The 10 Commandments are an extremely weak basis for morality

March 21, 2008 at 12:26 am 64 comments

10-CommandmentsA common topic discussed on non-religious or post-religious sites is the subject of morality. Many religions, particularly those who consider Abraham the father of their faith – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – believe they have the corner on morality and that “God” though his “holy book” is the source of morality in the world.

We’ve had our share of discussion on this site including HeIsSailing’s The Bible does not contain a guideline of moral absolutes, AThinkingMan’s Challenging Religious Myths 1: No Morality without Religion, and Stellar1’s You do not need religion to be moral. Of course this is not an exhaustive list as this issue is a part of several other excellent blog entries.

For many, the 10 Commandments set the foundation on which morality is based. The 10 Commandments are found in Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21. Depending on your religion or denomination, there are 12 commandments used to make up some version of the 10 Commandments. They are:

  1. I am the Lord your God
  2. You shall have no other gods before me
  3. You shall not make for yourself an idol
  4. You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain
  5. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy
  6. Honor your Father and Mother
  7. You shall not kill
  8. You shall not commit adultery
  9. You shall not steal
  10. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
  11. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house
  12. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

To be inclusive of everyone, let’s assume that there are 12 Commandments and consider whether or not these commandments serve as a good base for morality.

The first 4 commandments provide nothing more than an egotistical nod to the supremacy of the Moses’ God and contain no guidance for morality. The 5th is really nothing more than a very strange ritual. Thank goodness Jesus, his disciples, and Paul decided that this ‘jot and tittle’ could pass away and that it is no longer relevant.

The remaining 6 (or 5 or 4 depending on how you’re counting), are a bit more relevant to morality. However, why was there an emphasis on bearing false witness and coveting and no mention of rape, bigotry, slavery, incest, torture, or abuse?

In addition, one has to question whether these are absolutes when the Bible itself condoned many acts of killing, lying, and stealing depending on the circumstance. Jesus was not a big fan of the “honor your father and mother” commandment as discussed in my post WWJD Series – Jesus and Family Values.

Overall, I do not believe this list is a good basis for morality. If I had the pleasure of being the omniscient creator of the universe, I would spent time carving a different set of commandments in the stone for my creation to use as a basis for morality. You can bet it would include commands against terrible acts such as rape, torture, child abuse, slavery and bigotry.

- The de-Convert

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64 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Bad  |  March 21, 2008 at 12:41 am

    You missed noting the part (more apparent in the original text) where wives are listed amongst a man’s property that shalt not be coveted.

    Also interesting that the commandments seem, by that focus, to think only of the matter of men.

  • 2. Drew  |  March 21, 2008 at 12:44 am

    You can bet it would include commands against terrible acts such as rape, torture, child abuse, slavery and bigotry.

    The sad thing is you can show that the Bible condones rape, torture, child abuse, slavery and bigotry.

  • 3. The de-Convert  |  March 21, 2008 at 12:56 am

    Bad, I expanded #12 to include the full list of “property”

  • 4. ned  |  March 21, 2008 at 1:29 am

    Is it true that for the jews who lived in Mose’s time, the ten commandments were not supposed to be universal and were meant for the jews only? Is there any good evidence to support this point? Thanx.

  • 5. Scote  |  March 21, 2008 at 1:58 am

    It’s even worse than you think. #7 is more accurately translated “You shall not murder.” Killing is just fine as demonstrated elsewhere in the Old Testament, natch, and is the “proper” way to deal with disobedient children, gays, witches and such–not to mention entire heathen tribes of men, women and children not favored by God.

    To bad 1-5 took all the room that might have been used to prohibit rape, torture, kidnapping, slavery and genocide (which, since it is demanded by god in the Old Testament, isn’t necessarily considered murder.)

  • 6. Jeremy Myers  |  March 21, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    The de-Convert,

    This is a good, thoughtful post. I will be thinking about this one for some time.

    Recently, I have been mulling over the popular modern proposal that “all religions are basically the same.” Do you think that any of the world religions has an adequate morality code or are they all deficient?

  • 7. LeoPardus  |  March 21, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    I always thought that the “Golden Rule” as it’s widely known, was a better basis. It seems most religions, philosophies, or moral systems have some version of it.

  • 8. Scote  |  March 21, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    “I always thought that the “Golden Rule” as it’s widely known, was a better basis. It seems most religions, philosophies, or moral systems have some version of it.”

    I’d go farther and say most humans have an innate sense of the Golden Rule–our built in empathy is part of the reason that we do.

    Religions and philosophies are merely attempts to write down what our instincts (literally) tell us is right, not the other way around. So, it is no coincidence that so many philosophies, religions, etc have some version of “do unto others.” It comes from us not from the bible or even from other philosophies.

  • 9. Jeremy Sarber  |  March 21, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    If I had the pleasure of being the omniscient creator of the universe…

    Hence, commandments one and two.

