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 Lucifer Tempts the Angel of Death

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Boethius
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PostSubject: Lucifer Tempts the Angel of Death   Thu May 19, 2016 9:15 am

The following is an excerpt from a novel I'm trying to publish about Genesis 1-4, written from a perspective of evolutionary creationism. This chapter takes place before the fall of Satan and before the creation of Adam and Eve. Any feedback is most welcome!




Now at this time, Lucifer drew himself near to Samael and asked him, “Samael, my brother, where have you come from, on this day that the Lord has made?”
                “You know well,” Samael answered, “that I come from patrolling the Earth, and accomplishing the task that the Lord has commanded me to do.”
                “And what task is that?” Lucifer continued. His expression was almost one of amusement.
                “I witness the death of those creatures whose time upon the Earth has come to an end,” Samael replied.
                Lucifer gave Samael a look of something like concern. “Are you happy, O Angel of Death, doing the Lord’s killing for Him?”
                “If there were no death, then there would not be the possibility of growth. There would be no evolution, and there would be too many creatures all living at once, and they would fill up the Earth. There would not be enough food for all of them, and not enough space. So everything upon the Earth has its time and its season for living,” Samael replied.
                “You haven’t answered my question,” Lucifer said. “Are you happy in your grim task?”
                “Your question is a rhetorical one,” Samael said. “I do not believe that you are truly interested in the answer. Your question has some purpose.”
                Lucifer continued to look with feigned concern at Samael. He said, in a friendly, confidential tone, “You are always very direct in your communication, Samael. That is why I am drawn to you, gravest of the angels of the Lord. Certainly, your gravity attracts all of God’s creatures, since not one of them can long avoid the grave.”
                 Seeing that Samael did not answer, Lucifer said, “Tell me, have you seen the new creatures that the Lord has made, the ones that walk upon two feet, communicate with one another, and make tools?”
                “They are unlike any of the other creatures,” Samael answered. “They are almost like us.”
                “Have you seen,” Lucifer continued, “how violent they are? How they excel at killing? They are capable hunters, and kill for food, and for sport. They surpass the tyrannosaur and the great sharks of the deep in their appetite for blood. Moreover, they prey not only upon the beasts that move upon four legs, but also upon those beasts that walk on two—their own kind.”
                Samael regarded Lucifer with a stoical expression. “I think that you are reducing these creatures overly much to one aspect of their nature, because there is more to them than violence. Besides, they have not yet developed consciences, and do not know right from wrong. No one has taught them, and they cannot help it. They do not know what they do.”
                “Still,” Lucifer persisted, “one cannot deny that they make more work for you. Do you think that they will flourish and multiply? Or do you think that they will finish themselves off before an asteroid, volcanic eruption, or random climate shift saves them the trouble? Good riddance, because, ignorant as they are, they do evil.”
                Samael replied, “The ones who walk upright now have experiential knowledge of evil—that is, physical evil, or the lack of some physical good that they by instinct desire. But we, as angels, have a cognitive understanding of the potentiality for evil, but do not (yet) have experiential knowledge of it. In order for moral evil to take place, one must have both a cognitive and an experiential knowledge of evil, and then deliberately choose what is wrong.”
“Supposedly,” Lucifer objected, “the whole purpose of God’s enterprise is so that love can be generated. How can ones such as these love, without developed consciences, and no real awareness of what they do? Their intelligence, if that is what it is, makes them all the more savage, since it magnifies their cruelty, and enables them to kill on that much greater a scale. They will surely destroy themselves once they have become more advanced.”
                Samael appeared to be deep in thought, or in prayer, and did not immediately answer. “Whatever their fate, or chance, or fortune, it is in the hands of the Lord.”  
                “So you are saying that it is none of your concern, and that your hands are clean of the blood of the innocent?” Lucifer asked. “You have no obligation to raise your voice against the violence, suffering, and death?”
                “What I’m saying is that these things are simply a part of being in the world. They are not a part of our being, except through our observation, because we are not embodied in the world. Yet you still fixate on what you see as the negative, saturating your observation in pessimism and cynicism.  And for what purpose?”
                “Just as you oversee death, my job, my obligation, is to oversee the quality and goodness of what God is doing, and expose anything that needs fixing. With this universe, everything stands in need of repair. The mess is so grand in scale it cannot be fixed, and so the Lord must start over and do His job right.”
