In the world of mythology (and sometimes theology) all creation has been credited to the primeval entity, the Creator. All that we see, the universe, the earth, the rivers, mountains, plants, animals, man, have been created by the creator, whom we will refer as God. Sounds great. This brings forth a debate though – if everything was created by god, then did he also create evil and the Devil?
If god created everything so beautiful, why did he have to pepper it with a devil and his home, the hell?
This brings me to an interesting Christian myth known as the fall of the angels. Before God sent his chosen son to the earth, Lucifer was an angel in the kingdom of God. Lucifer was of the opinion that he was the most favoured amongst all the angels, till the day, when God ordained that Christ, his son, was equal to him and would also be the chosen one amongst all to lead God’s mission.
Lucifer was disappointed and saw the elevation of Christ as an unfair gesture on the part of God. Lucifer’s discontent with God soon gathered momentum into a rebellion by a small group of angels led by him. The others tried to pacify Lucifer and reason out that if God had chosen his son to lead, then there was nothing wrong in it, but Lucifer and his followers would not listen. Soon the matter reached God and his Son and matters came to a confrontation.
It is said that God threw Lucifer and his angels out of his kingdom and thus the term – fall of angels. It is the same Lucifer who then became Satan or the Devil.
|An artists impression of Shaitaan|
A similar example is found in Islam. According to Islam, the character similar to Lucifer was Iblis. However, Iblis was not an angel, but a Jinn. According to Islam, angels were servants of god and could never disobey Him, but Jinn’s were like humans who could make choices (to follow the right path or not, or to obey or not). Iblis’s crime was that he had refused to bow before Adam. For this he was banished from Jannat, heaven and thus he became Shaitaan or the Devil. It is said that from day onwards, Shaitaan took upon him to create mischief for God’s creation by leading him into temptation and commit sin; the creation which god was so proud of.
So coming back to the first question, did god create Satan/Shaitaan? Did he not have in him the power of destroying this evil, instead of just throwing him out of his kingdom?
Lucifer in Latin means the ‘morning star’ or the planet Venus. It is called the morning star as it heralds the advent of morning. If this sounds ironic for a character who is characterised by darkness and all things negative, then herein lies the message. Lucifer was an angel, but Satan is the devil. This might imply, that there is both good and evil in man, it is only which one finds prominence in the personality. If man has the choice, then what choice should he exercise – to be good or to be evil?
Philosophers say that the Creator did not want to create followers, who had no choice but to praise him. Along with man, He created conscience and free will. Man has the choice and depending on his faculties and the ability to choose, he chooses the path of righteousness or evil. Lucifer had the choice of being loyal to God and be an angel, but he chose to rebel and become Satan.
For the religious, this is a debate of God vs. Satan. For the rationalist, this is a debate of good vs. evil or right vs. wrong. Whatever it be, one thing is for sure, the greatness of good gets highlighted only in the awareness of what is bad. If you have not burnt your hand, you wouldn’t know what it feels like when you run cold water over the burn.
But one final question. Why does evil befall even to those who choose the path of righteousness? If one has made the right choice, then why does he go through ‘hell’? Why do innocent people who choose the path of god or goodness, have to suffer in the hands of evil? Why do the evil gain prominence to such an extent that one wonders, who is more powerful, go(o)d or evil? It must have been this dilemma, which must have made one of the inmates at a German concentration camp write on the walls before he was sent to the gas chambers – “If there is a God, He must beg my forgiveness one day”!*
Finally, around last month some Italian archaeologists have discovered the ruins of some ancient mythological cave in Turkey, believed to be the ‘Gate to Hell’, which has been emitting poisonous carbon fumes. It was known as Plutonium, or Pluto’s Gate, is a portal to the underworld, in the Graeco-Roman mythology. For more on this: “Discovered: Mythical â€˜gate to hellâ€™ emitting deadly fumes ...)
*The quote is taken from an article from Spiritual Atheist, The Economic Times.