Sunday, July 20, 2008

Abraham and Isaac

Gen 22:1 Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."
Gen 22:2 He said, "Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you."

...

Gen 22:5 Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you."

...

Gen 22:7 Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." And he said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"
Gen 22:8 Abraham said, "God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together.

...

Gen 22:10 Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
Gen 22:11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."
Gen 22:12 He said, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."
Gen 22:13 Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind {him} a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son.
Gen 22:14 Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, "In the mount of the LORD it will be provided."

(Source)


No need really to go over the story again in my own words; the historical account is plain.

Some argue that God is evil or unjust to order Abraham to murder his son. There are a few defenses against that statement, and I will touch on a couple before moving on to a more central point that I haven't ever heard made, though I'm sure better men than I have made it before.

Point 1) God didn't command that Abraham kill Isaac. He commanded him to "offer him as a sacrifice". Not the same thing.

Point 2) Abraham himself didn't think that God meant that he should actually kill Isaac.
See the boldfaced comment in verses 5 and 8 - why say "we will return"? Why state that the lamb will be provided?

But Abraham was just trying to keep Isaac from panicking and running away! (as has been said before)

Perhaps, but there's no indication from the text that this is so.
And why didn't Isaac run away, if he was so fearful, when Abraham got the stuff and all was ready and the lamb was still not there?

Point 3) Abraham also believed that, even if the sacrifice were to go all the way thru to Isaac's death, God would resurrect Isaac. B/c he was a man of faith.

Hbr 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten {son;}
Hbr 11:18 {it was he} to whom it was said, "IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED."
Hbr 11:19 He considered that God is able to raise {people} even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.
(Source)

Point 4) See Hebrews 11:19 - this sacrifice of a ram instead of a sinful human to atone for sin foreshadows the Mosaic Law to come, and each are foremost a type of the final and complete sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
Interestingly (and hat tip to Tim Staples of Catholic Answers, ironically, who I heard point this out), Abraham refers to a "lamb" that God will provide. Yet mere minutes later, God provides - not a lamb, but a ram. What of the lamb? It is yet another type of Christ, the spotless Passover Lamb, the Lamb of God, still to come in the future, in whom faith is expressed by Abraham the first Hebrew. God thus had a vested interest in taking a human to the brink of death yet substituting another in his place.

Point 5) As James 1 and 2 tells us, God was testing Abraham's faith in the fire of adversity. Would he trust God, that which is eternal and authoritative, or what he saw, which is temporal and seems authoritative and "normal"?

Point 6) I preface this point with 2 warnings, to apply to comments.
  1. If you perform an internal critique, you must do so in accord with Christian presuppositions.
  2. If you perform an external critique, you must provide a basis for morality that will extend to individuals who are not you. For a guide to what questions you need to answer in order to accomplish that, see my blogalogue with the atheist ChooseDoubt.
  3. I suggest you at least skim my major points in this thread, culminating in this comment, to see what's gone before.

My central point - God has the right to kill anyone or command that anyone be killed at any time.
People die every second of every day. Man is fallen and sinful, and the penalty for sin is death - Romans 3:23 and following through the end of chapter 5. It is only thru God's forbearance and mercy that I or any other person draw the next breath. And the next, and the next. And of course, it is only thru His mercy in Christ's death and resurrection that eternal Hell is not everyone's final destination.

Murder is defined as the unjustified taking of human life.
Yet, as every man, woman, and child is sinful and bears the guilt of the sin of Adam, all are subject to the death penalty. This includes Isaac. This also includes the various peoples of Canaan, whom God commanded the OT Hebrews to put to death after hundreds of years of giving them time to repent of their perversions. This includes the millions of babies that die every year in the womb (re: Sam Harris' correct and yet wrongheaded and amazingly morally blind assertion that God is the greatest living abortionist). God is fully justified in putting anyone to death at any time thru any manner or agency He chooses.
Thus, even if God did not intervene before Abraham's knife swept downward, He would be fully justified.

So why does God set Himself apart as the God Who does not demand child sacrifice as Molech did? Why does He also call out as sinful the foreign deities that call on their people to sacrifice and the actions of child sacrifice in the Old Testament Canaanite societies?

A few possibilities:
1) Those deities are false. They don't exist qua deity.
2) Therefore, the origin of those ideas to sacrifice children is (either) human and/or demonic in nature. Neither human nor demon has the right to kill a(nother) human in anything close to this circumstance.
3) Such practices further idolatry and worship of false gods, which of course are no gods at all. Which of course violates the 1st Commandment.

So, God could conceivably demand child sacrifice and be justified in doing so, but does not demand such. God thus creates yet more space for distinguishing between Himself and the false gods to which these pagans held. That is a merciful thing to do. He also wrote into His Law that no one is to put their child to death. That is a merciful thing to do. He wrote it on the hearts of humanity in general (Romans 2:13-15) such things. That is a merciful thing to do. To set God, the true God, apart from false gods in His ability and authority to give life and take it, to set up authority to take life under certain conditions (ie, the gov't in cases of capital crimes), and to define how He will and will not be worshiped.

What is amazing is that, despite the obvious horror, and despite their knowledge that God is the only true God (Romans 1:18-26), some societies throughout history have nevertheless turned away to these invented foreign deities that demanded satisfaction thru child sacrifice. The story of evil here is, once again, man, not God.

(See here also for more analysis of the underlying question.)

49 comments:

agnostiChicagOkie said...

