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Author Topic: Human sacrifice  (Read 38687 times)
Ellen M.
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« Reply #19: August 25, 2010, 11:58:11 am »

I have no idea where I'm even going with this, but this thought jumped out at me:  I find it interesting that you first acknowledge the role of cultural values in your own views on the situation, and then say that cultural values are not good enough justification for a particular action.  It seems a little contradictory to me.  If cultural values are a solid enough foundation for your position against human sacrifice, why would they not be a solid enough foundation to support a position that allows it?

Good point, and I honestly don't think I have a good answer to that. I'll rethink that and see if I can come up with something less contradictory.

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There are a couple of other things about this that are nagging at me...  One is the distinction between murder and killing.  I don't know a lot about ancient human sacrifice practices, so I don't know if this applies, but--what if the sacrifice were willingly given?  Is it still murder then?  In addition, I wonder why you don't feel that "the gods want it", in the context of an ancient society, is good justification.  When you believe that the livelihood of your entire city rests on ensuring that the city is in the gods' good favor, what is better justification than ensuring the gods' good favor and thus the survival of your people?

If the sacrifice were willingly given, with full consent... I might be able to see human sacrifice more akin in that instance to assisted suicide, where killing takes place but it isn't murder.

As far as "the gods want it" not being good justification... to put it plainly, to me, a god wanting a human sacrifice makes that god bad. If a god is going to punish a city for not giving them human sacrifice, he or she's just kind of a jerk, aren't they? What right do they have to demand that sort of offering? And how did the priests or whoever decide that was really what the gods wanted?

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How do we know the difference, then?  When a relationship exists between a deity and a human, obviously that's one way of knowing, but not everyone has that.  Most people, in fact, do not, and those who do don't generally seem to have that kind of contact with every deity.  In the absence of firsthand experience, how do we tell what's the author's bias and what's an accurate depiction of the deity?

I suppose everything in the myths is questionable to a degree. I just feel that there's a difference between the deity and how they're represented, and taking the myths as being 100% literal truth is problematic (especially since we do have conflicting versions of most myths). I don't know how you can tell what's a keeper in terms of information and what's bias, other than taking everything with some grain of salt until interaction with a deity proves one way or another. (Even though I know isn't foolproof, because how do you know you're talking with the 'real' deity, or the one the ancient whoevers worshiped, or that you're interpreting responses correctly. I don't have any answers except that UPG has a lot to do with it.)

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...Which, come to it, might be a good candidate for a new thread.

It really would. It's something I've been pondering myself, and probably lends well to a similar question of "How do gods and humans influence each other?" I believe there's a considerable amount of influence, but I'm having problems articulating exactly what that is.

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There are plenty of things I can't imagine people I know doing.  People have a way of surprising me in that regard, though, and I would be surprised if the Gods were not capable of doing the same.

But there's being surprised about someone, and then there's finding out something that crosses a moral line for you.
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