Overheard Dialogues

An Excerpt

This from a Rambling Conversation between God and Satan

On Deception, Miracles, and the Problem of Evil

By Norman E. Anderson

Satan: Humans are capable of deception of which even I am not capable.

God: What do you mean?

Satan: Not only can they deceive others, but they can also deceive themselves. That I cannot do.

God: You do not know all. How can you then know that you do not deceive yourself?

Satan (pondering): Good point! Good point! It is true. Even so, I would suggest that with regard to deception, I lack the subtleties and twists that humans are able to give to the project. With their spins and their disinformation and their selective use of information and their half-truths and their allowing misimpressions to stand and their flights from reality, to say nothing of their bald-faced lies, they easily mix self-justification and self-deception and defensiveness and fear of showing who they truly are and mistrust and reluctance to know the truth. I know their psychology well and can play on it, as do they. In their case, I might add, they do it with insider expertise. But with myself, I have only known honesty, except in one matter: I thought highly of my aspirations. Well, perhaps in another matter as well: What on earth am I thinking when I act "Satanically"?

God: I'm sure you wish I would say, "If only humans could be more like you!"

Satan (momentarily taken aback): One thing I've learned working with humans: There is no action that cannot be criticized, no statement that cannot be deconstructed, no motivation that might not be questioned. Interpretation is the key. Altruism, even simple factuality, is classed as miraculous; and, as you well know, in the naturalistic mind of humans, the miraculous must be interpreted away.

God: Better that than that it be interpreted in. Humans have an incredible penchant to read the miraculous into everything. Many still do. It has taken eons to inject into the stream of common human thought a naturalistic mind-set. But that is yet so far from understanding. It's still a dualism, the obverse of the miraculous mentality. Ultimately each dualism should cancel out the other and the discovery will be that the cosmos is what is natural for me.

Satan: Natural for you? Evil too?

God: I do so love discoursing with you. You never hesitate to stick it to me, as the human expression goes.

Satan: That's only because you've been tolerant of me. In any case, I admit, I do often find it fun. Refreshing too, in a way that I desperately need after working with humans. You're so damned honest with yourself! Except for the "damned" part. But it's also disconcerting -- talking with you, I mean. Can't hide my motives. And then there's the matter of the zillions of conversations we've had in the past. We speak a few words and evoke eons of discussion. The problem of evil, for instance. We've been round and round that topic; and now we speak in silence, like a long married couple. But, you know, you've never given me a straight answer, not one that satisfies. Your mysteriousness becomes rather frustrating after a few cycles of evolution and extinction.

God: The problem of evil I have subsumed into myself. I could deny that the problem of evil is a problem for me. I can be immune to evil. I can extinguish it. I can counterbalance it. I can cast it as a higher good. I can justify pain and overcome death. I can control everything about evil. But its impact upon creatures I love, especially creatures of consciousness who suffer in a way that deepens reality itself, that I cannot ignore. From all of eternity, love overwhelms indifference.

Satan: And so you allow evil that love may abound?

God: Knowing that all evil will be overcome.

Satan: Including human machinations?

God: Indeed, and all failure of virtue, and all suffering, and all death.

Response to the Dialogue

Forrest says that for a short dialogue, it's pretty long, and that it needs some action. -- February 15, 1998

Written November 18, 1997; posted, February 15, 1998; new url, January 28, 2004; last modification, January 28, 2004

Copyright ©1998-2004 by Norman E. Anderson

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