October 7th, 2013
12:31 PM ET
Scalia says atheism 'favors the devil's desires'
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor
(CNN) - As the Supreme Court begins its new term Monday, the devil is not on the docket - but the Evil One apparently is on the mind of Justice Antonin Scalia.
New York magazine has published a fascinating new interview with Scalia in which the outspoken jurist tackled a number of topics. But none seemed to surprise Scalia's interviewer, Jennifer Senior, more than his views on Satan.
The interview was conducted on September 26, the 27th anniversary of Scalia's swearing-in as a justice on the high court. He is one of a record six Catholic justices on the Supreme Court.
After Scalia and Senior discussed heaven and hell (he believes in them; she doesn't), the justice said in a stage whisper, "I even believe in the devil."
"You do?" Senior replied.
"Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, come on, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that," Scalia said.
Senior asked Scalia if he's seen evidence of Satan's work recently.
"You know, it is curious," Scalia answered. "In the Gospels, the devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore. ... It’s because he’s smart."
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Senior asked if it's "frightening" to believe in the devil, which seemed to annoy Scalia.
"You’re looking at me as though I’m weird," he answered. "My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the devil! Most of mankind has believed in the devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the devil."
Scalia, whose son, Paul, is a Catholic priest in Arlington, Virginia, also said Pope Francis is "absolutely" right about the church needing to concentrate more on mercy and outreach than on fighting the culture wars.
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"But he hasn’t backed off the view of the church on those issues," Scalia said. "He’s just saying, 'Don’t spend all our time talking about that stuff. Talk about Jesus Christ and evangelize.' I think there’s no indication whatever that he’s changing doctrinally."
Finally, Scalia said he has not "softened" his views on homosexuality.
"I still think it’s Catholic teaching that it’s wrong. OK? But I don’t hate the people that engage in it. In my legal opinions, all I’ve said is that I don’t think the Constitution requires the people to adopt one view or the other," Scalia said.
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About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
What kinda real god needs to have monetary collections made in his name?
Scalia forgot about the Super-devil. He's the real threat.
Bravo! Great sounding nonsense.
Scalia is mistaken about Catholic doctrine which views the devil as a spirit, not a person.
You are right
It strikes me as odd that a supreme court justice who deals with fine legal distinctions would make that kind of fundamental but important error.
I am really not crazy about Scalia, but I have to say, since I've heard him speak informally before, that his few sentences there may not best represent in detail what he really believes about Satan. Of course I don't know for sure, but I have this feeling that he might have been trying to simplify his view there for the interviewer to give more emphasis on "Satan's" role versus exactly what it is. Again, I am just guessing – he really said so little about it. I guess I don't understand why people in such positions would even get into that topic.
He expressed himself in a very fundamentalist and simplistic way as if he were playing to an audience. It strikes me as meaningful.
Someone said it earlier but its a GREAT question...
...why is this Mullah (the Christian version) on OUR SECULAR Supreme Court???
This country supports freedom of religion.
This man makes HIS decisions, which affect ALL of us in the court of law, based on a 2000+ year old distorted myth, which is based on a 3500 year old distorted myth...
Presidents, astronauts, elite scientists, police officers, mathematicians, and many other honorable and prestigious positions in this country are held by people that have belief systems different than yours. And there are some very intelligent and rational people that can point to what you write and say that is "distorted".
What about secular reasons when it comes to the 'war on drugs' nationally and yes internationally..? What about all the recreational users of Marijuana being arrested and having a black mark on their records..? What about many of these Marijuana users winding up spending time in our nation's prison system for minor infractions of simple possession of smoke..? Do we blame the religious for our nation's drug woes that have been in the hands of secularists and for how long..?
Was it 1937 when Harry Anslinger initiated a movement to outlaw any use of Cannabis by outlawing all forms of the Cannabis Strains and enacted a drug schedule giving all forms of the Cannabis plants a schedule one classification classifying it as being one of the most highly addictive drug..? Remember the old black and white movie, "Reefer Madness".?
and to a certain degree, freedom FROM religious involvement in government via the Establishment Clause
So I can see where it would be a concern how a justice interprets the Establishment Clause that may pertain to a ruling.
Frightening when Supreme Court Justices whose critical thinking abilities affect millions believe in the reality of bronze age fairy tale characters, even if the majority of citizens also believe in said fairy tales.
Critical perspectives required when confronting frightening views... Ah yes... A bit scary within the subjectivity of governing bodies...
