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A central part of my story involves a certain book that was allegedly written by the Devil himself. However, my protagonists are rational and skeptic people, they do not believe such outrageous claims (extraordinary claims must be supported by extraordinary evidence).

Is there a away to convince them, unambiguously, that the contents of the book are indeed truly and verily the words of the Devil?

Note: if it helps, feel free to replace "Devil" by any malevolent super-creature that is very unlikely to exist (Cthulhu, ...).

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    $\begingroup$ How is this about building a fictional world? It seems like this question is more about the actions of your characters. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Feb 28, 2018 at 12:44
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    $\begingroup$ Are you asking how can rational and skeptic people believe that something has been written by an entity which they are sure does not exist? $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Feb 28, 2018 at 12:44
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    $\begingroup$ Actually working magic? Book talking to them? Basically any paranormal reproduceable effect? $\endgroup$ Feb 28, 2018 at 12:44
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    $\begingroup$ This is not answerable without knowledge about working of mystical powers in your world. For example, is devil appearing out if thin air, saying "I made this!" and disappearing again possible? $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Feb 28, 2018 at 13:08
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    $\begingroup$ I agree that this is not a worldbuilding question, but it is a fun question, so a comment: You suggest it takes effort to convince "rational and skeptical" people, that extraordinary proof is required for extraordinary claims. A MASSIVE amount of the world's population believes in some holy work, whether is be Muhammad, Christ, Jehova, Buddah, and the various Hidu works. You seem to think 95% of our world is irrational. All it really takes is a philosophy that can be segued into social mores. So the real question is, what't the nature of your text? Are we killing babies? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 28, 2018 at 16:36

2 Answers 2

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In the animé Death Note, notebooks exist that have supernatural composition and powers. Generally speaking, if a person's name is written in a notebook, that person dies.

These notebooks are usually owned and used by death gods, with pens or pencils that come from their death world. In one episode, forensics specialists from Japan's police remark that they have analyzed the ink from some of the writings in such a notebook, and they could not determine what the ink was - presumably because it was literally something from another world.

You could use the death notes as a source of inspiration. Your devil book will not convince skeptics unless it is able to do something "supernatural". Among us, there is a saying:

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence

Minor edit: I had not seen that you had the very same sentence in the question itself.

Some ways in which the book could display interesting phenomena. You could use one, or a combination of as many as you want:

  • It cannot be destroyed by any simple methods (such as tearing or fire);
  • It rewrites itself in one way or another;
  • Everybody who comes in contact with it dies, no exception;
  • It describes future events with enough precision to negate accusations of being right by being vague, i.e.: rather than make prophecies along the lines of "a star will fall from the sky and strike upon the glass city", it should say something like "asteroid [astronomical number of an asteroid yet to be discovered and numbered] will impact upon [name of country] on the 3rd of August of the year [year number] of the Lord, harvesting [approximate amount of dead people] souls".
  • It teaches spells or incantations that actually work.

Etc., etc.

It will be more convincing as well if spectography cannot determine the composition of the paper and ink.

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    $\begingroup$ More ideas: - The leather bound book is analyzed and turns out to be human. DNA tests show it comes from the person who has touched it the most. - Each time its read there are new pages listing the readers sins. - At first the ink is faded and old, as its handled it becomes a bright red, almost moist to the touch, the person using it begins to suffer anemia. - Whenever it is damaged, it repairs itself while unseen, the person who damaged it suffers similar injuries. - The owner writes a new page in his sleep. GPS coordinates and death toll of a disaster that happens within a week or less. $\endgroup$
    – Dan Clarke
    Feb 28, 2018 at 13:46
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    $\begingroup$ None of these would convince me that the book was written by a supernatural evil, only that it was made by something technologically superior. $\endgroup$ Feb 28, 2018 at 14:14
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    $\begingroup$ @RealSubtle Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and any sufficiently over-analyzed magic becomes indistinguishable from technology. Some people would face Diablo himself and think he is actually an alien with access to singularity-level technology. Some people would face the Protoss and believe them to be angels. You can't convince absolutely everybody when it comes to this kind of thing. $\endgroup$ Feb 28, 2018 at 14:47
  • $\begingroup$ @RealSubtle I agree and that's because I think the most important part about Death Note has been left out: One of those demons came with the book and appeared in "person". That was the actual proof $\endgroup$
    – Raditz_35
    Feb 28, 2018 at 14:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Shane I don't think there is enough empirical data on that. $\endgroup$ Feb 28, 2018 at 22:50
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St. Augustine talks about evil as a total lack of virtue. In Christianity, there is no 'dark energy', the Devil cannot create anything, he can only exploit a person's free will to turn them away from God & Virtue. I'd suggest reading CS Lewis' Screwtape letters.

How does the book convince your characters that it is legit? That's up to you. Probably a spell that works. Keep in mind, though, that spells only work because God or a demon makes it work. No human has inherent magical powers in Christian theology.

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    $\begingroup$ I think the OP didn't mean to include Christian specific Devil, as it is possible to use any other evil entity. Though I think it is a rather interesting idea of a creepy book that drives people absolutely crazy and diabolic - as far from God as possible. $\endgroup$ Feb 28, 2018 at 13:34
  • $\begingroup$ @user2851843 I believe the Necronomicon has that effect in the works of H.P. Lovecraft. $\endgroup$ Feb 28, 2018 at 13:36
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    $\begingroup$ Answering with, "Make it up," does not satisfy as an answer to any question. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Feb 28, 2018 at 13:51
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    $\begingroup$ To use/paraphrase an expression: one man's virtue is another man's vice. To the religious, faith — i.e. to believe through lack of, or in spite of, evidence — is a great virtue. To the skeptic, faith is abominable. The debate on what is a virtue and what is a vice is just the ages old discourse on ethics. $\endgroup$
    – MichaelK
    Feb 28, 2018 at 14:27
  • $\begingroup$ How can a demon make a spell work if the only thing the devil can do is trick people into turning away from God? In Christian mythology, are demons MORE powerful than the devil? $\endgroup$
    – Shane
    Feb 28, 2018 at 21:45

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