November 4, 2011

"If god (however you perceive him/her/it) told you to kill your child — would you do it?"

"If your answer is no, in my booklet you’re an atheist."

89 comments:

Steven said...

Abraham was willing to do it. Why aren't you?

phx said...

Seems like an inadequate way of thinking about "spirituality" in these days.

Carol_Herman said...

Worse. The story of Abraham was NOT considered so unusual. Pagans always sacrificed children.

What Abraham did was REFUSE to do the "custom of many gods" ... or however you want to define paganism.

Abraham was the George Washington of his time.

And, he had to leave his tribal area, to start a new life.

The absence of belief in your favorite star, is not the absence of belief that there are stars.

ndspinelli said...

I've seen Penn and Teller in person a couple times and they have a great act. I've seen him interviewed 2-3 times and he's an asshole. I can watch their act, I can watch Alec Baldwin, I can accept almost any real talent and separate it from their shitheadness. I have a real problem doing so w/ Sean Penn however.

phx said...
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ricpic said...

When you wish upon a star
Better wish it's not a tsar,
When you wish upon a star
A low magnitude star like our sun is best by far.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Sorry, but that's a terrible argument. Even religious people know they might be insane.

Big Mike said...

I've been telling you guys that I'm an atheist for some time now.

Dust Bunny Queen said...
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Jason (the commenter) said...

He's riffing on Nietzsche, trying to be controversial, but without true understanding. You know, when Nietzsche had a character say "God is dead," he had him say it to a bunch of atheists, because he thought they were clueless.

dbp said...

If I really believed it was God and that I wasn't just crazy, I still wouldn't kill my child. I would just conclude that God is evil.

Anyway, my general rule, should I ever hear voices, it to not do anything they tell me to do it it seems obviously wrong.

phx said...
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dbp said...

if it, I mean

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I'm pretty much Agnostic. If God started talking to me, I would be concerned on a whole lot of levels.

I would have to first be convinced that I wasn't crazy. Then...

....if God told me to kill my child he would have to convince me and give me a really good long list of reasons why, other than a whim on his/her part, that it would be beneficial to kill my child.

Perhaps the child was going to grow up to be Hitler and killing my child would save the lives of millions of other people. Or not. And he would have prove it too. I'm agnostic.

By the time that I was convinced...or not...my child would be an adult and probably too late anyway for... whatever.

In any case, don't mess with an INTJ. Not even God.

J said...

"God" said to Abraham
kill me a son.



Close Jason, but no cigar. Nietzsche meant something like...hypocritical christians (and jews) had destroyed the real Church anyway, whatever it was.


Wow Byro-Spinelli, tired of his TV schtick, shifted into another s-name. Didn't your parole officer warn you about that,perp?

Seven Machos said...

The problem that atheists have is that they see all religion in the same way that a religious fundamentalist sees it. They don't understand, and cannot understand, that the Bible is an anthology of literature and law, complete with several authors who disagree essentially about morality, and replete with restatements of the law and even of what constitutes reality.

Thus is atheism stupid and shallow. Agnostics take a much more nuanced view, and have much more in common with religious people than with atheists.

Jason (the commenter) said...

J: Nietzsche meant something like..

Please! Nietzsche was a new atheist. All these people running around calling themselves New Atheists, and people like Penn Jillette, they're all old atheists. They haven't had a new thing to say in a hundred years, and Nietzsche wouldn't have put up with a one of them.

MisterBuddwing said...

How does defying the will of God = not believing in God?

WV: coati

Bob Ellison said...

Jillette's is a very exacting booklet, more so than most theistic texts. My booklet is even more exacting, and it says Jillette is a goof.

n.n said...

Then who is leading the effort to normalize abortion? Surely people who believe in god (unless it's mortal) or God would also recognize the sanctity of life. I am not aware of any time or place that God has commanded to sacrifice a child. Well, with respect to this comprehensive knowledge, I will defer to the faithful.

Coketown said...

Close Jason, but no cigar. Nietzsche meant something like...hypocritical christians (and jews) had destroyed the real Church anyway, whatever it was.

