PDA

View Full Version : The nature of (monotheistic) religion - an atheist's perspective



glo
05-31-2013, 02:17 PM
Today I had a conversation with an atheist friend, which left me feeling troubled and sad.

I wonder if other members here can offer their thoughts - especially our atheist friends. :)

If I understood my friend correctly then his basic argument was that at its root the three Abrahamic faiths are destructive and harmful and out to force its followers into submission to its rules and persecute those who don't adhere to its rules. There are teachings and verses which call to violence and the killing of non-believers or those who don't obey the rules.

The only way he felt those religions had become tolerable and reasonable was through 'being tamed my secularism' (my words, not his).
Without the tolerance and legal restriction imposed by secular society and thinking, Christianity and Islam would still be rampant in stoning, flogging and persecuting those it considers 'unfit' or not religious enough. (In his argument, is some (non-secularised) countries they still are.

Any thoughts on this? (Please keep it peaceful)
Reply

Login/Register to hide ads. Scroll down for more posts
Muhammad
05-31-2013, 06:30 PM
You should have asked him about the destruction and harm caused by secular countries in the middle east. What kind of tolerance and legal restriction are they imposing there? He clearly doesn't know what he is talking about if he thinks those non-secularised countries are stoning and flogging their people on a daily basis.
Reply

Futuwwa
05-31-2013, 06:34 PM
My thoughts on this? I don't care. Islam is not proven true or false by whether it counts as having a beneficial net effect according to some secular humanist's utility function.
Reply

M.I.A.
05-31-2013, 07:56 PM
i guess its a case of law and enforcing of law.

i mean lawyers exist in all societies.

and so do judges.


...thats not a judge dredd joke.


some secular states still enforce the death penalty.

and some still follow a state of condemning repeat offenders to life imprisonment.


...if you take a look at prison demographic..

many conclusions can be implied.



its just a few vague points.


i think the best thing you can say to your friend is that you cant colour a whole belief system by how it is represented by those that have control.



my own belief is that gods law is enforced by god.

and the lands law is enforced by the government.



the last point is saying monotheism calls for violence.


...just ask your friend which countries dont have armies.


then ask him when he last had a say in what they did.



i only mentioned god once so it should be pretty hard to argue with.



...im not part of any army though.


some part of me thinks if a secular society really thought of us as tolerable and peaceful, then the next hitler would be waiting.

could he or would he stop it?


or am i just being a paranoid believer?

are non-believers not that bad.
Reply

Welcome, Guest!
Hey there! Looks like you're enjoying the discussion, but you're not signed up for an account.

When you create an account, you can participate in the discussions and share your thoughts. You also get notifications, here and via email, whenever new posts are made. And you can like posts and make new friends.
Sign Up
جوري
05-31-2013, 08:37 PM
secularists/ atheists have killed more than all the religions combined. In fact it is religion that places restrictions on lawlessness and man invented idea of justice. The type of Justice that lets an atheist dictator to kill 15 million peasants for instance to satisfy his ego.

best,
Reply

Ali Mujahidin
05-31-2013, 08:50 PM
It's very difficult, nay it's nigh impossible, to get someone to see what he refuses to see. Anyone can pick and choose from bits and pieces of the Holy Quran and use those disembodied bits and pieces of information to draw any kind of conclusion that he wants to. I am sure, if someone puts his mind to it, he can quote Quranic verses to support homosexuality and abortion, just as an example of what can be done by distorting the truth.

I believe there is a Quranic verse which says something about people who, when shown the light, become more blind like people who, in the dark of the night, finds the night even darker after a flash of lightning.

You don't have to be troubled or saddened by your friend's attitude. What you should do is not to try to convince him of anything but rather you should try to learn more about Islam to get yourself a better and more balanced understanding of Islam. Myself, I have not memorised the Holy Quran nor am I any kind of a Muslim scholar. From what little I have learned, I know for sure a few facts:

1. Islam does not encourage violence as a means to settling any dispute. However Islam does not teach us to run away in the face of violence either. I have not seen any indication of 'turn the other cheek' kind of mentality in Islam.

