Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Attention Theists: Prove Your Faith Like Abraham Did!

Are you a Christian? Muslim? Jew? Good, because I want to ask you a question.

Remember the old story about Abraham being commanded by God to kill his son in the land of Moriah? Remember how Abraham was about to faithfully commit infanticide on his own offspring in the name of God, but then at the last second God stopped him?

In the past I have explained that afterlife belief automatically bumps this material life to one's #2 priority slot. The same held true for Abraham, and was even inadvertently admitted by some theistic commenters on this very blog.

In the past I have shown that religiosity is common among mothers who kill their children. In fact, I started a club called the Offspring Murder Club, and its ranks are swelling fast with devout, God-fearing infanticidal mothers.

Now that a background has been established, let's get to the question asking. This is a thought/faith experiment. First, we acknowledge that you are an Abrahamic theist (Christian, Muslim, or Jew). Second we assume that you have a child (if you don't have one in real life, let's pretend that you do for the sake of argument). Third, let's imagine that God came to you and told you to sacrifice your child on the peak of the nearest mountain, a la Abraham at Moriah.

Of course, in the story, God stopped Abraham at the last minute and allowed Abraham to kill a ram instead. But Abraham didn't know that God would stop him. And more importantly, Abraham was about to carry out the infanticidal act with total faith and conviction.

So the question to you, dear theist, is: Would you do it?

Seriously! Don't dodge the question. According to your faith, God did it before, so put yourself in Abraham's shoes. This is a test of your faith and conviction. This is a test to see if you put God first in your life!

If God asked you to kill your child, would you do it with total faith and conviction? Would you pass the test as Abraham did?

(Thanks to Olly at 10,000 Reasons to Doubt the Fish for the inspiration for this challenge)

146 comments:

olly said...

Excellent post Aaron, I'm going to link you up, see if we can get some of the folks on my own Open Challenge to Theists over here discussing this one as well!

-olly

olly said...

Oh, and prediction: someone will say "God wouldn't do that", as well as some variation on the comment (from a Christian of course) "That's the Old Testament God, you aren't understanding Jesus".

I personally think that the Muslims of the world would be the most likely to say simply 'yes' to your challenge, since they seem to be much more devout (as twisted as that is) then Jews or Christians.

But those are just my opinions ;)

-olly

Aaron Kinney said...

Olly,

I agree on both points. But I am fully prepared to defend against question-duckers.

In fact, I can pre-empt it right now:

Theists: if you respond by saying "God wouldnt do that nowadays" or whatever, just save yourself the trouble, for I will merely reply with "well pretend you are Abraham himself. God DID ask him to do it. Would you do what he did in the Bible?"

And yes, I imagine that Muslims may be more likely to answer "yes" without beating around the bush. But that only allows me to issue a quicker condenation! :)

BlackSun said...

The short answer? Fuck no.

I had to play Abraham in a school play at around age 12, and I felt bad about it even then. None of the adults could answer my question about why 'god' would command such a thing.

I kept thinking someday I would understand. Now I do: someone dreamed up the most extreme anti-human example of a 'test,' and used it to show the lengths a truly faithful person should go to, to protect their faith. All other real-world faith-tests would pale in comparison. These monsters who wrote this trash clearly support the idea that killing your offspring for god is a good idea. Unless anyone believes a voice from the sky actually commanded Abraham?

That Abraham was spared his sordid task is immaterial. Abraham had already decided in his own mind to go through with it. I mean that was the lesson, right? That Abraham was willing, and that proved his faith! The idea that 'god' would be such a sadist in the first place makes the distinction meaningless. And apparently, it's been lost on people like Andrea Yates.

The whole story shows how cynical and ruthless these ancient scribes were. For sheer ideological brutality, Al Qaeda has nothing on them. Should we be surprised? Both ideologies are bad fruits from the same bad theistic tree.

Dan Someone said...

The problem is that it is easy to answer "yes," whether or not the person really would do it. Also, nobody can possibly know what their reaction would be to the situation you describe, so a "yes" may not even be a dishonest answer, but rather a hopeful one (in a twisted way -- "I hope my faith is so strong that I would unquestioningly follow instructions to kill my child.")

But the question raises an interesting thought in connection with the Offspring Murder Club -- if these mothers (and I assume there are some fathers in the club as well) actually believe that God is telling them to kill their children, do any of them do so on the assumption that God will put on the brakes at the last second as in the Abraham story? And what happens to their faith when the reprieve order doesn't come and they are left with nothing but their dead children?

gkru said...

Sure, God stopped Abraham at the last minute from killing Isaac, and Christians assert that this proves God really disapproves of human sacrifice. Then why did he, in a much later period of history, force Jephthah to sacrifice his daughter as a "burnt offering" even after Jephthah tried to get out of it? And if the mass burnings of witches and heretics during the Middle Ages weren't human sacrifices, what were they?

Dianne said...

Would I do it? No. Certainly not. Even if I were a believer, the answer would still be no. The Bible says it was god's test of Abraham. It doesn't say Abraham passed the test. God says, after the attempted sacrifice, Now I know you fear your God. This is usually taken as a sign of approval. I think it is a sad, disappointed statement, as in "Now I know that you do not yet have the courage to act morally in the face of your fear." And that's pretty much that for Abraham. God never tries to contact him again.

Colin said...

Diane's point would be valid except she forgot to include the next part:

"because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring [b] all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."

Sure sounds like approval to me.

storbakken said...

Alright. Let a believer speak. A Christian believer that is. If God the Father asked me to sacrifice my child I would know that it is not the true God because He has already offered His Son as the final sacrifice of atonement. Abraham offering his son is seen (by most, if not all, Christians) as a prophetic act. It was a shadow of God offering His son to die on the cross so that all might be saved through Him. Just like when the Hebrew people offered rams, bullocks, sheep, turtledoves and what have you as an offering of peace, thanksgiving, but mostly to atone for sin. In regards to Jephtah, he made an irrational vow to God to sacrifice whatever came out of his house when he returned home. It just so happened to be his daughter. He only ruled as a judge for six (or so) years after she is killed. Nothing more is heard from him. It doesn't seem (at least to me) that he made a good call by murdering her. And remember, just because it is in the Bible that doesn't mean that you should go out and do it. Look at how Job's wife and buds treated him. They provoked him rather than had mercy on his situation. More fire.

www.morefire.wordpress.com

JY said...

In the past I have explained that afterlife belief automatically bumps this material life to one's #2 priority slot. The same held true for Abraham...


Umm, AFAIK Abraham (or, more importantly, the Jews at the time this particular bit of the Torah was written) did not believe in an afterlife. So whatever the (putative) Abraham's reason was for being willing to sacrifice the life of his son, it wasn't because of a belief that a) if he didn't, he'd go to hell, or b) his son would be okay anyway, because he would go to heaven. Since I think the event is effectively fictional, I don't think there are any 'real' reasons (non-afterlife related) for his willingness to commit this act. But nevertheless it's possible to find examples of people without afterlife-belief who seem willing to commit heinous acts (such as suicide bombing). The Jews who wrote this bit of the Torah were probably trying to convey the ethical importance of obeying Yahweh, regardless of the consequences. To be righteous, you had to do what Yahweh demanded. It's hard to see what's in it for the individual here, but easy to see what's in it for the society (so long as the society has a bit of control over 'what Yahweh demands').

Peets said...

I agree with what Dan says.

My tendency to answer "yes" and kill my child is proportional to my grasp of God's supremeness. If God really invented the universe, if God really knows everything, and if God is the most amazing person ever, then, logically, who am I to disagree with Him? My importance is negligible compared to his; what I feel is therefore also unimportant compared to what he feels like.

But this 'logic' wouldn't convince me to kill my son. I'm not in God's shoes. My personal feelings and thoughts are what's important to me after all, why would I care about anyone else's? I could fear punishment, but let's ignore that for the moment.

My decision would end up being deciding who I love most and want to keep a good relationship with: either God or my son. If I don't kill my son, then God might be pissed off at me for doing the opposite of what he wanted, but at least I'd still have my son -and I would have just proved my love for him in a rather elegant way. Maybe over time God will be less pissed off at me and we can be friends again. And besides, if I kill my son, maybe God will say, "What? Are you heartless? How could you do that? If I tell you to jump off a bridge, will you do it?, " or something along those lines. So my answer would still be no.

But knowing, from experience, that God is actually a nice person and really goes out of his way to make humans happy -- that he even loves them -- would perhaps convince me that he knows what he's talking about. If I happen to think of this at the moment he asks me that question, then I can answer "yes", because I'll know that (a) the happiness that I can get from God is by far better than what I can get from my son, and (b) God is also nice and loving to my son; I don't understand why he'd want him killed, but hey, he said it, and he's God.

Of course I couldn't take this decision all by myself: the kid has a mom and friends... and his own word to say. But that I'd talk about with God when he'd come around to tell me to kill my son. In fact, I'd probably ask God to change his mind. But if he insisted, I'd reluctantly commit infanticide.

But that's easy for me to say... I have no kids. The decision would be _very_ heart-ripping. But in the end... God's greater.


Here's a suggestion: why not open the question to atheists also? What if you've never believed in God, and then, one day, he shows up to you and asks you to do such at thing? What would be your reaction?

Aaron Kinney said...

Storbakken,

Thank you for commenting! You are the first believer to chime in.

Let look at what you wrote:

Alright. Let a believer speak. A Christian believer that is. If God the Father asked me to sacrifice my child I would know that it is not the true God because He has already offered His Son as the final sacrifice of atonement.

This is question ducking, which Olly warned about in comment #2 and which i pre-empted in comment #3.

Storbakken,

Lets accept your objection that God would no longer ask for such a thing. In this case, lets pretend that you ARE Abraham himself, and God asked you to kill your first born son, and that you had no idea that he would stop you at the last second. Would you attempt to plunge the knife into your sons chest for your God?

Abraham offering his son is seen (by most, if not all, Christians) as a prophetic act. It was a shadow of God offering His son to die on the cross so that all might be saved through Him.

So what? Does this mean that you are saying that you would do it?

Just like when the Hebrew people offered rams, bullocks, sheep, turtledoves and what have you as an offering of peace, thanksgiving, but mostly to atone for sin.

Oh yea! Nothing says "peace" and "atonement" than slaughtering innocent animals! Even as an atheist, every time I want to right some wrongs, or show a message of peace, I smash a kitten! :P

In regards to Jephtah, he made an irrational vow to God to sacrifice whatever came out of his house when he returned home. It just so happened to be his daughter. He only ruled as a judge for six (or so) years after she is killed. Nothing more is heard from him. It doesn't seem (at least to me) that he made a good call by murdering her.

But did Abraham make a good call by trying to kill his son?

And remember, just because it is in the Bible that doesn't mean that you should go out and do it.

Yea, like just because the Bible says that Jesus is the son of God doesnt mean that you should believe it ;)

Look at how Job's wife and buds treated him. They provoked him rather than had mercy on his situation. More fire.

www.morefire.wordpress.com


Thanks for the link. Ill check it out.

I do hope you stop by again soon and answer my question rather than ducking it. Lets pretend that you are Abraham and you are back in the ancient times and God asks you to kill your first born son. Would you try to do it with total faith and conviction?

Dianne said...

Colin: Eh, you could be right. I had to look up the passage so I can't claim to be a great Biblical scholar. On the other hand, couldn't god be saying that he'll protect Abraham (and descendents) because Abraham has shown himself, by his failure to stand up to the sky-bully, to be a child in need of protection, not an adult ready to face the natural world?

Aaron Kinney said...

JY,

Thanks for stopping by!

Umm, AFAIK Abraham (or, more importantly, the Jews at the time this particular bit of the Torah was written) did not believe in an afterlife. So whatever the (putative) Abraham's reason was for being willing to sacrifice the life of his son, it wasn't because of a belief that a) if he didn't, he'd go to hell, or b) his son would be okay anyway, because he would go to heaven.

True. However, Abraham believed in a God (who people today believes exists in the afterlife dimension) and Abraham sacrificed the material existence of his son in favor of the immaterial existence of his God. So the priority claim that I made still holds true more or less, I think.

Since I think the event is effectively fictional, I don't think there are any 'real' reasons (non-afterlife related) for his willingness to commit this act.

So are you a Christian or not? And if you are, would you sacrifice your child if God commanded you to?

But nevertheless it's possible to find examples of people without afterlife-belief who seem willing to commit heinous acts (such as suicide bombing).

Can you provide an example of a suicide-bomber who did NOT believe in the afterlife? Ive never heard of such a thing. Even Japanese Kamikazes didnt believe that their conscious existence would be obliterated after smashing their Zeroes into US carrier decks.

The Jews who wrote this bit of the Torah were probably trying to convey the ethical importance of obeying Yahweh, regardless of the consequences. To be righteous, you had to do what Yahweh demanded. It's hard to see what's in it for the individual here, but easy to see what's in it for the society (so long as the society has a bit of control over 'what Yahweh demands').

So, again, do you believe in YHWH, and if you do, would you follow his command to kill your child?

For some reason I get the feeling you are an atheist, but Im not sure...

Aaron Kinney said...

Hi Peets!

I agree with what Dan says.

So do I. But its still a fun thought experiment, doncha think? :)


My tendency to answer "yes" and kill my child is proportional to my grasp of God's supremeness. If God really invented the universe, if God really knows everything, and if God is the most amazing person ever, then, logically, who am I to disagree with Him? My importance is negligible compared to his; what I feel is therefore also unimportant compared to what he feels like.

Are you a theist, or an atheist?

But this 'logic' wouldn't convince me to kill my son. I'm not in God's shoes. My personal feelings and thoughts are what's important to me after all, why would I care about anyone else's? I could fear punishment, but let's ignore that for the moment.

My decision would end up being deciding who I love most and want to keep a good relationship with: either God or my son. If I don't kill my son, then God might be pissed off at me for doing the opposite of what he wanted, but at least I'd still have my son -and I would have just proved my love for him in a rather elegant way. Maybe over time God will be less pissed off at me and we can be friends again.


Your implied decision to choose your son over your God is commendable, and humane, and moral. I am glad you answered this way. However, I doubt that God would get less pissed over time, and I bet that you would end up burning in Hell for your defiance, or at least suffering in some spiritual way. Maybe God would have your child killed off anyway to teach you a lesson? Hes killed before!

And besides, if I kill my son, maybe God will say, "What? Are you heartless? How could you do that? If I tell you to jump off a bridge, will you do it?, " or something along those lines. So my answer would still be no.

Again, good choice. Isnt it funny how easily God's immorality is exposed when experiments like this are brought up? Euthyphro dilemma to the core!

But knowing, from experience, that God is actually a nice person and really goes out of his way to make humans happy -- that he even loves them -- would perhaps convince me that he knows what he's talking about. If I happen to think of this at the moment he asks me that question, then I can answer "yes", because I'll know that (a) the happiness that I can get from God is by far better than what I can get from my son, and (b) God is also nice and loving to my son; I don't understand why he'd want him killed, but hey, he said it, and he's God.

Ouch! This looks kind of bad against you. If you were indeed to say "yes" to this question, do you think it would be fair for maybe child services to take your children away, and maybe lock you up so that you cant hurt their poor innocent selves? Its scary to think that you would willingly join the Offspring Murder Club!

Of course I couldn't take this decision all by myself: the kid has a mom and friends... and his own word to say.

Yea, like the kid is gonna say "kill me mommy/daddy! God said to do it! Im down!"

But that I'd talk about with God when he'd come around to tell me to kill my son. In fact, I'd probably ask God to change his mind. But if he insisted, I'd reluctantly commit infanticide.

Ouch again! If this is true, I daresay that you are an unfit parent. Indeed, faith decreases ones parenting ability in this instance, and furthermore, your faith would likely get you in trouble with the law, and clearly you would be skewered by the press and public opinion.

But that's easy for me to say... I have no kids. The decision would be _very_ heart-ripping. But in the end... God's greater.

Thank you for demonstrating your honesty, and showing that indeed you give primacy to God and the afterlife rather than this life. You know, the first step toward recovery is admitting that you have a problem ;)

Here's a suggestion: why not open the question to atheists also? What if you've never believed in God, and then, one day, he shows up to you and asks you to do such at thing? What would be your reaction?

Ahhhh, good question! Well if any atheists would like to answer the question (and some already have) then they are more than welcome to!

