A middle-aged man dreaming of the day when he can stop begging for scraps and write for a living.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Immorality of Divine Command Theory

The story of Abraham binding Isaac from Genesis was brought up as one of several examples why the god of Abraham, if real, is an evil god. Someone then replied to complain how this story shouldn't qualify because "the whole point of the fucking story was to differentiate the God of Abraham from other gods that required human sacrifices." This is the same logic that tells us Biblical slavery is okay because it wasn't as bad as other slavery, but it prompted me to examine the story a little closer.

  • We have a god who orders Abraham to sacrifice his son. No winky-face emoticons to indicate Poe's Law, just an outright command that Abraham has no reason to assume isn't sincere. This is okay because this is Yahweh, the source of all morality who therefore has the moral authority to order immoral actions and still have them be moral.
  • Abraham, rather than telling his god to shove it, dutifully obeys and goes through with the preparations, right up to the point where he's holding the knife over his beloved son's chest. He doesn't bargain the way he did for Sodom, a city synonymous with moral depravity. He doesn't say anything other than "okay." Remember that Isaac is supposed to be Abraham's beloved son by Sarah, the only child she was able to bear him long after she was supposed to be barren.
  • Isaac, once he learns that he is to be the sacrificial victim, doesn't utter a word of protest. According to the story he just meekly goes along with it the same as his father.
  • Only then does Yahweh say, "just kidding! Go kill that ram caught in the bushes instead." Why? Because it was a test to see if Abraham would obey.
  • And then we're told that the moral of this story is that obedience to authority is the greatest virtue and will be rewarded. This idea is so pernicious in human thinking it's listed as a formal fallacy in logic.
No, I think that the story of Abraham binding Isaac still qualifies to be on the list of Yahweh's dick moves.

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