Making Sense Of Evil And Suffering In God’s Universe Part Three: Dualism

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

Quotation For Consideration 

“The devil is not some all-powerful evil equivalent of God. That notion is dark-kingdom propaganda. God and Satan are not equal forces in opposition to each other—one good and one evil, one light and one dark, one Luke Skywalker and one Darth Vader. We have to expose such lies of the enemy to avoid falling for such propaganda.” (Duane Vander Klok, 21 Things The Devil Cannot Do, 286-291 (Kindle Edition); Bloomington, Minnesota; Chosen Books)

Questions For Consideration

Has the devil always existed?  

Why must Good always come before evil?

In what ways does the Book of Job teach us that the devil is inferior to God? 

Dualism: Could The Devil Be God? 

In our previous studies of the Book of Job, we have carefully considered whether atheism or sadism could account for the existence of evil, pain, and suffering. We learned that the philosophical system of atheism (the belief system which claims to know that God does not exist) is deemed unworthy and irrational in several ways, and that the only way to explain the existence of the contingent finite universe is by the existence of the non-contingent infinite God.

Likewise in our study of sadism (the belief that God is cruel and derives pleasure from the suffering of others), we learned that a universe created by such a being would be more horrendous and torturous than we could ever imagine. Such a universe would have no true love or joy, and happiness would not even be a possible notion. Further, the attributes displayed by God forever refute such a system of thought.  

In this lesson we will examine whether or not dualism may adequately explain the existence of evil, pain, and suffering.  

The main idea of dualism is that the devil has existed eternally as an evil being, and that he is locked in a cosmic struggle with the God of goodness.

Dualists believe that all of the wickedness in the universe may be traced back to the influence of this evil person, and that he is intent on the destruction and misery of all created beings.

This god of darkness is locked in a continuing cycle of struggle against the God of light, and because both beings are eternal, there will never be an end to the struggle. As such, there can be no ultimate triumph of good over evil (or vice-versa).  

Historically, dualism is one of the ancient belief systems of Persia:

“Dualism as a philosophical system does not deny the existence of evil (as does illusionism), but instead it attempts to explain the presence of both good and evil by positing that both have been here forever. It can be found in various kinds of religious thought. Zoroastrianism, a religion based on the teachings of the prophet Zarathustra, was the dominant religion in Persia for more than one thousand years. Followers of this religion pictured the universe as a cosmic struggle of the Good Ahura- Mazda against the evil Angra Mainyu, who was the chief agent of The Lie. One of the movements within this religion held that both of these agents issued from the first principle (called Zurvan) at the beginning of time and have coexisted since (Hiriyanna, Essentials of Indian Philosophy , p. 153- 154). Perhaps the most classic form of dualism is Man ­ichaeism, the philosophical system developed by the Persian prophet Mani (A.D. 216— 276). The chief charac­teristic of this system is that it rejects any possibility of tracing the origins of good and evil to one and the same source. Evil must exist as a separate and completely independent principle from good. Two primal princi­ples of Light and Darkness have existed coeternally, but independently, each dwelling in its own realm (St. Augustine, Anti- Manichaean Writings ).” (Norman Geisler, The Roots Of Evil: With a response to Rabi Kushner’s When Bad Things Happen to Good People, 161-176 (Kindle Edition); Matthews, NC; Bastion Books)

There are many who teach that this dualistic religion of Persia influenced the Writers of the Bible, so that the Scriptures teach these dualistic concepts. 

Does The Book Of Job Teach Dualism?

Dualists maintain that the devil is shown to be God throughout the Book of Job.

How do they attempt to prove this?  

First, It is claimed that since the devil appears in the very Presence of God, this proves that the devil is on equal standing with God.  

Second, dualists argue that because the devil communicates with God in such a familiar and casual way in the Book of Job, we can deduce that the devil and God are equals.  

Let’s examine these arguments.  

First, the Bible is clear that the devil was in the Presence of God in the Book of Job.  

Job 1:6-7-6 One day, when the angels had gathered around the LORD, and Satan was there with them, 7 the LORD asked, “Satan, where have you been?” Satan replied, “I have been going all over the earth.”

Job 2:1-When the angels gathered around the LORD again, Satan was there with them,

Of course, while it is true that the devil is here in the Presence of God, we see a major problem with the argument of our dualistic friends.

The angels of God are also present before the Lord!

In other words, if being in the Presence of God is evidence of Deity, then all of the angels would have to be Divine, since they are also present before God.  

