Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Greatest Trick the Devil Ever Pulled

SPOILER ALERT! - The Usual Suspects (1995)

"The Greatest Trick the Devil Ever Pulled was Convincing the World he didn't Exist"
~ The Usual Suspects (1995)

Even as an atheist, I consider the above statement to be one of the greatest lines ever uttered in a movie. The movie is also an all-time favorite of mine. Yet, all that said and done, the above quote has made me uneasy for a long time.

As an atheist, I do not believe in God or the Devil due to the lack of evidence and reasons for holding such beliefs. As such, I could only remain annoyed when in my casual conversations with my theistic friends, the above line was dropped with a smirk of unfounded confidence. Their suggestion is apparent; the atheists, including myself, have fallen prey for the Devil's greatest trick; the illusion of non-existence.

As far as rationality was concerned, there was nothing to worry about the idea that Devil could have deceived all the atheists into believing he did not exist. Just because a Devil could exist and deceive humans; it does not follow that the Devil does in fact exist (As far as I know, I am unaware of any ontological arguments for the Devil).

However, as an occasionally emotional human being, the assurance of logic was not enough to quench the uneasiness caused by the thought that I could be subject to the The Greatest Trick ever sold by the Devil.

WAIT! do you think I am saying that I am scared that the Devil may have tricked me and sentenced me to a life in hell? No, No. That would be hilarious. What made me uneasy was that at least some theists actually believe that "the greatest trick the Devil" could pull was convincing the world he didn't exist.

One question; which devil did such theists sell their imagination to?

As such, here is a greater trick that the devil could pull. Allow me to lead with an analogy. Let us consider a smaller Devil; a con man. A con man, presumably, makes a living dishonestly by pretending to be something that he is not. Generally, they present the audience with ideas or facts that will be considered "good" by the public. Yet, the con man's strategy was only to "convince" them that what he had to sell was "good" (regardless of their actual goodness). It is conceivable, that such a con man could gather support from the masses who have wholeheartedly joined the charlatan with the best of interests.

With the above analogy in mind, consider the Devil again. What would his greatest trick be? That is a difficult question to answer and therefore, let us focus on a relatively easier question; Can the devil perform a trick greater than merely convincing the world he did not exist.

After all, the charlatans and con-men do not gain anything from convincing anyone they do not exist. It would seem that their active presence or existence is required for them to engage in their dishonest practice. Likewise, what exactly is the "trick" involved in the Devil "hiding" from the masses? After all, the con-men and charlatans would be doing the world a favor if they were to pretend to not exist. The same can be said of the Devil. Of course, the Devil could be capable of causing evil while remaining hidden.

Yet one is forced to ask whether the Devil could pull a trick greater than convincing the world the he does not exist.

What about the devil convincing the world that he is God? 

Imagine, an omni-malevolent being named Devil, who appears in different cultures in different forms claiming to be God or messengers of God. Imagine, the Devil appearing through a Jewish carpenter claiming to be the son of God and then 600 years later, appear in front of a different group of people claiming to be an angel of God while deceiving an illiterate merchant in Arabia as well as teaching that those who believed in the earlier "son of God" are wrong and need to be converted. Imagine, the bloodshed and violence such a confrontation would inevitably produce. Imagine, the great many evils that have occurred throughout history in the name of doing "good" and in the name of the "god(s)" who defined the mutually exclusive notions of "good".

Wouldn't the Devil be orchestrating something of such a tremendous scale rather than being the disney-cartoonish genie who whispers gossip into the ears of people (as represented in the Qur'an in Sura 114)?

Does it not make sense then to say that ""The Greatest Trick the Devil Ever Pulled was RELIGION"

Just a thought!


  1. You my friend are a Genius.......

  2. As someone who has also been made uneasy by that quote... Thank you for this!