Why does Dana Carvey as The Church Lady come to mind?
If the pigs ran off cliffs, why is Scalia still here.
If Scalia wants to see Satan, he should just look in a mirror.
If all non-Christians, and especially we Agnostics and Atheists are headed to hell...
...why are Christians the scared ones???
Because they are the ones who actually believe that shit. What a burden to live under!
not a joke. i remember when i was 9, raised southern baptist. i believed the devil was in every shadow and big brother god was always watching. stressful. scary. a definite burden.
Christians... The scared ones? What a passing thought being scared is... There are a great deal of folks feeling scared now and then....Like a subsiding tide ebbing and flowing are scared passing thoughts...
Christians are not afraid of hell, Jesus has saved us from that. What Christians' fear is, in a respectful way, that God has the final say with regards to everyone's eternal destination. Make no mistake about it, Christianity is not about religion, it is about knowing you are a sinner, repenting and asking Jesus, who died on the cross for your sins, to forgive you and to come into your life. It is about an eternal relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ.
Scalia is right about the devil, he exists, but knows it is more convenient to appear like he doesn't and that God doesn't. If you do not believe God exists, then you have no need for forgiveness, and in that you miss out on eternity with God. Satan is laughing in delight that he has mulitudes following him and they don;t know it.
When I was 19, I was delivered from Spirits in Jesus name. After the Spirits left, I heard the voice of Jesus say,Scott you have experienced the power of my enemy, and my power over him, come and follow me. Jesus desires to have a relationship with every human being through the Holy Spirit. Seek Him and you will find Him.
So why don't 19 yr old Muslims hear that? It's not as if it can be their fault for who their parents and Church leaders are.
Thanks for sharing
Wow! So Jesus said to you, "Scott you have experienced the power of my enema".
Ummm – and how was that holy enema?
I dislike Religion, but I love my higher power...
...I don't need a Priest, Deacon, Reverend, Imam or Rabbi talking to God for me...
...I can do it myself, thank you very much...and that brings ME closer to it..I don't need a insurance middleman telling me what God wants me to do, or not to do...the middleman insurance man is in it for profit, not to save my soul...
You might be happier (and saner) if you just realized that there is no such thing as 'god' and therefore the time on this planet is all you get.
There has to be a higher power...
...someone made all these laws of Physics...
...we know electrons and protons attract because of their different polarities, but no one can explain why different polarities attract...
...or why there is a law of gravity...
...there is something bigger than me out there, but it is not Jesus, or Mohammad, or Abraham...
Yes, there are people who can explain all that. You just don't have the physics background to understand them.
Don't confuse your own ignorance with a universal lack of knowledge.
There has to be a higher power...
+++ why? how can you know there 'has' to be? why couldn't the universe function without a deity/higher power?
...someone made all these laws of Physics...
+++ again, why? why did a being have to make the laws of physics? because you can think of no other answer?
...we know electrons and protons attract because of their different polarities, but no one can explain why different polarities attract...
+++ so making up an answer is better than saying "i don't know"? because we can't explain something means 'Goddidit!" very bad reasoning.
...or why there is a law of gravity...
+++ again, making up an answer is bad. it keeps you from finding the real answer. it encourages people to be intellectually lazy. why search for the real answer when we know 'Goddidit!"
why do you assume with zero evidence to back you up that a supreme being must have created the universe?
could it have been instead of is – a creative force that has since moved on to perform its natural function in another time space?
...actually, they can not explain them...
...scientists can explain how they work (laws of physics), and know what has happened and what will happen, they can even get 16 dimensional on you, but they can NOT explain why they happen...
how do you make the leap of logic that because they don't know 'why', there must be a god involved?
How do you know this, for absolutely sure? Humans play mind games on each other all the time. Religion could be a mind game or not, it's actually hard to say. To say that we have nothing to learn from "Holy Books" is lunacy. Both the Bible and the Koran have valuable lessons to be taught. After all, the Devil's forte is mind games.
there is no such thing as a soul, so you don't need magical saving. rely instead on your brothers and sisters, your fellow man and woman. look at the universe with wonder - but don't make up magical beings.
So, your god lives in the gaps in human knowledge. He keeps getting squeezed between those gaps as we gain knowledge but, of course, he will never completely disappear since we will always have gaps in our knowledge.
'satan' is a strawman, just like 'god', meant to terrify people into adhering to the personal likes and dislikes of other people.
