The Raving Theist

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God Squad Review CLXVII (Child Sacrifice)

April 16, 2006 | 13 Comments

Was it harder for Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, or for God to sacrifice his son Jesus ? a Squad reader wants to know. He figures it was easier for God to kill Jesus because He knew He could resurrect him, whereas Abraham was just acting on faith. The Squad seems a little put off by the question:

All sacrifices have their spiritual blessings and their spiritual burdens. Ranking things is more appropriate for sports bookies than people of faith, so comparing the incidents you cite is pointless; the sacrifices of Abraham and God were dramatically different.

But “ranking things,” as the Squad pejoratively puts it, is a common way of evaluating and comparing moral conduct. The Bible does it all the time. For example, it says that a small monetary donation by a poor person is better sacrifice than a big gift by a rich person. In any event, the Squad does ultimately compare Abraham’s sacrifice with God’s and implies that Abe’s was harder: “Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac to prove his faith, and he did so without knowing that God would send an angel to stay his hand at the last moment” whereas “[i]n the case of the Easter sacrifice, God knew all along, and Jesus knew all along, that the purpose of His life on earth was to die for the sins of the world.” So Abraham was taking a big gamble but God was betting on a sure thing.

Actually, it’s not as simple as all that. There may not be a significant difference between the two situations. If you’re honestly convinced that you’re getting orders from an omnipotent being, obeying it is the easiest thing in the world. If I was suddenly plucked up into a black void and given my marching orders by a bellowing deity, I wouldn’t hesitate to carry out its orders if it meant flying a plane into a skyscraper or blowing up the world. That wouldn’t really be acting on faith; it would be acting on the reality of what I experienced. Faith comes in only if you’re uncertain whether the God exists because you’ve never seen him. Of course, today you it’s hard to get away with killing a son no matter what your excuse — if you say you’re certain God told you to do it you go to a mental institution, and if you say you were just guessing you go to jail.

The most interesting thing about the Squad’s answer, however, is unrelated to the question posed. For some reason, they’ve decided to take position embracing the newly-discovered scriptures:

The recent discovery of the Gospel of Judas reinforces that central tenant of Christianity, namely that Jesus’ death was not a murder and not a betrayal, but rather a fulfillment of God’s most profound gift to humanity. In the atoning death and resurrection of God’s son, Jesus, whom Christians worship as the Christ (the Messiah), a unique physical sacrifice becomes a unique spiritual gift.

Apparently this wasn’t cleared with the Vatican: the Pope still thinks Judas was a greedy liar.


13 Responses to “God Squad Review CLXVII (Child Sacrifice)”

  1. Erik
    April 16th, 2006 @ 11:48 pm

    If a bellowing deity told me to fly a plane into a building, I hope I would have the strength to tell it to fuck off. That’s why the story of Abraham and Isaac is particularly galling to me.

  2. Mister Swill
    April 17th, 2006 @ 12:18 am

    That’s the problem with bellowing deities. Sure, Cthulu looks big and powerful compared to us, but it’s not like he’s omnipotent.

  3. salvage
    April 17th, 2006 @ 7:11 am

    Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, I remeber hearing that story for the first time in Temple and it bugging me; isn’t your sky god all knowing? Why would an all knowing god have to test his creation? Wouldn’t he axiomatically know that Abe would sacrafice his son?

    Ditto with Lot, but that story is even stupider because you have your god trying to impress the devil. In what way does that make a lick of sense?

  4. Los Pepes
    April 17th, 2006 @ 8:35 am

    Cthulu – now there’s a god I can get behind and support!

  5. Dada Saves
    April 17th, 2006 @ 8:42 am

    All this business of ‘sacrificing one’s sons’ sounds like a thinly veiled PR campaign to encourage people to support the army (with cannon fodder).

  6. Thorngod
    April 17th, 2006 @ 9:46 am

    Salvage, I think you must have meant Job, not Lot. Lot was the fellow who raped his two daughters (after apparently having turned his wife into a pillar of shit)….
    The “new” Gospel tends to support what I have long contended, that Judas is the unsung hero of the Christ story.

  7. Mister Swill
    April 17th, 2006 @ 1:59 pm

    Thorngod, Lot’s daughters raped him (or at least they got him drunk and took advantage of him). Also, his wife turned into a piller of salt, not shit. You’ve got to make sure to get the detalis right. Otherwise these bible stories might sound silly.

  8. Choobus
    April 17th, 2006 @ 5:09 pm

    Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa said that millions of people today were being “crassly manipulated…”

    Finally, some truth from the catlickers

  9. Choobus
    April 17th, 2006 @ 5:11 pm

    Swill, I think if you read the original hebrew text you’ll find that Lott’s wife was indeed turned into a pillar of shit. However, Lot then licked the pillar and exclaimed “mmm, salty”, which is where the confusion comes from.

  10. salvage
    April 17th, 2006 @ 6:13 pm

    Ah yes. Job not Lott, I get one-sylable Bible names confused all the time.

    I thought it was Noah who had the rambunctious daughters?

  11. corsair the rational pirate
    April 18th, 2006 @ 4:11 pm

    OK, what I want to know and what no christian has ever been able to answer is why is jesus god’s only begotton son? Can’t he have another? I got three kids, do my boys swim better than god’s?

    Why can god only make one son? Make a bunch and send them down here as an army and clean up this place!

    Damn, why do I have to have all the good ideas?

  12. markm
    April 19th, 2006 @ 11:29 am

    Corsair: He had two sons, but Brian turned out to be too sensible to found a fanatic religion.

    (Monty Python reference, in case you didn’t know.)

  13. Thorngod
    April 20th, 2006 @ 8:19 am

    c. jung, in “Answer to Job,” has Lucifer as Yahveh’s first, Christ the second, & draws parallel between Cain & Able. Whatever the “truth” of the matter, it’s one fucked up family -Thorngod.

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