2. Islam is a complete religion. Those who think that Islam needs to be reformed or secularised or whatever have a very poor understanding of Islam. It's not that Islam does not have the answers to problems faced by Muslims in this modern world. The problem is either not wanting to find the answer or not knowing where to look for the answer or looking in the wrong place and concluding that Islam doesn't have the right answer.
Reply

M.I.A.
05-31-2013, 09:02 PM
Originally Posted by Ali Mujahidin
It's very difficult, nay it's nigh impossible, to get someone to see what he refuses to see. Anyone can pick and choose from bits and pieces of the Holy Quran and use those disembodied bits and pieces of information to draw any kind of conclusion that he wants to. I am sure, if someone puts his mind to it, he can quote Quranic verses to support homosexuality and abortion, just as an example of what can be done by distorting the truth.

I believe there is a Quranic verse which says something about people who, when shown the light, become more blind like people who, in the dark of the night, finds the night even darker after a flash of lightning.

You don't have to be troubled or saddened by your friend's attitude. What you should do is not to try to convince him of anything but rather you should try to learn more about Islam to get yourself a better and more balanced understanding of Islam. Myself, I have not memorised the Holy Quran nor am I any kind of a Muslim scholar. From what little I have learned, I know for sure a few facts:

1. Islam does not encourage violence as a means to settling any dispute. However Islam does not teach us to run away in the face of violence either. I have not seen any indication of 'turn the other cheek' kind of mentality in Islam.

2. Islam is a complete religion. Those who think that Islam needs to be reformed or secularised or whatever have a very poor understanding of Islam. It's not that Islam does not have the answers to problems faced by Muslims in this modern world. The problem is either not wanting to find the answer or not knowing where to look for the answer or looking in the wrong place and concluding that Islam doesn't have the right answer.

i in fact do use the turn the other cheek method.
it is literally out of fear of allah swt.

i probably should have prayed more.

...although the same reasoning has lead me to abstain from a lot of things.


now that is some twisted logic.


anyway i pray that allah swt protects those that follow guidance and are yet to follow guidance.

i give them no excuse.
Reply

Pygoscelis
05-31-2013, 09:39 PM
Originally Posted by glo
Today I had a conversation with an atheist friend, which left me feeling troubled and sad.

I wonder if other members here can offer their thoughts - especially our atheist friends. :)

If I understood my friend correctly then his basic argument was that at its root the three Abrahamic faiths are destructive and harmful and out to force its followers into submission to its rules and persecute those who don't adhere to its rules. There are teachings and verses which call to violence and the killing of non-believers or those who don't obey the rules.

The only way he felt those religions had become tolerable and reasonable was through 'being tamed my secularism' (my words, not his).
Without the tolerance and legal restriction imposed by secular society and thinking, Christianity and Islam would still be rampant in stoning, flogging and persecuting those it considers 'unfit' or not religious enough. (In his argument, is some (non-secularised) countries they still are.

Any thoughts on this? (Please keep it peaceful)
Hmm... I'm walking a fine line here. On the one hand, you asked for input from atheists, and I seem to be the board's most outspoken atheist so I figure I should rspond. On the other hand, pretty much anything I say is going to be taken as an insult by some here and will no doubt spurn them to angry posts etc.... but here goes...

Now, Your friend seems to be pointing at the Old Testament Bible (since he's addressing a Christian) and how the Hebrew God commanded them to slaughter their neighbours, stone each other to death, and do all sorts of other nasty things. It is hard for me to view such a God as anything but a monster. There is also no ban on slavery in the bible, and what it says about homosexuality and how to treat women is pretty horrible. A lot of horrible things have been done in the name of Abrahamic religions, but I think this is as much a reflection of the times and prevailing cultures, as of the religions themselves.

But if he's judging modern Christians by the Crusades, Inquisition, witch trials, or old testament he's really being a bit unfair. Very few Christians would follow that stuff literally today. The modern renditions of Christianity is a lot more serene and positive. The bible, and other holy books as well, are reflections of the times, and the prevailing views on morality of those times. We have come a long way since then.

Wars and destruction that some anti-religious people may try to pin on religion, are rarely actually caused by religion, nor were they even back then. There is pretty much always a more base reason, like land or power or money, etc. Religion in these wars simply acts as a catalyst or an excuse. It is easier to get your people to do horrible things you want them to do if you can get them obeying in an authoritarian way and if you can demonize (sometimes literally) your enemies.

