I was reading recently about how the idea of Satan came about.
In the early middle ages St. Augustine determined that, as a result of Adam’s original sin and seeing as how we’re all descendants of Adam, evil exists in everyone. This meant that when bad things happened everyone had only themselves to blame since they all had a bit of badness in them. People bought into this pretty well because finding a scapegoat when badness happened wasn’t difficult.
Then, after a while, people began to take exception to St. Augustine’s concept thinking they really weren’t all that bad; actually they felt pretty good about themselves. So they got to thinking it wasn’t them but something or someone outside themselves that made them be bad. They anthropomorphized badness into a somewhat ambiguous horned satyr that they saw as perpetrating evil just because he wasn’t a very nice creature. He was an idea most everyone could fear and dislike.
Later, in modern times, now that people don’t so much believe in supernatural entities anymore, Satan has begun to fade away. So now, when bad things happen some people have gone back to finding a scapegoat, others have looked to St. Augustine and blame our inherent sinfulness and still others have dismissed the concept of evil altogether and rationalize badness as being relative to peoples and times.
When I think about how I stand on this I guess I lean towards relativism, but it takes some pretty hefty rationalization to accommodate some of the atrocities one hears about these days.