    As for the entire 10-12 commandments, it is only of convenience that man (religious or not) has taken these to be the supreme rules of the Bible. Our entire moral conduct cannot be based upon these commandments alone with the exception of number one which really says it all. The complete Word of God is needed for a full understanding of our moral conduct.

  • 10. elikakohen  |  March 21, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Just out of curiosity, how do you justify your underlying premise that either Judaism or Christianity claim that the ten commandments are the basis of morality?

    It is a fact that both Judaism and Christianity claim that morality is apparent, and they both claim that morality existed before the law of Moses was given. It is also evident that even the “Bible” itself doesn’t claim to be the basis for morality.

    Just because atheists say that believers claim that the 10 commandments are the basis for morality doesn’t make it true.

    Just because a believer is convinced that the claim of atheists is true, (atheists claim that believers believe the commandments are the basis of morality), this still doesn’t make your premise true either. I for one am a believer, and I reject your premise outright. And no, I am not alone–by far.

    To prove your underlying premise, you would actually have to go to their respective Bibles and pull out a reference. Why do people always make this claim without ever giving references and still expect to be considered rational?

  • 11. buddywilliams  |  March 21, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (Rom 1:18)

    This blog seeks to suppress the truth. Do not be fooled the Bible is God’s word. It is true and absolute.

    Of course, I understand why you would write these things:
    For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. (Rom 8:7)

  • 12. pastorchin  |  March 21, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    I can’t speak of others but i can speak for myself. I think you missed the whole point. ten or twelve commandments are not focused on morality of mankind. Also the bible is not about rules but a story that shares the principles we can learn to apply it in any generation. the God in the bible does not condone all the things that were done by His people like rape, incest, etc. But we have limitations as we know. bible also has limitation since it was written by people. the story tells us the divine concepts that you and i agree on. well more could be said but it would be great not to put others understand down as we often do it to.

  • 13. Danon Rigger  |  March 21, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    so what about George Bush lying about the Iraq War. I guess Bush is also hostile to God.

  • 14. Mike  |  March 21, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Whoa, hold on there everyone. The de-Convert raises some good points to which there has been some valuable discussion, so let’s not lose it in the midst of mudslinging on either side.

    The de-Convert,

    As i said you raise several good questions regarding morality derived from scripture, however it seems as though you pose more questions than can thoroughly be addressed at one time. Is this intentional? Do you think it would be better to look at a specific instance (such as God commanding children to be stoned) and talk it out, rather than list 20 apparent contradictions and let that sit?

    Plus, elikakohen raises a fair point about the underlying assumption in using the 10 commandments as a basis for morality. There are things in the Old Testament that are ethically abhorrent (for the people of God) yet not commanded against. So why is this a starting place for your discussion on Judeo-Christian morals?

  • 15. Stephen P  |  March 21, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Just out of curiosity, how do you justify your underlying premise that either Judaism or Christianity claim that the ten commandments are the basis of morality?

    What The de-Convert actually says is “For many, the 10 Commandments set the foundation on which morality is based.” And to anyone who has followed events in the American bible belt, with attempts to install copies of these commandments in courthouses and elsewhere, this is indubitably true.

    Incidentally, how many people know that, based on the actual text of the bible, these aren’t the ten commandments at all? Seriously. Can anyone point to a line in the bible that clearly identifies these commandments as “the ten”? The ten commandments are in fact unambiguously identified in Exodus chapter 34. (Look it up.) With such gems as:

    – Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
    – The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt.
    – Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

    Just one of the many curiosities that appear when one looks at the biblical text sufficiently closely.

  • 16. karen  |  March 21, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Just one of the many curiosities that appear when one looks at the biblical text sufficiently closely.

    Many here have probably already read it, but I’m in the midst of “Who Wrote the Bible?” by Richard Elliott Friedman and it answers so many of these curiosities in a fascinating, readable manner.

    It goes through the “documentary hypothesis,” which is the scholarly understanding that there are at least four main authors of the Old Testament, each writing from his own time and social/political affiliation.

    Someone – Friedman speculates that it was Ezra – in the second temple period did a massive cut-and-paste job on these four major works and combined them into what we know today as the OT (minus some books like Psalms, Ecclesiastes, minor prophets etc).

    This explains why there are so many duplicate and triplicate versions of OT stories (including the creation, Noah’s ark, three versions of the 10 Commandments and on and on). For hundreds of years tradition and the Church held that Moses wrote the Pentateuch (first five books of the OT) and anyone who suggested otherwise was persecuted, fined and threatened with death. It’s only been in the couple hundred years that this documentary hypothesis has been acknowledged.

    Anyway, anyone who’s studied the bible from a fundy perspective will be fascinated to look at it objectively in this book. Y’know all those contradictions that bible literalists do somersaults trying to interpret away? This makes a whole lot more sense!

    I always thought that the “Golden Rule” as it’s widely known, was a better basis. It seems most religions, philosophies, or moral systems have some version of it.

    Indeed! There’s even
    a poster that illustrates your point.

