Throughout many religions there exists a concept of some form of anti-god. Whether you name it Angra Mainyu, Satan, Asmodeus or something else, the underlying principal remains fairly consistent. This entity is there to test mankind, a personification (or at least objectification) of evil. In many cases, there is this perceived battle between good and evil, acted out between the God and the Devil (I’m using those names as generic place holders, attach whichever name badge you feel necessary). The prize being our souls.
Clearly I don’t actually believe either entity exists, and looking at the documented definitions of God and the Devil, there are inconsistencies (for example, the Old Testament Devil is vastly different from the New Testament Devil) which make them difficult to buy in to (but what’s new there?). So for the purpose of this post, let’s humor the concepts so we can explore this eternal struggle.
The weapons of choice in this battle are deceit, trickery and miscommunication. A rather paltry arsenal for two such creatures one might suggest. However, the intent of the people who created the idea of these entities is clear. By saying that the devil uses misinformation to trick people, the creator is laying the foundation of mistrust – mistrust of ideas that conflict with your own. The difference between this mistrust and the scepticism that atheists are so proud of, is that the mistrust will remain regardless of the evidence available. Followers are taught to blindly obey their leaders whilst turning a blind eye to any evidence that supports any opposing views. The reason is that the devil is seen as having the ability to alter reality, or rather alter man’s perception of reality, to aid his own purpose. The God character has similar abilities.
Returning to the title of this article, “What if I am God?”, I’d like to ask how those who believe in such beings know which one they are under the influence of. For example, it is generally accepted by Christians that the Bible is the word of God. But what if it were actually the word of the devil, created to throw believers off the scent as it were. Similarly, what if the reverends, pastors, fathers, saints and other senior members of religious organizations are feeling the influence of the devil and acting upon it? I’m not suggesting that this is a conscience attempt to deceive by the people involved, as it would unlikely they would be aware that they are, in fact, carrying out the devil’s wishes. Yet these people claim to be acting on the word of God, feeling the influence of God and acting in God’s name, yet they have no way of knowing.
If we accept, or even entertain, this notion, then the question has to be asked “who’s acting on behalf of the real God?”. What if it’s me? What if the atheists, and those who rally against established religion, are actually carrying out God’s will (yes, the God we don’t believe exists)? What if God is displeased with organized religion, and is acting through the hearts and minds of people like me in an effort to break the spell the devil has over the majority of people in this world? So rather, the question should be “what if I am acting on behalf of God?“, but that’s less sensational.
I, of course, don’t believe any of this to be true, but I do think it raises an interesting point for theists to consider. If you accept that the devil exists, and exerts influence over your life (in an attempt to tempt you down the wrong path), how do you know religion is not one of his tricks? Furthermore, if you accept that the devil has the ability to alter your perceptions (I’ve heard the argument that the devil alters people’s perceptions of science such that theories that contradict holy teachings are proven because of his influence – what if it was God using these experiments in an attempt to discredit the devil?) then surely you can’t trust any relationship you believe you have with your God, because it may just be the devil tricking you.
The answer to these questions, predictably, will call on one’s faith, and strength of faith. A knowledge of God, and similar meaningless sound bytes. My response is, what do you have faith in? Is it the religious leaders around you? Is it your holy book? Is it an experience, or set of experiences, you’ve had? Are these not things that can be influenced by the devil? Is your faith based on a lie? If you do not believe so, why not?