Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The real story of God, Abraham and Isaac

And God called out, "Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied. And God said, "Take your son, your only son, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there for a burnt offering on the mountain."

So Abraham gathered wood for the burnt offering and put it on his son Isaac, and he took the fire and the knife in his hand; and the two of them went to the mountain. Isaac said to Abraham, "My father." And he replied, "What is it, my son?" And he said, "Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" And Abraham said, "God will provide, my son."

When they came to the place that God had told him about, Abraham built the altar and arranged the wood. Then he bound Isaac and placed him on the altar. Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. Then the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham! Stop! Stop!" But Abraham's dagger had already dug into his son. And so the Lord swoop down from heaven and knocked Abraham to the ground with the force of a gale.

As Abraham lay in the dust the Lord berated him: "Why?! Why in heaven's name were you trying to kill your son, your only son, whom you love?!" And Abraham replied, "But my Lord, you asked me to! It was your will and I was fulfilling it."

And the Lord roared, "You desert idiot! I wasn't after your loyalty; I was testing whether you had the brains to distinguish between what's crazy and what's not! Woe to you for you have failed miserably. Any father who actually went out to kill his own child just because some higher-up told him to ought to be locked up for life! And anyone who employs the Nuremberg Defense is nothing but a groveling, irresponsible, unthinking, pass-the-buck moron! You're a sick man, Abraham. Very, very sick in the head, indeed.

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And Abraham is supposed to be the father of the three "great" monotheisms?

Novelist Salman Rushdie contrasts the Abraham story with one he grew up as child, that of the Muslim emperor Barbur (1483 - 1530 CE) and his son Hamuyan. It is said that when Hamuyan fell gravely ill, Barbur prayed and cried to Allah to take him instead of his son. Soon thereafter Barbur fell ill and as his condition worsened his son recovered. Barbur eventually died. His son lived.

A father's sacrifice that his son may live is worlds apart from the Genesis myth of a father who will without question take his son's life. To say that the Abraham story is perverse is an understatement. It boggles the mind to find an ethicist who will give a thumbs up to (attempted) filicide. On the other hand, Barbur's ultimate self-giving is what any parent in his right mind would do. It is something we "know" is good and right.

Anyone who still says the bible is a perfect book of morals is as unthinking and ethically blind as Abraham.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Bible is nothing more than the revealed word of God. In it God tells us who He is.

When a person compares his logic (the basis of his morals) to the ideal of God and concludes that God's morals are substandard to his, it is time to stop and think.

Human reason is flawed. 200 years ago, american people thought it was acceptable to keep slaves. That did not make it right.

Today, such practices are considered "immoral".

God's law or moral standard as expressed in the Bible has not changed. It is the same today as it was when it was spopken to Moses and the prophets.

I would encourage you to read the Bible before you pass judgements and encourage your judgements on to other persons.

By the way, the "real" story of Abraham can be found in the book of Genesis, the first book in the Bible.

Edwardson said...

As always, faith-heads are confusing what is known to be true and what they want to be true. You say that the bible is the "revealed word" of some entity you call God. That's what you want to believe. That is what you purport the bible to be. It's a claim, a most extraordinary one at that. Now show us that the words therein in fact came from some super nonhuman nonphysical entity. Provide conclusive evidence. Show, don't tell. I've been to planet Xadox 5million light years ago using my warp machine. I'm sure you believe that.

I'm scratching my head. Slavery happens to be (one of) the most blatant examples of religious ethics changing through history. The OT is replete with explicit verses that permit and govern the employment, trade and treatment of slaves. Americans defended slavery precisely using the bible. If morals haven't and don't change, then slavery ought not only be legal among Judeo-Christians, it should be held as God's Way.... I'm still scratching my head. Perhaps you're talking of some other religion's bible? The Jains' perhaps?

Check this out: "Bible passages considered immoral by today's theologians and secularists" http://www.religioustolerance.org/imm_bibl.htm Now I'd like to bounce your suggestion back and ask you to read your own beloved sacred text. How about going out on the streets and telling everyone that they God allows them to own slaves, that infanticide, genocide, murder, rape are godly when the victims happen to be from your enemy's tribe?

By the way, did you really miss the fact that my Abraham story above is a parody?

Anonymous said...

The Words
Are Not Suppose
To Be Taking Literal,
But Used As A Marker Or Guide Line
In Metaphor To Teach
The Philosophy Of Moral Understanding
Ones Family Is Most Important,
The Tetragammatron Purpose Is To Show
Not To Do What He Or She Commands"
But What The Will Of Ones Own Heart
Truly Tells You Is Right
This Is Immortality Whole Hearted

Anonymous said...

When one looks through a magnifying glass every flaw becomes more notable. Such is the world, and its generations of failings through the lens of truth. The flaws are not as examples of morality, but as testimony to the nature of God's grace, love, and His unwavering truth. We all fall short of this great love and perfection. The story of Abraham and Isaac was a foreshadowing of the sacrifice to come. Abraham's faith to trust God to fulfill His promise, despite circumstances appearing to the contrary was credited to him as righteousness (right relationship with God). The Bible is above all a love story. God would later step in as both Son and Father, sacrificing himself in order to restore the intimacy with Him that we have continuously thrown away in our fear of the idea there is an infinite, transcendent truth beyond our own altruistic hedonism and need for control. Ask the One True Living God to reveal himself to you...then look out if you're serious...He will.

Edwardson said...

Applause! Now try your hand at Shakespeare too. Jewish mythology is just too soporific. Why don't you tell me about Hades and Persephone. Now there's a story I'd love hearing about.

Anonymous said...

"The Bible is nothing more than the revealed word of God. In it God tells us who He is."

Nothing more?

That's a pretty big claim to make.

How do you know that the bible is "the word of God"?

Because "god" told you?

I should encourage you to find out the meaning of "begging the question".