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Debunking the Devil

Thought this was a great article. I haven’t researched it to the degree that this author has, so I can’t speak to the complete accuracy of what he says. But he makes a great case, and it’s the same view I’ve held for a while.

Michael A. Sherlock (Author)

The ancient Persians had a significant impact upon some of the core myths that underscore Judaism and Christianity.  Among other things, Judaism and Christianity owe thanks to the Persian priests of Zoroaster for the light versus darkness motif, the belief in an impending apocalypse, and the messianic dogma.  But above all, both Jews and Christians should thank Persia for the Devil himself.  I think it’s fair to say that had they not adopted this fictitious character from the Persians, they might not have succeeded with such ease in persuading and maintaining their frightened and superstitious flocks.

The religion of Zoroaster, or Zarathustra, received its name from a Magian Priest by the name of Zoroaster (Greek)/Zarathustra (Persian), who was a loyal servant of the “one true” Persian God Ahura Mazda, or Ormuzd.  Ormuzd was commonly referred to as the “The Holy Spirit” in the pre-Christian portions of the Avesta.(1)  This…

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147 thoughts on “Debunking the Devil”

  1. I think this is pretty much mainstream thinking now (outside of those with an apologetic agenda).

    As an example this article from the Biblical Archaeological Society Journal, by Adjunct Research Professor Shawna Dolansky of Carleton University Ottawa, argues much the same thing as Michael Sherlock’s article:
    http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/bible-interpretation/how-the-serpent-became-satan/

    Well there goes my excuse, “The Devil made me do it”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed the article Nate right up until the “gullible masses’ mindless adherence to absurdity” comment. As a Christian, I appreciate well-written articles that highlight some of the faults, discrepancies, and counter-historocity (if that’s a word) to my own faith. But, honest question here, why do some atheists feel the need to devolve an otherwise informative treatise into ridicule and name calling? (And the fact that Christians oft-times do the same thing is not an answer) Personally, I feel it only hurts the conversation for those of us truly interested in learning about the “other side” of the issue.

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  3. “I enjoyed the article Nate right up until the “gullible masses’ mindless adherence to absurdity” comment.”

    I looked at this statement more as an assessment of the situation. I don’t think name calling or ridicule was the writer’s intent here.

    These phrases have been used numerous times throughout history to describe masses of people who followed Hitler, Jim Jones, David Koresh to name a few.

    If you google gullible masses you will find countless numbers of examples which include many non-Christian examples.

    I do and have in the past appreciated your comments here Kent.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with you, Kent. I think we naturally devolve into an “us vs them” mentality, and it’s something we should be pushing back against constantly. He probably just meant the people who don’t take the time to really think deeply about these kinds of things, and those kinds of people can be found everywhere. Still, there are better ways to say that.

    Just so you know, I had read this article several days ago and didn’t reread it before posting it last night. If I had, I like to think I would have commented on that line as well.

    Out of curiosity, what do you think about arguments like the one this author is making? I know from the fundamentalist viewpoint that I’m familiar with, it would all have just been dismissed. Even if someone from my old congregation could have been convinced that Satan doesn’t really show up in the Bible until much later, he/she would probably just argue that God simply chose to reveal it that way, and we can’t know the mind of God. Or something along those lines.

    But since you’re not a fundamentalist, how do you see it? And I’m not looking to debate the points or anything; just curious about how these kinds of articles strike you.

    Hope you’re doing well, btw!

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  5. Thanks Nate and KC. (Good to see we can be lumped in with such good company as Hitler and Koresh, heheh! ::-) ) I understand where the author is coming from and he lays out a very good argument. As far as my own views, I don’t put much stock in a literal hell but, as you know from my books, I’m a little more interested/fascinated by the spiritual aspects of angels vs. demons, etc. I’ve looked at the historocities (if that’s a word) from writers like this and wonder if the journey of man through religion (all religions, including Christianity) hasn’t been a “stealing” of one from another or if it might be a “narrowing” as if through a funnel closer and closer to an actual truth. I don’t know, just my thoughts.

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  6. HA! I feel vindicated! Everything written by Michael Sherlock confirms exactly what I discovered in the research for my book. In fact, I included much of the same information — the big difference being my version was considerably condensed. 😉

    Hopefully, there are those who will read his dissertation and be willing to put aside (at least temporarily) their personal persuasions and see the “devil” for what he really is … a re-scripted mythical character, adopted by the Jews of the Persian Period, passed onto Christians and fed into young and trusting minds as a bogeyman that will torture you if you dare not submit to the religion of Christianity.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. ” (Good to see we can be lumped in with such good company as Hitler and Koresh, heheh! ::-) )”

    I needed a chuckle today. 🙂 This is one thing that sets you apart from other Christians who comment here. You do have sense of humor.

