PLEASE NOTE:

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

 
ThinkingChick
 
Comments: 209
Article views: 3552
 
 
Latest Badges:



 
View all ThinkingChick's badges.
 

The ten commandments - a good moral system or not?

10 July 2012, 07:19
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
209 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
MikeHampton
DA's Press Release Stinks Like Ro...

Ivan Meyer, the DA Western Cape Leader and Oudtshoorn Constituency Head, has condemned the ANC for using taxpayers cash for legal battles in Oudtshoorn. Read more...

1 comments 483 views
Submitted by
Reflect 014
It's all a question of perspectiv...

How we view things affects our perception of the world in which we live. This perspective also helps to shape our understanding of reality itself.  Read more...

7 comments 79 views
Submitted by
Siyabonga Dube
Seats reserved for “Mr & Mrs I ha...

Nothing depresses more than waking up and checking any other social networking site of your choice to find more than three posts ranting about the same thing “Haters”. Read more...

2 comments 142 views
Submitted by
Neil Van Der Linde
Concrete jungle where dreams are ...

We both had our first bite of the Big Apple prior to our first shared experience.  Read more...

0 comments 31 views
Submitted by
The Last Contrarian
Western Media – A lynch mob if I ...

WARNING: This article is a rant and contains emotive language. Reader discretion is advised!  Read more...

12 comments 1097 views
A deep concern on this unguided n...

When the Constitution was enacted in 1996, it afforded a full protection of citizens of this country from malicious deeds of the incumbents.  Read more...

7 comments 277 views

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

 

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
 
© 2014 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.