As I see it, the most dangerous thing about the Abrahamic religions is its potential to get people to subdue their sense of morality and replace it with an obedience to authority, what they believe is "God". The bible story of Abraham prepared to kill his son for God is a good example. And there are many other scattered throughout that text, and throughout real life history.

The concern is that people may be convinced to do things they would otherwise hesitate to do, such as killing their children, blowing themselves up, drinking poisoned coolaid, etc, and they may even do it with great pride, if they somehow come to think God wants it. I think that kind of complete farming out of one's moral compass to religion, or other dangerous ideologies (it isn't just religion that can do this), is pretty rare though.

My other main concern, specifically with the Christian religion (and the Christ concept), is vicarious redemption; the sacrifice of Jesus. First we are told that we are so horrible, simply for being born, that we rightly deserve to suffer eternally in hell, and then we are told that we can escape this just punishment if we will accept and endorse the suffering of an innocent person, Jesus, as payment for what we have done. I find that incredibly disturbing. We would not let a killer on death row walk free because somebody else volunteered to be punished in his place. You should not be absolved of responsibility for your actions simply by agreeing to pass your personal accountability to somebody else. You do the crime, YOU do the time, etc.

So, I have some core issues with Abrahamic religion. But really, the typical Christian, Muslim, or Jew I meet in every day life doesn't cause me much concern. They are usually harmless and often very nice people.
Reply

GuestFellow
05-31-2013, 10:29 PM
I think this person needs to stop getting his information from mainstream media sources. There are so many good neutral books explaining religions.
Reply

the_stranger
06-01-2013, 12:43 AM
Originally Posted by Pygoscelis
On the other hand, pretty much anything I say is going to be taken as an insult by some here and will no doubt spurn them to angry posts etc
I hope this isn't true. For what it's worth; I'm open to any conversation that doesn't encourage hate.


Originally Posted by Pygoscelis
A lot of horrible things have been done in the name of Abrahamic religions, but I think this is as much a reflection of the times and prevailing cultures, as of the religions themselves.
I agree. Problems arise when people with social and economic power use religion to further their own agenda. Unfortunately, every religion has fallen victim to this, but it does not necessarily mean that something is inherently problematic with the religion (yes, there may be exceptions that I am not aware of).

Originally Posted by glo
The only way he felt those religions had become tolerable and reasonable was through 'being tamed my secularism' (my words, not his).
glo, I know that you are paraphrasing your friend, but I don't think that any self-respecting Athiest would say something so ignorant. I am certainly not an Athiest, but the Athiests I know pride themselves on being extremely well-read, rational, and fiercely logical. Maybe Athiests on this forum can back me up on this? Your friend may call himself an "Athiest," but "misanthrope" might be more accurate :hmm:.
Reply

Gator
06-08-2013, 05:59 PM
Hey Glo,
Took some time to think about this. Here are some thoughts.

Humans in general are pretty creative about thinking up ways to justify killing or harming each other. You really don't need religion for that. Before the first true civilization, man's tribal societies were pretty grim. The chances of dying by violence was much, much greater than they are today. And groups could in general be pretty horrible to each other.

I think religion was one of the first attempts at trying to set up some moral strictures with a method of enforcement that would go beyond group identification. Now the three abrahamic religions were probably better than what came before, but they were set up at a time when we would still consider some of there actions pretty barbarous.

As society has advanced and we've figured our ways to make up better doctrines, cooperation strategies, rules and enforcement regimes to follow to make much more orderly, fair, and successful civilizations. Now some of these conflict with the old religious rules, so society has decided that these old rules no longer applied (and found justification for not following them in the self same religious books).

Yeah, I find things in the religious texts and foundational ideas pretty disturbing, but I wouldn't say the religions themselves are destructive. You need to add some humans for that.

Those are some of my thoughts after reading your post.

Thanks.
Reply

glo
06-09-2013, 07:36 AM
Thank you, Gator. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

Originally Posted by Gator
As society has advanced and we've figured our ways to make up better doctrines, cooperation strategies, rules and enforcement regimes to follow to make much more orderly, fair, and successful civilizations. Now some of these conflict with the old religious rules, so society has decided that these old rules no longer applied (and found justification for not following them in the self same religious books).
Would you then agree with my friend that under the influence of secularism religions have become or are becoming or should become softer and more tolerant in their outlook?

