If God really did create the universe, then it’s those of us who don’t believe in Him who are going to Heaven. God is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good - and all too clever to believe anything without evidence. If He exists, I’m convinced He’ll reward those of us who came to the conclusion that there just isn’t enough empirical evidence to justify belief in His existence. By my reckoning, the only God befitting of the title is one that created a universe without enough evidence of Himself as a part of test to see whether you could make valid inferences from the evidence at hand. He endowed you with reason and free will, and wants to see you use it. So if you rightly conclude that the universe doesn’t provide sufficient evidence for the creator, then you have passed the creator’s test - you have used your head and you’re going to paradise!
He is the serpent, the Great Dragon, Beelzebul, the ruler of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the evil one, and the adversary. He is Satan. And—if you are a follower of Jesus Christ—he hates your guts with a passion. Like a roaring lion he is prowling about seeking to destroy you. How can you stand firm and resist the devil so that he will flee from you? First, do not be naive; you must consider his ways.
1. He may slander God to you in order to cast doubt on God’s goodness and shipwreck your faith (Gen 3:4-5).
He may offer criticisms and arguments against the existence and benevolence of God, as part of a healthy debate.
2. He may corrupt your mind and steer you away from the simplicity of Christ and His gospel (2 Cor 11:3).
He may help you realize that not everything in life is simple or black and white, and that you need to really think through and analyse things to get to the truth.
3. He may wrestle against you, fighting against your progress in Christ (Eph 6:12).
He may challenge you in order to help you see whether you really believe what you say you believe.
4. He may tempt you to commit sexual immorality against your spouse as a result of neglecting the intimacy of the marriage bed (1 Cor 7:5).
He may help you realize that you love somebody else, and that it would be best for both parties if the relationship ended, you both moved on and maintained a cordial friendship.
5. He may harass you with some form of fleshly affliction (2 Cor 12:7).
He may make you realize that true beauty isn’t skin deep.
6. He may blind the spiritual eyes of your unsaved family, friends, and neighbors so that they may not see the glory of Jesus in the gospel (2 Cor 4:4).
He may help your family, friends and neighbours not to believe blindly in the Bible, and instead create an atmosphere of independent thinking in your community.
7. He may keep your unsaved acquaintances in bondage to sins that hinder them from coming to God (Gal 4:8).
He may help your two best mates from the pub realize that they do in fact love each other, and even though you tell them it’s sinful, they enter a civil partnership, and live happily ever after.
He may smite you with a vaccine.
He may offer you the option of choosing to die rather than putting yourself and your family through the grief of suffering from the pain of a terminal illness.
He may sow questions in the minds of the believers in order to create an interesting variety of opinions.
11. He may lead you toward theological compromise by causing you to be friendly to false doctrine and its teachers (1 Tim 4:1-3).
He may help you reassess your beliefs in the light of new evidence flooding in from that new-fangled thing they call science.
12. He may persecute you for your godliness (Rev 2:10).
He may disagree with you.
He may offer you a big red juicy apple as part of your five-a-day.
14. He is—at this moment—prowling about seeking to capture and destroy you, chiefly through pride (1 Pet 5:6-8).
He praises you for your hard work, giving you the weekend off, instead of condemning you every Sunday.
15. He will most assuredly slander you before God in heaven (Rev 12:10).
He may try to tell the apparently all-knowing God that he knows you better.
16. He may ask God for permission to sift you out for concentrated attack and temptation (Luke 22:31).
He may ask the apparently all-good God if he is allowed to do bad things to you.
17. He may use the power of suggestion to move you away from the will of God (Matt 16:21-23).
He may attempt to steal you from the apparently all-powerful God.
18. He may try to cripple your effectiveness through confusion, discouragement, and despair (2 Cor 4:8-9).
He may open your eyes to the fact that world is a complex place and that you need far more than a dusty old book to live a happy life.
The first time I read His Dark Materials, I wandered around for five days thinking Metatron was going to spear me to death at any moment for reading such heresy. I was actually afraid. That, my friends, is why telling an eight-year old boy that if he dares disobey Catholic teaching he will go to Hell is always wrong.
"And when death comes to call me,
I’m soothed by the everlasting sleep
Of being buried as a Christian
With a headstone beside the sea.
My only wish is there be hundreds
Of every kind of flower giving life at the grave.
With that thought, thank God
My soul, at least, will be smiling.””
Domhnall Eirisgeach, Crowned Bard 1949.
Translation from Gaelic by Candide.