I am an atheist, but I used to believe in God. In fact, I was told the Abraham infanticide story by my grandparents when I was about 7 years old. Back when I was a Christian, I would most definitely have answered "yes" to this question.

But now that I am an atheist, and now that I know that I can morally condemn God if he did exist, I would most certainly answer "FUCK NO YOU EVIL ASSHOLE!" if God commanded me to kill my child.

BlackSun said...

Ouch! This looks kind of bad against you. If you were indeed to say "yes" to this question, do you think it would be fair for maybe child services to take your children away, and maybe lock you up so that you cant hurt their poor innocent selves? Its scary to think that you would willingly join the Offspring Murder Club!

rotflmao, Aaron, you are the master of debating with theists! I bow before you. ;-)

Aaron Kinney said...

LOL thanx Sean, Ive had lots of practice sharpening my claws at Christianforums.com back in the day...

JY said...


Can you provide an example of a suicide-bomber who did NOT believe in the afterlife? Ive never heard of such a thing. Even Japanese Kamikazes didnt believe that their conscious existence would be obliterated after smashing their Zeroes into US carrier decks.


I believe the book Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism by Robert A. Pape contains examples from the Tamil Tigers of suicide bombers. I've heard him interviewed (I haven't read the book) and he implied that the Tamil Tiger motivation for suicide bombing is not religious, and indeed that the Tamil Tiger's are atheistic. I know that they are Marxist-influenced, which suggests but doesn't imply no-afterlife-belief, but his (Pape's) statements in the interview indicated that these were indeed examples of atheist suicide bombers.

The interview is archived here:
http://www.onpointradio.org/shows/2005/07/20050713_a_main.asp

I haven't 're-listened' to prove to myself that I'm correct in my recollection, so YMMV.

It doesn't seem like an outrageous claim to suggest that an atheist would be a suicide bomber (whether or not there are documented cases). Sure, the standard reason we hear is that the suicide bomber does it in anticipation of reward in heaven (which explains at least his/her willingness to die). But certainly there have been plenty of atheists in history who have willingly sacrificed their lives for something. I imagine plenty of atheists would sacrifice their own lives to save their children, for instance. This implies that the atheist in question values the life of his/her child more than his/her own life. Perhaps an atheist might value the future of his country, for example, more than his own life. So it's certainly not absurd on its face that an atheist would kill themselves for a cause. And, of course, atheists as well as theists have been known from time to time to kill others for a cause. (Putting the two together, you get a suicide bomber).

say no to christ said...

As an atheist and a mother, my answer would be along the lines of Mr. Kenney's. Fuck NO! My kids come before any sky daddy! My kids are my number 1 priority and I would give my life for any one of them. Good parents and any one who understands genes, biology, and evolution, knows that your children are how you get your genes into the next generation and the most important thing in life is the survival of the species.

Cera said...

A really super awesome elderly Jew that I met on a flight once explained this story to me with a very different twist. In the story as he told it, Isaac was not a small child -- Isaac was a healthy, strapping Jewish shepherd-boy adolescent. His father Abraham, remember, was very old -- Isaac was the child of his father's old age.

The story according to AwesomeJew was that this test was more about Isaac's faith in God than it was about Abraham's fear of God. Isaac could easily have overpowered his father, saith AwesomeJew, and did not because of his supreme faith that God had a plan for him and would not ask for this sacrifice lightly.

Now -- please salt according to taste. But it was an interesting way to think of it.

I never liked "the fear of God" anyway.

Aaron Kinney said...

JY,

Thanks for the info. I suppose its not impossible for an atheist to be a suicide bomber, but it is quite obvious that an atheist would have less incentive to suicide-bomb than a theist.

In addition, there are University studies that show that religiosity is common among mothers who kill their children. Most mothers, even atheistic ones, would kill themselves rather than let their children die.

But a mother who believes in heaven (like Andrea Yates or any other Offspring Murder Club member) would obviously have less to fear about killing her child, or herself, than an atheist mother would.

So JY, do you believe in God? And if you do, would you kill your child if God told you to?

say no to christ said...

Jy

I dont think we are talking about self sacrifice, we are talking about infantcide. There is a BIG difference.

Aaron Kinney said...

Cera,

That is an interesting story. Too bad that none of these things regarding Isaac are stated in my versions of the OT. In my Bibles, the emphasis is clearly put on Abraham and his faith in God, not in Isaac's situation.

But Cera, are you a theist or an atheist? And if you are a theist, would you kill your child if God told you to?

JY said...

I know that I can morally condemn God if he did exist, I would most certainly answer "FUCK NO YOU EVIL ASSHOLE!" if God commanded me to kill my child.

hey - but this hypothetical impies, at the point of his telling you to commit murder, that you've accepted that he's real. Now, that doesn't necessarily imply that the afterlife is real. But let's assume, now that God's talking to you, and you're talking back, he's also convinced you that there's an afterlife. So maybe you shouldn't be morally condemning him. The value equation has changed: now you *know* (because you're now talking to God, despite being an atheist) that your child won't REALLY die -- your essentially just moving him from one place to another. If God commanded you to move your child from, say, Green Bay to San Francisco would you say he was being 'evil'? Maybe a bit overbearing, but not 'evil', surely (trust me, San Francisco is much nicer than Green Bay). Now that, in this scenario, you know there's a God, and you know there's an afterlife, the accusation of 'evil' (for this act) could be wrong.

Of course, you could just assume that, now that you are hearing voices or seeing visions, that you've gone nuts. Assuming you have your reason intact, if not your sensory apparatus. But then there'd be no reason to accuse God of being evil (i.e. why talk back if you think you're hallucinating).

If *I* started hearing voices and hearing visions, I wouldn't bother accusing those visions of anything, I'd get myself to a hospital.

JY said...


I dont think we are talking about self sacrifice, we are talking about infantcide. There is a BIG difference.


Actually, we're talking more specifically about killing one's *own* offspring, not infanticide in general. Sure, I imagine killing one's offspring is even more strongly selected against than killing oneself (especially in species who have relatively few offspring). But I'm willing to bet if social conditioning can cause one to value the group more than the self, it can cause one to value the group more than the offspring.

JY said...


In addition, there are University studies that show that religiosity is common among mothers who kill their children. Most mothers, even atheistic ones, would kill themselves rather than let their children die.


Religiosity is common in the population in general. Do you mean that religiosity is more common among mothers who kill their children than it is in the population in general?

Aaron Kinney said...

JY,

hey - but this hypothetical impies, at the point of his telling you to commit murder, that you've accepted that he's real.

Yes. For the sake of argument, I am assuming in this instance that he is real and that he is really talking to me.

Now, that doesn't necessarily imply that the afterlife is real. But let's assume, now that God's talking to you, and you're talking back, he's also convinced you that there's an afterlife. So maybe you shouldn't be morally condemning him.

Why shouldnt I morally condemn him? Just because I assume that he is real and that the afterlife exists doesnt mean that I have to believe that he is morally correct when he asks me to kill my child.

The value equation has changed: now you *know* (because you're now talking to God, despite being an atheist) that your child won't REALLY die -- your essentially just moving him from one place to another.

True, but either way, its not very good parenting to kill your child even if there is an afterlife, is it? And if I did come face to face with God, and beleived that he existed, then I would no longer be an atheist.

If God commanded you to move your child from, say, Green Bay to San Francisco would you say he was being 'evil'?

Not San Francisco. Thats a nice city; I lived there for 6 years. But say, Detroit? THAT would be EVIL! ;)

Maybe a bit overbearing, but not 'evil', surely (trust me, San Francisco is much nicer than Green Bay).

Oh I know that San Francisco is a nice place.

Now that, in this scenario, you know there's a God, and you know there's an afterlife, the accusation of 'evil' (for this act) could be wrong.

Perhaps. But it depends on the city. But anyway, this is about making the ultimate symbolic gesture. Do you choose to defy your child in the ultimate way, or defy God in the ultimate way? Do you kill your child, or destroy your obedience to God?

Of course, you could just assume that, now that you are hearing voices or seeing visions, that you've gone nuts. Assuming you have your reason intact, if not your sensory apparatus. But then there'd be no reason to accuse God of being evil (i.e. why talk back if you think you're hallucinating).

If *I* started hearing voices and hearing visions, I wouldn't bother accusing those visions of anything, I'd get myself to a hospital.


So are you an atheist, or a christian? JY, you keep talking about my faith and what I would do in this scenario. I have answered. But what about you? what is your answer?

You say that you would check yourself into a hospital. But that would assume that you wouldnt BELIEVE that God was talking to you, but that your mind was playing tricks on you.

Lets assume that God is real, and that he really is talking to you. Lets assume that your spouse and neighbors and even SCIENTISTS confirm that, indeed, Gods voice is directly and audibly addresing you. And then God commands you to plunge a knife into the chest of your child.

Would you do it?

Evan said...

now you *know* (because you're now talking to God, despite being an atheist) that your child won't REALLY die -- your essentially just moving him from one place to another.

I don't know that, though. I know some voice came to me and said "kill your son!" Ignoring the idea that it could be a delusion, I have no proof that there's an afterlife, that my son will go there, that I'll go there.

God proving his existance is step one, yes, and would remove my athiesm, but the next step is proving his benevolence; asking me to kill my child is frankly a bad way to start that process. I happen not to believe in god, but even if he existed it is unclear to me that he would be worthy of my worship or obedience.

Anonymous said...

Ah. How would I know for sure that the voice whispering these sweet infanticidal nothings in my ear was "God"? How did Abraham know it? How do we know that Abraham was not hallucinating or hearing voices? How does your local homeless mentally ill schizophrenic know he isn't hearing space aliens? How does any of the mentally ill preachers that "hear the word" know it?

Aaron Kinney said...

Evan and Anonymous,

Good points, but off topic. This post is about assuming, for the sake of argument, that God is real and is really talking to you, telling you to kill your child.

To veer off topic again, did you know that mental institutions have a very high percentage of prophets and self-proclaimed incarnations of God/Jesus? In fact, many nuthouses have to keep the Jesuses in seperate wards and rec areas so that they dont fight and argue with eachother.

Phunicular said...

Peets: Here's a suggestion: why not open the question to atheists also? What if you've never believed in God, and then, one day, he shows up to you and asks you to do such at thing? What would be your reaction?
As an atheist, the answer is very easy. After a lifetime (so far) of seeing no evidence of God, if I saw something claiming to be creator and master of everything and asking me to kill someone I love, then obedience to the demand is my very last option. I've seen people with delusions, so my first assumption would be that I was delusional. I know myself to be fallible, so I doubt my own perceptions. I would have to have completely lost all my ability to reason, all my empathy, all my humanity, before I could comply.

For those who would answer "yes" or even wish that they would have the faith to answer "yes", I'd like to know how they would respond to a follow-on hypothetical:

Suppose your God-fearing neighbour was seriously considering killing their child in obedience to a message from God. Despite your personal protestations and discussions doubting the source of the message, your neighbour's rock-solid faith has convinced them that it would be their moral obligation to obey. Would you do anything to stop them?

storbakken said...

hey Aaron,
Glad you enjoyed the video. In regards to offering sacrifices, it's actually a lot more like having a barbecue than smashing kittens. You obviously wouldn't eat the kittens after smashing them (at least I hope you wouldn't). All the offerings, except the sin offering was eaten by the priests and those making the sacrifices (as well as the Person the sacrifice was offered to). It was more of a communal get together than a barbaric act.

What I mean by the sacrifice of Isaac being a prophetic act is that it foreshadows God's sacrifice of His own Son. He never asked anyone to offer their son before or after Abraham. In regards to Jephtah, that was his own vow. It wasn't anything that God had asked him to do. And it can be inferred that it was a foolish vow because there is nothing more written about his life after he killed his daughter.

In regards to your last question, would I do what Abraham did in the days of the patriarchs in regards to willingly offering his son to God at His request. Tell me, if God spoke to you (God to man) would you obey or would you disregard the awesome power speaking to you? I hope that I would be willing to obey. It might sound sick by today's standards, but man I want to obey the most awesome Creative force ever. Everybody is obedient to something. Either you are obedient to your boss, your mama, the police (government), a teacher, a tradition, an ideology, or what have you. I can say that I am obedient to God. My faith is in His word. Even if I were suffering like Job or being persecuted like Christ and the early Christians, I can say that I have a Savior. And I am a servant of the Most High God. Who are you obedient to?

Thanks for the provocative question. And thanks for watching my grandpa tear a license plate in two. stop back any time. peace

Rob Cozzens said...

There was a time when I would have answered, "I hope my faith would be strong enough to do it, but I probably couldn't."

Now I would answer, "I hope my character would be strong enough not to be bullied into doing something clearly wrong no matter how powerful the bully happened to be."

Most Christian parents I know don't think they would be able to do it themselves, but they think it was admirable that Abraham was going to go through with it.

Evan said...

Aaron -

Please re-read my post. I said "Ignoring the idea that it could be a delusion..." - so I am operating from the assumption that yes, god appeared to me, and has somehow proven his existance beyond any reasonable doubt.

My question is: does god's existance demand my worship and obedience? My personal answer is no. In fact, I have thought for years that any god that would demand my worship renders himself unworthy of that worship, just as any person who demands complete worship and obedience shows himself to be unworthy of the same. I could respect only a god who would understand my lack of faith.

ckerst said...

Here's a suggestion: why not open the question to atheists also? What if you've never believed in God, and then, one day, he shows up to you and asks you to do such at thing? What would be your reaction?=================================
I would submit to psychiatric examination immediately, hopefully before my delusional state caused me to harm another person.

Drunken Tune said...

A few Christians have chimed in already, and a good deal of them have been ducking the question like mad. I took a more offensive version of this dilemma, when I asked here if Christians would kill me if God told them to, but the more I think about it, the more I prefer yours. It's short, straightforward, and utterly defeating. You're knocking them down like bowling pins, aaron. Keep it up!

Draracle said...

ok, I was going to write a massive post about the context of the situation... but I assume you have your own bible and are literate, if not, you should probably excuse yourself from the conversation. Suffice to say that if I knew God was telling me to kill my own son... I doubt I would. Not because I believe God to be wrong, but because I believe myself to be weak. Given a complete understand of who God is, and complete faith that God was telling me to do it... to suddenly claim I have a better understanding of ethics than God is the most self-righteous, stupid stunt anyone could pull. That being said, chances are, Abraham wasn't faces with a situation of zero doubt. If I have to explain the profound significance of killing his son... which is significant beyond simple murder... then go read. This wasn't a straight case of "who do you love more", or "what can I make you do, puppet". My guess is most of you fail to see the true significance of this sacrifice. Actually killing the child would have made God a liar. How is that for a "damn if you do, damned if you don't" situation? Don't follow God's command and claim that you have more knowledge of right and wrong than God OR do what God says and make Him out to be a liar, thus, unworthy of any attention. Yeah, go read. And ultimately God knew the child was never going to die but setup of a situation of impossible complexity (that if it is historically accurate, it alone could be taken as significant evidence for the existence of God) to test the faith of someone far beyond what most, if any, could bear. The goal was not to kill the child, or to get the father to the point of wanting to kill the child... the point was to prove a point. A point which was finalized over a thousand years later. Would I pass the test? Doubtful. Not because the test is flawed, but because my faith isn't strong enough. Any other answer would be self-righteous lying.

MJS said...

God did ask me to kill my kid but I voted for Gore instead. (rimshot!)

I am not a believer in the three-headed god of the middle east. Too bipolar, too petulant, too arbitrary, too needy, too violent, too egotistical, too oblivious, too pathological, too clueless, too tribal, too strangely dependent upon his creations for validation. If he really existed and asked me to kill my child I would say no--but if I was a believer back in 1,000 BCE I--whatever "I" means across the centuries--I wonder what the "I" that I think I am would have done. The "I" that I am today, with all of my cultural baggage, etc. would indeed just say no to god.

If such a god chose to reflect on his omniscience he would have already known my answer to his bloody request, which I would also have taken pains to point out. Omniscience cannot be hidden from by a god who would know that he was hiding from it, yes? To hold the mirror up to god and show him a fool trapped by his own "suchness" is the only way to get the old bugger to shape up!

+++

Anonymous said...

