“You are a slave of what you need in your soul.” The Red Book by Carl Jung
I’ve not believed in the idea of Satan, at least in the literal sense for quite some time now. I think Satan is an archetype of evil, a symbol of pure negativity, debauchery, and depravity. Even as a practicing Muslim, I could never fully accept the typical portrayal of Satan as some type of physical and tangible being, constantly whispering to us, an ornery little villain whose main aim is to lead us astray. This notion seems very childlike to me.
Indeed, Islamic thought does believe in the idea of Satan and the Quran is quite explicit in describing him. I don’t think Satan was ever meant to be taken figuratively and most believers don’t see him as thus. Instead, I’ve almost always viewed in him in very psychological terms. He is the epitome everything we view as bad in the world, and especially the evil deeds that take place at the hands of humankind.The waswas, a deep sense of tempation into what is typically thought to be immoral. These weaknesses are our downfall, as is the metaphor of the Garden of Eden.
Carl Jung describes a series archetypical images which pervade the human consciousness, manifesting themselves in art, religion, and myth. Jung viewed the source of the archetype as instinctual. We are born with an inate knowledge of various archetypes. These archetypes exist throughout humanity and throughout all times. A specific archetype may manifest itself in various forms, but with obvious similarities.
So naturally, this got me thinking, if Satan is the archetype of evil, then what does that make God? The natural inclination would be to view God and Satan in dualistic terms; God as the archetype of good, the yin to the yang. But then, I don’t necessarily view God as always being good, at least as he is described in the monotheistic scriptures. I suppose this might depend highly on one’s definition of good, but God is often portrayed as the bringer of hellfire and punishment, he is often described as being quite human in his emotions, a jealous and vengeant god. Therefore, it might be viewed more as a relationship of tension, an epic battle for the soul, two enemies fighting it out at the expense of humanity. Perhaps a better metaphor would be one of chaos and order; Satan representing the perils of an ammoral society, and God representing order as defined by religious law.
So if Satan is only an archetype and not a physical being, then it might certainly be the case that God is as well. Our descriptions God and Satan are the stuff of archetype and myth, and these concepts reflect ourselves more than anything. I have often entertained thoughts of leaping over the precipice of agnosticm, I do believe there is something to the universe. I’m just not sure we have been able to adequately describe it. Nor am I sure that such a description is possible.