The search for Patient Zero of our troubles inevitably leads to questions of how this patient got sick in the first place.
Genesis tells us that it started with a serpent, but that's frankly not very helpful. Or, conversely, maybe it's very helpful, in the sense that it is basically telling us to stop asking questions about something we'll never fully understand anyway.
Analogously, I've heard Dennis Prager say that this is the purpose of the very first sentence of the Bible, that "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
The larger purpose there is to cut off our idle speculation at the outset, and to let us know that the transcendent divine principle is responsible for all of creation, so deal with it. It's supposed to be helpful, in the sense that we now have a kind of unchanging foundation on which to build our metaphysic.
Put it this way: either the world is created, or it isn't. Obviously there is no merely human way to resolve the issue. Therefore, knowing this world is created is a kind of liberation from truly pointless speculation. For if the world isn't created, then all speculation is utterly pointless anyway. So ultimately, the doctrine is a gift to our intellect.
For Whoever does not believe in myths believes in fables (Dávila). You might say that God gives us certain fruitful myths so we don't descend into the childish fables of the tenured.
Likewise, perhaps the "doctrine of satan" (or of the adverse cosmic power) is a kind of helpful gift. Just accept it, because it explains a lot, even if we can't quite figure out how the principle fits into the overall scheme of things.
I mean, if you think theological explanations of evil are naive, then try the psychological, or economic, or feminist, or Marxist explanations! They're way too stupid for any intelligent person to take seriously, and yet, these childlike fables are the psychic petroleum of the left.
Besides, the satan principle is not as much a straightforward answer as a mystery to be pondered. Therefore, it operates quite differently from those concrete answers of the left that unambiguously locate evil in white males, or class warfare, or misogyny.
Time out for more aphorisms, because I can always rely on Dávila when I'm flailing around. For example, He who speaks of the farthest regions of the soul soon needs a theological vocabulary. For precisely this reason, speaking of the farthest reaches of evil also requires a theological vocabulary.
Some of the relevant aphorisms are a bit indirect or oblique, such as this one: When man refuses the discipline the gods give him, demons discipline him. So, demonic influences rush in when we close ourselves off to divine ones. This makes a great deal of sense. As we know, nature abhors a vacuum. But so too does trans-nature.
An irreligious society cannot endure the truth of the human condition. It prefers a lie, no matter how imbecilic it may be. Boy and how! Think of the crazy alternatives to the doctrine of creation alluded to above.
Evil only has the reality of the good that it annuls. Its only real power is via privation -- like the way an air conditioner runs on heat-producing energy.
Have you noticed how every evil regime on earth derives power by pretending to be the opposite of what it is? For example, The Islamic Republic of Iran, or The Democratic People's Republic of (North) Korea. Or even the Democratic Party, which has always revolved around racial division and hatred, from Judge Taney to Sarah Jeong. At least they're consistent.
There is something to be said for the idea that, in the words of Schuon, the devil is "the humanized personification –- humanized on contact with man -- of the subversive aspect of the centrifugal existential power."
Therefore, Hell is the place where man finds all his projects realized, and Man will have created a world in the image and likeness of hell when he inhabits an environment totally fabricated by his hands.
More generally, Hell is any place from which God is absent. And only man can render God absent, at least in imagination. Thus, The proclamation of our autonomy is the founding act of Hell.
Tolerance? No one is more respectful of “others’ beliefs” than the devil.
The death of God? The greatest modern error is not announcing that God is dead, but believing that the devil has died.
Truly, this could be the motto of the left: The devil can achieve nothing great without the thoughtless collaboration of the virtues.