“Father Abraham, had many sons; many sons had Father Abraham; I am one of them, and so are you…” Or so we were taught in Sunday School as young children. It was such an innocent song, and technically not very accurate. But we were taught a great many things that were at the same time innocent and yet far from correct. Let’s take a closer look.
Who was Father Abraham?
The Bible teaches that he was specially called by “God” (this God who is without evidence proclaimed to be the “One True God”) to stake a claim in the desert for God’s chosen people. Who these people are is the real mystery, both historically and spiritually.
We are asked to accept that this stranger was elected to “start” a whole new nation, from scratch, at the behest of this God for whom no explanation is required. We are also supposed to accept that he has been given the right to supplant any other people who might inhabit an area (in perpetuity) regardless of any perceived right or good.
But we have already been asked to accept that this God created all things out nothing, and that he, in retribution for some perceived slight of his “rules”, cursed the entire human race for the supposed disobedience of one. Even plants and animals suffer under the ignominious wrath of this God.
God is by no means universal in judgement, as he confers a special grace on his new, favorite race. It almost smacks of racism… “I shall make of you a great (multitude in the original Hebrew) nation” and “In you shall all nations of the earth be blessed” and “You shall be the head” and “Any nation that shall not serve you will perish”. Yes, these are all statements made by God for the benefit of his people, the nation Israel, which descended from the man Abraham.
But Abraham has a beginning which is less well—known than one would think. If this man is the “founder” of Judaism, and by extension Christianity, then his own origin ought to be important. And yet that is exactly where the majority of religious people are ignorant; they know nothing of the actually origin of their beliefs and founders.
If you want to know what a religion is about, you must follow the trail. Abraham’s trail leads back to a strange place: Iraq. Yes, his home before taking possession of the lands of another people is none other than modern—day Iraq. Of course, the Jews have created animosity with all of their neighbors, but it is rather odd considering her actual historical roots. And this trail leads us to many other odd places.
But first. We must examine more closely what we are being asked to believe about Abraham (or Abram before God called him to conquer the world). We must ask why we should believe that he is the chosen one?
And the answer is simple: blind faith needs no reason. But we ought to expect more from a belief that goes against every shred of decency we have come to know in modern times. How can I be so harsh?
Let us follow the trail of Father Abraham forward:
1. Abraham is given the incredible leeway of marking any and all territory he desires. Basically, he is promised land that he has never seen, nor legally can claim as his own.
2. He then takes matters into his own hands (absent any semblance of faith) and commits adultery with his maid. (This child eventually becomes the father of most of the Arabian world).
3. Despite his obvious sinful behavior, Abraham then becomes the instrument by which God condemns Sodom and Gomorrah. His nephew Lot is saved from the ensuing destruction despite an extremely wicked lifestyle (Genesis 19).
4. Lot is further defiled by his own daughters who get him drunk and become impregnated by him.
5. Of course, Abraham has already twice jeopardized himself and his wife, Sarai, while in the company of foreign dignitaries. Inexplicably, Abraham has offered his wife/half—sister to men of royal blood to curry favor for his own agenda.
6. In Genesis 20, we once again are blithely told that Abraham, once again, peddles his wife to gain the approval of a powerful man, Abimelech. Each time he does this, he benefits materially.
7. Abraham then abandons his mistress, Hagar, and their son, Ishmael to the hazards of the wilderness. This was done at the behest of Sarah… quite a telling turn of events. But this is done only AFTER the birth of the “legitimate” heir to the promise of God.
8. Once Abraham finally realizes the promise of God through the birth of the “promised” son, Isaac, he is “put to the test” of offering his “only” son (Ishmael is not “his” any more) as a sacrificial offering to his God. Abraham does not think it strange to be asked to perform this most pagan ritual, and sets out to perform an act that to every modern mind should scream barbaric!
9. Abraham continues to travel from place to place, taking advantage of the indiginous peoples.
10. The list of egregious acts, not only of Abraham, but of his progeny, could go on and on for a long time. But this is the reason I have called into question the virtue of the Bible record.
11. That none of these acts are told with any degree of disapproval is reason to ask all of these questions in the first place. Where is our sense of reason and decency.
This tirade against Abraham is not about casting aspersion on a man of whom all we know comes to us through the folklore of an ancient people. Whether it is true is another story, but whether it is acceptable is reason to ponder. It most certainly speaks to us of a debauched life. If nothing else, it warns us of the consequences of living such a life.
But let us not forget that this is how we are told the religion of our fathers came to be. We are asked to believe that this is how God accomplishes his plan in the world. And this is how all religions come to us: claiming special revelation and demanding unquestioning belief in things that violate the conscience that God himself gave us to keep us from accepting such superstition. We normally call such superstition by another name: mythology.
Abraham, and the lurid tales that trace the lineage of his family, are nothing more or less than superstition… mythology.
Deism precludes mythology, for what need have we of myths when we have all the evidence of God we need in his marvelous creation: Nature. It is the God of Nature who all religions try to imitate and mutate, but fail to exemplify. Religion is simply the personification, through superstition, of this God who is evident in the natural world we see with our own eyes. We need no fairy tales to see this God, who speaks to us without any mystery, and only asks that we be good stewards of this world.
It is Deism that the majority of religious adherents actually practice in their daily lives. For when we are confronted with the atrocities of our beliefs, we must choose between acceptance of the horrific physical acts (like child sacrifice) and the spiritualization of those stories, in order to avoid the implications to morality that must be applied.
My final question: of what benefit is belief in that which demands, and yet, destroys morality in fell swoop? The answer is as obvious as the nose on your face: none. Enter Deism, and the belief that never asks one to abandon reason and sensibility in favor of revelation and mystery. Deism is a belief that what we see is what we get. There is no chosen people; there is no need for sacrifice to appease an angry God, whose anger is a result of his own unreasonable demands.
Abraham and the origin of the Hebrews is mythology (and not a very pleasant one); the Bible that purports such fabrication is equally mythological in its entirety; Deism brings reason and purest morality to every man, woman, and child through simple acceptance of Nature as observed with our senses.
The step from religion to Deism (pure belief in God without unsubstantiated revelation) is easier than you think. You may already be there and don't even realize it. Follow reason, not faith, to the place where God does not violate his own laws.