PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
ThinkingChick
 
Comments: 35
Article views: 1348
 
 
Latest Badges:



 
View all ThinkingChick's badges.
 

Atheism and the ten commandments

10 July 2012, 09:32
The ten commandments, as described in the Biblical books of Exodus and Deuteronomy, is an icon of moral law and recently used by religious people to bash atheists over. Some religious people would go so far as to say that they are the foundation or the definition of morality. Is this true though? Many countries with high (over 45% atheist populations tend to be the most peaceful and law-abiding. Nevertheless, let's take a look at the commandments and how they fit in an atheist world.

Obviously, an atheist doesn’t feel compelled to obey commands in the Bible in general, but should an atheist obey the ten commandments simply because they are a good guideline for morality? At first and casual glance - it seems a legitimate statement. So, let's look a bit deeper.

The first four commandments — have no other gods, make no idols, don’t take god’s name in vain, and keep the sabbath — have very little to zero meaning to an atheist. An atheist believes in neither gods nor idols, and sees no day as holy, so almost by definition cannot break the first, second, and fourth commandments. An atheist might use bad language, but cannot be showing god disrespect by cursing in his name since the atheist doesn’t accept that god exists in the first place, and you can’t meaningfully disrespect someone or something you don’t believe exists. So, let's leave those ones behind and come down to the six that might apply to atheists.

One might argue against cursing because it is rude or might offend others, but aside from that, it’s hard to argue that one must obey this commandment to be considered moral. Also, swearing is not quite the same as blasphemy and, again, not using god's name in vain is not an atheist concern.

The fifth commandment is a command of respect toward parents. This is a good idea, but I could argue that some parents don’t deserve respect. The drunk and abusive ones, the ones who sexually hurt their children or simply neglect them - why do they deserve respect just because the bible tells us so? It's a bit like cultures that believe in respecting elders, regardless of how ignorant, misguided, bigoted and intolerant they may be.

The next three commandments — against murdering, committing adultery, and stealing — most people would agree are excellent ones, but we do need to define the terms clearly.

The command against bearing false witness is also a good one, but I could argue that it doesn’t go far enough — condemning lying only in a certain context instead of in general. Some lies are not bad ones, so it is up to each person to figure out what works for them in this context.

The ten commandments ends with rules against coveting a neighbour’s wife or possessions. I don't see merely wanting something as a moral failure (although it might be evidence of a character flaw depending on the desire and item), and I could argue that if wanting something is bad, then it should be bad regardless of whether the person whose thing you want is your neighbour or not. Although, I want a nice car, good schools and a great job - that can't be bad, right?

The ten commandments are also insufficient as a yardstick of morality because they do not condemn many practices that are generally considered immoral (slavery (actually condoned in the OT) spousal abuse, kidnapping, torture, rape, incest, indecency, cannibalism, mistreating animals, etc.) You might argue that these are implied by the ten commandments (kidnapping is stealing, rape is adultery, incest is disrespecting a parent, euthanasia is murder, etc.), but this seems to be pushing a point and certainly stretching the literal words in the bible. Also, for all the literal bible believers out there - explain yourselves if you want to take that stance.

So for me, as an atheist, the ten commandments might be an important historical document - or not - burning bushes and voices from the sky would today be seen as a form of insanity, and it might be something to ponder while developing an ethical system, but it is not a good stand-alone solution for living a moral life.

Morality comes from within and by obeying the laws of a country out of respect for the laws. Unless of course the laws are idiotic - like Shari'ah.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.
 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
35 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Alan Solomon
Mind your language. Remember what...

History has shown how the most compelling political and religious leaders understood exactly why it is so important to speak to people in their mother tongue.  Read more...

0 comments 108 views
Submitted by
Kelvin Esiasa167
The amazing journey of Siyabulela...

One of South Africa's youngest innovators, Siyabulela Xuza, an energy-engineering Harvard University graduate, is passionate about harnessing the power of the sun for clean affordable energy. Read more...

2 comments 126 views
Submitted by
Jean da Cruz
Update on fire Betty's bay

I'm very grateful to the firefightes who have been very busy extinguishing the blaze at Betty's Bay even though the noise at times was unbearable. Read more...

1 comments 482 views
Submitted by
Deon George
SAPS air wing unit: Killing the c...

If you claim to care about the people, flora and fauna of SA, then best you read this. Read more...

60 comments 1358 views
Minister Nene you're destroying t...

With increase in tax you were unfair, not justified too ambitious. Read more...

14 comments 775 views
Submitted by
Moses Mbunge
Proteas win over West Indies

Congratulations to the Proteas for such a remarkable and outstanding victory. Read more...

8 comments 133 views

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

HOUSES FOR SALE IN Paarl

Houses R 1 725 000

HOUSES FOR SALE IN Paarl

Houses R 1 725 000

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Deal of the week!

Petrol generators from R1399, save up to R350. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Pampers!

Save 30% when you buy 3 or more selected pampers products. While stocks last. Shop now!

This week only - 30% off books!

Get 30% off when you buy 2 or more books. Many titles to choose from. While stocks last. Shop now!

New range of Samsung smartphones!

Samsung Galaxy A3, A5 and Alpha now available at kalahari.com. while stocks last. Shop now!

Buy 3 eBooks & only pay for 2!

The cheapest of the 3 titles will be free. Many more titles to choose from. While stocks last. Shop now!

 

services

E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on your iPhone Get News24 headlines on your iPhone.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Blogs Your opinion on you, me and everyone.

Calais Website keywords automated by OpenCalais.

 
Interactive Advertising Bureau
 
© 2015 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.