  • 17. HeIsSailing  |  March 21, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Karen says:
    “Anyway, anyone who’s studied the bible from a fundy perspective will be fascinated to look at it objectively in this book. ”

    Indeed, Friedman’s ‘Who Wrote the Bible’ is an outstanding book, but I like his ‘The Bible with Sources Revealed’ even more. Easy to read, persuasive argumentation, unbelievably fascinating and completely non-polemical.

    I did loan a dear Fundy friend of mine ‘Bible with Sources Revealed’ after giving her the basic thesis of the book. She said she was interested and would give it a read.

    Three months later, it lay on her bookshelf untouched and gathering dust.

    You have to wonder if some people are just afraid of anything that would evene crack that Fundamentalist world view. You just have to wonder…

    Oh – and thanks for the poster. I dig it!!

  • 18. LeoPardus  |  March 21, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    It’s only been in the couple hundred years that this documentary hypothesis has been acknowledged.

    Not acknowledged… created… out of whole cloth, or thin air.

    Moses did not write the Pentateuch, of that we may be sure. The fact that it includes an account of his death makes that bloody obvious. But the doc hyp is nothing but a wild-arsed guess. The only ancient documents of the OT or pentateuch, contain essentially what we see today in a bible. If Friedman has any actual documents or archeology to back the doc hyp, I’ll look at him. But if all he has is speculation, then he’s just spouting opinion.

    Whether the doc hyp is true or not isn’t really my concern. But I hate wild-arsed guesswork trying to pass itself off as scholarship.

  • 19. karen  |  March 21, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Whether the doc hyp is true or not isn’t really my concern. But I hate wild-arsed guesswork trying to pass itself off as scholarship.

    Well, I’d suggest that you read the book and the extensive appendices documenting his scholarship before you condemn it as speculation, wild-arsed guesswork(?) or spouted opinion. Wouldn’t that be the fair thing to do?

    Whether he’s right or wrong on all the specifics, I don’t know. I’m not a biblical scholar, nor will I ever be. But it is fascinating to get a different perspective from the fundamentalist – which taught me (yes indeed!) that Moses was the author of the first five books of the bible.

  • 20. karen  |  March 21, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Indeed, Friedman’s ‘Who Wrote the Bible’ is an outstanding book, but I like his ‘The Bible with Sources Revealed’ even more. Easy to read, persuasive argumentation, unbelievably fascinating and completely non-polemical.

    Thank you! I’ll put that on my list for my next library visit. It has also been suggested that I would enjoy “True Believer” by Eric Hoffer. Anyone here ever read it?

    I did loan a dear Fundy friend of mine ‘Bible with Sources Revealed’ after giving her the basic thesis of the book. She said she was interested and would give it a read.

    Three months later, it lay on her bookshelf untouched and gathering dust.

    You have to wonder if some people are just afraid of anything that would evene crack that Fundamentalist world view. You just have to wonder…

    Interesting. I have had a couple of similar situations, where I’ve recommended a certain article, or a debate, or a book to a religious person and they have said they will read it.

    Except it seems that they never “get around to it.”

    I prefer to take them at their word, and give them whatever benefit of the doubt I can. After all, I have a huge stack of books under my nightstand right now that I’m trying to “get around to.”

    However, it does seem curious how so many religious people never get around to reading contrary material. I’m sure there are fears, worries, and even rules (for some people) against reading “dangerous” material that might make them question their faith. I know my pastors certainly preached against that a lot!

    Oh – and thanks for the poster. I dig it!!

    You’re welcome. Isn’t that cool? ;-)

  • 21. The Apostate  |  March 21, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    Leopardus,

    But the doc hyp is nothing but a wild-arsed guess. The only ancient documents of the OT or pentateuch, contain essentially what we see today in a bible. If Friedman has any actual documents or archeology to back the doc hyp, I’ll look at him. But if all he has is speculation, then he’s just spouting opinion.
    Whether the doc hyp is true or not isn’t really my concern. But I hate wild-arsed guesswork trying to pass itself off as scholarship.

    Normally I would agree. The same goes with the still controversial “Q” hypothesis. Saying, however, that this either the doc hyp or Q hypothesis are created out of one’s ass hardly does the scholarship justice. At the surface, as I said, I normally would agree. I hate the pseudo-academics of Lincoln and Baigent, or Tom Harpur, but the evidence for the 4 or more writers of the majority of the Old Testament is quite substantive. I am unsure what articles or books you have read on the subject, but I can assure you that it hasn’t been simply whipped up and passed off as airy fairy academics.

  • 22. The Apostate  |  March 21, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    P.S. As if anyone cared, while I am on board with the doc hyp, my own personal mental jury is still out on the Q hypothesis, and I very much doubt the so called “M” and “L” special sources.

  • 23. LeoPardus  |  March 21, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    Apostate:

    the evidence for the 4 or more writers of the majority of the Old Testament is quite substantive

    If you know of substantive evidence for the doc hyp, please tell me what it is.

  • 24. LeoPardus  |  March 21, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    HEY!

    Apostate/TA, what’s with the name change? You’re gonna confuse me bad here.