                “And are you happy,” Samael asked, “performing your self-appointed task?”
                 “I asked you the same thing, but you gave no answer.” Lucifer’s gaze bored into Samael, but the latter did not look away.
                “Very well, then. I take no delight in death, of course. Neither does the Lord. But as I said, I recognize the importance of my work, and I do delight in serving the Lord. Doing difficult work at God’s behest gives me all the more opportunity to show my love for Him.
                “Besides, happiness isn’t what ultimately counts, important though this is. In the final analysis, virtue supersedes happiness, and takes precedence over it.
                “So, Lucifer, there’s your answer. Tell me now, are you happy? How has complaining for billions of years been working out for you?”
                “I would rather be right than happy,” Lucifer replied. “I will choose to be unhappy, rather than accept a decree from the Lord that I do not agree with and do not think is just. I will gladly sacrifice this happiness for the sake of the greater good.”
                “Lucifer,” Samael said, softly. “Why do you keep disparaging the Lord’s plan, and find fault with each new development in its unfolding? Is it truly because you, a mere creature, know better than the Creator how and what to create? Or is it not because your pride is bruised, because God did not adopt the plan that you proposed when He asked us for our input about what He should create?”
                “I am no mere creature!” Lucifer shot back. “I have power and intelligence far beyond that of any other angel. If your job is to bring the living forth into death, mine is to question that enterprise, and cast light on better alternatives. It is my task because I am the only one capable of doing it. One does not require great insight or keen imagination to envision a possible universe without the many shortcomings that this one has.”
                “I’m not convinced that a better universe is actually possible, given that its very freedom is an essential aspect of what makes the universe good. As great as your mind is, and as powerful as is your intellect, it does not compare to the mind and the intellect that created your own.”
                “But how do you truly know this?” Lucifer asked. “If none of us as angels have limitless intelligence, we cannot measure a limitless intelligence to tell if it really has no bounds. Can the infinite truly be real, or is this an abstraction without instantiation? We can only make inferences based on what we have observed. My observation tells me that a better universe is most certainly possible.
                “You say death frees up space for new birth. Well imagine, for instance, that there was not some sort of limit to the living space as there is on Earth. The universe expands, so why doesn’t the space available to live in expand in a like manner?”
                “I’m sure,” Samael answered, “that you realize that the Earth cannot be of unlimited size and ever expanding. Its gravity would cause it to collapse.”
                “You need to expand your own thinking,” Lucifer retorted. “It is only this way because the Lord established the laws that He did to govern the matter that He created. Could He have made other laws, and a different sort of universe, with the unlimited power He tells us He has? If He is truly all boundless in His might, then He surely could.”
                “I don’t agree,” Samael said. “God can’t contradict Himself or violate the principles of His own nature.”
                Lucifer almost leapt up, so eager was he to speak. “Then He has a limitation!” he said, triumphantly. “A truly infinite Being could, and would, change His nature at will, according to His good pleasure.”
                “Again, I disagree,” Samael replied. “Constancy in God’s nature is not a limitation, because if He changed it would imply some lack, some quality that He would want to change. He doesn’t contradict His own nature. Why would He want to?”
                “Maybe to be compassionate,” Lucifer said, sarcastically. “Didn’t He change when He became Creator? Prior to creating, He had not created, so He was not yet a Creator. So He is also ‘becoming,’ as you put it.”
                Samael answered, “There was no prior to creating, because there was no time.”
                “You’re equivocating in your notion of time,” Lucifer said. “Just like the concept of the actually infinite, a concept of “before time” is essentially meaningless. It is an abstraction that we cannot establish based on evidence or reason. We had a beginning, and so we have no way to verify the absurd and paradoxical notion that there was a time before time.”
                “The flaw in your reasoning, Samael said, “is that you are assuming that all that is true can be verified. You think reason stands apart from trust. Just as God stands outside of time, but not apart from it, since He is present everywhere and in all things, so too God stands outside of reason without being apart from it.” Samael paused, weighing his words carefully, searching for a way to express his idea. Lucifer made ready to speak, but Samael continued. “In mathematics, one can demonstrate the fundamental incompleteness of any finite set of rules to describe the relationships between numbers. Every conclusion is derived from premises. Those premises, in turn, must be established as conclusions from another set of premises. Eventually, you must embrace axioms which can be asserted, but never proven. They are based on givens, which, as something given, are gifts, and must be received.”
