FAQ 1

The Ten Commandments and Morality

( updated May 08 )

The FAQ pages will provide various Questions and Answers I have wondered about myself, been asked about, come up in conversations, or come across on the net. I’ll provide my views on the questions, answers I’ve found elsewhere on the net, and, where possible, provide references and links. Due to the size of these FAQs I will present each one on it’s own page.

Note on the use of Wikipedia as a reference.

Whilst some people have a problem with the veracity and 100% correctness of its articles, I believe it works as an excellent background reference and often cites actual references at the end of the article. If you doubt the accuracy of any claims made on this page please do your own research first then provide me with factual, peer reviewed, cited references to any errors or omissions I have made.

Q1. What about the Ten Commandments, don’t they provide us with a good moral background.

A1. In part, perhaps. But, what have they really got for us and where do they come from?

Point 1 – The History

Some people believe that the Ten Commandments were the first documented codes or laws, but this is definitely not the case. The first documented codes or laws are believed to be The Code of Hammurabi [1] which was written circa 1760 BC; whereas the Torah (the first four books of the bible) was written circa 850 – 600 BC [2] and the Old Testament was put together about 350 AD. Moses [3] was believed to have lived between 1393 BC and 1273 BC. However, there is no actual evidence (apart from various religious texts) as to Moses ever having existed. Which I find odd considering the supposedly very important role he played and reasonably good records kept by the Egyptians, even at that time. However, there is actual evidence of The Code of Hammurabi as a version carved in stone is located in the Louvre.

There are several similarities between The Code of Hammurabi and codes/commandments throughout the Old Testament. So it is possible that the writers of the Bible used laws that were commonly in use and just added all the god bits.

There is further information on, and a translation of, The Code of Hammurabi at Yale Law School.

Point 2 – The Ten Commandments

The following is taken from Deuteronomy 5 (King James Version), I have written the whole text from paragraph 7 to 22 and highlighted the actual commandments in red.

7 Thou shalt have none other gods before me.

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:
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,

10 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.

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.

12 Keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.

13 Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:

14 But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.

15 And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day.

16 Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

17 Thou shalt not kill.

18 Neither shalt thou commit adultery.

19 Neither shalt thou steal.

20 Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.

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.

22 These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.

So the first four are all about god and don’t really help at all in living our lives. Of note in paragraph 9 is that if one doesn’t obey this commandment you and three and four generations of your descendants will suffer.

Now the rest of them seem fine, but there are various other passages in the Bible that relate back to some of these that indicate the punishment for them is death (see Leviticus 20:9, 20:10 and Deuteronomy 24:7)

As Australia, and a lot of other countries, don’t have the death penalty for any crime; then it is a bit much to ask that we should base the way we behave on these ten commandments.

What about number 5? In principle it sounds good, but should you still honour your father if he is a violent alcoholic that beats his wife, or a father that molests his daughter?

So the bottom line is: four out of ten are irrelevant, the penalty for five of them is death and none of commandments 5 to 10 are very original.
So why is this given as the basis for all our morals?

Sure ‘the masses’ may need some sort of simple set of guidelines, but I’m sure we could update these ancient texts to something more suitable for today.

Point 3 – Moral Code

So is the Bible really relevant in providing a moral code as some suggest? The consensus by many, including myself, is that its not.

Society developed a reasonable moral code long before the Bible came along (many societies developed and lasted for thousands of years without it), this was due to many reasons including the fact that societies would have self destructed if every one went around killing, stealing and abusing each other.
As has already been stated others came up with similar codes long before the Bible. In fact The Code of Hammurabi went 272 better than the Bible by having 282 laws, none relating to god or worship and some very detailed (unlike the Bibles). Obviously we couldn’t use many of these rules today as a lot of them relate to servants, whilst others have the death penalty or dismemberment as punishment. But they were applicable for the time, which is why we need new rules applicable to our time.

The Ethic of Reciprocity

The ethic of reciprocity or the Golden Rule is a fundamental moral value which simply means “treat others as you would like to be treated.[4]

This moral code is oft quoted by Christians who often cite it as having been invented by Jesus. For example Mathew 7:12

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, …

or Luke 10:27

He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.

However, the Golden Rule is first mentioned in the bible in Leviticus 19:18

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. …

(with another variation at Leviticus 19:34), long before Jesus turned up on the scene. Leviticus being one of the first four books of the Old Testament which were copied from the Torah.

