It was quite some time ago that I realized that god was just a construct invented by humans to explain phenomena that were too scary to leave mysterious. At that time, I came to realize that all the inner feelings I had ascribed to god and the holy ghost and "the spirit" and all that hoodoo were just my psyche trying to reconcile the fairytales I had been brought up with and my teenage need for a greater meaning in life with reality. Just as thousands of folks do every day, I asked my brain to believe something for which there was no evidence other than what somone wrote a couple of thousand years ago, or what grown-ups I trusted believed.
The result was a Denny's-style brain-skillet thought-scramble of such epically confusing proportions that I ended up alternately feeling filled with high-exalted holy glory (spiritual
Moons over my Hammy, if you will) and desperately alone and ashamed (having gone out on a spirit-killing metaphorical bender, getting hammered, and showing up at the sanctified 24-hour restaurant with a chick I met at the club only to be denied entrance there for figuratively vomiting into the symbolic flower-beds just outside the doors). I was messed-up.
Since that time, I've spent many an hour contemplating the psychological origins of theistic belief. What needs are fulfilled by inviting magic people into one's life? Can one really be comforted by a relationship with someone who only answers back in ways that could always be explained by other means?
Anyhoo- I had an interesting revelation the other day. I realized how emotionally/ psychologically convenient a belief in the other guy is! The devil is possibly even more useful than god! Here's my thinking: I (and I assume others) find myself acting against my own best interest on a semi-regular basis. As a non-believer, I have to take responsibility for that. That sucks.
If I could believe in the devil, I could divest myself of a good deal of that responsibility. "Damn that Satan," I could say, "he tempted me again! He's so damned clever! I sure wish he'd stop tempting me…" Then I promise myself that I'll catch him in the act and resist next time. He's like the easiest out ever! (If you want to see how attatched people are to their devil, check out the episode of This American Life about reverend Carlton Pearson- it will blow your mind!)
The best part is that my believer friends use this excuse for me. The reason I forsook god and gave up church- the devil made me do it. Thanks, devil!