Tempers Flare at Debate on the Devil

"The point is how come we have these ideas that are so mythical, that are so primitive?" Chopra continued. "Why don't we understand that so-called evil is a part of ourselves? Annie said it so elegantly when she said, 'I was full of guilt... of shame.' That's what she's confronted. Now you want to put that guilt and shame to some mythical identity out there, and yet you did that, but then you took responsibility for your own self. Why don't you give the credit to you, rather than, you know, to some mythical figures out there that came from the outside as forces?"

"I truly believe that the Devil was in my life because God wanted to show me how much He really loved me. And I can't explain it any other way," she replied.

Well, what convinces you that God is a He?" Chopra asked again. "My God is not a sexist God. Thank God."

There are numerous references to Satan and demons in the Bible, but Pearson said that you can believe parts of the Bible while turning away from others.

"The Bible is a several-thousand-year-old document and we have none of the original letters, none of the original manuscripts," he said. "And I do not believe it is the inspired word of God as much as I believe the inspired word of man about God as best as man can perceive."

"All I have to say is belief is a cover-up for insecurity," Chopra said. "If something is real, you don't have to believe in it. You should be able to experience it. And the most fervent believers in the world are the cause of all the problems in the world right now, OK?"

"Unfortunately there are religious institutions that have actually idealized guilt and shame and made it into a virtue," Chopra went on. "They have created institutions around guilt and sin and shame and disgust with our own self. And when we obsess over these things and we collectively create this obsession then we project it out there as this mythical figure that we call Satan."


Audience Questions the Panel

As the debate progressed, Chopra tangled not only with his fellow panelists but also with the crowd. One audience member suggested that one cannot believe in God without believing in Satan.

The "problem, my friend, is as soon as you define God you limit God," Chopra replied. "Any image of God is a limitation because if God is infinite then God is beyond your imagination because you cannot imagine the infinite. For you to define God and give him these simple qualities is to actually limit God. God is beyond good and evil. God is transcendent."

Another audience member pressed Chopra his own experience and interpretation of God.

"God is our highest instinct to understand ourselves," Chopra said. "It's my interpretation. I can only express my experience. I'm not denying you your experience. …mine is more consistent with our understanding of biology and our understanding of evolution and our understanding of the laws of Nature, in my opinion."

When it came time for closing statements, Lobert became emotional.

"God's love, it's not about arguing and the Devil -- and they're both real and you can't have one without the other. In my personal experience I believe this to be true. I can't say this for everyone in this audience or for the entire world, but I know that God's in my heart and I love people and the only way I could see God was to know that the Devil was real and that's my truth that God showed me."

For Driscoll, the experience was fun.

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