My wife, Laurel, is an increasingly ardent scientifically-minded religious skeptic.
Check it out. It isn't just for women, or feminists. I liked Garst's "The Devil Made Me Do It" post.
The whole idea of the devil is ridiculous, but the notion of an supernatural power in opposition to God (who is another absurd idea) can be found in Eastern as well as Western religions.
For a long time I belonged to an Indian spiritual organization led by a line of gurus. They taught the existence of Kal, the Negative Power, who bore some resemblance to the Devil.
One weird thing, among many, about those teachings was that the human mind supposedly was the vehicle that allowed Kal to lead people astray. Yet the gurus used their minds to communicate words, concepts, arguments, and such about Kal to their disciple's minds.
Well, one truth about religion is that it doesn't have to make sense to appeal to people. Here's some quotes from Garst's "The Devil Made Me Do It."
While this saying is often made in jest, the underlying meaning is much more sinister. It implies that there is either a supernatural entity or a cosmic force that preys upon humans to encourage them to commit heinous acts. The shooter in the recent tragedy at Umpqua Community College in Oregon is reported to have left a message on social media saying that he would be “welcomed in Hell and embraced by the devil.”
How can people believe in such a malevolent force if they also believe in an omniscient and all-powerful deity? How is the fear of evil used to motivate and control people to accept religious dogma? How does this concept of the devil and hell impinge on our ability to get at solutions to tragedies such as the one at UCC?
...But what if there is no cosmic evil force? How would our actions change?
Instead of stating as Jeb Bush did in response to the UCC shootings—stuff happens—maybe we would look harder for solutions and seek to understand the various factors at play in a tragedy such as that of UCC: identifying and providing support to youth, especially males, with tendencies toward violence or with mental health difficulties; examining how we can reach a compromise on gun control; looking at what in our culture leads to young males feeling they are victims or losers, etc. Yes, it would require more thinking than just saying—the devil made me do it—but we might actually prevent these acts from reoccurring.