I think the most original and interesting take on the Abraham story I ever read is from Simmons' sci-fi novel "Hyperion". In it a jewish scholar has to make a similar decision. His take on the story is not that God was testing Abraham, but rather that Abraham was testing God. In effect Abraham said "If you make me go through with this, you are an evil, callous, capricious god and NOT worthy of my worship".

If God hadn't stopped him, Abraham would have walked away from God.

Of course, today the story has to be interrpreted in the context that there WAS child sacrifice in some communities at the time, so this was another way and another reason for the Isrealites to set themselves apart. Seems obvious to us today, but then again, our vice president thinks waterboarding is ok.

a visitor,
berek halfhand

Phunicular said...

Draracle said:
Suffice to say that if I knew God was telling me to kill my own son... I doubt I would. Not because I believe God to be wrong, but because I believe myself to be weak.
and
Would I pass the test? Doubtful. Not because the test is flawed, but because my faith isn't strong enough. Any other answer would be self-righteous lying.
DO you aspire to having sufficient faith to pass the test? Do you respect and honour those who do? Would you do anything to stop your more faithful neighbour from obeying God if they were to be tested?

Evan said...

Given a complete understand of who God is, and complete faith that God was telling me to do it... to suddenly claim I have a better understanding of ethics than God is the most self-righteous, stupid stunt anyone could pull.

Why? Just from the postulate that god is good, therefor what god commands is good? How do we know god is good? Am I not allowed to judge what he does? How do we know god is good? because he tells us so. Ah.

Kevin said...

I personally think that the Muslims of the world would be the most likely to say simply 'yes' to your challenge, since they seem to be much more devout (as twisted as that is) then Jews or Christians.

But those are just my opinions ;)


Well, I think your opinion here is ignorant nonsense. Have you spent much time around many "Muslims of the world"? A whole lot are pretty much as devout as your typical, average American: not very.

I spent a few years in a muslim sub-saharan country. Also time in rural Morocco. I certainly meet a good number of very devout muslims (go to mosque, pray, carry on about Mohammed, Allah, etc.), and they certainly talked about how all devout they were. So sure, they'd all say 'yes'. But even they really didn't seem any more devout in anything but show than your typical american born-again... they certainly didn't let Islam stop them from drinking, smoking, lying, cheating, or whatever else they felt like doing.

And the bigger point is that well over 90% of the people I lived with, my friends, collegues, students, etc., most of them went to mosque at the required times, maybe, or at least professed to going to mosque and being devout. And maybe many of them would say 'Yes' because that is the answer they know they are supposed to give. But see, they'd be lying. They'd even smile, giggle a little, if you asked such a question.

The imam tells them every week to do this and that, and that the Koran demands such and such. And do they do it? Even little stuff, like not eatin certain foods, praying at the right times, etc. Hell no. They might pretend to, at least in public. Course, they will still go on and on about how they are a good Muslim, and they do everything Allah commands.

wade419 said...

Hi Aaron! I don't want to dodge anything, so I'll cut to the chase and begin with my answer to your question instead of rationale:

I am a Christian, and no, I wouldn't kill my child if God asked me to.

Now that that's clear, I'll go into my explanation of where I'm coming from. I'm a college student, I've grown up in the church (albeit many different ones), and when I say that I am a Christian, I mean that I have accepted Jesus' sacrifice of His life so that I may bridge the gap between God and myself and be accepted into heaven. Allow me to make note of a certain part of that - the gap. I believe that all men and women fall short of God because of sin. I'm not perfect, and I don't believe anyone else on this earth at this time is, either.
Now, the church has instilled in me the desire to be like Abraham in this situation. I personally feel that given the same circumstances today or anytime, I would not be able to make the same move that Abe did. This is because I'm human! I've grown up with a human desire to be a father at some point (I believe God put that desire in me, but it is still a human desire as it is not specifically a yearning for God Himself). I don't think I would be able to overcome my fleshly wants and do what God asked me to do. I'm not proud of that. I know God isn't either. But when it came down to it, no matter what I filled my head with, I think my love for my own offspring would win out.
And you know what? That wouldn't be the first time that I'd pick something else over God. The flat-out truth is that I choose my way or material things or something else over God daily. A lot of times a day, in fact. To be honest, I think thats where a lot of Christians fail in explaining Christianity to others. It's not that we've found this light and now we can't do anything wrong. Not even close. And it's not that we have tapped into some reserve of strength and knowledge, either. We haven't. All Christians are still human, still make a bazillion mistakes a day, and none of us really know all that we are talking about. We can simply do our best with what we are given - and as a Christian, I am given eternal life and the guidance of the Holy Spirit within me (remember, it's only guidance - I still do tons of stuff wrong).
So coming back to the question, I believe that if God truly asked me to kill my child, that He would be looking for an earnest and faithful response of attempting to kill my child. It would not be my place to question the directive of an omnipotent and omniscient God. But I'd do it anyway. I'd outthink myself. I'd question and try to reason and try to bring a divine directive down to human terms, and then I would not be able to carry out God's order. The consequence of such would be God's disappointment, to be sure. But as I said, it would not be the first time that I had sinned. But such is the bittersweet reality of being a Christian - I continue to fail God, and He continues to be disappointed, but in the end He has secured a place for me in His Kingdom of Heaven. My sin has been paid for. Heh. Forgive me for being happy about that.

Please, respond however you want, tear me apart if you wish (or knock me down like a bowling pin, whatever). I do not claim to have any answers. I am an engineering undergrad and my experience with God has not been an ecceedingly academic one. But I can give you what I have learned and experienced so far. I may change my opinion. After all, I reserve the right to get smarter. I hope you do, too - I don't wanna sound "holier than thou" (that really pisses me off, to be honest), but the human race would be nowhere if no one ever changed their minds and learned anything.

Dave Whyte said...

If the Creator of the Universe, an infinitely powerful and infinitely wise being who could cast me into eternal hell with a snap of his fingers, came up to me and, addressing me personally, said: "Dave, kill your firstborn BECAUSE I'M FUCKING GOD AND I SAID SO"...I might just do it, perhaps moreso because I don't believe in God now and wouldn't have up until that very moment.

Draracle said...

"Why? Just from the postulate that god is good, therefor what god commands is good? How do we know god is good? Am I not allowed to judge what he does? How do we know god is good? because he tells us so."

Because those who know God, know Him to be good. Not that that really matters -- it is God and you are nothing. Abraham knew God, that was kind of his thing -- you should really have read this stuff before coming here. So when God asked Him to do something that if done would rip apart every notion of the Universe, Abraham acquiesced. Not because God was God, but because He knew God and trusted Him. So Abraham was will to enter a situation in which he saw now exit on the faith that God would provide an exit. Now this debate would ACTUALLY mean something if Abraham did kill his son -- but instead, many of you snipe from the side lines like you have read and studied the bible to the extent of most theologians. These questions are tossed around by people who can read the original Hebrew, are experts in Jewish history, and have spent decades with the "tough" questions -- Abraham and his son isn't one of the toughies. If the concepts of God were to fall apart based on the story of Abraham and his son, they would have done so a long time ago, and not on an internet blog. Either way, you postulate a question in which God is in existence and then question His actions. You have made little effort to understand God for yourself, you just believe that your ethical reasoning some how trumps God. Again, if Abraham HAD killed his son, we would have a different situation. But he didn't.

Phunicular said...

Ummm, draracle, please don't play the "you guys know nothing about religion" card (which really does sound defensive since you have no idea of the background of the people posting here). I'm familiar with divine command theory and why it doesn't work as a justification/definition of God's morality.

I'm also unconvinced by the "those who know God, know Him to be good" argument, because it relies on warm fuzzy feelings of trust. Should a criminal be acquitted based on the warm fuzzy claims of the accused's mother, who knows and loves and trusts her child and is sure that her child would not have committed any heinous act? Feelings are notoriously unreliable for deciding whom to trust.

The appeal to the omniscience of past Christian thinkers also holds little water. Just take a look at the number of traditions that have changed through the history of the church. Yes, these thinkers 'have spent decades with the "tough" questions' and the best they got with these tough questions are contorted elaborate un-disprovable stories that allow them to maintain their chosen positions. The questions haven't been put to bed, they've been left in the "it will all become clear when we see Jesus face to face" doghouse.

Do you aspire to having sufficient faith to pass the test? Do you respect and honour those who do? Would you do anything to stop your more faithful neighbour from obeying God if they were to be tested? Would you consider your God-fearing neighbour deluded if they tried to kill their child on God's command?

Anonymous said...

Let's unpack the hypothetical. First, the assumption is that Almighty God, the all-wise Creator of all else, tells you to do something.

If God himself commands something, who am I to argue? So, I "bite the bullet" and say if God Almighty commands something, He sees the beginning from the end, and I align my will with his.

Now, lesser minds will immediately bomb the hypothetical and begin comparisons to murderous mothers. So I'll just remind you to read the first two paragraphs again.

Further, the story of Abraham is internally consistent. God's command seems to be "the exception that proves the rule", i.e. God does not require us to sacrifice our children as the pagan nations were doing. This spoke to Abraham specifically who lived in such a world.

Secondly, God merely commanded Abraham to "offer Isaac as a sacrifice". Abraham took it seriously but also seemed to understand, in that he said "WE will return" (not just "me").

Thirdly, Abraham told his son that "God would supply the sacrifice".

Fourthly, this event contextually was special circumstances, parabolic in nature, and pointed forward to Christ.

KevinH

Evan said...

draracle -

"Those who know god know him to be good" is simply the no true scotsman fallacy; you're defining those who know god as those who agree with your definition of god.

In the challenge I'm answering, I don't know god, I don't claim to. I just met the guy, and he told me to kill my kid.

There is no reason I would treat or judge a revealed god any differently than I would any other sentient being; I would judge him on his actions. By this measure, god comes up pretty short on the "goodness" scale.

Phunicular said...

KevinH said:
Abraham took it seriously but also seemed to understand, in that he said "WE will return" (not just "me").

Thirdly, Abraham told his son that "God would supply the sacrifice".


So you're saying that Abraham's faith wasn't tested at all? If he knew that God would not require Isaac's death, then the whole epsisode was a charade. It was a wink-wink nudge-nudge sacrifice story full of wonderful dramatic irony. (It's a pity that the same irony wasn't employed when God told Moses to wipe out the Midianites -- men, women, children -- except for virgin girls, which were to be taken and shared out along with the rest of the booty... but I digress into snark land.)

Evan said...

Kevin -

If God himself commands something, who am I to argue?

I am myself. I have free will. That sort of obedience and trust is earned, and is not implicit.

God does not require us to sacrifice our children as the pagan nations were doing.

Except this one time. And the other times.

God merely commanded Abraham to "offer Isaac as a sacrifice". Abraham took it seriously but also seemed to understand, in that he said "WE will return" (not just "me").

So Abraham did not, in fact, prove his faith. He had no intention of sacrificing Isaac, but figured he should go through the motions to please god.

This event contextually was special circumstances, parabolic in nature, and pointed forward to Christ.

I don't even know what to do with this statement; do we dismiss all of the uncomfortable parts of the bible as "special circumstances?" By parabolic do you mean to suggest that it's not historical (a stance I would agree with) or that god did it because he needed a good story for that bit of the bible (which would back up the "god as asshole" point of view)? And trying to bring christ into a discussion of the old testament can't possibly end well.

The more people talk the more god sounds like a mafia don; demanding loyaly above all, and enforcing it through threats of violence. I ask you this: without invoking the "natural intrinsic goodness" of god, is there any way you can present him in a positive light that would engender true respect? I think not.

JY said...

JY, you keep talking about my faith and what I would do in this scenario. I have answered.

Ahh, but your answer doesn't make sense if you really accept that God is real. I mean, if you accept the 'standard model' of God, he/she/it is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good. So accepting God is real should probably mean accepting those things, so accusing God of being evil is logically incoherent. Of course, you could just accept that God exists but isn't omni-anything. So it matters what God-concept you are working with.


Just because I assume that he is real and that the afterlife exists doesnt mean that I have to believe that he is morally correct when he asks me to kill my child.


But, as I demonstrated with my example, if the afterlife is real, his command to kill your child is the moral equivalent of the command to send your kid to camp for the summer -- the big downside is you won't get to see your kid for a while. Of course, it depends on what model of the afterlife you're working with. I suppose you're hypothetical afterlife model might really suck, in which case, it would be like God commanding you to send your kid to a really bad summer camp, which might be evil. But let's assume that the afterlife is really nice. So God is commanding you to send your kid to a really nice summer camp for a while, and eventually you'll being joining your kid at the really nice summer camp. Why does that make God evil?

It seems like what you're trying to do here is tell people to imagine a hypothetical world, with fairies and Unicorns and afterlives and so on, and ask them what sort of moral choices they would make in that hypothetical world, and then snap them back in this world to examine those choices. Doesn't really make sense.

Evan said...

So from the christian viewpoint, there is nothing morally wrong with killing a child.

Great.

Draracle said...

Ok, now I making my point from the frame work you provided. The story of Abraham. If you wish to use a story "like" the story of Abraham, then say so. But in the story of Abraham, God was known and known to be good. So for the purposes of the discussion I can not see how that is a dismissable peice of info. But whatever.

"So Abraham did not, in fact, prove his faith. He had no intention of sacrificing Isaac, but figured he should go through the motions to please god. "

You still don't get it. Killing his son wasn't the test. Believe that he wouldn't kill his son inspite of all the evidence to the contrary and still following the request was the test. The test of faith was FAR greater than "kill the son".

"draracle, please don't play the "you guys know nothing about religion" card (which really does sound defensive since you have no idea of the background of the people posting here). I'm familiar with divine command theory and why it doesn't work as a justification/definition of God's morality."

First I never said you didn't understand religion (and this question has nothing to do with religion, so I don't know where that comes from), I was pointing out in that asking this question you exposed you ignorance as to what the test was actually about. If you have studied the context and the actual events you would see that the test was never about killing the son. As such, asking if I would kill my child is as logical as "would I dance the funky chicken". Know all you want about divine command theory... ask if I would kill my child and you obviously know little about the task Abraham was given.

Common people, I'm a theist and I could come up with better arguements against God's morality than this.

peter said...

Maybe Moriah wasn't very nice, and God thought death would be better. I've felt that way about some places. Anyway, the Big Man was just creating a precedent: a I was repeatedly told before I saw the light, God so loved the world he sent his own son to die on the cross for us. One for social services, I'd say.

Anonymous said...

KH>If God himself commands something, who am I to argue?

I am myself. I have free will. That sort of obedience and trust is earned, and is not implicit.

KH> Correct. You have free will. You can deny God. But the scenario asks if you would under the same circumstances as Abraham. And under those circumstances, it is explicit and the trust is already earned.


God does not require us to sacrifice our children as the pagan nations were doing.

Except this one time. And the other times.

KH> If you are not going to read what I wrote about the exception that proves the rule or give examples for your contention, there is no need for me to ineract.

God merely commanded Abraham to "offer Isaac as a sacrifice". Abraham took it seriously but also seemed to understand, in that he said "WE will return" (not just "me").

So Abraham did not, in fact, prove his faith. He had no intention of sacrificing Isaac, but figured he should go through the motions to please god.

KH> Yes, he proved his faith. To what extent he proved it is another issue.

This event contextually was special circumstances, parabolic in nature, and pointed forward to Christ.

I don't even know what to do with this statement; do we dismiss all of the uncomfortable parts of the bible as "special circumstances?" By parabolic do you mean to suggest that it's not historical (a stance I would agree with) or that god did it because he needed a good story for that bit of the bible (which would back up the "god as asshole" point of view)? And trying to bring christ into a discussion of the old testament can't possibly end well.

KH> "Uncomfortable" is subjective. And by parabolic I mean the episode was historical but served as a "teaching moment" for Abraham and all generations.

In any pursuit there are examples of what is normative and what is non-normative to varying degrees. So don't penalize the Bible.

As to Christ in the Old Testament, his prediction there is one of the proofs for his claims.

The more people talk the more god sounds like a mafia don; demanding loyaly above all, and enforcing it through threats of violence. I ask you this: without invoking the "natural intrinsic goodness" of god, is there any way you can present him in a positive light that would engender true respect? I think not.

KH> I'm dealing with the hypothetical presented. If you don't want to do that, please start another topic.

Kevin H

Anonymous said...

KH>Abraham took it seriously but also seemed to understand, in that he said "WE will return" (not just "me").

Thirdly, Abraham told his son that "God would supply the sacrifice".

