Wednesday, May 27, 2009

10 Commandments better than God's

Author Sam Harris says that we probably all know that we could come up with a much better set of ten commandments than God did in the Bible. He said, "Consider the possibility of improving the Ten Commandments. This would appear to be setting the bar rather high, as these are the only passages in the Bible that the Creator of the universe felt the need to physically write himself." One would think these would be unquestioningly the most important rules we could possibly find. We should be awed at the wisdom of these laws. But instead we find a bunch of nonsense along with some proscriptions against murder, lying and theft. Does anyone really think the ten commandments as found in the Bible are really the best an omniscient god could come up with? I won't go into the sheer lunacy of the commandment "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother's milk," found in Exodus 34. I'm not claiming to be God. I'm just saying that I agree with Sam that the average person could come up with ten rules for life that are far superior to God's. Of course, God needed to use many of his ten to reinforce his dominance with things like "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" and "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image." And I don't' think most of us would feel the need to include hygiene or dietary laws either. I suspect that some believers will argue that these were laws given to the Hebrews and can't be expected to apply exactly with the world we live in today. If so many people did not think it was appropriate to post these "commandments" in public places like courthouses insisting that our laws are based upon God's law, I might agree. But obviously many believers think the ten commandments are the ultimate law. So I took some time to think about this and discussed it with friends. The following is what I came up with. Maybe they aren't the ultimate laws of the world and you might be able to come up with some better ideas but that only proves the point of this post.

  1. Thou shalt treat other people with fairness and kindness as you would like them to treat you.
  2. Thou shalt not abuse any person physically, sexually, psychologically, economically, emotionally or any other way regardless of their age, sex, color, nationality or creed.
  3. Thou shalt never consider another person to be your property nor force or coerce them to serve you.
  4. Thou shalt not kill any person unless you must to defend yourself or other people from grievous harm.
  5. Thou shalt be truthful in dealing with other people unless the truth serves no purpose but to harm.
  6. Thou shalt not cheat, exploit, extort or impose your will upon other people.
  7. Thou shalt not steal the property of another person unless you must to survive and taking it will not endanger the owner. Try asking first.
  8. Thou shalt not harm another person unless you must to defend yourself or other people from harm.
  9. Thou shalt endeavor to contribute your talents and energies to the betterment of the entire community of humans.
  10. Thou shalt endeavor to provide at least the necessities of life to those people who are unable to fend for themselves.


Codswallop said...

Hi Will,

(Remember me from the atheist forums?) These are fantastic. I'm linking my blog to this post. Great stuff here--you definitely outdid ol' YHVH's list.

Will Friday said...

Hi Cod,
It's good to hear from you again. Thanks for the complement. I have a link to but it doesn't seem to work. Did you change it?

daz365 said...

Hi will,

I read a lot of your posts on Imdb and am always interested in what you have to say
Your ten commandments are pretty good but I would suggest that
“Thou shalt not harm another person unless you must to defend yourself or other people from harm.” Pretty much covers
“Thou shalt not kill any person unless you must to defend yourself or other people from grievous harm.” If we combine these then we have room for one more and as I’ve always disliked the mind control aspect of not being able to covet my neighbour’s wife I would suggest something along the lines of:
Thou shalt have freedom of thought, ideas and speech,
of course this would mean people being free to promote religion but as long as it’s given no more respect than any other wacky idea it’s a price worth paying

Anonymous said...

Great list, Will! I've never understood how those of a religious bent don't see the silliness of their list. They will earnestly defend it as the basis of our Constitution and legal system while ignoring the fact that seven of the Commandments are unconstitutional and the eighth one really only applies in court....

Tracy J said...

May I copy your 10 commandments on my blog?

Tracy J said...

rather, on facebook?

Will Friday said...

Hi Tracy J,
I don't mind if you copy my ten commandements on your blog. I'm sure you know that it's customary to give credit in such situations.

Tracy J said...

Thank you.