I had some last thoughts on this matter before it is finally put to rest. If others have any comments, questions or criticisms in regard to what I have to say, I welcome their input.

In prior posts in this thread, I concluded that the principle lesson of the Abraham/Isaac story is that the believer is expected to act apart from reason and without consideration of the purpose of his actions. This conclusion is supported principally by the fact that, in the story, God commands Abraham to prepare to sacrifice his son, whom God Himself acknowledges that Abraham loves very much, and upon receiving this command, there is no record that Abraham questions why God wants him to do this. God gives only the commandment; He does not give Abraham any reason why he should do this, and Abraham obeys unquestioningly in spite of this. Indeed, as Peterís article on his website indicates, the New Testament, in Hebrews chapter 11, Abrahamís unquestioning obedience (i.e., his action without reason or purpose) is praised as a virtuous expression of his faith.

The fact that this is the principle lesson to be learned from the Abraham/Isaac story is also supported the general ethos of the Bible, as indicated by such passages as Proverbs 3:5, which states: ďtrust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding,Ē as well as others which indicate distrust of manís reasoning ability (e.g., I Cor. 2:4-14). Clearly, according to the Bible, what is important is that the believer simply accepts what is commanded to him, whether or not he understands the nature of the commandment or the reason why he should obey it. This essentially means: action without reason or purpose is a virtue. Apparently, if he does not understand (and what believer claims to understand the incalculable wisdom of his god?), so much the better.

This is morally condemnable according to Objectivism since, according to Objectivism, the moral is the understood, not the obeyed. According to Objectivism, morality is a code of values which guides manís choices and actions. An Objectivist holds this code of values for a reason which he understands: he recognizes that his life depends on values. Without values, his life is not possible. And since these values are not automatically given to him by nature, he must think in order to identify them, and act in order to achieve them. And what makes this goal-oriented action possible for man? One thing: Reason. Reason is the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by manís senses. It is a process which both requires and enables manís understanding. To act apart from oneís understanding, as the Abraham story teaches, means to act apart from oneís reason. This amounts to the advocacy of acting irrationally, just as Abrahamís actions modeled in the story. Indeed, if Abraham were a rational man, he certainly would have questioned this commandment from God, because Gen. 22:2 clearly notes that Abraham loved his son (i.e., Isaac was one of Abrahamís chief values). But nowhere does the story model Abraham questioning God. Instead of acting on behalf of protecting his value, Abraham willingly acted against it, and at no point does the story indicate that he knew why.

Theists like Peter typically do not argue for the alleged moral propriety of stories like Abrahamís willingness to murder his son (i.e., destroy his values) when a blood-thirsty deity desires it. Instead, their primary argument is to say that non-believers have no basis to condemn this behavior. In other words, it is neither commendable (since they do not provide reasons why one should think that Abrahamís actions are moral), nor condemnable (since they think no one has any basis to question the storyís presumed moral propriety). It seems that believers are more concerned with disabling the validity of their opponentsí criticisms than they are with establishing their convictions on the basis of reason.

But this is ironic, coming from a believer in tales which model action without reason as virtuous. What reason did Abraham have for obeying this commandment? Blank out. Indeed, a reason for actions done in service of a deity is unimportant; rather, one must have a pretty good reason in order to refrain from such action. But in order to make such shifting of burdens stick, theists like Peter must hope that the non-believers onto whose shoulders theyíre trying to shift this burden are not rationally informed individuals who hold that a morality suitable for man should be based on reason instead of faith in commandments. For if oneís moral basis is reason, then indeed he has good cause to question the validity of competing moral systems and, if he finds them to be irrational (i.e., contrary to or incompatible with reason), he has the grounds to condemn them as well.

Apparently for theists like Peter, reason is only appropriate when it can be used by non-believers to condemn their religious beliefs (and I agree, it is highly appropriate for this), since they do not use reason to commend or defend these beliefs. Itís simply taken for granted that theyíre valid. Indeed, when one rests his position on faith, he surrenders reason to his adversaries. And nothing Peter has written, either in his posts to the Theism vs. Atheism web, or on his website, serves to undermine or bring my conclusions on this matter into question.

