Tackling Abraham’s Sacrifice of Isaac

Radiolab did a fantastic piece a few years back on the story of Abraham sacrificing the only son he loved – he had two sons, God said kill the one you love which is Isaac, Abraham – being kind of a dick dad – had a favorite son. Its very confusing, but the Radiolab show makes it clear. In doing so they shed some light on tragedy and the human condition in our own time.

Give it a listen and then come back and read the below response.

Although, Robert Krulwich accepts the religious intention of the tale, I think Thomas Paine puts a nice cap on it with his view on the goodness of murder and sacrifice in The Bible.  Krulwich definitely struggles with wanting to conclude with Paine, but makes the fatal error common to all religious minds of “prostituting one’s Reason” as Paine puts it., thus “[preparing] himself for the commission of every other crime.”

As written by Thomas Paine, in “The Age of Reason”.

It seems as if parents of the Christian profession were ashamed to tell their children anything about the principles of their religion. They sometimes instruct them in morals, and talk to them of the goodness of what they call Providence, for the Christian mythology has five deities- there is God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, the God Providence, and the Goddess Nature. But the Christian story of God the Father putting his son to death, or employing people to do it (for that is the plain language of the story) cannot be told by a parent to a child; and to tell him that it was done to make mankind happier and better is making the story still worse- as if mankind could be improved by the example of murder; and to tell him that all this is a mystery is only making an excuse for the incredibility of it.

There’s an online version of The Age of Reason and “ctrl+f” makes my life super easy. Check it out if this interests you.


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