The Talk.Origins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy

Cretinism or Evilution? Nos. 4&5
Edited by E.T. Babinski
"The Lord of the Flies"

Who is the "Lord of the Flies"? Satan or God?

Martin Luther's View

The father of Protestant Christianity, Martin Luther, thought flies were noxious, sent by the devil to vex him when reading. He may have gotten that idea from the New Testament, where "Satan" is connected with "Beelzebub" - from the Hebrew, "baal-zevuv," meaning literally, "lord of the flies." Of course, I'm not sure if calling Satan "lord of the flies" was originally meant as more of an insult to flies or to Satan.

Needless to say, Luther saw "Satan" lurking everywhere. According to Luther, "Snakes and monkeys are subjected to the demon more than other animals. Satan lives in them and possesses them. He uses them to deceive men and to injure them..."

"Demons are in woods, in waters, in wildernesses, and in dark pooly places ready to hurt and prejudice people; some are also in thick black clouds, which cause hail, lightning and thunder, and poison the air, the pastures and grounds..."

"In my country, upon a mountain called Polterberg, there is a pool. If one throws a stone into it, instantly a storm arises and the whole surrounding countryside is overwhelmed by it. This lake is full of demons; Satan holds them captive there..."

"How often have not the demons called `Nix,' drawn women and girls into the water, and there had commerce with them, With fearful consequences."

"I myself saw and touched at Dessay, a child...which had no human parents, but had proceeded from the Devil. He was twelve years old, and, in outward form, exactly resembled ordinary children." [Editor's note: Referring to children that were believed to have been produced as the result of "commerce" with the devil.]

"A large number of deaf, crippled and blind people are afflicted solely through the malice of the demon. And one must in no wise doubt that plagues, fevers and every sort of evil come from him..." [Editor's note: Boy that Satan, what a designer! He must work longer hours than God! See the section above, "Why We Believe in a Designer," for examples of what Luther might have called "Satan's handiwork."]

"Our bodies are always exposed to the attacks of Satan. The maladies I suffer are not natural, but Devil's spells..."

"Satan produces all the maladies which afflict mankind for he is the prince of death..." [Editor's note: So, who needs antibiotics, or modern sanitation and health and building practices? We just need more good Christian exorcists to heal "all the maladies which afflict mankind."]

"As for the demented, I hold it certain that all beings deprived of reason are thus afflicted only by the Devil..."

[All the above are from the collection of Luther's speeches with his friends, titled, Table Talk, a volume in The Collected Works of Martin Luther]

"I feel much freer now that I am certain the pope is the Antichrist..." [Luther, letter to Spalatin, Oct. 10, 1520]

"When I was a child there were many witches, and they bewitched both cattle and men, especially children." [Luther in his Commentary on Galatians]

"I would have no compassion on a witch; I would burn them all." [Luther, Table Talk, a volume in The Collected Works of Martin Luther]

"The heathen writes that the Comet may arise from natural causes; but God creates not one that does not foretoken a sure calamity." [Luther, Advent Sermon]

For further quotations see Heiko Oberman's acclaimed recent biography, Luther: Man Between God and the Devil

Mark Twain's View

Like Martin Luther, Mark Twain held an opinion of the "fly" that was lower than Lucifer's hooves. Unlike Luther, however, Twain did not give "Satan" the credit for wondrously designing all manner of harmful hateful creatures and natural disasters. Twain didn't think God would have allowed Satan such near-absolute creative license, allowing him to "re-create" the whole of nature. So, concerning the fly, Twain wrote:

"Can we imagine a man [much less a God] inventing the fly, and sending him out on his mission, furnished with these orders: `Depart into the uttermost corners of the earth, and diligently do your appointed work. Persecute the sick child; settle upon its eyes, its face, its hands, and gnaw and pester and sting; worry and fret and madden the worn and tired mother who watches by the child, and who humbly prays for mercy and relief with the pathetic faith of the deceived and the unteachable. Settle upon the soldier's festering wounds in field and hospital and drive him frantic while he also prays, and between times curses, with none to listen but you, Fly, who get all the petting and all the protection, without even praying for it. Harry and persecute the forlorn and forsaken wretch who is perishing of the plague, and in his terror and despair praying; bite, sting, feed upon his ulcers, dabble your feet in his rotten blood, gum them thick with plague-germs - feet cunningly designed and perfected for this function ages ago in the beginning - carrying this freight to a hundred tables, among the just and the unjust, the high and the low, and walk over the food and gaum it with filth and death. Visit all; allow no man peace till he get it in the grave; visit and afflict the hard-worked and unoffending horse, mule, ox, ass, pester the patient cow, and all the kindly animals that labor without fair reward here and perish without hope of it hereafter; spare no creature, wild or tame; but wheresoever you find one, make his life a misery, treat him as the innocent deserve; and so please Me and increase My glory Who made the fly.'" [Twain, "Thoughts of God," early 1900s]

"We approve all God's works, we praise all His works, with a fervent enthusiasm - of words; and in the same moment we kill a fly, which is as much one of His works as any other, and has been included and complimented in our sweeping eulogy. We not only kill the fly, but we do it in a spirit of measureless disapproval - even a spirit of hatred, exasperation, vindictiveness; and we regard that creature with disgust and loathing - which is the essence of contempt - and yet we have just been praising it, approving it, glorifying it. We have been praising it to its Maker, and now our act insults its Maker. The praise was dishonest, the act is honest; the one was a wordy hypocrisy, the other is compact candor...

"We hunt the fly remorselessly; also the flea, the rat, the snake, the disease-germ and a thousand other creatures which He pronounced good, and was satisfied with, and which we loudly praise and approve - with our mouths - and then harry and chase and malignantly destroy, by wholesale." [Twain, "God," 1905]


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