Satan 1, God 0

A Baptist church in Knoxville, Tennessee stirred up some controversy last week by putting up a sign that said, “Remember, Satan was the first to demand equal rights.” Sounds like a great argument in favor of Satan to me, how about you? And the defense offered was delightfully goofy.

But Pastor Tony Greene insisted that everyone misunderstood the message.

“Our sign referencing Satan demanding his equal rights to ascend into the heavens and be God was simply ‘I’ and all about that individual,” Greene told WATE. “It was not a statement against any one group in particular, you know what about the rights of the unborn babies, the rights of children, the rights of everyone?”

He added: “My heart breaks in the dividedness of our country.”

Now that is a serious word salad. Was the pastor drunk when he said that? Satan 1, God 0.

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  • Subtract Hominem, the Renegade Misandroid



  • lofgren

    It has long been my interpretation that Satan wanted to take power from God not because he was jealous but because he couldn’t abide what a shitty job God was doing at thqt whole omnibenevolence thing. That’s why his punishment was to torture humans for all eternity. He wanted to give us a better life, so what better punishment than forcing him to torture us forever?

    If Satan really rebelled because he was jealous of humanity, giving hkm the opportunity to take out his frustrations on the damned would seem to be almost a reward.

  • Marcus Ranum

    History is written by the winners. Sounds like a fight over the pie between a couple of authoritarian gods. Regardless of who wins, we lose.

  • okstop

    Well, Blake thought that “Paradise Lost” was such an eloquent presentation of Satan’s side that he decided God was the REAL villain of the story. So, you know: modus ponens, modus tollens.

  • lofgren

    Oh, also:

    He added: “My heart breaks in the dividedness of our country.”

    “Can’t we all just agree that straight cis white men should tell everybody else what they deserve, and everybody else should just accept that?”

  • Michael Heath

    I still have the score 0 – 0; where both God and Satan continue to forfeit by failing to show up.

  • raven

    “Our sign referencing Satan demanding his equal rights to ascend into the heavens and be God was simply

    1. This isn’t, as far as I know, from the bible. In the bible there was no rebellion and no War in Heaven*. Satan doesn’t rule in hell.

    This is mostly from Milton’s Paradise Lost which is a story very loosely based on the bible, old fan fic.

    Much of what xians believe is just stuff made up over the centuries. Which is an on going process. It’s all Make Believe piled on top of ancient Make Believe.

    * The biblical war in heaven is in Revelation. Revelation is a road map of the future. None of which has happened yet.

  • Al Dente

    According to the Book of Job Yahweh and Satan were best buddies. They made bets on what people would do if Yahweh screwed them over.

  • khms

    Reading what’s actually in the bible, the only way to believe that “the lord” is the good guy seems to be the same way someone in an abusive relationship believes their partner loves them. (That thought is hardly original, of course.) Essentially, he’s the good guy because he says that he’s the good guy, never mind what he actually does.

    As far as I can recall, there’s not all that much in that book on the subject of hell, or specifics about the devil. I seem to recall reading somewhere that those ideas came later? What is the Jewish variant of heaven/hell like? I’m sure I knew that at some time, but I no longer remember.

  • raven

    Satan Doesn’t Live In Hell . . . He Lives In Turkey

    One of the most universally accepted facts about Satan—that he rules over all the demons in Hell—is also one of the most incorrect. According to the Bible, Satan doesn’t rule in Hell and doesn’t live there, either. He lives on Earth, walking among us and tempting us to commit sins and turn to his side.

    The Book of Revelation goes a step farther and names the ancient Turkish city of Pergamum as the “Throne of Satan.” Specifically, it’s thought that it was a literal throne, with the temple once known as the Great Altar of Zeus repurposed as the Devil’s throne. The prophet John says: “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is.

    One of the best theological sources is Listverse. com. Which says a lot about how useful 2,000 years of theology and biblical research has been.

    According the The Big Book of Mythology, satan lives on earth and his throne is in Turkey. In fact, the Germans dug up the Altar of Zeus and took it to Berlin. Ancient Pergamum has long been a ruin, so presumably satan is either itinerant or has moved somewhere else.

  • dan4

    @9 “What is the Jewish variant of heaven/hell like?”

