Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Highlanders

We talked about child sacrifice and the bible which led to the loss of documents and how depressing that is...like the library of Alexander. The burning of the Library potentially started the Dark Ages. Hypatia, the librarian/philosopher of the library is considered the first modern woman philosophers.
Dr. phil chimed in by saying that he would discredit the god who told him to sacrifice his child. A child who puts such great trust in the relationship and taking the child's life is disrespectful throwing out the father son relationship for a "higher being". Leigh noted that parents are there to take care of you and it's hard to imagine making that sacrifice.

Anybody who is willing to sacrifice their child should probably not have children. It's one thing to make a self sacrifice for your faith but sacrificing another person for your faith is unethical and meant to be questioned.


  1. If I may, I'd like to make an observation about the story of Abraham.

    The story illustrates what great faith looks like. It is precisely because Abraham was willing, all the way up to the critical point, to obey God and sacrifice Isaac that he is counted as one of the "Great Men of Faith." Dr, Phil is right that such a command is antithetical to the natural and good response of human beings to protect their children from harm, which is precisely why Abraham's faith is so amazing. Understanding the implications and apparent contradictions, Abraham trusted God because he knew that God had the whole situation under control and that anything which happened would be in pursuance of God's Plan for the world. Therein lies the beauty of that story: Abraham loved his son, his only son--and yet, he trusted God so wholly that he would even give God back the son God had given him. That's where the ram comes in. It was not a simple, "Oh, look, a ram. Let's sacrifice that instead, shall we? Avoid all this unpleasant 'child sacrifice' business, doncha know." No, Abraham was commanded by God not to kill his son and instead the sacrifice the ram God had placed there, for God then knew the depth of Abraham's faith. In fact, that was the intent of the situation: to test Abraham's faith, as noted at the beginning of the relevant chapter (Gen. 22:1).

    The story points to the astounding faith which Abraham had in God, for he knew God would provide. Was the command contrary to how people are made to act--what is natural? Of course. Was it contrary to God's nature? No. Ought someone whom God commands to act in a certain way reject the command on the basis that it doesn't make sense from a human perspective? No, for the whole point is to illustrate the depth of God's trustworthiness and the trust of Abraham. In fact, Abraham was blessed for his faith: God promised to multiply his descendants, for an entire nation was to be born from his son, Isaac.

    There's more to the story than just illustrating one man's great faith, though. The story stresses that Isaac was Abraham's *only* son--just as Jesus is God's only Son. Abraham's faith in and love for God was emphasized in his response to that test. God's love for humanity shines forth in the sacrifice He made: He sent His Son to pay for humanity, just like the ram was sent to take Isaac's place. That's what love looks like. God so loved this world that He sent His only Son, that whomever might believe in Him would not perish but have eternal life. That's what love looks like, and Abraham's story both reflects that love and foreshadows the love to come.

  2. With all due respect to an ancient tradition and your own evident piety, what this form of "great faith" looks like to me is murderous narcissism. I've found nothing in life more sacred and precious than the uncompromised trust I once invested in my own now-deceased parents, and which I've done everything I could to earn from my own children. Love the ones you're with, the flesh-and-blood human beings whose lives and reality are more than abstract conjecture. THAT's what love looks like.

    1. But then again, THAT is your own opinion. In a theistic sense, duty to God is paramount. Look at the Stoics - everything boiled down to doing one's duty. The early Christian Church was heavily influenced by Stoicism (equating the Logos with Christ) and therefore this sense of duty and responsibility was transferred into personal piety. If God is Love, as Christians truly believe, then serving God's order (doing your duty) to violate what you see as the highest form of corporeal love should, in reality, prove that what you consider to be the zenith is only the nadir in the eyes of God. Is it not pure arrogance and pride to look into the face of the Being that knows all, is all-powerful, and created everything, and tell Him that you know better? After all, that was the sin of Lucifer, and look where that got him.

    2. John makes an excellent point "that what you consider to be the zenith is only the nadir in the eyes of God." Too often people leave out the part of the story which I tried to emphasize: that God sought to test the depth of Abraham's faith. It's precisely because Abraham was willing to contravene that natural impulse toward protecting one's children that his faith was so great. His faith was no narcissism; no, it was unparalleled trust that God would work all things toward the right end which made his trust so amazing. As a matter of fact, his faith was the antithesis of narcissism. Narcissism would have been to defy God's command and disobey. Faith was to obey knowing that God had complete control over the circumstances and would keep His promises. To love one's children is a high calling and one of the greatest a father can have, but to trust God with the life of that beloved child is far greater. Because of his faith, Abraham was rewarded. The highest trust is to place that trust in one who can protect a man through all things, and that's God. God is far vaster than the human mind can fathom, and to declare that the human mind perceives the situation more accurately than God does is, indeed, pure arrogance.

      Loving flesh-and-blood people is by no means wrong. However, loving and trusting God is far greater, for God is far greater.

    3. Yea I believe that this story is often misunderstood it is all about trust.

  3. Good points Mitchell and John. God spared Isaac because of Abraham's faith. Abraham trusted that God knew what he was doing and because of that trust Abraham did not have to sacrifice his only son.

  4. To me, that faith seems off-putting to me. Sacrificing animals to gods is difficult enough for me to understand, but thinking that someone would put so much faith in this omniscient being that he would be willing to kill his own child isn't something I could ever share. My mom is a devout Christian, but I'd like to think that she wouldn't murder me because God told her to.

