Total beers: 4
A commenter by the name of Marcus Krueger on Bill Victor’s blog suggests something Bill could’ve said in response to my question about whether or not Bill would kill me at god’s command.
Dear Dr. Victor:
I am a Christian who was present at your debate. I want to quickly give my answer to the infamous question. This will also be a indirect response to Erik Muir’s comment.
I would first like to commend you for the grace and humility which you displayed during the debate even when it was definitely not going your way and the humbleness you are showing by this blog post in dealing with your mistake.
The reason the Christian would know that the command from God to kill JT would not be valid is because it violates the New Testament. Ben Witherington puts it this way:
“In 1 John 2 the Beloved Disciple suggests a series of moral tests to see if one’s experience is of God, for example– does it produce behavior like the behavior of Jesus? Does it lead one to love God with one’s whole heart and one’s neighbor as self, or is it narcissistic in character? Does it lead to holy living or does it lead to questionable beliefs and behavior? Does it lead to moving on faith, or does it lead to fear-based practices, since the experience of the real love of God casts out all fear? Does it lead to the belief that Jesus is the Son of God come in the flesh, as the Johannine Epistles put it, or to some sort of heterodox belief about Jesus?”
Now God appearing to you and telling you to kill JT would violate several of the conditions of John 2.
I would also like to discuss the issue of Abraham since a main contention of the skeptic is that God commanded Abraham to kill Isaac as a test of faith so therefore God could command anyone to kill thus God is immoral.
There is ultimately more theologically to the story of Abraham than merely a test of faith. If you follow the entire narrative underlying the entire Torah it is easy to see that many of the actions God takes is to prove that the one true God is different than the other God’s that were worshiped in the ancient near east.
For example, In the creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2 God is specifically pointing out that he created the sun and the moon, the land, the trees, etc. This is important because it is the first foundations of the theological narrative I stated previously. In the ancient near east worship of the sun, moon, trees, etc. as deity was common so God is essentially saying that He demands worship not his creation.
In the case of Abraham it is important to note that God stayed Abraham’s hand via an angel,which ultimately signifies that He is a God that does not demand child sacrifice because child sacrifice was very common in the ancient times. God commanded Abraham to go through this exercise knowing that he could make this point through it while simultaneously testing Abraham’s faith. It is shown in the Torah that God chooses to uses actions over simple commands because as we all know actions speak louder than words.
I am not arguing that god’s nature includes ordering people to kill themselves. Obviously, I don’t believe in god. The point is that an otherwise perfectly kind person like Bill Victor would be willing to adopt an evil master if god did make such a command.
The point is that even if we knew a god existed and was giving us moral pronouncements, it does not make those pronouncements moral. We must still evaluate them with reason and compassion before we deem such a god’s commands to be reasonable or compassionate. And if its commands are not reasonable and/or compassionate, by complying you become a monster, not a saint. Faith has taken a very kind person like Bill Victor, and countless other Christians, and moved them into a position where they’d be willing (even eager) to commit murder with no explanation, just by obedience to a command. This is not beautiful. It is not noble. It is horrific and ugly. It is a contamination. It keeps someone like Bill Victor from being as good as they could be.
Whether a god exists that would make such a command is not the point. The point is that so many Christians would sacrifice empathy at god’s decree. Bill eventually came around in the debate and said he’d defy god in such a scenario, choosing to allow himself to be punished instead. That was actually the proper answer: let the blood be on the malicious party’s hands, even if that party is the ultimate power in all the universe. And if allegiance to kindness over god is sufficient reason to tell god to go fuck himself were he to demand cruelty of you, why do we need god telling us to be charitable? Why do we need to obey when he tells us to hinder the happiness of gay people?
The people who say we should abide by god’s will over compassion, and just cite how god’s conveniently always compassionate (even though their own fucking bible tells a different story, and not that they’d refuse if commanded to inflict harm), remind me of this clip:
…which would be funny if this weren’t the precise thing being advocated by people like Marcus.
And if god doesn’t demand child sacrifice, he sure has a strange way of showing it with Jephthah and with the various wars/genocides he commanded in which children, born and unborn, were killed.
There comes a time when you must realize that no good person accepts a wicked master. Faith of this flavor keeps us from getting there.