So you're saying that Abraham's faith wasn't tested at all? If he knew that God would not require Isaac's death, then the whole epsisode was a charade. It was a wink-wink nudge-nudge sacrifice story full of wonderful dramatic irony.

KH> His faith was tested - to what degree is another topic. The event showed Abraham trusted God.




(It's a pity that the same irony wasn't employed when God told Moses to wipe out the Midianites -- men, women, children -- except for virgin girls, which were to be taken and shared out along with the rest of the booty... but I digress into snark land.)

KH> It is a digression and one you apparently don't understand if you think virgin girls could be used as objects for the pleasure of the Israelites.

As for the Amelekites, Midianites, Caananites, my first post applies. God judged the horror of pagan nations and he used the theocracy of Israel to do it.

Kevin

Draracle said...

There seems to be a problem with the understanding of the question and the Atheists' defence -- which has been riddled with inaccuracies and obvious ignorance regarding Abraham's test.

1) given the situation, we must assume all aspects of God which Abraham did. This includes the notion that God is good and just. To say, "prove it" or "that is just your opinion" is irrelavent. This is the situation you presented and the Theist will answer as such -- if you want to remove the knowledge of God as good and just, then don't use Abraham as the basis for the argument.

2) There seems to misunderstandings about the nature of this encounter. People seem to assume that God was advocating murder of children, which he might have been if he didn't know the future. Again, I am operating within the understanding of God in the Abrahamic tradition.

Second, people seem to think Abraham actually believed he would kill his son. This is the most obserd claim yet -- one, because the text doesn't support it and two, because if it did then this would be a test of God's existance, not Abraham's faith.

So to keep the arguement for continually digressing to "how do you know?" and "that is your opinion". We are given the narative of Abraham and will work within that frame work -- including all assumptions of God within that frame work. We know God can see the future, within said framework, and therefore it would be impossible to say that God intended any child to die. We know Abramham did not believe his son would die -- that WAS, after all, the test of faith. If Abraham believed his son was going to be killed by his own hand then there was no faith and he would have failed, and the narative says he passed. This is the most fundemental point in the narative -- so say otherwise to operate outside the conditions this "challenge" purposed.

Again, if you want to test the ethical nature of God, I can think of far better examples than this... this is just easy. I second Kevin's notion, start another topic... this one is at a deadend.

Evan said...

The challenge I'm responding to is this:

Here's a suggestion: why not open the question to atheists also? What if you've never believed in God, and then, one day, he shows up to you and asks you to do such at thing? What would be your reaction?

Nowhere does it imply that I am "under the same circumstances as Abraham." Basically your argument is I should answer "If I were Abraham and thought and reacted in the same way, what would I do?" then arguing that there's only one answer because you've defined it in the question. This is a trite and trivial answer to a trite and trivial question.

The real question is far more interesting; it asks what would the reaction of a life-long athiest be should he be proved conclusively wrong about the existance of god.

I'll ask you again: without invoking the "natural intrinsic goodness" of god, is there any way you can present him in a positive light that would engender true respect?

Anonymous said...

Nothing in the text of the Bible suggests that Abraham "didn't know" that God would not end up asking him to sacrifice his son. Indeed, the text is clearly ambiguous on Abraham's intentions. We are told only of his external actions, and even there we are only given the most basic, most generic details (cf. Eric Auerbach's "Odysseus' Scar"). This intentional ambiguity leaves a very fertile ground for many different interpretations.

One interpretive theory, a theory which has support from interpretations of other passages throughout Genesis and the rest of the Old Testament, suggests that Abraham understood that God is a god of reason, and in that sense Abraham, himself a reasonable man in so far as reason applies to the issue of human sacrifice, knew that God would in fact stop him from sacrificing his son before going through with it. I believe this interpretation, while not being exhaustively true, is true enough.

Draracle said...

@ Evan,

What was the test? Was the test that one would be willing to kill his own son? Hardly! If that was God's test of Abraham then God is a liar. If that was Abraham's understanding of the test then Abraham didn't have faith. The original post seems to have a fundimental misunderstanding of the passage and what was actually taking place -- hence my previous comments about people not knowing what they were talking about.

The test was this: Would Abraham trust that God would NOT allow the death of his son. Abraham's word suggests that he had faith in God and God's afirmation following the test suggests that Abraham passed the test.

So I don't see the argument. At what point did God think that Abraham's son would die? At what point did God want Abraham to think his son would die? At what point did Abraham think his son would die? At what point did Abraham's son die?

Again I say, there is a gross misunderstanding of this task.

If you still don't get it, I'll spell it out for you. But as I stated earily, we should expect at least a base level understanding of the test before we engage in the debate.

Anonymous said...

As an atheist (strong agnostic, anyway), if God came to me and said anything - much less kill your child - I would check myself in to a psychiatric hospital right away. I would hope that putative believers would do the same thing.

JY said...

Evan said:

So from the christian viewpoint, there is nothing morally wrong with killing a child.


Actually, I don't think that's true. But the question is, *should* there be something wrong, within the christian worldview, with killing one's own child. In other words, is there any logical coherence? Of course, the way the 'test' is set up, I guess there's not enough information to determine if the hypothetical situation mirrors the Christian worldview. I.e. it is provided as a given that God exists, but what isn't provided is the consequences of 'killing'. Heaven for the child? Hell? Oblivion? Depends? Unknown? A utilititarian (i.e. not a christian) answer to the question would take into account the consequences of the action: the reason murder is bad is because it deprives the victim of any future life . In the hypothetical world, the ground rules have been changed: murder *doesn't* deprive the victim of future life. It may change the quality of life, but the 'test' doesn't provide enough detail to know *how* quality of life would change.

Of course, for the christian, the ground rules haven't changed: moral conduct is supposed to be based on normative propositions that come from God ("Thou shalt not kill", etc.), not consequences. One of the basic normative propositions is: "Obey god". But, of course, that comes in direct conflict with "Thou shalt not kill", if God commands you to kill. There's no rule "Thou shalt use the more recent command from God when confronted with conflicting commands from God." (AFAIK)

Anonymous said...

It's a pity that the same irony wasn't employed when God told Moses to wipe out the Midianites -- men, women, children -- except for virgin girls, which were to be taken and shared out along with the rest of the booty... but I digress into snark land.)

KH> It is a digression and one you apparently don't understand if you think virgin girls could be used as objects for the pleasure of the Israelites.

***Why couldn't they have used virgin girls as objects of pleasure? The OT is filled with stories of concubines, slave girls, etc. Even if there was a prohibition on raping virgin captives - hard to see where that is, exactly - Israelites were constantly disobedient to God - even after seeing him part the Red Sea! So these guys, dripping with the gore from the 3 year old boys and women they've slaughtered, are going to be a bunch of right gents with their victims' sisters and children?
Nice God you've got there.

As for the Amelekites, Midianites, Caananites, my first post applies. God judged the horror of pagan nations and he used the theocracy of Israel to do it.

***And the horror was such that the children suckling at their mothers' breasts (and for that matter the draft animals) had to be killed. Excuse me if I'm not impressed by the morality of the God you worship. I just hope he doesn't decided that he isn't horrified by the immorality of American atheists and tell your theocracy to wipe us out.

Evan said...

That's the oddest interpretation I can imagine.

Gen 22:12 "And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only [son] from me."

If you're arguing that Abraham knew god would not allow the sacrifice to go through then this doesn't make sense. Would he have passed the test had he said "Eh, god, you don't really want me to do that."

Gen 22:2 "And he said, Take now thy son, thine only [son] Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of."

Fair to think Abraham thought his son would die here. The only evidence to the contrary is the fact that it makes god look pretty mean.

Gen 22:10 "And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son."

Sorry, was this supposed to read "took the knife to pretend to slay his son"? Don't think so. "Took the knife to slay his son".

Your argument, like those of so many apologists, is based on the fact that we humans do, in fact, have a moral sense that is seperate from notions of devine command; in order to keep claiming that god is good you have to come up with convoluted interpretations of a fairly straightforward story so god doesn't look like a bully. There's nothing in the story that supports your interpretation, only the fact that the straightforward one is (slightly) meaner than than yours. Are you arguing that Abraham would have stopped had god not stopped him? Interesting that he didn't step in to save Jephtha's daughter.

Even if your interpretation is right, however, it doesn't buy you much; god is still a bully who puts people through sadistic loyalty tests. Again, as an athiest, as one who does not automatically buy in to the god is good idea, it's hard to find something in the bible that would convince me otherwise.

jack said...

I'm curious how Christians react to modern day religiously-motivated child murders. I mean, the women generally say God told them to do it.

If you believe in God, and you believe that God talks to you, how do you know God didn't tell them to do it?

Evan said...

Of course, for the christian, the ground rules haven't changed: moral conduct is supposed to be based on normative propositions that come from God ("Thou shalt not kill", etc.), not consequences.

Very fair point.

It seems when you say the child just goes poof to heaven, the moral stricture "thou shalt not kill" feels weird, arbitrary, and vacuous. For me, as an athiest, you are denying that child the opportunity to live its finite life; "Thou shalt not kill" makes sense from that standpoint. If the kid goes to heaven, then eh, I won't 'coz god says don't. But I'm not really sure why he says that; it's as arbitrary as "thou shalt not wear blue on tuesdays."

But, of course, that comes in direct conflict with "Thou shalt not kill", if God commands you to kill. There's no rule "Thou shalt use the more recent command from God when confronted with conflicting commands from God."

Exactly; and the bible is riddled with these commands. Usually it seems it's interpreted as "thou shalt not kill except when I say you should" but that's rather inconsistent.

Draracle said...

Evan, you are grasping... and getting nothing.

What part of Gen 22:10 "And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son." includes anything about what Abraham thought would happen? You would probably have to understand the context to get this passage. If, at anytime, Abraham though that God would not intervene, that would be a break in faith. Would Abraham have stopped had God not stopped him? Impossible, if did not stop him, God would cease to exist. The whole point is that inspite of the fact that Abraham had placed his son on an alter, inspite of the fact that he had stretched out his hand, inspite of the fact that actually killing his son would break every promise that God have ever made to him, inspite of the fact that God had told him to got to this place and do this... Abraham still had faith. That was the test. Not if he was willing to kill his son. Not if God was a sadistic son of a bitch. The test was to strain every notion Abraham had of God, life, and the universe to the utmost it could be strained. And I could effectly argue (another day) that without such testing, such faith does not exist. Either way, at no point in time it God or Abraham think that the child's life was in ANY danger. God, because He knows the future. Abraham because he had faith in God's promise -- which if you knew the context, was that his son would live. So at what point does this get sadistic? The only possible time this could get close to sadism is if Abraham breaks faith and believes that he will actually kill his son. Then Abraham is believing a lie (because God knows the future)and his belief that God is a sadist is a fantasy.

I say again, THIS IS A HORRIBLE TEST OF GOD's ETHICS!! I can think of so many better examples of well God actually willed a death. This is whole argument is so completely lame. Trying to nail God (or a believer of God) on this story only shows that you fail to understand the concepts of faith and what this story is about.

Anonymous said...

It's a pity that the same irony wasn't employed when God told Moses to wipe out the Midianites -- men, women, children -- except for virgin girls, which were to be taken and shared out along with the rest of the booty... but I digress into snark land.)

KH> It is a digression and one you apparently don't understand if you think virgin girls could be used as objects for the pleasure of the Israelites.

***Why couldn't they have used virgin girls as objects of pleasure? The OT is filled with stories of concubines, slave girls, etc. Even if there was a prohibition on raping virgin captives - hard to see where that is, exactly - Israelites were constantly disobedient to God - even after seeing him part the Red Sea! So these guys, dripping with the gore from the 3 year old boys and women they've slaughtered, are going to be a bunch of right gents with their victims' sisters and children?
Nice God you've got there.


KH> What they would have done is a seperate question from what they were commanded to do. BTW, that the Bible records something does not mean it approves it.


As for the Amelekites, Midianites, Caananites, my first post applies. God judged the horror of pagan nations and he used the theocracy of Israel to do it.

***And the horror was such that the children suckling at their mothers' breasts (and for that matter the draft animals) had to be killed. Excuse me if I'm not impressed by the morality of the God you worship. I just hope he doesn't decided that he isn't horrified by the immorality of American atheists and tell your theocracy to wipe us out.

KH> First, you apparently don't have an objective standard of morality to begin with by which you can judge God or anyone else.

Second, history shows that women and children fled prior to the battle. Those who stayed were killed. In the judgement of God, detestable pagan nations were wiped out like a cancer.

Third, a good case can be made from the Old and New Testaments that children go to be with God upon death. Historically, for better or for worse, the fate of children has always been with their parents. These children in many cases were spared being burned alive by their parents.

Fourth, the theocracy of Israel is no longer in effect according to biblical theology and I am just as opposed as you are at the establishment of one. Let's hope Islamic or atheistic regimes don't get control. Both have histories as bad as any other religious atrocities.

KevinH

Evan said...

Draracle:

Laying aside the ridiculous notion that I am "grasping and getting nothing," your interpretation leaves the story empty.

God didn't think Isaac would be killed.
Abraham didn't think Isaac would be killed.
Isaac (for the sake of argument) didn't think he would be killed.

What's left? A happy family fieldtrip? If everyone knew from the start what the outcome would be, what has Abraham proved? You're basically saying that Abraham was tested in the same way an actress playing Lady Macbeth is tested; it becomes playacting. The story is only interesting, the test only compelling, if Abraham didn't know the outcome.

Answer my earlier question: Would he have passed the test had he just said "Eh, god, you don't really want me to do that." What is it, under your interpretation, about going through the motions that makes this a test of faith?

By the way, I know there are plenty of easier places to attack god's morality; this is the one we're discussing. The fact that it's not totally cut and dried makes it more interesting. Why do you want me to go after the low hanging fruit?

Draracle said...

"Answer my earlier question: Would he have passed the test had he just said "Eh, god, you don't really want me to do that." What is it, under your interpretation, about going through the motions that makes this a test of faith?"

What good would questioning God have done? God told him to do it. So he must do it. He chooses to follow the commands of God even though those commands seem to break all of God's promises to him. How is that not a test of faith? He isn't "going through the motions" he is proceeding with God's request inspite of everything that killing his son would mean about God. The easy way out would be, "No God, you don't mean it. You promised me this child and you promised me a nation from this child." But that isn't doing what God requested, is it? So Abraham would have broken faith. Yet Abraham knows that the death of his son would make God a liar. Therefore, if Abraham actually believed his son would die, Abraham would have broken faith in God's promises. But that isn't what the story says, is it? God says Abraham was faithful. Did Abraham know that his son wouldn't die? No. He had faith that his son wouldn't die. He had faith that inspite of is action to kill his own son, God would not break faith with His promises.

I can't think of a greater test of faith. The fact that Abraham could follow God's instructions to a "T" without doubting the promises God had made regarding his son.

What if Abraham had doubted that his son would live? Well then every promise God made would have been a lie and God would have proven untrustworthy. Why would Abraham proceed to kill his son after such a revelation? Simply put, he would do want you would do... not killed his son.

Abraham was given an impossible situation, commanded to kill his son, inspite of the promises made of his son. Dispite the impossibility, Abraham had faith that God would not let him down. Did he have proof? No. With the dagger raised, was there any proof that God would stop him? No. Did Abraham break faith and doubt any of the promises God had made? No. Did Abraham break faith and not follow God's request to kill his son? No. Did God let Him down on either count? No. What greater test of faith can you dream up?

Why was it nessessary? Well if Abraham simply said, "you don't actually mean it, but I would if you did." What does that prove? Nothing. Faith can not be stated, it can only be tested.

Evan said...

Ok, I'm starting to see your interpretation; I still don't feel that it paints god in a very good light, though. It still seems like a cruel and egotistical power move.

Draracle said...

Well I can agree that it might be cruel... but then that would be acknowledging that I wouldn't have believed God. Which is likely the case. Once one fails to believe God that everything will be ok, then God would seem very cruel. As long as one has faith, then God will be trusted and he doesn't come off as cruel at all. One's faith in God is hardly God's fault, unless you don't believe people have free will. Now it is cruel in that one might see the determination and testing of faith as unnessessary suffering. But from God's perspective, faith in Him is the ultimate goal and there for temporary trials are for the person's good. The bible makes many references to this fact.

