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The "good" book - Human Sacrifice
The Opposite of Good
Introduction: Is Human Sacrifice Moral?
It is absolutely appalling to consider the fact that the bible, the book touted by millions of people worldwide, is still generally regarded to be the good book. It is given to children to read. It is taught daily in study groups. It is commonly referred to as humanity's only example for moral values, and is looked to for guidance in regards to social morality. It is preached from the pulpit, it is quoted in discussions of all stripes, and it is blatantly evil. Not only is its validity questionable at best, but the book itself, were you to take at at face value, is one of the corrupt, morally bankrupt, disgusting pieces of literature throughout history. Yet it is still regarded today as the word of god. Although it was written by literally dozens of different men, the claim is that it was inspired by god, and therefore is the infallible word of god himself. Only the god portrayed in the bible, of course. The god who would be judged by today's standards as a mob boss, a tyrant and a sociopath. If the stories in the bible were true, the god portrayed in those pages would be hunted down and eliminated, much like many dictators that have been dethroned in the not-too-distant past. This hub will examine the blatant and obvious immorality in these so-called holy scriptures. This is not the place to discuss the validity of the book or its writings itself - that can be addressed later. As in all hubs to be written on this topic, we can examine immoral aspects of the bible one at a time, and will differentiate between the old and new testaments - notated as ot or nt (in case any Christians care to say that the old testament is no longer valid)
OT - Genesis 22:1-18
The most famous (or infamous) story of human sacrifice in the bible is one that Christians will be the first to point out - the one where it doesn't happen at all. Abraham is at a ripe old age when he is given his long-awaited son, Isaac. God rewards Abraham's patience and faith (oh wait, he didn't have faith in god's promise - so much so that he took out an insurance policy and slept with his servant/slave who gave birth to his OTHER son Ishmael ) by deciding to test him. God's test for Abraham was simple - sacrifice his son to god. As in, a burning sacrifice. Abraham doesn't question god on this order, although Abraham has no qualms about questioning god at other times. He gets his son, collects some things and goes off to sacrifice him. Of course, god stops the whole thing from happening just when Abraham is about to plunge his knife into his son to kill him. God gives Abraham a ram to kill, instead. How thoughtful. The bible points out in the NT that god never tests or temps anyone (James 1:13) - yet he tested Abraham. This contradiction is almost always overlooked, however.
Christian apologists are quick to point out that since god is omniscient, he never intended for Abraham to actually sacrifice Isaac. If god was omniscient, however, why the need to test Abraham at all? Surely an all-powerful dictator (I mean god) would already know that Abraham would go through with it. His all-knowing magnificence seems to overlook this blatantly obvious fact, and chooses to go through with it anyway. It's also interesting to note that there have been many historical court cases in the last 30 years where parents have murdered their children, then claimed they were acting on god's orders. Christians quickly decry these murderers and say that god would simply never order a parent to kill their child. Clearly that isn't the case. Not only does god order parents to kill their children, he does it without compunction. If the story of Jesus were true, god did it himself. Therefore, what's the harm, right?
OT Exodus 13:2 and Leviticus 27:28-29
God apparently has a thing for first-born sons. In the passage in Exodus, he clearly states that the first-born, be it man or animal, is his own personal property, and it should be sacrificed to him. Exodus, of course, goes on to say that the firstborn may be replaced with an appropriate sacrifice. This is directly contradicted by the passage in Leviticus which states, rather clearly, that "Note also that any one of his possessions which a man vows as doomed to the Lord, whether it is a human being or an animal, or a hereditary field, shall be neither sold nor ransomed; everything that is thus doomed becomes most sacred to the Lord. All human beings that are doomed lose the right to be redeemed; they must be put to death."
OT Judges 11:29-40
Where Isaac may have gotten off lightly, Jephthah daughter was not so fortunate. Jephthah makes a deal with god. He was a favorite general of the jews, and he was about to fight an important and potentially dangerous battle. He tells god that, if god delivers the enemy into his hands, he will then sacrifice the first thing that came out to greet him when he returned home. God lets Jephthah win, and upon his return home, his only daughter comes out to welcome her father. Although Jephthah is grieved, he must keep his promise - and he burns his daughter as a sacrifice to god. Two points: 1) Again, if god is omniscient as it is claimed, surely he knew what would greet Jephthah when he went home. Why make the deal in the first place? 2) god was quick to save Abraham's son (although I'm sure Abraham was working up a sweat) yet he did nothing to stop the murder of Jephthah daughter. Couldn't he have spoken up and said 'oh, hey, yeah you don't need to keep your end of the bargain - it's going to be your daughter, and you probably shouldn't kill her.
OT 1 Kings 13:1-2 & 2 Kings 23:20-25
God not only predicts, but commands the ritual burning human sacrifice. This is okay, however, because they're only pagan priests. In other words, since they're not his chosen people, burning people to death is fully acceptable. This concept was relived time and time again in the Inquisition, where thousands of people were burned alive at the stake because they were suspected of not converting correctly - or believing in the wrong god. Ironically, the majority of the victims in the infamous Spanish Inquisition were Jews - god's original chosen people. Additionally, in Deuteronomy 13:13-19, god commands human sacrifice: "Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. "The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him."
The Ultimate Supposed Sacrifice:
Of course, the most famous sacrifice at all is the supposed sacrifice of Jesus to take away the sins of the entire world. Not only is the idea of substitutionary atonement immoral in itself, but sending yourself to earth in order to sacrifice yourself to yourself in order to create a loophole in a law that you, yourself instigated.
Not only does god command human sacrifice, either as a game or as a pleasing fleshy smell that he seems to enjoy, he also forbids human sacrifice. How is anyone supposed to know what this supposed god actually wants, when he can't even decide himself? It doesn't sound like an all-knowing, all-powerful deity to me. The old testament doesn't forbid all human sacrifice, but it is expressly against child sacrifice (Deuteronomy 12:31, Deuteronomy 18:9-12, 2 Kings 16:3, Psalm 106:38, Jeremiah 19:4-5) Yet god had no problem ordering Abraham to sacrifice his son. He allowed Jephthah to sacrifice his daughter. He ultimately sacrificed his own son.
I highly doubt that any moral, rational and good person alive today would point to a human sacrifice and find it acceptable behavior. The fact of the matter is that society has evolved over time, and things that used to be commonplace are now blatantly repugnant. The book hasn't changed (well it has, but that's for another hub) and if god doesn't change (James 1:17) then things that he found acceptable several thousand years ago should still be good enough today. They're not. What's changed? We have. Society has changed, and as it changed, it moved away from immoral principles that it used to abide by.