Since I stole a copy of "The Secret Life of a Satanist" by Blanche Barton1 in 1995, I have conducted a long and personal analysis of LaVeyan Satanism. Here's my summary of the weakest points of modern LaVey Satanism, including theological and sociological concerns.
One of the weakest points of modern Satanism is that the "theological" content is quite shallow; this is especially true once you've got beyond a few statements such as the infamous Satanic Bible passage:
“There is no heaven of glory bright, and no hell where sinners roast. Here and now is our day of torment! Here and now is our day of joy! Here and now is our opportunity! Choose ye this day, this hour, for no redeemer liveth!”
Compared to Judaism, Christianity and Paganism, there is not much to study, no verses to learn off by heart, no sprawling astrological charts of orders of angels to drool over. The theology that does exist, for example the Four Crown Princes of Hell, the Infernal Names, Self Worship: These are to a large extent more of a matter of linguistics and terminology than real theological statements. Even the demonology is allegorical post-modern, counterculture sociology.
LaVeyan doctrine ends very early with the conclusion that now you should go live your own life. This is a refreshing lack of nonsense, but, at some point the question becomes: What was the point of Satanism in the first place? There is something lacking in self-worship... something a bit too low-key-self-help-and-not-much-else. It doesn't lend itself to serious or technical attention.
In Deinsen's essay Why I'm not a Satanist, her second point against Satanism covers this non-aspect of Satanism:
“Related to Satanism being reactionary, Satanism is “philosophy light” and “rhetoric heavy.” Anton LaVey´s greatest skill was that of a rhetorician. Satanism, if one scratches much beyond the surface, proves to be intellectually shallow. There´s just not a lot to it. My gut reaction to the SB was, “It´s Dale Carnegie´s How to Win Friends and Influence People with an `evil´ twist and a large dose of Friedrich Nietzsche thrown in. Satanism gets people motivated, excited, and impassioned…like all good rhetoric. But in the end, it´s not intellectually satisfying as a philosophy in its own right.”
Included in LaVey's works are personal opinions, jokes, fun, entertainment and then more personal opinions. He found it hard to write long without involving his own interests, past or bias. And these show through in his approach and writings about women. Anton LaVey's upbringing in the 40s and 50s lent themselves to an older, more traditional view of women. Although a freethinker who shattered convention and lived far beyond the cumbersome social taboos and limitations of his time, LaVey appears to have shed little of the 50s' misogynistic attitude.
He broke through in some areas, such as women pro-power and beliefs that Women should be no less cunning or manipulative than any man. But he couldn't seem to separate his tastes from his work. So some of his writing on women makes me cringe a little. The Satanic Witch contains radical and unheard-of advice, which was 20 years ahead of its time, but some of the underlying assumptions have become dated. I think he wasn't entirely "in touch" with women.
Once again I quote Deinsen, a paragraph from her "Satan is an Unworthy Symbol":
“When Satanism was developed in the 1950´s and 1960´s in “Christian America,” calling it Satanism had more power and punch because people´s image of Satan was more heterogeneous, ridiculous, and stereotypical. Post the 1960´s hippie movement however, people are more clued in to what Satanists are saying and the title no longer carries the same impact on people (with the possible exception of Christian fundamentalists). That which is based on shock eventually becomes mundane. The Black Mass, for example, has become expected and uninteresting…no longer the subject of newspaper articles or “scandal.” Once again we see that Satanism, by being a purely reactionary philosophy, is dependent on the weaknesses of other systems of thought, or, in the case of the name, on the ridiculous stereotypes people hold of Satan.
And here is where I hold sympathies for Satanists. When “Satan” no longer shocks, one of the most “interesting” aspects of Satanism is lost. Satanism actually needs to grow into larger boots! I think if Anton LaVey were alive today he´d realize his short sightedness. Satanism needs to have the flexibility to change with the times. As our world grows more and more secular, Satanists will be left holding yet one more tired, reactionary philosophy.”
Deinsen perhaps hit on a point here without fledging it out fully. The Alien Elite is a Satanic concept inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche's "Superman" principal. That there are born natural leaders, and these people can appear at any point in any culture. A reason d'etre is to try and develop yourself to transcend your own culture to reach a state of Alien Elite. But this can be done without Satanism... to those who it is natural. Satanism as a religion has potential to defeat itself in modern society.
As religion becomes more of a fringe, as philosophy, materialism and Quantum-Physics inspired mysticism become the only acceptable forms of faith in society, religion is becoming viewed as both out of date and irrelevant to modern ideas. The modern secular movement is not concerned with religion to such as extent that in barely pays it any attention, not enough to even oppose it. Satanism is founded on the hypocrisy and ridiculous assumptions of other religions, like the alien elite are only elite as long there exists a mass of sheep who remain on the right hand path. Without lesser religions, Satanism loses its rebellion.
There is a real risk that in modern society, Satanism can lose its edge. Superseded by the carnal materialism that in the beginning founded it!
The strong anti religious feelings that are no doubt a result of having the seventy-seven infernal names on your personal roll call are sometimes overbearing to the point of ignorance. This is when Satanists attack and slander religion but fall into the trap of making increasingly sweeping statements and appearing ignorant, heavy-handed, hateful and uninformed. At which point, the automatic reaction of almost every human being is to double-down. Getting carried away with an anti-religious stance results in stupid behaviour which entreches others' positions.
Satanism sometimes seems specifically anti-Christian, and not much else. In theory Satan represents the enemies of all gods from all religions. But in practice the majority of Satanic parody is aimed at Christianity. There are reasons for this... mainly it is because mockery and parody are instinctive reactions to aggression from white light religions. Christianity is most certainly the most offensive religion. The amount of attacks Satanists receive from Christians far outnumber all attacks from adherents of other religions. I've received hundreds upon hundreds of angry, offensive and aggressive emails from Christians... but I have yet to receive one from a Hindu or a Jew... etc. (2003 Feb 22: Now, I have actually had one from the Hare Krishnas).
Pagans, Pantheists and Atheists all have the same complaint: That Christianity is their only major aggressor. So to some extent non-Christian religions are seen as allies against a common foe, a numerically superior and infantile bully. The result is that Satanism and its imagery is overly reactionary to Christianity.
Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan, was an infamous critical thinker. One of his own criticisms of Satanism was that of insincere concocted nonconformity:
“A person devoid of special ability must work harder to become "special," which often results in an abrasive pretence of infallibility. Combine the overachiever's pseudo-specialty with his hauteur of infallibility, and all that's lacking to complete the profile of contemporary "cool" is freeze-dried nonconformity. If nonconformity is Satanism's strength, planned or put-on nonconformity is its greatest weakness. The predictable antics of heavy-handed "Satanists" are quite profitably exploited by non-Satanists.”
Another word of warning from the current High Priest of the Church of Satan strikes a similar tone, warning of those who think they're greater than they are and who represent Satanism, embarrassingly and badly:
“One of the dangers of Satanic philosophy is that it "puffs-up" some people, giving them over-inflated illusions of their own value to others. [...] These folks all take the notion that "You are your own God" and then assume that they are everyone else's God as well. And they forget, that all Gods are not of equal stature. [...] Satanism's championing of self-empowerment is used against Satanism itself when over-zealous amateurs decide that they have a mission to represent Satanism.”