As for egotistical, you would have to claim that God has an ego larger than it is worth. Being God, He can be as proud and demanding as He wants... one of those perks of infaliability. But even in the above light, that God was testing Abraham to strengthen his faith, it isn't really egotistical.

All in all, if you don't thoroughly understand the theory of faith and the testing of faith, God does come off as a pervert. I just believe there is a logical reason which doesn't include that idea. Which is why so many people who don't study scripture as much as others find this passage so difficult. Keep in mind, this is a traslation out of a very old language from a "book" that was written in an completely different culture. To simply impose our ideas of the current world on stuff written so long ago is illogical.

Anonymous said...

If Abraham were to have drawn back from slaying his son at even the very last minute (before being told to stop), it would have demonstrated that the notion of god he had maintained up until that point had not in fact been a god of reason but was no different than the irrational, human-sacrifice-demanding gods of his contemporaries. Think about it: if he had recoiled from slaying his son, it would have shown that all along he had thought it was in God's nature to demand human sacrifice (and to demand other things inconsistent with a rational, loving divine being).

The amazing thing about this story, from a lit-crit standpoint, is that so much of the "meat" of the narrative is contained in what is *not* said. Again, read Eric Auerbach's "Odysseus's Scar" to contrast the biblical story, from a lit-crit standpoint, from the epic tradition. I think it sheds light on what the story means.

DingoDave said...

Something that most Bible believers fail to realise, is that Abraham was instructed by his god to do far more than simply kill his son Isaac.
According to the story, he was instructed to sacrifice Isaac as a 'Burnt Offering'.
Mike Earl in his excellent book 'Bible Stories Your Parents Never Taught You', highlights the trully horrendous nature of God's request.
Please allow me to quote a small section of his book which discusses the true nature of God's order to Abraham.

"Leviticus chapter 1 describes a burnt offering as a gruesome ceremony that involves the rituallistic killing, dismemberment of certain animals....
To help you get a feel for what's really going on here, I want to read to you those verses in Leviticus that describe exactly how a burnt offering is to be performed.
But I'm going to paraphrase things just a bit by inserting, where appropriate, the names Abraham and Isaac.
I present the verses in this way to give you some idea of what Abraham was really up against. I use as my reference Leviticus 1, verses 4 through 9. They go something like this:

'Abraham is to lay his hand on the head of his son Isaac, and it will be accepted on Abraham's behalf to make atonement for him.
Abraham is to slaughter Isaac before the Lord.....then Abraham shall bring the blood of Isaac and sprinkle it against the alter on all sides....
Next Abraham is to skin Isaac and cut him into pieces.
Then Abraham is to arrange the pieces of Isaac's dismembered body, including Isaacs head and his fat on the burning wood that is on the alter.
Abraham shall then wash Isaac's inner parts and legs with water, and shall then burn all of Isaac his son, on the alter.
This is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.'

This is a burnt offering. This is what God was telling Abraham to do to his little boy!
That God would order his people to perform this ghastly ritual on animals is bad enough.
That he would order a man to perform it on one of his children is, morally speaking, simply off the charts."

Should we nominate Abraham for 'Father of the Year', or should we also nominate Abraham's 'heavenly father' as well, and make it a joint nomination?

Anonymous said...

I am an ex-Christian and ex-missionary. The beginning of the end for me was after the birth of my first child. While re-reading the story of Abraham and Isaac, I knew without equivocation that noone and nothing could ever induce me to harm or betray my child. God was OUT.

Aaron Kinney said...

Storbakken,

What I mean by the sacrifice of Isaac being a prophetic act is that it foreshadows God's sacrifice of His own Son.

I dont think that is very analogous. Abrahams son didnt actually get sacrificed, while Jesus did. In addition, many Christians blame humanity for killing Christ, not God, yet you are claiming the opposite. If God is truly responsible for killing Jesus, who is himself, then wasnt that really a suicide?

Can a Christian go to heaven if he kills himself in a sacrifice-suicide act?

In regards to your last question, would I do what Abraham did in the days of the patriarchs in regards to willingly offering his son to God at His request. Tell me, if God spoke to you (God to man) would you obey or would you disregard the awesome power speaking to you? I hope that I would be willing to obey.

So you admit it! Thank you.

It might sound sick by today's standards, but man I want to obey the most awesome Creative force ever.

Actually, I think it is sick to all standards of human morality at all times, regarldess of whether a particular culture recognizes it.

I can say that I am obedient to God. My faith is in His word. Even if I were suffering like Job or being persecuted like Christ and the early Christians, I can say that I have a Savior. And I am a servant of the Most High God.

You sure are obedient! And clearly you will sacrifice just about anything and anyone to appease an all-powerful creator being who logically shouldnt need anyhing in the first place.

Tell me Storbakken, if you were Abraham, and you committed attempted murder on your son according to Gods command, and then the local (human) authorities imprisoned or executed you for attempted murder, would you consider your persecution by the local authorities to be just, or unjust?

Who are you obedient to?

Me and my values. I am my own master. I am not a slave to any conscious entity, especially not a cosmic big brother in the sky who doesnt actually exist.

Thanks for the provocative question. And thanks for watching my grandpa tear a license plate in two. stop back any time. peace

You are very welcome, and thank you for your honest reply. I hope you stop by again soon! :)

Aaron Kinney said...

Draracle,

Suffice to say that if I knew God was telling me to kill my own son... I doubt I would.

Hooray! So you are a decent moral human being after all :)

Would you still balk at killing your own son even if it meant going to Hell? Given what I know now about morality, I think I would balk even if I believed in God.

Not because I believe God to be wrong, but because I believe myself to be weak.

Oooooh, that cant be good for your self esteem. I guess Andrea Yates and Dena Schlosser are stronger people than you and I, eh? Do you think they should be acquitted by reason of "strong and true faith"?

The goal was not to kill the child, or to get the father to the point of wanting to kill the child... the point was to prove a point.

Yes I am well aware of this. It was a test of Abrahams faith. It was a test of his ability to submit to authority, no matter what. It was a test of the master-slave moral system that God had implemented.

I dont think that this scenario has as much to do with "damned if you do, damned if you dont," but rather the Euthyphyro dilemma. In addition, it is a test to see if you are a better parent, or a better sheep. Dont you agree?

Thank you for your honest answer Draracle. I admire your ability to let your parental instincts take precedence over your faith.

Aaron Kinney said...

Berek Halfhand,

...His take on the story is not that God was testing Abraham, but rather that Abraham was testing God. In effect Abraham said "If you make me go through with this, you are an evil, callous, capricious god and NOT worthy of my worship".

Ahhh, so maybe when God sent some she-bears to rip up 42 children, he finally qualified for the "not worthy of my worship" label?

If God hadn't stopped him, Abraham would have walked away from God.

Since God had later on not stopped various children from dying, and even commanded the death of disrespectful children in later chapters of the Old Testament, would you say that it is just for you, or me, or anyone else in the past (after Abrahams life) to have "walked away from God"?

And finally Berek Halfhand, would you have attempted to kill your child if you were in Abrahams shoes, or would you have balked?

Aaron Kinney said...

Wade419,

Your name looks familiar. Have I seen you around the blogosphere before?

Hi Aaron! I don't want to dodge anything, so I'll cut to the chase and begin with my answer to your question instead of rationale:

I am a Christian, and no, I wouldn't kill my child if God asked me to.


Excellent!

Now, the church has instilled in me the desire to be like Abraham in this situation. I personally feel that given the same circumstances today or anytime, I would not be able to make the same move that Abe did. This is because I'm human! I've grown up with a human desire to be a father at some point (I believe God put that desire in me, but it is still a human desire as it is not specifically a yearning for God Himself). I don't think I would be able to overcome my fleshly wants and do what God asked me to do. I'm not proud of that. I know God isn't either. But when it came down to it, no matter what I filled my head with, I think my love for my own offspring would win out.

News flash Wade419: refusing to kill your child is nothing to be ashamed about! You should be prouid of it, because it means that you would be a good parent! A better parent than Abraham at any rate.

Incidentally, wasnt Abraham human, and a sinner as well? Just like you?

And you know what? That wouldn't be the first time that I'd pick something else over God. The flat-out truth is that I choose my way or material things or something else over God daily. A lot of times a day, in fact.

But of course! This, too, is something you should be proud of, not ashamed of. God doesnt need you to deny your own values for His benefit, hes omni-everything!

So coming back to the question, I believe that if God truly asked me to kill my child, that He would be looking for an earnest and faithful response of attempting to kill my child. It would not be my place to question the directive of an omnipotent and omniscient God. But I'd do it anyway. I'd outthink myself.

Thinking for yourself is also something to be proud of, not ashamed of.

I continue to fail God, and He continues to be disappointed, but in the end He has secured a place for me in His Kingdom of Heaven. My sin has been paid for. Heh. Forgive me for being happy about that.

Incidentally, what do you think of the logic behind God committing suicide on the cross in order to circumvent his own rules in a "two wrongs make a right" redemption scenario? Youre HAPPY about that? LOL ;)

Please, respond however you want, tear me apart if you wish (or knock me down like a bowling pin, whatever).

He he. I dont think Im doing that to you, but merely exploring these issues of faith when they conflict with legitimate human desires (like the survival of ones own children!). And I must say that I very much appreciat your thoughtful reply. I hope to see you at my blog again soon :)

Aaron Kinney said...

I would also like to take a moment to say that Evan has been arguing the theological and moral implications of this scenario very well.

Bravo to Evan! :)

Phunicular said...

Draracle: ... ask if I would kill my child and you obviously know little about the task Abraham was given.
Draracle: Trying to nail God (or a believer of God) on this story only shows that you fail to understand the concepts of faith and what this story is about.

You're still keen to play the "you guys don't understand" card. You place a particular harmonization on the story, constructed on a premise of God=good by definition, which only works for those who want it to be true to start with. It stands on a foundation of circular logic and wishful thinking. Then you look down on anyone who doesn't think that harmonization makes sense. It doesn't matter how many scholars adopt the same position if they all start with similar motivations and similar preconceptions. Failure to agree on underlying assumptions doesn't imply failure to understand an interpretation constructed on them. I'm sure you could present your arguments without condescension if you wanted to.

Ok, let's assume for the sake of the argument that Abraham was just being obedient to the letter, and he knew all along that God wouldn't require him to complete the bloody infanticide. Abraham still went through the motions as an act of faith. Would you go through those motions (knowing through "faith" in God's ultimate goodness)?

And, how would you interpret the actions of someone else going through those motions? Does a religious person have the right to give all the outward appearances of committing an immoral act? Do they get a free pass because the voice in their head has convinced them, or should you assume they are deluded?

Draracle said...

Aaron,
Way to address why I wouldn't complete the task?!? What the fuck where you reading? Can I give you an "RTFA"? You didn't even address the ideas of faith and the impossibility of God being the "monster". I would go over it... but I did already. So.... try again.

Phunicular,
You really need to rtfa. I ignored the whole premise of "god is good" in my argument: despite of the fact that Abraham believed it, so it is relevant to the argument. The rest of your post has nothing to do with anything... besides something that was never in the argument I present. You just seem to be captain dogma. Read the post again. Hint: I argue that completion of the act of infanticide (horrible misnomer, Issac wasn't an infant... but points for trying to play heart strings) or merely the belief that infanticide would take place is a break in the existence of God or the break if faith of Abraham. As the end of the story ends with the child alive and God commending Abraham's faith -- neither God nor Abraham believed at any moment that the child would actually die. So as a question of God's ethics or God as a monster, the story of Abraham and Issac is a horrible basis. As for the "you guys don't understand", based on your ability to answer my post without address anything I said.... my claim still stands.

olly said...

"As the end of the story ends with the child alive and God commending Abraham's faith -- neither God nor Abraham believed at any moment that the child would actually die."

Now, God obviously had his intentions here, so I'll buy that he didn't belive the child would die... after all, he was in control of the situation according to the story. But I'd like to see some biblical references that show that Abraham believed the child wouldn't die, because that's quite contrary to most scholars reading. And if Abraham DIDN'T believe that Isaac was going to die, two points are raised:

1.) What the hell was the point of it? If Abraham truly believed that Isaac was fine, then there was no lesson involved, and it's a pretty shitty test of faith.

2.) If Abraham was sure that God wouldn't kill Isaac, why would God commend Abraham so much for not doing it? God supposedly knows his whats in everyones heart, so he had to know that Abraham knew that Isaac wouldn't die. So why would God congratulate Abraham afterward? That's like a referee of a football match deciding ahead of time that one team was going to win (Ahem, Seahawks vs. Steelers anyone??), and then congratulating the winning team. The only motivation at that point would be to put on a show to fool someone else.

The only way that the story carries any moral weight whatsoever is if Abraham didn't have any idea whether God would stop him or not. The only way it matters, other than a non-moral story told in passing, was if there was a chance that Isaac would die.

Otherwise it's just cheap theatre.

-olly

Phunicular said...

Draracle: Given a complete understand of who God is, and complete faith that God was telling me to do it...to suddenly claim I have a better understanding of ethics than God is the most self-righteous, stupid stunt anyone could pull.
Draracle: Because those who know God, know Him to be good. Not that that really matters -- it is God and you are nothing.
Draracle: Either way, you postulate a question in which God is in existence and then question His actions. You have made little effort to understand God for yourself, you just believe that your ethical reasoning some how trumps God.

Each of your comments seem to be underpinned by the assumption that if God exists, then His morality is beyond question. Permit me to disagree. I raised the subject of divine command theory in an attempt to point out what seems to be guiding your interpretation of the story.

Draracle: 1) given the situation, we must assume all aspects of God which Abraham did. This includes the notion that God is good and just.
... if you want to remove the knowledge of God as good and just, then don't use Abraham as the basis for the argument.
...We are given the narative of Abraham and will work within that frame work -- including all assumptions of God within that frame work.


No. This is where I think you're trying to answer a different question from what was asked in the hypothetical. The whole point of the question is to place yourself in a situation where God demands something that is against your moral convictions and desires. To claim that one must adopt all Abraham's convictions about the nature of God is getting too close to asking What Would Abraham Do? (And that's not an interesting question, since the story gives an answer.)

Draracle: Would Abraham have stopped had God not stopped him? Impossible, if did not stop him, God would cease to exist.
Draracle: ...inspite of the fact that actually killing his son would break every promise that God have ever made to him...
These are examples of where your presuppositions are resulting in interpretations that are unsupported by analysis.
"Impossible"? "cease to exist"? God, as you envisage him may have ceased to exist. Is God not allowed to break from the image you've constructed?
"break every promise"? If we're to believe the writer of Hebrews (11:19) killing Isaac would not have broken any promises, since Abraham believed that God could raise the dead.

Draracle: The rest of your post has nothing to do with anything... besides something that was never in the argument I present.
You're quite right. It was an attempt to get you to answer a separate question, reframed based on your interpretation of the story rather than what you consider to be a flawed interpretation. I have no problems with you deciding not to if you really don't want to. I was also hoping to extend the question to discover your feelings about faith vs delusion in other people. It touches on the difference between knowing something to be true and being convinced of something. Again, there is no obligation for you to answer.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Hey Aaron:
Here's an interesting tidbit - I did a big post on ole Honest Abe: http://biblioblography.blogspot.com/2006/03/dishonest-abe-drifter-grifter-con-man.html
& y'see, there's a major, MAJOR problem w/the whole 'child sacrifice' scenario, & I quote:
Gen 17:19 "And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, [and] with his seed after him."
Which to me sounds like a promise that the kid's gonna not only live to adulthood, but squeeze out some squirts as well.
Maybe ole Abe had a psychotic break due to opium ingestion, or something? ;)

Draracle said...

Olly, if you read my above postings, I explain why, if Abraham had believed that his child would die, it would have been a break in Abraham's faith.

Phunicular,
rtfa, again. I didn't say God was above question. I said that doubting was an absence of faith. Impossible if God then ends the story with accolades of Abraham's faith.

rtfa, again! holy crap dude. My point was not that it was against moral convictions. My point was that if Abraham never believed his child would be kill and that he would never actually kill the child, what moral convictions has he violate?

