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The Ten Commandments: Why most of them aren’t even good suggestions (Part 1)

The source for the following essays is Deuteronomy 5:6-5:21.

How many times has the debate on religion begun, only to end in short order with the religious apologist arguing that what you say may or may not be true but you can’t argue that the TEN COMMANDMENTS weren’t a great contribution to out collective civility.

Wrong. I can. Lets take them one at a time. Over the next ten weeks I’m going to be discussing one commandment per week. Here goes.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

Laws are the guide posts of civility that any society uses to ensure the relatively peaceful coexistence of its populace. Atheists do not believe that mankind was meant to go marauding through the streets raping and pillaging. Atheism is not a strict denial of the need for morality either. That having been said, Atheists do not look towards the heavens for moral or ethical direction. Atheists look towards mankind to set boundaries and limits on what is or is not to be allowed amongst a people. This series of posts should not be considered a rebuke of morality or ethical treatments. It is however, a rebuke of the notion that mankind needs divine laws, intervention or moral examples from the Bible to lead an ethical and moral life. Now, onto Commandment One.

The Ten Commandments offer in simple form the fundamental guidelines for abiding by God’s dictates. Commandments like, “thou shall not kill” and “thou shall not steal” are important and would seemingly have greater weight than being listed at only numbers 5 and 7. God’s infinite wisdom indicates that they were important enough to included but let’s get some technical business out of the way first. Make no mistake by Commandment One, GOD IS IN CHARGE! God wants there to be no mistake with number one. As with any dictator, securing the power base is job one. There is no need to remove doubt from the potentially devoted when you simply don’t allow it in the first place. Throughout history, the best way evil men have found to control a populace is to remove all choices of opposition. This commandment is illustrative of God’s narcissism and paranoia. It’s ironic that God takes the same steps that petty earthly tyrants do when looking to force their will on a collective peoples. It’s ironic, that is, unless the Ten commandments were written by men, for men.

The first commandment throws the concepts of self determination and free will right out the window. Christianity loves to boast about humanity’s God given gift of free will. God only “shows us” what we should do and how we should live. It is for us to choose to follow his teachings. Self determination? Free will? This is a typical safety argument that leaves the door wide open for future interpretations of man’s less than God-like behavior. I would also suggest that one can hardly call what mankind has been given; free will, if the eternal lives of four generations of offspring are at stake. We have a word for that kind of submission. It’s called duress. Today we don’t expect people to be held accountable for the decisions that they make contractually, when under duress. Why wouldn’t that same reasonable rule apply to God? God comes off sounding a little bossy and awfully tyrannical. Hardly the traits of a supreme being capable of creation on a cosmic scale.

This commandment should also be rather insulting to all non Christian religions due to the nullification of belief in any other deity. This commandment clearly states the case that this God is the one true God. All other impostors are to be ignored. This dictatorial insistence on blind obedience is silly and most certainly not the work of a divine being. Once again, it is the work of man.

We would not expect or accept this brutish, thuggish, blind approach to dolling out justice in today’s man-made, therefore “imperfect”, system of justice. Why then should we accept that it had been handed down as the word of an awe inspiring God? Simple. These were laws by men for men. There isn’t a rational explanation for a God who has a master plan to punish four generations of children for the indiscretions of one individual.

(Cue the typical Christian response), “This is God’s plan. We are just men and can’t possibly understand his plan. God knows and sees all.”

Well, golly. You can’t fight logic like that. Wrong. You can.

If God is all-knowing and at the same time all-seeing, why does he need a “plan”?  If God was all-knowing then he would already know how the universe will eventually workout. Why would God waste his and our time? If heaven truly is as eternally blissful as we’ve been taught, why then waste humanity’s time here on earth as part of a plan wherein the outcome is already known? Why put children through cancer, young men and women through horrible wars (most of which in your honor), subject parents to the death of a child, …etc.?

The list of horrific events that God’s plan forces us to experience could fill volumes. There is nothing intelligent in this “plan’s” design. Let’s face it, the first commandment is a lousy start to a mostly abysmal list.

Next week we will be looking at commandment two.

2.”You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.”

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