Since a code of values which guides manís choices and actions is based on a rational understanding of manís nature (e.g., he is a living organism which faces choices and requires values, and which must act in order to achieve them, hence he is by nature a goal-oriented being), Objectivism views morality as a species of science. In science, we look at the facts of reality to determine the nature of things, and from this we determine the proper course of action given the known alternatives (cf. a code of values which *guides* oneís choices and actions). As Leonard Peikoff states in one of his lectures about Objectivism, ďI donít think we should have commandments in morality any more than we should in physics.Ē

And I completely agree. One cannot command that men should live on a diet of rocks and sewage, and have this be the case. One cannot alter manís nature or the nature of those values which he needs in order to live by commanding one way or another. Just as our desires and emotions cannot substitute for the facts of reality, someoneís whims are not suitable to provide a standard of morality. ďGod said so!Ē is no more a rational basis for morality than ďGumby said so!Ē Again, where is the element of reason here? In theistic moral philosophy, there is none.

Since man requires the free use of his reason in order to live, and his life is the ultimate standard of his morality, then the divine-command theory of morality is unsuitable for man if he is to live as man. (Observe how men live when they are not free to act on their reason.) One would have to reject reason in order to think that the divine-command theory of morality is proper for man, and theists implicitly recognize this, and thatís why they try to use a semblance of reason in order to goad men into surrendering their reason, thus committing a very ironic performative inconsistency. Their schemes in trying to make their Bible-based morality seem plausible rely on the same kind of stolen concepts as do their arguments that logic points to a god. In the former it amounts to ďit is in your best interest to sacrifice your self-interest,Ē and in the latter case it amounts to ďmanís mind is invalid and I can prove it!Ē Prove it using what? A mind? Blank out.

To understand the nature of knowledge, one must understand that it has a hierarchical structure. That is why you have to learn your ABCís before you can read a novel. Thatís why you need to take basic math before you can take geometry. Thatís why you need philosophy before you can do science, since science is the application of principles which philosophy provides to the problem of identifying and integrating particular fields of study. A philosophy which allows and endorses stolen concepts can only lead to irrationality in knowledge, and lethal results for men when that philosophy is put into practice. Learn to identify and expose stolen concepts, as I have done in numerous posts to the Theism vs. Atheism web.

For the primitive, knowledge is like a spread out, disjointed and unconnected village of squat bungalows; such individuals do not recognize that legitimately valid knowledge is an integrated sum with a hierarchical structure built on fundamental axioms and principles. For the Objectivist, knowledge is like a gleaming city of skyscrapers: he recognizes that valid knowledge is an integrated conceptual sum reducible to the perceptual level, but not confined to it. Instead of basing his knowledge on faith in commandments which provide his mind with no reason or his actions with no purpose, the Objectivist holds reason to be his only epistemological absolute, just as he holds the facts of reality to be his only metaphysical absolute. It is on such a basis that he can develop an objective conception of morality. There is no room for internal contradictions in such a system, and if theists took the time and care to recognize this instead of railing against it as if it were their mortal foe, they should put their money where their mouth is and abandon their sunken theistic vessel, since they themselves pretend to be on the constant lookout for contradictions in your mind, while evading the contradictions which infest theirs.

In order for theists to resuscitate any plausibility for the supposed moral propriety of the Abraham/Isaac story, they will have to argue *for* this moral propriety, and not simply claim naively that non-believers have no basis to condemn the lessons it models. In order to argue for this supposed moral propriety, they must define what they mean by key terms (e.g., how are they defining Ďmoralityí, etc.), identify the source of those definitions (e.g., are they taken from the Bible, or borrowed from non-biblical sources which are the product of ďmenís wisdom,Ē which the Bible clearly condemns as alien to divine holiness), demonstrate how the example of the Abraham story integrates with the definitions they provide and the system which they imply, and explain this systemís supposed relevance to manís life now in the 21st century. Furthermore, theists must deal with the crucial problem of how the believer is expected to determine that the voice heís hearing is that of Godís as opposed to other malevolent spirits, or his own imagination. In this discussion, some explanation should be given which tells us how Abraham, for instance, was able to determine that the voice he heard was indeed the voice of God, and not something else (like a lunch bell or a car horn, etc.). Indeed, if one holds that ďthe senses are not accurate,Ē as Peter suggested, then surely there should be great concern here so that believers do not mistake what they sense to be of divine or unholy origin. Without meeting each and every one of these burdens, I see no reason why, knowing what I know, I should entertain for one moment the claim that the Abraham/Isaac story has a legitimate moral value for my life.

CertainVerdict