• Refuting The Ten Commandments… Again

    10-CommandmentsI was discussing religion with a Christian online (as I often do) and he started to brag about how great the Ten Commandments are. I know that’s hilarious and while many people have ripped the big ten before and I probably have too, let’s do it again!

    This was my response:
    1. Worship no other gods – How does that have anything at all to do with morality? In the Book of Numbers, Moses was commanded by God to rape and commit genocide because the Midianites worshiped cupid over him. The good news is that it is fiction and that never actually happened.
    2. No graven images – Again no morality there. But how many Christians have no problem wearing graven images around their necks and support erecting religious images all over the place?
    3. Don’t take God’s name in vain – Again, no morality there either. Maybe thou shall not rape would have been a better commandment to put in here.
    4. Don’t work on Saturday – Again, no morality there either. However, the Bible says that the punishment for any commandment is death. So think about that for a minute. Do you think it is moral to kill someone for working on Saturday? I don’t.
    5. Honor your father and mother – sure that sounds great on paper (not in stone though). Some parents suck and don’t deserve to be honored. Sometimes kids are served better with foster parents. It all depends on the situation. Life and morality are much more nuanced than 10 commandments written in stone.
    6. Don’t murder – Okay, I’ll give the Bible this one. Finally, more than half way through these commandments and there is something that resembles morality that actually makes sense. However, this is probably the most obvious thing in the world and every society has the exact same rule because it is really that fucking obvious. So I can’t see giving the Bible any points for stating what everyone already knew.
    7. Adultery – This is a good moral guide, but it shouldn’t be a law (and isn’t) and it certainly shouldn’t be punishable by death (as it is in the Bible). Also, I should note that this is basically a property issue in the Bible. Women belonged to their men. So adultery was like stealing.
    8. Stealing – Again, this is a pretty basic rule that can be found in pretty much every culture and society and dates back well before the Bible.
    9. False witness – A good general rule, but life and morality are again more nuanced. Sometimes lying is a good thing. Just ask Anne Frank.
    10. Don’t covet – I live in America. This whole country is centered around coveting. I see nothing wrong with coveting. While I don’t covet my neighbor’s ox, I do covet their grill. I wish my grill was that nice. Should I be put to death because I wish I had a grill as nice as my neighbors?

    If this is the best God can do, then I’ll stick with human laws.

    Category: AtheismBibleChristianityfeaturedGodMorality

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    Article by: Staks Rosch

    Staks Rosch is a writer for the Skeptic Ink Network & Huffington Post, and is also a freelance writer for Publishers Weekly. Currently he serves as the head of the Philadelphia Coalition of Reason and is a stay-at-home dad.

    4 comments

    1. George Carlin’s “rant” on this particular subject is great – he comes to the conclusion that you can replace the whole mess with 2 commandments, and save a whole bunch of stone work!

    2. 6. Don’t murder – Okay, I’ll give the Bible this one.

      A good commandment – but self-refuting since it is punishable by death.

    3. The commandment against bearing false witness is probably the most often twisted of all the commandments. Everyone seems to think it’s a blanket condemnation against lying but it’s actually quite specific to telling lies about a neighbor. I remember learning the commandments in Sunday School and thinking somebody didn’t understand this one.
      “Do not give false witness against your neighbour. ” _Bible in Basic English
      I had one person even claim it to be ambiguous and went through some interesting mental gymnastics to make it appear that way.

    4. Of course, when it comes to discussing “the” ten commandments, there is a difficulty in determining which ten commandments.

      First of all, we have Exodus 20:

      1 And God spake all these words, saying,

      2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

      3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

      4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

      5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

      6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

      7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

      8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

      9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

      10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

      11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

      12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

      13 Thou shalt not kill.

      14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

      15 Thou shalt not steal.

      16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

      17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

      18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.

      Then, we have Exodus 34 (the ones on the tablets that are actually referred to as “the ten commandments):

      1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.

      2 And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount.

      :
      :
      :

      12 Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:

      13 But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:

      14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

      15 Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;

      16 And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.

      17 Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.

      18 The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt.

      19 All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male.

      20 But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty.

      21 Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.

      22 And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.

      23 Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord GOD, the God of Israel.

      24 For I will cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders: neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the LORD thy God thrice in the year.

      25 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.

      26 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

      27 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.

      28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

      The, just to deepen the confusion, there’s Deuteronomy 5 to take a look at, too:

      6 I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

      7 Thou shalt have none other gods before me.

      8 Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth:

      9 Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,

      10 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.

      11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

      12 Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.

      13 Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:

      14 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.

      15 And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.

      16 Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

      17 Thou shalt not kill.

      18 Neither shalt thou commit adultery.

      19 Neither shalt thou steal.

      20 Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.

      21 Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour’s wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

      Of course, this being religious, there are different versions used by different religions and sects. The Church of England, for example, has this:

      1. GOD spake these words, and said; I am the Lord thy God: Thou shalt have none other gods but me.
      2. Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them. For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, and visit the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and shew mercy unto thousands in them that love me and keep my commandments.
      3. Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless, that taketh his Name in vain.
      4. Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all that thou hast to do; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. In it thou shalt do no manner of work, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, thy man-servant, and thy maid-servant, thy cattle, and the stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it.
      5. Honour thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
      6. Thou shalt do no murder.
      7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
      8. Thou shalt not steal.
      9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
      10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his servant, nor his maid, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is his.

      The Roman Catholic Church goes for:

      1. I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.
      2. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
      3. Remember to keep holy the LORD’S Day.
      4. Honor your father and your mother.
      5. You shall not kill.
      6. You shall not commit adultery.
      7. You shall not steal.
      8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
      9. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife.
      10. You shall not covet your neighbour’s goods.

      Meanwhile, Judaism plumps for:

      1. I am the Lord thy god, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
      2. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
      3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
      4. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
      5. Honor thy father and thy mother.
      6. Thou shalt not murder.
      7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
      8. Thou shalt not steal.
      9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbour.
      10. Thou shalt not covet anything that belongs to thy neighbour.

      Needless to say, there are also many current, and past, translations of the only one true word that is the Bible, the quotes I have used are from the King James Version, so look forward to seeing lots more ten commandments.

      I closing, I have to say that my personal disappointment lies in the fact that none of the three versions – used by The Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church or Judaism – makes any mention of that most useful of all commandments, at Exodus 34:26, ” Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk”. Honestly, the number of times people get tripped up by this one, these days, you’d think it’d up there at number 1.

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