That will hardly do.  

What is interesting in this passage is that the devil is identified as being with the “angels ,” or “sons of God” (NKJV).

This could give us an indirect clue as to the identity of the devil.

The phrase translated here as “angels” (CEV) or “sons of God” (NKJV) is very interesting. Historically, both the earliest Jewish commentators and Christian “church fathers” understood that this particular phrase translated as “sons of God” had explicit reference to angels .

Speaking of the presence of this phrase in Genesis 6, one author has pointed out: 

“This strange passage describes the bizarre circumstances that led to the cataclysmic disaster of the famous Flood of Noah. The Hebrew term translated “sons of God” is , B’nai HaElohim, a term consistently used in the Old Testament for angels.224 When the Hebrew Torah, which of course includes the book of Genesis, was translated into Greek in the third century before Christ (giving us what is known as the Septuagint translation), this expression was translated angels.225 With the benefit of the best experts at that time behind it, this translation carries great weight and it was the one most widely quoted by the writers of the New Testament. The Book of Enoch also clearly treats these strange events as involving angels.226 Although this book was not considered a part of the “inspired” canon, the Book of Enoch was venerated by both rabbinical and early Christian authorities from about 200 B.C. through about A.D. 200 and is useful to authenticate the lexicological usage and confirm the accepted beliefs of the period. The Biblical passage refers to supernatural beings intruding upon the planet Earth….The “angel” view of this classic Genesis text is well documented in both ancient Jewish rabbinical literature and Early Church writings. In addition to the Septuagint translation, the venerated (although non-canonical) Book of Enoch, the Syriac Version of the Old Testament, as well as the Testimony of the 12 Patriarchs234 and the Little Genesis,235 confirm the lexicological usage and the extant beliefs of ancient Jewish scholars. Clearly the learned Philo Judaeus understood the passage as relating to angels.236 Josephus Flavius also represents this view: “They made God their enemy; for many angels of God accompanied with women, and begat sons that proved unjust, and despisers of all that was good, on account of the confidence they had in their own strength, for the tradition is that these men did what resembled the acts of those whom the Grecians call giants.”237 In accordance with the ancient interpretation, the Early Church fathers understood the expression “sons of God” as designating angels. These included Justin Martyr,238 Irenaeus,239 Athenagoras,240 Pseudo-Clementine,241 Clement of Alexandria,242 Tertullian,243 Commodianus,244 and Lactantius,245 to list a few. This interpretation was also espoused by Luther and many more modern exegetes including Koppen, Twesten, Dreschler, Hofmann, Baumgarten, Delitzsch, W Kelly, A. C. Gaebelein, and others.” (Chuck Missler & Mark Eastman, Alien Encounters: The Secret Behind The UFO Phenomenon, 205-208 (Kindle Edition); Coeur d’Alene, ID; Koinonia House)  

What about the second argument dualists posit from this text, that because the devil carries on a conversation with God, this must prove that he is God’s equal?  

A little consideration will quickly show the flaw in such reasoning.

If intimate conversation with God qualified a person as being Divine, then all Christians would have to be considered God; for we have access to the throne of God in the most intimate ways possible!  

Renowned scholar, William Barclay, in discussing the various words for “prayer” in the New Testament explains:

“FOUR different words for prayer are grouped together. It is true that they are not to be sharply distinguished; nevertheless, each has something to tell us about the way of prayer. (1) The first is deēsis, which we have translated as request. It is not exclusively a religious word; it can be used of a request made either to another person or to God. But its fundamental idea is a sense of need. No one will make a request unless a sense of need has already wakened a desire. Prayer begins with a sense of need. It begins with the conviction that we cannot deal with life ourselves. That sense of human weakness is the basis of all approach to God…(2) The second is proseuchē, which we have translated as prayer. The basic difference between deēsis and proseuchē is that deēsis may be addressed either to others or to God, but proseuchē is never used of anything else but approach to God. There are certain needs which only God can satisfy. There is a strength which he alone can give; a forgiveness which he alone can grant; a certainty which he alone can bestow. It may well be that our weakness remains with us because we so often take our needs to the wrong place. (3) The third is enteuxis, which we have translated as petition. Of the three words, this is the most interesting. It is the noun from the verb entugchanein. This originally meant simply to meet or to fall in with a person; it went on to mean to hold intimate conversation with a person; then it acquired a special meaning and meant to enter into a king’s presence and to submit a petition to him. That tells us a great deal about prayer. It tells us that the way to God stands open and that we have the right to bring our petitions to one who is a king…The fourth is eucharistia, which we have translated as thanksgiving. Prayer does not mean only asking God for things; it also means thanking God for things. For too many of us, prayer is an exercise in complaint when it should be an exercise in thanksgiving.” (William Barclay, INSIGHTS: Prayer-What The Bible Tells Us About Prayer, 19-20 (Kindle Edition); Edinburgh, England; Saint Andrews Press)

