Most of us recognize the
presence of evil in our world, but according to a
recent Harris Poll, the number of Americans who believe in the devil is
actually dropping (from 62% in 2005 to 58% in 2013). Christianity asserts the
existence of Satan (in spite of what the culture may believe), describing the
devil as a limited, personal being, subordinate to a holy and good God. Satan
is, according to Christianity, a personal
agent of evil in our world. But is this belief in a subordinate, personal, evil
being rational? Is it reasonable?
When I was a new believer, one of the first Christian books I
had the opportunity to read was C.S. Lewis’ Mere
Christianity. Like millions of other readers, I was fascinated and
impressed with both the thinking capacity and writing style of this incredible
Christian apologist. But the one thing I remember (above all else) was Lewis’
rational, philosophical argument for the existence of a personal, subordinate
source of evil in our Universe. I am happy to have the chance to restate it in
a very brief (and certainly inferior) manner. Lewis made the following argument
about the nature of an evil power in our universe:
1. Evil exists in our world and begs for explanation. There are two
A Good Power is presiding over a world temporarily under the
influence of a finite, subordinate Evil
Power (This is the Christian worldview), or…
Good and Evil Powers (or
Forces) exist in the world and are equal in strength, independent from one
another, and co-eternal.
2. If two independent, equally
strong, equally eternal powers of good
and evil exist in the universe, each
power would assert it is good and the other is bad. True good and bad would require the existence of yet a third thing in the
Universe: an outside standard deciding between the two.
3. If this outside standard exists,
it is actually supreme over the two
powers and is the true God of the Universe. It “stands on its own” without
dependence on yet another, additional standard.
4. We know evil is the result of the perverted pursuit of one of three things:
the attempt to satisfy physical need, the attempt to satisfy personal gain, or
the attempt to attain power and glory, but these three objects of pursuit are
actually good things by their nature.
5. For this reason, evil requires the existence of good before it can actually exist. Evil cannot “stand on its own”.
6. Therefore, we know the supreme, objective
standard in the universe (the force “standing on its own”) must, by necessity,
be a good power, while the evil power must, by necessity, be a
I’m not doing justice to Lewis’ reasoning as I attempt to simplify
it here, but with this modest argument, Lewis provided a logical and reasonable
foundation for a subordinate and limited evil being. This kind of Evil Power is starting to sound
something like the devil, but the Christian description of Satan includes
another important characteristic. As Christians, we believe Satan is a personal being who has a name and can be
recognized. Is that reasonable? Yes, given the following truths: