From Fear and Trembling:
All that time [Abraham] believed--he believed that God would not require Isaac of him, whereas he was willing nevertheless to sacrifice him if it was required. He believed by virtue of the absurd...
Pause. Why wouldn't Abraham believe?
- God had revealed Himself and spoken to Abraham personally.
- God had promised Abraham a miracle (a son in his old age) and had fulfilled that promise.
- God had also promised Abraham descendents to number the stars.
- God is an all-powerful being with the capacity and authority to alter his demands at any time.
It seems like Abraham was one of the few people who did not require faith to believe in God. Abraham's reasons for believing in God were entirely rational. So why does Silentio argue the opposite?
(At the very least, Abraham had far more reason to believe in God than anyone in modern times who cannot even verify His existence.)
EDIT: This question is not a plea for clarification of the text. It is not an attempt to dissect Silentio's notion of "absurdity." What I am asking is whether a certain objection to Silentio's argument is valid. The argument may be parsed as follows:
(a) To act on faith is to act outside the scope of reason.
(b) Abraham acted on faith.
(c) Conclusion: Abraham acted outside the scope of reason.
My objection is that Abraham, in obeying God, did not act outside the scope of reason. His reasons are those enumerated above.
Any answer, in order to constitute an answer to the question asked (not one we merely wish had been asked), must either affirm or deny that the objection is valid and explain why. There are a few answers that would have sufficed here and, in fact, some have already been articulated:
- Kierkegaard (as Silentio) was arguing from the assumption that no evidence could ever be enough to completely justify the kind of total commitment involved in true religious faith (credit: James Kingsbery). This assumption is defended elsewhere in his writings, though not this particular section of F&T.
- Kierkegaard (as Silentio) was arguing from a certain scriptural interpretation, namely that Abraham's past dealings with God were not so straightforward and he had more reason to doubt God than trust Him (credit: Keelan).
- The objection is valid. K/S may have responded as follows: "...." The objection has been raised by philosopher X in paper Y.
(Apologies for the length. I really do not think this is the place to be explaining how to answer a question, but apparently not everyone is up to speed.)