Human beings are not perfect, and one important sign of our imperfection is the fact that we are not able to provide a universal law to perfectly judge what is good and what is bad, or what is right and what is wrong. It took us thousands of years to just get aware of this imperfection of our own. Constantly we believed that we are walking in the correct direction, but then constantly we got lost and had to pay the cost painfully for our erroneous judgment. For countless times we were full of confidence that we were on the righteous side, and then as time went by the evil consequence of our mistakes in what we thought right slowly surfaced bit by bit. The more efforts we make to dress up ourselves so that we could look good in front of others, the easier we would found our own ugliness at where no one else would notice. Human beings are not perfect, even our quests toward perfection are full of defects, and this is our own nature, something that we are all born with and have to live with forever.
Still we are created with many good qualities.
We all might have a heart that adores beautiful things, we all might have a heart of sympathy toward the weak and the needy, we could love each other and help each other, we could trust each other and stay faithful toward each other, we could understand each other and we could tolerate each other, we all might have a modest heart and a heart of thanksgiving, we could console each other, we could advice and inspire each other, we could be responsible, and we could also endure affliction; We all might love truth and we might also hate falsity, we all might be disgusted by dirty and ugliness, and we all might have a heart that hates evilness;
We could paint charming pictures, we could write romantic poems, we could use elegant languages to speak and sing, and we could compose and play beautiful rhythms; We could think, we are capable of knowing the nature, we could understand abstract logic, we could derive mathematical formula, we could study biological genes, and we could also appreciate invisible beauties behind ordinary appearances; We could build skyscrapers, we could cure diseases, we could send satellites into outer space, we could dive into deep seas with submarine, we could predict the events before they happen in scientific ways, and we could also react to and handle various crises. We are created with too many good qualities to count in a few paragraphs.
However, all our good qualities are not perfect. Even worse, our good is not just “not good enough”, but often goes along with bad or evil. We love beautiful things, but this becomes the main psychological source to cause us to be greedy or sexual immorality; we are intelligent, but this also becomes a source of all crafty deceptions in the world; we love truth, but not only do we care more on showing that we ourselves are representing the truth, but also too much often we take errors as truth; we love each other, but we also collectively promote the action of killing, cheating, and stealing for those we love, and we do so in every single human culture; we could be very brave to stand out for justice, but we have also created many grievance by treating innocent especially those groups of the weak as guilty because of our own mistakes and arrogance; we could be concerned about each other and thus share good lessons with each other, but our self-righteousness also frequently causes us to force others to accept the wrong in our own value system; we dislike dishonest behavior of others, but none of us could be free of common hypocrisy, and we even don’t understand very well what common hypocrisy is; we could use language to express kind messages, but we could also use language to attack or cheat, and in addition, we could even not help with the frequent hostility due to misunderstandings caused by the defects in our language itself; we could create, but our creations have not only been extensively used in killing our own human beings, but also been causing ever more severe damages to the ecological condition of the earth; we work hard, but the harder we work the less we know how to thanksgiving because we make ourselves to believe that we earn everything by our own hard work.
While we are blessed with many good qualities which have helped us to create great material and cultural richness, our blessings have also become the sources of smugness and selfish greediness. We are all born with conscience, but our conscience is normally so weak and helpless when encountered with social pressure and our own desires. We don’t like our own defects and thus we try hard to become better, but our efforts to become better always entail some new defects. We are imperfect, our biological nature is imperfect, the ecological environment and natural resources of our globe is imperfect, and our language is imperfect. We are imperfect individually and socially. None of our efforts could possibly be perfect.
Human beings are not just imperfect, but could often be very evil in behavior or in heart and mind. Constantly, inside the heart of a man is a sonata of material desire, sexual lust, vanity and arrogance, fear, bitterness and jealousy, plus hate and anger. Human capability of self-control against all these inferiorities is extremely weak. It is normally so easy for men to lose their control of those instinct drives upon being slightly allured or irritated, unless under very strong social constraints. As a result, for thousands of years, unexceptionally in terms of nation or race, human beings have incessantly battled against each other. There are always some human beings somewhere in the world trashing or invading some others, driven by their inferiorities. Humans would make full use of treachery and brutality in their fight against each other. Humans would even act incestuously or kill their own brothers, driven by their inferiorities. What makes the matter worse is that we could hardly separate human endeavor to pursue goodness from evilness. If we look back at those great human works of historical pride for different nations, it would normally be quite easy to see human virtue and courage entwined with inferiorities or even evilness behind the human achievements. Humankind is such a compound of good and bad. We could see virtuous beauty from human beings, and we could also witness act of devil from human words and deeds throughout history.
Then what is devil? Is there indeed any devil? To the question of whether there is any devil, the answer from atheists and theists (here I am using the concepts of theism and atheism in the broadest sense, i.e. theism refers to the belief that at least one deity exists, and atheism refers to the rejection of belief that there is even one deity) would not be the same. But the difference is not a simple one of yes and no, rather it is an issue of yes and no under very specific preconditions. If we ask whether there is a supernaturally living devil, then atheists would definitely answer no, and most theists might answer yes; but if we ask in a general terms whether there is any devil, then both atheists and theists would answer yes. We have heard so many times from avowed firm atheists that bad guys and bad things belong to devils. Therefore, the main difference between atheists and theists is not about whether there is any devil, but is about what a devil is. Even for the question of what a devil is, there is intersection between the answer from atheists and the answer from theists. More precisely speaking, those considered by atheists to be of devil would normally belong to a broader range of matters considered by theists to be of devil. In general, atheist would claim what is of devil based on the outward expression of a matter, but theists would attribute evil consequence to living devil behind.
