Quantcast

«

»

Oct 11 2013

Scalia and the Devil

One of the stranger exchanges during Justice Scalia’s interview with Jennifer Senior in New York magazine is when Scalia offers up the fact that he believes in a literal Devil and a literal hell. After a discussion about heaven and hell, in which he expresses shock that Senior does not believe in them, he says this:

Can we talk about your drafting process—
[Leans in, stage-whispers.] I even believe in the Devil.

You do?
Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that.

Every Catholic believes this? There’s a wide variety of Catholics out there …
If you are faithful to Catholic dogma, that is certainly a large part of it.

Have you seen evidence of the Devil lately?
You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.

No.
It’s because he’s smart.

So what’s he doing now?
What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.

That has really painful implications for atheists. Are you sure that’s the ­Devil’s work?
I didn’t say atheists are the Devil’s work.

Well, you’re saying the Devil is ­persuading people to not believe in God. Couldn’t there be other reasons to not believe?
Well, there certainly can be other reasons. But it certainly favors the Devil’s desires. I mean, c’mon, that’s the explanation for why there’s not demonic possession all over the place. That always puzzled me. What happened to the Devil, you know? He used to be all over the place. He used to be all over the New Testament.

Right.
What happened to him?

He just got wilier.
He got wilier.

Isn’t it terribly frightening to believe in the Devil?
You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the Devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil! Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil.

Yes, and? Most of mankind has believed in ghosts, goblins, leprechauns, spooks, astrology and a whole boatload of other things that don’t exist. Popularity is hardly a defense of the truth of any belief. I can’t wait for him to explain why leprechauns no longer seem to be leaving pots of gold under rainbows. It apparently hasn’t occurred to them that they never did in the first place.

29 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    flex

    No wonder he calls himself an originalist, he’s still living in the eighteenth century.

    For some reason, this makes me want to re-read Twain’s, The Innocents Abroad again.

  2. 2
    skinnercitycyclist

    This is a justice of the United States Supreme Court?

  3. 3
    raven

    My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil?

    This isn’t true.

    Only about half of all xians believe in satan and hell. And only 68% of the US is xian and that number is falling rapidly.

    Satan is a typical incoherent xian idea anyway.

    1. God is the all powerful creator of everything. Which means:

    2. God created satan and the demons and lets them run around doing whatever it is they do.

    Such a god is either not all powerful or is evil.

  4. 4
    ethanol

    The conclusions he draws from the apparent lack of demonic possession these days reminds me of C.S. Lewis’s uncharacteristically cogent statement to the effect that “The madman sees the absence of smoke and concludes that the fire is very well hidden”

  5. 5
    raven

    Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history.

    Arguable but irrelevant.

    1. Most of humankind isn’t xian!!! Xians only make up 28% of the world’s population.

    2. Most humans for most of our history have lived in demon haunted darkness. They worked hard, had precarious lives that could end at any time, and died young. Average life spans during the Roman empire were in the 30′s. Even in the USA, a century ago they were average 47.

    We know more now and live far better lives thanks to modern civilization and no thanks to throwbacks like Scalia.

  6. 6
    Gregory in Seattle

    @Raven #3 –

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? — Epicurus

  7. 7
    democommie

    Sign often seen around the various mansions of heaven:

    “Smitings will continue until morale improves!”. True story.

  8. 8
    zippythepinhead

    I’m not bothered by the devil. The only thing that scares me is Keyser Söze.

    … and spiders.

  9. 9
    Doubting Thomas

    So if you came before him in court, would ‘the devil made me do it’ get you off? Just askin’.

  10. 10
    savagemutt

    For some reason, I once had the impression that Scalia was some sort of intellectual. I’m not sure if that came from the mainstream media or the little I’ve read about the supreme court (“The Nine” and “Five Chiefs”).

    Well, don’t I feel naive.

  11. 11
    uzza

    Interesting how he’s convinced most people, including ‘every catholic’, and ‘mainstream america’, believe the same batshit thing he does, in spite of obvious evidence to the contrary. Sounds like Glen Beck, or every other conservative.

  12. 12
    John Pieret

    What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way. … I mean, c’mon, that’s the explanation for why there’s not demonic possession all over the place. That always puzzled me. What happened to the Devil, you know? He used to be all over the place. He used to be all over the New Testament. … He got wilier.