The Christian faith are not the sole arbiters of this moral code either. Several Greek Philosophers espoused variations over 500 years before Jesus came along. Most other religions also have a variations in their teachings, and Confucius (551 BCE – 479 BCE) said in The Analects:

Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.

So whilst this is an excellent moral guide it is difficult to accept that it is just a Christian thing, or that Christians invented it.

No Bible = No Morality

Some people imply that if you don’t believe in the Bible or God then somehow you will be less moral. This is untrue and there is no evidence that nonbelievers are more likely to commit crimes.
What about others who have no particular allegiance to the Christian God or Bible, such as Hindus, Islamics, Buddhists etc, should they be made to rule their lives by one groups beliefs?
Why should the bible get any preference over any other codes?

The Bibles Morality

After all the Bible isn’t all sweetness and light, and there are some very dubious moral codes within it. For instance did you know that Jesus said slaves should be beaten? No, then read Luke 12:46-48

12:47 – That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows.

How about cruelty to children? Psalm 137:9

Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

I don’t care what the naughty little brats did, dashing them against stones is a tad harsh.

Further Reading

Rethinking the Ten Commandments by Jon Nelson

The Ten Commandments are no longer valid

The Real Ten Commandments or here by Richard Carrier

What’s Wrong With The Ten Commandments? ffrf

References

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Hammurabi

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosaic_Law

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moses

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethic_of_reciprocity


In a response to a response to a faithworks blog

I was asked this by the blogger:

Hi Oz-Atheist,

Do you really believe when it comes to morality that the majority rules?

What about human sacrifice in communities where most people thought it was a good idea to appease the gods?

Was it wrong then, if the majority thought it was ok? Is it wrong now because you and I think it is?

Or is it wrong in our minds and not wrong in theirs, so the morality is flexible?

Bryan P (Reply)

The following was my reply:

Do you really believe when it comes to morality that the majority rules?

I’d like to think so, but I’m not that naive, and it’s not that simple.

In most cultures and societies laws have been made generally on the consensus of the majority of the population. However, in a democratic society just because the leaders have been elected by the majority, doesn’t prevent them from making laws based on their own ideals or beliefs. In non-democratic societies its generally the rule of might that makes the laws.

However, basic morals will still exist, and if laws are made that conflict with those morals, eventually the majority will want their say. In democracies the ruling party may lose the next election. In non-democratic societies there will often be rebellion (eg; Burma as we speak)

Additionally there will always be enlightened people, or groups, who devise a new moral zeitgeist, which if reasonable and viable will be taken up as a new moral. (see example about slavery below)

What about human sacrifice in communities where most people thought it was a good idea to appease the gods?

As I said in my original post “It evolved as societies evolved”.

So back then the majority thought it was ok to conduct human sacrifice (though I’m sure some didn’t), but over time the society evolved and realized it was not ok.

A classic, slightly more contemporary, example is slavery, particularly the American example. The majority of people (well, the white ones) thought slavery was ok. In fact some cited the bible as validating slavery, so they had both law and god on their side. Then in the 1680’s the Quakers condemned slavery because they thought that it was unjust and it was against their morals (for this the Quakers were discriminated against). Later, Patrick Henery and Thomas Jefferson spoke out against slavery and then eventually President Abraham Lincoln did. Over the years various leaders and the majority of society had come to realize that slavery was not ok and it was eventually abolished. A new morality was created!

Was it wrong then, if the majority thought it was ok? Is it wrong now because you and I think it is?

So it may not have been wrong then, but we today in our more enlightened and evolved minds know that it is wrong now.

Or is it wrong in our minds and not wrong in theirs, so the morality is flexible?

Let me ask you a question Bryan? What religion are you? I’ll guess Judeo-Christian of some variety. What do you base your morals on? I’ll guess again, the bible. So am I right in assuming that in Judeo-Christian minds anyone of any other religion, and non-religious people, have different morals to you. Does that make their morals wrong and yours right? I’m sure that Islamics who believe in the Koran think that their morals are right and yours are wrong. So who’s is right?

Morality is not so much flexible as geographic, just because a person is born in a predominately Judeo-Christian region they are more likely to have morals based on the bible. Whereas someone born in an Islamic region is more likely to have morals based on the Koran.

However, I believe there are some universal morals that have very little to do with religion and were defined long before the bible, Koran or similar religious texts came along.

To answer another one of your posts:

It’s not my moral code. It’s God’s.

But which god?

If He exists, then there is an absolute moral law. No matter what anyone says.

But again, which god / which law?

Are you implying if god doesn’t exist then there are no absolute moral laws?

