Evidence for the Devil

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2003
How dangerous is it to deny Satan’s existence? How dangerous is it to think of Satan as “a gent with red horns and a long tail”? Drs. Ankerberg and Weldon explain that Satan is NOT just primitive superstition.

Evidence for the Devil

What appears to me incredible is not the Devil, not the Angels, but rather the candor and the credulity of the skeptic, and the unpardonable sophism of which they show themselves to be the victims: “The Devil is a gent with red horns and a long tail; now I can’t believe in a gent with red horns and a long tail; therefore I don’t believe in the Devil.” And so the Devil has them precisely where he wants them. Those who stick to old wives’ tales are those who refuse to believe in the Devil because of the image they form of him, which is drawn from old wives’ tales. (Denis de Rougemont, The Devil’s Share, An Essay on the Diabolic in Modern Society)

The spirits have come out in the open today: Through possessed “channels” they have spoken in public seminars, via books, cassettes, and videos, and even on national televi­sion. They have initiated an assault in ways that a generation ago would have seemed unthinkable. Polls such as those conducted by Gallup, Roper, and the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Council reveal that literally tens of millions of Ameri­cans claim to have had some kind of contact with spiritism. Thus, the occult can no longer be conveniently put to one side as belonging exclusively to Eastern/Oriental countries.[1] It is now out in the open, part of the recognized culture of the West. And it is our contention that all this is the devil’s business.

Unfortunately, many people ridicule even the idea of a literal devil or demons as primitive superstition. They believe that in our modern scientific age we can finally do away with such medieval nonsense and its corresponding “witch-hunts.”

But is this attitude realistic? Is it unscientific to believe in a personal devil, or is there a preponderance of evidence that suggests his existence? The famed evangelist Billy Gra­ham once remarked, “Why do I believe in the devil? For three reasons. 1. Because the Bible plainly says he exists. 2. Because I see his work everywhere. 3. Because great schol­ars have recognized his existence.”[2]

It is a more logical assumption that Satan really does exist than that he does not. As Dr. J. I. Packer, professor of historical and systematic theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, argues:

The natural response to denials of Satan’s existence is to ask, who then runs his business?—for temptations which look and feel like expressions of cunning destructive malice remain facts of daily life. So does hell in the sense defined by the novelist John Updike—”a profound and desolating absence” (of God, and good, and community and communication); and “the realisation that life is flawed” (Updike goes on) “admits the possibility of a Fall, of a cause behind the Fall, of Satan.” Belief in Satan is not illogical, for it fits the facts. Inept to the point of idiocy, however, is disbelief in Satan, in a world like ours; which makes Satan’s success in producing such disbelief all the more impressive, as well as all the sadder.[3]

It is also quite logical that evil would seek to camouflage itself for strategic purposes, just as the Mafia launders its money in legitimate businesses. Camouflage has been a key ingredient of military tacticians for millennia—it would hardly be surprising to find it in the spirit world. Such camouflage could assume any number of guises from promoting itself as myth to the opposite extreme of promoting itself as ultimate reality or God. Indeed, the majority of people in our culture do believe either that Satan does not exist or that the realm of the psychic world is indeed divine. Of course, the only way out of this situation is to unmask the real myth: the lies the devil spreads about himself. As Brooks Alexander well argues:

The nature of illusion is the ruse of misdirection. It is the misplacement of our attention through the manipulation of false images, both personal and collective. The devil’s disappearance provides a clear example of collective misdirection—a form of social deception. Once that image is accepted, whatever response we make to it will be as false as the image that provokes it, and therefore play into the devil’s hands. Its direction will be amiss by definition….
It is not the existence of Satan that should alarm us, but the fact that our contemporaries are so ill equipped to deal with reality on any level, let alone to recognize the fundamental danger. De Rougemont’s articulation of this point is elegant and concise:
“One of the reasons why confusion is spreading in the world is that we are afraid to face its real causes. We believe in a thousand evils, fear a thousand dangers, but have ceased to believe in Evil and to fear the true Dangers. To show the reality of the Devil in this world is… to cure ourselves. We are never in greater danger than in moments when we deceive ourselves as to the real nature of a threat, and when we summon our energies for defense against the void while the enemy approaches from behind.”
It would be irresponsible for us to exclude [the devil] from consideration simply because we dislike the connotations we have given him. Even if we acknowledge the concept without comprehending it, at least it puts us on notice that “spiritual” things may be more subtle and complex than they appear. Healthy caution is an antidote for fear, not its cause.[4]

Eight Arguments for the Devil

Thus, we can suggest eight lines of reasoning to infer the possibility of a real devil and/ or the reality of spiritual evil.

  • the consensus of history and religion
  • the testimony of practicing occultists
  • the testimony of former spiritists
  • the phenomenon of spirit possession
  • the authority of the Bible
  • the testimony of Jesus Christ
  • the hostility to historic biblical Christianity displayed in virtually all spiritistic literature
  • the destructive power of the occult and the testimony of brilliant thinkers We examine these in turn.

The Consensus of History and Religion

Belief in Satan and/or a world of evil spirits has been with man throughout his history. It has been an accepted truth for a majority of people in most times and cultures, ancient and modern (e.g., Assyrian, Babylonian, Celtic, Egyptian, Greek, Hebrew, Indian, African, Mus­lim, Roman, Tibetan, Persian, Chinese, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Jain, Japanese, Slavic, etc.).[5] In light of this vast testimony within the canons of history, culture, and religion, the relatively recent assertion of the devil’s lack of existence is less tenable. Modern scientific rationalism has actually explained very little of the height and depth of the universe.

The Testimony of Practicing Occultists

Magicians, psychics, gurus, mediums, and Satanists are well aware of the reality of spiritual evil, however they choose to define it. Many of these practitioners do believe in literal evil spirits and have had personal encounters with them. Such encounters leave little doubt as to their malevolent nature.[6] Occult magician Conway warns, “Their appetite for destruction and discord appears to be insatiable” and “We shall call them evil for the good reason that given the chance they would do us immeasurable harm.”[7]

Spiritist Sri Chinmoy also discusses the deceptive nature of spirits, that even allegedly “good” spirits will turn on a person and then “they try to cut your throat” if the individual attempts to declare independence from them.[8] He further observes, “The hostile forces [can] take the form of a particular spiritual Master and ask the disciples to commit suicide. ‘If you commit suicide, I will be able to give you liberation sooner’ it would say…. These hostile forces are very clever.”[9]

(to be continued)


  1. These polls are widely reported and may be secured from the respective organization.
  2. In This Week magazine, Mar. 2, 1958.
  3. J. I. Packer, God’s Words (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1985), pp. 83-84.
  4. Brooks Alexander, “The Disappearance of the Devil,” Spiritual Counterfeits Project Newsletter, Vol. 10, No. 4, Jul./Aug. 1984, pp. 6-7.
  5. See the discussion in James Hastings’ Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (New York: Schribner’s n.d.), Vol. 4, pp. 565-636.
  6. Sri Chinmoy, Astrology, the Supernatural and the Beyond (Jamaica, NY: Agni Press, 1973), pp. 70-72; David Conway, Magic: An Occult Primer (New York: Bantam, 1973), pp. 196-199.
  7. Conway, Magic: An Occult Primer, pp. 196, 198.
  8. Sri Chinmoy, Conversations With the Master (Jamaica, NY: Agni Press, 1977), p. 19.
  9. Chinmoy, Astrology, p. 94.

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