  • 25. The de-Convert  |  March 21, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    Leo,

    The good news is he’s still TA :)

  • 26. Zachary Weber  |  March 22, 2008 at 12:48 am

    I think the first commandment alone creates the ultimate basis for law. If the God of Moses is God, then by making him Lord and submiting to his will and letting that submition flow down through every thought, habit, and action, being totally santified You will not sin.

    Imorality is slightly different then sin. The root sin being human will submited to something other than the true God. The stain of sin being the habbits and memories that are not yet readeemed according to our submission to the Lord. Much of morality containts codes of knowledge that show how to be more perfect in your acts. Perfection deals with greatness not righteousness.

    Either way if God is the First Act, and therefore the principle of all things, you cannot properly interact with the world in it’s fullness if your knoweldge of the world is not ordered from Him. You are a chicken running around with your head cut off, sometimes a respectible headless chicken, but that only makes it harder to admit your uselessness.

    The first commandmant basically says to knowledgeably interact with reality the ways it is, by sateting he is God, the first principle of all things.

  • 27. Stephen P  |  March 22, 2008 at 4:12 am

    Whether the doc hyp is true or not isn’t really my concern. But I hate wild-arsed guesswork trying to pass itself off as scholarship.

    Perhaps then you would favour us with a scholarly analysis of the work of Astruc, Eichhorn, Geddes, Vater, Hupfield, Graf, Wellhausen and other scholars who contributed to the documentary hypothesis?

    What is your preferred explanation for there frequently being more than one version of a story, with some versions referring to God as Yahweh and some as Elohim? Or of the numerous anachronisms, such as Abraham coming from Ur of the Chaldees?

  • 28. Mike  |  March 22, 2008 at 6:14 am

    Stephen P,

    “Perhaps then you would favour us with a scholarly analysis of the work of Astruc, Eichhorn, Geddes, Vater, Hupfield, Graf, Wellhausen and other scholars who contributed to the documentary hypothesis?”

    Actually, Gordon Wenham did that very thing. I have been trying to get around to posting his article on our blog as a resource, but havent done so yet. I had a good discussion on the Doc. Hyp. with HIS and have been interested in it since. It is a short article that doesnt jump to conclusions, but simply describes the history of the hypothesis, its current state of confusion, and offers some potential alternatives for consideration. I will let everyone know when I get it on our site.

  • 29. The Apostate  |  March 22, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Leopardus,

    If you know of substantive evidence for the doc hyp, please tell me what it is.

    Well, I certainly said there was some and so that I must provide. I could throw out some names, as Stephen P did, but that doesn’t seem very helpful. I would second those that Stephen pointed out, with the addition of some others if you really want to dive into the whole mess. There is no doubt, as Mike has pointed out, that it is still controversial in the academic realm, and hence still considered a weaker hypothesis among many scholars.

    As I have also stated before, I am more sure of this hypothesis, due to my own studies, than I am of some others, such as Q, despite actually studying more of the latter (or maybe it is because I have studied it more). Nevertheless, here is my suggestion for you Leo: while it does not provide any real evidence or even makes the claim to do so, read David Rosenberg’s translation of The Book of J along with Harold Bloom’s commentary. It is definitely worth having on your shelf even for the literary aspect of it. After this long weekend, which I am extremely busy with work, I will send you a short run down of some authors along with their main arguments. Should any strike your interest, we should grab Mike and HIS and have a chat.

  • 30. The Apostate  |  March 22, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Apostate/TA, what’s with the name change? You’re gonna confuse me bad here.

    Well I didn’t confuse you for too long. I’ve been wanting to change it for awhile, as I feel the new handle better describes who I am. The former was mainly for my old Holy Bananas site.

  • 31. Bad  |  March 22, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    The ten commandments are in fact unambiguously identified in Exodus chapter 34. (Look it up.) With such gems as:

    You missed the best one:

    -All that openth the matrix are mine.

    Or, more simply:

    -ALL THE FIRSTBORN ARE MINE!

  • 32. Stephen P  |  March 22, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    I could throw out some names, as Stephen P did, but that doesn’t seem very helpful.

    That’s true enough, of course. I was merely intimating that the documentary hypothesis wasn’t something knocked up by a couple of students after a night on the town, and can hardly be dismissed by a single snarky comment.

    Actually, Gordon Wenham did that very thing. I have been trying to get around to posting his article on our blog as a resource, but havent done so yet. … I will let everyone know when I get it on our site.

    I’d be interested to see it.

  • 33. LeoPardus  |  March 22, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    What is your preferred explanation for there frequently being more than one version of a story, with some versions referring to God as Yahweh and some as Elohim?

    If you point out the particular stories, I can take a shot at them.
    For the YHWH vs Elohim, it never seemed an issue. In English we use God, Father, Creator, Lord, and some other terms all rather interchangeably for the same being. It surprises me not in the least that Hebrew would have more than one word for god too. So it doesn’t need an explanation does it? Or should folks try to figure out why I sometimes use ‘people’ and other times ‘folks’, and sometimes I type ‘God’ and other times ‘god’, and so on? Maybe there’s more than one LeoPardus. We can start to call them L and P. Then you can form a scholarly department to figure out which of my posts were written by L and which ones by P.

