Essays

Warning
Another Warning
Statement of Principle
Mutual Respect
Coming Out
Atheism 101
Assertive Atheism
Ten Commandments
Atheist in America
Christian Nation
The Other Christian God
God Endorses Cloning
Everyone Is An Atheist
Evolution
Faithcraft
Full Realization Atheism
Jesus Was A Horse Thief
Jesus Was A Human
Public Prayer
Size Counts
Islam
A Secular Pledge
Judgment Cometh
The Slocum Tirade
Pascal's Wager
Dover Decision Abbreviated
The Brilliance of Jefferson
The Brilliance of Madison
Barker Tears A New One
Gastrich Responds

Affirmations of Humanism
Frequently Asked
Glossary

The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments are no longer valid.


"These Fifteen...!"
"These Ten commandments!" - Mel Brooks


They are outdated and outmoded and don't begin to address the needs of a complex, literate, technological society or of a civilization of six billion diverse individuals. OK, some of them, like "don't kill" and "don't steal", are excellent rules to have on the books. But these were already rules which were well received and widely accepted tens of thousands of years before the biblers hijacked them. In perhaps the greatest act of revisionist backdating in history, the xians claimed that they had actually invented morality in the form of the 10Cs. Never mind the Code of Hammurabi, which predated the 10Cs by centuries, and of which we actually have an existing copy - carved in stone! More than a little ironic.

Numerous other civilizations - China, India, Sumeria, Egypt - had written legal codes thousands of years before the Jews fled into the desert. All those codes had prohibitions against murder, theft, adultery, and fraud. And yet the xians persist with their demonstrably false claim that they were first. But, given that these other codes had long existed, it appears that their god stole all his best material. Deception and stolen material. More irony. And despite the claims that the ten commandments are the foundation of our legal system, the ten commandments are not even the foundation of the ten commandments.

Fact is that humans have always had generally accepted, if loosely practiced and sporadically enforced, moral codes. Despite the thick coating of superstitious nonsense, the underlying principles have always been essentially humanistic in practice - don't kill people, don't cheat people, don't steal from people, etc; good ideas with a fully rational basis and a wide following, and ideas that far predated Moses' alleged face to face with godhisownself. It is when you get religion involved that you get unintelligible and people-unfriendly laws.


Case in point:

The First Commandment - No other gods
Deut. 5:7 Thou shalt have none other gods before me.

Penalty: Death or worse for 3-4 generations of your descendents who had nothing to do with your problem.

Comments: This commandment has served as the justification for some of the most horrific atrocities ever perpetrated against fellow humans over matters of conscience.This is identical to the Taliban solution. Were we to enforce this, we would have to kill approx. 80% of the Humans on the planet. In the United States, under the Constitution, this commandment is not reflected anywhere in our laws and carries no criminal penalty.

The Second Commandment - No graven images
Deut. 5:8 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:

Penalty: For breaking these first two commandments, the Alleged Xian Deity (AXD) promises dire consequences for three or four generations of your descendents: (reminds me of Joe Pesci - "I'll kill your whole fuckin' family!")
Someone, quoting Moses quoting the AXD continues ...
Deut. 5:9 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.

Comments: Can be and has been construed to outlaw all art. Xians, to this day, brazenly attempt to define art and to punish those who diverge from the biblically acceptable. The Taliban in a similar effort blew up the largest Buddha statue on earth. A few weeks later they were destroyed. (They probably shouldn't oughta done that.) As it does for the Taliban, that usually means death. If the AXD is feeling particularly magnanimous that day it may only mean personal ruination for family and descendents who actually had nothing to do with the offense. The AXD is highly unpredictable in that regard. In the United States, under the Constitution, this commandment is not reflected anywhere in our laws and carries no criminal penalty. This commandment could not be more thoroughly disregarded or irrelevant.

The Third Commandment - The lord's name in vain
Deut. 5:11 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.

Penalty: Death
Lev. 24:16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death.

Comments: This one is almost completely ignored. I'm not sure I really know what it even means. Only the occasional grandma will give you any pro forma grief over this. In the United States, under the Constitution, this commandment is not reflected in federal law.

The Fourth Commandment - Keep the Sabbath
Deut. 5:12 Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.

Penalty: Death
Ex. 35:2 Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.

