Editor’s Note: The Autobiography of Satan (Authorized Edition) by William A. Glasser is available here.
Not only did Augustine want to put his thoughts into your mind. He also wanted to stop you from thinking for yourself. Having thoughts of your own, he came to believe, was a straight and narrow pathway into the depths of sin. Augustine declared that if the human mind was ever set free from the strictures of Augustine’s own personal beliefs, it would soon turn wild and wallow in the sinful muck of bodily urges.
Sad, really, when you think about. During his younger years, Augustine was one of the most uninhibited philosophical thinkers of his day. He was willing to question everything, including his own sexual peccadillos, which he then turned, unfortunately, into philosophical fodder to feed his own incubating beliefs. He said, at one point, that he “wanted to be as certain about things I could not see as I am certain that seven and three are ten.” But certainty is a most elusive goal, and Augustine was deeply discomforted without it. Having confronted the turbulent seas of reality, he was finally driven to seek a refuge, which he found in the calm and enclosed harbor of his newly adopted faith. And then he built a wall across the harbor entrance. Having already declared that his natural bodily urges were a sin, he then moved on to the urgings of his mind. “There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity….It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn.” His curiosity, which had once awakened his mind, was now branded a “malady,” a “vain inquisitiveness dignified with the title of knowledge and science.” His earlier “appetite” for knowledge, he now claimed, was fed by “perceptions acquired through the flesh,” with “the lust of the eyes” leading the pack.
Augustine’s aim was to bring the gropings of your own mind to a screeching halt. There were to be no further reasoned explorations into unknown areas, no seeking after questionable knowledge, no free inquiries into established beliefs. Whatever the question, the Church had the answer. Your role would now become one of passively accepting his faith and his authority. Like an ice-storm moving through the night, encrusting every branch and twig, Augustine’s influence settled upon the land. The search for knowledge grew rigid and unmoving. The world was now viewed through apathetic eyes.
I have always been puzzled by the herd mentality among human beings. Help me out here. What does it do for you? Why are you so willing to see your world through someone else’s eyes? Is it laziness, or is it fear? I am aware of that deep-seated need you have to feel that you belong, that you are a part of something larger than yourself, something that gives a sense of form to your otherwise formless life. But do you realize what you are trading away to gain that comforting sense?