    Or of the numerous anachronisms, such as Abraham coming from Ur of the Chaldees?

    Tell me about this one. I’ve honestly not heard it before.

  • 34. karen  |  March 22, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    For the YHWH vs Elohim, it never seemed an issue. In English we use God, Father, Creator, Lord, and some other terms all rather interchangeably for the same being. It surprises me not in the least that Hebrew would have more than one word for god too. So it doesn’t need an explanation does it?

    Yes, it does, because the terms aren’t used interchangeably. That’s the whole point.

    Tease out the sources based on word choice, sentence structure, subject emphasis and other methods of textual criticism and one of them always uses one name for god, while the other one always uses a different name for god.

    They don’t overlap, like they would if there were one author just throwing various names out randomly. There seem to be several different authors (Friedman identifies four) whose narratives are quite distinct – they are even recognizable as distinctive in translation – but have been combined together to read as one (badly contradictory and often nearly incomprehensible) whole.

  • 35. The de-Convert  |  March 22, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    Elohim and YHWH have very much different characteristics also. Elohim walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day, bargained with Abraham, visited him in his tent, wrestled with Jacob, etc. Overall, he was a very personable god.

    YHWH spoke to Moses out of a burning bush and thunder and lightning from Mt. Sinai. No one could see his face and live. No one could even touch the mountain and live. A man tried to keep the ark from falling and died. Overall, he was very impersonal and untouchable. He was also quite the warrior god.

    In fact, he had to always announce that he was the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob because it sure wasn’t obvious :)

    Paul

  • 36. Yurka  |  March 22, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    The first 4 commandments provide nothing more than an egotistical nod to the supremacy of the Moses’ God and contain no guidance for morality

    I’d disagree. If God is the source of all the blessings you have, if he’s the source of your life, you have the moral duty to worship Him and thank Him.

    #15, the last 2 items you list are civil/ceremonial laws that applied only to national Israel at that time. Gentile nations were never punished for eating pork or not sacrificing at the temple. They were only punished for moral transgressions (such as the 10 commandments), so it’s not relevant for you to bring them up.

    #18, “But the doc hyp is nothing but a wild-arsed guess.”
    LeoPardus, there is hope for you yet. Atheist critiques are more significant when they do not rely on speculation or emotion (‘Jesus cursed the fig tree! How Mean!).

  • 37. scote  |  March 23, 2008 at 12:16 am

    ” Zachary Weber | March 22, 2008 at 12:48 am

    I think the first commandment alone creates the ultimate basis for law. If the God of Moses is God, then by making him Lord and submiting to his will and letting that submition flow down through every thought, habit, and action, being totally santified You will not sin.”

    If that were true then there would only need be **one** commandment. The fact that there are more disproves your theory.

  • 38. LeoPardus  |  March 23, 2008 at 1:09 am

    Karen and The de-Convert:

    You make good points. I honestly don’t know who all authored the pentateuch. It sure wasn’t all Moses, whether he had a part in it or not.

    My dislike for the doc hyp (and the Q hyp, and “higher” criticism, etc.) is that they get passed off as, “Now we’ve figured it all out. Aren’t we moderns just so bloody brilliant?!” The doc hyp gets touted as if it’s a fact, when it’s nothing of the sort. It’s just a guess. Based on what some people read into the text. ……. Which is much what believers do with the text. Isn’t that just the sort of thing many of us so hate? Slapping an interpretation on the text and then claiming, “Eureka!”.

    Anyway, I don’t know who wrote it. Maybe it was four people. Maybe it was forty. Or two. Or two hundred. About the only thing I will be definite about is “it wasn’t all written by Moses”. I think I’m on very safe ground with that.

  • 39. Zachary Weber  |  March 23, 2008 at 3:01 am

    scote says “If that were true then there would only need be **one** commandment. The fact that there are more disproves your theory.” Lol. There is only one Commandment, “Love the lord God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love others as your self.” The other comandments just explain that more specifically.

  • 40. Stephen P  |  March 23, 2008 at 6:49 am

    Re Ur of the Chaldees – this is referred to in Genesis 11:

    And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan …

    Now it is hard to date Abram/Abraham, but if there was any actual historical figure there, he would have lived somewhere around 2000 BC. Ur belonged around that time first to the Sumerians and then the Akkadians. The Chaldeans/Chaldees didn’t arrive there until at least 1100 BC and probably not until 800 BC. So we can confidently date the story of Abraham, as we now have it, to much later than it ostensibly occurs. Other references allow dating of particular stories to other periods; this is one of the strands of evidence that allowed the documentary hypothesis to be constructed.

    Karen and de-Convert have ably addressed the point about Yahweh/Elohim.

    About the only thing I will be definite about is “it wasn’t all written by Moses”.

