In his latest post to this thread, Peter informs the list that he has posted
an article about the problem of Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his
son Isaac as a result of hearing a voice and thinking it was the voice of
god. Peter kindly provided a link to the article for us to access.

Then, in that same post, Peter writes, “it is far more important… for
atheists to prove objective morality than it is for me to prove that there
is no problem with the story of the sacrifice of Isaac.” I’m not certain how
he made this decision exactly (he does not state), but it appears that his
intention is to place a burden on non-believers when in all due respects a
great onus lies on his shoulders if he expects others to consider the story
in question to provide a sound moral example. And that onus is: to explain
why one should consider the example put forward in the Abraham story as
morally proper. To have any hope of meeting this burden, Peter would have to
provide a coherent overview of the moral system which he aims to defend,
define his terms, and explain their relevance to human life. None of these
points have been met so far.

Peter himself acknowledges in the first paragraphs of the article he’s
posted to his website that the story in question is of such a controversial
nature that many Christians themselves have attempted to interpret the story
in a light which does not cast such a shadow of darkness on the deity which
they claim to love and serve. Thus, by his own words, it appears that
Peter’s position is held by the minority, but he does not exhibit much
willingness to show why one should think that the actions portrayed in the
story should be considered morally proper. It seems that Peter wants to take
the position that, as a default assumption, the story exhibits morally
proper behavior until it is demonstrated otherwise.

Peter states that he expects atheists "to prove objective morality" apart
from appeals to Peter's god-belief. But given Peter’s own confessional
investments and his clear rejection of reason, which prior messages of his
to the Theism vs. Atheism web have made clear, it is uncertain how anyone
could prove anything to Peter which does not align with his preset religious
commitments. The presumption seems to be that, unless someone can prove to
him a system which he summarily rejects or obstinately thinks is impossible
can actually be true, he will take the moral propriety of the story in
question for granted.

It is not surprising that he does not make an effort to argue on behalf of
the moral propriety which he wants to ascribe to the story; rather, he wants
to place a burden on those who do not share his god-beliefs in the first
place. I think this is short-sighted, and in his process to keep the heat
off him as a believer called to defend his god-beliefs (since he wants
others to accept his claim that they’re all “true”), he fails to address
some of the crucial questions which came up in the course of the Abraham
thread on the Theism vs. Atheism web.


Now on to some points in Peter's article:

In the third paragraph of his article, Peter writes, “The first thing that
we must point out is that there is absolutely no reason for any atheist to
get mad at God for commanding Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice.”

Well, I am an atheist, but I am not “mad at God” for anything. I cannot be
mad at something which does not exist. So this statement already seems to
commit some presumptive errors if it is intended to apply to all atheists.

Then he writes, “The most common charge against God at this point is that it
would be wrong and immoral for God to have commanded the sacrifice of Isaac,
even if He never intended for it to be actualized.” I don’t know the
statistics on the matter, but I’m willing to grant Peter that this is
probably true: the charge that the instruction to sacrifice another human
being for no given reason is, according to modern, enlightened
sensibilities, morally repugnant.

Peter then writes, “The atheist has a great problem when he tries to assert
this position, however, because there is simply no reason for the atheist to
believe in any good or evil whatsoever.”

Now, he does not identify which atheist he has in mind here, so it is quite
uncertain how he establishes this to be the case in such a general manner.
He provides a link to another essay on his website which, presumably, makes
his case to this effect. But I don’t have to read his essay in order to know
already that there is no way that this statement can be true for all
atheists. It might be true in the case of some individual atheists (though
how he could make this case without examining what those individuals
actually profess as far as philosophical convictions are concerned is
certainly puzzling, indeed presumptuous on his part), but I know it is
certainly not the case for myself and many atheists whom I know intimately.

Theists who are committed to defending a god-belief which often they’ve held
unquestioningly since the impressionable days of their youth frequently
prefer to wash all non-believers with the same brush, and this simply
ignores the facts that atheism as such is not a worldview as such, for it
does not assert a positive (atheism tells us what one does *not* believe; it
does not tell us which philosophical ideas he holds to be true), and that
some atheists actually hold to an integrated rational philosophy which can
deal with the problems of theism in a very effective and objective manner.
Of course, most theists who are committed to defending their confessional
investments will not like this and they will put up any barrier between
themselves and those philosophical principles which do not conform to their
devotional commitments. I think this is quite disingenuous, particularly
when it is the course taken by those who claim moral piety for themselves.