Problems With Dualism 

 The first major problem with dualism is that evil cannot be eternal. Instead, it must be preceded by that which is good; for evil can only exist in that which is first good.

C.S. Lewis elaborated on this when he wrote his book Mere Christianity: 

“In other words badness cannot succeed even in being bad in the same way in which goodness is good. Goodness is, so to speak, itself: badness is only spoiled goodness. And there must be something good first before it can be spoiled. We called sadism a sexual perversion; but you must first have the idea of a normal sexuality before you can talk of its being perverted; and you can see which is the perversion, because you can explain the perverted from the normal, and cannot explain the normal from the perverted. It follows that this Bad Power, who is supposed to be on an equal footing with the Good Power, and to love badness in the same way as the Good Power loves goodness, is a mere bogy. In order to be bad he must have good things to want and then to pursue in the wrong way: he must have impulses which were originally good in order to be able to pervert them. But if he is bad he cannot supply himself either with good things to desire or with good impulses to pervert. He must be getting both from the Good Power. And if so, then he is not independent. He is part of the Good Power’s world: he was made either by the Good Power or by some power above them both. Put it more simply still. To be bad, he must exist and have intelligence and will. But existence, intelligence and will are in themselves good. Therefore he must be getting them from the Good Power: even to be bad he must borrow or steal from his opponent. And do you now begin to see why Christianity has always said that the devil is a fallen angel? That is not a mere story for the children. It is a real recognition of the fact that evil is a parasite, not an original thing. The powers which enable evil to carry on are powers given it by goodness. All the things which enable a bad man to be effectively bad are in themselves good things—resolution, cleverness, good looks, existence itself. That is why Dualism, in a strict sense, will not work. But I freely admit that real Christianity (as distinct from Christianity-and-water) goes much nearer to Dualism than people think. One of the things that surprised me when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked so much about a Dark Power in the universe—a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the Power behind death and disease, and sin. The difference is that Christianity thinks this Dark Power was created by God, and was good when he was created, and went wrong. Christianity agrees with Dualism that this universe is at war. But it does not think this is a war between independent powers. It thinks it is a civil war, a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 43-45 (Kindle Edition); HarperCollins e-Books)

 Second, evil must always be preceded by GOOD because there must be a standard of goodness by which evil is measured.

Without a perfect standard of goodness, there could be no definition of what is truly evil. But the standard of goodness must itself be good, since it is good in and of itself and serves an ontologically good purpose.

In other words, the fact that the standard exists is in and of itself a GOOD thing, and the fact that it serves a good purpose demonstrates its inherent goodness (since the good standard perpetuates good and productive qualities such as compassion, morality, virtue, etc).  

Third, the limitations of the devil”s power, as seen in the Book of Job, clearly demonstrate that the devil is not God.

God Himself puts major restrictions on the devil regarding Job: 

Job 1:12-The LORD replied, “All right, Satan, do what you want with anything that belongs to him, BUT DON’T HARM JOB.” Then Satan left.

Job 2:6-6 “All right!” the LORD replied. “Make Job suffer as much as you want, but just DON’T KILL HIM.” 

These limitations are put upon the devil by God Himself, and they show us that God is greater in power than the devil, thus reenforcing the fact that the devil is not God. 

Fourth, notice the fact that Satan’s lack of knowledge demonstrates that he is not God. The devil entered into an argument with God about Job, and did his very best to break and destroy the human with which he had so much disdain. Satan was certain that he could show God that he knew better than the Almighty! He was convinced that he could show God that humans only serve the Lord because He “bribes” them by being so good to them. God enters into the contest, confident that His servant Job will emerge victorious.  

Job 1:9-11-9 “Why shouldn’t he respect you?” Satan remarked.

10 “You are like a wall protecting not only him, but his entire family and all his property. You make him successful in whatever he does, and his flocks and herds are everywhere.