I asked “Would you personally kill your child if God told you to do so?”

You replied “God wouldn't do so. God has proscribed murder.”

Now you say “God is fully justified in putting anyone to death at any time thru any manner or agency He chooses.”

So which is it? Can you count on God never to order you to kill your kids because murder is wrong, or must you just hope and pray that God does not give you an order which is fully justified in divine moral terms?

Teresita said...

If God is omniscient, he already knew Abraham would not withhold Isaac, so the whole affair amounts to a divine twiddling of the thumbs, except that it terrified Isaac.

Phinehas said...

But we are not omniscient - and, among other things, it was important to see one of the leaders of our faith show why he is one of the leaders.

Not to mention that the whole story is an allusion to the crucifixion, which shows us what God had in mind long before it happened.

I'm willing to bet that Isaac was honored to be in that position. Of course, the Bible doesn't say that directly, but neither does it say he was terrified, so we can both speculate a little.

Rhology said...

Can you count on God never to order you to kill your kids because murder is wrong, or must you just hope and pray that God does not give you an order which is fully justified in divine moral terms?

Excellent question.
1) I hasten to remind everyone that there's a distinction between child sacrifice and the death of a child.
Anyway, God has never ordered anyone to kill his kids in sacrifice, and God has very clearly delineated the limits of worship of Him (and these pagan child sacrifices were in a religious context), so no, I don't expect that He would ever do that.
2) There have been times when God has called upon people to act as instruments unto death of His wrath, though. And the reference to the gov't's not "bear(ing) the sword in vain" in ROmans 13 makes clear that God endows the gov't with the right to execute capital criminals.
3) God is fully justified to put anyone to death at any time. The fact that I'm alive to write this after all the sin I've committed is a testimony to God's patience and mercy.


teresita said:
the whole affair amounts to a divine twiddling of the thumbs, except that it terrified Isaac.

Phinehas' comments are right on.
teresita might as well say "God knows everything that will happen over the entire history of the world, from start to finish, so why even bother creating it or doing anything?"
Fortunately, teresita is not God and almost certainly wouldn't say that she is omniscient, so one can justifiably wonder aloud whether there might be a few reasons why God would "expend" all those resources just to accomplish His perfect will in the subset of knowledge that exists beyond teresita's current amount of knowledge.

agnostiChicagOkie said...

God never ordered a ritual sacrifice?

Ab built an altar, arranged the wood, bound his son, laid him on the altar atop the (as yet unkindled) wood, then took the knife in hand to slit the boy's throat. If this was not a ritual sacrifice in progress, what was it?

Rhology said...

'okie and teresita find themselves in conflict. teresita at least understands that The God of the Bible ordains and foreknows all things. Besides, you're ignoring my points in the post, repeating the already-responded-to argument. That's a no-no.

agnostiChicagOkie said...

You said "God has never ordered anyone to kill his kids in sacrifice" and in there very next post I noted that Abraham acted as if that was precisely what God had ordered. Where is the no-no?

Rhology said...

The no-no is repeating an argument already refuted in points 1 and 2.
Do read the post and take it into acct before you post comments. Comments are for comments ON THE POST, not for whatever comes into your head at the moment.

agnostiChicagOkie said...

You sound a bit upset. I'll come back later after you have cooled down a bit, since you seem overly sensitive on this topic.

NAL said...

Rho:
... why say "we will return"?

Because if Abraham had told them he was going to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, they may not have parsed that comment exactly as you did. If the young men were atheists, they might have thought that Abraham was deluded and tried to stop him.

Rho:
Why state that the lamb will be provided?

So Issac wouldn't wise up and run away.

If a theist, today, told you that God had told him to offer his son as a sacrifice, what would you do?
Try and stop him?

Rhology said...

NAL said:
Because if Abraham had told them he was going to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, they may not have parsed that comment exactly as you did.

And apparently you think that God couldn't have protected the course of action from human interference.
You *do* realise that these men were Abraham's servants, right?
But of course, as long as you're speculating, I'll take Phinehas' lead and speculate that they would have been perfectly OK with it.


If the young men were atheists, they might have thought that Abraham was deluded and tried to stop him.

If they were inconsistent atheists, you're right, they might have. If they were consistent, they would shrug - "Sure man, whatever. Ain't nothing wrong, ain't nothing right neither."

Also, if they were space aliens, they might have raygunned Isaac to death before Abraham would have the chance to take care of it with a simple knife. Primitive technology, they might have sneered.
Or if they were secretly unicorns who had temporarily shapeshifted into human form, they could have momentarily resumed unicorn form to spear Isaac thru the heart too fast for Ab to see.
Or if they were headhunter pagans, they could have asked that Abraham bring back Isaac's head once Ab was done sacrificing him so they could mount it as a trophy.


So Issac wouldn't wise up and run away.

Did you just skip down to the very bottom before commenting?
Phinehas already said:
I'm willing to bet that Isaac was honored to be in that position. Of course, the Bible doesn't say that directly, but neither does it say he was terrified, so we can both speculate a little.


If a theist, today, told you that God had told him to offer his son as a sacrifice, what would you do?
Try and stop him?


That's a fine question, actually.
Yeah, I'd stop him, b/c God has never commanded that such a thing go thru.
Points 4 & 5 respond to this - such things are not repeated, especially b/c there's no more foreshadowing of the Messiah to take place; Messiah has already come.

Of course, if God really meant it, He'd arrange that no one be able to stop the event from happening.

