In case you haven’t read about it, Satan doesn’t exist. Recent polling by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research has found that while seven in 10 U.S. adults believe in angels, when it comes to fallen ones—like the devil—it drops to 56%. A recent Gallup report found similar results with only 58% believing, down from 71% just two decades ago.
To be sure, belief in almost every other “spiritual” category is down as well: belief in God has dropped from 90% in 2001 to 74% in 2023; heaven from 83% to 69%; angels from 79% to 57%; and hell from 71% to 59%.
But dropping to 58% belief, it’s the devil that’s faring the worst.
And he’s quite happy about it.
In The “Screwtape Letters,” C.S. Lewis’ masterful fictional account of a senior devil, Screwtape, mentoring a younger devil, Wormwood, he notes the following in the preface:
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.
Later in the work, Screwtape writes the following to Wormwood:
I wonder you should ask me whether it is essential to keep the patient in ignorance of your own existence. That question, at least for the present phase of the struggle, has been answered for by the High Command. Our policy, for the moment, it to conceal ourselves…. When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism…. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and sceptics.
Then Lewis, writing in his normally prescient way, adds these words from Screwtape’s pen:
If once we can produce our perfect work—the Materialist Magician, the man, not using, but veritably worshipping, what he vaguely calls “Forces” while denying the existence of “spirits”—then the end of the war is in sight.
And that is precisely what the diminishing belief in Satan, and the increasing belief in all things paranormal, is achieving.
This article originally appeared here and is used by permission.