Would A World Without Satan Lack Evil?

By Rajkumar Richard

The question, “Would there be less evil in a world without Satan?” could be relevant, for if the answer to this question is a yes, then we could plausibly ask, “Why did God create angels, i.e., Satan if evil in this world would be lesser without Satan?”

Would A World Without Satan Lack Evil_

Within this context, if God had not created Satan, evil would have been less, and our world would have been a good world. However, since God created Satan, could we then infer that God erred in HIS decision to create Satan?

The entailment to this thought process could potentially debunk Historic Christianity. God (as a maximally great being) cannot err. If God erred in creating Satan, HE cannot be God. Hence God’s existence could be disputed. The infallibility of the Bible that reveals God to mankind could also be thus disputed. We could go on and on.

Let us discuss this theme by considering the following aspects albeit from a biblical standpoint.

The Source of Sin

Sin is an evil action or motive that opposes and assaults God. Sin replaces God with something or someone in God’s rightful place of supremacy. Sin entails evil.

Understanding the source of sin is vital to understanding the theme we are discussing now. If Satan is the source of sin and evil, one could argue that God should not have created Satan to keep the world free of sin and evil.

The “Animal Nature” of man is the source of sin, claimed British Philosopher and Theologian Frederick R. Tennant. Under this notion, humans possess natural animalistic impulses as a means to human survival that have intensified through natural selection based on their evolution from less highly developed forms. Other theologians have posited other sources of sin. However, each of these views has been found to be largely inadequate.[1]

The Bible teaches differently. Sin is not caused by God (James 1:13), but man is responsible for his sins (James 1: 14-15).

Man possesses certain innate desires. He could either satisfy those desires in moderation or sin by abusing those desires to either hurt himself or the others.

His ‘desire to enjoy’ could result in an enjoyment of eating in moderation or a sin by being a glutton, whereby he injures himself.  His ‘desire to obtain’ could be satisfied either by legitimately acquiring material possessions or he could sin by exploiting and stealing from others. His ‘desire to achieve’ could be satisfied either through legitimate achievement or he could sin and achieve at the expense of others.

Man could satisfy these desires in a godly manner by dwelling within the divinely imposed constraints. But man sins when he fails to accept the divine limits to these desires and makes these desires as ends in themselves, which are the cravings of a sinful man (1 John 2: 16).

While desires are natural, there could be external inducements (Satanic or human) that motivate a man to sin. Whatever be the case, man is wholly responsible for his sins. Sin is the choice of the person who commits it.

Function of Satan in Sin

Satan is a demon (cf. Luke 10: 17-20). He is the tempter and deceiver. Satan opposes God and the work of Christ by tempting and deceiving humans. Satan tempted Adam & Eve, Jesus, Judas, etc. (cf. Acts 5:3, 1 Corinthians 7:5, 2 Corinthians 2: 11, Ephesians 6: 11, 2 Timothy 2: 26).

Sometimes we state that Satan is the source of sins. While making such statements, we use the word “source” informally. In this informal usage, “source” refers to an ‘originator’ or an ‘instigatory cause.’

If we claim that Satan is the source of all sins, i.e., if we use the word ‘source’ to mean, in an Aristotelian sense, the material cause (‘that out of which’) or the efficient cause (‘the primary source of
’), then we posit dualism. Dualism contradicts the Bible, for there are no two equally ultimate powers, one good, and the other evil.

God is the only ultimate power and God is good. God is not the source or the originator of sin or evil. Moreover, Satan was originally created good; hence Satan is not the source of sin and evil.

Potency of Freewill to Sin without Satan

If asked differently, the title question would be, “Would Adam & Eve have sinned without Satan?” Since man is responsible for his sins, the answer should be yes.

The premise on which this argument is also predicated on is the freewill-based rebellion of angels in the heavenly realm. (This premise presupposes the metaphysical similarity of the free will of angels and humans.)

The angels that rebelled against God did not have an external inducement (as Adam & Eve had Satan as an external inducer). There were only two entities during the angelic fall – God and Angels. (Even if mankind was created before the fall of Satan, man was totally incapable of influencing Satan’s fall.)

Since God can neither tempt nor cause evil, the angelic rebellion was an entailment of their free will. Therefore, it is quite reasonable to conclude that Adam & Eve had the potential to sin or would have sinned irrespective of the presence of Satan.

