Mostly because he doesn’t exist. That being said, there are plenty of people out there who believe in the existence of a being called “Lucifer.” Not only that, there are people who believe Lucifer is synonymous with Satan, arch-nemesis of God – the proverbial Dr. Claw to Inspector Gadget. A bit of a disclaimer: I was one of those people who grew up thinking that Lucifer was the Devil. Like a good Christian, I didn’t question what was taught to me.
As it turns out, the idea that Lucifer is Satan is from a mis-reading of the Bible.
Lucifer might be referring to someone else.
This article points out that Lucifer as a proper name comes from a translation from the Latin Vulgate Bible into the King James Version. Saint Jerome, writing in Latin because it was the only proper language of learning at the time, frequently used Latin terms to illustrate texts he translated from Hebrew and Greek. The word “Lucifer” first pops up in his manuscripts. When the Crown decided it wanted a Bible in English, they took Saint Jerome at his word – literally.
Interestingly enough, nobody caught the Latin word amidst a sea of Hebrew. Or, more precisely, no one caught that the proper name of Lucifer stood out like a sore thumb. It gets proper name treatment instead of investigation, and there we have how Lucifer is synonymous with Satan. From there, we get nifty origin stories and allusions to end-time shenanigans.
Just a cursory examination of Hebrew texts might have avoided the problem in England. Apparently in the Hebrew, the idea expressed by the word “Lucifer” actually referred to the planet Venus. This was a Hebrew metaphor for a fallen Babylonian king. As it turns out, of all the things in the Bible which could have been verified with historical evidence, Lucifer actually might be one of them. The only problem is that one must abandon conflating Lucifer with Satan.
Why this matters to deconverts like me.
It’s not every day I get to do research into what I used to believe and come away with being able to poke fun at it. Lucifer, Satan, the Devil, Mephistopheles – all are but a few of the terms used to keep people afraid of something. As my older brother put it, Hell is something that is used to keep people in line. The ruler of Hell is no different.
If this concept is so important, and Hell is so really real, then how can Christendom get its arch-villain so wrong? One very real way of looking at it is to admit that there is an error in the Bible, a very human error, with very human consequences. Another way of looking at it is that Satan never was real in the first place. There are no monsters under the bed, and so I can sleep more soundly. I find it always welcome to come across information which makes threats of damnation look sillier.
Taking the threat of damnation, evil beings with the intent to cause harm, and other ideas like it is important. Remember: it’s one half of the toxic Christian message. Sin, damnation, and an evil being waiting to get you are ideas which are used to manipulate people into believing they are inherently flawed. Take that message away, and there is no need to run in fear to Christianity.
I think the world can do with a little less fear-mongering. How about you?