top of page

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

Paul Harvey transcript revised (1996)

source: Idaho State Journal

Paul Harvey’s warning to America: If I were the devil

By Richard Larsen Sep 24, 2016

“If I were the prince of darkness, I would want to engulf the whole world in darkness. I’d have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree — thee. So, I would set about however necessary to take over the United States.

“I’d subvert the churches first, and I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: ‘Do as you please.’

“To the young, I would whisper that the Bible is a myth. I would convince the children that man created God instead of the other way around. I’d confide that what’s bad is good and what’s good is square. And the old, I would teach to pray after me, ‘Our Father, which art in Washington ...’

“Then, I’d get organized, I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull and uninteresting. I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. I’d tranquilize the rest with pills.

“If I were the devil, I’d soon have families at war with themselves, churches at war with themselves and nations at war with themselves until each, in its turn, was consumed. And with promises of higher ratings, I’d have mesmerizing media fanning the flames.

“If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellect but neglect to discipline emotions. I’d tell teachers to let those students run wild. And before you knew it, you’d have drug-sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every schoolhouse door. With a decade, I’d have prisons overflowing and judges promoting pornography. Soon, I would evict God from the courthouse and the schoolhouse and then from the houses of Congress. In his own churches, I would substitute psychology for religion and deify science. I’d lure priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls and church money.

“If I were the devil, I’d take from those who have and give to those who wanted until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. What’ll you bet I couldn’t get whole states to promote gambling as the way to get rich?

“I’d convince the young that marriage is old-fashioned, that swinging is more fun and that what you see on television is the way to be. And thus, I could undress you in public and lure you into bed with diseases for which there are no cures.

“In other words, if I were the devil, I’d just keep right on doing what he’s doing.”


The devil goes by many names, but the first reference is as a “serpent” in the first book of the Bible. He is by no means described like we may now think a serpent to be, because this snake could talk: and he was slick. He appears in the Garden of Eden, the story goes, and proceeds to tempt the only two people on earth to break the single rule that God had given: Don’t eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

It would appear that, at least to the first two people, there was only good; and the nonexistent evil resided in the serpent alone. Adam and Eve were naïve. They were also easy. Think about that. If you lived in a place that was apparently paradise, don’t you think you could keep a rule that simple? The serpent convinced Eve in no time that he wasn’t the devil at all but was like God; and she could be too if she didn’t pay any attention to such a nonsensical rule. Who likes rules anyway?

The Book of Job, arguably the oldest book in the Bible, is about a contest between God and the devil, who I will call Satan in this writing. He had many names, and Revelation states that his real name is Lucifer. This is surely one of the most interesting and thought provoking books in the Bible, and delves into the question: Why do bad things happen to good people?

Job lived in The Land of Uz, long before Moses and the Torah existed; and he was the most faithful man on earth. He loved this invisible God before The Law of Moses was laid out for the Hebrews, and mankind as a whole.

Job was also the wealthiest man on earth at the time and had a large and wonderful family. He had lots of acreage and sheep and goats and cows; anything he could possibly want was given to him by God because of his character and work ethic. Life was grand.

One day God’s bragging to Satan (at one time they were friends) about what a faithful man Job was, and Satan said, “I guess he is. You give him everything he wants. Land, livestock, no disease and beautiful kids and wife. What’s not to love? Take it all away and see what happens,” Satan advised. “Job will turn against you in no time, guaranteed.”

God thinks about this and accepts the challenge, telling Satan that he can do anything he wants to Job except kill his wife.

If you are ever sitting around thinking about just how crummy life is treating you, just read Job. You’ll see it’s not so bad after all.

If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of humanity? Why have you made me your target? - Job

source: The Bible Project

Job’s life began changing overnight. In no time “natural disasters” destroyed the land, killed all his livestock and children. Suffering through one calamity after another Job never lost faith but did wonder what in the world was going on. So did his three best friends who knew nothing of a satanic entity. Apparently man did not know of this adversarial relationship between Good and Evil.

As the days went on, the friends began asking Job what he did to tick God off so much; and they continued to ask after each tragedy as they began to think they were more righteous than Job; since none of this stuff was happening to them.

Next thing you know, Job is covered in gruesome boils and cries out in agony; and he did wonder what he might have done. With his children dead and his wealth and health destroyed, Job’s wife told him to curse God and die.

His wife said to him, "Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!"

Job 2:9 NIV

Job never did curse God but maintained a steadfast faith, just like God knew he would from the get go. It’s always been that way, a constant adversarial game of sorts, between God and his arch rival, his opposite. The good news in this story is that God always wins before it’s over with. But until it’s over with, Satan has a field day. Except of course, he’s not really there. He said so.

If you were the devil, how would you plan to win? Paul Harvey makes the point.

If I were the Devil, I'd educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull and uninteresting. I'd threaten T.V. with dirtier movies and vice versa. And then, if I were the devil, I'd get organized. I'd peddle narcotics to whom I could. I'd sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. And I'd tranquilize the rest with pills.

If I were the Devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellects but neglect to discipline emotions . . . let those run wild. I would evict God from the courthouse, and then from the school house, and then from the houses of Congress and then, in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and I would deify science because that way men would become smart enough to create super weapons, but not wise enough to control them.

Paul Harvey wrote his monologue in 1965, forty-nine years ago; and over the years he modified the original as what he originally said became true. Didn’t it?

Paul Harvey (1918-2009) was born the year that the Spanish Flu began its two-year death march across the globe, killing an estimated 50,000,000. More U.S. soldiers died from Spanish Flu than from World War I. His father, a policeman, was killed in 1921; and Harvey had a tough life. He eventually became America’s best known radio talk show host, exposing twenty-four million each week to his profound awareness.

Paul Harvey won numerous awards throughout his productive life, including: Salesman of the Year, Person of the Year, Father of the Year and American of the Year. Additionally he was elected to the National Association of Broadcasters National Radio Hall of Fame. He appeared in Gallup poll’s list of America’s Most Admired Men. Harvey won 11 Freedom Foundation Awards as well as the Horatio Alger Award.

President George W. Bush awarded Paul Harvey the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, the most prestigious award for a civilian.

In spite of all these accolades, The New York Times had this to say in his obituary:

(Paul Harvey) “personalized the radio news with his right-wing opinions

"He railed against welfare cheats and defended the death penalty. He worried about the national debt, big government, bureaucrats who lacked common sense, permissive parents, leftist radicals and America succumbing to moral decay. He championed rugged individualism, love of God and country, and the fundamental decency of ordinary people."

If I were the devil, I would infiltrate the New York Times and have them print biased and scathing obituaries and articles about men who worry about the moral decay of America and believe that God is reality, not mythology. I would have the major news outlets lie through omission of pertinent details and tale-spinning. I would convince our children that twerking rock stars are praise worthy, not stars like Tim Tebow, Carrie Underwood or Faith Hill to name a few. Other openly Christian celebrities.

Wonder what kind of obituary the NYT
would’ve written for Jesus?

Please share your thoughts by commenting and sharing.


#TimTebow #FaithHill #CarrieUnderwood #PaulHarvey

133 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page