Peter then repeats his basic accusation and states, “The atheist cannot
refute this story from his own perspective, because his own perspective does
not allow for any kind of objective morality.” But nowhere can he establish
this. And in other threads on the issues of morality, we’ve established –
with Peter’s own agreeable acknowledgement – that the Bible nowhere even
defines the concepts ‘morality’ and ‘objective’, that these terms do not
even appear in the Bible, and that consequently for the Christian to employ
them in his religious defenses, he must borrow from modern, non-Christian
worldviews which have pioneered the topic of objective morality. The Bible
nowhere refers to its loosely compiled, disintegrated set of instructions
and injunctions as a system of “objective morality”; apologists who refer to
their religion’s ethical ideas in such a manner do so with the dubious
ambition of giving their religious beliefs a credibility and authority which
they cannot earn on their own. This has been established in my posts to the
thread titled “Definition of Catholic & a look at morality.”

Furthermore, there are good reasons to recognize why a rational,
non-mystical philosophy provides the proper basis for a legitimately
objective moral system suitable for man's life on earth, as the essay at the
following link makes clear:
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Sparta/1019/CMO/CMO1.htm

In reference to the matter at hand, Peter himself even admits that on the
surface, the Abraham story has incoherent implications when he writes, “God
abhors murder, and also abhors the sacrifice of children-yet He also
commands it?” He cites God’s instruction to Abraham in Genesis 22, which
states, “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." And here's the clincher: Nowhere does
God give Abraham a *reason* why he should do this. Abraham’s ready, willing,
and unquestioning obedience to this command provides the example which the
authors apparently wanted the story’s readers to take as a model for
behavior. And that model can be expressed in the following principle: Act
without purpose, obey without reason. Man is to be nothing but a mindless
robot which others command according to their whims. If Peter thinks this is
an ideal worthy of his commitment, he's certainly welcome to it.

But earlier Peter intimated that atheists have no basis to reject the
morality of the story in question. However, as should be clear to him by now
if he’s read my responses to his posts on various threads, the standard and
guide of my morality is *reason.* Nowhere does Peter demonstrate that he
understands this. And here we have an example of a story from the Old
Testament which summarily ignores man’s need to act for the sake of an
understood purpose or for any given reason, and Peter thinks non-believers
have no reason to reject the view that the lessons of this story have
objective moral propriety.

Peter writes “This command surely would have astonished Abraham.” But the
story gives no indication of this. Indeed, Abraham nowhere questions the
command. Instead, as if enthusiastically, he rises early the next morning
and proceeds to carry out the instruction, even though he’s been given no
reason why he should do so. He is acting apart from his own understanding
and therefore contrary to reason. Peter’s own citation of Hebrews 11:17-19
does nothing to rectify this; indeed, the New Testament holds Abraham's
blind obedience up as an example of virtue to Christian believers.
Apparently, according to Peter’s view, one should not have any problems with
being willing to act without regard for reason, let alone be willing to kill
for no reason. For those like myself whose life is his standard of value,
this is quite disconcerting!

Peter’s own statements, that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son
“because he fully trusted God” and that “Abraham had complete faith in God”
serve only to confirm my point that the believer’s surrender of reason and
willingness to act without understanding the purpose of his actions are to
be considered virtuous in his worldview. This only bolsters the conclusion I
had drawn in previous posts to the Theism vs. Atheism web: Peter himself has
rejected reason.

Nowhere in the rest of his essay does Peter provide any point which calls
this conclusion into question. Indeed, he only provides more evidence on its
behalf.

Furthermore, Peter does not address another important question which came up
in the present threat and which still remains unanswered: How does one
determine that the voices he hears in his head are God’s?

In his post which opens the present thread, Bone asks, “If I or you, dear
reader, hear voices in the night telling us to kill our child should we act
on them? How could I be certain that the voice is Yahweh’s and not
Beelzebub’s?” But Peter nowhere addresses these questions. In fact,
believers addressing the Abraham story not only fail to counter the point
made so eloquently by Peter’s own statements above that the lesson of the
Abraham-Isaac story is that believers should reject reason and ignore the
importance of understanding the purpose of their actions, but also fail to
explain just how one can distinguish the “voices” which they hear from their
own imaginations, hallucinations, or the voices of other mythical beings.
Apparently, the answer to the question of how the believer can determine
that the voices which he hears belong to god, is: no how.

I’m not exactly sure what Peter hoped to achieve in his article, but it is
clear that he has made no progress in defending his god-belief. His
religious commitments require that he surrender his reason and purpose, and
that he pretend that the voices he hears in his head are those of a divine
being which expects believers to be willing to kill for no reason.

But this we already knew.

CertainVerdict