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Welcome to a problem-identifying node of the Pandeism index!!


The thing that has always bothered me most about this story is the ram. So Old Biblegod instructs faithful Abraham to sacrifice his own son (and really it matters not from a moral perspective whether it is his first or last or only son) -- sacrifice to who? Well, to Abraham's god, naturally, the god instructing the sacrifice wishes the sacrifice to be to itself. Never mind whether this all turns out to be a test or a joke or an elaborate heist plot, Abraham chooses to worship a deity whom Abraham believes would accept the murder of a defenseless, innocent human being. And had Abraham refused the request? Had Abraham declared, "no, it is immoral to kill another person, even at the demand of one's deity"? "No, it is wrong for a man to kill his own unsuspecting son"? Naturaly, by my view a response such as those would have been the one which passed the test.

But Abraham believes that his deity is indeed of the sort which would accept such a sacrifice, of a human, of a man's own unconvicted, unsuspecting son, at all; and believes apparently not simply that it is in his own best interests to comply with his god's demand (since, after all, this deity when angry can cause horrific sorts of grief), but that it is morally correct to obey such a command. His lament is that he will be without his son, not that it is wrong in any moral dimension to plunge a knife into his son's heart at the behest of a metaphysical voice, even one to whom Abraham accords ultimate moral accreditation.

But, so the story goes, Abraham's deity sees that Abraham is indeed prepared to murder his own son for the deity's delight, and the deity is satisfied with that-- and so sends along the ram to be sacrificed in the boy's place. Whatever difference there are to be papered over in the accounts offered by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, this element abides in all of them. But why is that necessary? Abraham has proved his point, that he'd commit the most vile of murders on the tug of a string, there seems no reason to not simply proclaim, "Abraham, you've done well in being ready to go through with it, so don't kill anything, but instead have yourself a picnic, play some touch football with the lad. Whatever." But, no, there still must be a killing. Abraham's deity still requires a sacrifice, an infliction of pain and death on a haplass animal, as innocent and unsuspecting as the son had been. And it is a wasteful death at that if the tradition of burning all the good parts to a cinder is to be observed. It might be claimed that it would have been Abraham's tradition to perform such a sacrifice, but that seems to be of little value given that it was surely Abraham's tradition to, by way of example, not murder his own son as a sacrifice.

So though it may be a crime to trick a man into believing that he is to murder his beloved child, by my view the greater crime committed in this tale is the actual needless murder of the innocent ram.