I’d like to think the human race was above that, and am sure the majority of us are, and always have been. Basic morals such as don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t lie, look after each other, etc have been around in some form or other as far back as societies go. Otherwise the societies would never have flourished. The Bible, Koran and various other religious texts tried to put some of these moral codes into one book, but in general, I don’t think they did a very good job of it.

PS: I know there are a some generalizations and guesses in this comment, but without being able to converse directly I had to make a few assumptions for my argument. This comment is already very long and if I had to be absolutely specific and annotate every exception I’d be writing this for days, and bore you all rigid in the process (as if I haven’t already zzzzzzzzzzzzz.)

—————————————–

Stolen from A Daily Dose of Doubt

Many ask, “How could people act morally without the guidance the Bible provides?” Perhaps they would be totally at a loss as to whom to stone to death for what.

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14 responses to “FAQ 1

  1. ed

    I think you all might like this repley to a comment on the herald sun’s “faithworks” blog

    I have no concern whether people are atheists or not. It is for one to decide what one does or doesn’t believe in. However, I have noticed in recent years that Atheists seem to preach their atheism with all the fervour of an Evangelist preacher. It seems to matter to them that others believe when, if they feel secure in their own “lack of belief” belief, it shouldn’t concern or worry them. They become loud, angry and virulent in their attacks on believers by calling them “intolerant” etc,. as they display arrant intolerance I have also noticed that they leap on any fault exhibited by Christians and damn Christianity (I never hear them condemning other faiths) as being flawed. Yes, there are flawed “Christians” who fail to live the way they are supposed to but that does not make Christianity a failure.It makes some Christians a failure but we have the chance to redeem ourselves. I hope Atheists all have happy lived because this is all they have to look forward to.
    Jack of Kingston. of Cheltenham,Vic. (Reply)

    Quincy Dent replied to Jack of Kingston.
    Sat 06 Oct 07 (09:09am)
    Greetings Jack !
    That was a superb piece of writing and I enjoyed it very much. It was an outstanding parody of idiotic thinking, hypocrisy and double standards, and I applaud your exquisite skill in capturing the essence of all this in so few words. Whilst we laugh along together, spare a thought for the tragic souls who might writesuch a piece and actually mean it.
    The sly way you slipped in the a priori assumption that belief is a decision was brilliant and the subtle manner you heaped scorn upon evangelical preachers by using them as the template against which strawman atheist “preaching” may be measured was a masterstroke. Well done, old boy! Oh, and it was excellent how you condemn a rant, all the while employing rant vocabulary yourself – “They become loud, angry and virulent in their attacks on believers by calling them “intolerant” etc,. as they display arrant intolerance”. Superb irony; you’re a genius! Personally, I would love to see an atheist “preach with all the fervour of an Evangelist preacher”; it would be very entertaining – a text-book thumping palaeontologist waving the jawbone of an ass about like a crucifix. Imagine the sight! If you ever get some footage of any, please send me the link.
    As scornful and caustic as they can be, the measured and dignified delivery of Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins just doesn’t measure up to the fire and brimstone froth of the aforementioned preachers. I know, I know, it’s disappointing, but there you have it. Naturally, we both know that in addition to various contributors to this very blog, these two guys get stuck into Muslims & other faiths as well as Christians, making that “they only pick on us Christians” bleat especially risible. At the same time, you managed to draw attention to the fact that it really can be difficult to hear atheists when they attack faiths other than Christianity because they are being drowned out by all the Christians banging on about how their particular belief system is the one true faith, revealing Christians to be the loudest, most strident and bigoted atheists of the lot. You don’t miss a trick!

    I especially liked your ‘ “lack of belief” belief ‘ twatism. This ludicrous oxymoron delightfully mirrored the contradiction-riddled “holy books” such as the bible and the Koran – the inerrant (ha ha) and infallible (ha ha) word(s) of “god” (ha ha). Wonderful, wonderful. Artfully, you then highlighted the appalling hypocrisy of Christians who squeal that “they leap on any fault exhibited by Christians and damn Christianity ……… as being flawed” yet at the same time, they smugly assert that the bad behaviour of an individual rogue scientist (only ever exposed by other scientists) somehow invalidates science. This gleeful barb did not go unnoticed.
    Forgive my presumption, but I would like to allow myself one small criticism of your work. I thought your closing joke – about atheists only having this life to look forward to – was pretty weak. You could have used a much wittier jibe, to wit: What do you call an atheist in a coffin? A person all dressed up with no place to go.
    Otherwise, I have naught but admiration for you; you are a satirist of the highest order. I remain in your thrall and long for your next post.
    P.S. What is that Jack of Kingston of Cheltenham business? Is that a kind of anglicised Jack von Kingston, Jack de Kingston or even Jacque de la Ville du Roy? Way too posh for me.
    You’re amazing.

