As I said in a previous post, I don’t talk about religion too much these days. After all, the arguments are all made. But since I have gotten pissed off at a person I was quite friendly with, I have been more inspired to go after religion. What can I say, gotta make sure that my blade is still sharp when it comes to religion and the dumb stuff it espouses. I will admit that today’s target is one that makes at least a novel argument. I hadn’t heard this one before today. Well, I guess I’ve heard variations of it, but not this argument specifically. We’re going to listen to someone who thinks that the Ten Commandments are more relevant now than ever. I’ll share the video with all of you, and then we’ll talk about it.
He begins by saying that no document has done more for humanity than the Ten Commandments. How laughable. Hammurabi’s Code did more for humanity than the Ten Commandments. It was what is believed to be the first set of laws that were transcribed. If we’re going to argue about what document has done more for our species than a bunch of tablets that not one person knows where they are, I can bring up all kinds of examples. The first documentation of the scientific method (which began in the Middle East. Fun fact) have done more for our species. The Magna Carta, the first document that limited the power of a monarch, did more for the evolution of our species than the Ten Commandments. There are endless documents that one could use for this. I hate this argument so much.
There is then the argument that all of western values have their origins traced back to the Ten Commandments. Including women’s rights and the end of slavery. Um…you do realize that the Bible is very clear about its support of slavery, are you not? Jesus even says that a slave should obey their master, and there are passages talking about how to punish a slave who disobeys. The Bible is also very clear about how women are second-class citizens and should obey their husband and not speak unless spoken to. This is a REALLY weird argument. He also says that democracy came from the Ten Commandments. Are you fucking kidding me?! How? The concept of voting was alien to EVERYONE who is a character in the Bible. Every single one. Jesus said, “give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Give unto God that which is God’s.” (Mark 12:17) The most gross hyperbole of them all.
We then get to hear how the Ten Commandments are all that’s needed to make a world that is free of all evil things.. Yeah, that’s why only three of them are laws. Funny how that works. His first example is a world free of murder. Yes, because all murderers would totally care if Gawd says that it’s bad. Never mind that a plethora of serial killers believe they’re doing God’s work. Then he claims that there would be a world where no one covets what their neighbor has. I’m going to let the Master, George Carlin, spell out how stupid this is.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods. This one is just plain stupid! Coveting your neighbor’s good is what keeps the economy going. Your neighbor gets a vibrator that plays ‘oh come all ye faithful,’ you want one too!
So there’s that. He says that this imaginary, totally unrealistic world, has all the children honoring their mother and father. So I guess single or gay parents are out. This guy is a conservative Christian. This makes sense.
Turns out, there’s a catch to all this. Okay, I’m listening. What is it? Apparently the whole deal with these Commandments is the fact that they were supposed to have come from God. Well, I guess I could end this there. After all, since the Christian God doesn’t exist, then how does this have any impact? We know that the Bible is riddled with factual inaccuracies and outright lies. It contradicts itself (see the two creation stories. That’s right, there are two. Or look up the only two stories in the Gospels about how Jesus was born. They contradict one-another) and has no basis in reality. Which means that nothing inside of it means anything. Why am I listening? Let’s see if the other shoe drops here.
It does get dropped. This guy actually says that if God isn’t there to declare murder wrong, then it isn’t wrong. Wow. That’s incredible. So if this guy didn’t have his non-existent deity, he would have no compunction against murdering people? That’s kind of scary. I’ve heard this argument before. Ray Comfort and Eric Hovind have both been quoted saying that if it weren’t for God telling them that murder is wrong, they would have killed all kinds of people. That’s really scary. Makes one wonder if all Christians are just a realization that their belief structure of bullshit away from grabbing their guns and going on a rampage. Mind-boggling.
He saw my rebuttal coming, I guess, and says that my atheism is wrong about not needing God to see murder as wrong. The reason? You’re gonna love this – because the Ten Commandments act as proof that it’s wrong. Stone tablets that do not currently exist, and our knowledge of them comes from a book that was translated from a dead language into English. A translation that many people have shown is not especially good. With the Ten Commandments, we don’t need to believe that murder is wrong. This “document” that no one has current access to is proof, because a book that says that they exist tells us so. A book says that Joseph Smith has gold tablets and “seer stones.” Should I take that as the truth? Has just as much proof.
Following this, this guy argues that without God, our beliefs about right and wrong are just that – beliefs. Well, yeah. The thing is, this idea of objective morality has never been proven. It’s one of the great debates that’s happening in the world right now. I tend to believe that the closest thing we have toward objective morality is our ability to empathize. With empathy, we can feel what someone else is feeling, and thus are compelled not to engage in destructive acts. It’s not perfect, but since there is NO evidence of your God’s existence, my belief structure has just as much, if not more credence. He argues that every atheist philosopher has acknowledged this. Citation, please. Richard Dawkins believes that morality is based on this idea that behaviors should be for the good of the tribe or the community. Sam Harris believes that through neurology, we can come to a kind of objective morality. Both have interesting arguments, but they spit in the face of this idiot who apparently is incapable of fact-checking. He’s a conservative Christian, after all. No surprise.
We then get the typical arguments about how Hitler and Stalin killed people, with the implication being that that was because God’s rules weren’t followed. Maybe no one told this guy that Hitler was a devout Roman Catholic. Just putting that out there.
Then he makes this argument that people do the wrong thing because they believe that there is no God watching them. All the Catholic priests who’ve diddled little boys and girls? They believed that they knew for a fact that someone was watching. Didn’t stop them. The Branch Davidians in Waco? They were stock-piling weapons in preparation to overthrow the government. They also believed that they knew someone was watching. What terrible arguments. He wraps up saying that us atheists would all see that their non-existent deity that we have no reason to believe in still is good because he made these laws that are totally flawed. This man’s backwards thinking is the stuff of legend.
Finally, he concludes that not one person has or ever will make a system for behaving that rivals the Ten Commandments. Challenge accepted. Here it is – act with empathy. That was easy. Do I get a prize?
Until next time, a quote,
“When you think about it, religion has never really had a big problem with murder. Not really. More people have been killed in the name of God than for any other reason. All you have to do is look at Northern Ireland, the Middle East, Cashmere, the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the World Trade Center to see how seriously the religious folks take ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill.’ The more devout they are, the more they see murder as being negotiable” – George Carlin