Agnosticism, Atheism, Christianity, Faith, God, Morality, Religion, Sacrifice, Truth

A Modern-Day Abraham

Well, it’s no longer a scenario we have to imagine. I’m sad to say that there’s a case currently underway not far from where I live concerning a man who murdered his daughter because “Yahweh” told him to. You can read the full story here.

Stephon Lindsay killed his 20-month old daughter Maliyah in March 2013 and confessed to it not long after. As he explained to police, “I only did what he told me to do to her… he wanted me to get rid of her.” According to Lindsay, “Whoever did not have the family name will die.” And “I tried to make her right by him. He didn’t want her.”

It’s a horribly tragic story, but it’s also hard to not comment on the irony. The article I linked to makes no reference to this story being similar to the story of Abraham and Isaac, and they don’t even acknowledge that it’s the same God. As the article says, “he claimed he was told to do it by his god, Yahweh.” Most people in Etowah county, where this is being tried, are Christian, yet I doubt any of them have stopped to wonder if Lindsay might have actually been following an order from God. I have heard so many Christians over the years comment on Abraham’s great faith, without considering how terrible that story actually is. Now they see a real life example, and they immediately know that what Lindsay did is an atrocity. Sadly, most of them won’t think as deeply about this as they should.

What’s the difference between divine revelation and just a voice in your head? How could Lindsay have possibly known that God wouldn’t stay his hand just as he supposedly did for Abraham? The only real differences between these two stories is that one actually happened only 3 years ago, and the other is ancient legend. It’s the same god, and it’s the same action. Yet millions of Jews, Christians, and Muslims revere Abraham and his “great faith.”

As atheists, many of us have asked people to imagine how they’d react if they heard a voice telling them to kill their own child. Or how they would react if they heard about someone doing that because “God told them to.” Sadly, we no longer have to discuss this as mere speculation.

63 thoughts on “A Modern-Day Abraham”

  1. hi Nate, well this is off topic somewhat. i’m sure you all remember me flipping out over my sister sending her son away to a christain boarding school. well, she just returned from visiting him and she told me that they had an exorcist casting demons out of her son. this is about to make me lose my goddamn mind. how crazy can these people get? and there’s nothing I can do about it.

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  2. Exactly. I have used the same thought process for other biblical accounts. For example, what if our soldiers killed all Iraqis and brought home the virgins? Wouldn’t we flip? What if a new husband stoned his wife because her parents couldn’t prove her virginity.

    I’m shocked at how they talk about God being love, but if we did the things of the OT we would be a barbaric and a backwards society.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Thanks for all the comments!

    Sally,
    I totally agree. I’ve run across a number of Christians who complain about the barbarism of Islam without stopping to think about the same level of atrocities in the Old Testament.

    Steve,
    Excellent point. I’m currently reading Peter Boghossian’s A Manual for Creating Atheists, and that’s the exact definition he uses for faith, too. Really makes the ridiculousness stand out.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The following episode from The Thinking Atheist addresses this issue (with a twist). I have tried to save it as the 7 minute mark where the relevant part starts.

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  5. One exception to the author’s story, though very entertaining it was – Abe’s god wouldn’t have been called ‘Yahweh,’ he would have been ‘El Shaddai.’ The Jews didn’t decide his name was ‘Yahweh’ until Exodus 3:6 and 6:3.

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  6. Sad, and you’re right to point out the correlation between stories. Perhaps you should send this article into the local newspaper and see if they’ll publish it as an OpEd.

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  7. Somehow I thought you and Matt lived in the same state, you in Dallas, Matt in Austin. My mistake.

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  8. Hey Paulie,

    Not sure why your comment got caught up in spam — sorry about that! And even sorrier to hear about your nephew. I hope he doesn’t suffer any long-term damage from all this. Luckily, he has an uncle like you who can give him a saner perspective on things once he’s out.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh Paulie … that’s awful! I’m so sorry. Perhaps your best action would be to not talk to your sister at all about your nephew. And if she brings up the subject, just tell her you’d rather not talk about it because it pains you too much. I dunno’ if that will work, but I do know this … you’ll be in my thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow! I was just thinking about you Pauli, and wondering how you were!

    That poor kid is going to come out of there SO much more fucked up than he went in!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My favorite part of the movie was when the cable guy died. I’ve never liked Jim Carey or Will Farrel.

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  12. Wow, really? I was never the biggest fan of Jim Carrey’s typical comedies, but I loved The Cable Guy. He doesn’t actually die in the movie, if you remember…

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  13. I thought he was stabbed by falling on the spire of a satellite – am I thinking of a different movie, another actor, and a different scenario entirely? I still don’t like Jim Carey, dating all the way back to his SNL days, but clearly I’m confused about the movie.

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