Posts Tagged ‘satanism’

What do you think of when you hear the term “Satanist?” You might imagine a group of people dressed in black robes, wearing pentagrams around their necks, offering a human sacrifice to the lord of the underworld (while, of course, listening to heavy metal…). It might surprise you, then, to see that modern-day Satanist actually have more in common with atheists than they do ancient pagans. Let me start by giving you some background on a very disturbed individual…

Anton Szandor LaVey never really fit in with those around him. He didn’t play nicely with the other kids, and he always seemed to stand out. He was born in Chicago in 1930, but eventually moved with his family to San Francisco. He became enthralled with dark literature such as Dracula and Frankenstein, and learned of many superstitions from his Eastern European grandmother. He possessed extraordinary musical ability, and would later earn an income playing the organ. It was here that he began to notice the hypocrisy of many Christians. Under the name “The Great Szandor,” he would play the organ at carnivals on Saturday nights, and then for tent evangelists Sunday mornings. This is how he describes those experiences:

On Saturday night I would see men lusting after half-naked girls dancing at the carnival, and on Sunday morning when I was playing the organ for tent-show evangelists at the other end of the carnival lot, I would see these same men sitting in the pews with their wives and children, asking God to forgive them and purge them of carnal desires. And the next Saturday night they’d be back at the carnival or some other place of indulgence. I knew then that the Christian Church thrives on hypocrisy, and that man’s carnal nature will out!”

From there, LaVey would go on to become a part-time investigator of alleged supernatural phenomena. What he found was that most situations had a natural explanation, but people were inclined to believe the supernatural. People would often rather believe the “other worldly” explanation than the reasonable one. This further moved him away from the belief in any form of religious supernaturalism.

LaVey eventually gathered together an inner circle of like-minded individuals, and in 1966, on the last night of April (Walpurgisnacht, the most important festival for believers in witchcraft), LaVey shaved his head and declared 1966 as year one, Anno Satanas (the first year of the age of Satan). The Church of Satan was thus founded, and has since included personalities such as Sammy Davis Jr., Marilyn Manson, and Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio.

What few people actually realize about Satanism is that it is a purely atheistic and materialistic worldview. They do not believe in God or the devil. In fact, they took “Satan” (which, in Hebrew, means “Adversary”) as a symbol of anti-religion. Just as Satan is the traditional opposition to God, so also does he now represent a movement in opposition to all supernatural religions. Where the Bible teaches such things as turning the other cheek, abstinence from sin, kindness to those who don’t deserve it, selflessness, and the exclusive worship of God, in Satanism’s “Nine Statements” they support the complete opposite. Man is an animal, and so his highest goal is the pursuit of selfish pleasure. The church, in scaring people away from Satan, has tricked the masses into fleeing their natural desires to seek refuge in their sanctuaries. LaVey saw it as his mission to free people from this oppression.

So how, you may ask, is Satanism like atheism? There are several similarities…

1. They don’t believe in the supernatural. This is one of the primary soap boxes that modern-day atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennet preach from constantly! They say that we are now beneficiaries of “The Enlightenment” which showed us how foolish it is to believe in the supernatural. In fact, both Satanists (see #7 of the Nine Satanic Statements) and atheists (see Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation and Daniel Dennett’s Darwin’s Dangerous Idea) insist that there is no fundamental difference between us and the animals. They say that we are simply highly evolved animals. It should come as no surprise that atheistic sexual ethics are becoming more and more like those held by Satanists. Satanism “…encourages any form of sexual expression you may desire, so long as it hurts no one else.” (Satanic Bible, pg 69) Influential atheist ethicist Peter Singer has come under controversy for claiming sex between humans and animals, although considered taboo, presents no ethical prohibitions as long as the animal is not hurt. It seems extreme, and most atheists will likely disagree with Singer, but it shows the dangerous places you could theoretically go when you abandon the biblical distinction between humans and animals, and Satanism and atheism both share this belief.

2. They believe that self is the ultimate authority. When you do away with the existence of God, you are left with no ultimate authority besides yourself. In The Satanic Bible, LaVey writes: “The Satanist feels: ‘Why not really be honest and if you are going to create a god in your image, why not create that god as yourself?’ Every man is a god if he chooses to recognize himself as one. So, the Satanist celebrates his own birthday as the most important holiday of the year.” (pg 96) On the atheist side, Richard Dawkins claims “…that the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis like any other.” (The God Delusion, pg 72) Dawkins insists that if God exists, He should be explainable through science alone. But what does this say? It says, “If God exists, he must be explainable in a way that I can understand.” When we can understand something it gives us power over it. Dawkins will not admit that there may be a God that we cannot fully comprehend. In this way, atheists promote themselves as God. In both Satanism and atheism, the human individual ultimately occupies the place of god.

3. When we are the ultimate authority, then we determine our own ethics. If God does not exist, then who becomes the authority on ethics? We do. Without God, we are left to determine our own ethics. For the Satanist, nothing is greater than the pursuit of pleasure. LaVey writes, “The FLESH prevaileth and a great Church shall be builded, consecrated in its name. No longer shall man’s salvation be dependent on his self-denial. And it will be known that the world of the flesh and the living shall be the greatest preparation for any and all eternal delights!” (Satanic Bible, pgs 23-24) Ethicists like Peter Singer are “Utilitarians” who believe in maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain for the greatest number of people. Indeed, if there is no God, and all we have is this physical life, then why waste time in pursuit of the spiritual? Why not engage in the physical pleasures available to you? Unless you borrow from Christian morality (which atheism almost always does), you are left with nothing to determine your morality except the pursuit of pleasure over pain.

4. They are both strongly opposed to religion.

This is perhaps the greatest similarity between the two. One of the biggest themes running through the Satanic Bible is a disdain for religion. Modern-day atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens have been anything by subtle over their thoughts on religion. Whether it is claiming that religion is child-abuse (Hitchens, God is Not Great, chapter 16, Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, chapter 9) or holding rallies specifically to “ridicule and show contempt for faith” (, today’s atheists have made it clear that they are against religion in all its manifestations.

So, why do I draw attention to the similarities between Satanism and atheism? Simply to say that it should come as no surprise that the biblical adversary to the Christian faith would have his name attached to a cult that ultimately reflects the polar opposite of faith. People cringe when they think of Satanism but are a little more understanding when they hear “atheism.” However, when you strip away the scary rituals and dark robes, the two are essentially the same at the worldview level. They both deny the existence of God (or anything supernatural), they see humanity as the ultimate authority, they are Darwinian in their ethics, and they both oppose religion. The Bible is clear that there is a spiritual world that is very real, and it only has two sides (Ephesians 6:10-17). If you reject God, you inadvertently side with the devil. So which side are you on?