He has to believe in the devil. So do all Christians. Otherwise, there would be nothing to be saved from and religion would cease to exist.
Is that your understanding of Christianity–we're are to be saved from Satan? Where did you get that idea?
"we're are" Brilliant! Sorry about that.
More importantly, if you remove Satan as a key character in the early Christianity, the story falls apart.
This is pretty far off from Christian doctrine. People are not being saved from the devil in accepting Christ. They are being saved from eternal separation from God and an eternity in hell resulting from that. But even without Satan being in the picture, there would still be a need to be saved from the separation caused by our sins. The existence or non-existence of the devil doesn't play any realistic role in the salvation message.
To quote the singer Cheryl Wheeler: "If your god is telling YOU what to do, that's fine. If your god's telling ME what to do, we're gonna have a problem." The problem I have with ppl like Scalia and the Mullahs in Iran, is that they base their decisions on law by their hocus pocus religious beliefs, not legal truth, and heaven forbid if you do not share their beliefs. You are wrong, you are guilty, you are dismissed. THAT is religious persecution!
So Justice Scalia believes in the tenets of his faith. He's a Catholic for crying out loud. Catholic theology believes in the devil. What's new? This certainly isn't newsworthy. Obama believes in Jesus. That's not news.
But labeling two groups that he might have to rule on is.
When presenting to the supreme court, point out that you are an atheist and request that as his irreconcilable bias is published, and as an honest justice, to recuse himself.
Are you the same Mark that was asking if I was a sincere atheist?
If so, why are you ducking my question?
sam stone. I don't think there is a great response to your question except that knowledge that something will happen is different than causing it to happen. If a see someone's parachute not open, I know they are going to die. This knowledge doesn't cause the man's death. I'm a father and sometimes know exactly how my children are going to respond to certain events, yet they have free will.
Mark: Your argument is faulty. You are not omniscient. God supposedly is.
Let's make it simple for you
If I apparently have two choices, A or B, and god KNOWS i am going to choose B, and god cannot be wrong, what is the chance i will choose A?
Again, knowledge of something is not the cause of something. One is knowledge, one is causality. They are different terms and mean different things. If I have a cooked fish in one hand and a cookie in the other and present this to my child, I know which he is going to choose. I know he doesn't like fish, but he loves cookies. My knowledge does not cause his decision.
mark....if god knows what i am going to do before i do it, and god cannot be wrong, how does free will exist?
again, your comparison is faulty
you are not omniscient
please respond to my example
in the case of an omniscient being, knowledge and causality are synonymous
Did you disappear?
Did the rapture happen?
Cat got your tongue?
Does the only logical answer to my question refute your claim?
Apparently, Mark has no answer to this.
please respond to my A/B example
Wow, another True Believer turns tail and runs when presented with logic
I’m not really sure what exact age I was when I went through the sacrament of confirmation. I think I was 14. Getting the exact date right isn’t important. It is, however, important for me to establish some context on my emotional state that day.
I was brought up Catholic. I went to church every Sunday with my father and sisters. I was baptized when I was an infant and had my first communion when I was in elementary school. I didn’t go to a Catholic school, but went to religious instruction classes for many years up until being confirmed. I kind of, believed in God and all of that, but in the same way that many Catholics, Methodists, etc, do. It was what I had been brought on.
On the day of my confirmation, I was with a group of friends and my sister. I was not in any emotional turmoil or duress that day. There was nothing like that. My friends and I were hamming it up. In fact, you could almost say that we were all there because our parents wanted us to be there. We really didn’t care one way or the other about being there.
So we all went up to visit the bishop in a line for the sacrament of confirmation. One of the guys that was with us was high on pot. He was either right behind me or two people behind me. I can’t remember that for certain. What I can’t tell you is that he was giggling over the bishop’s funny looking hat.
So when it was my turn to step before the bishop, I was basically in a situation where I was trying to keep a straight, non-smiling, face while I had this idiot behind me in line giggling over the funny looking hat that the bishop wore. I was trying not to laugh.
I don’t really remember if the bishop and I were supposed to exchange words. What I do remember is that he anointed us each with oil, dipping his thumb in it and painting a cross on our foreheads with the it. When he did this to me, something happened. It’s very hard to put into words but I’ll do the best I can.
