relevance of this example for freewill? Most importantly, the example shows that consciousness of the choice does not make it my choice; let alone make it a free choice. Self consciousness only reports that I made the choice and apparently could have chosen otherwise, viz.,formed an intention to stay in bed. Conscious choosing, or better, consciousness of choosing, could occur after I have chosen, as some controversial research suggests.1 The important fact reported by consciousness is that of my agency: I was conscious that I stood up with the intention of carrying on my regular Thursday routine. I was not conscious of any freedom to carry out my intention. I could have fainted upon standing, as has happened. Then my wife would seriously restrict my activities that morning. If I had fainted, I would not be the agent of my fainting. (One could be the agent of their own fainting by standing up quickly to produce orthostatic hypotension.)

What is my interpretation of my behavior? Although we consciously entertain many thoughts while deliberating, making the choice is not another conscious thought in the deliberation. The thought of making the decision comes after we make the decision. The choice is made by ourselves as agents. As agents we create something new in reality, viz., an intention to act a certain way. The intention is created ex nihilo by the agent. An intention is a thought but a thought with causal force; intentions are dynamic. Thoughts of the pros and cons of getting up do not get me up or keep me down. The thought which is the intention to get up is the thought which gets me up. The previous thoughts or physical states are relevant to the intention I form. The previous thoughts and physical states are necessary for whatever intention I form; they set severe constraints on the kind of intention I form. But they are not suffficient for it. Action of me as an agent is the factor which is the efficient cause in this situation.2

It would be inaccurate for me to say that my brain formed the intention and made the decision.

It would be inaccurate to say that an entity apart from my brain, which is my self, formed the intention and made the decision. My awareness that I made the decision is not awareness that warrants any analysis of what kind of being I am; only that I am the agent, the maker of certain decisions.

I close with an aphorism: Consciousness of choosing freely is not freely choosing. Consciousness of freely choosing only reports the fact of an agent freely choosing.

1 Libet, B., Gleason, C.A., Wright, E.W. & Pearl, D.K. ‘Time of conscious
intention to act in relation to onset of cerebral activity (readiness-potential).
The unconscious initiation of a freely voluntary act’, Brain (1983)106: 623-642. A clear summary of this investigation is in Faraday Paper 17 by Peter G.H. Clarke

2. I have been influenced by John Mackie’s notion of an INUS condition. It is a term” coined byphilosopherj John Mackie to describe a condition that is necessary but not sufficient for an outcome, and is part of a complex condition that is sufficient but not necessary for the outcome. For example, an electric short circuit is an INUS condition for a house fire, because it needs flammable material to cause the fire, and the fire could also be caused by other factors. In the case of my example, the forming of the intention to get up is like the short circuit. I formed the intention to get up before I became conscious of my intention.

Freewill Necesaary and Sufficient for Love

This post makes a case that freewill is necessary and sufficient for love. My understanding of freewill is frequently called: Libertarian freewill or contra causal freewill. In a way, I am making a case for Libertarian freewill by arguing that true love is possible if and only if there are agents with Libertarian freewill.

I do not use the term “contra-causal” because I accept agent causation. Free choices are caused by agents.

Throughout, I assume that there is love. My line of argument reveals that a critic who denies freewill,not only denies that there is love. He also denies that there is a creative God.

This post is in my project of constructing a conceptual model of Satan. So, in places, I write rather abstractly of agents choosing because I want eventually to distinguish the freewill of angels from that of humans.

I  use Aristotelian concepts of causality. The notion of final cause is crucially used in my argument that the good of the other cannot be sufficient for bringing about an agent willing the good of the other. The Aristotelian causes can be understood by common sense. We can ask of anything: What is it?(Formal Cause), What is it for? (Final Cause) What is it made of? (Material Cause), What put it here, now(Efficient Cause.)

I assume love is properly characterized as willing the good of the other. As noted in the next paragraph, this characterization of love  gives the formal cause of love.

Freewill is the material cause of love.  In other words, love is made from freewilling, The final cause of love is the good of another. In other words, the purpose of loving is to bring about what is good for the other.1   The formal cause of love is willing the good of another. The efficient cause of love is the willing of the agent, i.e., a being who can choose. Nothing acting on the agent is sufficient to bring the agent to choose the good of the other. In the spiritual or mental realm, an agent creates an intention to act for the good of an other. It is not the good of the other which brings about the choice of the good of the other.  Why not?

I use the philosophers’ stylistic device of a formal argument with numbered premises and conclusions.