  2. Pingback: They are having a go at our morals, again. « Oz Atheist’s Weblog

  3. Richard

    Hey Oz-A,

    Well I guess I am a couple of months late on this one. Still, I thought I’d still suggest that this article is essential reading on The Ten Commandments. They are utterly fisked to bits, and deservedly so!

  4. Richard

    But Quincy,

    Quincy wrote:
    “What do you call an atheist in a coffin?
    A person all dressed up with no place to go.”

    I must contest;
    Tho nicely dressed,
    The religious go
    As atheists go!

    _____________

    Atheists need Reason. Dawkins, Hitchens, and their ilk, do not have enough. Abstract reasoning is something that must be learned and exercised cautiously. It is NOT the simple concrete bound logic one learns in academia. What academia calls abstract reason is largely Reason’s antithesis.

    An atheist morality needs a proper epistemological base, such as Ayn Rand used as the basis for her essays in The Virtue of Selfishness.

    She then applied that morality in economics and politics in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. The epistemological base she uses is available in An Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. However, if you want the Metaphysical foundations for all of the above, study Leonard Peikoff’s Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

    In some respects all of these ideas are evident in her fiction work Atlas Shrugged but many readers get so distracted by the plot that they miss the significant elements pointing them to the underlying reasons (principles) behind the actions that drive the plot. Others deliberately evade those principles, because they do not wish to think through their real world significance properly.

  5. tenquid

    What is it about an evil act that makes an “evil act” evil?

  6. tenquid

    Are there some actions that at all times and in all places are (were) evil?

  7. tenquid, I’ll consider writing a post about evil in the near future, you’ve got me thinking.

  8. results_are_better_than_ideals

    This may never get read because I am sure a balanced review is not desired here, but on the off chance that it does get through, here are my thoughts on this article.

    Point 1: a principle doesn’t have to be original to be applicable.

    Point 2: Death penalty was overturned in the new testament. For very specific reasons. Ask me about it if you care. And i will share my opinion.

    you said: “What about number 5? In principle it sounds good, but should you still honour your father if he is a violent alcoholic that beats his wife”

    Honoring your parents is often regarded as meaning obey your parents, but is superseded in other areas of the bible by laws of conduct. So for instance if your parent told you to kill, that would not be appropriate because thou shalt not kill takes precedence. This priority is elaborated on elsewhere. If your objection to honour is in the order of, “no I will not drive you to the hospital because you hit my mother”, then I fail to see how you are taking the higher ground. Jesus taught a “buck stops here” mentality that said repay honor for dishonour, good for evil, so that people will not be trapped in perpetual revenge killing, but learn to only do good.

    you said: “So why is this given as the basis for all our morals?”

    It is the basis for all of our morals because in a very Darwinian way, this set of principles propagated itself (survived) more than the others, lending it implicit merit. If it did not work as well as other philosophies in the same realm, it would have been overtaken by them because those philosophies would have flourished much more and their societal hosts would have grown stronger.

    you said: “Sure ‘the masses’ may need some sort of simple set of guidelines, but I’m sure we could update these ancient texts to something more suitable for today.”

    If you remove an animal from an evolved and balanced ecology (like the shark for instance, which seems a bit old fashioned, or primordial) will the effect necessarily be positive on that balance? What has history taught us about interfering in the natural balance of time tested ecology.

    Point 3:

    you said: “societies would have self destructed if every one went around killing, stealing and abusing each other.”

    Watch animal planet. The strong survive, and the weak fall in line if they want to live.

    and again a principle doesn’t have to be original to be applicable. One can have morals without the bible as we know it. It just so happens that the bible is the dominant surviving text in the west. Which is quite a feat, considering how many philosophies it has had to compete with, in comparison to say the assimilating Confucianism in China, or Shinto in Japan. Besides that the bible is not a legal text only. It is supposed to be a way to make you more prepared for a possible next life than if you did nothing.

    you said: “Some people imply that if you don’t believe in the Bible or God then somehow you will be less moral. This is untrue and there is no evidence that nonbelievers are more likely to commit crimes. What about others who have no particular allegiance to the Christian God or Bible, such as Hindus, Islamics, Buddhists etc, should they be made to rule their lives by one groups beliefs?”

