Monday, February 18, 2008

On Abraham and Issac

Abraham and Issac, the story of faith, the story of love and obedience, the story of devotion and godliness, right? Wrong!!! I’m sure anyone who reads this blog post will already be familiar with this story about how Abraham was instructed by god to sacrifice his son to “prove” his trust and faith in god. God had promised Abraham to multiply and continue his line through Issac, but now god was asking Abraham to kill him. How, without faith, could this be?
My contention, along with countless other freethinkers is, If Abraham were alive today and acted as he did in the bible story i.e. listened to invisible voices that told him to kill his son, he would be arrested and either thrown into jail on child endangerment charges, or attempted murder, or else he would be committed to a psychiatric institution for as long as possible.

Abraham lived in a time of human history when sacrificing a child was not thought of as absurd, on the contrary, it took place quite often, which brings up a thought. The fact that the times were as such does not even approach excusing such reprehensible behavior. If it were right to do so, then the practice of human sacrifice to invisible god(s) should have survived to the present day in modern society. It obviously has not, and thank goodness for that, although I’ll allow the possibility of the practice surviving somewhere in the world in a backwards god-fearing, servile society. In some ways we have progressed beyond the state in which ignorance can breed ill-advised behavior. The example from Judges, chapter 11 (see below) only serves to reinforce the fact that in our infancy, the human race lived in relative, wholesale ignorance.

In Hebrews 11:19 it says “Abraham reasoned that god could raise the dead and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from the dead”. By what “reason” did Abraham arrive at the conclusion that god could raise the dead. There is no mention of bodily resurrection actually taking place during that time in the Old Testament. The only references made in the OT, are in Daniel 12:2, Isaiah 26:19, and Psalms 17:15 in which all are “prophecies” about the end times.

What tests did Abraham contrive to see if god could really raise the dead? How many tests were there, and who were the volunteers? Of course I'm being facetious, but the point is valid. There was absolutely no reasoning on the part of Abraham. It would be much more accurate to say that Abraham assumed that god could raise the dead.
Let’s suppose that god could raise the dead and that Abraham assumed correctly so. Abraham would have then actually killed his son. Nothing after the fact would have been able to change this, excepting of course god His decision to follow the command would simply have not been excusable. It is a simple thought, Abraham killing his son; a horrible one but simple nonetheless. I question not Abraham’s obedience, but god’s intestinal fortitude, arrogance and outright gall in asking such a thing.
Murder, as a test of faith, is deplorable.
What would god have done, had Abraham refused this test on the basis of the sanctity of human life? Would god have killed Abraham for Abraham’s refusal to take the life of another of god’s children? Would he have rescinded his promise by withholding the proliferation of Abraham’s line of descent? Would he have destroyed the earth again as he supposedly did with the flood? A god that asks something of the sort in question is not a benevolent, loving, caring god. He is a jealous, pedantic, juvenile, altogether human god, who exhibits distinctly human behavioral characteristics, characteristics that, at least in humanity, are the result of the development of fear throughout our life history.
God did not create us in his image, we created god in ours. Indeed, god represents everything that we as children simultaneously fear and seek. God is a parental figure to us, both the source of approval for our behavior and dread if we trespass his demands.
I would even submit that such a “test of faith” is really not much of a test at all. If Abraham knew (reasoned) that god could raise the dead in advance, then he exhibited really no faith at all, only obedience. A better and more accurate test of faith would have been if god had allowed Abraham to go through with it completely. Abraham kills his son, takes his life, sees his son’s blood flowing out of his body, and only then does god raise him from the dead, healing his wounds and restoring life to his body. Abraham would have to show incalculable faith to trust that god would still fulfill his promise after Isaac was actually dead. Instead, god fells the hand of Abraham before he actually kills Isaac. This reminds me all too much of the familiar story of the one that got away. “Boy it was down to the wire, my hand was at my son’s throat with a knife, I was so strong in my faith that I was willing to do such a terrible thing, but at the last minute, wouldn’t you know it, The angel Gabriel showed up and said,” Naw just kidding, you don’t really have to kill your son, we were just testing you, here’s a ram instead.” Whew…., that’s a load off. What…., you don’t believe me, well, yeah no one else was there to see it but it’s true, I swear….”

There is an example in Judges that is illustrative of the juvenile nature of god when it comes to fulfilling a vow to kill for him. Jephthah makes his vow to sacrifice the first thing out of his door (in this case it turns out to be his daughter) if only god will help him to conquer (meaning kill and then occupy the lands of) the Ammonites (what did they ever do?).
A god who watches out for the welfare of his “children” would not let a man make such a vow, knowing full well what he was promising, seeing that the man’s vow would result in the death of another of god’s children, through murder. Now at this point in biblical history, the ten commandments did exist, and they explicitly disallow the act of murder. They do not say, thou shalt not murder, except in the name of me (god). They say in no uncertain terms, “Thou shalt not kill” So, the fulfillment of this vow to god, was itself a violation of the fundamental laws that god handed down to moses (supposedly). This is a prime example of the paradoxes offered up by the bible all throughout the old and new testament. Hypocrisy is frowned upon by society at-large, is most certainly preached against in christianity and by all religious accounts a sin worthy of eternal damnation, yet the bible’s god and his “son” constantly illustrate this offence to the intelligent mind. It is high time we cease celebrating the ignorance in which the overwhelming majority of humankind wallows in every sunday (or saturday depending).

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