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The Biography of Satan

Kersey Graves


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The Biography of Satan, Or, A Historical Exposition of the Devil and His Fiery Dominions. Disclosing the oriental origin of the belief in a devil and future endless punishment; also, an explanation of the pagan origin of the scriptural terms, bottomless pit, lake of fire and brimstone, chains of darkness, casting out devils, worm that never dieth, etc.

This book has 95 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1865.

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Excerpt from 'The Biography of Satan'

Thought has a history. The intellectual life of the present is the heritage of the beliefs and doubts, the hopes and fears, of the past. We think over again the thoughts of our fathers, with such variations only as are due to broader culture. And this broader culture is the product of intellectual variations.

Thought varies in the direction of growth. But the change of thought is, for the most part, a slow process. Beliefs are tenacious, and no beliefs are more tenacious than religious beliefs.

This is because religion has to do with gods and devils; because it presumes to tell man of his place in and relation to the world and the whence and whither of his being; because it teaches the necessity of holding certain beliefs regarding these things, and because it appeals fundamentally to man’s emotions—to his hope for happiness and fear of pain in another world.

These features of religious belief give religion a universal interest. All men are interested in religion. They are interested in it because it has so largely dominated the life of humanity; because for' countless ages mankind lived and thought and suffered almost wholly within the confines of religious sanctions; because every step the race has taken in the direction of intellectual progress has been taken in defiance of religious authority; because the whole range of the scientific culture of our time regarding man and the universe is a challenge to, and is challenged by, the religious notions that have come down to us from the distant past.

Accordingly, the Christian and the Deist, the Theosophist and the Spiritualist, the Agnostic and the Atheist, are equally interested, though from different points of view, in the story of humanity’s religious beliefs—the history of the world’s religious thought.

Without a knowledge of man’s past, his present cannot be understood. Yesterday’s beliefs are keys to the doors of to-day’s thoughts. From what yesterday’s religion was, the religion of today has become, and on the foundations we lay down, whether flimsy or secure, the superstructure of tomorrow’s thought will rise to challenge the winds of change and to be tested by the stressful storms of science.

At the bottom of the religion of the Christian world has even been and is, the belief in an eternal fiery hell, presided over by a devil, the prince of fiends. The church has ever taught and still teaches that the faithful, the devout-—at best but a mere few—will be chosen to share the eternal glory of God’s presence in heaven, and that the countless billions of unregenerate and unredeemed will be tortured forever in the flames of hell, under the everlasting surveillance of the Devil’s malicious leer.

That atrocious doctrine—the doctrine of eternal punishment for unbelievers—has been, in every age, the mainspring, the driving force of Christianity. Armed with that belief, the church launched herself upon the Roman Empire, destroyed the pagan religions, extinguished pagan culture, overthrew classical civilization, and ushered the world into the noisome gulf of the Dark Ages.

Fired with that belief, the church filled the world with religious hate, with fanaticism, with intolerance of science and reason. Urged to desperation by that belief, the church established the Inquisition; filled the Christian world with spies and informers; and for a long succession of generations, imprisoned and stretched on racks and burnt alive, the noblest, the most progressive men and women of our race, because they had brains enough to think and courage enough to express their thought.

To satisfy that infamous belief, Hypatia and Huss, Bruno and Vanini, Servetus and Ferrer, with innumerable martyrs filling the way between the Greek teacher in the fifth century and the Spanish educator in our own day, sealed their convictions with their blood and gave their ashes to the winds.

The belief in eternal punishment gave the world a thousand religious wars. It put a ban on investigation. It gagged honest thought. It made ignorance universal and progress impossible. It put the world beneath the feet of priests. For more than fifteen hundred years, the insane notion that a hell of flames awaits the souls of unbelievers in another world did more than any other single thing to transform this world into a kind of hell.

Thundered from millions of pulpits, over and over again, during all the centuries of Christianity, that heartless belief filled the lives of men and women and children with an awful fear— a fear frequently amounting to terror—a withering fear that only recently began to pass away.

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