Let's also keep in mind that the executions that actually went all the way to the death of the object of the execution order are, in the OT, always a result of serious sin. The Canaanites, the Egyptian 1stborn, the various punishments inflicted on the disobedient Israelites, various false prophets, even Ananias and Sapphira in Acts. Never were those in the context of sacrifices. So the case would be dissimilar enough to warrant extreme skepticism.

Also, God has spoken definitively in His Word and there are no men alive today to whom God speaks in the same way as He did to men such as Abraham, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Moses, etc. There is nothing approaching a command or even a suggestion to sacrifice a child in the Scripture, so there is almost every reason to stop him, since the probability is much greater that he is mistaken than that he actually got a command from the Lord to do sthg like that.



To tell you the truth, that's a real toughie, so I congratulate you for partially stumping the chump. :-D Not that you have any argument against Christianity here, since you have no way (as we've seen on this blog alone over and over again) to make any value judgment beyond what amounts to "I like it" and "I don't like it", but it's an interesting thought within Christianity. It'll probably spur me to some conversations with friends on that very topic. So I thank you for the good times to come. ;-)

NAL said...

Rho:
There is nothing approaching a command or even a suggestion to sacrifice a child in the Scripture ...

But ...

Rho:
He commanded him to "offer him as a sacrifice".

Rho:
Of course, if God really meant it, He'd arrange that no one be able to stop the event from happening.

Even Abraham? So Abraham does not have free will? If Abraham decides not to do what God commanded, can God override that decision and force Abraham to obey?

Rhology said...

The term "freewill" is not sthg that I take as of great import.
Yes, he had some form of choice, but not 100% independent.
However, there are numerous examples in the Scr of God influencing or even "forcing" a certain action.

larryniven said...

Well, here's a bad idea of something to say:

"Of course, if God really meant it, He'd arrange that no one be able to stop the event from happening."

So, on your view, God really doesn't really mean for there to be a morally perfect world. God doesn't really want everyone to accept Christianity or go to heaven, God doesn't want there not to be wars or famines or whatever, God doesn't want there not to be atheists or homosexuals, God doesn't want Catholic priests not to molest children, God doesn't want the Bible to be scientifically accurate or logically consistent or even fun to read, etc. - and yet God will get upset when all of these things happen. Tell me again how this being is supposed to be morally perfect? This seems, to be honest, much more like the Stuff-God-Hates God than the God-is-love God.

Oh, and I'll accept your counter-arguments about divinely commanded rape any time now. I thought maybe you were on vacation or something, but it seems like you decided you'd try to dodge the question altogether. Do you admit defeat, or would you like to try again?

Rhology said...

God really doesn't really mean for there to be a morally perfect world.

Not now. Later, yes.
Are you familiar with the Christian doctrine of the Fall?


God doesn't really want everyone to accept Christianity or go to heaven, God doesn't want there not to be wars or famines or whatever, God doesn't want there not to be atheists or homosexuals, God doesn't want Catholic priests not to molest children,

Correct. Not now.


God doesn't want the Bible to be scientifically accurate or logically consistent or even fun to read

1) Scientifically accurate - it is.
2) Logically consistent - give me your 3 best examples of logical inconsistency in the Bible. Make sure to use the internal critique which I describe in the post.
3) I think it's fun to read.


yet God will get upset when all of these things happen.

God holds sinners responsible for their sin, yes.


Tell me again how this being is supposed to be morally perfect?

Internal critique - b/c God is the ultimate good.
External critique - given that you've demonstrated you have no coherent moral framework to offer anyone, one wonders why anyone would care whether *you* think it's morally perfect. By what standard would you propose to judge it imperfect?


I'll accept your counter-arguments about divinely commanded rape any time now

We already went over that (starting here). I'm more than happy where we left off.

larryniven said...

That "not now" stuff is pretty much exactly what I was saying, so I'm with you there. Doesn't really explain moral perfection at all, though, to say "Well, but that'll happen later." Right now, God's record on moral perfection is about the same as Isaiah Thomas's record on being the perfect GM for the New York Knicks. You might have faith that God's record will change, but the evidence is pretty one-sided.

"Scientifically accurate - it is."

No comment necessary, I shouldn't think, but just in case you need one, pi =/= 3. You only want 3 contradictions? Okay:

http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/confusion.html
http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/die.html
http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/Jesus_witness.html

There are 400+ more on that site, though, so have fun with that. Have you ever read the whole Bible? All things considered, it isn't that long - it's gotta be shorter than the Lord of the Rings trilogy, for instance. So if you haven't read it all, it can't be due to the length...

Let me try a different tactic to help you realize why arbitrarily defining God as good is useless. Pretending for the moment to be a very simplistic atheist, I will define "good" to mean "that which alleviates the most physical suffering." Try, now, to argue as to why that cannot be true.

Finally, "where we left off" about rape is I won. You demonstrated that you didn't even know the meaning of the word and then gave up. This is the second time you've been satisfied with an unambiguous loss and yet you refuse to even budge in your faith. Can I safely call you irrational, now?

Rhology said...

Doesn't really explain moral perfection at all, though, to say "Well, but that'll happen later."

Sorry, I don't know what this means.


Right now, God's record on moral perfection is about the same as Isaiah Thomas's record on being the perfect GM for the New York Knicks.

You mean the actions He has taken? Prove it. By what standard?


in case you need one, pi =/= 3.