    1. There's something to note about the animal sacrifices. Originally, animal sacrifice was practiced to cover the sins of the people. The priests would go through the appointed practices to conduct the sacrifices, and that sufficed at that time. As the sacrifice of the ram in place of Isaac foreshadowed Jesus's sacrifice, the sacrifice of doves, lambs, etc. foreshadowed also Jesus. The other practices conducted before and during the sacrifice served the same function, but those would be too many to go into here. Suffice it to say that animal sacrifice symbolized the later, greater sacrifice which would be made.

      I cannot stress enough how important it is to realize that the purpose of God's command was to test Abraham's faith. Abraham's faith was so impressive because he knew God's nature, and that nature is to keep His promises. Before he went up to Mount Moriah, Abraham knew he had been promised a son by God. He had been given that son. Even knowing that, he still trusted God to work all things to the right end and went up to sacrifice the only son he had whom God had given to him. Abraham knew that Isaac was a gift to him from God, and he was willing to give that gift back to the Giver because he trusted and loved that Giver so deeply. For that faith, God rewarded him.

      Note that Abraham never killed Isaac. He was willing to because he trusted God. And what if God had required him to go through with that sacrifice? The gift of a son was God's to give and God's to take back. God holds the gift of life, and what if it were time for Isaac to be taken back to God and be with Him? Clearly that wasn't the case in that circumstance, but what if it were? Abraham would have asked why, and he would have been terribly sad, I'm certain. In fact, he would have been heartbroken. The real command was not to kill his son, but to trust God. That command was met, and Abraham was rewarded for that trust.

      God has all things in His control, and all things go to the end which God intends. As CS Lewis put it, "You will certainly carry out God's purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John." The point is that all which is done goes toward God's purpose, whether intended to serve that purpose or not. If God had required Abraham to follow through and sacrifice his son, it would have served God's purpose, whatever that purpose may have been. However, God's purpose was to test Abraham's faith and reward him for his faith by multiplying his offspring by the millions: he created an entire nation--the nation of Israel--from Abraham through Isaac, all through one man's enormous trust in the Giver of Life.

  5. Factual Question: Who wrote the book Joyful Wisdom, wherein he said famously, "God is dead?" (Answer: Nietzche)

    Discussion Question: What do you think about the death of God, as Nietzche described it?

    Having read all the comments already posted, I have to say that I am in agreement with Dr. Phil. While I respect peoples' right to believe and have faith in an omnipotent, omniscient being, I believe that one's responsibility to the people that rely on them is just as great, if not greater, than the duty to one single god. I hold my duty to my friends and family and self paramount, and especially in the instance of children, should I ever have any, I expect my commitment to them to be by and large greater than my commitment to any religious figure. The idea that I could be asked by some entity to do them harm (or even to kill them) is one that I readily and vigorously reject. That God would need such a confirmation of faith as even asking Abraham to COMMIT to killing his own son severely diminishes any respect I could have for Him, for that would make him either a narcissistic god in need of constant affirmation of his power; or a cruel god, willing to force his faithful to make sacrifices (particularly ones that, in turn, require the sacrifice of another, as would Isaac's death at the hands of his father).
    As I said - I respect peoples' right to a religion, to belief in a god or many. But I personally cannot fathom putting my own child (or any other family member or friend whom I care about) to death for the sake of my own faith.

    Link: the text of Joyful Wisdom.

  6. Well, as the Nietzsche/God image in my post avers: if god exists, he'll get the last word.

  7. Olivia (The Highlanders)12:08 PM CST

    Factual question: What famous German philosopher said "God is dead." and wrote "Joyful Wisdom"? A: Nietzsche

    Discussion question: What are your ideas on Freud's concept of the belief in God being a need for protection just as when you are a small child?

    Comment: I thought our conversation was very interesting and I enjoyed hearing what everyone had to say. I don't get a change to hear what others have to say on old testament biblical stories too often, and I believe it is good for me, as a person of faith, to do that. I was on the side of defending Abraham and see his actions as the ultimate act of faith. By no means do I feel that I would ever be ready to sacrifice my child, but I do believe that God asks for every part of our lives including family and to allow Him to do what He pleases with that. I have also heard this story told many times and in one, most recent, incidence it was explained that Issac had faith in his father because he knew who his father answered to. As a Christian, I think that's a pretty cool idea and kind of allows me to think about the whole thing rather than just Abraham's part in it.

    Link: Here is a link where you can buy some "Freudian Slippers" ..... I thought it was funny.


  8. Factual Question: What Austrian neurologist became known as the founding father of psychoanalysis? A: Sigmund Freud

    Discussion Question: Do you think psychology and philosophy are inherently linked?

    Comment: We had a very interesting discussion last Tuesday, and it's interesting to read these comments that express a different point of view. However, I fail to understand why the Christian faith commands its followers to not tempt God...but then tells the story of Abraham, which to me expresses a God that almost plays cruel games. I simply cannot agree that undying faith in a God which may or may not exist is more important than the trust of your children.

    Link: Here's a cool article from the NY Times on Freud as a philosopher:

  9. Factual: Freud began his career as a _____________. (neurologist)

    Discussion: What do you think Nietzche meant when he said God is dead?

    Comment: I am sorry that I missed this discussion.


  10. Factual Question: Who said everyone has a philosophy whether they realize it or not? James
    Discussion Question: Can you really tell much about anyone based solely upon their looks?
    Comment: In today's society, Abraham would be considered psychotic. Regardless of one's faith, I don't know how you could even considered killing someone you love (someone who is tangible) under the order of some higher power (which is intangible). It doesn't seem logical, and to me paints "God" as some type of power-hungry cult leader.
    Link: Wiki article on Abraham being tested by God http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binding_of_Isaac