The Bible mentions “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. ii. 2)
Past Christian dogma and old traditions identify that power as lightning. And the owner or the title as non-other than Satan.
Now, however, in jokes and in current popular thought we think of the guy throwing lightning as God.
So when and why did this power switch happen?
When did “the guy throwing lightning” stop being Zeus or Thor?
I thought it was Nikola Tesla.
This sounds like the best answer to me – I’d guess around the time of the Renaissance, when classical (i.e. pagan) art, architecture and literature came back in vogue.
I would infer (not being even enough of a theologian to know if “theologian” is a real world) that the “prince of the power of the air” is a reference to earthly or pagan powers, while God’s dominion is more universal. Isn’t the basic standard classical Judeo-Christian take on the situation that everything earthly == evil or at best imperfect, and God and the angels operate on a whole separate plane? But then, once ancient Roman & Greek art started to become incorporated into Christian Europe, the visual representation of Jupiter/Zeus, king of the gods, merged with the visual representation of the one Judeo-Christian God. So you’re left with God in human form with the white beard and all, throwing lightning bolts.
So I’d blame Michaelangelo. Of course, this is all pure speculation on my part, with nothing to back it up.
SolomonGrundy may have a good clue there. We need more info.
Around the time Ben Franklin invented the lightning rod, the rod was denounced as a tool to stop God’s will. But, when I was looking for who was this curious “prince of the power of the air” several dictionaries and religious sites said that it was Satan:
As for what power he had, other religious sites I consulted said that since heaven is not the atmosphere the devil still could work there. Also, lightning falls down from “heaven” to earth, just like Satan fell from heaven.
Somewhere, in the Middle Ages or the renaissance, this changed (?), but it is curious that indeed “earthly == evil” “heaven==up there”. The early church, however, had the idea that Satan was active in the clouds (maybe because lightning happens in dark clouds?) So I still do not know when (and why) it was decided that God was the one with that power.