Eh, no. Jason had it right. Nietzsche was writing on enlightenment atheism destroying the old theistic moral order without offering a comparable alternative. He was mourning and not celebrating the death of God, since nihilism was its consequence.

But anyway. I would first argue with God, then if he still insisted I would do it. We're allowed to argue. Abraham did it. Job did it. Christ did it.

Also, please, to the New Atheist crowd: I know it's satisfying in a petty revolution kind of way to not capitalize the proper noun "God," but come on. It looks, as I said, petty.

J said...

Penn/Teller, Maher, Dawkins etc are the neo-atheists, aren't they Jason. Nietzsche was the old, european-style atheist. I doubt they've spent much time reading Heraclitus in greek.

But even an agnostic or...reasonable believer might agree that the Abraham myth has a certain madness to it. As does much of the Pentateuch. Put down the shellfish, Izschtack. The greeks said much the same circa 500 bc.

Jason (the commenter) said...

MisterBuddwing: How does defying the will of God = not believing in God?

Bravo!

YoungHegelian said...

Paging Prof I. Kant! Immy Kant, please pick up the red courtesy phone!

(A crappy online version of Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone. Search for "[175]" for relevant passage.)

Jason (the commenter) said...

Coketown: He was mourning and not celebrating the death of God, since nihilism was its consequence.

I don't think he was exactly mourning it though. I think he was pointing out that doubt was the new reality--for him it was an exciting new world to discover. The Nihilists came along and got all Romantic about it.

Perhaps people can say they are functionally atheists, I do. But to claim you KNOW God does not exist? And then go make fun of religious people? I never put up with it.

edutcher said...

Buddwing is correct, although it's supposed to be an object lesson.

As someone said, "Many are called...", the rest is the tough part.

rcocean said...

Sorry, when I want atheist arguments I go to Paris Hilton.

Penn just doesn't have her depth.

J said...
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Freeman Hunt said...

Religious people fail to do much lesser acts desired by God everyday. That's built into the religion. That's the whole point of that Jesus part of the Bible.

But ah well, he's a New Atheist if you use that term to mean "Less Intellectually Rigorous Populizer of Atheism," which is what I mean when I use it. Thank God there are still plenty of Old Atheists around.

J said...

to claim you KNOW God does not exist? And then go make fun of religious people?

I would agree with that Jason--hallelujah, bruthhrrr!. It's a rather grand claim, logically speaking --or astronomically speaking-- "There is no X, aka "God" in the universe." Rather large domain to predicate over.
But worse...how do you know you picked the right Deity? Bad joss come Judgement day, and you're confronted with a giant fat dude speaking Sanskrit.

Patrick said...

How does a person know that God is talking to them? People have struggled with that for centuries. Some people are more willing than others to interpret their own selfish thoughts as the word of God when it's actually the word of humans that God created. Intercessors to God often fail if they come to view themselves as perfect. It is a religious psychology though that God is so great that we must sacrifice the best of ourselves in service to God. The child and animal sacrifices have a reverence to them, but a reverence built in a mind set that was relatively ignorant of God. And incurred in a time of a different culture. God was waiting and is waiting for people to get smarter in their worship. It has little to do with atheism.

Seven Machos said...

What if the story of Abraham began when it was common to sacrifice people to gods? (There can be no question, after all, that the story occurs in a polytheistic zeitgeist and, in fact, Genesis is filled with clear implications of common, wholly accepted polytheism.)

What if the point of the story is that we, This People, will not do such a craven thing?

What if, in fact, every story in the Bible is like that?

David R. Graham said...

"Please! Nietzsche was a new atheist. All these people running around calling themselves New Atheists, and people like Penn Jillette, they're all old atheists. They haven't had a new thing to say in a hundred years, and Nietzsche wouldn't have put up with a one of them."

Actually, Nietzsche is a Logos Theologian, a precursor of Heidegger. Theologian and atheist are compatible because just as there are no theists (who knows God?), so also there are no atheists (who knows what they know?)

Otherwise, yes, Nietzsche would not put up with modern "atheists" - ill-disciplined wimps.

On our host's question: premise is absurd, God does not order slaying of one's child.