Comments: This one too is completely ignored. I'm not sure, but I think that driving a car to church technically qualifies one to be stoned to death by angry mobs of good solid xians. There are still a few backwards communities with random and arbitrary blue laws in effect. These are rapidly disappearing and are not required by federal law.

The Fifth Commandment - Honor your parents
Deut. 5:16 Honour thy father and thy mother.

Penalty: Death
Lev. 20:9 For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death.

Comments: Widely disregarded and for good reason - we would have to kill every teenager on the planet. As satisfying as it would be, it is a tad harsh in my estimation.
This is not included in our Constitution.

The Sixth Commandment - Don't kill
Deut. 5:17 Thou shalt not kill.

Penalty: Death

Comments: Finally, one that everyone can agree on. It is of some interest however that it was only listed as the 5th most important commandment. I think most people would list that as number one.
The prohibition against killing your fellow humans was written law thousands of years and in many places prior to the 10Cs.

The Seventh Commandment - Don't screw around
Deut. 5:18 Neither shalt thou commit adultery.

Penalty: Death. For both parties.
Lev. 20:10 And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

Comments: This is the only form of sex outlawed, or even mentioned in the 10 Cs. This may still be illegal in some locales in the United States, but it ain't in the Constitution and it ain't federal law.

The Eighth Commandment - Don't steal
Deut. 5:19 Neither shalt thou steal.

Penalty: Death
Deut. 24:7 If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him; then that thief shall die;

Comments: Written laws against theft long preceded the ten commandments.

The Ninth Commandment - Don't lie
Deut. 5:20 Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.

Penalty: Payback
Deut. 19:19 Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother:

Comments: Actually, this is the first one without a death sentence. It calls for fair retribution. I kinda like this solution. Written laws against lying long preceded the 10Cs. Generally, lying is not illegal except under oath or when reckless disregard for the truth causes injury. Bear in mind that everyone who testifies in court swears, usually on a bible, to be truthful. Half of these people will then lie their asses off.

The Tenth Commandment - Don't covet
Deut. 5:21 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.

Penalty: None

Comments: They seem to have run out of steam here. I couldn't find any direct penalty for covetousness, but only a general disfavor and a vague threat of being "smitten". I don't know why they even mentioned it if they weren't gonna go big over it. It is worth noting that our entire economy - the biggest and best in the world - is built on coveting what everyone else has.

Curiously, what you did NOT get in the ten commandments was the Golden Rule. Go figure.

Some other things which did not make it into the 10 Cs
  Prohibition against violence of any sort including assault, child abuse, or spousal rape
  Alcohol or drug abuse
  Gambling
  Consensual sex among the unmarried
  Porn
  Aggressive driving
  Spam
  Anything to excess
  Bad manners
  War
  Genocide

A couple of these might be construed by some to have had tangential references in the xian holy book. The point of this list is to show that as a comprehensive guide, the 10 Cs fall miserably short of addressing many of the issues encountered on modern Earth.

Now the reason I even bother to mention all this is that there are forces loose in the land demanding that the 10Cs be prominently displayed on public property, in government buildings, our courts, and in the public schools. These forces differ from the Taliban only by degree. The Liars for Jesus (LFJ) make the laughable and bogus assertion that it ain't about religion, and certainly not about any specific religion, but that they are merely a set of principles which (a) are the foundation of our legal system, and (b) clearly delineate between right and wrong. As anyone who can read can see, the first four commandments have to do only with proper worship of the alleged xian deity. That is clearly specific to xianity and is obviously in conflict with Constitutional prohibitions regarding religious establishment. The first eight commandments call for death for any infraction. Only one of those ever carries a death penalty today in this country. Six of the eight Death Commandments are utterly ignored, at least insofar as they ever evoke anything other than a stern look.
The assertions of the LFJs are completely and demonstrably false. I believe that is called false witness.

Rick's 11 Commandments …Uh, Suggestions
(Some of these are highly metaphorical in nature.)

  Don't be a fucking idiot.
  Do the right thing.
  Follow the Golden Rule.
  Don't kill anyone.
  Don't take what isn't yours.
  Be scrupulously fair.
  Practice infinite patience.
  Replace your divots.
  Don't walk into the room and change the channel.
  Don't show your dick in public.
  Never bet money you don't have when you owe it to your ex-girlfriend who's a stripper.