Let he who has never ever rounded down or up or said, "Keep the change" cast the 1st stone. Perhaps you are having difficulty w/ what I have presented as my position on the Bible's accuracy in terms of science and mathematics and other non-theological knowledge. We as holders-to of the inerrancy of the Scriptures believe the Scr to be correct in all the facts presented in the Scr. The key to understanding this is to give the Scr, as an ancient document, the same benefit of the doubt and
presumption of innocence that one would extend to, say, _The Iliad_ or _The Gallic Wars_. We also understand that it is not an exhaustive or technical document on science or mathematics. So we should not expect it to give a full and total explanation on the things it is not trying to give a full and total explanation for.

With that said, I would like to know how *you* claim to be accurate and scientific when you round off the circumference of a circle of 10 units at, say, 31.416. Could I not claim that you are incorrect and therefore reject what you have said b/c you were wrong? "How was I wrong?" you ask? You rounded pi off and thus provided incorrect information, of course! Who gave you the right to round pi off at your arbitrary 5 significant figures? Why did you not add 10 "sigfigs" (as my chem teacher used to say)? Why not 346? Why not 1? Why should I give you credit for holding the author of 1 Kings to *your* arbitrary allocation of significant figures? It's not like he listed the circumference at 50 cubits, is it? Finally, are you familiar w/ the definition of a "cubit"? It was a more-or-less kind of measurement, the length of a man's forearm from elbow to the tip of his middle finger. Do forearms vary in length? Is it easy to measure the circumference of a circle in forearms?


Skeptics Annotated Bible

Make sure those are your best. Are they?
I have limited patience for this kind of exercise. Please confirm that these are the best you've ever found or close thereunto, and I'll have at them. And I'll have at no others with you.

There are 400+ more on that site, though, so have fun with that.

The sophomoric understanding in the SAB leaves a ton to be desired.


Have you ever read the whole Bible?

Yes.


So if you haven't read it all, it can't be due to the length...

If this is the kind of argumentation one can expect from the SAB, then there is apparently little to fear. Where is the relevance?


Pretending for the moment to be a very simplistic atheist, I will define "good" to mean "that which alleviates the most physical suffering." Try, now, to argue as to why that cannot be true.

You're not done yet. On what basis should I or anyone accept this definition of "good"?


Finally, "where we left off" about rape is I won.

If you say so.


Can I safely call you irrational, now?

I don't care what you call me.
But if you want the accusation to stick and be coherent, you might start by defining what "rational" is, and how you know.

larryniven said...

"You mean the actions He has taken? Prove it. By what standard?"

...on God's own standards? Because the world isn't perfect yet? As I said, you can say some stuff about how you believe that things will be fixed in the future, but for the moment, you admit that things are not fixed, and that God - despite God's unchanging perfections - is doing nothing to fix this.

Blah blah blah, stuff about literature, and then: "With that said, I would like to know how *you* claim to be accurate and scientific when you round off the circumference of a circle of 10 units at, say, 31.416"

I don't do that, is how. I would say that 10*pi is 31.416..., or "about" or "close to" 31.416, or some such thing indicating an approximation. This happens in the Bible elsewhere, so it's not like it was beyond their ability at the time to write approximations or inexact quantities into the text. What we have here is a mistake (a contradiction in itself, although not one explicitly contradicting another Bible verse). Anyway, I never claimed to be infallible - rounding is something that results from fallibility, so one should expect it from humans. One should not expect it, however, from gods.

Yes - I consider your argumentation to be so weak that even the SAB can defeat it. Go right ahead.

"Have you ever read the whole Bible?

Yes."

Good job! And you really enjoyed it? Even the unending lists of descendants in the Torah?

"On what basis should I or anyone accept this definition of "good"?"

That's not a counter-argument - that's a question. If all I had to do was ask you questions, I would just say "why?" over and over again like a two-year-old and eventually you wouldn't be able to say anything new. String some premises together and form a conclusion and then we'll talk.

Rhology said...

...on God's own standards? Because the world isn't perfect yet?

Which is 100% expected and defined by God's own Word. I'll ask you again if you're familiar with the biblical doctrine of the Fall?


you can say some stuff about how you believe that things will be fixed in the future, but for the moment, you admit that things are not fixed

Precisely.


God - despite God's unchanging perfections - is doing nothing to fix this.

No, God is doing an awful lot to fix this. He's not going as fast as maybe you'd like Him to go and He's not doing it in the way that you think He should, but that's no concern of mine or God's. God is the Ultimate good, you're a fallen human. I'll stick with the ultimate good.


I would say that 10*pi is 31.416..., or "about" or "close to" 31.416, or some such thing indicating an approximation.

So you're guilty of inaccuracy. You're not expressing it precisely right.
Did the psg in question estimate pi at 705? At 2,504,222,664,235? At 1?
So your beef is over a few significant figures. Oh no!


This happens in the Bible elsewhere, so it's not like it was beyond their ability at the time to write approximations or inexact quantities into the text.

Again, you just admitted you use inexact quantities.
The purpose of the psg is not to teach mathematics.
And you haven't responded to the cubit issue.


I consider your argumentation to be so weak that even the SAB can defeat it. Go right ahead.

OK. Since these are on record as your 3 best, I'll go thru them, but I won't do anymore since I've seen so many of these so many times that almost none of them are new to me.


And you really enjoyed it? Even the unending lists of descendants in the Torah?

Meh, I didn't like those parts as much as I like Romans. Doesn't matter.


