To a modern reader, the Bible often reads as antiquated, but behind these ancient stories often lies timeless wisdom. When translated into modern language, surprisingly timely knowledge turns out to be encoded within it. One of the most mysterious figures in the Bible is Satan. Who is he and what does he represent? Let’s find out.
Names are important
The Bible frequently summarizes important messages and meanings in the names that are given to the characters in the stories. For instance, God renames Abram to Abraham which means “father of a multitude of nations.” Similarly, God renames Jacob to Israel meaning “he who struggles with God.” Jesus renamed Simon to Peter which means “rock.”
You get the picture. Naming is a big deal in the Bible.
God identifies as Existence
Perhaps the most important name in scripture is that of the old man himself. When Moses climbs up Mount Sinai to talk to God he asks him what he shall call him. Exodus 3:14 reads:
God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
Skeptics would perhaps say that it is precisely the kind of answer you might expect from someone smoking a little bit too much burning bush, but it can be understood perfectly coherently. God is naming himself as Being itself which is an irreducible axiom. Or in the modern secular words of Ayn Rand: Existence exists.
Acts of God
Once you understand that God is the personification of Being, some of the passages in the Old Testament where God comes off as harsh and cruel make more sense.
In the Tower of Babel, the Babylonians felt no need for God. The world all spoke one language; the people were learned and wanted to build a tower to the heavens. God didn’t particularly like that and as punishment, God differed the languages so that communication was fragmented. This weakened the culture and caused confusion leading to the collapse of the civilization.
The moral of the story is: don’t think you can rebel against Being itself, because it leads to disaster.
This brings us to Satan, who is an enormously interesting and important figure in the Bible. His name means “adversary.” Satan is the adversary of God, the personification of opposition to existence.
In Judaic folklore, Satan was originally Lucifer, “the bringer of light,” who was the most knowledgeable among the Archangels, but he felt that he didn’t need God and rebelled. God struck him down and he was cast out of heaven to forever roam around as Satan.
The observant reader will notice the similarity to the arc of the Babel story. The underlying wisdom is that if you reject existence itself and think you can replace it with your own knowledge, it will lead to unspeakable evil.
Amazingly, we have a modern name for the Satanic rebellion against nature. It’s called social constructionism.
In recent times you may have heard statements such as “biological sex does not exist, it’s a social construct.” The exuberant arrogance of such a statement cannot be overstated. The sexes have been humming along for hundreds of millions of years – practically an eternity – and their carefully adapted natures and functions have meticulously ensured the survival of millions of grateful generations. And then along comes some Professor of Studies’ Studies who declares that it was all just a great misunderstanding. She knows better.
Social constructionism can be found in a range of fields. The nuclear family? It’s a myth. Race? Doesn’t exist. Gender roles? A relic of the past. Nations? Can’t get rid of them fast enough. Religion? Fairytales for the gullible. Meaning? Overrated. Truth? A tool of patriarchal oppression.
The perversion of knowledge
It is probably no coincidence that Lucifer was the enlightened one, the carrier of knowledge and the brightest among the angels. The fall of Lucifer is an ancient warning to the cognitive elite, those who inhabit the universities, that they should always be wary of the danger of growing so confident in their abilities that they believe they can reshape reality as they see fit.
Those intellectuals that walk the path of Satan invoke disaster upon us all. They owe it to themselves and the rest of us to learn from the catastrophes of history and not repeat the same mistakes.