there are many illogical aspects of believing in a devil. the best take i’ve read on this so far is shermer’s the science of good and evil. this post is on “a mormon testimony of satan”, by John Nilsson:
“I know that the Devil lives in outer darkness surrounded by concourses of ghastly minions amidst weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth”.
Why don’t we hear this from the pulpit in LDS testimony meetings? It’s just as much an article of faith as the existence of God, right? There must needs be an opposition in all things, as Lehi said.
Here’s the problem: many modern LDS leaders have told us that truth feels GOOD, and that we can recognize spiritual truth by the good feelings it engenders in us. Barring a rational way to arrive at a conviction of the existence of Satan (which I have yet to find, although both Hitler and Hannah Montana could be cited as evidence of Old Nick’s meddling in our world), the spiritual method appears to be the only method for being sure that Scratch exists. But to have GOOD feelings about the existence of our ultimate adversary, the being of pure redolent evil whose every thought and action is bent on our destruction, physically and spiritually? So I would bet a lot fewer LDS folks have firm convictions of the devil based on spiritual subjective evidence like the kind mentioned above.
I say this knowing that many people have had experiences which they interpret as Satanic, from possession narratives to bump-in-the-night phenomena to mysterious movings of Parker Brothers’ Ouija Boards. Creepy feelings may convince many LDS folks that the devil is real. Or the ubiquitous references to Lucifer in Holy Writ and LDS culture fulfill the same function. But aren’t we supposed to gain a testimony for ourselves of spiritual matters, and not take the word of others as our deepest source of conviction?
Evil makes sense to me. The Devil does not.
Here’s why: For the concept of the Devil to make sense, you have to posit that he or she (do you capitalize references to the Anti-Deity?) chooses to be evil not just once or twice, or even as an overall pattern of life. He ALWAYS chooses the wrong. To choose the right even once after becoming the devil would render one unfit for the post, and another powerful sub-demon would angle for your position. Think of Satan’s blood pressure! Which means Lucifer misunderstands God’s ultimate design and needs help to clearly understand (metaphysically stupid), or is genuinely convinced that the cause he is advocating is right, in which case he is mentally confused and again needs our sympathy and help (metaphysically ill). If Satan desires his own ultimate unhappiness, because it makes him happy, I confess I just don’t get it. For a being to be absolutely evil, I can see no other option. In either case, the Devil is something less than he is made out to be in our tradition.
I believe that evil is real, but am not sure that it can be personified the same way that good can. Not usually believing in things that don’t make a bit of sense (but sensing that I’m expected to), can you help me gain a testimony of the Devil?
(original post from mormon matters (http://mormonmatters.org/2008/04/29/a-testimony-of-the-devil/)