The gist of the argument is that assuming that the good of the other suffices to bring the agent to choose it requires assuming that the good of the other satisfies something in the agent. The satisfying of this something in the agent becomes the efficient cause of the agent choosing the good of the other.

1. The good of the other is the final cause of choosing the good of the other, i.e., the final cause of loving.

 2. If the good of the other sufficed to lead an agent to choose the good of the other, then the agent would have an inclination for the good of the other sufficient to bring it to choose the good of the other.  (There would be some feature of the agent with an appetite or desire for the good of the other.)

3. If an agent has an inclination for the good of the other sufficient to bring it to choose the good of the other, then choosing the good of the other is doing what the agent is inclined to do.

 4. If the agent chooses what he is inclined to do, the agent is choosing to satisfy his inclination.

 5. If the agent is choosing to satisfy his inclination, the good the agent chooses is his satisfaction.

6. If the good the agent chooses, even in his choice of the good of the other,  is his satisfaction, then the final cause of his choice is not the good of the other but the satisfaction of his inclination.

 So, putting (2) through (6) together, we get:

7.  If the good of the other sufficed to lead an agent to choose the good of the other,  then the final cause of his choice is not the good of the other but the satisfaction of his inclination.

 But  the assumption (1) is that the good of the other is the final cause of choosing the good of the other. Hence, by logical step called modes tollens  (7) with (1) yields:

(8) The good of the other does not suffice to lead an agent to choose the good of the other.

  What then suffices for the agent to will the good of the other? The agent is aware of the good of the other and takes that good as a reason for choosing it for the other. When the agent takes the good of the other as a reason for choosing the good of the other, the agent forms an intention to act for the sake of getting the good of the other. The agent taking the good of the other as a reason for choosing the good of the other along with the correlative intention is the sufficient condition for willing the good of the other. This is not to say that the agent does not want or desire the good of the other. It is to say that the agent does not choose the good of the other to satisfy his wants or desires, viz. inclinations.

Why say that freewill is a necessary condition for willing the good of the other?

If we deny freewill, we assume that in any choices apparently for the good of the other, the good of the other suffices for the choice. If the good of the other suffices for the choice of the good of the other, then the agent’s choice of the good of the other is made to satisfy an inclination of the agent. If the agent’s choice of the good of the other is made to satisfy an inclination of the agent, then the good of the other is not the final cause of the agent’s choice of the good of the other. If the good of the other is not the final cause of the choice of the good of the other, then the agent’s choice is not a choice of love. Hence, if we deny freewill, any choice of an agent which is apparently a loving choice, is not a choice of love. Or taking the so-called Contrapositive: If any choice of an agent which is apparently a loving choice is indeed a loving choice, we cannot deny freewill.

So, the goal of the post has been attained.

  1. To say that the final cause in loving is to satisfy our inclination for good in the other is to deny that love is for the good of the other. It is to say that love is ultimately for our own satisfaction with the good of the other being only a side effect.

What is Supernatural Reality?

This post is part of my effort to write a booklet on Rationality of Belief in Satan

The first step in providing a model of what it would be like for there to be a devil is to construct a model of the kind of reality that Satan would be. Satan is not a transcendent being as is God, when properly understood. Satan is a creature of the transcendent. The objects and processes of the supernatural are the angels and their processes. Because there are angelic processes, angels have a history. They are not eternal even if they are everlasting. They are in a time.

I adapt thoughts of Augustine and Aquinas to develop a model of the angelic reality. The natural comprises material objects, material forces plus the feelings and thoughts of animals and humans. The material is complex and we do not have a coherent model of it as is brought out by the mind/body interconnection problem. The supernatural is even more difficult to model because any image must be rejected as distorting. We do not not have mind body problems with respect to angels. However, constantly have to remind ourselves that the type of abstract we use in modeling angels is not the same type of abstracting we use when we think abstractly to pull something out of reality to think more clearly about it. The abstraction of angels is not the type of abstraction of which we can say”It is not exactly this way, but for sake of clarity let’s not think of it as it is in reality.” The abstraction of angels from what we can imagine is to think of them as they are in reality.

Preface: Rationality of Belief in Satan

Nullus diabolus, nullus redemptor

This is a draft Preface for a short e-book on the rationality of professing the reality of a devil – Satan. I will be preparing the first draft of this booklet in a series of blog posts.