I am asking because for many believers that would be a good thing, but others would say that it dilutes the true teachings and therefore undermines (whichever particular) religion.

I guess what I objected to was my friend's suggestion that monotheists - if they were allowed to by whatever society they live in (and that would include me personally [not that he said that in so many words, but that is my thinking]) - would still stone adulteresses to death, kill homosexuals and smash our enemies' children against the city walls. Would still destroy each other's places of worship and kill each other for having different beliefs ...

I just don't think (or hope) I would ever take part in such things or ever condone them. More to the point, I believe it is my religion that teaches me not to. Do not judge and love your neighbour as yourself, and all that ...
Reply

Gator
06-09-2013, 05:21 PM
I would say religion, in general practice, has been "watered down" by society and not necessarily secularism, because the people who watered then down were mostly believers. The just figured out that probably stoning people was not the best thing.

As for if "religions" were in power like anything it would depend on the people in charge.
Reply

Pygoscelis
06-09-2013, 11:39 PM
Glo, a big part of it, in fact a big part of secularism, isn't atheism or loss of religious beliefs, but multi-culturalism. The more the Christians have been mixed with people of other faiths, be they Hindu, Budhist, Muslim, etc, that also calls for the need for a collective societal moral sense, which won't be from the extreme fringe of any one of those religions... merely because it has to be what is held in common. And most major religions hold some good core common values, because they come from the better side of human nature.

I think the different cultures balance each other a little, into a more moderate overall picture. I think when you isolate one of those cultures and cut it off form the others, then the nastier fringes of that culture start to get stronger.

It is harder to have strong ingroup vs outgroup dynamics when the ingroup is made to be wider rather than narrower.
Reply

Ali Mujahidin
06-10-2013, 03:51 AM
No, secularism, or whatever you want to call it, is not making any difference to Islam except to make it not Islam.

Consider this.

Islam is complete. There is a specific verse in the Quran where Allah states very clearly and without any ambiguity that (roughly translated)



So what happens when you change something that is perfect? You cannot make it any better. To change something that is perfect is to make it less perfect. In other words, make it less good. And that's exactly what happens when some misguided people who profess to be Muslims, try to modernize Islam or reform Islam or whatever.

The answers are all there already. If they cannot find the answers it's not because the answers are not there. It's because they do not know where to look or maybe it's because they don't even bother to look properly.
Reply

KAding
06-10-2013, 07:20 AM
Originally Posted by Pygoscelis
Glo, a big part of it, in fact a big part of secularism, isn't atheism or loss of religious beliefs, but multi-culturalism. The more the Christians have been mixed with people of other faiths, be they Hindu, Budhist, Muslim, etc, that also calls for the need for a collective societal moral sense, which won't be from the extreme fringe of any one of those religions... merely because it has to be what is held in common. And most major religions hold some good core common values, because they come from the better side of human nature.
Yes, I agree. Secularism is as much a practice as it is an ideology. At some point people simply realized that it was so much easier to live together in peace if the public space wasn't heavily dominated by one religious faction or another. In Europe this practice of toleration (which morphed into secular practices) consolidated not so much because of Christians mixing with Hindu, Buddhist or Muslims, but because of Christians having to mix with Christians :D. The violence and conflict between Catholics, Protestants and Reformed since the Reformation was simply not tenable.

I sometimes wonder if the explosion of sectarian (Shi'a/Sunni/Copt) violence in the Middle East right now will not eventually lead to a similar movement towards a more secular public space in that region of the world.
Reply

Eric H
06-10-2013, 12:32 PM
Greetings and peace be with you Pygoscelis;

And most major religions hold some good core common values, because they come from the better side of human nature.
These basic common values are the easiest ones to destroy because they depend on kindness, loving your neighbour as you love yourself, forgiving and praying for your enemies.

Today the law favours one man who is a billionaire, rather than the billion people living on less than a dollar a day. There are no laws to protect the twenty thousand children who die needlessly every single day; from starvation and preventable disease.

Every one of the seven billion people on this Earth should have the opportunity to earn three dollars an hour. Yet you have examples like the late Steve Jobs who was a multi billionaire, who exploited half a million Chinese slaves on fifty cents an hour.

How can modern laws be better for all people?

