This posting is a follow up to my previous blog “Your god is a moral adolescent”.
I did not specifically call out the “Ten Commandments” simply because there are questions regarding their origin and what other cultures influenced them. A majority of people in the US would claim to know the Christian Ten Commandments. And, based on my experience and reading, it appears that most of them are wrong.
I’m always amused by people who stand up and claim that our society was founded on the Christian belief system and that our founding fathers constructed our constitution around the Christian commandments.
Point No. 1 –
First amendment battles continue to rage across the US over the posting of the Ten Commandments in public places. Christians argue that they are a part of our western heritage that should be displayed as ubiquitously as traffic signs.
Congressman Bob suggest that the Columbine massacre wouldn’t have happened if the Ten commandments (also called the Decalogue) had been posted in the high school, (this guy is an elected official?) and some government officials have directly and purposely disobeyed court rulings against the display of these ten directives supposedly handed down from on high.
Every Decalogue you see, from the 5,000 pound granite behemoth inside the Alabama State Judicial Building to the little wallet cards sold in Christian book stores, is wrong. You might say, “Really?” Yep you can look it up for yourself. Get out your King James Version, turn to Exodus 20:2-17. You will see the familiar list of rules about having no other gods, honoring your parents, not killing or coveting and so on. At this point, though, Moses is just repeating to the people what God told him on Mount Si’nai. These are not written down in any form (as described by the King James Bible. The other Christian versions are the essentially the same with some wording variations.).
Later, Moses goes back to the Mount, where “God” gives him the “tablets of stone” with rules written on them (Exodus 31:18). But when Moses comes down from the mountain lugging his load, he sees the people worshiping a statue of a calf, causing him to throw a tantrum and smash the tablets on the ground (Exodus 32:19).
In neither of these cases does the bible refer to “commandments”. In the first instance, they are “works” which “God spake,” while the tablets contain “testimony”. It is only when Moses goes back for the new tablets that we see the phrase “ten commandments” (Exodus 34:28)
Personal side note here – When you give your child something important and he/she pitches a fit and breaks said important thing do you turn around and give them another one?
In an interesting turn of events, the commandments on these tablets are significantly different than the ten rules Moses recited for the people, which would lead one to believe that either Moses’ memory is faulty or his “god” changed its mind.
So you may say “what are the commandments given to Moses by his lord”? In case you don’t want to look this up in Exodus 34:13-28, they are;
I. Thou shalt worship no other gods.
II. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
III. The feast of unleavened bread thou shall keep.
IV. Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest.
V. Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the first fruits of wheat harvest and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.
VI. Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord God.
VII. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven
VIII. Neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the Passover be left unto the morning.
IX. The first of the first fruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the lord thy god.
X. Thou shalt not seethe (churn or boil) a kid (i.e. young goat) in his mother’s milk.
Now the question that immediately comes to mind is;
The so called creator of the universe is speaking directly to his creations and giving them the 10 most important things they should know to live their lives and this is the list? Seriously! This list is a joke, and oh by the way, there is nothing there about killing, adultery, stealing, or being honest. So the “real” Ten Commandments don’t even offer any socially redeemable advice either - in my opinion, of course.
It appears that the guys who wrote the bible really should have thought this through a bit more. And yes we know they were guys because we have evidence of their social structure of that time period and of that culture.
· Point one reference www.disinfo.com publishing 100 things you’re not supposed to know.
· King James Version of the Christian Bible
Point No. 2 –
There are other, and much older, social rules by which to live your life. AND, they actually give guidance on how one should interact with his / her fellow human beings.
I offer the example of the Samurai moral code, the Bushido code of conduct, the wisdom and serenity of Confucianism or Buddhism, or the ten commandments of Solon. All of these are older than Christianity and seem to have a much better grasp on the things that should be important to one leading a “good” life.
Personal Note – You cannot mandate morality or “clean living” - these virtues are only relevant to the person or social code of conduct as guidelines. I do not wish to pick up the debate here, but there are levels or degrees of all codes of conduct and only the individual can decide what is appropriate for them. (Yes, there are social orders that must be obeyed for a society to flourish and mature. In this case I am speaking only of one’s own personal growth or maturity.)
In case you aren’t familiar with any of the previous mentioned “commandments” or codes of conduct, I offer you a sampling for your review.
Ten Commandments of Solon;
1. Trust good character more than promises.
2. Do not speak falsely.
3. Do good things.
4. Do not be hasty in making friends, but do not abandon them once made.
5. Learn to obey before you command.
6. When giving advice, do not recommend what is most pleasing, but what is most useful.
7. Make reason your supreme commander.
8. Do not associate with people who do bad things.
9. Honor the gods.
10. Have regard for your parents.
The Seven Virtues of a Samurai;
1. Rectitude (義, gi)
2. Courage (勇, yū)
3. Benevolence (仁, jin)
4. Respect (礼, rei)
5. Honesty (誠 makoto, or 信 shin)
6. Honor, Glory (名誉, meiyo)
7. Loyalty (忠義, chūgi)
My point is that the Christian’s bible versions of the social commandments is at best a list of things that will ensure one celebrates the changing of the seasons and, at worst, was a poor list of items that is useless to anyone after the invention of pasteurized milk and modern farming techniques.
Lastly, if you are going to call for the inclusion of the biblical Ten Commandments in anything you need to, at least, know what you are talking about. The list that everyone is so excited about being in our public buildings is not the commandments that the Christian god carved in stone for Moses.
Now if you are going to defend the “commonly known” commandments and disregard the list that was supposedly presented to Moses in stone, then I would ask you;
1. Where does your god inform you that you can pick and chose what parts of the bible to abide by, and
2. Which ones you can discard as irrelevant?
OR one of my favorite defenses of the apologist,
3. That it was a written in a different time and social structure than our own and thus is not relevant.
The Christian bible will offer an occasional stone of wisdom. The fact is that this wisdom in every instance I am aware of, was already concluded, refined and practiced, or can be taken independent of its source. In both instances the bible serves no purpose.
While Thomas Jefferson’s version of the bible managed to strip away a lot of the nonsense contained in the King James Bible, I would argue that the Christian bible’s sadistic, barbaric and grotesque representation of the human condition and its god, in and of itself should disqualify it from any further use.