Debunking the myth of a literal devil

Have you ever come across people in the Christian circles commenting that other people have “demons” and have sold their souls to the “devil”? Why do you think these people seem to be so judgmental and “demon conscious”?

Just as importantly, is the devil (or Satan) a literal character in the Bible? Or shall we see the devil as a metaphor? What about the verses in the Bible that talk about the devil and spiritual warfare, such as Ephesians 6?

The Bible is a collection of myths and traditions

Regarding Ephesians 6, my take is that the concepts in this passage, such as “devil”, “armour of God” and “principalities and powers”, were borrowed from Judaism, Roman military, Greek philosophy and pagan superstitions since the Christian Bible is a collection of myths and traditions, and Christianity itself is a syncretic religion.

According to this website, the apostle Paul, who purportedly wrote the epistle to the Ephesians as well as many other epistles in the New Testament, was himself a fictional character who might have been modelled after the ancient legendary Greek sage, philosopher and miracle worker called Apollonius of Tyana.

“For those without religiously instilled prejudices, just read the list of comparisons between Paul and Apollonius. It speaks for itself and like the lack of concurrent physical corroboration of any characters in the New Testament, Paul’s lack of historical traces too can be attributed to his being a fictional creation of writers using the Paul identity which scholars attest to with several “Paul”s authoring the Pauline Letters.

It’s both sad and yet interesting to see how fundamentalist believers react to historical discovery that always seems to dethrone and debunk their cherished religious doctrines. Boy will the world breathe easier when fundamentalist fanaticism is finally defeated by believers who can tell the difference between facts and metaphors.”

(From “Is Paul Apollonius?“)

Someone called BioMystic in the above website added:

“From beginning to end. If the polytheistic pagan religious ideas, deities, icons, rituals that were stolen and reworked by monotheistic Abrahamics were taken out of the Bible it would be devoid of most all of its content. I am amazed Abrahamic believers who should know better by now haven’t learned that the writers of Bible stories were the creators of fictions, myths, tales, populated with polytheistic pagan deities and pagan mythical personages remade into monotheistic Abrahamics. Religious lying was the norm for ancients as their audience then as now for fundamentalists purposely lacked training in critical thinking. Thank God the ancient Greeks were not so mesmerized by religious storytelling and their great knowledge returned to civilization in the Enlightenment after Abrahamics tried their best to kill it.

I’m not saying there is nothing of value in the Bible, obviously it contains a lot of wisdom and lot’s of good stories, but it must be taken in its historical context which is religious warfare over a 2500 year period with polytheists. It’s basically a propaganda book selling the One God, God the Father, idea so that Abrahamic priesthoods, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim, could control the societies formed around Abrahamic religious beliefs. They used fear of the Abrahamic God, fear of the Abrahamic Hell, to scare Abrahamic believers into their beliefs and acceptance of Abrahamic political leadership.”

(From “Is Paul Apollonius?“)

This article shares a similar observation about the mythological nature of the apostle Paul.

“In an interesting development, Apollonius and Paul’s journeys took a very similar route, though generally in reverse of each other. In fact, it has been calculated that Paul and Apollonius were at both Ephesus and Rome at precisely the same time. It would be very odd if two such similar and powerful men, preaching to religious communities in these places, were unknown to each other. Unless, of course, they were each other. Oddly enough, the book of Acts mentions an “Apollos” at Ephesus with Paul, the name “Apollos” being an abbreviation of “Apollonius.” In any event, encompassing various brotherhood and mystery school sites, the route taken by both Apollonius and Paul was also more or less that of Orpheus, a mythical proselytizer of the religion of Dionysus, whose epithet was said to have been IES, centuries before the Christian era. Many others doubtlessly also made this pilgrimage to these pre-Christian sacred sites and mystery schools over the centuries.”

(From “Apollonius, Jesus and Paul: Men or Myths?” by Acharya S/D.M. Murdock)

Philosophically and psychologically speaking, the devil can be seen as an archetype of the shadow self or the false self or ego. This is how I would interpret the Bible. As pointed out by Carlton Pearson too, the devil is not a literal character but a metaphor.

The power of suggestion

The problem therefore is when people in the Christian circles today try to literalise the devil and consequently, become preoccupied with the concept of a literal devil in their own lives to the point they start imagining a real personal devil. Like what someone says, “people start seeing signs of Jesus everywhere they look because they are looking for it.” It is interesting to learn that this psychological phenomenon is known as “the power of suggestion”.

“But what can explain the powerful and pervasive effect that suggestion has in our lives? The answer lies in our ‘response expectancies,’ or the ways in which we anticipate our responses in various situations. These expectancies set us up for automatic responses that actively influence how we get to the outcome we expect. Once we anticipate a specific outcome will occur, our subsequent thoughts and behaviors will actually help to bring that outcome to fruition.”

[From “The Power of Suggestion: What We Expect Influences Our Behavior, for Better or Worse” – Science Daily (June 6, 2012)]

As noted by the above article‘s conclusion, the power of suggestion can be harnessed to improve people’s lives. For example, when people focus more on healing instead of being conscious of sickness, devil, evil, etc, they will more likely to experience healing because they expect to be healed.

The devil is metaphorical, not literal

I am also helped by Carlton Pearson’s insights on the subject of the “devil” through reading his book “God is not a Christian“, as he has done his studies well to debunk the myth of a literal “devil”. Here’s sharing some excerpts from his book that I find edifying and liberating.

“Perhaps this desert or wilderness was a place where Jesus was not so much tempted by a literal devil, as we have imagined, as confronted with His self as it related to His purpose on earth. Think about the kinds of things that you feel and think about when you are alone. What if the devil is the deceptive, confusing thoughts you think when you are alone, when you are confronted with your own hunger, nakedness, and vulnerability? Satan represents the deceiving phase and phrase of mind (i.e., words, thoughts, impressions) in each of us that promotes fixed ideas in opposition to the ultimate truth of our greater consciousness.

Believing in a personal devil empowers its existence in both consciousness and character. It causes one to act out what that belief system dictates. The same is true of the concept of hell. To believe in an equal rival to God is to become that rival in consciousness. You find yourself resisting God and truth in ways you would not if you did not hold such strong, deviant convictions. Remember, you become what you think about, and you attract what you believe.”

(From “God is not a Christian” by Carlton Pearson)

The last paragraph resonates with me, as it relates to the psychological phenomenon I learnt about earlier on called the power of suggestion. The more people buy into the idea of a literal devil, the more it becomes “real” in their consciousness. Perhaps the best thing to do is to ignore this illusion. Like what Carlton Pearson wrote, “you become what you think about and you attract what you believe.” So, it is good to be away from the (mainstream) Christian religion and enjoy the freedom from “devil consciousness”, and the more we focus on peace, joy and innocence within us (also known as the kingdom of God within us), the more peace and bliss we will experience.

Video: “Hitler finds out Jesus is fake”

What happens when we find out that the devil, the apostle Paul, Jesus Christ, etc are all mythological characters, after we have believed that these characters were literal or historical, thanks (or no thanks) to indoctrination by many preachers and teachers in church institutions? Then we may be able to relate to the video below, which is a parody of Hitler finding out that Jesus was “fake”. (The video excerpt was taken from the movie “Downfall”, and someone had superimposed his own subtitles onto the video to inject some humour. Not for the prudish or religious minded though.)

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