    Jews don’t believe in an afterlife.

  • Matrim

    @7, raven

    I was always under the impression that Revelation showed both the past and the future (in allegory as seen by a guy who was high on hallucinogenic fungus and seen through the lens of his particular culture and superstition).

  • Al Dente

    I was told that Revelation was a political commentary on the 1st Century CE Roman empire written in a cryptic fashion to keep the author out of prison.

  • raven

    I was always under the impression that Revelation showed both the past and the future..

    Sounds like something you heard in Sunday school. Xians just make stuff up as they go along. And different groups of xians make up different things. That is why they disagree on everything.

    It’s a mistake to take anything xians say about the bible without checking it yourself. Most of the time, what they say is in their magic book isn’t in…their magic book.

    It’s also a mistake to think xians agree on anything. They disagree about everything.


    The obscure and extravagant imagery has led to a wide variety of interpretations: historicist interpretations see in Revelation a broad view of history; preterist interpretations treat Revelation as mostly referring to the events of the apostolic era (1st century), or, at the latest, the fall of the Roman Empire; futurists believe that Revelation describes future events; and idealist or symbolic interpretations consider that Revelation does not refer to actual people or events, but is an allegory

    Since Revelation is basically gibberish and nothing in it ever happened, xians have been trying to make sense of it any way they can. With huge disagreements.

    If you actually read the book, it is clearly prophecy. A list of future events. None of which have happened yet.

  • lofgren

    I was told that biblical scholars and theologians had definitively settled the meaning and intent of Revelations and it could be summed up in a single sentence.

    Most of what we know about Satan is extrabiblical, but it’s not as though extrabiblical sources are automatically considered false by Christians.

    Jewish beliefs about Satan and heaven and hell have varied widely over time and geography and cannot be accurately described here. The character of Satan and the concept of hell definitely pre-date the New Testament and the advent of Christianity in Jewish tradition, though.

    Revelations is probably a complex work intended to be what raven said, what Matrim said, and what Al Dente said all at the same time.

    The idea that the line about Pergamum was meant to be taken literally is fundie nonsense.

  • raven

    I was told that Revelation …

    By xians? And you believed them?

    I do hope you have realized that nothing they say is likely to be true. If not, check your bank account. Send it all to John Hagee or the vaguely humanoid toad minister of your choice.

    And get ready for jesus’s Second Coming. It’s in September, 2015.

  • lofgren

    If you actually read the book, it is clearly prophecy. A list of future events. None of which have happened yet.

    I think I remember from your earlier comments that you were raised in a fundie church which I suspect based on your comments was dispensationalist or otherwise influenced heavily by the Scofield Bible.

    At the time that Revelation was created, apocalyptic literature was a popular genre. It used the device of prophecy to comment on current events. Revelation uses the template of a past tyrant to comment on the tyrannies of a current despot and prophecies that future tyrants will follow a similar course. Or at least that was probably the outline John was working from before the ‘shrooms kicked in.

    Contrary to fundie mythology, that vast majority of Christians do not believe that you can pick up a bible and read it in a rigidly literal fashion while eschewing all historical context. Indeed, it is a very, very narrow subset of Christians who purport to believe this. (And inevitably, as with Scofield’s famous reference, hypocrisy lurks just beneath the surface. When a fundie says they read the bible literally, what they really mean is “Anybody who disagrees with my interpretation is a heretic.”)

  • raven

    I can see that this thread has dragged out every idea xians have about satan, hell, and Revelation.

    Since they disagree about everything, it is a wide variety of beliefs. All of which, AFAWK are mythology. It is hard to say that one mythology is truer than another mythology given that the source is human imagination.

    To the biblical literalists, the fundie xians, Revelation is a roadmap of the future. That is their main source for the End Times, Apocalypse, Second Coming of jesus belief.

  • raven

    I think I remember from your earlier comments that you were raised in a fundie church …

    Not quite. It was a social justice Mainline Protestant one. About as far from fundies as you can get. They paid little attention to the Old Testament and never mentioned Revelation, which many xian churches treat as the weird uncle kept locked in the basement.