    Here’s some anecdotal evidence. What do teenagers do when they play Grand Theft Auto, or when they switch on god mode in any video game capable of simulating violence. They do what they feel like doing, they let their survive and replicate natures take over because there will be no ramifications outside of the game.

    God as a concept is a persistent form of vigilance and accountability that attempts to prevent people from being their evil selves when no one stronger than them is around. if you want real life evidence that non-believers are more likely to commit crimes than those with strong convictions. Then watch who comes out when the power grid fails to loot the local electronics store. Not choir girls, Buddhist monks or ned flanders. People only act according to the perceived consequence of their actions. And in the absence of consequences, one becomes a law unto oneself. hence the central premise of most religion. we are not a law unto ourselves and there are always consequences. I can understand why atheism is such a tempting faith, because unlike the others it says there are no long term consequences for the individual.

    And as for enforcing your beliefs on others. I can’t speak for faiths like islam or atheism, because I don’t know enough about them. But Samsarist religions emphasize the inner journey of the mind, not the outer expression, and Christianity emphasizes the all importance of personal choice and the futility of casting pearls before swine.

    you said: “For instance did you know that Jesus said slaves should be beaten? No, then read Luke 12:46-48: That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows”

    You are invoking this as a commandment, which it is not. In todays terms, this says the bad employee will be fired by his boss. It speaks about cause and effect not a preferred means of discipline.

    also it was read very cunningly out of context. here is the full passage:

    “41 Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all? 42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? 43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 44 Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. 45 But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; 46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. 47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.”

    Which speaks about punishing a chief servant who as soon as his boss leaves, beats his subordinates and misuses company assets whilst not attending to running the business as his boss instructed him to do so. I suppose you also protest the existence of the prison system, and suggest that rapists and murderers should be allowed to do their thing without fear of reproach? I don’t believe in capital punishment, but it was an illustration of the consequences that existed in the day. So today it would read, if you are criminally negligent in your workplace, you will certainly be fired, and most likely prosecuted. See Enron for an example. But maybe you think the Enron management team should have been let off the hook.

    you said: “How about cruelty to children? Psalm 137:9: Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”

    This is once again wildly misread. And this one is really obvious. The psalm is a song by an Israelite captive of Babylon. And it says quiet clearly.

    “7 Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.
    8 O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.
    9 Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”

    which being interpreted says:

    God, when Jerusalem is restored, remember those that said burn it to the ground.
    And to the Babylonian who will one day be destroyed, happy will your conqueror be when he does to you, what you did to us.
    Happy will he be, when he kills your children.

    or in other words, you may be having a good time now, but someday someone’s going to do to you, what you did to us.

    This is not a moral inflection or a call to child bashing! it is a sad song whose central premise is “what goes around comes around”
    if you had ever read the bible properly you would know that the Christian God detests those who sacrifice or kill children.

    But honestly, I don’t know why I am wasting my time here, you hardline fundamentalists always seem to have such closed minds.

  9. Alice

    Hey. I want to reply to Results-are-better-than-ideas.

    You likened updating the 10 commandments to removing an animal from a time-tested, balanced ecology. I think this is a fallacious appeal to the authority of tradition. If the 10 commandments had worked well for a long time, that might be some evidence that they were helpful. However, I contend that the 10Cs have not been very helpful, and that it is secular influences that have allowed us to move beyond the dark ages of human morality – to escape slavery, stonings, systematic violence against women and children, homophobia, racism, etc. The 10 Cs gave us no reason to abandon those dark and vicious beliefs – we had to discover the reasons ourselves. So I don’t really think the 10 Cs have worked very well for us.

    Secondly, I think it is very hypocritical to suggest that because the writer objects to the physical punishment of slaves, that he thinks “rapists and murderers should be allowed to do their thing without fear of reproach”. You see, I have a copy of the holy bible beside me, and in it God and his messenger Moses clearly instruct their followers to commit both murder and rape. God himself murders people and animals, too. To take as a very few examples the fall, the flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the plagues on the Egyptians, Moses’s intstructions on female sex slaves (Exodus 21:7-11, Leviticus 25: 44-46) instructions for murdering a wife that one is bored with (Deuteronomy 22: 13-22) and for murdering victims of rape (Deuteronomy 22: 22-30)and in Numbers (31: 13-48)in which Moses gives instructions to murder all the males, including the children, and all the married or non-virginal women, and to keep as “spoils” all the virginal women and girls…
    I take it that God loves killing, that he hates women and children – or rather, sees them as usable objects for men – and that he loves rapists so long as they belong to his chosen men, and rape only those women and children who are foreigners and slaves.