11 Try taking away everything he owns, and he will curse you to your face.”

Job 2:4-5-4 Satan answered, “There’s no pain like your own. People will do anything to stay alive.

5 Try striking Job’s own body with pain, and he will curse you to your face.”

In one way, the contest is between God and Satan.

In another way, the conflict is between Job and Satan.

Satan was so convinced that Job would fail the test, but God knew better! He knew that His servant Job would be victorious: 

“The book presents God’s hero as just that, God’s man, whose integrity is real in weeping or anger, in earnest pleading or hot protest, in submissive prayers or scathing denunciations. This trusting hero was a civil war, a mob. He wasn’t what thoughtless people often insist is the picture of a model servant. He wasn’t the neat, controlled, even-tempered, calmly-assured and smiling-through-it-all figure who knows God is in charge. In the case of Job, it’s precisely because he believes that God is in charge that he is as mad as a hatter. Because he believes God is in charge Job thinks the world ought to be governed and organized better…When people say God was “testing” Job, there’s some truth in it because the experience did test him and it showed his faithful heart in an entirely new light. Still, putting it that way tends to obscure the fact that God wasn’t “testing” Job so much as “exhibiting” him. God had made up his mind about Job and saw him as someone he was proud of and it was to show that his faith in Job was perfectly well grounded that he put Job to grief. He didn’t put the man to grief to find out if Job was a glorious person; he put him to grief to demonstrate it; he “gambled” on Job, he risked his reputation on Job. The trial was not to discover if righteousness existed but to uncover an even deeper level of righteousness that God already knew was there. God knew Job loved him in the sunshine but he also knew Job would love him in the shadow. While there may be truth in saying that Satan was slyly impugning God’s character, it’s a mistake to make too much of it since it isn’t clearly in the text. It’s Job’s character that is under attack by Satan. It is Job and not Satan who attacks God’s integrity and he does it in the dialogues. But even there, Job’s attack on God’s integrity is an extended demonstration of what Satan said didn’t exist—Job’s integrity and that’s what the Satan/ God exchanges are all about…Job’s central problem was not simply that he was hurting—it was what he thought the hurting meant. Job had seen God as his lordly Friend and sovereign of all that is; a Friend to whom Job had been faithful (29: 1-5). Under the devastating calamities and with a bit of help from his earthly friends Job drew the conclusion that God had proved faithless and had turned against one of his faithful servants. It’s true that 29—31 is a formal “oath of innocence” but not to see some nostalgia in 29: 1-5 is, I think, to under-read it…This feeling of lost friendship and peace is bad enough but what really guts Job is the claim that he is being punished for his crimes. It would be different if he hadn’t come to believe this claim but he believes it and the injustice of it all drives him to the brink of spiritual madness. If he had been the man Satan said he was he would simply have walked away from God and looked for another meal ticket. It was precisely because he wasn’t such a man, that he had such a developed sense of integrity that he had a passion that wouldn’t let even God off the hook if he thought him to be faithless—that’s part of what led God to brag on him in the first place.” (Jim McGuiggian, Life On The Ash Heap: Reflections On The Book Of Job, 224-229; 364-369; 385-396; 401-407, (Kindle Edition))

The fact that Satan so underestimated Job and so overestimated himself demonstrates to us that he is not God, but is instead very limited in his knowledge.  

Indeed, there are many other ways that Satan’s limitations are discussed throughout the Word of God, which will be discussed in more detail in a future study.  

Conclusion

The theory of dualism cannot account for the existence of evil, pain, and suffering in our universe. While the devil is a very real being who has vast resources available to him, he is not God.

Indeed, the Book of Job teaches us these facts in several ways, and also serves to foreshadow the fate of Satan in another way: just as Satan is shown to be defeated throughout the Book of Job, so he (and all of his followers) will be fully defeated in the Day of Judgement.  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