In the spirit of praying for justice for all people

Eric
Reply

Independent
06-10-2013, 03:40 PM
Originally Posted by Eric H
How can modern laws be better for all people?
I just don't agree the modern world is such a bad place. I'm very grateful to it for many things.

For modern medicine, which saved my life twice by the age of 13. For my eyesight, which is now far better than Nature intended. And, amongst other inventions, for my dishwasher.

I'm also grateful for an amazingly progressive taxation system that transfers vastly more wealth from rich to poor than at any time, in any country, prior the 20th century.

Life is not perfect and it seems even more incomprehensible that there should be famine today. But the past certainly wasn't any better.
Reply

glo
06-10-2013, 03:48 PM
Originally Posted by KAding
Secularism is as much a practice as it is an ideology.
I have never understood secularism as anti-religion, but as religion-less. In that sense it is neutral and doesn't favour any one religion over another.

I don't perceive secularism to necessarily be a threat to religion or religious people. Indeed it can teach us believers a thing or two about respecting others.

I find it interesting to hear from the comments from atheist members in this thread that the beginnings of more peaceful interactions were instigated by religious people and NOT secularism - as secularism as a principle was not around at the time.
So the motivation (whether people ran out of steam or saw the light for other reasons) came from within the circle of believers.

That sounds more agreeable that my friend's assertion that without secular influences and restrictions we would still be at each other's throats ...:raging:
Reply

Independent
06-10-2013, 04:03 PM
Originally Posted by glo
the beginnings of more peaceful interactions were instigated by religious people and NOT secularism
I do see an ancestry of ideas from Christianity to liberal humanism in the UK. Jesus in particular is an amazing figure simply as a moral philosopher, whether you're religious or not.
Reply

Pygoscelis
06-10-2013, 04:11 PM
Originally Posted by Independent
I do see an ancestry of ideas from Christianity to liberal humanism in the UK. Jesus in particular is an amazing figure simply as a moral philosopher, whether you're religious or not.
As the speaker of the sermon on the mount, yes.

As a the central figure of vicarious redemption, no.
Reply

IbnAbdulHakim
06-10-2013, 06:04 PM
your friend needs desperate courses in islamic history.

tell him to pick up any historical document of repute regarding the islamic state during the reign of the rightly guided caliphas (Abu Bakr,Umar,Uthman,Ali) and to point out how it was "tamed by secularists" because justice was so rampant it was said an animal wouldn't move out of turn.
Reply

Pygoscelis
06-10-2013, 06:16 PM
Originally Posted by IbnAbdulHakim
your friend needs desperate courses in islamic history.

tell him to pick up any historical document of repute regarding the islamic state during the reign of the rightly guided caliphas (Abu Bakr,Umar,Uthman,Ali) and to point out how it was "tamed by secularists" because justice was so rampant it was said an animal wouldn't move out of turn.
Perhaps he should. But perhaps the "Justice" he finds there may still not look Just to him.

Originally Posted by Glo's Friend
Without the tolerance and legal restriction imposed by secular society and thinking, Christianity and Islam would still be rampant in stoning, flogging and persecuting those it considers 'unfit' or not religious enough.
Was any of this going on within the islamic state during the reign of the rightly guided caliphas?
Reply

greenhill
06-10-2013, 07:42 PM
About the slaughter in Abraham's (pbuh) case, it was a test for him on his covenant with Allah that was called upon. We also have this test, but we all face it in very different ways, especially tougher because we are not told what our trials are and Allah just tests our resolve. Abraham (pbuh) was told.

On the friend's matter, humans tend to corrupt. Bottom-line is, a person with lower moral values WILL take advantage of a person with higher moral values, especially if they depended on each other. Eventually, more and more will lower their own values in order to get ahead in this world. Hence, the situation we have now. Those who would campaign for change, incite radical awakenings that leads to explosion of changes from individual through to societal values. And power corrupts.

It will be difficult to 'gel' islam in this materialistic world because the intention is already off tangent. The impatient ones will always overrule the patient.

Personally, if there was a place that had the Caliphate system, I, without hesitation will find my way there. It has the perfect chance of being the most ideal place on earth. Bye bye Secularism. I'll take my chances.
Reply

Eric H
06-11-2013, 11:45 AM
Greetings and peace be with you Independent;

I just don't agree the modern world is such a bad place. I'm very grateful to it for many things.