Satan merely accelerated the sin of Adam and Eve. Had Satan not existed, Adam and Eve would have sinned (or eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) sooner or later.

Conclusion

Satan is not the source of sin. Man’s free will is the source of sin. Man would have inevitably sinned regardless of Satan’s existence.

Would the quantum and the extent of sins be minimized if Satan was not created? Not necessarily so, for if Satan is to be considered as an accelerant of sin, then there is a possibility that the quantum and the extent of sins would be actualized at a later time. So the quantum and the extent of sins would have been the same with or without Satan, for the potency of man’s free will to sin is independent of Satan.

The other possibility is that the quantum and the extent of sins would be lesser without Satan. In which case, the question, “If evil in this world would be lesser without Satan, then why did God create Satan?” gains legitimacy.

If Satan is the sole cause of evil, then evil would have been absolutely eliminated, had Satan not been created. However, since Satan exists and that Satan is not the sole cause of evil, only God, in HIS omniscient wisdom would be able to determine the extent to which evil would be reduced had angels not been created.

But on the other hand, if the good that is to be actualized from the good angels in ministering to people is commensurately immeasurable, then God would be justified to create Satan even with the potential of evil.

Finally, natural evil, which is devoid of human willing and acting, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. and suffering caused by a host of diseases such as cancer, cystic fibrosis, etc. exist independent of Satan and adds substantial numbers to the victims of evil. The pain and suffering caused by natural evil and diseases are innate in the creational design of this world and the human body.

The fact of the matter is that evil would not cease to exist if Satan were to be non-existent. Hence, numbers need not matter. When evil exists, the terms ‘lesser’ and ‘greater’ do not gain greater significance, for the world we live in would be evil even if only 1% of the total population (1 out of 10 people) are adversely affected by evil. Moreover, if only 1% of the total population is affected by evil, then there is a certain possibility for evil to increase.

Therefore, the question, “Would there be less evil in a world without Satan?” would neither debunk nor harm Historic Christianity.

Notes:

[1] Other theologians have posited various sources for sin. The “Anxiety of Finiteness” was proposed by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971). The idea of “Existential Estrangement” was proposed by Paul Tillich (1886-1965), the “Economic Struggle” proposed by the Liberation Theology, and “Individualism and Competitiveness” as argued by Harrison Sacket Elliott (1882-1951).

 


Rajkumar Richard is passionate to strengthen the faith of fellow Christians, especially the young Christians. He has a Masters in Religion (Southern Evangelical Seminary, NC, USA) and Masters in Biology (School of Biological Sciences, Madurai Kamaraj University, India). He is a Christian blogger, itinerant speaker, social evangelist, and a mentor to young Christians.

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7 replies
  1. jcb says:

    As the author says, “evil would not cease to exist if Satan were to be non-existent”. That’s true.
    “Evil” things like rape and murder exist, whether or not Satan, or God, exists.
    There is no perfect being (given that there is evil).
    There is no Satan, given the lack of evidence for such a being.
    If God existed the world would probably have less “evil”.
    If Satan existed the world would probably have more “evil”

    Reply
    • Daryn Stockwell says:

      Try some experimenting. Sit still and try to come up with a thought, choice or action that has zero influence. There are no effects in the physical or mental universe that have no causes.
      “NO ONE CAN come to Me if ever the Father Who sends Me should not be drawing him” (John 6:44). It is not our Free Will.
      We DO have a will, but our will does not NATURALLY do the will of God.
      God doesn’t have to FORCE people to do evil, we do it NATURALLY. It is our NATURE to do evil and commit sins.
      God created mankind spiritually WEAK–subject to the lusts and sins of his own heart, so that man will learn that he CANNOT love God first; he cannot obey spiritual laws and commandments; he cannot please God; he cannot accomplish anything of lasting value through his wicked and deceitful heart. (Jer. 17:9). And therefore God’s ways will justify His means. The rewards and the blessings are not even to be compared with the glory that God is creating in the human race (Rom. 8:18).
      If our wills were “FREE,” someone, at sometime in the history of billions and billions of humans would have chosen ON HIS OWN, by his FREE WILL to DO GOOD.