Why use “professing” rather than “believing?” I make claims implying the reality of Satan primarily as part of endorsing the belief system of the Catholic Church. I rarely think of Satan in my religious life, moral life; let alone in my day-to-day practical affairs. However, my not denying the reality of Satan and professing that Satan exists is more than only professing Satan’s reality with my lips without believing it in my heart. Honesty requires preparing myself to let events bring it about that the reality of Satan is, for me, a sincerely held religious belief. In Mere Christianity, C.S.Lewis makes it clear that belief in Satan is basic in Christianity. Dismissing Satan as an outdated superstition implies that Jesus as portrayed in the Gospels was a superstitious fool. Believing Jesus to be ignorant and superstitious, is incompatible with professing a Christian religion. I would become a better Christian and, perhaps, morally better if belief in Satan became more significant in my religious and daily life.

We cannot have obligations to do what we cannot do. “Ought” implies “can.” We cannot simply choose to belief; especially on a religious topic. Faith has to be given: by God or life experiences. We can, however, choose to prepare ourselves to receive a gift of faith. What is it to prepare for faith? There may be many ways. The mathematician and philosopher, Pascal, proposed a religious way. But at least learn your inability to believe, since reason brings you to this, and yet you cannot believe. Endeavor then to convince yourself, not by increase of proofs of God, but by the abatement of your passions. You would like to attain faith, and do not know the way; you would like to cure yourself of unbelief and ask the remedy for it. Learn of those who have been bound like you, and who now stake all their possessions. These are people who know the way which you would follow, and who are cured of an ill of which you would be cured. Follow the way by which they began; by acting as if they believed, taking the holy water, having masses said, etc. Even this will naturally make you believe, and deaden your acuteness. (Pense III 233)

I take an explicitly philosophical way: Construction of an ontology. One way is to profess what is to be believed all the while trying to construct a model of what it would be like for the belief to be true.“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” is from William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. It is spoken by the title character, Hamlet, in Act I, Scene 5

This booklet outlines my preparing myself for openess to genuine belief in the reality of Satan.

This is an essay in the philosophy of religion. In philosophy of religion a major task is to show how crucial religious beliefs can be held without superstition or fanaticism. So, the task of this booklet is to show that people can let themselves become convinced of the reality of Christian religiously adequate notion Satan, without superstition or fanticism. However, there is no scholarly work showing that my outline of what it might be like for there to be a devil conforms to theological and dogmatic claims about Satan. I have recently read two books on Satan which I am sure have influenced me although I do not cite them as sources. The books are Robert J. Spitzer’s Christ vs. Satan in Our Daily Lives: The Cosmic Struggle Between Good and Evil (Called Out of Darkness: Contending with Evil Through The Church, Virtue and Prayer,) Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2020 and Jeffrey Burton Russell’s , Prince of Darkness: Radical Evil and the Power of Good in History, Cornell U Press, Ithaca NY. 2016. Spitzer’s empirical case for the reality of Satan requires showing how a conceptual model of Satan, a model abstracted from what we can imagine experiencing, allows for people experiencing the phenomena for which a contender for best explanation is demonic possession. Russell does not argue for the reality of Satan. However, he reminds us that there is no established metaphysical scheme that prohibts us from trying to develop a notion of Satan as an explanation for the facts that there seem to be evil done simply for the sake of evil, viz., radical evil.

The second purpose of this post is list links to previous posts on the reality and nature of a Devil. I develop these posts to draft chapters for the booklet.

A December 2022 post points out that the problem of evil leads to an assumption of a created evil creator in oppostion to God

<h4>The Problem of Evil as the Cornerstone of a Christian World View </h4>

<h4> The Value of Conceptual Models of Satan </h4>

<h4> Seriously: Have We Been Rescued From Satan? </h4>

<h4> Pope Francis on the Role of Satan in Sexual Abuse</h4>

Why Does Satan Want Us to Go to Hell?

What Is Satan’s Sin?

<h4>There is a Satan In Opposition To God!</h4>

God cannot destroy Satan

<h4>The Transcendent vs Nothing</h4>

Therefore the real question is whether the concept of
the Devil makes any sense p, 2 See posts on Overview of Posts Confronting Nihilismsatan

Quotations from: Jeffrey Burton Russell’s , Prince of Darkness: Radical Evil and the Power of Good in History,

Inflicting suffering for the sake of suffering, doing evil for evil’s sake, the
Devil is by definition the personification of cosmic evil p2

Often people assume that in the modern world the idea of the Devil is
old-fashioned and therefore false-an objection that assumes that “the
modern world” (however defined) has discovered some metaphysical
truth (however defined) that makes the existence of the Devil less likely
now than it used to 2

Whether or not the Devil exists outside the human mind, the concept
of the Devil has a long history and the most fruitful approach to it is
historical. p. 4

In this way, the Devil is defined by the historical tradition. Efforts to
say that the Devil “really” is something different from the historical
tradition are self-contradictory p 4