I was hoping you could help me give an answer to my co-worker. He follows a lot of pagan beliefs. Today he was discussing how the "elite" run the world, and I asked him who he thinks influences the unjust "elite." He responded, "Satan." I asked, Do you believe that there is such thing as Satan? and he replied, "Yes, every good thing in the world has a counterpart, hot and cold etc. Therefore since every positive force has a corresponding negative force, a negative 'spirit' must exist."
I was not sure how to respond, other than to say that is not what the Bible teaches, evil is not eternal, and Satan will be overthrown and sent to the lake of fire and tormented forever. I guess he is positing dualism. I wanted to know how I could break down the argument that Satan must exist because "all positives have a negative." Obviously I agree that satan is real, and I am not disputing his existence; I am disputing the argument he uses to arrive at Satan's existence.
It seems to me that you are quite right to point out that this is not what the Bible teaches. God is the eternal Creator of all that exists (other than Himself). Hence, there can be God without any Satan, good without any evil, etc. I think your response was right on target.
Not only is this true, but (as something of an aside) it's also important to remember that God did not originally create the angel who became Satan as an evil being. Rather, Satan fell into sin of his own free will. [Please see my answer to email, "What Caused Lucifer (Satan) to Fall?"]
The principle that every positive must have a negative is therefore simply false. Cold is the absence of heat. And one can certainly conceive of a logically possible "hot" world that no human being would ever regard as "cold." In addition, we must also remember that just because we can conceive of something's opposite, this does not mean (or prove) that the opposite actually exists. One can have heat without cold, light without darkness, love without hatred, etc. None of these REQUIRES an opposite. And for someone to claim that they do would require some sort of argument or proof to that effect—not just an assertion that it is so. After all, we can think of many examples to the contrary. So why should we believe that all positives have a negative?
Finally, according to Occam's razor [Editor's note: "The simplest explanation is often correct"], we must not multiply causes (or entities) beyond necessity. The God of the Bible provides all the explanation we need regarding the origin of the universe, the fine-tuning of the universe, the existence of objective moral values, etc. To posit, in addition to God, an eternal "Satan", is not only unbiblical, it is also completely unnecessary.
At any rate, these are a few of the thoughts that occur to me after reading your letter. I hope this is helpful in talking with your friend.
Shalom in Christ,
© 2010 Probe Ministries
About the Author
Michael Gleghorn is a research associate with Probe Ministries. He earned a B.A. in psychology from Baylor University and a Th.M. in systematic theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Before coming on staff with Probe, Michael taught history and theology at Christway Academy in Duncanville, Texas. Michael and his wife Hannah have two children. His personal website is michaelgleghorn.com.
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