“It seems but yesterday that I launched Hell’s Five Hundred Year Plan. I still remember when the inspiration struck me. I still remember the disdainful laughter with which Hell and its reactionaries heard the plan—the most luminous plan, perhaps, that ever lit the darkened mind of fallen angel. I had had a look at the record—thousands and thousands of years of tempting stubborn saints and seducing all too willing mortals, pandering to the grossest vices of a breed already depraved by original sin; years of frightening dim-witted peasants with horns and hoofs and tricks that a side-show conjuror would be ashamed of; years of making theatrical blood pacts and mixing obscene love potions for senescent scholars whose libidos had outlasted their wits; years of dancing on drafty mountaintops with bevies of bearded hags who wanted to be Rockettes for a night; years of tormenting damned souls until the mouth of Hell smelled like the open door of a cafeteria kitchen. And where had it got us? In all those years Hell had not advanced one inch. It was all just leftism, infantile leftism. A new revolutionary strategy was in order in keeping with the progressive nature of the times we were living in.
“It was the 18th Century. The Enlightenment had begun. As I read Voltaire and Diderot, Locke and Helvetius, and pored over the Principia Mathematica of Sir Isaac Newton, I saw that mankind had reached one of the decisive turning points in its history. The Middle Ages were liquidated. Faith in the human mind had supplanted faith in God. I saw that Hell must write Progress on its banners and Science in its methods.”
“What’s wrong with Progress and Science?” asked the pessimist.
“Absolutely nothing,” said the Devil. “Only the most primitive mind would suppose there was. They are, in fact, positively good. That was the nub of my inspiration. Hitherto Hell had tried to destroy man by seducing him to evil. My revolutionary thought was to destroy man by seducing him through good. Intellectual pride has always been my specific sin and, like most sinners, I have always felt secretly a little proud of my fault. Now, I perceived, all mankind had sinned the same sin. I saw that Hell had only to move with the tide and leave the rest to rationalism, liberalism and universal compulsory education…Only Hell must be careful not to show its hand. That is why Hell went underground. That is why for 250 years I have ceased to exist. It was even easier than I anticipated.”
The Devil’s Distractions: Whittaker Chambers on Satan in the Age of Reason