“There he was, in the middle of the road, a large, 10-foot spirit-being, with dark red skin and a wicked gaze” is one account I’ve heard of the supernatural. Everyone knows someone who has undergone a paranormal, demonic or ghostly experience; some would even say otherworldly beings haunt or attack them. According to a Gallop Poll, nearly 70% of Americans believe in the Devil. With no medical history of paranoia, schizophrenia or personal demonic possession, and as one who believes himself as level-headed and open-minded, I say confidently that I’m of that percentage for three reasons.
Firstly, the Devil and demons exist because God exists. Since God is truthful and all he does is good, as a Christian, my explanation for deep, dark evil is, simply, that the Devil exists. Let me first quickly list five collective reasons why God exists, and from there, you’ll see my connection to the Devil’s reality.
First, since every effect has a cause, an Uncaused Creator must have initiated the universe’s origin. Second, an earth as massively inter-connected, perfectly fine-tuned and microscopically designed as our own must have had a Great Designer. Third, certain species would not be alive today unless a Thoughtful Maker created them at the same time, like these. Fourth, certain objective moral values actually exist; all people believe the Holocaust, rape, child molestation, and, albeit less nefarious, selfishness (in various forms) are bad, wrong, immoral or unhelpful. Only a larger moral code could impose such universal values, even if someone doesn’t believe in God. Fifth, most of the world believes in a deity; they can’t all be wrong. Watch a debate on the existence of God.
If God exists and is continually pursuing to reconcile people to himself through a relationship with Jesus, then it follows that the Devil exists, stirring up evil and continually severing humanity’s relationship with God.
Secondly, people actually have had paranormal encounters. Although this is an experiential case, we cannot simply dismiss the horrifying claims of people who’ve been physically harmed, mentally tormented, spiritually stunted or miraculously freed by and from demonic presences. Some cases can certainly have medical explanations, but to say that the most extreme or convincing are also medically dismissed is a harsh and ignorant indifference to the phenomenon.
My third reason is historically credible yet personal. As a Christian, I believe in Jesus as Savior. As a writer and thinker, I understand not all accept Jesus’ claim to be God. However, all good scholarly inquiry will lead one to see Jesus did truly exist in history, made radical claims, performed miracles, drew crowds then died. Furthermore, his early followers were all willing to die for him, which is one solid case for his resurrection. Gandhi once said that he could accept Jesus “as a martyr, an embodiment of sacrifice, and a divine teacher, but not as the most perfect man ever born. His death on the Cross was a great example to the world, but that there was anything like a mysterious or miraculous virtue in it, my heart could not accept.” First century Jewish historian, Josephus, said of Jesus: “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works.”
History credits Jesus as not only a good man, but a sort of Super Man, whose many followers devoted their lives to him and whose enemies regularly mocked him. He spoke publicly, so as to avoid cultish criticisms. This Great Man also dealt with the Devil in temptation (Luke 4), exorcism (Luke 11) and, according to Revelation, he will thrash his final blow on the doer and tempter of evil in the end times. If Jesus believed in the Devil, then that’s sufficient for me.
Whether one’s fervently atheist, pantheist or passively agnostic, the issue of the Devil’s existence is sincerely important. If in fact he harms people, human philanthropy must engage. Christians have prayed against this lesser king to a Greater King in a greater kingdom for 2000 years. To ignore all the signs is like pretending the world is absent of criminals and terrorists; it doesn’t help.