    Contrary to fundie mythology, that vast majority of Christians do not believe that you can pick up a bible and read it in a rigidly literal fashion …

    That is true. But what I’m talking about is the literal and inerrant reading of the bible. What the fundie xians claim is the basis of their religion. Not what most xians have made of the bible, a giant Rorschach Inkblot.

    Fundies make up about a third of US xians, but in terms of visibility, they own US xianity right now.

  • lofgren

    It’s true thay we really can’t say which mythology is truer than the thers, but we can say that the original intent of Revelations was probably not to prophecy the literal end of days.

    Fundies are not themselves a monolithic group, and those concerned with endtimes prophecy marshal bunches of passages from the bible, not just Revelations.

  • Larry

    But god still has Kenny McCormick in the wings with his mad PSP skillz so there is that. The war is not over!

  • Modusoperandi

    Satan 1, God 0

    It was a draw the entire game, with neither side able to break the other’s capable defense, until the closing seconds of the final quarter when Satan picked up a free throw after God elbowed him.


    With this stunning upset, Satan moves on to the sweet sixteen, next facing the heavily favored Xavier Musketeers.

  • Sastra

    Our sign referencing Satan demanding his equal rights to ascend into the heavens and be God was simply ‘I’ and all about that individual,” Greene told WATE.

    I find this clear enough because it’s consistent with a view of human rights which is framed within an authoritarian mindset where a Parent or King is in absolute charge and doles out permissions and prohibitions. Any child who tries to usurp the authority of the parent king and be their OWN person by going against what He wants is setting themselves up as equal to God. The “cult of Individuality” is thus a rebellion from God, a willful separation from the only legitimate Source of our “rights.”

    “My heart breaks in the dividedness of our country.”

    Which probably means both the division between the ungodly and the godly as well as the damned from God.

  • jws1

    Am I the only one amused by the identification letters for a local news station spelling out a word sounding like “wait”?

    Also, Modus @22: Are you saying Ohio State is God?

  • Daryl Carpenter

    Fundamentalists claim to take the bible literally, but what they really do is interpret the bible in a way where it can’t be shown to be in error. If a non-literal reading is needed to preserve inerrancy, then that is what’s chosen. James Barr’s book Fundamentalism (1977) lays this tactic out in excruciating detail. A great book. I’d recommend it to anyone wanting to understand the hermeneutics of conservative bible scholars and readers.

  • laurentweppe

    You know, what? it could be a valid rhetorical device, if it was used as the introduction to an argument against demagogues trying to disguise themselves as well-meaning idealists only to drop the mask once in power.

    Problem is, fundies have so far been utterly incapable of making this argument. It’s not that they never tried here and there, but it’s always been done is such a shoddy and clumsy way that it was never convincing in the slightest, and I for one tend to suspect that the main reason for this is that if they pursue the (perfectly valid, virtuous even) goal of warning their pew against dishonest demagogues, they’ll end up warning them against their own political patrons.

  • busterggi

    Satan 1, God 0 – even deities can’t make soccer interesting.

  • colnago80

    Re dan4 @ #11

    As usual, ole Dan4 is seriously in error. While it is true that Jews do not believe in the afterlife as Christians do, their position is that earthly death is not the end.

  • Alverant

    What “rights of children” does he mean? Does it include a child’s right not to die from preventable illnesses because of his/her parents’ religious beliefs?

  • lorn

    “My heart breaks in the dividedness of our country.”

    Everyone needs to get behind this guys vision of righteousness or he is going to have a sad over his loss of unity and entitlement.

  • Al Dente

    colnago80 is calling someone else out for being mistaken? Ol’ “Frankenberger” owes me a new irony meter because my last one just had a meltdown.

  • krambc

    A cultural history of satan by Philip Harland, a podcast.

  • bencaires10

    Hey there!

    I am an inspiring young film maker and I had stumbled across your humanism website. I have created a animated documentary short film called Religion vs Atheism, which explores some of the ideas you guys talk about. Check it out,

  • Ibis3, These verbal jackboots were made for walking

    Can we just agree on one thing? Prophecy is the noun, to prophesy the verb. Ta.

  • conrod

    I just clicked on this post and my browser froze. Satan 2, God 0 or Satan 1, God 1?