For modern medicine, which saved my life twice by the age of 13. For my eyesight, which is now far better than Nature intended. And, amongst other inventions, for my dishwasher.
You seemed to answer my post in a secular way by recognizing your own needs, and satisfying your own needs. You declined to comment on the twenty thousand children who die every single day from grinding poverty and starvation. These children are invisible in this world, they die quietly without disturbing the conscious of the people who have everything.

If we choose to recognize the needs of these children it would encourage us to do something.

God is about justice for all people, we should put God first, our neighbour second and ourselves third. In this very secular world we would get taken advantage of and suffer if we clung to this world view of God first.

In the spirit of praying for justice for the poor and oppressed.

Eric
Reply

Independent
06-11-2013, 12:01 PM
Originally Posted by Eric H
You seemed to answer my post in a secular way by recognizing your own needs
Yes but even as a random of sample of one (me) it demonstrates how many good things have happened. I am a typical example of someone who would not be alive today but for modern medicine. If you ask around, you'll be amazed how many other people you know personally would also be dead before the age of thirty, had we all lived a few hundred years ago. This is amazing.

Even in places like Africa, where the diseases of poverty are still rampant, many other historical diseases which once crippled the development of sub-Saharan countries, have been contained. There are far more people alive in Africa today than ever before because of that work.

If you say the modern world is full of injustice and inequality I wouldn't disagree with you - I just don't think the past was any better (and very often it was much worse).
Reply

Pygoscelis
06-11-2013, 01:34 PM
Originally Posted by greenhill
About the slaughter in Abraham's (pbuh) case, it was a test for him on his covenant with Allah that was called upon.
It was one of the more blatant cases of obedience trumping morality.
Reply

greenhill
06-11-2013, 02:42 PM
Originally Posted by Independent
I just don't agree the modern world is such a bad place. I'm very grateful to it for many things.
I don't disagree with you on this. In fact, the modern world is a fantastic place. It's also full of challenges and temptations as well as convenience and technological support.

The problem lies with us. That instead of being appreciative and supportive, we have become demanding and take things for granted. Like JFK saying 'ask not what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country' (or words to the effect) seems pretty out of date now (and that is not too long ago!) It is all about the 'self' now. What's in it for me?

As I was saying earlier, those impatient people wanting 'action' often will go out of their way to get their agenda to the fore at the expense of unity. It is not the Deen or belief that is to blame, it is the interpretation of what action to take. Like what Jesus said about 'let those without sin cast the first stone', has its reasons. But quite often, these reasons are overlooked and the people get carried away with promoting extreme sense of justice. Suddenly, it becomes the 'norm'.

In short, I would not say that religion promotes violence, but instead promotes peace. But in order to have peace, there must be threats of punishment for those who do not adhere, but not necessarily needing to be carried out to the letter of the law. It would be silly to cut of the hand of someone who steals bread for the first time because he was starving, for example. If he is a repeat offender then the matter should be weighed in context of what he stole and for what purpose etc before deciding on the most appropriate action.

Peace
Reply

Hulk
06-11-2013, 02:42 PM
Secularism is anti-religion under the guise of neutrality.
Reply

Eric H
06-12-2013, 03:18 PM
Greetings and peace be with you greenhill;

It would be silly to cut of the hand of someone who steals bread for the first time because he was starving, for example.
Agreed.

If he is a repeat offender then the matter should be weighed in context of what he stole and for what purpose etc before deciding on the most appropriate action.
If he was starving last month, the chances are he will still be starving today, the man needs food for himself and his family; the best course of action would be to give him a job.

There are a billion people earning less than a dollar a day, twenty thousand children die of grinding poverty and starvation every day, the majority would welcome the opportunity to earn a living wage.

In the spirit of praying for the poor and oppressed.

Eric
Reply

Eric H
06-12-2013, 04:11 PM
Greetings and peace be with you Pygoscelis;

Originally Posted by greenhill

About the slaughter in Abraham's (pbuh) case, it was a test for him on his covenant with Allah that was called upon.
Pygoscelis;
It was one of the more blatant cases of obedience trumping morality.
If you feel God’s intentions are evil, then this is what you will find, if you believe God is a force for a greatest good, then this can also be found in the same scriptures.

Abraham trusted God, when God had said to him, your descendants will be as great as the numbers of stars you could count in the sky.

