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2010-06-01

Genesis 22:12-14 explains that, because of Abraham's actions, God now knew for sure that Abraham feared him. But, Quazar reminds us, if God really is all-knowing like believers claim he is, he should have known this already. In fact, the entire test was unnecessary. God should have already known that Abraham was worthy without having to resort to such psychotic measures, but God preferred to treat Abraham like a little pawn in his diabolic chess match against himself.

Maybe 25 centuries ago, a story like this was considered moral and acceptable. Thankfully, the moral integrity of the human race has progressed leaps and bounds since then.

Morality is something that evolves among societies, but it also evolves in individuals. As people age and experience life, their morals become more refined and nuanced. When I heard this story as a child, I was told that God was justified in testing Abraham's faith, and, as a child, I agreed. But, now that I've grown, and my moral values have matured along with me, I can see this test for what it truly is, a barbaric exercise conducted by a control freak of the highest caliber.

Prisoners of war are sometimes put in the horrible position where they're told to kill their comrades or face painful death themselves. If they are rescued, they often face crippling mental anguish for the rest of their lives from having to go through the ordeal. This is the kind of legacy God would have left with Abraham and Isaac (if the story actually took place), but because this story fails to capture reality, Abraham doesn't seem the least bit fazed from being two seconds away from murdering his own son, and instead, commemorates the event with a cheery ceremony.

The name "Jehovajireh" carries its own problem. the KJV translates it to mean "the Lord will see", indicating that it is named after God testing Abraham, but other translations call it, "the Lord will provide", talking about God providing the ram for sacrifice. It's a minor discrepancy, but again, this is just another point where biblical authors can't agree on what the bible is supposed to say, but they still expect you to believe every word of it.

 

Comments

Tmowlee writes:

 

That would be rather traumatizing, hope Issac gets help.
I've always wondered if my religious family would have done something like this to me if they started hearing voices.

Ray writes:

 

Another problem is that Jehovajireh was founded on the burning of a lamb? What kind of stupid excuse to make a city is that?! Also, TAG:

"their morals become more refined an nuanced"

I think you mean "and nuanced", not "an nuanced".

TheAlmightyGuru writes:

 

Thanks Ray. Open Office wants grammar-check.

Mr-know-it-all writes:

 

@Winterset (yesterday):
Woooo! Debate!

But no. I didn't meant that everybody should do a DNA test to see how empathetic are you exactly. Namely, your ancestors wouldn't be "family", it would fall under "species". Family is your close circle, whom you live with. I should probably have put a couple steps between family and race, like city, fellow workers, etc; but there is little point because, as you said, the line is blurry at best.
It's like asking "when does a hill become a mountain". The right answer is "Bullshit!". There is this thing, which we can mountain. There is this thing, which we don't. "Substances" are just a fiction.

And no, I do not consider the basis of morality to be empathy. It is, at best, a prerequisite. Morality is the set of rules we chose to accept, or are expected to, that take the place of nature's old "survival of whoever survives, if anyone at all".
I called empathy as a measure of non-sociopathy, but it is not, it's only half of it. Sociopathy is generally (and very broadly) defined as a lack of both empathy and remorse. And yes, empathy is mostly biological, but remorse is not at all.
It is mostly a function of the conscience, where conscience is best defined, ironically, by Freud. "The interiorization of the social norms". Except I think Freud gave it some sort of ontological independency. I'm not sure, but if he did, that's wrong: it's the result of a process by which we (the society) replace the natural instincts of our youngest members that we don't approve of (of the instincts, not of the youngest members. Stupid grammar).
Interestingly, that also provides a decent definition of culture; but my point was that eliminating the kid doesn't rid the world of their sociopathy, because sociopathy isn't genetical, it's social.
Or rather, their genes are (presumably) just fine, and the world wins nothing by removing them.

Also, yes, it is still wrong to feel more compasion for a ficticional sheep than for a ficticional human, on the understanding that both are equally ficticional. If anyone actually meant it, of course. I chose to believe those were just jests.

Winterset writes:

 

@MKIA

Well except for your last sentence you just shorted any debate because I agree pretty fully with your interpretation there.

On the last comment, however, I would submit for your consideration that any preference for actual empathy, as opposed to sympathy, for a fictional character regardless of species is indicative of an inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy and therefore concerning on that level. Feeling more sympathy for a fictional sheep than for a fictional psychotic human doesn't seem to me to be a bad thing at all. In fact, if you look at a great deal of literature you find that oft-times there are non-human characters that are much more sympathetic than human characters because the non-humans are protaganists and the humans are antagonists. This is also natural and based on enlightened self-interest. It's the opposite of prejudice.

And there-in lies something of an argument in favor of your basic point: prejudice is instinctual and genetic so its counter is almost certainly cultural. That coincides with what TAG is saying that there is a moral evolution at work on a cultural level (I like to refer to it as developmental sociology) which mimics the moral development of individuals (developmental psychology).

Sorry that was so long. I just love courteous debates, especially on the topic of ethics or philosophy.

Chris writes:

 

Ahahahah, I love this debate. It makes me wonder what would happen if we lived in a world where rational, courteous discussion could take place without the unwelcome intrusion of religion and blind ideology. What a wonderful world

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Oh the irony!