"Although the poet attempts to make Satan appear to be the villain, he is actually the hero. He is willing to stand up and fight for his beliefs, and for the freedom of both himself and others, even those who fight against him. He cannot hope to win against the totalitarian might of God, but he is still willing to make the ultimate sacrifice solely for the sake of his conscience. Since we admire this spirit in great heroes like Nathan Hale, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, it seems both unfair and wrong to deny the same regard to their true intellectual and philosophical antecedent, Satan.
God, on the other hand, is an unfair dictator. He is uncaring, because he arbitrarily puts his Son in authority over all the other angels without regard for their feelings. He is undemocratic, because even though most of the angels agree with Satan’s position, he is unwilling to compromise. He is repressive and uncivilized, because he is willing to chain Satan to the Lake of Fire just because Satan disagrees with him. Unfair, uncaring, undemocratic, and uncivilized- it is impossible to reach any other conclusion than the correct one: that the God of Milton’s Paradise Lost is totally contrary to the spirit of the modern age.
Gods are supposed to represent the perfection of a society’s values. A god should strive to reflect the ideals of the people worshipping it, just as the people must strive to live up to those ideals. But the world of the seventeenth century is not the world of today. Although it is still a great epic poem, the twin lessons of Paradise Lost for the modern world are as follows: One, that only uncaring, undemocratic and intolerant people can worship the biblical god of the Old and New Testaments. And two, that anyone who values fairness, tolerance, democracy, and freedom, when presented with the choice between God and the Devil, would logically prefer to worship Satan."
- Christopher Lewis, The War in Heaven