When God later commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Abraham trusted in God’s promise that he would have many descendants. In order to believe this, Abraham would have to trust that God could somehow restore his son to life.

It was never God’s intention that Isaac should die, and Abraham must have believed this.

This is a different message from me saying that God wants me to kill prostitutes because they are evil, or God wants me to torture and kill people of other faiths.

In the spirit of searching for a just and merciful God

Eric
Reply

greenhill
06-12-2013, 04:49 PM
Originally Posted by Pygoscelis
As I see it, the most dangerous thing about the Abrahamic religions is its potential to get people to subdue their sense of morality and replace it with an obedience to authority, what they believe is "God".

The concern is that people may be convinced to do things they would otherwise hesitate to do, such as killing..... and.....may even do it with great pride, if they somehow come to think God wants it. I think that kind of complete farming out of one's moral compass to religion, or other dangerous ideologies (it isn't just religion that can do this), is pretty rare though.
Glad you said it pretty rare. The extremists will always exist. Judge not the Deen by the portrayals of the extremists. You have a mind. A very sceptical one at that, you won't fall for those 'ploys'. Generally what you described touches not the real message of islam as we have it in this day and age. Not that it has changed, as nothing much has changed, but varieties exists and a better understanding of it now. If you can see the picture, I have feelings that you will be an ardent promoter. :D
Reply

Pygoscelis
06-12-2013, 06:35 PM
Originally Posted by Eric H
When God later commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Abraham trusted in God’s promise that he would have many descendants. In order to believe this, Abraham would have to trust that God could somehow restore his son to life.
Or Abraham could simply have another son.

It was never God’s intention that Isaac should die, and Abraham must have believed this.
You say that now. It doesn't say that in the bible.

A proper moral ending to the story of Abraham and Isaac would have been Abraham saying something like "No. I will not kill my son. You have taught me that killing is wrong" and God saying he passed the test. Or at least Abraham saying he knows this demand to kill his son is a ruse and that he knows God won't actually have him harm his son. But a dishonest God playing such a ruse would also go against the claim of God being good.

I also note that this is not the only case in the Bible of obedience trumping morality. It is the most common theme in the book. The first commandment isn't "Be good to your fellow man". It is "Thou shalt have no God before me". The rest of the ten commandents are as much about obedience as morality.

Adam and Eve are told not to eat of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil. Since they hadn't eaten the fruit yet they could not have had any moral sense of whether or not eating the food and obeying God is good. Obedience is supreme here. In fact God appears to be demanding that they not learn right from wrong. Only the snake seems to be doing the right thing and telling them they should eat the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, and thus gain the potential to be moral creatures.

The theme runs on and on through the bible. The tower of Babel is another story about obedience and power. The story of Job shows God showing off at how he can get Job to obey him even as he abuses him. Job will not stand up to God's abuse. The story of Christ is about vicarious redemption, that good and bad actions are secondary to belief and following Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, and that there is no personal responsibility for your actions so long as you turn to God in the end. Except of course if you engage in blasphemy and speak against God - that is unforgivable.

Satan is not noted in the bible as doing much wrong besides turning against God. We don't get stories about how Satan flooded the world or did genocide etc. We only get stories about how he opposes God, and because of this mere opposition we are to declare him the greatest evil.

And it goes on and on. Obedience over morality every time along the way.
Reply

Eric H
06-12-2013, 10:08 PM
Greetings and peace be with you Pygoscelis; you raise many questions, I would like to respond to just one.

The first commandment isn't "Be good to your fellow man". It is "Thou shalt have no God before me".
The first commandment on its own is not the greatest commandment, the greatest commandments have a far deeper meaning than just be good to your fellow man.

Mark 12.
The greatest commandment
‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’
29 ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”[f] 31 The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”[g] There is no commandment greater than these.’


The rest of the ten commandents are as much about obedience as morality.
If by any remote chance God knows more about justice and morality than we do, then it would be worth striving to obey God.

In the spirit of searching for a just and merciful God

Eric
Reply

Hey there! Looks like you're enjoying the discussion, but you're not signed up for an account.

When you create an account, you can participate in the discussions and share your thoughts. You also get notifications, here and via email, whenever new posts are made. And you can like posts and make new friends.
Sign Up

IslamicBoard

Experience a richer experience on our mobile app!