angels, appetites, being, children, constraint, corruptibility, creation, damnation, Damon, death, demons, desire, despair, eternal life, existence, free will, generations, happiness, holy wars, immaculate, knowledge, learning, legends, Lilith, nature, Pandara, parents, perfection, personal fulfillment, pride, rebellion, scientific instruments, sentience, sophistication, soul, tales, Terra, understanding, virtue, wisdom
[Caldwell, Taylor. Dialogues With The Devil. New York: Doubleday & Co., 1967. pp 57-61.] Please see Taylor Caldwell’s Dialogues With The Devil (1967) #1 of 22 for an introduction to this serialization.
GREETINGS to my brother, Michael, who believes that he has circumvented me on his new worlds:
No doubt you heard my laughter when I read your letter. Do not be complacent. Damon and Lilith will make their appearances on Pandara in due course, if not to this generation there, then to their sons and daughters. For though this generation may tell their children of what they know, and of what they have seen, and what they have learned, it is in the nature of men to say, “Our parents love legends and tales and strangenesses, but we have not seen the Archangel Michael with our own eyes, nor have wondered at his countenance. Our parents tell us that it was the will of God that he appeared only to our forefathers, but not to us, and that is most peculiar, indeed, for are we not more sophisticated than our fathers, and our daughters more knowledgeable than their mothers? Do we not dwell in cities, whereas they dwelt in the fields and the forests? Have we not learning and understanding, greater than our forebears? Do we not have magnificent temples of wisdom, and do we not stream through the heavens like birds and through the waters like fish, and is there aught we do not know of this world of ours, or are there wonders as yet undiscovered? Are we, then, not wise and therefore more worthy to gaze upon this Archangel Michael, and would we not apprehend his words with more clarity and more subtlety? Why this coyness, that he hides from us–if he exists at all? It is folly. There is no such an archangel, and therefore what our parents have told us has no verity.”
You have heard thoughts like these on innumerable planets, among the worldly children of men who believe they have conquered all things and are capable of comprehending everything. That is my opportunity. For though the generations of Pandara may not yet have fallen, pride in their accomplishments will spur that fall, and pride in their own will will assure their destruction. I will not only send them Damon and Lilith, and say to them, “Do not deny your natural appetites, for all appetite is good, for is it not your nature?” but I will say, “Your parents were simple and mere children in their souls, and had no real will of their own for they were enamored of a fantasy. Have you not failed to discern the reality of Michael in your scientific instruments, and have you found God, of whom your parents speak, in the watches of the night or in your affairs? If there is an angel at all, it is in your capacities, and if there is a God, you are that god, and you must deify yourselves for naught exists in those gigantic universes you catch in your mirrors but your own being. You are the center, the heart, of all mindless creation, and only you have sentience. If you doubt me, show me the proof to the contrary.”
That is an argument few men have ever disputed, for the proofs of your existence, and the Existence of Our Father, lie not in the grosser matter but in the towers of the soul. But they will know that I exist! For I will give them delights and conceits and arrogances, and the ecstasy of defying the laws of their fathers, which were the Laws God gave to them. Nothing so exalts a man as rebellion, as we have remarked before, and nothing increases his vanity so much as coming to a wrong conclusion, which he believes is correct. Assure a man that he is wise and knows all things, and that only he exists, and there is no end to his exultant rapture. Even when the men of Pandara become so suddenly aware of the fact that in some strange way death and disease and age and loss have come among them–when once they were absent–they will say, “But this is the inevitable course of nature, and was to be expected! There is a time for living and a time for dying, and always it was so, though we have not known it before.” You will understand that men have explanations for everything, and the more absurd the more they are accepted. When they discover that the incorruptible has put on corruptibility, the immaculate has become stained, the eternal has become mortal, they will nod their heads solemnly and say, “It is natural–we just had not lived long enough, but time is inexorable. Let us, then, devote our lives to the search for happiness and for personal fulfillment, and not dream as our forebears dreamt, but be courageous men who live that we may die and strive while we can.”
They will see my face in their own and will adore me, for am I not the reverie of men, even those not yet fallen?
Why do men prefer to believe there is no God? Is there a fatal flaw even in the unfallen, as it was in me and my angels? You will say that there is, indeed, that “flaw” and you will repeat that it is free will. Nonetheless, men prefer to believe there is no God. God restrains and all chaff at virtue and constraint and the necessity to obey and love. . . . Once God is removed from the belief of men, then they can truly live as they believe the gods live: Enjoying existence, relieved of duty and responsibility, delighting in each hour, acquiring their miserable riches as they will, disobeying even good laws, exulting in violence and bloodshed, exercising power over their fellows–and always for their fellows’ own good, you will observe–and committing all vileness in the serene conviction that there is no good and no evil, but only a man’s desire and a man’s needs. Above all, there is no accounting, for the One who accounts does not exist. So man, they will conclude, is truly free to “live according to his innate nature.” All their wars will be holy, all their excesses but an exaggeration of good, all their errors correctable through new laws which they will profusely pass, and all their hatreds righteous. But still there is the inborn, the endowed, craving for perfection, and they will say that man is perfectable.
So they will strive for perfection, which is beyond their earning, and they will seek for merit among the applause of men like themselves, rather than in the smiles of God. They will chase up the mountains of their lives for perfectability, and always there will be the descent on the torrid opposite side, but again they will climb with their banners and their slogans, and always they will fall. They cannot resist the desire for true perfection with which God sadly endowed them–and He cannot withdraw His gift, but they will distort it and in seeking they will never find.
Despair will sit at their right hand and death will dine with them, and decay and grief will be their bed, and sorrow their song, and all that which their darkened souls desired with a hunger that comes from God will never be their own.
And they will descend to me, and will ask again that disgusting question, “If you exist, then God must exist also?” And I will reply as ever, “It does not follow. I am the god you made, and you are mine.”
Will the Sacrifice on Terra save these men also? You continually refuse to answer that question, but my curiosity grows with the refusal. In the meantime my hells fatten with the hosts of the damned–who willed their own damnation.
I do not know why I hover so often over Terra, where the immortal Crime was committed–and to what purpose? I watch my legions of demons at work, and I smile at their industry. They hope by pleasing me that I will grant them death and oblivion. You will see that they have much more faith in me than they ever had in God.
Terra is doomed. I watch the progress to annihilation with the only pleasure of which I am capable. Then the memory of the Sacrifice will be obliterated, and there will be no remembrance at all in men, not even of the myth which they declare it is. I will be vindicated, even before His Eyes. He will be forced to admit that I was right and He was wrong. In His second death on Terra the first will be lost, and all men will be mine, even to the farthest planet.
There will be the peace of nothingness, thereafter, and is that not to be desired?
Your brother, Lucifer
NOTE: The full text of Caldwell’s Dialogues With The Devil is 198 pages and can be found relatively easy through Amazon.com, a library or through abebooks.com. I will continue to abridge and serialize the remaining chapters as I find the time.