The promo for Thursday night’s Nightline on ABC caught my attention: “Does Satan Exist?” Face-Off. The debate line up featured Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Deepak Chopra, Bishop Carlton Pearson, and some girl who founded Hookers for Jesus (no, seriously). I’ve been an admirer of Carlton Pearson and have blogged about his departure from evangelicalismbefore. I’ve also made no secret my support of Deepak Chopra in many blog posts. It was sure to be a dust up, so I watched.
The problem is there were only teaser clips from the most heated parts of the debate and neither view was given any length of time to be properly explored. I thought Deepak came across as angry most of the time, but I guess that comes with the territory when you’re on defense in a church full of people who think you are the anti-Christ. The Hookers for Jesuschick really needs some therapy, in my opinion. I thought Carlton Pearson was graceful as always. Mark Driscoll came across as a guy trying to get PR for himself and his church, who happened to host the event and pass out fliers to the attendees as they were leaving.
I think the unedited full length debate is far more informative than the 30 minute commericial-filled show, but overall I think it was a desperate ratings ploy for the dying Late Night news variety show. Just put Jimmy Kimmel on at 11:30pm est already!!!
Oh, as to the question of whether “Does Satan Exist?”, my answer is emphatically, “No!” I gave up on that a few years ago, along with sin, hell, and neurotic religion-induced guilt. I’m free! I suppose most people would want a little more substantive explanation, but I really don’t have the intellectual energy to spend on the subject at the moment. Here’s my short take on it:
- “Satan” is a means of avoiding personal responsibility for your own issues
- “Satan” is a strained attempt to come to grips with the problem of human suffering
- “Satan” is another means of religion using fear to manipulate people
The oft used excuse was used in the show a couple times that “The best thing Satan could do is to convince people he doesn’t exist” or some equivalent thereof. That’s a fairly weak argument. Deepak said that a belief in Satan was “primitive,” which got a rouse out of Mark Driscoll who accused Chopra of belittling believers. The point is that believing in Satan is literally one of the most “primitive” beliefs in human history, and its equivalent can be found in the oldest of all religions in ancient history. It’s akin to animal sacrifice, superstitions, etc.
The other argument made in the show was that you cannot believe Satan does not exist and believe that God DOES exist, that you cannot have one without the other. Therein is a slippery slope upon which few will dare to tread. It is my belief that the fundamentalist dogmatic view of God is dead as well as Satan, but that’s a whole other blog post or two or three or a hundred.