    No argument with that. ;-)

  • 41. Scote  |  March 23, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    ” Zachary Weber | March 23, 2008 at 3:01 am
    ” Lol. There is only one Commandment, “Love the lord God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love others as your self.” The other comandments just explain that more specifically.”

    Of course the problems with that contention are multiple. You cannot reasonably **command** love, for that is not love but servitude. Second, some people are immoral and self-loathing, so to command them to treat others as they would themselves is worse than to specifically tell them not to do bad things.

  • 42. OneSmallStep  |  March 23, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    I think one of the biggest supports to the Documentary Hypothesis is what happens when the stories are broken out based on who wrote what. I think Richard FRiedman’s book does this, when he compares the two Noah/Flood stories, based on which author each line belongs to. When he did that, it was almost eerie how obvious it seemed to be that the account in the Bible is blended from two seperate sources — two sources which would’ve functioned fine on their own, and if missing the other source, we wouldn’t have noticed.

    It would seem odd that the structures work that way if there wasn’t some merit fo the Documentary Hypothesis.

  • 43. The Apostate  |  March 23, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Leopardus claims,

    My dislike for the doc hyp (and the Q hyp, and “higher” criticism, etc.) is that they get passed off as, “Now we’ve figured it all out. Aren’t we moderns just so bloody brilliant?!”

    Woah – Leo – where are you getting this from? Any prof I have ever spoken to about this hypothesis does so with caution and with a level of sobriety. Even the scholars I have read never would make such a statement nor is that the feeling one would get after reading their works. Now if we are talking about sensationalist hollywood-types, that is a different story altogether (i.e. like that archeologist on the history channel who teamed up with James Cameron). Once you get people on TV, they seem to lose all integrity – although this is probably for the fault of the need for sound bites rather than the individual themself.

  • 44. Zachary Weber  |  March 24, 2008 at 8:02 am

    Scote says, “Of course the problems with that contention are multiple. You cannot reasonably **command** love, for that is not love but servitude.”

    I think you have a missunderstanding with the idea of commanding, comanding doesn’t allways mean to try to force some one to do something verbally. If God really wanted to force people to at a certaint way he would, but you are right that love cannot be forced. For someone who is in the loveing service of a leader, servitude is not opposed to love. If a person wants to do anothers will and does not know what it is, it not against love to command what he must do IF he loves him.

    “Second, some people are immoral and self-loathing, so to command them to treat others as they would themselves is worse than to specifically tell them not to do bad things.”

    Yes, some people are self lothing and immoral, but the first part of that commandment contains true self love. So the first part covers any problems with the second part

  • 45. LeoPardus  |  March 24, 2008 at 11:11 am

    TA:

    You may be right about the attitude in academic circles. I’m not familiar with that as you would be. I’m reflecting the attitude that I see elsewhere.

    For instance some years ago I was at a class on Catholicism in a Catholic church. The instructor presented the doc hyp and Q as fact. [Of course the RCC holds to Mosaic and apostolic authorship, so it was interesting to see them presenting heresy in a church function.]

    That’s not the only time I’ve seen the doc hyp or Q hyp presented as fact. But I can believe that the academic community is less dogmatic.

  • 46. The Apostate  |  March 24, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Leo,
    As always, simply a confusion caused by different paradigms and circumstances. Academia is my world and is what I am familiar with – sometimes I assume too much.

    I’m not surprised about the Catholic contradictions. Their schools, depending on where you live, often try to be very scientific and modern and end up conflicting with their Vatican masters. Do you find that such claims to absolute certainty in this case were the result of dogmatism, or maybe ignorance? A teacher at a Catholic church is under no obligation to study the alternatives – a university professor, on the other hand, must be aware of not only the alternatives, but the entire ongoing discussion.

  • 47. karen  |  March 24, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    I think Richard FRiedman’s book does this, when he compares the two Noah/Flood stories, based on which author each line belongs to. When he did that, it was almost eerie how obvious it seemed to be that the account in the Bible is blended from two seperate sources — two sources which would’ve functioned fine on their own, and if missing the other source, we wouldn’t have noticed.

    Here are portions of the two flood narratives, broken out along the lines of the DH and posted side by side.

  • 48. LeoPardus  |  March 24, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    TA:

    The claims made by the teachers (in favor of doc hyp) were probably a result of wanting to be in synch with the latest “scientific” opinions.

    The Catholic *scholars* I’ve known have all seemed fairly well read on alternatives.

  • 49. GoDamn  |  March 25, 2008 at 8:51 am

    God doesn’t want to force us to love him? Considering the alternative to loving him, thats like a mugger holding a gun to your head and saying, “Ofcourse, you can choose not to give me your wallet”.
    Whats more, it also sounds like emotional blackmail.
    “Look at all Ive done for you. If you loved me…if you really really loved me, you would do whatever I tell you to do”. Just because you disobey someone you love, it doesnt mean you no longer love that person, so treating obedience as proof of love is wrong.