    “I’ve looked at the historocities (if that’s a word) from writers like this and wonder if the journey of man through religion (all religions, including Christianity) hasn’t been a “stealing” of one from another or if it might be a “narrowing” as if through a funnel closer and closer to an actual truth. I don’t know, just my thoughts.”

    One of the most enlightening trips I ever took was to Egypt in 2008. Looking at the hieroglyphs especially in the tombs of the Valley of the Kings, it was apparent to me and the people I traveled with that borrowing took place.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m a little more interested/fascinated by the spiritual aspects of angels vs. demons,

    Hi, Kent. Would you be able to elaborate on this statement please?

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  9. “I’m a little more interested/fascinated by the spiritual aspects of angels vs. demons”
    Hi, Kent. Would you be able to elaborate on this statement please?

    Well, I can try 😉
    In my fiction books, I incorporate a lot of my own perception of the spiritual world into the stories. The Bible doesn’t tell us a lot about any of these beings and I tend to use that as license to freely write about how angels and demons interact with humanity, how they interact with each other, etc. As to the validity of whether or not these beings actually exist, I couldn’t say. Personally I believe they do, and I believe in the concept of spiritual warfare, but this is based almost purely on personal experience—things I can attribute to luck, karma, circumstance, timing, etc., though I, because of my faith, tend to put a spiritual bent on them. Overall though, my interest/fascination is based solely on being able to play in the gray areas of what is not written into scripture rather than on the truth/validity of what is. That probably didn’t help much, but there you are. Thanks for asking, Ark.

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  10. Personally I believe they do, and I believe in the concept of spiritual warfare, but this is based almost purely on personal experience—things I can attribute to luck,

    Interesting. Do you have kids?

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  11. Sorry, Ark. I’m not gonna go there with you. I know well your feelings on ‘indoctrination’ and I respect your opinions on the subject, but mine obviously will differ and I hope you can respect mine. I just don’t care to get into a debate about them.

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  12. I know well your feelings on ‘indoctrination’ and I respect your opinions on the subject, but mine obviously will differ and I hope you can respect mine

    Maybe…. do you think a person deserves respect if they teach children that angels and demons are real?
    Do you think they deserve any respect if they teach kids that hell is real?

    If you believe the veracity in these thing then you should have no qualms at all about defending them, surely?

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  13. I certainly don’t want to speak for Kent, but from my conversations with him, I imagine that he’s the kind of parent who explains what he believes and why, but stresses that those positions are his beliefs, which could be fallible.

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  14. As I said Ark, I’m not going there with you. I respect you. Hell, i even like you. But I don’t care about “defending” anything that I may or may not believe, or that I may or may not teach my own children. Being on the “defensive” makes it sound like someone is therefore on the “offensive” which doesn’t in any way sound like a conversation to me. It sounds like sport. It sounds like war. And I’m simply not interested. Thanks anyway.

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  15. If this is the case, Nate, then that deserves a little more respect, and if so, there seems no reason why Kent would balk at saying so rather than being ambiguous and possibly creating a false impression.
    It would certainly mark him among the faithful as not being a true christian.
    However, knowing the general reaction of every christian I have dealt with on the internet I am going to stick my neck out and say … if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck….

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  16. It would certainly mark him among the faithful as not being a true christian.

    I’ve known some Christians who aren’t as dogmatic as that. I know that Kent makes those allowances about his own beliefs, because he’s done so in conversations with me. Of course, I’m not one of his kids, and I’ve never had the pleasure of hanging out with him in person, so I don’t know for sure that he parents that way. But even in the ultra-conservative Christian circles that I used to run in, you’d sometimes find thoughtful people who wouldn’t look down on a Christian who acknowledged their beliefs could be wrong.

    But I do agree with your overall sentiment: dogma is rampant, and not just among Christians.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. …quack

    Assuming this was not sarcastic at least you did not ‘duck’ a reply. So kudos.

    How do you think your kids will react if/when they discover you have lied to them?

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  18. Man, you just won’t take ‘no, thank you’ for an answer, Ark. So let me ask you: Why do you keep asking Christians the same line of questioning? A) You have yet to receive a satisfactory answer, or B) There is no satisfactory answer.

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