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Ask the Patriarch 95
Views on the Devil & Halloween

from Sharlene

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I am doing a research project on Agnostics, I am wondering what your views are on the existence of the Devil, and your views on Halloween. My project is due in a week so I would like to get a quick response if possible.

Thanks in advance

The Patriarch replies:


Agnostics hold the position than the truth of the existence of God is not known. Most would assign a very low probability to there being a deity.

With respect to the Devil, or Satan, you might expect agnostics to have the same view. But I suspect the majority view would be disbelief, or at most, an even lower probability than that of a God.

What is the Devil but an excuse? Do we need the Devil to explain evil? Not really. When human beings commit evil deeds, it is they that are responsible, not some mystical evil being. We have free will to do good and to do evil. It is our choice and our responsibility to choose wisely, and to choose morally.

I personally do not believe in the Devil, either as an opponent of a god, or as an evil god in its own right.

As for Halloween, I have written about different aspects of it in Meditation 166 and in Meditation 270. Halloween is not traditionally a day devoted to devil worship nor to witchcraft. Its origins lie in a combination of a harvest holiday, a remembrance of the dead, and a New Year's celebration. Like many pagan festivals it was embraced by early Christians for their own feast days of All Hallows Eve and All Saints Day. And when children dress up as goblins, ghosts, spooks and witches, it helps them in dealing with their fears of mythical beings by making them objects of fun and mirth..

Halloween can be fully enjoyed by children of all religions and those of no religion at all without fear of losing their souls. And through adults handing out treats to children on this day, they can be neighbourly and add to the sense of community. It is a positive community event.