Once upon a time there was a devil. God told him to take the blame when things went wrong for the creature, the one who walked upright and thought too many thoughts. The devil’s compensation: he could play with the creature.
The devil, by definition, had bad intentions. But God told the devil that he couldn’t add anything to Creation to make the creature more miserable. He couldn’t, for example, unleash a grizzly killer whale or a hurricane volcano. That would be going out of bounds, and all games had to have limits.
So, the devil chose a more subtle approach: he exploited passion. If something felt good to a creature, he whispered “more” in its ear. Addicts abounded. If a human grew angry, the devil posed a question: “what would it feel like to punch that jerk in the mouth?” Dentistry, an evil that God allowed to arise (the sight of toothless multitudes offended Him), spread across the earth.
The devil wasn’t responsible for wars, orphaned children, sexually transmitted diseases, and addiction. He didn’t force the creature to set up governments, give power to rulers and bureaucrats, and settle disputes with lawyers. He didn’t teach the creature to forge metals into weapons or ferment grains into alcohol. He never said that women and men were unequal, or that certain areas of the body were unclean. He just made a few suggestions, and the creature did the rest.
God saw that things had gotten worse for the creature but did nothing era after era. God was Everything, all existence abided in Him, and nothing occurred that shouldn’t. “Should” and “shouldn’t” were in God’s vocabulary (He made all the words), but He rarely took them seriously. But the creature began to get mouthy, to whine and complain about its plight. The devil still took most of the blame, but the humans had figured out that the demon was part of creation, was part of Everything. They began to dust their disasters for God’s fingerprints.
God called the devil to His side and demanded an explanation. The devil arrived with five lawyers who protested when God denounced the devil. “It’s all in the contract,” they insisted. God banished the lawyers to the outer darkness and let the devil creep away. The lawyers had forgotten that injustice was part of Everything and got what they deserved. He would have banished the devil too, but He still needed a fall guy.
God puzzled for a micro-nanosecond (He’s very bright and quick) and decided to create religion. Religion would give the creature guidelines to limit self-inflicted misery. The devil would still create mischief, but now the humans would have choices to make. They couldn’t blame God if He spelled out the rules and gave them freedom of action.
The devil crept out of his hiding place when the priests and prophets arrived. “I was getting bored,” he thought. “But this is going to be so much fun!”