Ok, finally a relevant point! Impossible, because God was faithful to his promises. If God turn out to be a liar, who the fuck cares about this story? Abraham would have abandoned God and we would not be discussing this. Did Abraham believe God could raise the dead? Probably. You are using the ideas of the writer of Hebrews to prove a point? I thought you wanted to debate this without the notions of Abraham? Now, because it suits you, you can suddenly bring in what the author of Hebrew's thought Abraham thought? I hardly think the speculation of the author of Hebrews has any bearing on this argument. In much the same way you don't believe Abraham's speculation of God's goodness has anything to do with the argument. If you can demonstrate that Abraham actually though God would raise his child from the dead... then you might be on to something... Right now you are just giving God attributes which have no basis in the argument.

My answer, based on my understanding of this story, I have all ready given. I probably wouldn't follow the command. Mainly because in the situation I doubt I would have enough faith. Don't forget that Abraham was considered one of God's most faithful friends, to assume I would equal is faith would be a lie. That being said, the implied immorality of God in the original question does not exist in my interpretation of the story. Therefore, even if I was to answer "yes, I would carry out the command", I would not be caught in the logical trap which the poster obviously intended to set.

If you want a real logic trap. I can give you one. But this isn't one.

Draracle said...

Actually, to be fair, would the OP be willing to allow me to offer a open challenge to the Atheists? Defend your Atheism, as you ask others to defend their theism? No doubt you will find the defense harder than the offense, but I gave it my best shot and many of you seem fully confident that god is an illogical concept.

Robert O'Brien said...

Good parents and any one who understands genes, biology, and evolution, knows that your children are how you get your genes into the next generation and the most important thing in life is the survival of the species.

It is not about perpetuating your genes; it is about protecting those you love. (I think you are a little punch-drunk on Dawkins.)

Phunicular said...

Draracle, you're still not allowing anyone to have any other interpretation but yours, e.g.
Draracle: Impossible, because God was faithful to his promises. If God turn out to be a liar, who the fuck cares about this story? Abraham would have abandoned God and we would not be discussing this.
You're the one claiming that God was faithful. That's an opinion that you hold, but can't expect us to swallow without question. You further claim that Abraham would have abandoned God if God wasn't faithful. That assertion has no basis anywhere in scripture. It suits your construction based on very sparse descriptions of Abraham.

The only reason I raised the Hebrews quote (which you'll note I included with due skepticism) was to point out to you that what you claim to be "impossible" is not held by all Christian commenters. I'm trying to stop you putting unsubstantiated thoughts into Abraham's head. The writer to the Hebrews was merely a convenient example and one which some Christians would take seriously, you know, being "inspired" and all. (As far as I'm concerned neither the NT nor the OT give me any reason to accept their veracity, much less their inspiration as divine messages.)

Draracle said...

Phunicular,
I agree that you don't have to agree with my interpretation -- that is your prerogative. What I see is the complete lack of willingness of people here to accept my perfectly plausible narrative -- even when I discount certain attributes which are essential to the understanding of the Jewish God. So I find myself engaging in this debate with people who propose a situation about Abraham and his God, in an obvious attempt to say that this narrative contrary to the nature of God which people say they worship. Then, absurdities or absurdities, the same people then deny my the ability to argue from understanding of God which I believe Abraham had! Especially the ideas of underlying motive, which are of far greater importance to the Hebrew God that surface action (not always, but there is much indication of this throughout the bible). To dismiss the arguments as "substantiated" is very ironic, coming from one who believes the whole concept of God is unsubstantiated and therefore could consider any argument I make as such. As for Abraham abandoning God, I based that out of an over arching theory of God which has be developed throughout my time studying theology. However, if I was to say that "if God lied, He would never have existed" (which actually I think I did, earlier) you would probably find that notion incredibly confusing. Explaining that concept would require a lot more discussion as the nature of God. The idea that Abraham would abandon God is simply a fairly unbiased guess. The dude had is whole life ruined by this "God". Why would he continue to follow him? He would be an idiot to follow a sadistic, lying god. A God who keeps his promises and makes Abraham one of the greatest patriarchs of all history -- that isn't such a bad God to hang out with.

Base point: the OP and others here intended the question to be a logical trap. I don't bite, but I wade in anyway. Why? One, because I believe if you have a faith that is true, it should be defensible. And two, because I love seeing what the best atheist arguments are -- unless you are willing to hold your beliefs up to the furnace to test their purity, your beliefs are worthless. (which is why I suggested an open challenge to the atheists, if the OP will allow) Props to Evan for at least admitting my viewpoint was plausible, and although he still thought it looked like god was being a meanie -- it was possible that he wasn't. But many of you simply redefined the rules of the argument. Abraham's understanding of God is completely relevant to all but the most absolutist understanding of ethics, and I would be very surprised if an Atheist called her/himself an moral absolutists. I have no problem giving out a Theistic view in an Atheistic blog -- I would just hope that when defending my beliefs or my understanding of God the others in the discussion would not dismiss the very ideas I have about God simply because they aren't shared. Yes, if you take enough of God's attributes away, He becomes a cold, heartless, bastard. But technically, if Abraham really did this... they you believe he is psychotic. Anyway, you have the right to your beliefs, but when a theistic trap is set and I don't fall immediately into it, I don't think removing understands of God etc. to reset the trap is the right way to proceed.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the hypothetical has become reality....



KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- A Tennessee man who tried to strangle his 2-year-old son in what
he said was a sacrifice to God has been sentenced to probation requiring mental
health treatment.

In a deal with prosecutors, Jason Thorbon, 34, of Knoxville pleaded guilty to
attempted second-degree murder in the January 2005 incident in which his wife
wrestled their son from his grasp.

Both prosecution and defense expert witnesses agreed Thorbon was legally insane at
the time.

Jennifer Thorbon testified that her husband had battled mental illness for years.

She said he would become psychotic and start "talking about God and Jesus and
religion."




berek halfhand

Evan said...

A note to everyone on both sides:

This is a good discussion, with potential to be interesting and entertaining. We're not going to change any minds; I'll still be an atheist, Draracle will still be a theist. But he's right that his interpretation does, in fact, from a narrative standpoint, have interesting consequences that take a little mind bending to get at.

I also think my points have merit ;)

So I urge everyone to read carefully, actually try to see where the other is coming from, and respond thoughtfully and respectfully.

I think the crux here is the "faith" thing (duh). I, as an atheist, am always wondering where the hook is that is supposed to draw me in. But I think there is no hook. I am not the target audience of these stories.

So, atheists, I urge you to truly try to understand the theist arguments; complete understanding is not possible, but a glimmer is. Try postulating the existance of god, and reread it. And theists, I urge you to try to imagine hearing these stories for the very first time without the postulate of god.

Playing gotcha is fun, but not particularly constructive. We have people on both sides here who are willing to discuss, let's do it, but let's keep it civil.

Evan said...

As long as we're postulating, and in reference to berek's sad story:

Assume god exists.
Assume god does speak to people.
Assume people do have psychotic delusions.

I assert: There is no way to distinguish between someone who has truly been spoken to by god and someone who is having psychotic delusions, for either the person recieving the messages or an outside observer.

For the sake of argument, let's not use the killing thing (which would just devolve into "god's morality" arguments). Start with an amoral devine(?) command. If god tells me to buy a bicycle, I assert I cannot distinguish between that and myself going mad.

olly said...

"Actually, to be fair, would the OP be willing to allow me to offer a open challenge to the Atheists? Defend your Atheism, as you ask others to defend their theism? No doubt you will find the defense harder than the offense, but I gave it my best shot and many of you seem fully confident that god is an illogical concept. "

Draracle: I'll post up a challenge that you write to Atheists at my blog, if you'd like. Or you could start your own blog, and post it there, which would be preferable :).

-olly

olly said...

OH, and you can find my email address at Doubting the Fish, down at the bottom of the right hand column. Email me the challenge you have for atheists... if I'm gonna host it, I get first crack at it ;)

-olly

Draracle said...

Great post Evan. I totally agree.

I will admit that is probably easier for me to imagine no god than an atheist to imagine there is a god, but that is just the nature of the debate.

First, there is much in Theology which must be taken on "faith". In the Christian tradition there is a concept of a trinity, which I am sure many of you have heard of. It is a logical impossibility (for a human) to exist in a "trinity". The concept of the trinity is never once mentioned or discribed in the entire bible and was largely formed after every book in the bible had already been written. It is, however, an extrapolation of what is discribed in the bible. The faith in the trinity isn't carelessly placed, I assure you, but the argument building to that conclusion isn't a short one either.

Draracle said...

cont'

To assume we could engage in a debate about the validity of the trinity, for example, would require a serious amount of effort and grace on both sides. To simply postulate the existence of the Trinity would result in a huge impase because the of host of supporting arguments and assumptions required to reach the necessity of the trinity.

Olly, I will email you later... I'm at work and busy as hell.

Aaron Kinney said...

Draracle,

I am fully aware of your "You didn't even address the ideas of faith and the impossibility of God being the "monster"." stuff, and I did address it. On the contrary, it seems that you didnt notice my mention of the Euthyphyro dillema. This is underscored by Phunicular's pointing out that "Each of your comments seem to be underpinned by the assumption that if God exists, then His morality is beyond question."

But its all good; you answered my question, and your answer was better than many other answers in here, albeit for the wrong reasons. ;)

Aaron Kinney said...

Draracle,

You said:

Olly, if you read my above postings, I explain why, if Abraham had believed that his child would die, it would have been a break in Abraham's faith.

Your interpretation, unfortunately, is not supported by either the Christian bodies of today, nor of the spirit of the story itself. The point of the Abraham story is to test his devotion to God vs. his devotion to his son:

Genesis
22:1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. "God did tempt Abraham."
Has anyone ever been tempted by God?
22:2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
22:12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
22:16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son...

...even if I was to answer "yes, I would carry out the command", I would not be caught in the logical trap which the poster obviously intended to set.

I didnt set a logical trap so much as set up a challenge to see if ones devotion to ones child is greater or less than ones devotion to their God.

All youre trying to do is duck the question -even though you provided an answer- by invalidating the morality and loyalty implications that are so CLEARLY expressed in the actual Genesis story.

Aaron Kinney said...

Draracle,

Actually, to be fair, would the OP be willing to allow me to offer a open challenge to the Atheists? Defend your Atheism, as you ask others to defend their theism? No doubt you will find the defense harder than the offense, but I gave it my best shot and many of you seem fully confident that god is an illogical concept.

Go for it. I wholeheartedly welcome any challenge. Feel free to post it in the comments here, or in the comments of any subsequent essays that I post on this blog. If you like, I would also be more than happy to make a post on this very blog inviting atheists to partake in your challenge and even providing a direct link. I love thought experiments and ideological challenges from both sides! :)

Anonymous said...

Well, though you did not wish to hear it, Yeshua did abolish the need for "blood sacrifice" of any form so no "God would not"...hehe.

Seriously, if it were me, then I would probably choose to disobey the command and take my chances with whatever punishment God decided to mete out.

However, if (as you say)I were actually Abraham then the answer is "yes, I would" for that is precisely what he did so your challenge is a "loaded question". You know that it is an act already embedded in history and therefore if I were actually that person then I would be constrained to do exactly what has already been done.

I suppose my question to you is: Am I suppose to be Abraham or am I supposed to do a "quantum leap" into his body? What a twist of physics...hehe.

Aaron Kinney said...

Hi anonymous,

Well, though you did not wish to hear it, Yeshua did abolish the need for "blood sacrifice" of any form so no "God would not"...hehe.

Yes, but this is irrelevant. Its about the principle of the thing, not whether or not YHWH would command you to do this today.

Seriously, if it were me, then I would probably choose to disobey the command and take my chances with whatever punishment God decided to mete out.

Good to hear! But why did you choose to disobey?

However, if (as you say)I were actually Abraham then the answer is "yes, I would" for that is precisely what he did so your challenge is a "loaded question". You know that it is an act already embedded in history and therefore if I were actually that person then I would be constrained to do exactly what has already been done.

Well what I actually meant was imagine that it was you in Abrahams shoes. But instead of Abraham, it would be "anonymous" ;)

I suppose my question to you is: Am I suppose to be Abraham or am I supposed to do a "quantum leap" into his body? What a twist of physics...hehe. You are supposed to put yourself in his shoes; in his situation.

say no to christ said...

I read a few comments by a few christians here that are trying to make out the Hebrews and Isrealites as peaceful loving monotheists, who just wanted the horrible pagans to stop all their evil ways.

Nothing could be farther from the truth! And what gets me is, it is right there in their precious bibles and they still dont see it. I don't understand how they can read the bible and miss sooooo much!

First off the desert dwelling Jews were notorious for child sacrifice. It was a common practice of god's chosen people! In fact it originated from them and later spread to the peaceful pagans. 1The LORD said to Moses,
2"Consecrate to me all the first-born; whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine." (Ex. 32:1-2)

15For when Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the LORD slew all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both the first-born of man and the first-born of cattle. Therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all the males that first open the womb; but all the first-born of my sons I redeem.' (Ex. 32:15)

For fucks sake christians! Read your bibles! The whole stories and NOT just a passage here and there! You christians are constantly claiming that atheists take passages out of context, when in reality it is YOU CHRISTIANS who do NOT read the bible in correct context.

say no to christ said...

Oh , I almost forgot to leave a link that puts the whole biblical story in context.

http://www.usbible.com/War/MosesR.htm


Abraham marked the begining of child sacrifice. After that child sacrifice was all the rage with gods chosen people.

olly said...

Hey all, thought I'd put this in comments here, but I've posted up Draracle's challenge to Atheists over at Douting the Fish so if you'd like to get in one yet one more challenge, I'd appreciate it!

-olly

Draracl said...

@ say no to christ.

worst. article. ever.

Exodus 32:1-2 (NASB)
"Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Arron, and said to him, "Come make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him. And Aaron said to them, "Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me."

Ex. 32:15 (NASB)
"Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets which were written on both sides; they were written on one side and the other."

For fucks sake dude, you read the bible before you post. I can see how you miss sooooo much! You just make the shit up. Come back with an actually passage and we might be able to talk.

Other than that, the entire article seems to operate with the understanding that everything in the bible is (a) literal, and (b) approved by God. Obviously a very undereducated interpretation. In fact, out side Jesus, you will be hard to find a character in the bible who doesn't have his/her worst attributes documented. Moses was a murderer, Abraham sold out his wife to save his skin, David did the nasty with another man's wife and then had that man killed, Noah was a drunk, I could go on... but you get the point. God had a nasty habit of using the weak characters to complete his tasks -- he loved the anti-hero.

say no to christ said...

Dracacle

I have no idea what you are bitching about nor your point. The article was a very good article and it explained the whole story and not just some ASSUMED meanings. And you actually make my point. The bible is full of gods favorites doing all kinds of evil shit and god rewards them every time or at the very least punishes the their children and future generations. The bible glorifies war, hate, polygamy, violence, abuse of women and children and CHILD SACRIFICE and some how christians claim its a holy book of gods love. I say BULLSHIT, it is repulsive and vile and should be deemed as such.

And futher more you need to look into the pagans and who they were before you can undrestand that the pagans were not the evil people. The evil people were gods chosen and god himself.

Amy

Draracle said...

@ say not to christ,
I wasn't bitching, I was recycling the language of your original post -- I was ironically stating your bitching and you lack of point. My "point" was that you claimed Ex. 32:1-2;15 said something that it didn't. That is why I posted the real passage. So go find the correct quote and get back to me.

And I stand my comments regarding the article, first because it misquotes, and second because it takes some puritan, evangelical, moral absolutist view of a book which makes no claim on such things.

say no to christ said...

i'm sure the writer was using the King james version. There a few different versions of bibles and just because one bible may word things a little different doesnt make it OK. What don't you get about all the war, hate, violence, death and CHILD SACRIFICE, that is in all versions of the bible? Pretty wording does NOT make CHILD SACRIFICE OK or any other evil doing!

Are you avoiding the fact that the Isrealites were gunho practitioners of child sacrifice??

BTW, I KNOW I am morally superior to your god and his book of evil. So there. :P

Draracle said...

@ say no to christ.

OOOOHHHH!!! He was using the King James Version!!!
Ex. 32:1-2 (KJV)
" 1And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

2And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me."

Ex. 32:15
" 15And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written."

Yeah, now I totally see your point about child sacrifice! O_o

I am not avoiding that "Isrealites [sic] were gunho practitioners of child sacrifice"... I am merely looking for evidence that you have actual read the book.

You take the words of this article as verbatim as many mindless religion followers.

say no to christ said...