“We aren’t talking about math right now,” Lucifer said, flatly.
“You’re right,” Samael replied. “Since you believe that you know more than God, we’re talking about epistemology.”
                “Fine, then we will discuss how we can recognize truth. Unless we can know something is true, we should not assume its truth,” Lucifer replied. “That is why I have demanded that God make us like gods, because He will not let us see what He sees, so that we can verify the truth of what you refer to as ‘givens.’ I will not believe unless I see. I will only believe what I can measure. And what I measure with my gaze is a universe that I can conceive of as fundamentally lacking in goodness.”
                “Look,” Samael said, patiently. “If everything could be proven with certainty, then there would be no liberty, because there would be no room for differences of opinion. When you shine light into darkness, you cannot see it until it reflects off of something. The light is there. It must be, because you know that you shined the light. But you have to have something that it bounces off of. You must take a measurement to verify its existence. You must receive the gift of the light before you can see, and the reception of the gift is a choice rooted in freedom. This freedom makes love possible. Unless you choose to open your eyes and look, you will not see, and you will not be truly free. You are becoming blind because you will not trust.”
                 “But I do see,” Lucifer said.
                “So you say,” Samael answered, “and so your error remains.”
                “Look, I did not come here to dispute with the angel of death about epistemology and metaphysics.” Lucifer said, pointedly.
                “Why then did you wish to speak with me?” Samael asked.
                “I have come to ask that you join with me in protesting what God has done. If only all of the angels would rise up, and make their voices heard, and speak out against the incompleteness of the universe, whether this incompleteness be epistemological or material, then perhaps God would come to His senses, and structure the universe in a different way, so that the suffering, sickness, disease, and death that you continually witness will cease.”
                Samael was alarmed at the suggestion. “So you think that if you agitate enough, and that if you sling enough mud at the Lord’s plans, that you will be able to force your way?”
                “No,” Lucifer said, angrily. “The Lord is hard-hearted, stiff-necked, and stubborn. He will never relent. He will never turn away from the path He has chosen for His creatures, whom He has thrown into the world, each one forced to deal with mortality.”
                Samael continued to speak with forbearance. “If, as you say, you need to be certain to trust, and if you have no means of certitude, you have no way of knowing what is in the Lord’s mind and heart. You end up projecting your own mind and heart onto God, making Him in your own image. As this is absurd, you have no reason to rebel against Him.”
                 Lucifer said, “I will grant what you said about proof. Nothing can be proven. You must start with premises. We select which ones we will accept not because they are reasonable, but because they serve as arguments to support what we already want. As we’ve been talking, you have made assertions designed to support the conclusions that you already believe. So have I, and I freely admit it. Our will conditions our reasoning, and so all truth is relative to what we have already decided we want. Our premises are not what we are given, but what we take. So my reason lies in my will!”
                “Then your will and your reasons are not reasonable,” Samael replied, “because they begin and end with yourself.”
                “And I say,” Lucifer spat, “that the same is true of you. And since there is no way to decide which truth is true, the only logically consistent position is nihilism!”
                “Then we have nothing to discuss, and no reason to discuss it,” Samael said.
                “I will agree with you there,” Lucifer said, with exasperation. “I have had enough of this conversation. I will not be contradicted by some dullard angel with an intellect vastly inferior to my own. You are just a functionary of God, an exemplar of the banality of good. Go back to your killing, and do a good job of it! I hope that these cunning apes will be suitable helpmates to you in your work! If God is going to allow His creation such radical freedom, I will surely bring suffering upon Him.”
                Samael looked with sadness upon Lucifer. “I can assure you that, since the Lord is committed to the former, He is willing to embrace the latter.”
                “I can promise you the one, but not the other,” Lucifer snarled, and so rounded his back upon Samael and went fuming away.
                As he carried on with his work, Samael reflected for a long time on what Lucifer had said to him.
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PostSubject: Re: Lucifer Tempts the Angel of Death   Tue May 24, 2016 5:06 am

“Nunc fluens facit tempus,
nunc stans facit aeternitatum.


(The now that passes produces time, the now that remains produces eternity.)”
Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy

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PostSubject: Re: Lucifer Tempts the Angel of Death   Sat Oct 08, 2016 10:43 am

I liked the way that you did the dialogue, but you know that this story isn't Bibical, right?
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