Paul J. Mills, Tiffany Barsotti, Meredith A. Pung, Kathleen L. Wilson, Laura Redwine, and Deepak Chopra Gratitude, along with love, compassion, empathy, joy, forgiveness, and self-knowledge, is a vital attribute of our wellbeing. While there are many definitions of gratitude, at its foundation, gratitude is a healing, life-affirming, and uplifting human experience that shifts us […]
The future appears to be global, and if we want to thrive there, the concept of “pure evil” has to be discarded. As fuel for hostility, nothing is more combustible. After 9/11, angry mobs massing in Baghdad against the U.S. weren’t just seen as unemployed young Arab males — they became symbols of unrepentant hatred, while jihadists became evil monsters with no regard for innocent lives. The more evil we projected onto “them,” the aliens threatening our safety, the less human they became. If the future becomes global, however, projections of pure evil have no breathing room anymore. Everyone is becoming our neighbor, and with the dissolving of borders, everyone must be seen as human, however angry and extreme their actions.
This and many other signs indicate that Satan is on the wane. We are in the aftermath of the age of faith; church attendance has been steadily declining in the U.S. and Europe for decades. As part of this religious waning, Satan has also declined. So much so that it’s hard to remember a time when educated, free-thinking people reserved at least a tiny, secret corner where belief in Satan — or pure evil — resided.
More importantly, a positive kind of spirituality has arisen that doesn’t need Satan. He is necessary in the battle for souls that pits good against evil in the scheme of Christianity. Without the threat of damnation, the incentive for salvation is severely weakened. But many cultures have had no need for absolute evil, including the Greeks, Romans, Hindus, and Buddhists. Quite often these cultures had supernatural explanations for bad events (e.g., demons, imps, mischievous and capricious gods), and it is almost universally believed that the afterlife will be different for evildoers and the virtuous. An innate sense of fairness makes it hard to think that wrongdoing doesn’t eventually arrive at a just punishment. But millions of people who reject religion or pay it almost no attention lead perfectly well-adjusted lives without the threat of Satan hanging over them.
Published in the San Francisco Chronicle