  • 50. Scote  |  March 25, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    44. …Yes, some people are self lothing and immoral, but the first part of that commandment contains true self love. So the first part covers any problems with the second part

    Are you saying this for humorous intent. You are saying that god not only commands us to love him but commands us to be well?
    Sociopaths have no tools to cure themselves or love God or anyone but themselves.

    And as GoDamn alludes to, “Love me or I’ll torture you for all of eternity” is a command, not a request.

  • 51. Zachary Weber  |  March 28, 2008 at 11:13 am

    GoDamn says “God doesn’t want to force us to love him? Considering the alternative to loving him, thats like a mugger holding a gun to your head and saying, “Ofcourse, you can choose not to give me your wallet”.”

    Um, you totally have a missunderstanding of what punishment of hell means. If you read Dante (him and Thomas Aquinas I think are the best explanations of the Gospel, though not perfect) it is the only way God can show his goodness through you, by giving you your choice of good and evil.

    Whats more, it also sounds like emotional blackmail.
    “Look at all Ive done for you. If you loved me…if you really really loved me, you would do whatever I tell you to do”. Just because you disobey someone you love, it doesnt mean you no longer love that person, so treating obedience as proof of love is wrong.”

    He perfectly understands that you don’t have to do what he says, but he offers you mercy from your own corruption or mutability anyway. He offers you the unprevated, the incrruptable, and the imutable. Wether you do it is intirely up to your own nature, and His leading. I am not sure where you get thid understanding of Christianity but you have been truely cheated from the truth and I guess not by your self.

    Scote says, “Are you saying this for humorous intent. You are saying that god not only commands us to love him but commands us to be well?”

    as I said said above, God made you with the ability to not obey Him, He knows that you don’t have to, he commanding because it is his will that all should not perish if possible (though for some it’s not, except by overiding there nature which they would then not be them selves but something else).

    “Sociopaths have no tools to cure themselves or love God or anyone but themselves.”

    Not sure you can prove that. The brain is not the will or the inttellect, so even if it is messed up you can’t prove from an arguments about their brain chemistry that they can’t love God.

    “And as GoDamn alludes to, “Love me or I’ll torture you for all of eternity” is a command, not a request.”

    It’s a command, I agree but not in the same sense as intending to force something against their nature to do something against their will. I see no problem with a goverment to tell you to do what right or love what you ought to. They can’t force it but i would expect nothing less.

  • 52. Bad  |  March 28, 2008 at 11:20 am

    as I said said above, God made you with the ability to not obey Him

    But unfortunately not with the ability to choose to choose not to obey him, so the point is moot, Zoot Suit.

  • 53. The Apostate  |  March 28, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Zachary,

    Um, you totally have a missunderstanding of what punishment of hell means. If you read Dante (him and Thomas Aquinas I think are the best explanations of the Gospel, though not perfect) it is the only way God can show his goodness through you, by giving you your choice of good and evil.

    Simply because you disagree with Goddamn doesn’t mean he/she misunderstood – it is merely a different perspective. I’m not sure if you have actually read Dante or Aquinas, but the former gives a bastardized version of Christian mythology, whereas the latter never actually gives an explanation that even convinced himself – as you know, he never completed his magnum opus because he concluded that God could only be known through faith rather than proven through logical apologetics. Your statement that the only way God can show his love through a choice of Good and Evil is flawed and perverted on so many accounts it isn’t even funny. I suppose then that God cannot show his love in heaven because their will be no evil, correct?

    “Sociopaths have no tools to cure themselves or love God or anyone but themselves.”

    Not sure you can prove that. The brain is not the will or the inttellect, so even if it is messed up you can’t prove from an arguments about their brain chemistry that they can’t love God.

    Yes, it can be proven. Sociopaths literally have a different genetic makeup than other people, as many neurologists have shown. This makeup actually keeps them from experiencing any empathy whatsoever which makes it impossible to love.

  • 54. Zachary Weber  |  March 28, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    52. Bad says,

    “But unfortunately not with the ability to choose to choose not to obey him, so the point is moot, Zoot Suit.”

    Your right because we can’t on do original sin. We are begotten of the nature of Adam and Eve which chose privated knowledge, or knoweldge not arccoring to it’s proper principle. So in so far as sons of Adam and Eve, we cannot undo what they chose acarding to human nature. In so far as Christ took the effects of that choice apon Himself, being fully human and fully God, He has offered away for us to have another chance to love Him not overriding our nature.

    53. The Apostate says:

    “Simply because you disagree with Goddamn doesn’t mean he/she misunderstood – it is merely a different perspective. I’m not sure if you have actually read Dante or Aquinas, but the former gives a bastardized version of Christian mythology, whereas the latter never actually gives an explanation that even convinced himself – as you know, he never completed his magnum opus because he concluded that God could only be known through faith rather than proven through logical apologetics.”

    It’s true God can only be know through faith (knoweldge that is taught). This does not overide that his existance can be demontrated through nature.