So explain Abraham conundrum: a test of obedience, not an order to kill one's child. That's the point of the story, which condemns the Moloch cult which did just that.

Hebrew Moloch can also be voweled Melech (Melchizedek) and Malach (Malachi). The consonants are fundament in Hebrew, not the vowels. MLK (i.e., ML[CH]) means king, ruler, lord, suzerain.

Modern "abortion" is ancient Moloch cult in new clothes and language. Idolatry is a violent business.

Saint Croix said...

If feminism told you to kill your baby, would you do it?

If your answer is no, in my booklet you don't believe feminism exists.

Yeah, that doesn't work.

I think what he means is...

"If feminism told you to kill your baby, would you do it? If your answer is no, in my booklet you're not a feminist."

In other words, instead of "atheist" he should say "not religious."

Oligonicella said...

Seven Machos --

"The problem that atheists have is that they see ...

You mean other than those such as myself who have demonstrated said knowledge right here on this blog for several years? Only *all* the others, right?

Bullshit. Your religion isn't hard to understand.

Beta Rube said...

Is J suggesting that Michael Moore is God? Is that what the incoherent left believes these days?

cassandra lite said...

“If god (however you perceive him/her/it) told you to kill your child..."

Well, if "god" told me, then no. But if God did, that might be different.

No one takes orders from Zeus anymore.

Oligonicella said...

Coketown --

"It looks, as I said, petty."

So does all the religious hand-flipping over atheists; asserting they have no morals, yada, yada.

Every group of people is petty in some manner.

David R. Graham said...

"How does a person know that God is talking to them?"

Simple, one sees and hears Him, or Her if one prefers, just as one does any other person.

God needs no intermediary and has no second.

One does not see or hear God unless one is hollow, empty, like a flute.

That one has authority in society and history who is without ego. The authority they have is not theirs and they cannot "have it."

Seven Machos said...

David -- It's a story. No one was there witnessing the events who could report about it. So who wrote about these facts?

Only atheists and fundamentalists could spend time arguing about this trivial plot point.

J said...
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Saint Croix said...

"If you're not a follower of God, you're not a follower of God."

That's obviously true. Does he think religious people don't know this? Or struggle with it?

"If you're not a follower of God, then you don't believe God exists."

That's bizarrely illogical. Doesn't he know about free will? It's weird how he negates free will.

jr565 said...

In a world where more than a million babies are aborted a year for no reason other than a mothers whim, why would anyone be shocked at a person killing their kid because god told them to. Crazy or not, at least they're doing it because GOD said to do it, and not simply because they'd rather not have a girl, or don't' feel like having kids. Are they crazy? Whats their excuse?

LilyBart said...

Doesn't mean you're an atheist. Could just mean your faith is weak.

Big difference

J said...

If it's on Althouse, 95%+ chance it's an atheist or worse..evangelical or mormonic

Seven Machos said...

The point of the story of Abraham is that the People of Abraham will not have to sacrifice their children, and by extension, anyone of them, and they cannot sacrifice their children, and by extension any one of them, because God chose Abraham, and by extension them, to be anointed.

All the rest is just plot.

Get it?

Paul said...

Jesus never asked for that kind of commitment.

The preached love for God and each other.

Yes in the Old Testament Abraham was asked for the ultimate sacrifice (killing your child is worse than killing yourself.)

But that was the old Testament, not the new one.

Make sure you understand when someone says God asked them to kill, they are just raving lunatics (or Muslims, but I repeat myself.)

Holmes said...

Looks like someone needs to read Tim Keller. That parable is not about willingness to kill; it is about willingness to believe and trust that God will come through even in the most difficult circumstances.

Seven Machos said...

Holmes -- The story of Abraham is not a parable.

J said...

Powerful tale, eh NachosMacho man.

Prove it happened, or that Abraham/Ibrahim actually existed (there's little or no historical or archaeological evidence for early OT, especially pre-Mosaic). Indeed it wasn't written down until the...Septuagint , circa 250 BC

Saint Croix said...

The story of Abraham is not a parable.

My dictionary defines "parable" as...

"a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson."

So I would say it is a parable.

