Does the Devil Exist?

Luis Martinez, Entertainment Editor

Eastern’s Philosophy Club came up with a new panel discussion event discussing if the devil truly exists in the world.

Five professors from the philosophy department will join the club as part of a discussion panel

The panel, “Does the Devil Exist?,” will take place at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Coleman Auditorium.

The five professors joining the panel include Brian Beakley, Gary Aylesworth, Dannie Otto, Grant Sterling, and Jason Waller.

Panelists will be limited to 10 minutes for their own individual presentation; afterward the discussion will open up to the audience.

There will also be a Tarot card reading for one hour prior to the panel, and audience members are invited to wear their Halloween costumes.

Sterling said the philosophy department has done several public discussions and they have discussed the existence of God before and have had good attendance at the events.

“Some people think of the devil as the opposite of God—a being of pure evil,” Sterling said. “I think there are good philosophical reasons to believe that such a being is impossible.”

Sterling said before they discuss the existence of the devil, people need to have a clear state of mind of what the topic is truly about.

“Pure evil, by definition, cannot exist. Existence is a good thing, a purely evil being would be utterly impotent,” Sterling said. “Knowledge is a good thing, so a purely evil being couldn’t know anything at all.”

Sterling said if they replace the concept of a “purely evil being” with another concept, there would be no good way to prove or disprove the claim.

“Suppose, then, that instead of a ‘purely evil being’ we mean a being possessing great but not infinite power and knowledge, but extremely morally evil,” Sterling said. “In that case, I think that there are no good philosophical arguments to prove or disprove the existence of such a being. There may indeed be religious reasons to believe or not believe.”

Sterling said some of the speakers will focus more on the question of what kind of being the devil is and one of the speakers will focus on the nature of evil itself.

“I think that discussions like this are opportunities for EIU students and faculty and staff, (and) community members to come together and think about an interesting topic, to see different perspectives and different ideas, and to think about how these issues may relate to other ideas in their lives,” Sterling said. “I enjoy such debates, and I think that bringing ideas into the open and applying reason to them is a healthy thing. So I very much hope that students and others can come and enjoy themselves and take away things to think seriously about in the future.”

Otto said the reasons he was invited to join the panel discussion was because he is a member of the philosophy department and he also teaches religious studies.

“I will talk about the devil as a shape-shifter, appearing in different guises through history, especially as a hyper-sexual being,” Otto said. “I will conclude with photographic evidence that the devil exists today.”

Waller said one reason the philosophy department decided to do this panel was because it would be fun for people.

“We have debated the existence of God publicly a number of times, so for Halloween this year, we thought we would mix it up a bit and argue about the devil,” Waller said. “We were reflecting on how great it is that the philosophy department has faculty that express such a range of different viewpoints. We were trying to think of something fun to do for Halloween and this idea popped up, so we ran with it.”

Waller said his presentation would focus on arguing the existence of the devil.

“My argument will be based on the idea that God is ‘maximally creative’, namely, that God creates everything that he can create,” Waller said. “So, if it can exist, then it does exist. Following the same reasoning, I also think there are likely many, perhaps infinitely many, universes other than this one, so it is far from clear whether devils exist in this particular universe, but I think it is likely that they exist somewhere.”


Luis Martinez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]