Our culture has largely moved beyond Satan, because despite religious literalists, we have a century of secularism behind us. Whatever its faults, which can be glaring, secular culture has promoted therapy, discouraged superstition, given people responsibility over their own destinies, and encouraged open-minded dialogue in every area once considered taboo.
These are considerable achievements; they bespeak tremendous growth in consciousness. Evil, however you define it, remains even after Satan has gone, but removing our attention from Satan has diminished him greatly, just as the ancient gods of Mount Olympus, once so powerful that they served to explain every natural phenomenon, are now relegated to history.
Like the Greek gods, Satan has outlived his usefulness. When people find a better explanation for any phenomenon, the old explanation withers away. We have the power to make Satan grow or diminish. In fact, we have the power to make him real and unreal, which is far more crucial.
As consciousness evolves, Satan will become more unreal. Already I believe there are millions of people who are ready to stop talking about demons, sin, and cosmic evil as the root cause of suffering. They are ready to talk in terms of consciousness. They are ready to talk about being disconnected from themselves.
Perhaps it was necessary to our evolution to call upon God to rescue us and fear Satan as the supreme enemy, but now we can turn to the deeper, more humane wisdom of the rishis, which speaks of one reality, not a fractured universe with heaven and hell at opposite poles.
Good and evil, the rishis tell us, is a direct function of being connected to the soul. The soul is the most real aspect of the self. When we break our connection with the soul, we lose touch with reality.
Adapted from Life After Death: The Burden of Proof, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2006).