Indeed, from a narrative standpoint, I think it's fascinating to compare God's call to Abraham to make a sacrifice, to what happens in the New Testament.

God sacrifices his own son, Jesus, for us.

Holmes said...

@7- you're right. Sorry. Late night typing/thinking. My point stands, however.

Holmes said...

@J- When was Isaiah Chapter 53 written?

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+53&version=NIV

You'll get it.

Carol_Herman said...

Well, n.n., men don't have to worry about getting pregnant.

And, many men choose to run away.

By the way, there's no OLD book for atheism. It was one of those dynamics were everyone was left alone.

Mark Twain, however, did turn the religious community on its head. First, because they didn't recognize slavery as EVIL!

Oh. And, Abraham DID NOT kill his son! He was surrounded, however, by a culture that did do child sacrifices.

Don't get stuck on Abraham ... attempting to follow custom. Because he doesn't. Instead, he upped and left his tribe. And, started out to find a new home.

Atheists have no past! They can't look back even to their grandparents, and say that anything was handed down to them.

All an atheist can really say is "I've heard stories other tell, but I don't believe a word of it."

Seven Machos said...

The story of Abraham is not short. Therefore, it doesn't fit the definition of a parable. Your argument, Croix, suggests that you have not read Genesis.

I swore off talking to J/Jared Loughner/Deb Frisch. For the record, I have not suggested that the Abraham story actually happened. Quite the opposite. I imagine that a coherent person recognizes this.

Revenant said...

It is certainly an interesting question, particularly for a follower of the Abrahamnic religions.

Geoff Matthews said...

Hey, let's play "Let's bait the theists".

Seven Machos said...

In the Job story, there is Job, God, who openly mocks God and challenges Him to a battle in a fair and just court. There is the satan, who instigates Job's troubles. There is God who causes Job's troubles, but gave him great fortunate before it and even greater fortune after. There are three powerful men who come to visit Job and each give radically different and occasionally sill takes on his predicament. There is a young man who makes a forceful cameo at the end. There is also Job's wife, who calls God out on all the bullshit God has brought on Job.

Who is right? Hint: the story does not say.

rcommal said...

Ooh!--a game:

"Agnosticism is for cowards."

Take a stance one way or another, rabble-asses, on everything from religion to politics, from soup to nuts! One bright-line side or another must be right, and it's the mushy middle, the unprincipled centrists, who are delaying the showdown. So pick a side, damn it. Fall in line and pick a side.
---
(LOL.

Interesting post.)

bagoh20 said...

It depends on the child, and also what's in it for me Mr. God.


If reason (however you perceive it) told you to kill the unproductive, the defective, the useless or unwanted - would you do it?

bagoh20 said...

In tonight's game you have a chance to win either eternal damnation or eternal life, Pick a door. Good luck. Or you can keep what you have already won and go home.

Yea, I'm a coward. I'll be leaving now.

rcommal said...

Anyone remember Joe South here?

wv: judist

Heh. (What-EVah.)

rcommal said...

You know, Joe South also wrote, for example, "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden." Or maybe you don't.

TWM said...

I've never understood the inadequacy atheists feel. They can't just say, "Hey, you believe, we don't, let's all just get along." No, they have to do their best to tear down faith.

I personally don't care if anyone else believes or not. I don't pray for them or worry about them going to hell for not believing or give a shit in general.

I just wish they would do me the same favor.

The Crack Emcee said...

Steven,

Abraham was willing to do it. Why aren't you?

because I ain't some illiterate dummy in the desert thousands of years ago. I'm a modern man who knows how the brain works - major advantage.

God tells me to do things all the time, but I just say, "Listen, Bub, you're omnipotent and I'm not, so how in the fuck are you to know what I'm supposed to do?"

Shuts him up pretty quick.

The Crack Emcee said...

Jason (the commenter),

Sorry, but that's a terrible argument. Even religious people know they might be insane.

Ahh, but they don't generally admit it and they don't get help.

Great.

The Crack Emcee said...

Seven Machos,

The problem that atheists have is that they see all religion in the same way that a religious fundamentalist sees it.

