How many people in this world actually believe that the Devil is a real being with powers?

The title basically says it all.

Among all of humankind who follow a religion whose literature includes some kind of Devil character, how many of them currently alive today actually believe that this creature is a real entity, with actual motivations, who is separate from God, and has the power to influence humans?

I know it’s impossible to know an exact number, but has anyone compiled a rough estimate?

It’s a mainstay with the Jehovah’s Witnesses - and[search_id]=83d6404b-0fa7-4318-a398-41ecda3e5fdd&insight[search_result_index]=1

I think the question is harder than it sounds, because IMO a very significant proportion of those who say they do believe it are not answering honestly.

I was out Trick or Treating once with my daughter and one of her friends, and a person dressed as a devil walked by. The friend seemed scared, so I told her the devil wasn’t real. She was shocked. She and her mother were pretty religious - more or less mainstream.
I doubt many believe the devil is like the one in Faust or the soul buying stories, but down in hell? I think lots do. And why not? The preachers rant on about it.

You could try doing a survey, but the devil is in the details.

2 billion Christians in the world, maybe half believe in the Devil, so 1 billion. Maybe more since Christianity is largely centered in the global South and Africans tend to be more spiritualist than Europeans.

I don’t know if I’d go with a billion, but I’d guess at least a few hundred million believe. The Catholic Church still officially supports exorcism.

Someone once told me “The devil’s greatest lie is getting people to believe he doesn’t exist.” Circular reasoning at its best.

I recently started reading (and so far am quite liking) the book Reviving Old Scratch: Demons and the Devil for Doubters and the Disenchanted. Its introduction cites a 2009 survey that found that

The point of view of the book:

And the point taken by the book (at least in the relatively small part I’ve read so far):

Why would a perfect god need to create an enemy to challenge him?

To acknowledge the existence of the devil one must believe there is a god, this is contrary to the devils wishes.

Christianity is the foundation of Islam, Muslims believe in Satan too, he is mentioned in the Koran.

But since it’s perfectly possible to believe in the existence of a god without believing in the existence of a devil, convincing people that the Devil doesn’t exist would be a far more inefficient strategy for promoting apostasy than simply convincing people that God doesn’t exist.

If there actually were any kind of supernatural Devil, and he actually thought that his “greatest lie” is persuading people of his own nonexistence, he would have to be pretty stupid.

But given that this is all a speculative hypothetical anyway, its illogicality doesn’t matter all that much.

According to this Pew study, somewhere from half to three-quarters of Muslims worldwide believe in supernatural beings called “jinn”, which includes the scriptural “Shaytan/Iblis” or the Devil. (Although the survey doesn’t appear to include Muslims in India, which is flipping ridiculous because India has literally the second-largest Muslim population in the entire world, after Indonesia.)

That’s not a version I’ve ever heard. The versions I know are the Judaic one where he is not an enemy of God but of us and his job is to challenge us, and the Christian* one where both angels and humans have free will and Satan made a choice to put himself against God and tries to drive humans to make the same choice.

If you’re thinking of Jesus’ vision on the roof of the Temple etc, he was being challenged as a human, not as God.

  • some Christian denominations don’t believe in free will. Some people believe that humans have it but angels don’t, although I think these may be more from the crystal pyramids trenches than the pews of churches.

Christianity is not the foundation of Islam, but both religions rest on older common foundations of monotheism. Islam acknowledges the existence of Jesus and considers him to be a prophet of God but does not subscribe to his divine origin, which is the most important tenet of Christianity (IMHO). Islam does recognize a devil figure, as does much of Christianity but this particular idea can be also seen in the Hebrew bible, and the idea of a supernatural bad guy can even be seen in the ancient-Egyptian god Seth.

As for the Devil, I’m not sure why someone would write off the devil as simply a personification of evil if they are not at the same time writing off God as a personification of good. Nor do I know how you would reconcile the omnipotence of God with the existence of a Devil, must less the existence of evil.

(The OP seems to be asking a factual question yet posted in GD so not sure what discussion is desired here.)


Don’tcha know there ain’t no devil - there’s just God when he’s drunk.” - Tom Waits

Don’t forget Hinduism, holds that there is a demon god called Kali. There are 1.1 billion Hindus in the world. I don’t know how many of them believe in Kali.

Given how scarce God has made himself in not so recent history, it seems that belief in God is against God’s wishes also.