When the bishop made the figure of the cross on my forehead with the oil, the Holy Spirit entered my being. There was this spiritual warmth that entered my soul. It was only there for a couple of seconds. It was very intense. I can tell you with complete certainty that I didn’t imagine it. It wasn’t anything as subtle as a chill going down my spine. It was much more intense than that. It was very strange. There was this sense of righteousness and peace to it. I don’t know how to explain it any better than that.
But after that day I went onto a life of partying like crazy for the next 25+ years. During those years, I probably told only a handful of people what happened to me on the day of my Catholic confirmation sacrament. It wasn’t that I was embarrassed or anything. In fact, if anything, I have been told that I tell too many weird, disturbing stories about past events from my crazy days.
But I got saved after all of those years. It was only after being saved that my purpose was revealed to me. I’m supposed to tell people what happened to me. I’m supposed to give this testimony. So, here I am telling you all.
Thanks for listening and may God bless you all.
sounds like a voodoo ritual.
what really happened was you had an intimate experience with another human being.
Amen, may God bless you as well.
Thanks for that. It takes courage to share something like that. I believe you.
Thanks for sharing. I experienced the same thing, but after confession.
So, let me try to understand this: Up to when this happened, the Holy Spirit was NOT in you. Them the bishop does the cross with the oil, and you feel what you believe to be this Holy Spirit enter you. You then move on to a life of partying for 25 years.
This Holy Spirit you speak of sounds both capricious and useless. Why wouldn't the Holy Spirit enter you before? Surely it wouldn't need the act of a mere human putting oil on a kid's forehead if it wanted to go into someone. And then, it doesn't do anything for you for 25 years? It didn't guide you earlier? It didn't lead you to the light? Why wait 25 years while you party away and waste a good chunk of your life?
I'm not doubting the sincerity of what you believe, but people are very, very good at convincing themselves of just about anything at all.
Is there a history of mental illness in your family?
Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, delusions etc?
I ask with all sincerity
Sounds like you are very sincere
Funny you should mention schizophrenia. Actually there is a strong connection between people partaking in occult practices and sufferers of schizophrenia that is little talked about in mainstream medicine, but is a curious link in almost all schizophrenia cases. Even the famous psychologist Carl Jung noticed this. Dig friend, dig.
I think it was the warm oil that gave you that warm feeling. If you were not imagining (thinking), you wouldn't remember it. There was nothing and there is nothing other than your thoughts.
I experienced something similar, after downing a 26-ouncer.
A lovely story, no doubt. Thanks for sharing. It's called the power of suggestion, in my estimation. You were groomed and herded. It's nothing new. People believe all kinds of stories, especially children. They even "feel" these stories within and think they're true. Throw in peer pressure and a big beautiful church along with a frightening picture of "the devil," and who couldn't resist "God"? Perhaps you felt self-conscious for suppressing your giggles in front of the bishop, which inspired you to behave as you were expected to – to "feel the lord" etc. I remember the great loving feeling I had for Santa Claus when I was a kid. I FELT it. What a nice old guy he must be, I thought. I knew he loved me and my sister and was keeping track of how good we were behaving. I believed he even checked in with my mother at times. I felt it. I just knew the north pole would be awesome with reindeer flying about, elves running around, and Christmas all year long. I felt these things, and I KNEW they were true. It was for real. Then I grew up and evolved. I turned to the beauty of reality and facts and admitted to myself: No one really knows what's out there. No one.
There are few places where one can still see socially acceptable bigotry and hate displayed so clearly as when the anti-religion folks go at it on CNN.
apparently you haven't read the religious comments then...
no atheist says a religious person is worthy of eternal torture.
Touche. It does go both ways, more's the pity.
I think you're missing the point that there is a qualitative, not just quant-itative, difference: the atheist disagreeing with someone, questioning their beliefs and saying those beliefs are childish and stupid and by extension the person holding those beliefs is childish and stupid, compared to the religious person telling the atheist that they are going to suffer a fiery torture for all of eternity, merely because the atheist does not believe what the person of faith believes.
All of you atheists are really pathetic. You live in a dark pit. I almost feel sorry for you – but not quite. It must be miserable being you. I wonder what sort of childhoods you people had that has made you into such hateful human beings. To hate your life so much must really suck.
I'm a theist and you sound full of love and happiness.
You're a "theist?" That's great to know. You are finally seeing the light!
Yes, I'm a theist. But you won't win over any souls with your tone.
I was evicted from my dark pit. I had to go live in a lake.
Oh, well, there was 150 of us living in a shoebox in middle of the road.
Oh, you were lucky!