    Don’t say that we are hardline fundamentalists or that we have closed minds – namecalling indicates you have no real argument of worth to make. I took the time to read from the bible and found it more morally repellant than I had ever expected. I knew from my previous studies that God was unjust, but I didn’t know until reading Genesis through Judges that he was also a bloodthirsty, slavering rapist.

  10. @ Alice, welcome, go right ahead and reply.

  11. arthurvandelay

    Just a couple of observations from a hardline fundamentalist:

    This may never get read because I am sure a balanced review is not desired here, but on the off chance that it does get through, here are my thoughts on this article.

    You’d certainly help your case if you didn’t start off sounding like a complete ass.

    Death penalty was overturned in the new testament. For very specific reasons. Ask me about it if you care. And i will share my opinion.

    Some Christians agree with you. Others disagree. Why ought we to consider your opinion authoritative?

    Honoring your parents is often regarded as meaning obey your parents, but is superseded in other areas of the bible by laws of conduct. So for instance if your parent told you to kill, that would not be appropriate because thou shalt not kill takes precedence. This priority is elaborated on elsewhere.

    Where?

    you said: “societies would have self destructed if every one went around killing, stealing and abusing each other.”

    Watch animal planet. The strong survive, and the weak fall in line if they want to live.

    Read some basic biology. Start here.

    It just so happens that the bible is the dominant surviving text in the west.

    Argument from tradition fallacy (and a dubious claim at best).

    Here’s some anecdotal evidence.

    Fail. A UFO landed in my backyard last night. I swear on the Flying Spaghetti Monster that it happened. I saw it with my own eyes. Prove it didn’t happen.

    They do what they feel like doing, they let their survive and replicate natures take over because there will be no ramifications outside of the game.

    Couldn’t it possibly have to do with the fact that most people who play GTA and other games have the ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy? I understand that’s a harder distinction to make for a person who believes in virgin births, resurrections and magic sky fairies.

    It is the basis for all of our morals because in a very Darwinian way, this set of principles propagated itself (survived) more than the others, lending it implicit merit. If it did not work as well as other philosophies in the same realm, it would have been overtaken by them because those philosophies would have flourished much more and their societal hosts would have grown stronger.

    Let’s just ignore the fact that for most of the glorious history of your religion, trangsressions against religious law got you punished or executed by the state.

    if you want real life evidence that non-believers are more likely to commit crimes than those with strong convictions. Then watch who comes out when the power grid fails to loot the local electronics store. Not choir girls, Buddhist monks or ned flanders.

    Sorry, but pulling cockamamie scenarios out of your arse does not come close to constituting “real life evidence.” What we’re looking for is hard statistical evidence demonstrating that non-believers are more likely to commit crimes than those with strong convictions. We want to see the research, the studies that have been done that bear on your claim. Put up or shut up.

    People only act according to the perceived consequence of their actions. And in the absence of consequences, one becomes a law unto oneself.

    False dilemma. You’re asserting that without a magic sky fairy to dole out consequences from above, consequences as such don’t exist. What—we don’t live in communities and societies? Our actions don’t affect others? We’re not affected by the actions of others in the real world?

    I can understand why atheism is such a tempting faith, because unlike the others it says there are no long term consequences for the individual.

    Strawman fallacy. Atheism is simply the lack of belief in a god. It does not prescribe a particularly position on or theory about consequentialism.

    You are invoking this as a commandment, which it is not. In todays terms, this says the bad employee will be fired by his boss. It speaks about cause and effect not a preferred means of discipline.

    It condones slavery. It does not condemn slavery. If slavery were so anathemic to Christianity, the Bible would have condemned the practice as vehemently as it does blasphemy, creating idols, killing, and working on the Sabbath. Christians in the past used the Bible in support of slavery. Others invoked the Bible against it. Why ought we to consider one group more authentically Christian than the other?

  12. arthurvandelay

    (Psst. Oz. Akismet may have eaten my comment.)

  13. Bradley

    I just have a question, not a comment. If there is no transcendental being from whom we get at least some inspiration to do good, where does the desire to do good come from, and why would we have any preferences any way? I know that certain things are just naturally disliked, but what makes it uncomfortable or not to be liked?

  14. Hi Bradley, I’ve answered your question on a new post Why Do Good

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