FRDB Archives

Freethought & Rationalism Archive

The archives are read only.


Go Back   FRDB Archives > Archives > Biblical Criticism - 2001
Welcome, Peter Kirby.
You last visited: Today at 05:55 AM

Notices

 
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 10-11-2001, 10:55 AM   #1
pug846
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Somewhere
Posts: 1,587
Post Abraham and Isaac

Having just re-read Fear and Trembling, I was curious as to what message Christians get from that story? Nomad, Bede, at al. What message is God trying to give to us? If you have read Fear and Trembling, what is your take on Kierkegaards analaysis of faith?
pug846 is offline  
Old 10-11-2001, 11:08 AM   #2
Toto
Contributor
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Los Angeles area
Posts: 40,549
Post

The full text appears to be online:
http://www.mindspring.com/~telos/etext/fear.htm
Toto is offline  
Old 10-11-2001, 11:40 AM   #3
pug846
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Somewhere
Posts: 1,587
Post

D'oh. I'm a tard. Just to clarify what I meant - What is your viewpoint of the story of Abraham being told to sacrifice Isaac.

Fear and Trembling is Kierkegaard's view on the subject and would represent close to what I feel on the issue. However, you need not know a damn think about FT to comment here. The refrence was only made so that if someone had read it, they could construct their answer with a certain view of faith in mind.
pug846 is offline  
Old 10-11-2001, 02:35 PM   #4
Toto
Contributor
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Los Angeles area
Posts: 40,549
Post

Metacrock claims to be a big Kierkegaard scholar. Maybe he will answer you.

But it might help if you fleshed out the question.
Toto is offline  
Old 10-11-2001, 02:52 PM   #5
pug846
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Somewhere
Posts: 1,587
Post

First of all, Toto, thanks for finding that link!

Quote:
Metacrock claims to be a big Kierkegaard scholar. Maybe he will answer you.
I attempted to get Metacrock to answer a similar question on another thread, but giving Metcrock the benefit of the doubt, he missed it in his subsequent replies to me.

Quote:
But it might help if you fleshed out the question.
Sure. I assume most of us know the story of Abraham and Isaac. God promised Abraham a son who would be the father of many nations. Finally, after waiting over a hundred years, God tells Abraham he must offer Isaac as a burnt offering and kill him. Just as Abraham is about to do it, God tells him to stop and kill a Ram instead. Touching.

Anyway, this clearly raises an ethical dilemma. By any account, it would be immoral to kill your own son. Clearly, you have some sort of obligation to your own son and killing him would violate that. There has to be some sort of teleological suspension of the ethical by Abraham.

This story is supposed to demonstrate the faith you are supposed to have in God. God asks you to do a clearly immoral act and you are supposed to follow through. This story shatters the attempt by many Christian theologians to build a bridge between the religious way of life and the ethically rational way of life. It also seems to drive a wedge between ‘reason’ and ‘faith’ – what could be more reasonable than killing your own son. God demands ultimate obedience and the only way you can do that is by a deeply irrational faith. Abraham has that deeply irrational faith – he does what God commends all the while hoping he won’t have to go through with the action. However, it is patently absurd to expect God to change his mind.

So the basic question is, given the story of Abraham, how can you harmonize rationality and faith – ethics and religion.
pug846 is offline  
Old 10-11-2001, 05:39 PM   #6
Grumpy
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Alaska, USA
Posts: 1,535
Thumbs up

That's a good question, and worthy of this thread. Let's try to avoid the side-issue of how Abraham could be certain it was God ordering him to do an otherwise immoral act, and not Satan trying to deceive him. While I personally find that angle more intriguing, it has been covered in other threads.
Grumpy is offline  
Old 10-11-2001, 10:48 PM   #7
jupstin
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Southern California
Posts: 32
Post

Quote:
Originally posted by pug846:
<STRONG>First of all, Toto, thanks for finding that link!



Anyway, this clearly raises an ethical dilemma. By any account, it would be immoral to kill your own son. Clearly, you have some sort of obligation to your own son and killing him would violate that. There has to be some sort of teleological suspension of the ethical by Abraham.

This story is supposed to demonstrate the faith you are supposed to have in God. God asks you to do a clearly immoral act and you are supposed to follow through. This story shatters the attempt by many Christian theologians to build a bridge between the religious way of life and the ethically rational way of life. It also seems to drive a wedge between ‘reason’ and ‘faith’ – what could be more reasonable than killing your own son. God demands ultimate obedience and the only way you can do that is by a deeply irrational faith. Abraham has that deeply irrational faith – he does what God commends all the while hoping he won’t have to go through with the action. However, it is patently absurd to expect God to change his mind.

So the basic question is, given the story of Abraham, how can you harmonize rationality and faith – ethics and religion.</STRONG>
I take issue with your interpretation of the story. The story is not about supposed to demonstrate that if "God asks you to do a clearly immoral act and you are supposed to follow through." Instead I think it's supposed to show that this God, as opposed to some other Gods, would never require a human to commit a clearly immoral act.

You claim that "by any account, it would be immoral to kill your own son," but the idea of child sacrifice was not born in Genesis 22. There were cultures that did not consider this an immoral act, therefore the idea that God would require such a sacrifice was not necessarily foreign to Abraham. It's not likely that he anticipated having to offer his son's life to God, but this is not necessarily because he was patently against the idea. Abraham knew that God promised to make a great nation of his first born son. Since he was capable of reason, Abraham had to understand the potential contradiction in killing Isaac.

That God did not let Abraham carry out this sacrifice is the triumph of a logically consistent God. He did not make a promise and require the negation of that promise.
jupstin is offline  
Old 10-12-2001, 01:49 AM   #8
Metacrock
Banned
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Dallas, Texas, USA
Posts: 1,734
Post

Quote:
Originally posted by Toto:
<STRONG>Metacrock claims to be a big Kierkegaard scholar. Maybe he will answer you.

