Monday, October 7, 2013

Tackling the 10 commandments

I've railed on the bible many times in this blog, mostly because of the inconsistencies. One place where I really didn't think inconsistencies existed was in the 10 commandments. I mean, how can you get those wrong? But as it turns out, the interpretations again get "god's word" in trouble again.
The Catholic commandments vary differently from the Protestant version in content and order. The first difference comes at No. 2. Catholics insert not taking the lord's name in vain here (Protestants have this one at No. 3), while Protestants say you shouldn't make any graven images. I suppose Catholics feel they have this covered with "no other gods" because graven images could be categorized as idols.

This shift in commandments pushes the rest down a notch (or up one depending on your religious flavor), and most of the list is the same. Protestants say "no murder" while Catholics say "no killing" (shouldn't that be clarified a little?). 

The final difference comes with No. 10 and coveting. Protestants lump everything into this one law while Catholics choose to split coveting into two commandments, one for your neighbor's wife (another misogynist chauvinistic reference, why not spouse?) and the other for your neighbor's goods.

For the sake of sanity, I'll use the Catholic commandments for the rest of this entry. Not believing in god renders the first three moot for me (no other gods, name in vain, holy the sabbath) but I can still have problems with them.

1. I, the Lord, am your God. You shall not have other gods besides me: This is an acknowledgement of other gods, past and present. If Yahweh was the one true god, then this isn't necessary. But by admitting there are previous gods and a threat of future gods, doesn't this point to insecurity? The full commandment actually says "I'm a jealous god." how hilarious is that? Jealousy is far from virtuous and it is even further from perfection and benevolent.

2. You shall not take the name of the Lord God in vain: Why? Who cares? What's the big deal? It's just a word. It really scares me when people take this so seriously that they think they could go to eternal hell for speaking a word. And since the bible was written in Hebrew, if you say Jesus Christ or Goddamn in English then I suppose you're OK.

3. Remember to keep holy the Lord's Day: This translates into not working. But who is to say which day is the sabbath? The Old Testament was written by and for Jews, and they say the sabbath is Saturday. This makes sense because the first day of the week is Sunday, so if you worked the first six days and rested on the seventh, then that would be Saturday. But Christians believe the sabbath is Sunday, yet another conflict with "god's word." If you can't even convey to your sheeple which day is yours then how can we be expected to trust you with our eternal souls? The other problem with this is, every NFL player in history is going to hell, right? How stupid is this commandment?

4. Honor your father and your mother: Makes perfect sense.

5. You shall not kill: Same as above, though I suppose this could use a little clarification. The Protestants get it right with murder.

6. You shall not commit adultery: A fine practice.

7. You shall not steal: Yep, I agree.

8. You shall not bear false witness: This basically means don't lie about someone's actions. I suppose we could interpret it to mean don't lie in general, which would be good because there is no commandment saying not to lie. But either way I'm OK with this.

9. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife: In the general sense, I understand the morality behind this, but the "thought crime" tied to it is what makes it ridiculous. Many interpretations have a much more strict definition, meaning if you even look at another person and think they are attractive then you have already sinned (this also pertains to adultery).

10. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods: Again, thought crime. Is it not normal to see something nicer than yours and wish you had it? It doesn't make you a bad person, it makes you wish your life was better and inspires you to strive for excellence. If this is a sin then everyone is guilty of this sin because the second you acquire anything that improves your station in life you've sinned. You couldn't acquire those things without knowing about them first, and how did you learn of them? By seeing them somewhere in the real world, and usually owned by someone else.

The majority of the commandments can be summed up in one thought: the golden rule. This rule predates any biblical writing and can encapsulate Commandments 4-10. Do onto others as you would have done to you. If you remove god and thought crime, you can have just one commandment: the golden rule. 

And, one of the major problems with the commandments is what's missing from the list. Rape, slavery? Where are those commandments? They aren't there because the bible and commandments weren't written by any all-powerful deity but rather desert peasants who owned slaves and raped women. But if we just had the golden rule, then rape and slavery wouldn't be tolerated either. It's so simple, yet an omniscient, omnipotent deity couldn't think of it?

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