Now we have many questions to consider when asking ourselves about Abraham. What about his actions made it seem like he may perhaps have been evil, misguided, unethical and irrational? Well, though the simple answer is “He was trying to sacrifice his son” it goes far beyond that. Think for a moment, about whether or not you have ever had something you loved, like a pet. If God told you to kill the pet and burn it, as an offering, would you have done it? Not unless you believed so wholly in God that it was the “right” thing to do. Aha, I say, as we have found the true issue at hand. Does an order from a “higher power” suspend the ethical? Or does that just make the actions delivered after suspension of the ethical and rational, evil and malicious no matter what is done? For these answers, we must think of God as someone much like a president, or World Leader, in respects to the fact that God, after all, is some form of entity. God may not have a physical form, but God is indeed an entity that has power, much like the figures like old Kings in Europe or to a lesser extent the President and members of congress. Though, the power of God is far surpassing of any man, allowing God to randomly kill, or Smite, people and cities at a moment’s notice, or resurrect the dead, call down holy judgment and start Armageddon, et al. But what about God supersedes the “right” and the “Just” and the “Ethical”? Well it depends entirely upon your definition, personally of right, just and ethical. For someone who truly and devoutly believes, like Abraham, such things are only natural, to supersede the normal laws of man for a higher power. To do what he did to Isaac, under pain of death from something higher than himself. And death is not even the beginning of that pain. God, after he stopped Isaac, promised his family and his descendants to be numerous, to be overflowing on the earth, to conquer their enemies and many other promises of happiness. Should, then, if God was betrayed, Abraham been cursed had not been smote on the spot? Indeed, that option is very much there, and also, if one believes in that power of God, a rational and ethical reason to supersede the natural order of the world. If I were told by God, to sacrifice my only child or else myself suffer the wrath of said God, I’d most likely sacrifice the child and hope I was stopped by divine intervention and rewarded for my faith much like Abraham. Because if I were Abraham, I would know that though it is irrational to believe it, the fact that I do believe it, makes it the truth. For rational thought and proof through objectivity will most likely never truly surface of the evidence of God in the world, so the only thing I can do is believe and if such an extraordinary circumstance applies itself to me, I would have to allow myself the fortitude and willpower to make that leap of faith.
Part 2: Contextually analyzing the Religious vs. Ethical in Abraham’s Actions
Now on the other hand, should God not exist, and Abraham not be devout of faith, or Abraham heard an inner schizophrenic voice or someone else as if it were in his own head; then he would be instantly made into an unethical, irrational, human being. For until the moment arose that God came and saved Isaac, Abraham was insane, mad, and unethical. From the moment he was told, and could not be entirely certain it was not the snake, who betrayed Adam and Eve in the Garden, a Demon, or even his own inner thoughts of insanity; he was unethical and irrational. Because by taking unto himself, an action that would supersede the Ethical, in a world where the ethical is the highest thing without God’s presence, then Abraham has put himself in the position of many Jihadists or the people in Michigan who were trying to wage war on the Government fearing the Apocalypse was coming (Dykes). Abraham is sitting in a hard place, for if his faith fails him, he has become nothing more than an object of which his faith would typically wish to destroy, and harm. This gives him fear, and trembling, unto his task. This is exactly where the distinction between his faith and rational takes off. For in this suspension of ethical, he has cast off his rational cloak until time when he is proven through his faith, to still be rational, thinking, and coherent. From the moment he is ordered, plots it, and executes to where God intervenes, he is maddened, and insane. Before God saves Isaac, Abraham is looking toward life in prison in modern society, and most likely death in his, for premeditated murder. Had he been in a culture which allowed human sacrifices, much like the old Aztecs, perhaps he may have been spared by their customs and differing ethical views from ours, but his ethics told him no, but God told him yes. In the maddening days or possibly weeks between being told and God saving Isaac, he is driven mad. His ethical is suspended, there is nothing there to be analyzed through guise of rational, and only the irrational of his leap of faith is there. And that is truly where the issue lies, does it not?
Is a leap of faith ethical and rational, or irrational and absurd? Perhaps you must delve deeper than such bland and broad definitions, for rational and ethical change varying from person to person. One may act upon a feeling, and call it rational while someone looking through their own subjective viewpoint will say it is irrational and mad. The viewpoint of God thus must be accounted for. What is God’s view and role on this? Is he, as the issuer of this command, going to agree with Abraham or disagree? If we look at many characteristics many people give to God, specifically the Catholic side of religion, we see the thought that God is Infallible, or unable to be disproven at any point. Now, being as God created a set of rules which proved murder, similar to Isaac at the sacrificial altar, wrong. Would this order, then, go against God’s own decree? If so, only God can renounce or change a decree. For we find in the New Testament of the Bible, when Jesus is here, a clarification of rules, and a lessening of tightness on some of the older, more traditional ways of looking at the orders and decrees. So it all depends on whether or not you believe God can change his or her mind that you can see that God would give this decree in the first place.
Now that the decree is in place, and Abraham’s actions are in the past, what does this mean for the Knight of Faith, which Abraham has ascended, do? Does this knight adhere to the Ethical, or has the irrational leap of faith that supersedes the ethical, caused him to no longer be Ethical? To understand this, one must see a situation much in hypothetical. Imagine yourself stranded on a desert island after a plane crash and you have no food or supplies. There are a few other survivors, but they are liable to die as well. Do you starve to death or eat them to survive? This is a similar situation to the superseding of Ethical which Abraham has been put in, but in a different sense. Instead of a desert island, he is stranded without supplies for rational thought through this other than the faith to God and his potential punishment if he fails to comply. If you want a more relevant hypothetical, see a situation where you are handed a gun by a military officer in the middle of a riot, and told to fire upon the rioters, unaware whether he will shoot you if you don’t fire at them, or if you will go to prison for shooting. Do you shoot? Or do you give the gun back? Your choice is similar to that of Abraham. He was given an order by something higher than himself, potentially incurring wrath either way he acts, and whatever you do, is the perceived lesser loss. Abraham, after having his son, now knows he can have one with his wife. If God allows his son to die, he is assured in his mind he will have another, hopefully. If God saves Isaac, he will be fine as well. But the only two negative options are if God didn’t give the order, or if he chooses to not do the order and God punishes him, possibly by taking Isaac anyway. Much like the military and the riot example, if you don’t fire, you could be arrested for disobeying an order or killed in the crossfire during the riot. If you fire, you could be let off for listening, or punished for shooting. There is also an option where nothing will happen if you don’t fire. There is so many options, and you cannot be sure of what will happen in any circumstance, so you must use whatever “faith” you have in the officer and fire at the rioters as ordered, in order to hopefully prevent any arrests or death to you if you disobey and hoping that no punishment will be given as they will attribute the deaths to the officer and extreme circumstances to the situation. In the end, being a knight of faith is only as unethical as your subjective view of the ethical in that extreme circumstance, as something potentially higher has spontaneously sprung up, for a moment, and will disappear as soon as this event is over. So it is possible, truly, to be a Knight of Faith as well as Ethical, insofar as the circumstances you are placed in do not supersede the Ethical permanently.