Not true - shut up, sit down.

Superdad said...

The problem with the argument is that Penn fundamentally misunderstands what it means to believe. A good summary of the state of a Christians attempts to fulfill the law of God is:

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Romans 7:15.

Christians are sinners, that's why we need Jesus.

Christopher said...

There are certain topics you do not bring up around otherwise reasonable people because, once mentioned, all that reason goes flying out the door. They will not shut-up about it, and will look to any and all possible justifications to prove their point (regardless of the dubious nature of the logic).

These topics vary greatly from person to person, but pretty much everybody has one (whether we like to admit it or not).

Anyone who has seen anything with Penn in it knows that religion is his insanity switch, once mentioned he will not shut up about it. It doesn't matter if you agree or disagree with his points, he will not let it go.

As others have pointed out his point is illogical on its face: Not following God is not the same as not believing in God, disloyalty is not disbelief.

Hell, historically there have been religions based on the opposition to God.

sydney said...

If "god" asked me to kill my child, "he/she/it" wouldn't be the "god" I believe in.

J said...

that's right Machos mouse--I forgot, you're a coward--(believer today, atheist tomorrow, depending on your mental illness). And you obviously don't understand the significance of the historical problems .

Whiskey said...

Isn't the problem with this argument the assumption that God is all powerful (and so can command me to kill my child) but not all good (and so might command me to do evil things)? And on this assumption, the debater says, hah! you're willing to do evil things, because you believe in God. But the debater hasn't done the first bit of study in theology to understand why that's not the God Christians believe in.

Holmes said...

http://www.amazon.com/Reason-God-Belief-Age-Skepticism/dp/1594483493/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1320505664&sr=8-1

A great many of you should read this book.

The Crack Emcee said...

Freeman Hunt,

It's our time, babe:

But ah well, he's a New Atheist if you use that term to mean "Less Intellectually Rigorous Populizer of Atheism," which is what I mean when I use it. Thank God there are still plenty of Old Atheists around.

Screw old atheists, working to make a point that no longer has to be made because it's obvious. (I put Dawkins in that category. And like my being an American or a "black American" as opposed to an African-American), while I do not consider myself either a old or "New Atheist" but merely an atheist, I know enough to say they're/we're not "Less Intellectually Rigorous" but A) unwilling to go down existential corridors of thought where no good waits, and thus B) more respecting of our shared humanity by not wasting our time. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? We've got better things to do.

jimbino said...

Steve Wiggins perpetuates the old canard that agnosticism is a weak form of atheism and that atheism is a militant denial of the possibility of the existence of god.

Wrong. Agnosticism is merely the posture of any good philosopher or scientist about any matter, whether it be the existence of god or of dark matter.

Atheism is the conclusion of the rational thinker who finds the evidence for the existence of god insufficient or inconclusive. The "A" in Atheism, as in Aseptic, means "without," not "against." Against" would be Antitheism or Antiseptic.

The scientist is not Antitheistic, he just has no need for the god-hypothesis to explain nature's phenomena, especially when the god in question is involved with angels, talking snakes and donkeys, assumptions, resurrections, immaculate conceptions, transubstantiations, magic underwear and virgin births, not to mention warmongering or commanding the murder of little babies.

We militant atheists are simply atheists who consider it high time that someone speak up in order to put an end to the misery caused by fantasy beliefs in a non-existent god.

Oligonicella said...

Carol_Herman --

All an atheist can really say is "I've heard stories other tell, but I don't believe a word of it."

As opposed to "I heard stories others told, and bought them hook line and sinker?"

Oligonicella said...

Seven Machos --

"There is God who causes Job's troubles, but gave him great fortunate before it and even greater fortune after."

Regardless of the great fortunes before and after, I'd still hate someone to the depths of my being who murdered my whole family.

Forget that part?

Don said...

"There are more things under heaven and earth" dear Penn Jillette, "than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Yes, you may, Humpty Dumpty-like, decree exactly what "atheist" will mean. But has anything changed? And did you really think that any of your newly designated atheist comrades would stop believing in right and wrong or stop praying for the wisdom to know the difference?

Jim S. said...

