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Unread postby Archmage144 » Mon Jan 31, 2005 8:02 pm

Reproduced here by request of Neb and Xaq:

This is an excerpt from a discussion forum for my English class. We're reading Soren Kirkegaard's Fear and Trembling. It should be noted that I a) am not sure exactly how much of what I said I actually agree with and b) am intentionally being somewhat inflammatory. I'm bored enough with my class's lackluster attitude and sheep-like complacency to stir up a little bit of trouble. You can post here if you really want, but I wasn't planning to start any sort of discussion, I just wanted a quick way to show Neb and Xaq the post.

What relevence does the omnipotence and "mystery" of God have to Kirkegaard's argument? Whether we as human beings are "meant" to understand God or not is not the issue at hand--the idea that humanity's inability to possibly comprehend or define the motives of divinity is a worthy crutch or a satisfactory answer is a very sad suggestion. The idea that God cannot be questioned or reasoned is a catch-all designed to prevent inquisitive heresy. As such, it is my belief that Kirkegaard is presenting a very worthwhile issue--who is to blame in the story of Abraham? Who is wrong, Abraham or God?

The unfortunate problem is that questioning the error in God's judgement is subject to a barrage of rhetoric. "God cannot be questioned," is the reply. "Why can I not question God?" continues the discussion. "Because you cannot understand God," is the response. So, we as philosophers and thinkers are left wondering and wanting answers from a being who will neither answer our questions nor provide explanations of His behavior. From the perspective of analytical minds, this is an inescapable dilemma. God is not a problem for thinkers. God is simply to be accepted. For the sake of argument, this might as well be considered proven, because no amount of debate or discussion will disprove the idea that God is not to be questioned, not that this mandate will stop a reasonable thinker in the first place. In any event, the point here is that God's motives in the story of Abraham must be assumed to be incomprehensible if Kirkegaard's argument is to hold any validity. Asking "why" of God will provide no further insights, so the probing must take place elsewhere.

As such, the only character in this story we can question with any reliability is Abraham. Being human, Abraham can be assumed to have human flaws, or at the very least, human motivations. These are understandable, unlike the motives of God, or at the very least, more predictable, and (almost) no one will accuse you of blasphemy for questioning them. In Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac, it becomes clear where his devotions lie--to God, not his family, and certainly not his son. Whether Abraham was reluctant or not is less the issue than the fact that he was willing. Abraham believed that God had a reason for commanding that he sacrifice his son, an act that simply cannot be deemed ethical by human standards. The simple fact of the matter is that Abraham believes that God is the source of all authority--a result in his faith in Him.

Alright, so Abraham has more faith in the "direct commandments of God" than he does in human ethics, which are supposedly an extension of God's divine will anyway. That was apparent. What, then, is the problem here?

Kirkegaard states it very clearly on page 60: "If you remove faith as a nix...there remains only the raw fact that Abraham was willing to murder Isaac, which is easy enough for anyone without faith to imitate; without the faith, that is, that makes it hard." Faith simultaneously "justifies" murder and condemns it, because a strong sense of faith and believe in the goodness of God's creation should imply respect for all things in existence, thus making murder an abominable act--but God commanded Abraham to do it, so it must be okay. Right?

What makes Abraham any more special than the schizophrenics who claim that God told them they were the Messiah, or that they should kill their children and burn down their homes? What separates Abraham from the flock of madmen?

Does calling murder "sacrifice" and killing in the name of God make you a man of great faith, or does it put you on the same page as the overzealous Crusaders of the Middle Ages or the Islamic fundamentalist suicide bombers? Or are all of these comparisons wholly invalid, because "Abraham's story happened a long time ago"? And if that's the case, then why should Abraham's story be remembered, since it apparently has no historical relevence and cannot be used with any variation from the original context? What is the moral here, exactly?

Just some food for thought. <p>
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</p>Edited by: [url=http://p068.ezboard.com/brpgww60462.showUserPublicProfile?gid=archmage144>Archmage144</A]&nbsp; Image at: 1/31/05 20:23

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