9. The doctrine thus set forth is open to several objections.
1st. If Satan and the other demons were angels, they must have been perfect; but how, being perfect, could they fail in their allegiance to God and set at naught God’s authority, standing as they did, in virtue of their perfection, in God’s very presence? If they had only reached the supreme degree gradually, and after having passed up through the successive stages of imperfection and of improvement, we might imagine the possibility of a backsliding on their part; but what renders the statement absolutely incomprehensible is that it represents them as having been created perfect.
The consequence of this theory is the following: – God must have supposed, when God created them, that God had created perfect beings, since God lavished upon them all the most splendid of God’s gifts, but God was mistaken; so that, according to the Church, God is not infallible. *
2nd. As neither “the Church” nor “the annals of Sacred History” give us any explanation of the cause which led to the revolt of the angels against God, and as it only “appears to be certain” that this cause was their refusal to acquiesce in the future mission of Christ, what value can we attach to the description, so precise and so detailed, of the scene which is represented as having taken place on that occasion? From what source have been obtained the words so distinctly reported as having been then pronounced, and the knowledge of even the “murmurs” of the host of rebellious angels? Either the scene so minutely described is true, or, it is not true. If it were true there can be no uncertainty as to the cause of the angelic rebellion, and, in that case, why does the Church not settle the question once and for all? If, on the other hand, the Church and the Sacred History are silent on the subject, if it only “appears to be certain” that the cause of that revolt was what it is stated to be, the explanation thus given is only a supposition, and the description of the scene is merely a work of imagination. **
3rd. The words attributed to Lucifer betray a degree of ignorance altogether surprising on the part of an archangel who, in virtue of his nature and the rank assigned to him, ought not to share the errors and prejudices that were common to humankind before science had enlightened them in regard to the nature of the universe. How could so exalted a being give utterance to the declaration “I will establish my dwelling above the stars, I will ascend above the highest clouds?” Such a declaration implies the old belief that the Earth is the center of the universe, that the region of the clouds extends to the stars, that the stars occupy a limited region forming a vault above our heads, whereas astronomy shows us that there is an infinity of stars, sown broadcast over the infinity of space. It is well known, at the present day, that the region of the clouds does not extend farther than a couple of leagues from the surface of the Earth; consequently, to talk of “ascending above the highest clouds” and “the mountains” implies that the speaker is upon the surface of the Earth, and, still further, that the surface of the Earth is the dwelling-place of the angels; for, if they inhabited the higher regions, it would have been superfluous for him to declare that he was going to “ascend above the clouds.” To attribute statements bearing the stamp of ignorance to the angels is equivalent to asserting that human beings, at the present day, know more than angels. The Church has always made the mistake of ignoring the progress of natural science.
* This monstrous doctrine is affirmed by Moses when he says (Genesis, Chap. VI. 6 and 7), “And the Lord repented that He had made man upon the earth. And, being grieved to the bottom of His heart, He said, ‘I will exterminate man whom I have created from off the face of the earth; I will exterminate every thing, from man to the beasts, every creeping thing, and the birds of the air, for I repent of having made them.’”
And God who “repents” of what he has done is neither perfect nor infallible, and, consequently, is not God. Yet this statement is declared by the Church to be a sacred verity. Moreover, it is not easy to see what the animals had to do with the perversity of mankind, or in what way they could have deserved extermination.
** We find in Isaiah, chap. xiv, 11 and the following verses, this passage: – “All your pomp has been brought down to the grave, along with the noise of your harps; maggots are spread out beneath you and worms cover you. How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit. Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate: “Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble, the man who made the world a wilderness, who overthrew its cities and would not let his captives go home?””
These words of the prophet do not refer to any revolt of the angels, but are an allusion to the pride and the fall of the king of Babylon who had kept the Jews in captivity, as is shown by the concluding verses. The king of Babylon is designated, figuratively, as Lucifer; but no mention is made of the scene described above. The utterances put into his mouth are those of the king who, in the pride of his heart, placed himself above God, whose “peculiar people” he held in captivity. The prediction of the deliverance of the latter, of the ruin of Babylon and the defeat of the Assyrians, is the only subject treated of in the whole of this chapter.