Satan is a figure for hate speech, against dissent

#ChiselingtheDebris  Shingai Rukwata Ndoro
‘Satan’ is a 10th century English word and it comes from Greek, “satanas” (#G4567). It means “opposition or adversary” not a real person.

This week we scrutinise the thinking of those who insult others using the word “Satan.” ‘Satan’ is a 10th century English word and it comes from Greek, “satanas” (#G4567). It means “opposition or adversary” not a real person.

In Hebrew, it is “stn” (satan), (#H7853 and #H7854). This represents “adversary, slanderer or accuser.”

In original biblical usage, it is found in the book of Job, where Satan is one of divinely beings as a member of the heavenly council. He presented himself before an Abrahamic God (Job 1:6, 2:1). Satan is then given the authority by the Abrahamic God to cause calamity to Job (Job 1:12, 2:6-7). This contradicts as cited here, Isaiah 45:7, 2 Kings 6:33, Job 2:10, Lamentations 3:38, Amos 3:6 in which the Abrahamic God has ultimate control over everything, including the power to allow or prevent the evil. The power to cause calamitous diseases is beyond the capacity of humans and must come solely from the Abrahamic God.

There are scriptural references where the Abrahamic God is a Satan (2 Samuel 24: 1 and 1 Chronicles 21:1), an angel as Satan (Numbers 22:22) and a human being as Satan (Matthew 16:23).

In Christianity, “Satan” was theologically re-framed away from the Judaic point of view so that he is a supernatural power opposed to the Abrahamic God as the leader of the forces of evil (Luke 11:15–19; Matthew 12:24–27; Mark 3:22–23:26); an opponent and deceiver (Mark 1:13); Jesus’ ministry puts a temporary end to Satan’s reign (Luke 10:18) and the conversion of the gentiles led them from Satan to the Abrahamic God (Acts 26:18) – Shawna Dolansky, “How the Serpent Became Satan” August 4, 2016

From a secularist point of view, the figure of Satan does not exist but is a Christian mythical figure or a humanised mental condition as an opposite of the mental condition of goodness.

Satan is not an actual person or a real character but a human constructed personification of an adversarial role. As a figurative being, a Christian-based ‘Satan’ has been used to deny people the opportunity to religiously question.

“The apparent incongruity of a person (i.e., Satan) with such a frame of mind consorting with the other “sons of God” in the courts of heaven, giving an account of himself to, and speaking on familiar terms with, God, disappears when the narrative is seen to be constructed, not as a picture of realities, but as a vehicle of moral teaching…” Andrew Zenos of Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Chicago (1936, p. 811).

Regarding events of Satan’s alleged temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden, there is nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures that a snake is also called Satan until in the Book of Revelation (12:9 and 20:2).

If the noble or aspirational condition is represented by light, truth, goodness and beauty, then the Satan is not a person but the human state of mind as a negation that obscures those noble qualities and attributes.

The discrimination, hate, cruelty, brutal violence and genocidal of the humanoid, masculine and personal Abrahamic God fit well into a negation of noble qualities and attributes.

The myth about the fall of Lucifer from heaven to the underworld is of non-Christian origin.

It was derived from the Greek Hephaestus (the deity of blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals and metallurgy, and fire, whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan) who fell from Mt. Olympus (the highest mountain in Greece in which they considered as the home of the principal divinities in the Greek pantheon) to the nether regions, where his forges were located.

We now know that Satan isn’t real but a human constructed fictional figure whose earliest image was the Greek deity, “Pan” that looks like a goat. It has been used for the purposes of racism when the figure was depicted as having a dark-looking, blood sucking and deceptive body.

In many instances, being “Satanic” has been an expression to project anger, resentment and hatred against whom one religiously disagrees with or against those expressing religious dissent. Since there are no linguistic equivalents of the word or humanoid figure “Satan” in any African language, is calling someone a “Satanist” the same as someone “muroyi/umthakathi”?

Ordinarily, hate speech is a statement that is an insult, attack, threat, slanderous, incitement or provocation that can cause physical harm, violence or imminent lawlessness action on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, culture, etc.

If you sincerely respect human dignity, you should know that using hate speech can cause the harm of a fellow human being by a lunatic or extremist.

How can you say you have an active concern for the well-being of fellow human beings when you then express hostility to exercise of their own life, liberty and express of happiness within bounds of the law?

We should not expect fellow human beings in their diversity and plurality to be clones of ourselves. They are autonomous and rational human beings with their own sovereign agency and power of causation whose cooperativeness and solidarity can be sought in a decorous way.

Fellow compatriots, seriously reflect about the hate speech and slanderous labels you are expressing towards a fellow human being.

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