In the present age, scientific rationalism is both God and Devil. With the advent of post-Renaissance materialism, the living presence of religion was suddenly undermined. Belief in the Devil, evil spirits, and eventually God himself was seen as superstitious, having no place in the Age of Enlightenment.
As the power of Christianity waned as the dominant social and political force in western culture, so too did the power of Satan. By the eighteenth century, in Europe at least, witch and heretic burnings had all but ceased.
Today, most of Christians in the world would consider it primitive and barbaric to suggest that anyone be hounded or killed for communing with Satan. Modern science has dethroned the Christian Church from its position of supreme influence in western culture, playing exorcism of Satan from western consciousness.
Of course, the Devil is not dead yet but he gets his power from God, and as God’s power wanes so does Satan’s. Someday, perhaps, both God and Satan will become impotent strangers to the human imagination. Even those who are allegedly doing evil in the name of Satan are usually pursued for the evil they do, not for their alleged association with the devil. It is likely that most police officers, if they had to deal with crimes committed by Satan worshippers, would view the criminals as deluded rather than as really communing with otherworldly beings.
The new, rationalistic worldview brought with it an indispensable asset to the human race, the scientific method. However, it could not possibly hope to answer fundamental questions such as the problem of evil, which were by definition metaphysical and beyond the scope of scientific inquiry.
The great fallacious conceit of science was its intrusion into the realm of the irrational, where it simply had no relevance. Yet in fact there was still stranger delusion in the naive faith of the early Rationalists, who fondly fancied that they had found the key to all knowledge and that there were no things in heaven or earth beyond the reach of their science and philosophy.
And much of the history of the last hundred years forms a curious comment on these proud pretentions. For far from disappearing from the face of the earth, much of the old occultism has been revived with a new vigor, and has taken new form in modern Spiritism. At the same time, philosophers, historians, and men of science have been led to make a serious study of the story of demonology and occultism in past ages or in other lands, in order to understand its true significance.
The most extreme evasion of the problem was 20th century Satanism, which resurrected the Romantic conception of Lucifer, who, in his own inimical style, represented the principle of individuality in the face of oppression.
The obvious contradiction inherent in a Devil as a principle of good was a sure sign of confusion. And, even as the Satanists pilloried Christ, they belied their own professed independence by operating within the structure of dogmatic Christian belief. Universities and colleges in the U.S. and elsewhere have begun offering courses with such titles as “Witchcraft, Magic and Sorcery” because of the growing interest in the occult. Numerous churches of Satan have been founded and devil worship is actually practiced throughout the world today. Satan’s greatest ambition is to be worshiped as God and to control the mind of mankind.
But what do contemporary Americans believe about supernatural beings?
A major article on angels was the cover story for “Time Magazine” on December 27, 1993. Some amazing statistics were revealed concerning what Americans believe about angels and demons.
When asked if they “believe in the existence of angels”, 69% answered YES and 46% believe they have their “own guardian angel”. The story went on to say that 55% of the people surveyed believe angels are “higher spiritual beings created by God with special powers to act as his agents on earth”.
People surveyed were not as clear in their beliefs about demons. However, 49% said they believe in the existence of “fallen angels or devils”.