Satan has long struck fear in the hearts of believers. However, the whole idea of Satan, and the way it has evolved over time, should raise different thoughts before fears.
The origins of Satan are reflected in the original Hebrew meaning of the word, which basically means to “oppose.” The word ‘devil’ comes from a Greek word meaning ‘slanderer’ or ‘accuser.’ These show that the concept of Satan was not always what it is today.
A look at early Judaism and Christianity shows how Satan has evolved over time. In the first appearances of Satan in the Hebrew Bible, he is not necessarily an evil force. For example, in Numbers, he is an obedient servant of God. At this time, Satan works as a messenger angel. Although angels in those days were not the kind of sweet characters they are now, Satan was still working for God.
However, over time, particularly during periods of stress in society, Satan gradually becomes more malevolent and terrifying. This evil agent, present everywhere in the world, could then be equated to one’s enemies. With Satan actively working for evil and leading people astray in the world, one’s enemies, from invading armies to those who simply had a different view of the divine, could be branded as Satan’s agents and more enthusiastically opposed.
In Islam, Satan was the one who refused to bow down to Adam as God commanded. However, God, in his wisdom, decides to delay punishment until the Day of Judgment.
Questions about Satan for today
More details on the origins of Satan can be found on websites to include philihine and orgins of the devil. What will be addressed here is how the fact that Satan evolved, and some of the ideas of the story itself, raises serious questions that should be examined.
If Satan is a certain type of figure, why was not it evident to the earliest followers of the Abrahamic religions or the first people? Could God not have been clearer and careful in what he communicated to his people? Shouldn’t they have been fairly warned in a clear manner as to exactly what it was they faced?
People vs. divine beings
Why would God leave people to deal with, and fight, a divine being? If Satan will be destroyed/stopped on judgment day anyway, why not do it now? God would have created both Satan and human beings. Knowing how frail and weak the latter are, why leave them to deal with a supernatural force? Why let that force cause so much misery and suffering to your own creations? If God needs to carry out some kind of test (it seems odd that any all-knowing being would need to test anything), surely a better way could be found that did not involve needless suffering and the damnation of so many souls.
It is inexplicable that a perfect being would create something so bad and then leave his mistake to run loose in the universe.
Why would Satan rebel?
There is also the question of why Satan would ever rebel or defy God in any way in the first place. Whatever issues he might have had with obeying God, surely Satan would have known it was better than the alternative. He would have been aware God’s power as the creator of all and would have known he had no chance against it. He also should have had at least some inkling that he would suffer an eternal fate for defiance. Such a suicidal stance, especially when even death itself will not allow one to escape the consequences, defies all logic and common sense. Any person with the slightest bit of sanity would not make such a choice. Why would a supernatural being do it?
Did not God see Satan coming?
Then there is the question of why God would have ever created Satan and let him get out of hand. Whatever Satan’s crime, being it excessive pride or something else, surely an all-knowing being would have seen it both at the time of creation, and before it was carried out. It seems more than a little odd that God’s court would have the same kind of betrayal and intrigue that is found in human institutions
In the end, just like God, there is no solid evidence any kind of Satan exists. Concepts that evolved and changed with humans were most likely created by them.