Less than 1 in 3 Americans believe the devil is real, an opinion that is even becoming more prevalent among theologians, despite Jesus talking more about hell than anyone in the Bible, some scholars argue hell does not exist.
“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
– The Usual Suspects (1995 movie)
The original quote comes from a 1836 book titled “Quakerism Examined,” by John Wilkinson, who wrote:
“One of the artificers of Satan is, to induce men to believe that he does not exist.”
As the world descends further into materialism and a viewpoint that mirrors science and believing in things that only can be seen, quantified, measured and repeated, the idea of supernatural beings is becoming more and more viewed as myth.
A study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University found that 69 percent of US adults believe that Satan is not a real entity, but rather is symbolic of evil. Only 31 percent believed that Satan was an actual “living being.”
That number is even smaller among Catholics, where only 17 percent believe Satan exists. Religious “nones” were only a single digit lower in their belief.
The NC Register reports that Pope Francis gave an exhortation, saying: ““We should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea.”
The problem is, of course, if one decides that a supernatural being such as Satan is myth, then how long is it until God is viewed in the same way?
“Jesus’ life was a battle,” Pope Francis said. “He came to conquer evil, to conquer the prince of this world, to conquer the devil.”
“Our spiritual life, our Christian life, is a battle,” the Pope added. “The devil does not want us to become holy. He does not want us to follow Jesus.”
Catechism #391 teaches a belief in Satan that is mirrored by most Christian faiths: “Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy. Scripture and the Church’s Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called ‘Satan’ or the ‘devil.’”
Satan or the Devil goes by many synonymous names in the Bible including:
Beelzebub, the great dragon, the serpent, the ancient serpent (or old), the God of this world, the thief, the accuser, the deceiver, Day Star, son of Dawn (or morning), the ruler of this world (or Prince), the anointed cherub, the tempter, the ruler of demons, Lord of the flies, the evil one, the enemy, the father of lies, a murderer, the god of this age, and Belial.
Not only that, but he’s also called: the Prince of the power of the air, adversary, a roaring lion, Abaddon, Apollyon, the destroyer, the old serpent, angel of the bottomless pit, crooked serpent, great red dragon, Leviathan, line spirit, liar, piercing serpent, ruler of the darkness of this world, spirit that works in the children of disobedience, unclean spirit, the wicked one.
While many see the name Lucifer as synonymous with Satan, there is disagreement among scholars for the use of Lucifer to refer to Satan. Some say this refers to the Morning Star Venus (Isaiah 14), as well as argue in the same package that Lucifer refers to King Nebuchadnezzar. Still, a few say Lucifer is the Angelic name Satan before his fall.