      “Where is the wise? Where is the Scribe? Where is the disputer [debater] of this world? Has not God made foolish [Gk: ‘stupid’] the wisdom of this world?” (I Cor. 1:20).
      Notice that it is not the “foolishness” of this world that God says is stupid, but rather it is the “wisdom” of this world that is stupidity to God! And one of the most profound philosophical and theological pieces of wisdom that is universally agreed upon in this world is the belief that man possesses free will or free moral agency. Virtually everyone in all ages have believed this teaching of free will, and yet not one of them has ever seen it proved either Scientifically or Scriptural in fact scripture supports Gods will not mans ‘Free Will’
      Satan is not a surprise to God as many would seem to believe it is all by Gods design for his purpose and plan.

      Isiah 45:7 and Isiah 54:16 and Lam 3:37

      Reply
  2. Mark Heavlin says:

    “Finally, natural evil, which is devoid of human willing and acting, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. and suffering caused by a host of diseases such as cancer, cystic fibrosis, etc. exist independent of Satan and adds substantial numbers to the victims of evil. The pain and suffering caused by natural evil and diseases are innate in the creational design of this world and the human body.”
    .
    Sorry this statement is COMPLETELY NONBIBLICAL.
    .
    Genesis 1:31 And God looked upon all that He had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
    .
    Genesis 3:17-19 17 And to Adam He said: “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree from which I commanded you not to eat, cursed is the ground because of you; through toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it will yield you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your bread, until you return to the ground— because out of it were you taken. For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”
    .
    .
    “Hence, numbers need not matter. When evil exists, the terms ‘lesser’ and ‘greater’ do not gain greater significance, for the world we live in would be evil even if only 1% of the total population (1 out of 10 people) are adversely affected by evil. Moreover, if only 1% of the total population is affected by evil, then there is a certain possibility for evil to increase.”
    .
    Good thing numbers do NOT matter to the author because he is yet again WRONG – ( 1% is 1 out of 100 not 10 ).

    Reply
  3. Daryn Stockwell says:

    The statement that “Satan is not the source of sin. Man’s free will is the source of sin. Man would have inevitably sinned regardless of Satan’s existence” is not only wrong but is blasphemous and an attack on Gods sovereignty.
    Man does not have a free will. The word “free” as it is used in “free will” can only mean that a person can think thoughts, make choices, and perform activities completely on his own with nothing CAUSING him to think, choose, or perform. If a person can think a thought or make a choice or perform an action, then he did not do it FREELY. He may have done it Voluntarily, but not FREELY.
    God gives us THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of choices according to our own wills. It’s just that NONE of them are exercised WITHOUT INFLUENCE (or a cause that makes us do as we do).
    You can’t have free will because that means your will supersedes god’s will….it only appears we have free will…god is sovereign…Isaiah 46:10 King James Version (KJV)
    10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.
    Try some experimenting. Sit still and try to come up with a thought, choice or action that has zero influence. There are no effects in the physical or mental universe that have no causes.
    “NO ONE CAN come to Me if ever the Father Who sends Me should not be drawing him” (John 6:44). It is not our Free Will.
    We DO have a will, but our will does not NATURALLY do the will of God.
    God doesn’t have to FORCE people to do evil, we do it NATURALLY. It is our NATURE to do evil and commit sins.
    God created mankind spiritually WEAK–subject to the lusts and sins of his own heart, so that man will learn that he CANNOT love God first; he cannot obey spiritual laws and commandments; he cannot please God; he cannot accomplish anything of lasting value through his wicked and deceitful heart. (Jer. 17:9). And therefore God’s ways will justify His means. The rewards and the blessings are not even to be compared with the glory that God is creating in the human race (Rom. 8:18).
    Remember Isiah 45:7 and 54:16 and also lamentations 3:37

    Reply
    • jcb says:

      DS,
      My statement may be blasphemous, if that means that some theists disagree. Nothing you said shows however that my statement is false. You might notice that calling it “blasphemous” rather than false doesn’t invite discussion, but rather is a form of shouting one down.
      Since God doesn’t exist, what I say can’t be an attack on “Gods (sic) sovereignty”.
      I din’t make any claims about free will. I do know that humans sometimes pick up objects, and sometimes not. If that’s free will, then it exists.
      God doesn’t exist, so it is false to say that God gives us thousands of choices.
      You offer no evidence to the contrary. (Citing the Bible is not evidence that makes your claim probable).
      Yes, many of our actions have effects/”influence”. Nothing about that is relevant to anything I said above.
      Yes! God doesn’t force people to do evil, because God doesn’t exist. Humans do “evil”, and sometimes humans force other people to do hurtful, harmful acts.
      In summary, nothing you said shows that what I said is false.

      Reply

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