But it might help if you fleshed out the question.</STRONG>
I dont' calim to be a "big Keirkegaard scholar" I claim that he is one of my favotie theological writers.
Metacrock is offline  
Old 10-12-2001, 01:59 AM   #9
Metacrock
Banned
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Dallas, Texas, USA
Posts: 1,734
Post

Quote:
Originally posted by pug846:
<STRONG>Having just re-read Fear and Trembling, I was curious as to what message Christians get from that story? Nomad, Bede, at al. What message is God trying to give to us? If you have read Fear and Trembling, what is your take on Kierkegaards analaysis of faith?</STRONG>
MEta =&gt;Yes I've read Fear and Trembling several times. But not since about 92. I wrote a paper on it dealing with Camus's attacks on SK in the Myth of Sysiphus

Sk sets up what he calls "the Knight of faith" which is paradigm of the most advanced person of faith. He does indeed contrast this with what he took to be a "reasoned" approach to religion.

But I think when atheists hear that they might think that irrational means stupid. SK was not saying that faith requries a lack of thought or that a person of faith should be without thought. But he was saying that is its own sort of "proof" and is anti-thetical to making logical arguements. This all goes back to his dichotomy between logic and expernce. Logic is hypothetical, it doesn't tell us what it is to actually encounter truth. Experince is direct, it's an acutal encounter with (to borrow Tillich's phrase) "the object of ultimate concern."

So by faith SK understands a link to experince. As I recall I charged that Camus was speaking at cross purposes with SK. He was trying to read SK's termenology as Sartre's terminology, so he reads irrational as "the absurd" rather than something based upon intersubjectivity. That sets up the wrong understanding all the way through. I would have to dig out my paper to remember more. It was a long time ago.

As for the story of Ab and Issac overall we can learn many things from it. One of the major things we learn is that the dream and the promise have to die, or at least seem to die. The thing Ab had trusted God for for so long was about to be killed by his own hand. So faith is largley a matter of trusting God, regardless of how things look.

Not enough is made of the fact that it was a test and God stopped the sacrafice because AB was willing to make it. So we have to be willing to sacrafice the very thing we are trusting God for in order to get it back even better. Which is a literary way of saying that we have to trust God alone for himself and be willing to sacrafice everything.

There are more profound SK observations that can be made but I'll have to think about it some more.
Metacrock is offline  
Old 10-12-2001, 10:50 AM   #10
pug846
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Somewhere
Posts: 1,587
Post

Jupstin said:

Quote:
The story is not about supposed to demonstrate that if "God asks you to do a clearly immoral act and you are supposed to follow through." Instead I think it's supposed to show that this God, as opposed to some other Gods, would never require a human to commit a clearly immoral act.
But you seem to have missed the point. God asked Abraham to do it. At that point, Abraham had to go through the whole action – three whole days – thinking about having to kill his own son. What would have been the point of the story if Abraham knew all along that he wasn’t going to have to do it. Yes, Abraham hoped he wouldn’t have to do it, but that is absurd! Why would God have changed his mind?

This is a side issue, but I think it is pretty clear from other parts of the bible that God has no problem with murder.

Quote:
You claim that "by any account, it would be immoral to kill your own son," but the idea of child sacrifice was not born in Genesis 22.
So, child sacrifice only became immoral after Genesis 22? Uh?

Quote:
It's not likely that he anticipated having to offer his son's life to God, but this is not necessarily because he was patently against the idea. Abraham knew that God promised to make a great nation of his first born son. Since he was capable of reason, Abraham had to understand the potential contradiction in killing Isaac.
So, his reason led him to the point where either way there was a contradiction? Anyway, the point is Abraham would have gone through with it if he had to.

Metacrock said:

Quote:
But I think when atheists hear that they might think that irrational means stupid. SK was not saying that faith requires a lack of thought or that a person of faith should be without thought. But he was saying that is its own sort of "proof" and is anti-thetical to making logical arguments. This all goes back to his dichotomy between logic and experience. Logic is hypothetical, it doesn't tell us what it is to actually encounter truth. Experience is direct, it's an actual encounter with (to borrow Tillich's phrase) "the object of ultimate concern."
Hell, I don’t know if Kierkegaard would agree with you that faith isn’t stupid! He most certainly thinks it is absurd. He simply was saying that at some point, you have to abandon reason and take that leap of faith.

Quote:
The thing Ab had trusted God for for so long was about to be killed by his own hand. So faith is largley a matter of trusting God, regardless of how things look.
And you still don’t seem to be giving this enough thought! God was asking Abraham to abandon his reason and simply trust him. That is what faith is! Abandoning your reason and simply trusting God. If Abraham wouldn’t have done this, then he wouldn’t of had faith.

Quote:
Not enough is made of the fact that it was a test and God stopped the sacrafice because AB was willing to make it. So we have to be willing to sacrafice the very thing we are trusting God for in order to get it back even better. Which is a literary way of saying that we have to trust God alone for himself and be willing to sacrafice everything.
It doesn’t matter that God stopped the sacrifice – the point in question here is that at some level, God expected Abraham to be willing to do this completely irrational thing because he ordered it! This is what faith is! If you could understand religion all by itself and it was this completely rational thing, then why do you need faith? Further, it seems clear that if any Christian would be honest with themselves for a moment and realize that to kill your own son, God ordering it or not, is irrational and absurd! How would you feel if I killed my own son and told you God had ordered it! You would believe me to be an irrational fool – and I would be.

[ October 12, 2001: Message edited by: pug846 ]
pug846 is offline  
 

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:33 PM.

Top

This custom BB emulates vBulletin® Version 3.8.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.