[Brazen Altar, Published about 1904 for author Rev. Hurlbut.]
So let's take this one step at a time.
- Adam and Eve screwed up big time by eating from God's tree (The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil).
- This screw up was so big that all of their descendants were damned to mortality.
- To rectify this problem God said that our sins will be forgiven but we have to give Him something in return: blood (there were other things offered along with animal sacrifice).
- After centuries of animal sacrifice God got his fill of barbecue, but still required one last life to be taken as the perfect sacrifice: Himself (that is if you believe in the Trinity).
- Through this last and perfect sacrifice all humanity is brought back to God and will return us, in a sense, to the Edenic state.
God: "Sorry, but this is a BYOB (Bring Your Own Barbecue) Party. If you don't bring the Meat, you're gonna feel the Heat."
The whole idea of offering a sacrifice to the gods was THE way to appease the gods. It was a lower consciousness form of worship that is directly related to how they understood the world around them. To us it may seem primitive, and I hesitate to us such a negative word, but I think sacrifice was an intriguing tool in an attempt to appease the gods during their time. When something happened in the weather or nature they believed it was guided by a particular god, and if the gods are happy they will make you prosperous. This is how most, if not all, cultures including the ancient Israelites interacted with the Divine.
If mankind has outgrown offering sacrifice to the gods does that mean that God has outgrown it as well? Yes, because I believe that our perception of God and our perception of the world around us are linked. Karen Armstrong's A History of God describes the evolution of our perception of our monotheistic God which also parallels mankind's progress. As humanity progressed our ideas and concepts of God changed, grew, and evolved. Some have even stated that we don't need God anymore because we have evolved to a point where we have the knowledge, technology, and the global interconnectedness to bring an end to, or at least drastically reduce, some forms of suffering. In a sense this is true, but I don't think humanity is ready to let go of God's hand and might never be ready. The relationship between man and the Divine might always be necessary but may also continue to change in form and practice has humanity progresses.
Personally I don't believe that the image of the bloodthirsty God of the Bible properly describes God's true nature. The Old Testament, Fire and Brimstone God was molded into a reflection of man's own violent image. I believe that the true image of God, the Loving, Compassionate, and Just God can be found scattered throughout the Bible and indeed other holy texts. If God is truly Loving, Compassionate, and Just, and if He wants the same from us, then we must let go of our image of the old bloodthirsty God, shut off the grill, and become living embodiments of these Godly traits. This is extremely difficult for many people as it was for me. Our individual perception of reality (including our perception of God) is tied to our ego, and any attempts to change or remove it is difficult depending on the belief. If you believe that the Bible is the inerrant infallible word of God and you read most, if not all, verses as literal then the attempt to change how you view God would be extremely difficult.
I believe leaving behind an image of a God that demands sacrifice is needed to becoming Loving, Merciful, and Just people. This is what works for me and may not work for you, but if our different beliefs help us to become better people then let us continue down our individual paths while always seeking brotherhood. Our differences should not matter if our goal is truly the same, and beneath the layers of tribalism and ego is a universal force that is constantly reminding us of our shared humanity.