If all I had to do was ask you questions, I would just say "why?" over and over again like a two-year-old and eventually you wouldn't be able to say anything new.

Maybe, but my "why"s end with a God Who is the ultimate ground for intelligibility, rationality, logic, and morality. Yours lead you either to infinite regress or question-begging assertions grounded in YOU, a pitiful speck of dust on a speck of dust planet in a medium-small galaxy.
Go ahead and answer the question, please.

larryniven said...

"God is doing an awful lot to fix this"

Really? Like what? I haven't heard much about God on the news lately - maybe God's working on this under cover?

"So you're guilty of inaccuracy. You're not expressing it precisely right."

No...no I'm not. It is precisely correct and accurate to say that pi = 3.141..., or that pi = about 3.141, or any of the other things I said. Each of those is literally, accurately, and precisely true. What the Bible said was not literally true (it was, in fact, literally false), and, as I say, it was not so limited in its vocabulary that it could not have expressed it another way. To say that the Bible has its math and science right and then to say, "Well, by 'right,' I mean, sort of kind of right, basically not so far wrong that it's obviously wrong" is disingenuous in the extreme and undermines totally all the claims about how the Bible predicted actual scientific findings. Further, cubits are first of all not so inexact as you would have us believe - otherwise nothing would ever have been successfully built. Even then, this object would have been plainly larger than simply 30 cubits - think of how long 1.415... (see? I did it!) of your forearm is and tell me that you wouldn't notice that much extra space. If this were something on the order of a few millimeters, you might have a case, but even the most sloppy and amateurish builder will note a difference that significant - it's more than a whole integer number of cubits off! This explanation on your part is a joke: here, as in other parts of the Bible, the Hebrews of the time wrote down their best knowledge of the world mixed with straightforward myths. Unsurprisingly, this combination often turns out to be wrong.

"Maybe, but my "why"s end with a God Who is the ultimate ground for intelligibility, rationality, logic, and morality. Yours lead you either to infinite regress or question-begging assertions grounded in YOU, a pitiful speck of dust on a speck of dust planet in a medium-small galaxy.
Go ahead and answer the question, please."

lol@you! You can't even come up with the beginning to an argument! That's beautiful. I might frame this and put it up on my wall. In the meantime, though, you go ahead and provide an argument. As of yet, you've made not even a slight challenge to my definition of "good."

Rhology said...

larryniven said:

Really? Like what?

Went over this above. Please do actually read my comment before rushing to respond to me. It makes for far more intelligent dialogue all around.


It is precisely correct and accurate to say that pi = 3.141..., or that pi = about 3.141, or any of the other things I said.

Then it is precisely correct to say it's about 3.


Further, cubits are first of all not so inexact as you would have us believe - otherwise nothing would ever have been successfully built.

Yes, but .14/3.14 is not a big margin for error for a cubit.


As of yet, you've made not even a slight challenge to my definition of "good."

Asking you to justify it isn't a challenge? Seriously, on what basis should anyone accept what you said as the definition of "good"?

larryniven said...

"Then it is precisely correct to say it's about 3."

Thank you - that's my point exactly (although it'd be nice, if one had infallible knowledge, to be a tad more precise than that, but I would accept "about 3"). That's not what the Bible says (or implies), hence the Bible is imprecise, inaccurate, and wrong. I concur with you here.

"Further, cubits are first of all not so inexact as you would have us believe - otherwise nothing would ever have been successfully built.

Yes, but .14/3.14 is not a big margin for error for a cubit."

...so stuff would only have been subtly broken, instead of entirely broken? No wonder people could destroy walls with ram's horns...

"Asking you to justify it isn't a challenge?"

No.

"Seriously, on what basis should anyone accept what you said as the definition of "good"?"

Seriously, make an argument.

Rhology said...

There's less than no reason to "make an argument" when I don't accept the premises laid out.
You might as well ask me to argue there's no God. Why would I want to waste my time? The ball is in your court.

larryniven said...

"There's less than no reason to "make an argument" when I don't accept the premises laid out.
You might as well ask me to argue there's no God. Why would I want to waste my time? The ball is in your court."

This is simply pathetic. The exact reason for you to make an argument is that you don't accept the premises - this is how philosophy (and even theology) works. If you already agreed with the premises, you wouldn't really want to argue against them, now would you? Moreover, me asking you for an argument against good-is-anti-suffering is precisely the opposite of asking you to argue that there's no God: you don't believe that there's no God, but you do believe that my proposed definition for "good" is wrong. So, again, this is literally the opposite situation. If you can't even start a counter-argument here, you really are wasting everybody's time: nobody, not even those of us looking for an argument on the internet, should have to deal with someone that embarrassingly stupid. Seriously.

agnostiChicagOkie said...

For the record, I don't think you are stupid, embarrassingly or otherwise. Perhaps a bit obfuscatory - if HP is to be believed.

God didn't command that Abraham kill Isaac. He commanded him to "offer him as a sacrifice". Not the same thing.

Can you please explain the difference?

Whatever it might be Abraham seems not to have noticed. According to Gen 22:9 (conspicuously absent from the OP) he built an altar, arranged the wood, bound his son, laid him on the altar atop the wood, then took the knife in hand to slit the boy's throat.

Plainly, Abraham was just about to “kill Isaac...as a sacrifice.” An elaborate ritual human sacrifice not unlike those practiced elsewhere in the ancient near east.

