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.