Oh I see the writer got passages mixed up. It happens, there is so much shit in there it is easy to do. Lucky for you, I am pretty familiar with all the atrocities in the bible and I good at finding them. :D


Exodus

22:29 Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me.

The writer did get this passage right...

Numbers

3:12 And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine;

So whether or not the guy got the right passages, CHILD SACRIFICE is still in the bible and a common practice of the isrealites by their god's command.

Draracle said...

ok, now we are getting some where.

Now didn't you say something earlier about reading text in context? So lets put everything back into context then. Now Ex. 22:29, surely this means God wants the death of all first born. But luckily the mother (as per v.30) gets to keep the child until the 7th day, the eighth day is the day of transferring ownership. Sure "ownership" means death and not the dedication of the first born on the 8th day! Or that the dedication of the first fruits, crops and animals to the temple (and the Levites -- who didn't farm, but ran the temples).
No, my guess is that your interpretation of this passage over-rides thousands of years of Jewish tradition -- no wonder they have had such a bad rap in history, they mistook "kill the son" for dedication of the son to God.

As for Numbers 3:12. Yeah that total means child sacrifice. OR it means that the Levites were set apart to be the priests of Israel. That passage goes on to claim how the first of everything in Israel is God's, a theme throughout the entire bible. None of which has anything do with Israelites sacrificing first born children, animals, or crops to God. They simply didn't belong to the family, they belonged to God. And God didn't have the Levites kill the children either... just so you know.

Care to bring up another case of child sacrifice?

Draracle said...

Oh, and the above two passages shows the beginning of the separation between God and Israel, no longer was each child of each family a belonging of God, but just the Levites. All priestly duties are now sole responsibility of the Levites. The trend of God acquiescing to the Israelites desire to be less connected to God and more like the surround nations. That big tyrant.
The family gave way to the priest, the priest to the judge, the judge to the king... I very interesting bit of biblical history (also mirrored in the non-biblical written history of Israel).

say no to christ said...

Dracacle

Where in the bible does it say "ownership" means death and not the dedication of the first born on the 8th day!"

I don't think that passages has any mention of "ownership", wich btw is pretty dehumanizing in it's own right.

Like I said, you have to understand the pagans and their beliefs at that time to understand exactly what the bible meant. The bible isnt the only nor the oldest recording of history and the desert dwelling Hebrews were notorious for child sacrifice. There are more passages throughout the bible that support child sacrifice. Shit, even Hebrew scholars have admitted that the ancient hebrews practiced child sacrifice. But here is another passage for you.


Exodus

13:2 Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.

And whether it is of gods chosen peoples or not, the Isrealites and god practiced child sacrifice. Just because he spared his own doesnt make it any less atrocious!

Exodus
13:15 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem


Face it your god and your beliefs are morally inferior to me. :P

Draracle said...

God claims certain people (in this case the children) belong to Him I would hardly call it dehumanizing. My mother says I am her child all the time, and I don't feel like it is dehumanizing. If fact quite the opposite. Likewise my wife claims that I am hers -- and again I find it the opposite of dehumanizing. Maybe in your world it is different.

Whether or not the Hebrews did this or that is irrelevant -- the Hebrews were not controlled by God. What matters is what God told them to do or not to do -- not whether they obeyed or not.

Exodus 13:2, as before, this is talking about God requesting every first born be dedicated to the temple. The 8th day the first born was dedicated to God and circumcised.


Exodus 13:15, If you actually read the whole passage, and this is something I am just realizing now -- so hardly a difficult thing to see in the text. The first born of each animal was killed as a sign of the death of the first born in Egypt, but the first born of "my" or Jewish/human children are redeem. Or, that all first born of all things are to die, but the Lord redeems the children, so they do not die. This was done a sign to other nations, so that when they asked why the Jews did such a thing, the Jews could tell of the Exodus. It was kind of a constant re-living/reminder of the Exodus. Interesting.


Anyway. So far all I am left with is new insight in to the text and the distinct feeling you are just stealing the work of someone else and regurgitating it here. I hardly think you are dumb enough to interpret these passages as proof of child sacrifice, especially after the last one which is specifically stating the first born are NOT to be killed as a commandment of God to remind them of the sparing of their first born at the Exodus.

Try again... maybe read it first next time to see if it supports my hypothesis or yours. ;)

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but by the time I got to post again, I missed quite a bit...

Aaron asked why I would choose to disobey...

I suppose it is because I cannot possibly conceive of myself having the capability to sacrifice another human being (much less my own son) just because God wanted to test my faith (regardless of whether I knew He would rescind the command or not). I can see where in those A.N.E. cultures they would have absolutely no problem with it, but that has nothing to do with me.

Thank you for elaborating on the "filling of the shoes" part because I have met with some atheists who would pull any trick in the book just to "jab at a Christian" regardless of how open-minded that person may or may not be.

I have another question. Since I am now a Christian (and therefore an "Abrahamic Theist?") then would my choice to disobey be taken as not being "a blind follower" of religion or even "secular authority"? The reason I ask that is because Yeshua (if one so chooses to believe that he existed and said the things he did) stated that exact concept when he said "...render unto Caesar..." and "...render unto God..." However, I do admit that such concepts are most likely to be found in a multitude of religions and philosophy--I just haven't personally had the time to research that one yet...

Cheers

say no to christ said...

Dracacle

My point was to point out how you and other christians make false claims about the pagans. And I do not just repeat what others have told me. I am a VERY independent woman. My opinions and thoughts are all my own and have been shaped over years of studying and research. Unlike you, I do NOT follow just because I was told to. If I did I would be a christian.;)

It really bothers me how christians can read the bible and all it bloodshed and atrociouties and say..see god is love and god loves all. God clearly has NO clue what love is, therefore he can not be love.

Further more you have not proven that god didnt demand child sacrifice. You have only made your own assumptions based on what other christians, who have been desensitized to the barbaric practices of god and his chosen people, told you.

The hebrews only began circumcision to replace child sacrifice. BTW circumcision is a BARBARIC, brutal, traumatizing act, forced on the helpless. YOur god is a disgusting bloodthurthy child abuser. And that is why so many christians abuse and kill their own children.

Draracle said...

@ say no to christ.

I wasn't aware of your knowledge of my beliefs. Personally, I think you are a sheep -- recycling arguments you have heard before without actually understanding the text you quote. Why else would you quote a passage which outright commands that first born not be kills as evidence that first born were killed? You also claim I made false claims about pagans? Where the fuck did I say that? Quote my lie and I will apologize, unless you are just making more shit up about me to get out of the discussion. So go run along and find my lie about pagans.

As I stated before, you seem to have some moral absolutist, evangelical, puritan view of the bible -- which I completely disown. The bible is full of ugly shit because the world is full of ugly shit. Your understanding that the bible should be a nice place full of nice things without horrors and atrocities is based on how you wished the world actually was, not how it is. If the bible was all nice stuff, I would dismiss it as a lie.

So now go back, miss VERY independent, and show me God's horrors and atrocities. Not the horrors and atrocities of the Jews, which the bible never states he controled -- in fact quite to the contrary. Then keep in mind the bible isn't God writing on a parchment, but an actual person like you writing about his or her own experience in that time and describing his or her belief about God in the situation.

Further more, I ask you to provide me with evidence that God demanded and received child sacrifice -- so far all you have done is misquote HORRIBLY. If you feel you have not misquoted, then please, provide me with more than "see, child sacrifice" as to why you believe that is what the passage is about. I an not basing my assumptions on anything I have been told, I am merely reading the text you provide and reading it in plain English. It doesn't say that god requested child sacrifice.

The Hebrews replaced child sacrifice with circumcision? Where the fuck does it say that? And now you are going to make value judgments on a practice of an ancient culture? "Traumatizing act", on an 8 day old? Gee, there are Jewish men everywhere, go ask them about there traumatic childhood experience. I could argue that driving a needle through a child's ear is barbaric -- but then I would just come of as a cultural elitist, like you just did.

So, yet again, I put it to you. Prove you are a "very independent woman" who formed her own "opinions and thoughts" through "years of studying and research" and show me where in the bible God demands and receives child sacrifice. Try looking at the whole passage, multiple translations, and give me a reasonable argument with which to believe you. I trust this should be an easy task with your "years of studying and research".

While your at it... explain how you gathered that I follow because I am told? And then also explain how you can provide a piece of text which specifically commands no child sacrifice and then expect me to believe you don't just follow because you are told.

Aaron Kinney said...

Speaking of Child Sacrifice, a new member was inducted into my Offspring Murder Club the other day. This guy tried to choke his 2 year old son to death as a sacrifice to God.

Scientific research from respected universities have shown that psychosis+religion = infanticide.

Whens the last time an atheist killed their child? More importantly, when is the last time an atheist killed their child for the sake of "godlessness"?

Eliyahu HaNavi said...

Aaron,

I can believe that universities have tied psychosis to religion, but not that they have "shown" that it equates to infanticide.

Also, I don't know of any atheists that have done so, but most of the time, one is not given much information about those stats. In fact, can you show me some very reliable stats for the percentage of the population of the U.S. (much less world) that are truly atheists? I don't think it is a very large number, but then again, I cannot find an accurate representation.

Having said all that, my main point is that without firm proof, religion cannot be said to be the cause (or a cause for infanticide). Methinks it is much more complex than that simply for the reason that just because an atheist lacks religion does not mean he/she is not psychotic--right? And if he/she is psychotic, then can you tell me conclusively what form that psychosis will take or how it will manifest itself??? I doubt it...and neither can I tell you or the countless "experts".

say no to christ said...

Dracacle said:"I wasn't aware of your knowledge of my beliefs. Personally, I think you are a sheep -- recycling arguments you have heard before without actually understanding the text you quote. Why else would you quote a passage which outright commands that first born not be kills as evidence that first born were killed? You also claim I made false claims about pagans? Where the fuck did I say that? Quote my lie and I will apologize, unless you are just making more shit up about me to get out of the discussion. So go run along and find my lie about pagans."
-------------
Maybe I am making assumptions, cuz you are the only one to respond to my defense of the pagans. I dont have the time nor the patience to go back a reread, so if you didnt blame the pagans for child sacrifice than, my bad.
You also made the first claim that I am just repeating what I have been told. That may be your opinion, but I assure you I dont just follow anything or anybody. My views and opinions are very different from most atheist. Again I am VERY indepentent and when someone tells me something I look into it for myself and form my own opinion. That is how I found my way out of religion in the first place.
-------

Dracacle said:"As I stated before, you seem to have some moral absolutist, evangelical, puritan view of the bible -- which I completely disown. The bible is full of ugly shit because the world is full of ugly shit. Your understanding that the bible should be a nice place full of nice things without horrors and atrocities is based on how you wished the world actually was, not how it is. If the bible was all nice stuff, I would dismiss it as a lie."
---------

Well, at least we can agree on that, but why would you dismiss the bible if it was only full of nice stuff? You seem to take much comfort with the atrocities, that you are willing to accept them as more true than a book that recorded positive events. That to me is kinda morbid and shows how desensitized to violence god believers really are. But, that is just IMO.

--------------
Dracacle said:"
So now go back, miss VERY independent, and show me God's horrors and atrocities. Not the horrors and atrocities of the Jews, which the bible never states he controled -- in fact quite to the contrary. Then keep in mind the bible isn't God writing on a parchment, but an actual person like you writing about his or her own experience in that time and describing his or her belief about God in the situation."

------
Well, I cant show you gods horrors or atrocities cuz god doest exist, but the Isrealites used their god and holy book to commit a lot of atrocities and they still do. And so do chistians and muslims for that matter.

Hey, why so hostile about me being a VERY independent woman? Do you have issues or what? lol
------------

Dracacle said:"Further more, I ask you to provide me with evidence that God demanded and received child sacrifice -- so far all you have done is misquote HORRIBLY. If you feel you have not misquoted, then please, provide me with more than "see, child sacrifice" as to why you believe that is what the passage is about. I an not basing my assumptions on anything I have been told, I am merely reading the text you provide and reading it in plain English. It doesn't say that god requested child sacrifice.:
-------

I did, I showed you many passages where the Isrealites claimed god demanded their first born sons. Just because one passage says that they can substitute an animal for the isrealites children doesnt mean that the other many passages did. Whether they were gods chosen or not the isrealites claimed first born to be sacrificed.

BTW, human sacrifice whether child or adult is NOT a normal human behavior, it is a behavioral side effect of drought and famine which the bible does mention many of drought and famines. So I would agree that bible is a recording of the isrealites suffing and the behavior that manifested out of it and nothing more! The problem I have is that so many, including you, glorify the patriarchs of the bible as good and rightous men, gods chosen, his favorites and that minimizes the atrocities that they committed.

--------------

Dracacle said:"Further more, I ask you to provide me with evidence that God demanded and received child sacrifice -- so far all you have done is misquote HORRIBLY. If you feel you have not misquoted, then please, provide me with more than "see, child sacrifice" as to why you believe that is what the passage is about. I an not basing my assumptions on anything I have been told, I am merely reading the text you provide and reading it in plain English. It doesn't say that god requested child sacrifice."
--------

Well, god doesnt command anything cuz he doesnt exist, but the bible does say that god commands child sacrifice.You keep running back to one passage and assume it goes for the other passages that demand child sacrifice. The bible has MANY contraditiction. God does condems child sacrifice in some passages, but he demands it in others with NO acceptions. And what part of christianity do you not get? Was it not gods first born that was slaughtered on a stick to be worshipped?? Did god not sacrifice his own son for the sins of others?? That in its own right is twisted, sick and morbid. Its plain repulsive!
-------

Dracacle said:"The Hebrews replaced child sacrifice with circumcision? Where the fuck does it say that? And now you are going to make value judgments on a practice of an ancient culture? "Traumatizing act", on an 8 day old? Gee, there are Jewish men everywhere, go ask them about there traumatic childhood experience. I could argue that driving a needle through a child's ear is barbaric -- but then I would just come of as a cultural elitist, like you just did."
---

Yes, circucision was a form of replacement of child and needless animal sacrifice. It serves absolutly no purpose and it is traumatizing and VERY painful to the millions of helpless little baby boys that it happens to! They strap them down of a board. Then put a cold metal penise slicer over the top and cut off what protects the most sensitive part of the penise, all for an imaginary god who demands it! It is a form of child abuse! It is also NOT a NATURAL behavior! It is only done as a religious practice and a sick one at that!
And yes, you could say I am a moral eletist. I believe there is normal human behavior and not normal human behavior. You either behave normal or you do not and most people, especially here in the US, do NOT behave normal. I believe religion with all its barbaric rituals, sexual oppression and tyrany causes severe trauma to the psyche and results in un-normal behaviors. If you want to know how people, who have not suffered drought, famine, religious barbaritry that evolved out of drought and famine, normally behave, we only have to look to the early Native Americans(minus the mound builders, who themsleves have been recorded as suffering extreme droughts and famines) and the Trobriands, that still exist to this very day.(phew, sorry for the run on, a lot to say in one sentence). I'll even provide you a couple of links about both peoples so you can see for yourself.

http://www.janesoceania.com/trobriands_online/index.htm

http://www.awakenedwoman.com/iroquois_women.htm

-----------
Dracacle said:"So, yet again, I put it to you. Prove you are a "very independent woman" who formed her own "opinions and thoughts" through "years of studying and research" and show me where in the bible God demands and receives child sacrifice. Try looking at the whole passage, multiple translations, and give me a reasonable argument with which to believe you. I trust this should be an easy task with your "years of studying and research"."
----

Where in the bible does it say that god saved the Egyptians first borns, that he DID demands to be brought to him as a sacrifice? And where does it say that the Levites first borns where to be substituted? You are making the assumption that because god told his chosen people in one or two passages that they could substitute their children with sheep if they wanted to, that, that meant what he demanded and they did everytime. The bible is full of contadictions so you will find some passages that condem child sacrifice, especially later in the bible, but there are also passages that do demand it and the isrealites obeyed it.