Once again to make it clear that I am commenting ON THE POST - what exactly is the significant difference which you have affirmed in point (1) of the ORIGINAL POST?

agnostiChicagOkie said...

Abraham himself didn't think that God meant that he should actually kill Isaac. Why then would St. Paul claim that Abraham expected to receive Isaac back from the dead?

why say "we will return"?

External critique - Ab lied. He did this every so often, even in the Book of Genesis.

Internal critique - NT says he expected Isaac not to stay dead.

Why state that the lamb will be provided?

External critique - Ab lied again. People do that sometimes, especially people that are obeying the voices in their heads.

Internal critique - Christians claim Isaac foreshadowed Jesus, and that sacrificial lambs also foreshadowed Jesus. On Xn premises, why would one expect Ab to be unaware of the divinely revealed metaphorical connection between Isaac and the sacrificial lamb?

NAL said...

Rho:
Point 2) Abraham himself didn't think that God meant that he should actually kill Isaac.

Perhaps, but there's no indication from the text that this is so.

Why state that the lamb will be provided?

One speculation is that Abraham himself didn't think that God meant that he should actually kill Isaac. But it's just a speculation and not a very good one.

If Abraham didn't think that God meant that he should actually kill Isaac, why try to deceive Isaac with the lamb lie? How does Abraham's deception indicate that God mean that he shouldn't really kill Isaac? Just asking the question is not an argument.

Rhology said...

Sick today, back maybe tomorrow.

Rhology said...

Sorry it took so long. That stomach virus had me down for 5 days. No fun.

larryniven said:
The exact reason for you to make an argument is that you don't accept the premises

OK, OK.
The premise: "I will define "good" to mean "that which alleviates the most physical suffering." Try, now, to argue as to why that cannot be true."

This is nothing more or less than morality by larryniven's fiat, by sheer stipulation.
He asserts it without supporting argument. I simply deny it without supporting argument.
I love it, though - he offers no supporting argument (and simply waves his hand to dismiss my already-well-defined moral stance) and then challenges ME to beat it down. Typically, don't normal arguments work the other way around?
Besides, I have already dispensed with this arbitrary definition of good.


nobody, not even those of us looking for an argument on the internet, should have to deal with someone that embarrassingly stupid.

It goes without saying that no one invited larryniven here (though he is welcome), and moreover certainly no one is coercing him to be here. It also goes without saying that the louder and more shrill the insult, generally the less secure the argument.



'okie said:
I don't think you are stupid, embarrassingly or otherwise. Perhaps a bit obfuscatory - if HP is to be believed.

I appreciate that. :-D
And of course, HP is not to be believed. ;-)


Can you please explain the difference?

He offered him. Whether God *accepts* the sacrifice or not is not even dealt with or explicitly expected. As opposed to killing Isaac, where it's obvious precisely what God wants. the terminology is (purposely) a little vaguer here, is what I'm saying.


Whatever it might be Abraham seems not to have noticed.

Well, sure, but that's part and parcel of an offering.
Besides, the text doesn't tell us how close the knife was to Isaac when the angel stopped him.


According to Gen 22:9 (conspicuously absent from the OP)

Apparently, linking directly to the entire text isn't enough for you. Sorry to disappoint.



An elaborate ritual human sacrifice not unlike those practiced elsewhere in the ancient near east.

1) You'd have quite a lot to do to prove that any such sacrifice was contemporary or directly precedent to Ab's time in history.
2) Not very elaborate at all. Build a fire, bind the kid, take the knife. Try again.



Why then would St. Paul claim that Abraham expected to receive Isaac back from the dead?

It was the anonymous author of the Ep to the Hebrews, just as an aside, not the Apostle Paul.
True, one could say that Points 1 and 2 are alternates to Point 3. I'll give you that.


External critique - Ab lied. He did this every so often, even in the Book of Genesis.

Ext - so what? There's nothing right nor wrong about lying on your worldview. So your whole point is less than moot.
And Ab did do some lying, but under pressure from powerful men whom he feared in each case. that's not the case here, so it's just speculation. And so I simply speculate the opposite.


NT says he expected Isaac not to stay dead.

Either way, "we're" coming back, whether Isaac's been healed of a knife wound or not.


External critique - Ab lied again. People do that sometimes, especially people that are obeying the voices in their heads.

Again, so what?


On Xn premises, why would one expect Ab to be unaware of the divinely revealed metaphorical connection between Isaac and the sacrificial lamb?

Good question. One would not expect him to, but we know it now.
I have a lot more knowledge about God than Ab did, and yet there are many things I don't know now that will be revealed later (like, when I die).


NAL said:
Perhaps, but there's no indication from the text that this is so.

Except for the things I cited in the post.
So, if you take away all the relevant points I made about this, then you're 100% right, there's no indication.


But it's just a speculation and not a very good one.

Yours is speculation too.
What's your argument that it's not very good or not as good as yours?


why try to deceive Isaac with the lamb lie?

Maybe Is would have been scared anyway.
Or maybe Is was doing great and was strong in his faith in God like Ab.
And it wasn't a lie, it was a statement of faith, which proved to be 100% correct.



I note that no one has really dealt with the main point of the post. It's just interesting, is all.

larryniven said...

Ah, now here we go. Rhoblogy's premise: an act is good iff God would command it. Allow me to quote you back at you...