You believe in things that are completely unproven. Most likely you are mentally ill. Go ahead, show us that your beliefs are true and that you are not sick.
Where do you get this from, FK? Sounds like you're trying to provoke and flame.
Do you really like it when people say "all believers are hateful, intolerant bigots", because some are? Because that's precisely what you are doing when you generalize: paint every one with the same brush.
If we are living in a dark pit, why are you the scared one???
No hate, just feel bad that you are wasting your life worshipping a non-existent god. Our lives aren't pathetic we're having fun and enjoying the time we aren't wasting praying to nothing.
most of us had religious childhoods, lol.
what part makes you the sickest? the way we constantly use our frontal lobe and exercise critical thinking?
christians are allergic to facts and logic - makes them break out in a rash.
You seem fun. Are you the one who keeps bringing haggis to all the church potlucks?
Pathetic is grown adults not only still believing in a 2000+ year old fairy tale, but forcing that belief on everyone else in the world, regardless of what they already believe or want to believe. Pathetic is the number of wars and atrocities that have been and are still being committed in the name of that fairy tale. Pathetic is the hate and discrimination that fairy tale still breeds to this day. Pathetic is blind denial of facts and hard science in favor of the made-up stories in that fairy tale. How is it that atheists are pathetic in comparison to this?
Why do you make the leap from being an atheist – not believing in gods – to being full of hate? I'm as-suming that YOU are an atheist. Do you believe in Thor, God of Thunder?
Theoretically, given the choice between living in a dark pit, and pretending that an invisible man in the sky is shining a light on me, just so I can feel better ... I'll take that dark pit.
Truth matters to some people, even if conjuring up dream worlds might be more comfortable.
I'm an atheist and it isn't all that miserable.
Religion is the Devil's greatest achievement.
Truest thing said here...
Correction "False" religion is the devil's greatest achievement.
Nope, its RELIGION itself...
...the moment man was told they needed someone else to speak to his or her Gods for them...
Which ones are false?
Did Christians (Jews and Muslims) ever consider that their religion(s) is the evil one this world???
...and it was really the Devil who fooled all of them!!!
... I know its hard ti understand for people that have grown up in Christianity (Islam and Judaism) and have been brainwashed from the first breath they took, but if you look at these religions as though you never heard about it, you'd think it was really formed by the Devil...
– flooding the whole world killing almost every thing on it
– displacing a whole nation of people (Philistines), because God promised you that land???!!!
– "God" getting upset because you didn't kill every living man woman and child in the villages you conquered...
– condoning of slavery
– condoning of incest
– condoning stoning of women
– blaming women for the sin in this world
– all other deities are false (one rule)
– worship of God (worship is a insecurity concept, only the weak require you worship them), why would God or Gods care if you worshiped them??? Do I care if an ant worships me???
Seems like you need to take Bible101.
"Seems like you need to take Bible101."
In Bible 101 you'll learn that the Bible does support slavery. Why not sign up for the class?
The slavery of those times was much different than what you are thinking. PLEASE EDUCATE YOURSELF!
The Flamingo Kid
The Bible says that you can OWN another person as property and can beat them (at times) without punishment.
Please read a Bible someday.
Enlighten me please...
...just the fact that the religion(s) are based on FEAR of "God" should be a clue...
Learn how to read and do the research yourself. I have. I also had problems with some of these issues until I researched them.
The Flamingo Kid,
Speaking of learning to read, why not do that so you can understand what the Bible says in support of slavery?
A old Bible can be handy if you run out of TP. I find the Psalms section to be the most like Charmin.
all other deities are false
...so says the Devil...
Satan kills 10 people in the entire bible
God kills millions
who's the monster?
I love how the religious articles on CNN bring out all of the depraved atheist of society. It is sooo funny. Subconsciously you fear this man may be right and this scares you – as it should.
I think you are the one scared of death being your end otherwise.
Actually, I a not afraid. God has enlightened me. It is you who are living in a dark place, not I.
Jeebus is waiting, Sesaak....
Go meet him
That doesn't sound sociopathic at all.
Funny. I got enlightened all by myself. Going to sleep at night taught me that conciousness can stop and self awareness cease. In death it just stops forever.
Thanks for the session, Doc. Where should I send the check?
Threatening an atheist with Hell is about as scary as a child telling an adult they wont get any presents from Santa.
Atheists are no more "depraved" than believers. Stop with the tedious lies about things you don't understand. Thanks.