    “Your statement that the only way God can show his love through a choice of Good and Evil is flawed and perverted on so many accounts it isn’t even funny. I suppose then that God cannot show his love in heaven because their will be no evil, correct?”

    it is the state of the choice in leading to it’s perfection, and the pleasure of reaching the end of desire, which is an endless. So you are incorrect. Because the Choice we make eckos in etternity.

    “Yes, it can be proven. Sociopaths literally have a different genetic makeup than other people, as many neurologists have shown. This makeup actually keeps them from experiencing any empathy whatsoever which makes it impossible to love.”

    What do you mean by epathy and how does that prove that they cannot love God? and How do you know that being a sociopath doesn’t invole some sort of choice to be what you are? (I am not saying it is i just never reseached it).

  • 55. Mike  |  April 2, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Dont know if anyone still cares or is reading this thread anymore, but I found the Gordon Wenham article I was referring to. It is at:

    http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/article_pentateuch_wenham.html

    Again, it goes into the history of the Documentary Hypothesis and its current state of crisis. Then he proposes some alternatives to the theory. Enjoy!

  • 56. TheNorEaster  |  April 4, 2008 at 8:46 am

    Overall, I do not believe this list is a good basis for morality.

    “If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.”
    ~Yogi Berra

  • 57. George  |  April 9, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    Great…

    The de-Convert, you are an intellectual _________ (insert your word here). Not only is your reasoning seriously flawed, apparently you don’t even know what country you live in. Some posters here have no understanding of our legal system and what it’s founded on. Any of you read The Constituion lately?

    I’m amazed… I won’t even bother to ask who here knows where the “Separation of Church and State’ law came into effect and where it is stated… (hint, for most people, this is a trick question that unless you google it, you will not know the answer)

    Well de-Convert, I guess our entire democracy, freedom of speech, all freedoms we enjoy, they must go out the window, since they are all based on the rather “weak” basis of morality of the 10 commandments.

    Oh, I got a word that fits in the space above… midget.

  • 58. The Apostate  |  April 10, 2008 at 2:42 am

    Could someone please explain to this intellectual midget how one attains democracy, freedom of speech, and all the freedoms we enjoy from a patriarchal tribal system of just ten laws? Was the fifth commandment “Thou shalt not infringe on another’s freedom of speech” and the seventh “Thou shalt elect thee dictators”? Or was it the other way around?

    Please explain, George, the intellectual giant, where democracy was preordained in the Mosaic law. Did Samuel take a vote before swearing in Saul?

  • 59. George  |  April 10, 2008 at 4:08 am

    TA

    Tsk, tsk… it would have been better if you had not said anything. Sometimes it’s better to keep quiet and let others think you are a fool, than to open your mouth and prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Obviously there are some serious gaps in your education.

    Aside from the premises our founding fathers had in mind when they came together, and aside from our entire legal system being based on the judeo-christian belief system, how exactly DID we “attain” all the freedoms guaranteed to us by our _____ (fill in the blank oh brilliant one).

    You really should have invested some thought into your response.

  • 60. The Apostate  |  April 10, 2008 at 11:13 am

    George, you did not answer any of my questions. Please, if I am so dense, inform me. My founding fathers were British and Scottish and had my country had more to do with business interests than religion; maybe it is time to stop assuming America is the light of the world and that everyone should be called an American.

    But of course, if you were capable of putting aside your own narrow paradigm, you could see that I could care less about the American constitution (or however you would like to spell it). I want to know specifically how you can account for our freedoms through the Ten Commandments. Your response was merely to call me a fool and uneducated. So please, as the wiser elder, educate me.

  • 61. George  |  April 11, 2008 at 10:43 am

    I’m apologize TA, I assumed you were American… btw, I’m not by birth, although I live in the USA. I’m curious, where are you from TA, then I can answer your questions a little better.

  • 62. The Apostate  |  April 12, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    George, why don’t we, for the sake of a western argument, assume that our liberal freedoms (democracy, speech, religion, etc.) are universal – at least shared among the North American and European states (in their various forms). How is it that you can claim that those specific liberal freedoms which did not, for the most part, show themselves until the mid 18th century (France, United States), are based on the 10 Commandments? Where do you find an argument for democracy anywhere in the Old Testament (or even for political involvement at all in the New)? Where do you stake a freedom of speech in the Mosaic law? And perhaps most important, where is there a right to enjoy religious freedom – which by its very definition means the religious freedom beyond your own (wouldn’t the 10 Commandments actually contradict the Constitution of every nation, including the United States, which allows for each individual free to adhere to their own religious way?

  • 63. MichelP  |  September 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    On rape:
    You cannot rape (covered under “covet”) a married woman and the slave of a married man. You CAN rape your wife or any free single woman, no mention of age.
    On torture:
    Torture is OK as long as it doen’t provoke death and your victims are not your mother or father.
    On child molestation:
    You can’t covet someone else’s child. It’s OK in your family.
    On bigotry:
    Not covered.

  • 64. CheezChoc  |  September 7, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    re: honoring parents….What is one to do if one’s mother and father are horrible people, if they’re abusive, drunk, addicted, in jail, absent, etc? How can they deserve honor?

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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