"This is nothing more or less than morality by rhoblogy's fiat, by sheer stipulation.
He asserts it without supporting argument. I simply deny it without supporting argument.
I love it, though - he offers no supporting argument (and simply waves his hand to dismiss my already-well-defined moral stance) and then challenges ME to beat it down. Typically, don't normal arguments work the other way around? Besides, philosophy of history have already dispensed with this arbitrary definition of good."

Got anything else for me?

Rhology said...

larryniven, I'm chuckling here. That's a strawman, and you RACED to write this comment. Seriously, do a little thinking before you make yourself look foolish again.
I already dealt with that a while back. My position does not incur Euthyphro, b/c of the source of the good.
But a little more vindication of my position never hurts, so your comment is appreciated.

larryniven said...

Er, when I use the exact same words as you, it's a strawman? And gee - I didn't know one could avoid a philosophical problem simply by insisting that one has avoided it. In that case, my definition for good doesn't incur whatever problems you have with it because I identify the lack of suffering as the source of good. Ta dah! You're like some kind of philosophical magician!

Rhology said...

Just b/c I say it?
Rather, I pointed out the difference and showed you where I have argued for what I believe. Maybe you could make the argument that I failed. Or just keep talking smack like you're a kid on a playground.

larryniven said...

The difference? There is no difference, other than that your definition is plastic to whatever you want to read into it whereas with mine there's an objective difference between good and bad. And that was the entire point of me proposing this in the first place: you never argue at all for why God's nature counts as good, you just define it that way, as though somehow a mere definition is capable of resolving Euthyphro's dilemma. So I did the same thing and, lo and behold, you still can't come up with one salient reason to reject my definition. So maybe you want to give me an argument.

Rhology said...

God is my presupposed 1st Principle.
He has revealed that He is good. It is His nature.
If He is not good, we cannot know good. That's the argument.

And this definition of mine defeats Euthyphro b/c Euth doesn't even discuss my position. If it did, well and good, but it's talking about a very different formulation of the answer to the question of what is good. I can't help it if your favorite little pet is a rat-catching cat, but my position is actually a turtle or cow or something. Maybe you could stop parroting others' arguments and deal with MY POSITION for a change. The fearsome Euthyphro wiki can't help you now!


You apparently want to turn this into a spitting match. My arguments are out there in the open. Yours are not. The insightful reader may conclude various things from this fact, but few of those things are probably complimentary towards your position.

larryniven said...

"God is my presupposed 1st Principle."

This in and of itself is silly, but for the sake of argument, okay.

"He has revealed that He is good. It is His nature."

Maybe, but for the sake of argument, okay.

"If He is not good, we cannot know good. That's the argument."

What is this last premise even doing here? Moreover, where do you show us why God's nature is good? This is just words going back and forth like so many ping pong balls - no explanation of any kind is happening.

"Euth doesn't even discuss my position. If it did, well and good, but it's talking about a very different formulation of the answer to the question of what is good."

This is so factually wrong I don't know where to start. Let me try to rephrase the question. Is God's nature good because it conforms to an exterior formula for goodness, or is God's nature the formula for goodness, or is there no formula at all? You reject the first option, apparently, though you have no need to do so. You also reject the third option, as that would put you where you (wrongly) see the atheist as being. But the second option is an utter impossibility because the God in the Bible doesn't act according to a formula, which I demonstrated earlier and which you as yet have not denied. At least pick a non-contradictory position!

Rhology said...

See? That wasn't so hard - you actually tried to reason sthg out. That's 1 out of 4 attempts in this comment alone, but that's far better than the 0-fer you've produced more than a few times in this combox alone.

Well, the 2nd option is close to what I believe. That which is good is that which corresponds to God's character and nature.
Where did you demonstrate that God doesn't act according to a formula? When you "demonstrated" that God commands rape? Jolly good - we're all done here.

larryniven said...

Argument by scare-quotes - of course! Why didn't I think of that? Okay: yes, I admit that you successfully demonstrated that the God of the Bible is both "good" and "consistent" in this "goodness." Give me a break...

agnostiChicagOkie said...

I still don't get how you can be sure God will not command you to kill your kids. Your argument was essentially that God never made anyone go through with it before, but you cannot deny that God has often acted in ways previously unknown to humankind. Those Jews who became Xn were certainly open to the idea of new divine forms and revelation, while others argued that god never said or did such things before.

agnostiChicagOkie said...

It occurs to me that I may have misunderstood you earlier. When you wrote "God is fully justified to put anyone to death at any time" you may have been conceding that God might well order you to sacrifice your children, despite your earlier protestations to the contrary.

If you insist that the goodness which is inherent to God's character would prevent such a divine command from issuing forth, what is your argument?

NAL said...

Rho:
He has revealed that He is good. It is His nature.

So, He can't choose to be good. Yet He asks humans to do just that. He asks humans to do something He can't do.

Rhology said...

'okie said:
how you can be sure God will not command you to kill your kids

1) God never commanded anyone to sacrifice (or even to kill, I don't think) their kids, for one (though it's conceivable that a few times, when OT Israelites were commanded to carry out God's judgment in the camp by killing some people, someone or some ones did put one's own offspring to death; the command was not specific to one's own children though). So it'd be a break from what God's always done.
2) It's conceivable that a nation could be put into place at some point in the future that would hold to OT civil law, in which case stubbornly rebellious grownup children could be legally executed by their parents and everyone in the community, so that's one case (since you weren't specific about "kill").
3) God didn't command Ab to kill his kid.
4) God's command to offer Isaac as a sacrifice had very specific typological ramifications, but all types are fulfilled in Christ; they are no longer necessary nor even any good b/c they have been consummated. No one wants a sample spoon of gelato when there's a big bowl right in front of them.