Some Further Information On Dualism

“Unlike the Romans and Egyptians, the kings of Persia did not consider themselves gods. Instead, they acted as representatives of their supreme god, Ahura Mazda. The history of Persian religion can be divided into three distinct eras: first, the polytheistic worship of Ahura Mazda, lesser deities such as Mithra, and the elements (air, water, fire, and earth); second, the advent of Zoroaster’s dualism; and finally, the rise of Islam, which eventually replaced Zoroastrianism.65 The people of Persia, also known as Aryans (Indo-Europeans) acknowledged a supreme god (Mazdaism) before Zoroaster’s time, but they also worshiped many lesser deities, such as Spenta and Mainyu. Ahura Mazda was considered the Creator and the greatest of the gods, but in practice the ancient Persians worshiped many gods, including Mithra (god of war). Herodotus characterized the Persian religion as simplistic, a worship of many gods and at times, nature itself—wind, fire, water, earth, and sky…The worship of everything as divine eventually led to depravity, and it was upon this scene that the prophet Zarathustra came, teaching that some things were not worthy of worship; he called the people back to the true teachings of Ahura Mazda (Mazdaism). According to the modern Zoroastrians, these teachings were ancient, and Zoroaster’s purpose was to remind people of them.67…THE TEACHINGS OF ZOROASTER     1. Ahura Mazda is the one uncreated Creator of all, but some lesser gods are still worthy of worship.     2. Many gods of Persia are corrupt and so cannot be true gods. They are not worthy of worship.     3. All beings are divided into two classes (dualism): those who belong to Ahura Mazda (the All Wise), and those controlled by Anro Mainyus (the Destroying Mind), the source of all evil. “When man does Good he adds to the weight of Good on the balance scales of life; and when he does bad things he adds to the weight of the Evil forces on the balance scales.”70     4. Zoroaster is the greatest of all prophets: “The creator Ahura Mazda spoke to Zarathushtra thus: ‘O Zarathushtra! I have created no one better than you in the world, and I shall likewise not create one better after you are gone. You are my chosen one, and I have made this world apparent on account of you. And all these people and monarchs whom I have created have always maintained the hope that I should create you in their days, so that they should accept the religion, and their souls should attain to the supreme heaven.’”71     5. Human beings are caught in the struggle between good and evil. There are serious consequences for choices made.     6. Free will determines the choice between good and evil, as taught by the Avesta/Gathas (scripture).72     7. Righteousness leads to happiness, and impurity to unhappiness.     8. Gods and men all have a guardian spirit (not the soul). Mithra, Rashnu, and Sraosha determine Judgment at Chinvat-bridge (“Bridge of the Judge”) in the afterlife. “There is to be a Day of Judgment and that is close at hand. On that Day of days the Wise Lord [Ahura Mazda] will triumph over the evil spirit Angra Manyu. All the dead will come to life again and the good souls and the bad souls will be tried. They will be passed through a flow of molten metal. The good will pass through as if the molten metal is warm milk. They will not be harmed. But the evil ones will burn everlastingly.73 MODERN ZOROASTRIANISM     1. All scriptures are sacred (the Gathas, Yashts, and the Vendidad). They are prayed in the fire temples, before the Sacred Fire to further righteousness and fight evil.     2. All fire temples and rituals of the Yasna are sacred.     3. All creatures of Ahura Mazda are worthy of worship.     4. Exposure to the elements (Dakhma-nashini) is the only method of corpse-destruction for a Zarathushtri.     5. Marrying, Zarathushtri man or woman, to a Zarathushtri only is commanded in the Vendidad, to preserve the spiritual strength of the Aryan Mazdayasni religion, and the ethnic identity of the Zarathushtri Aryans.     6. The righteous of every religion go to heaven, all religions are equal, and it is folly to convert. God has given us birth in our respective religions, to adore him in them, and not to mistrust His Judgement (sic) and rebel and go over to another faith. For, each faith leads ultimately to god. Followers of Zoroaster do not convert other people, but they rely on marriage within and increased child birth to increase their numbers.     7. Ahura Mazda sends the Saoshyant to the earth to defeat evil and further righteousness (Ashoi). The Zarathushtri religion was the first to proclaim that Ahura Mazda will send the Saoshyant, born of a virgin, and many other religions took on this belief.     8. When the Saoshyant (Savior) comes, the final spiritual battle between the forces of good and evil will commence, resulting in the utter destruction of evil. Ristakhiz, the ressurection (sic) of the dead will take place—the dead will rise, by the Will of Ahura Mazda. The world will be purged by molten metal, in which the righteous will wade as if through warm milk, and the evil will be scalded. The Final Judgement of all souls will commence, at the hands of Ahura Mazda the Judge (Davar), and all sinners punished, then forgiven, and humanity made immortal and free from hunger, thirst, poverty, old age, disease, and death. The World will be made perfect once again, as it was before the onslaught of the evil one.74.” (Walter Martin, Jill Martin, Rische Kurt Van Gorden, The Kingdom Of The Occult, 102-106 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers)

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