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Does Satan exist?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 21, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: "Factor Follow up" segment tonight. Very unlikely controversy erupted this week over the miniseries "The Bible". Some believe that the actor who plays the devil was made up to look like Barack Obama. The producers of the program deny that but the likeness is undeniable.

So we wanted to update the status of Lucifer the Prince of Darkness. What is the current wisdom regarding him?

Joining us now from Philadelphia, Rabbi Aryeh Spero, the author of the book "Push Back: Reclaiming the American Judeo-Christian Spirit" and from Washington Dr. Christopher Ruddy who teaches theology at a Catholic university.

So first of all Dr. Rudy and the Rabbi writes about this "The Bible" is fairly clear that God and the devil set up the classic good versus evil, free-will decisions that people have to make on earth. That's why we have both God and the devil. God representing good, the devil representing evil.

Do you believe, doctor, first of all on the God front that there is an active God who does exist and actually influences what happens here on earth?

DR. CHRISTOPHER RUDDY, PH.D., PROFESSOR OF THEOLOGY: Definitely. That there is an active God and that there is also an active evil principle that we might call the devil -- an angel that was created good but fell through his own free will and is now a sort of presence of evil in the world.

O'REILLY: All right so these are spirits that actively have effects on human beings. That's your belief, Dr. Ruddy.

RUDDY: Oh yes definitely.

O'REILLY: Ok how about you Rabbi do you see it the same way.

RABBI ARYEH SPERO, PRESIDENT, CAUCUS FOR AMERICA: Well we don't believe in an actual devil. What we do believe during the time of creation, God allowed at least a force of evil. And even within people there is the constant struggle between our good inclinations and some of our unsavory inclinations. And it's not an actual being but they are forces outside of us and there are sentiments within us.

O'REILLY: Yes I don't understand the word "force" though. Is that a spirit? Is that a -- is that an instinct within people? What is a force?

SPERO: Within man, it's an instinct. There are instincts towards good and there are instincts towards evil and outside of man.

O'REILLY: Ok these are inherent in every human being who is born on earth there are instincts to go either way. And there is a pull and a push between God -- and I know you believe in God, Rabbi -- and what you call the other force. But you say you don't believe in the devil?

SPERO: I don't believe in the devil per se. Now, in the bible, there is mention of in Job of Satan coming which is more of an allegorical character. A figure to represent Satan meaning representing evil that's found in the world. But within us there is no independent force within us it's part of our dual inclinations.

O'REILLY: Human nature ok.

SPERO: Yes.

O'REILLY: But you see it a little differently Doctor you believe that there is an active evil spirit if you will or something that injects himself for a better pronoun. Is that correct?

RUDDY: Yes certainly a sense that we can be tempted by this evil presence, this evil power but yet we're free as human beings to resist that or to reject it. It's not a case of God and Satan being equal partners.

O'REILLY: All right so this is interesting so -- so the professor of theology at Catholic U sees somebody, some force as you said, Rabbi. A spirit that is actively, all right, pulling people to do wrong. You don't see it that way. You see it as everybody is born with both the inclination to do good and evil and then the person has to decide which way they want to go.

Then, Rabbi, how do you explain the people who choose evil. How do you explain those people? And what happens to them after they die? I.e., Adolf Hitler, people like that?

SPERO: I do believe that people who have a life where they choose tremendous evil and harm people disproportionately, they do end up in hell. I do believe that there is a heaven and a hell and there is a judgment. No question. People sometimes choose evil because they are lazy. They haven't worked on themselves and sometimes it's simply because they have ambitions. Lusts and they don't bow to the authority of the almighty to great authorities and they allow the evil to overtake them. That they almost lose their capacity for freedom of will.

O'REILLY: But it's always a free decision unless you're mentally ill and incapacitated.

SPERO: Always.

O'REILLY: Do you see it that way as well, Doctor? Do you see it that that you are going to be judged after you die? There is going to be a reward or punishment?

RUDDY: Definitely. There is accountability that we will be judged on what we've done or not. In that sense we're free to resist evil, to succumb to it and in that sense we're responsible. I agree.

O'REILLY: I wonder why so many people succumb to evil because I believe that they know it, they know it when you do something bad, there is something inside you. Whether it -- you're born with it or not, you know, this isn't right. You know the -- the people who are slaughtering other people and maiming other people and betraying other people and stealing and all they know what they're doing is wrong. Yet they choose to do it any way Rabbi and it's always -- you know.

SPERO: Because they -- Bill because they succumb to the immediate gratification of what they want.

O'REILLY: But don't they think there is going to be a payday down the road for that?

SPERO: They should. If they had the right type of religion and teaching they would understand it. Ultimately we're going to be accountable in the name of fairness God has the world, he created the world of accountability.

O'REILLY: Well if you believe in a just God. But there are an awful lot of secular atheists that say hey, once you're dead you are dead.

I'm giving you the last word, doctor. I think that more people are choosing to do evil today than ever before in the history of this planet.

RUDDY: I would disagree. I think that this is a constant human temptation. I think sometimes we seek what is outright evil. But more often I think we seek what we think is good for us but which is actually evil in the end.

O'REILLY: All right, you really think that? And I mean, I'm seeing every day so many terrible things done to other people around this world -- it's just staggering. And that's my job. I have to deal with it every day.

That was a fascinating discussion you guys. I really appreciate you coming on.

RUDDY: Thank you.

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