Those Jews who became Xn were certainly open to the idea of new divine forms and revelation, while others argued that god never said or did such things before.

Very true, and this is another good question. You're on a roll, unlike a certain other commenter whose name begins with "l" and ends with "arryniven".
The OT was made to be incomplete and look fwd to a future consummation, a Messiah. The NT, however, fulfills all of that; there is no longer any revelation to look fwd to that is anythg like the previous ones, with the exception of the end of the world, but then there will be no more death either, so obviously that takes care of this question.


you may have been conceding that God might well order you to sacrifice your children, despite your earlier protestations to the contrary.

Well, better said, God would be justified in doing so if He wanted and if He had a history of doing so. However, there are so many reasons why He hasn't and won't that it's not a live possibility. It's mostly a thought experiment.


If you insist that the goodness which is inherent to God's character would prevent such a divine command from issuing forth, what is your argument?

Just for the sake of argument, let's say that God were in the business of ordering child sacrifices under specific conditions.
My argument would be precisely what I put in Point #6 of my post.


NAL said:
He can't choose to be good.

Better said, He can't choose to be bad.


Yet He asks humans to do just that. He asks humans to do something He can't do.

Well, He doesn't ask humans to be bad, so there you go.
He does ask us to be good, and of course He is good and consistently and always "chooses" to be good. Not that His choices are anything like ours, as temporal beings.
But there are various things that humans do and experience that God doesn't - God doesn't know what it's like to be forgiven, to sin again after forgiveness, to sin, to be redeemed, to receive grace, to entertain thoughts of suicide, etc.

Kyle said...

"God doesn't know what it's like to be forgiven, to sin again after forgiveness, to sin, to be redeemed, to receive grace, to entertain thoughts of suicide, etc."

Rho,
Before someone makes a big deal about God's omniscience being limited I wanted to ask you to clarify the above statement. Did you mean that God has not experienced those things personally even though he has perfect knowledge of the experience of a person in those situations? I think that God 'uses His imagination' and virtually experiences life from the perspective of every single human that has ever lived in addition to the myriads of perspectives he has about us from outside our point of view.

Rhology said...

Hmm, I never thought about it that way, but it makes a lot of sense.

Alex B said...

'Historical account'??

Where would that be then? All I see is you quoting some ancient Hebrew myth....

Rhology said...

Internal critique, Alex.

Alex B said...

Irrelevant. This isn't history, no matter how you try to spin it.

Anton LaVey said...

im sorry, but i find your entire view of other religions to be a little ignorant and slightly offensive. as to your comment about how all other gods are not actualy gods, that they are false, who are you to say that? you do know your god was originaly known as aeon, the original god of the israelites, and he stood above a panthanon of other gods (there are verses in YOUR bible that testify to that) if you are still ignorant enough to say your god is the only true god, how does islam or the jewish faith exist? the torah is the old testement, do you believe you share a god with the jews? islam also follows a monotheistic structure and is from the same area of our world, yet you would claim their god is false? wickans worship the earth mother, for them she is tangeble, where is your god? satanists follow the pre-cristian pagan ideal of love and life, and hold children and animals with utmost respect, yet the very foundations of the cristian faith involve the ritual sacrifice of lambs, not to mention the sacrifice of 'gods' own son. its all well and good to have a belief system, but denying all other beliefs purely because one book says they dont exist, its not on mate. the bible is not history, it is not academic literature. it was written or compiled by a society that needed to explain the world they live in,unfortunatly the ancient israelites werent as imaginative as the greeks, romans, norsk, pagans, hindus, or anyother religion that is much much older than yours.

oh and the only difference between my morals and yours, is that i dont go around shoving my beliefs down other peoples throats. get a life, read a book about a different religion, see what happens. you might learn something

Rhology said...

who are you to say that?

Nobody. I am merely citing what God said in Isaiah 40-48.
My words are worthwhile only insofar as they reflect what God has said.


your entire view of other religions to be a little ignorant

In what way?



slightly offensive

The truth sometimes hurts.



(there are verses in YOUR bible that testify to that)

Only if you rip them out of context.



if you are still ignorant enough to say your god is the only true god, how does islam or the jewish faith exist?

Because humans are idolatrous and sinful.



the torah is the old testement, do you believe you share a god with the jews?

Yes, but unfortunately the Jews did not believe Him when He revealed Himself more fully through Jesus.



islam also follows a monotheistic structure and is from the same area of our world, yet you would claim their god is false?

Yes, b/c I've studied it enough to know it is false.



wickans worship the earth mother, for them she is tangeble, where is your god?

My God is not anyWHERE. He is Spirit.
The fact that Wicca's "goddess" is tangible is a great argument against Wicca's truthfulness.


the bible is not history

Parts of it are.
What's your argument?



,unfortunatly the ancient israelites werent as imaginative as the greeks

Good. I don't want imagination when searching for truth. I want truth.



oh and the only difference between my morals and yours, is that i dont go around shoving my beliefs down other peoples throats

What does this even mean?
I'm just writing to try to persuade. Isn't that what you've done here? What's the diff between what I do and what you just did?



read a book about a different religion

You mean like the Qur'an?
You're ignorant. Try making an argument sometime.