    So, basically, the evidence for the existence of the devil is that there is no evidence for the existence of the devil.

    You’re looking at me as though I’m weird.

    Naaaaah!!!

  13. 13
    sinned34

    So, basically, the evidence for the existence of the devil is that there is no evidence for the existence of the devil.

    The Satanic Panic back in the 80′s was based on that exact idea.

    “How do we know that Satanic ritual abuse exists? There’s no evidence for it, which is why we know it’s happening: they’re just THAT good at hiding their tracks!”

  14. 14
    carolineborduin

    When I was a believer, I also wondered why the bible was full of miracles and today there are none. I put a great deal of thought into it. And then my husband suggested that the most reasonable and likely answer to that conundrum was that the miracles in the bible didn’t really happen. It was part of my de-conversion. But Scalia, well he’s still puzzling over that.

  15. 15
    zero6ix

    So what’s he doing now?
    What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.
    That has really painful implications for atheists. Are you sure that’s the ­Devil’s work?
    I didn’t say atheists are the Devil’s work.

    “Well, I did say that, but since you caught me in that fantastic display of ignorance, I now have to backpedal and say there are other reasons for not believing. All of which, of course, involve the Devil.”

  16. 16
    Modusoperandi

    Considering that it was the case Devil v Georgia that guaranteed the right to travel, perhaps it’s best that you believe in this character.

  17. 17
    Chiroptera

    Maybe Ginsburg should retire so that Obama can address the religious imbalance on the Court by nominating someone who believes that all Christmas presents are made in a workshop at the North Pole.

  18. 18
    chilidog99

    He got wilier

    Beep. Beep

  19. 19
    Modusoperandi

    Chiroptera “Maybe Ginsburg should retire so that Obama can address the religious imbalance on the Court by nominating someone who believes that all Christmas presents are made in a workshop at the North Pole.”
    Now you’re just being ridiculous. The Supreme Court doesn’t have enough seats for everybody.

  20. 20
    David C Brayton

    If this stuff comes as a shock, you haven’t been paying attention to Justice Scalia.

  21. 21
    Chiroptera

    Does Scalia want be believe in the Devil? ‘Cause if he doesn’t, I’d think he could bring his version of “originalism” to his theology to get the answer he wants.

  22. 22
    chilidog99

    I’m confused by the concept that the devil was pretty stupid back in the biblical days. I mean the best he could do was make pigs run off cliffs?

    And why would he be trying to make people NOT believe in him? Wouldn’t that weaken his power?

  23. 23
    chilidog99

    I picked up my bag, I went lookin’ for a place to hide;
    When I saw Antonin and the Devil walkin’ side by side.
    I said, “Hey, Antonin, come on, let’s go downtown.”
    He said, “I gotta go, but my friend can stick around.”

  24. 24
    Raging Bee

    The most disgusting thng here is that Scalia admits there are good reasons not to believe in God — then accuses nonbelievers of being on the Devil’s side anyway. This is a classic case of a Christian (and a backward authoritarian) threatening people with Hell because he knows he can’t convince them any other way.

    The next time a religious-freedom case comes before the Court, I hope someone loudly demands that Scalia recuse himself on grounds of holding irrational beliefs that have clearly compromised his intellectual integrity.

  25. 25
    Ace of Sevens

    @22: The idea that the power of entities comes from their believers isn’t from Christianity. Plenty of Christians believe it as a lot of folk religion has worked its way into the popular consciousnesses, but it isn’t orthodox.

  26. 26
    democommie

    “…irrational beliefs that have clearly compromised his intellectual integrity.”

    That ship sailed years ago, sometime around when he went duck hunting with them good ol’ boys from the O’l bidneth.

  27. 27
    slavdude

    Modus @16:

    So that’s how the Devil got back the golden fiddle that he laid down at Johnny’s feet.

  28. 28
    grumpyoldfart

    I love reading about all the silly things you Americans say and do.

  29. 29
    dan4

    “I didn’t say atheists are the Devil’s work.” No, you said that atheism was the devil’s work. Biiiiiiiig difference (*rolls eyes*).

Leave a Reply

Switch to our mobile site