Although the Bible mentioned the existence of devil and so as other religious scriptures and legendary stories of different cultures, we would not see visible devils in our lives, at least not everyone would normally see in everyday life. Therefore, even theists would generally base their descriptions of devil on the manifested consequence of the evil power or the invisible forces which seduce people away from righteousness. I would also avoid discussing devil in supernatural terms in this book, which however does not mean I would completely avoid discussing spiritual meanings in supernatural terms at all. While a big part of this book would be focused on the demonstration of the subject of “how human beings are struggling between God and Devil” through the analysis of individual and social natures of human beings, the discussion of the spiritual faith life of Christians would also be a important part of this book.
Then is spiritual meaning real? Or in other words, is there any supernatural being? Because supernatural beings are completely out of our physical observational capacity even with the most advanced scientific equipment (otherwise we would not use the term “supernatural”), any positive answer to affirm any supernatural existence would be challenged by the public. Learning what is out of our sensory reach is an extremely difficult task and escaping from difficult issues to reduce inner stress is one of the basic human nature. However, the public mistrust or lack of confidence in the assertion of supernatural existence cannot be simply explained as runaway from stressful issues. There are a number of complicated factors to cause many people to distance themselves from faithful religious practices and thus to attempt to deny the possibility of any supernatural existence. For example, because we are in general not able to know supernatural power from sensory experiences, it is not only easy for people to confuse supernatural from natural phenomena, but also hard for people to stay consistent in logic when describing the supernatural impact upon our life. The negative social influence caused by superstition from human false imagination about supernatural power could also turn some original believers into non-believers, and keep original non-believers stay firm as non-believers. In addition, in many places around the world, human religious faith itself has become the resource for professional religious workers or leaders to acquire or maintain personal social power and immense wealth, while little is done towards assisting the needy.
When modern science just emerged a few hundred years ago, there were tremendous collisions between science and various traditional cultures, especially between the first order scientific knowledge and many traditional layouts of supernatural influences in human life. Most importantly, many previously thought incomprehensible things were explained by the new science and many previously thought insolvable problems were resolved by the new science. These collisions generated very powerful shockwaves, and we still can clearly sense the strong vibration of the shockwaves even hundreds of years later. Nevertheless, as the science advances, more and more people in scientific fields have found that, contrary to the earlier misunderstanding that science could disprove the existence of supernatural power, the development of science could not only serve to be the evidence of the validity of some traditional religious scriptures, but also could provide us with helpful logic tools for comprehending the meaning of supernatural influence in our life.
Even though in the past few hundred years the success of science has helped atheism to gain large amount of followers around the world, if we look back through the history of human civilization, we could find that the relationship between human and supernatural power (or spiritual deity) has always had an essential influence upon the main stream culture of various societies. Even for societies dominated by atheist cultures, many fundamental social values including the meaning of justice have all been built up based on some supernatural concepts like divine righteousness and holiness or some other religious imprints.
Most atheists reject to believe supernatural existence because they never could sense supernatural existence themselves. However, if they could ever apply this same logic to those believers, they might be able to reason out that there should be some substantial foundation for those believers’ faith, especially for those who have been firm in their faith under adverse or even hostile conditions, since empty theoretical teachings would not be very convincing to make people faithful to what they believe. Unfortunately, such empathic way of thinking towards believers of supernatural power is not very popular among non-believers. The undertone behind such a lack of empathy might be: “those who have different views from our own about supernatural existence are not rational”, which in fact is a very naïve thought.
In this book, I would like to conduct an in depth analysis on human nature and human civilization at different logic layers in this book to show how human beings are struggling between God and devil in both natural and supernatural terms.
The whole book would be organized into eight chapters as follows:
Chapter One. The Metaphysics of Good and Bad
Chapter Two. Human Logic Defects
Chapter Three. Philosophy of Faith
Chapter Four. Adam and Eve
Chapter Five. Social Function Mechanism and Total Depravity
Chapter Six. The Perfect Logic
Chapter Seven. How to Read the Bible
Chapter Eight. Faith and Pride
In the final closing epilogue, I would provide a summary of what we have discussed through the book, and would also share with readers some of my personal views on the new challenges for human faiths and secular life, as well as how we should respond to the new challenges.
Many people do not like to hear about the imperfection of human beings. They would think that talking about the imperfect nature of human shows lack of self confidence or even lack of confidence in God, and they might call it as nihilism. That is not correct. If we are indeed imperfect, and if this world is indeed imperfect, then intentional ignorance of the imperfection itself would be an act of ignoring the truth. As a matter of fact, knowledge about our own imperfection could help us to correctly position ourselves against real life challenges, and also could provide wisdom for us to know individual and social life better. For reason I am writing this book on the topic of ‘Struggling between God and Devil’.