Friday, March 20, 2009

Ten Commandments and Atheists

It's Atheist Pride Day. I suppose today is a good day to post about the Ten Commandments. The vast majority of my friends and family are Christian. I doubt they will read this post but I sure hope they do. They need not fear Atheists.

I've been thinking about this topic for a while but wasn't sure how to format the discussion. There are so many variations of the Moses story about this, just check out the Wikipedia link below or better yet, actually read Exodus 20 in your bible of choice. Here is a snippet from Wikipedia:

The Ten Commandments, or Decalogue, are a list of religious and moral imperatives that, according to Judeo-Christian tradition, were authored by God and given to Moses on the mountain referred to as "Mount Sinai" (Exodus 19:23) or "Horeb" (Deuteronomy 5:2) in the form of two stone tablets. They feature prominently in Judaism and Christianity.

Link to the full article: Ten Commandments - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I can't speak for all Atheist but I'll share my personal opinion of each of the commandments below.

Commandment My Opinion
God is #1 only worship him. Irrelevant. Probably no God/god/gods
Don't use Gods name in vain Irrelevant. Probably no God/god/gods
Keep the Sabbath holy Irrelevant. Probably no God/god/gods
Honor your father and mother Agree: Good advice. I honor my parents as best as I can although we do argue from time to time
Don't murder Agree: I'm against murder which I loosely define as killing for the sake of killing or killing for personal gain. I will kill to protect the life of my family, friends, myself and my country.
Don't commit adultery Agree: Cheating is lying. If you have made a commitment to your spouse, you should keep it. Masturbate instead. And don't tell me if you've cheated on me if you want to keep our relationship. It's selfish to dump your guilt on me.
Don't steal Agree: I work hard for my stuff and wouldn't want people to steal it. I don't steal because other people work hard for their stuff.
Don't lie Agree: Everybody lies. Fact of life. "Do I look fat in these cloths? Of course not honey, you are beautiful." I don't misrepresent my work or deeds and don't lie to divert attention from my failures.
Don't covet your neighbor's wife Agree: See adultery. I may be envious of some relationships from time to time but it's rare. It's counter productive to worry about other people like this. I can only control what I do and attempt to do my best.
Don't covet your neighbor's stuff Agree: I may be envious of other people's stuff but I don't obsess over it. I use it to motivate me to work harder and do better. It's counter productive to worry about other people's stuff like this. I can only control what I do and attempt to do my best.

It looks like I generally agree with 70% of the commandments. Is that so scary?

Addendum: Here are a few more things I disagree with or find interesting in Exodus 20:

20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me: God sort of implies there are more gods out there.

20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to 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: It's ok for God to be jealous and he will punish your family for generations? Doesn't seem very loving to me.

20:24 An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee: So we have to kill burn animals for God? Seem kind of pagan like to me. See the book of Samuel to learn what God does to people to eat his burnt offerings.


  1. I think you might be able to punch that up to 80%. Keeping the Sabbath holy might not seem like much sense, but keeping one day aside just to rest (not aside to run around and do errands) isn't a bad idea. As Jesus is said to have said "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." (Mark 2:27).

    I'm atheist/agnostic, but I think there is plenty of great advice in the Bible (and other religious texts). There is also a lot of crazy, but nothing is perfect.

  2. @Aaron: Thanks for the comment. I suppose if one throws enough crap together in a book, some people are bound to find some useful information in it. Yes, the bible has some useful advice, here and there, but the horrible advice is really horrific. See Leviticus and most of the old testament.

  3. Did you quote Wikipedia or just edit it? Sorry I know this is a seriously smart blog...since you used Wikipedia as a reference. I am heading back to Flickr. I have a headache from all this knowledge.

  4. @Anonymous: I sometimes quote Wikipedia and do my best cite it when I do. Wikipedia is a pretty good source for summaries and links to good data. The key is to follow the references.

    There are lots of varying translations of the biblical ten commandments so I sort of summarized them. Wikipedia gave a number of references to various translations so I linked to it. I also used a King James version at and two of my own copies.

  5. Wikipedia is not considered a credible reference and should not be used as a reference source. Primarily because it can be edited by anyone who can type. "I suppose if one throws enough crap together in a book, some people are bound to find some useful information in it. (Mully410 Critical Blog)"

  6. funny words coming from one named Anonymous...

  7. Ok so, I completely agree on the don't covet wife and belongings. So I guess I just have a stupid question......Why can GOD be jealous and covet over what we have??????


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