Human Sacrifice

It’s in the Bible. You’re probably thinking of Jesus and Isaac. Isaac almost got sacrificed because god wanted to test Abraham’s obedience, even though being an omniscient deity, you’d think he’d already know the outcome and spare the kid a traumatic experience. I take that back. The god of the Bible is a jerk, so he wouldn’t care about the kid emotional well being. Jesus’s sacrifice is a can of worms in itself. It’s not exactly a sacrifice since he got resurrected, according to the story. People like me are baffled by the contortions Christians go through to make it necessary. The whole trinity thing is just surreal with one entity sacrificing itself to itself. It gets nastier in some interpretations where Jesus replaces regular death with Hell and expects us to play Pascal’s Wager on his particular horse out of the infinity of metaphysical beliefs. This is familiar ground for a lot of us.

There’s one human sacrifice in the Bible that, at least in my experience, doesn’t get covered so much: Jephthah’s daughter. I did some private Bible reading that got me onto the road to skepticism. I guess I missed it, possibly because I was skipping past yet another bloody slaughter, since the first I heard of it was from The Brick Testament. It starts with a poorly thought-out vow. He vowed to sacrifice that first thing that came to greet him when he came home if god gave him victory in battle. I suppose Jephthah was expecting it to be an animal, like a pet, but unfortunately for his daughter, it was her. One thing that kind of surprises me is how little there is about the whole incident. His daughter isn’t even named. He tells her about the vow, she agrees, but asks for two months to “bewail her virginity” with her friends, and after that, she gets sacrificed, allegedly still a virgin.

Of course, one question that immediately springs to mind is why didn’t god do the same thing he did for Isaac and stop the sacrifice? Heck, he even could have made it into a non-story by manipulating events so an animal came out to greet Jephthah first. It kind of undermines some efforts to “save” the story of Isaac’s near-sacrifice, since it shows that god’s perfectly willing to accept a human sacrifice done in his name. Though there’s limited information, we can speculate sexism may have had something to do with it, since women were pretty much considered livestock in those days. The fact that she’s unnamed might actually be an author’s attempt to limit our sympathy for her and sweep the whole thing under a carpet of begats. I don’t see much of a lesson aside from thinking about what you vow. If anyone wants to assert that their god is against human sacrifice, they’ll have to explain this story. There’s no punishment or condemnation for the act, only god’s inaction.

Seriously, fundies, tell me what the fuck is up with this.

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2 responses to “Human Sacrifice

  1. I agree, Bronze Dog, that is one messed up story. Truly!

    I’ll admit that I see “disempowerment” everywhere I look when it comes to religion. That said, I find this story to be a kind of “object lesson” that sometimes being true to god means you have to do things you don’t like. The problem being that followers remain stuck in situations they don’t like (or vows they made) in the name of being true to god. I speak from personal experience here!

    So Jephthah slaughtered his daughter to an imaginary god. What a waste. Or to a real (but unproven) god who is a total asshole. A waste either way!

    And god gets the credit for Jephthah’s victory? Not his own cleverness and strength? Can you please stop denigrating humans one of these days, religious people?

    • I find this story to be a kind of “object lesson” that sometimes being true to god means you have to do things you don’t like. The problem being that followers remain stuck in situations they don’t like (or vows they made) in the name of being true to god. I speak from personal experience here!

      This goes well with my comment about purpose in the other thread. It’s one thing to do something you don’t like, such as studying, as a part of getting something you like, such as a high grade in a class or a better understanding of the subject matter. In religion’s case, you’re only promised the benefit of heaven without any reasonable evidence or plausible basis. Where religion really gets on my nerve is that it often means going against moral principles and against the purpose you would otherwise choose for your life. It essentially amounts to bribing and/or threatening you into giving up on your life.

      And god gets the credit for Jephthah’s victory? Not his own cleverness and strength? Can you please stop denigrating humans one of these days, religious people?

      Reminds me of a mine flooding where theists rushed to thank god for the miners’ survival. The real credit goes to humans. Someone invented a one-man elevator designed to fit in the holes they could drill in anticipation of a flood or mine collapse, so they could rescue survivors through that hole. Surveyors maintained an accurate map of the mine so they could determine the local high ground where remaining miners would retreat to, and thus they could tell the drill team exactly where to drill. Managers saw to it that they had the elevator, drill, map, and the teams of experts as well as coordinate their efforts for a speedy rescue.

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