Millions of people have been indoctrinated to respect and revere the Ten Commandments of the Bible. They've been told it’s the foundation of the United States of America. They've been told the scripture is indisputable divine moral guidance. People have argued that they must be displayed in courtrooms and classrooms. They argue that the reason we have problems is because we are going away from these wondrous Biblical teachings. But when you wave off all the smoke and take a good objective look at these Biblical writings, they are not divine nor impressive at all.
When you compare the Ten Commandments to the moral guidance of many ancient cultures and philosophers, you find that they’re neither striking nor original. They do not transcend the time they were written in. Not only are they inferior works of ethical guidance, the most hyped commandment of thou shall not kill is broken by Moses and Jehovah immediately after it’s read and countless times afterwards. One of the commandments that isn’t about stroking the ego of an insecure god is immediately and hypocritically ignored by the very man who created it further providing evidence that the Bible overwhelmingly lacks integrity.
The following critique cites the Ten Commandments from The Bible New International Version.
Commandment 1 - The First Commandment vs The First Amendment
Is there freedom of religion in the Bible? The answer is a resounding no. Deuteronomy 13:6-10, “If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the LORD your God”
For the people who argue that the United States was built on the Ten Commandments, do the following Commandment and Amendment look similar? Are they complements to each other, or complete contradictions? The U.S. was not built on Judeo Christian values, it was built off of the first democracies and philosophies of the ancient Greeks.
First Commandment (Exodus 20:3)
You shall have no other gods before me.
First Amendment of the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Commandment 2 - Insanity of a jealous and vengeful god
Not only does the second commandment not provide any kind of moral guidance, it’s downright immoral. Why should children intentionally be targeted for suffering for what their parents did? Is that justice?
And what moral guidance comes from the notion of a singular and all powerful god who created life, the universe and everything being jealous? This is not a commandment of morality, it’s a commandment of insanity.
Second Commandment (Exodus 20:4-6)
You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Commandment 3 - Misusing a name
Don’t misuse the name of a deity made up by someone thousands of years ago claiming to speak to god.
So what’s the worst that can happen? Leviticus 24:16 “anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death.”
Third Commandment (Exodus 20:7)
You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
Commandment 4 - Don’t work on Saturday
In the Bible, a man was actually stoned to death for simply picking up sticks on the Sabbath. Numbers 15:32-36 “While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses.”
Isn’t it work to put a man into custody and then stone him to death? Didn’t that break the Sabbath?
If you work retail, food service or in a 24/7 manufacturing plant, chances are you’re going to work on many weekends. This commandment provides no moral guidance, and is completely irrelevant in today’s working world.
And obviously anyone with any kind of objectivity, wit and basic science education knows without a doubt that the heavens and the earth were not made in six days. From the very first page in Genesis we know the Bible to be nothing more than mythology. We also know that if someone hears a voice in their head telling them to kill people, they should check themselves into a mental institution immediately. Today’s psychopaths were yesterday’s divine prophets.
Fourth Commandment (Exodus 20:8-11)
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Commandment 5 - Honor mother and father
Confucius promoted the honoring of mother and father as well. The criticism to this guidance has been the deserving of honor based on maternity or age rather than character.
But let’s suppose a kid doesn’t honor his parents and instead curses them. What’s the worst that should happen? Exodus 21:17 “Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.”
Fifth Commandment (Exodus 20:12)
Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
Commandment 6 - Don’t kill people
If human societies didn't figure this one out eons before the Bible was written, we wouldn't be here. We've studied communities of other primates that don’t kill each other, as a general rule, without knowing anything about the 6th Commandment. Not killing, even a monkey can do it.
And what happens shortly after this commandment is read when Moses is coming down the mountain and his people are worshiping a golden calf? You guessed it! Murder them all! Exodus 32:27-28 “Then he said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’” The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died.”
Sixth Commandment (Exodus 20:13)
You shall not murder.
Commandment 7 - Don’t fool around on your spouse
Before you think this means the Bible is big on family values, keep in mind that husbands owning wives, paying money for wives, taking slaves as wives, polygamy and concubines are all Biblical examples of traditional marriage. In fact, just a little later in Exodus 21:4, if a master gives a male slave a wife and she later has kids, if the male slave leaves to work elsewhere, the wife and kids shall belong to the master. The male slave cannot take his family with him demonstrating that the Bible values the sanctity of slavery over the sanctity of marriage. It is also said in the Bible that god himself committed adultery with Mary.
Seventh Commandment (Exodus 20:14)
You shall not commit adultery.
Commandment 8 - Don’t take what’s not yours
Overall some good guidance, but of course there are exceptions. Don’t steal unless god tells you to kill people and take their gold, cattle and virgins. Numbers Chapter 31:17-18 “Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”
Oh, and it’s OK to steal from the Egyptians. Exodus 3:21 and 22 “And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.”
Eighth Commandment (Exodus 20:15)
You shall not steal.
Commandment 9 - Don’t lie
Interesting commandment coming from someone claiming to speak to god. The truth is that the Bible is full of lies, exaggerations and embellishments. In reality Hebrew mythology is no less fictional than Greek mythology.
Ninth Commandment (Exodus 20:16)
You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
Commandment 10 - Don’t eyeball your neighbor’s stuff
Covet means crave. Ever think your neighbor had something cool, something that you wanted? Yep, your thought crime broke a Commandment. Not to worry, I’m sure that an all-powerful loving god will find a way to forgive you that doesn't include a human sacrifice or anything crazy like that.
Tenth Commandment (Exodus 20:17)
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Well thank goodness all this Old Testament insanity goes away with Jesus and the New Testament!
Mathew 10:34-37 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
Christopher Hitchens’s classic take on the Bible big ten
George Carlin consolidates the Commandment list
Was there originally Fifteen Commandments?
The Old Testament is brutal because those times were brutal. You can't use modern morality to judge barbaric times. This is the excuse I get over and over again for Biblical cruelty. So the cruelty itself is not denied, it's justified because of the time period in which it happened. Under that explanation an all-powerful god was not able to provide moral guidance that transcended the time people were living in. So god had no choice but to give brutal and barbaric instructions as the people were brutal and barbaric and he possessed absolutely no ability to progress the society. That is one pathetic god.
Looking for something superior to the Ten Commandments? Try the following:
1. We are all human beings on this earth for a short period of time. No one is deserving of worship and no one is deserving of oppression.
2. Every god known by man is a god made by man. There are no words of god, only words of men put into the mouths of giant puppets.
3. Do good because it’s the right thing to do. Do good because you are a representative and a warrior for what is good, and you take that responsibility with the highest regard.
4. Know thyself so that when the opportunity arises to fight evil there will be no hesitation.
5. Gather wisdom from all sources, take the best and repeat it often.
6. Understand that very few differences are in absolutes but rather in degrees of separation. One who thinks in absolutes is handicapped by a crystallized mind in a dynamic world.
7. Damage through oblivious incompetence yields the same results as damage through bad intent.
8. Have the utmost integrity and do not be naive. Have the awareness and wits to confront corruption early on as it’s much easier to neutralize in its’ infancy.
9. Don’t worry about being acknowledged by others; worry about failing to acknowledge them.
10. People in large numbers regardless of label or creed have the capacity for great good or great evil. The direction always depends on leadership.
-James Kirk Wall
The Bible New International Version
Obey Thy Ten Commandments or Else - by Chris Thiefe
Ten Commandments of the Rationalist Warrior – James Kirk Wall
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