I have difficulty making sense of it. Part of the Judeo-Christian conception of God is that he is the ground of morality. So to suggest that the ground of morality could tell me to commit a horrifically immoral act -- yeah, I just can't make sense of it. Of course, there are biblical cases where God seems to do something along these lines, but those cases have been deeply troublesome and controversial throughout Jewish and Christian history specifically because of this.

Oligonicella said...

TWM --

"I've never understood the inadequacy atheists feel."

First, don't project.

"They can't just say, "Hey, you believe, we don't, let's all just get along." No, they have to do their best to tear down faith."

Odd, things almost always start with shots at the atheists, not the other way 'round. Burn in hall, no morals, ad nauseam.

"I personally don't care if anyone else believes or not."

Other than it offers on opportunity to generically slander all atheists.

"I don't pray for them or worry about them going to hell for not believing or give a shit in general.

Other than a drive-by comment disparaging them.

"I just wish they would do me the same favor."

When religious people shut up, areligious peope will shut up.

Sound fair?

J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blair said...

Atheists are constantly pulling straw men out of bad theology, and saying that, because it's clearly silly to believe such things, one should be an atheist.

The problem with this is that most Christians don't believe such things either, or if they do, they shouldn't.

God's command to Abraham was a one-time deal, and it was a test for Abraham. He never intended to let Abraham follow through. Elsewhere in the Old Testament, God makes it pretty clear that He has never desired human sacrifice "nor did it ever enter my mind".

The answer to Penn Jillette, therefore, is that if "God" commanded such a thing of us in the modern day, we can be pretty sure it is not God talking to us. And we can therefore ignore it.

J said...

Yes Amazing Cracki, forget all those thinkers and scholars who have struggled with arguments for the existence of God (or ..contra) for decades, nay centuries--it's just ..obvious, since like you can't see some old dude in the clouds,etc. The truth according to Bill Maherstein (Dawkins while rather obnoxious does sort of address both sides, though hardly in detail). Iow, the naive atheist often is misguided as the biblethumping fundamentalists (both forget the 1st Amendment as well).

Freeman Hunt said...

Dawkins is stands very solidly in the New Atheist camp. If you're willing to debate Kirk Cameron about God's existence but not the world's leading theistic scholar on the topic, intellectual rigor does not seem to be your priority.

traditionalguy said...

Penn went straight to the biggest human objection to loving God .

What can man do to relate with a God who kills his own son? And to get that started, he told his new friend Abram to kill his own son.

But that is what a Covenant Keeping God does.

Jehovah is totally faithful to keep his promises. So he will not have a permanent relationship with a man without first setting up a covenant with that man that has rules for both parties to the covenant to keep on penalty of death.

It was Abraham's covenant keeping that was being finally tested here.

Covenant says each party will give all that he has to the other upon request, but the other will not request it unless he needs it.

God sent his request to see if Abraham was faithful to keep their covenant(s) that God had made with Abraham many years earlier.

But once satisfied, God provided the substitute sacrifice which was the Christ type of a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. Jesus , God's son, would later be caught by His horns of loyalty in the thicket of obedience to His Father, wrestle as he might that night in Gethsemane.

Because Abraham had faith to be loyal and covenant keeping, God could send Jesus, The Seed of Abraham, when needed to complete the plans for God through Abraham to bless the Hebrews, and through them bless the rest of the world.

Jesus trusted his Father to raise him from the dead, justify Him, Glorify Him and with Him do the same for all who would believe in that New Covenant in the Blood of the lamb of God, Jesus of Nazareth.

That's about it.

And also I know that God loves Crack, because he told me so.

Job said...

Atheists are so tiresome.

They've been making the same arguments for thousands of years but each new sophomore class thinks that the old ideas are fresh.

Of course, religious people also make old arguments, but the religious don't claim that they've come up with something new.

Atheists really need to get over their own egos.

d-day said...

Not an atheist . . . a sinner.

rcommal said...

just a nobody-gives-a-fuck-what here; it's productive place to be, taking into account all of it:

including voting

Lance said...

If Barack Obama told you to kill your child, and you didn't, does that make you a Republican?