And yes, this is an easy task for me cuz I do understand the evolution of god and know that the Hewbrews were polytheistic and slowly evolved to monotheism, I also realize and recognize that the isrealites were delusional and driven mad from starvation and were driven to child sacrifice from time to time. BUT, I dont for one minute accept their behavoirs as good or normal. I see it as the slide into brutality that we still have not completely overcome and accepting its god is accepting its madness and contributing to keeping the madness alive. IMO
-------

Dracacle said:"While your at it... explain how you gathered that I follow because I am told? And then also explain how you can provide a piece of text which specifically commands no child sacrifice and then expect me to believe you don't just follow because you are told."
-----

I think I have proven, I dont just follow what others tell me. And really, I dont give two shits what you think of me and you are completely intitled to have that opinion of me. I can live with it. :)

Draracle said...

Ok,I think this sums up my dispute with you:

The problem I have is that so many, including you, glorify the patriarchs of the bible as good and rightous men, gods chosen, his favorites and that minimizes the atrocities that they committed.

Where did I glorify these men and minimize their atrocities? You seem to have the set-in-stone picture of a theist that I just don't fit. I don't believe the actions of the Hebrews can be attributed to the character of God. Why? I don't believe God imposed his will on them. They could be as wicked as they like, God isn't making them be good or bad. Likewise, if they were the model of perfection -- by your argument, they would be worthy of imitation. Unfortunately, I don't believe the good actions of a person is reason for imitation. Again, this points to your moral absolutist view of the world. Praise those who do good, curse those who do evil -- even if they did some good stuff to. An understandable world view, but founded in the modern mindset. I see things from a post-modern mindset -- nothing is that cut and dry. I think, until we can both view these issue from a post-modern framework I will continue to see your interpretation as one view and you will continue to see my interpretation as unfounded. The point is this, your claims of God's morality are based on your understanding of Jewish history, not God. It is one way to view God, but hardly the only way. I prefer to take the overarching qualities of God and looking for an interpretation with satisfies those qualities. Why? I just like to give people the benefit of the doubt.

say no to christ said...

Dracacle said:" Unfortunately, I don't believe the good actions of a person is reason for imitation. Again, this points to your moral absolutist view of the world. Praise those who do good, curse those who do evil -- even if they did some good stuff to."
--------

You seem to have misunderstood what I was saying. I believe people are naturally good. It is religion and a belief in a sky daddy that drives people mad and makes them do crazy shit, like kill their own kids.


And if you dont believe the patriarchs of the religion you follow were good people, then why would you follow their beliefs? If you don't believe the bible is the word of god, then why beleive in its deity?

storbakken said...

You wrote that you are obedient to "Me and my values. I am my own master. I am not a slave to any conscious entity, especially not a cosmic big brother in the sky who doesnt actually exist." First question: Who do you obey to pay your rent? I would assume that you obey your parents (who let you live with them rent free as long as you subject yourself to their rules) or your boss (who signs your paycheck so that you can pay your rent). You say that you are obedient to your values. Where do these values come from? Are you the originator of these values or do they come from a source outside yourself? I have heard nothing of your value system, except that you do not value the existence of God. I faithfully admit that I am obedient to God. I will add that I am not obedient to the traditions, philosophies or ideas of any man (except Christ). I am thankful to have a Savior and a merciful God. Also, I notice that you spend a lot of time denying God's existence. Why do you spend so much time in denial? I deny the existence of Santa Claus but I don't create a blog promoting the negation of ole Saint Nick. What do you gain by propagating anti-God (antichrist) beliefs? It would seem that you are seeking answers as much as you are denying God's existence. You say that you are your own master and not a slave to any conscious entity. We are all slaves to sin and selfish indulgence. But some come to the throne of grace and repent of their sins. They humble themselves to the will of God and give Him all the glory. I ask these questions of you to try and understand how an atheist believes/thinks. Because all I'm hearing is what you don't believe. I don't say this to provoke you but to come to a better understanding. Thanks.

say no to christ said...

Storbakken

Who is your post directed at?

storbakken said...

My post was directed at Aaron Kinney's comment posted3:51 p.m. November 2.

Anonymous said...

Jesus was called a blasphemer and crucified for a reason. One of the reasons being that He brought into perspective the words of the Old Testament folks. In the Old Testament a lot of the actions/words are the result of human perspective and influence. Jesus said that Moses was influenced by hard=hearted people and allowed divorce which was never intended as a reflection of God's love and will for us. So we can see that the OT folks were like us - influenced by our surroundings rather than God. During the time of Abraham, child sacrifice was common practice - a popular trend. The miracle of Abraham's story is not that he was willing to sacrifice his son, but that he DIDN'T sacrifice his son - that he actually stopped - how many really believe that God told Abraham to kill Isaac? (again, this is why Jesus was killed by the religious elite of His day). Many people in that time really believed they were pleasing God and would never have stopped because of their blindsighted view of a bloodthirsty and demanding God. Jesus's tongue is called a two-edged sword - that is because His words and actions alone consistantly portray the way God loves us and His words rightly divide the word of God - what is of human influence and what is God's influence. Source, influence, power, perspective and expression are all recurring themes throughout the Bible and all can affect the way we define what it is to love.

Anonymous said...

I have one more thing to say: I have a counter challenge. I challenge you to do what Jesus did:

Love all people deeply, sacrificially.

Be merciful and not take offense, even toward demons

Willingly give up any hint of ulterior motive to show people love - give up your community, your family, your reputation, finances, your life.

Be willing to be humiliated and villified.

View your crucifixion as a "distraction"

Proactively love your enemies and seek to invite them to share in eternal intimacy with you.

Sweat blood because of all the animosity and hatred that is angled at you even though your motive is loving those who despise you.

Confront those whom are supposed to be from your community and that you love and respect dearly - let them criminalize you, mock you and kill you and then forgive them.

Okey doke! That should do for now!
Let me know if you decide to take on the challenge.....

Anonymous said...

This would be the easiest "challenge" in the world, because Abraham DIDN'T kill Isaac - hmmm - yep! my daughter's still alive and well as we speak! I WIN!! Yay!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Yea, that was pretty ballsey and self-actualizing of Abraham not to kill Isaac I can just hear the neighbors of his day in a panic, "Shit! Isaac's still alive! We're gonna get cursed! The gods are gonna be pissed! Shit! Round up the kids Marge, we gotta make up for the one that got away! Quick! Before the locusts and floods start!"

Anonymous said...

The Christian above is speaking wisdom. The atheists have proved their immaturity and ignorance by their own words. Don't worry atheists, you are still loved regardless of the vile words you spew. Actually it is expected.

Anonymous said...

Actually, because of faith in Jesus, it would be impossible to believe that God would ask me to kill my child because Jesus said to respond with love, even to our enemies. Since I believe Jesus is the final authority and not Abraham, I could absolutely pretend (in full faith) that God told me to kill my kid, and then, like Abraham, I wouldn't kill my kid.

Anonymous said...

Yea, I really don't idolize or worship Moses (who wrote about Abraham) because Jesus basically said that Moses had a few human nature viruses in his interpretation and expression of God. I totally respect how diffficult it would be to accurately interpret "God" before knowing what Jesus said. Jesus said the Old testament folks did all the hard work - our job is a lot easier now - all we have to do is practice responding with love, even toward cynicism, mockery, pride, sophistication (pretentious people in other words). Jesus didn't target helpless people and children, He went face to face to confront the powerhouse religious of His day - pretty cool. Thanks for opening up an opportunity to talk about Jesus - that's very generous of you!

Anonymous said...

If you want me to put myself in Abraham's shoes, I would also place myself in his time, when child sacrifice was viewed as a good thing to do to appease the gods. I would no doubt be able to follow a voice that said to sacrifice my child and I would no doubt be respected for that in my surrounding community (in that day) I might have a harder time NOT killing Isaac during those days simply because I might be afraid that God would punish me if I didn't!!!!

Anonymous said...

It was really brave of Abraham to NOT kill Isaac!

Anonymous said...

Yea, asking people to pretend to hear god's voice telling you to kill your son like Abraham is like pretending to believe in Santa Claus once you know your parents are the ones who buy you the gifts. I challenge you to wait up all night on December 24th and believe that Santa is coming down your chimney.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm gonna lighten up on you kids now, because Jesus was merciful, even to the demons - (the only thing about demons is that they run AWAY from Jesus instead of TOWARD him - intimacy issues no doubt!). Take care - hope you soften your heart to the truth soon.

darwinfish said...

forget the hypothetical situation! If you believe in god and an afterlife and baptism, would not the greatest sacrifice ever be to murder your child right after baptism (no sin!), risk going to hell yourself, but be certain that your children's souls get to spend eternity in ultimate bliss? Come on christians, don't you love your children?

Anonymous said...

I'll answer the question, but it's a little irrelevant based on why God asked Abraham to do that in the first place. God's deal with Abraham was to establish faith. After Abraham, God went to every other generation and said "I am the God of Abraham", then to the next "I am the God of Abraham and Isaac", and to the generations after "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob". God knew that the Abraham story would be so fascinating that people would re-tell it, along with stories of God and his blessings, therefore God used the story to establish credibility with future generations, not test everyone's faith.

To answer the question, If I were Abraham, in that time, place and society, I might do the same thing. Child sacrifice may have been considered "normal" and so I don't know if I would consider it something not to do, except for the fact that God said he would bless me through that same son. The question, then is, will God keep his promise about my son or not? Or, how will God keep his promise of blessing through my son if he's dead?

In today's time, I know that God wouldn't ask for a sacrifice of a child because the purpose of the first test for Abraham was simply to establish the faith that other generations could look to, which is why Abraham is considered the "father of the faith". Abraham had to trust God for "no reason". Everyone after him could say "Hey, look at how God blessed Abraham! I can trust him, too!" Now that God has provided his frame of reference in Abraham, he won't need another frame of reference. That is why I wouldn't kill my child today if it seemed like God told me to, and it is also what I would tell my neighbor to prove to him/her that God is not really requiring the sacrifice of his/her child, either.

If my neighbor was still not convinced, I would remind him/her about Christ's sacrifice, which was not a frame of reference, but an ultimate sacrifice to replace the animal sacrifices (which were there to remind us that we weren't perfect and bring us to a point of reflecting on our wrongs, admitting them and making restitution, kind of like an annual "12-step" thing for the whole nation). Since Christ already sacrificed himself, we don't have to make any more blood-oriented sacrifices to God. Our "sacrifice" today is do what is right and not take the easy way out, even when we are tempted to.

Anonymous said...

Well, since no one is going to change their minds because of this discussion, i think its kindof worthless. The people who started this blog just use it to try and give these spectacularly intellectual arguments and are never actually taking any of the answers seriously. So, if your a believer, dont post on here and thier intelligent reasons as to why God does not exist will be doing nothing other than taking up space on the internet. This question is like "Can God make a rock big enough that He cant move it?" WHO CARES Its just an effective way that Satan uses to keep people from actually searching for God. You use up all this time and brain cells thinking about these questions while your not even in the same ball park. Look at Christ. You want to disprove God, disprove Christ. Good Luck.

Anonymous said...

It's not about changing your mine so much as using it.

There is not reasonable argument is prove god exists.

However as you will ignore 'reason' as the work of 'Satan' you are doomed to ignorance.

'Look at Christ. You want to disprove God, disprove Christ. Good Luck'.

Your argument is circular no one will be convinced by such reasoning.

Also the burden of prove lies on the believer - you not us.

God is another name for man's ignorance.

Anonymous said...

You folks don't know the scripture. Yes, God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham had at that point many times conversed with God, so he was sure that it was, in fact, God who asked him to sacrifice his son.

Before this event, God promised Abraham in Genesis 15:1-5 and Genesis 17:15 that God would give him a son, and that through this son, he would be given offspring as numerous as the stars. The son was to be the offspring of Sarai, and that offspring was Isaac. At the time that God had asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, Isaac was not yet married, nor had he any offspring. So, if God were to be found true and not a liar, Abraham would have known that if it were God's will that Isaac be killed, God, in order to fulfill His promise of numerous offspring through Isaac, would have to resurrect Isaac after he was sacrificied.

Abraham later named the place where he was about to sacrifice Isaac "The LORD will provide." This was prophetic of the substitutionary sacrifice that was to come later, namely through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let me ask you a question - all you who mock the scripture and those who believe. If you knew that God was speaking to you, and He asked you to do something, wouldn't you do it? If you're answer is "No" or "Not necessarily" then you are plain stupid. It's God. Wake up, and stop being led by the Devil, and recognize the world around you.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't really argue with my creator.

As Anonymous (before me) said, if a god came up to you (regardless your religion) and told you to kill your son, it really is pretty fucking stupid to say "No god, for I shall not obey thee, lest I become a crazy Pat Robertson".

Reminds me of this funny clip (no offence christians, but this is fucking hilarious)
http://youtube.com/watch?v=H0eowihQZ6Q

Aaron Kinney said...

Re: Anonymous from Jan 6, 2007 (two posts above this one),

You folks don't know the scripture.

I dunno about "we" but I know that I know scripture better than the average Christian does.

Yes, God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham had at that point many times conversed with God, so he was sure that it was, in fact, God who asked him to sacrifice his son.

The number of times one speaks with an invisible being alone does not indicate what that being is.

Before this event, God promised Abraham in Genesis 15:1-5 and Genesis 17:15 that God would give him a son, and that through this son, he would be given offspring as numerous as the stars. The son was to be the offspring of Sarai, and that offspring was Isaac. At the time that God had asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, Isaac was not yet married, nor had he any offspring. So, if God were to be found true and not a liar, Abraham would have known that if it were God's will that Isaac be killed, God, in order to fulfill His promise of numerous offspring through Isaac, would have to resurrect Isaac after he was sacrificied.

Blah blah blah! And this has WHAT to do with the immorality of a creator demanding that one sacrifice their son for the creators sake?

Abraham later named the place where he was about to sacrifice Isaac "The LORD will provide." This was prophetic of the substitutionary sacrifice that was to come later, namely through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let me ask you: assuming you had a child, if God asked you to sacrifice your child, would you do it?

Let me ask you a question - all you who mock the scripture and those who believe. If you knew that God was speaking to you, and He asked you to do something, wouldn't you do it?

If I believed in scripture and knew that it was God talking to me, SURE! But killing my son would suck ass, and I wouldnt be too happy about it, and it would make me a shitty parent.

If you're answer is "No" or "Not necessarily" then you are plain stupid. It's God. Wake up, and stop being led by the Devil, and recognize the world around you.

Would YOU kill YOUR son if God asked you to?

Anonymous said...

Hi there

I was reading your comment about God telling Abraham to kill his son and then say no there's a ram in the thicket.

In Hebrews 11:19 it leads us to the understanding that Abraham would have done it because he believed that God would have raised him from the dead.God had already promised to make him a father of multitudes through Issac

Aaron Kinney said...

Re: Anon, Oct 6th @ 12:48pm,

I was reading your comment about God telling Abraham to kill his son and then say no there's a ram in the thicket.

Thank you for reading :)

In Hebrews 11:19 it leads us to the understanding that Abraham would have done it because he believed that God would have raised him from the dead.God had already promised to make him a father of multitudes through Issac

Let me get this straight: youre claiming that the reason that Abraham tried to sacrifice his son was NOT that his love and trust in God was greater than his love for his son, but merely that he believed that his son would be brought back to life after being murdered, thus negating the death of his son and circumventing the entire test of loyalty and faith that God set before him?

If you are correct, then it doesnt sound like Abraham passed the test of faith in God at all. It sounds like he cheated then!

The whole point of Abraham sacrificing his son was that he DIDNT know that God would stop the act and save Isaac's life. The whole POINT of the test was to see if Abraham was loyal enough to God, and put Him first (even above his OWN SON!) no matter what kind of horrible act God demanded.

So, Anonymous, how do you explain the very purpose of Gods test to Abraham if you are correct about your (rather creative) interpretation of Hebrews 11:19?

Better yet, why dont track back just a tiny bit from Hebrews 11:19, to the top of the chapter, and read what Hebrews 11:1 says? Here it is for you to save time:

11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

So faith is about things you trust in that you have no proof of. Abraham's faith to God was being tested when he was ordered to kill his son, was it not?

But clearly, if Abraham had reliable information that God would resurrect Isaac after teh sacrifice good as new (the promise would have come from God himself after all), then he wasnt really being tested by God. It would make the whole excercise moot and pointless, unless you care to educate me and show that the whole excercise has some OTHER purpose than testing Abrahams faith and loyalty to God.

I appreciate your input, Anonymous, but I dont buy your explanation. Sorry, but perhaps you can explain it better and make it more consistent? So far it doesnt pass the sniffer test.