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Day to Day Politics: Have you ever read The Ten Commandments?

Saturday 18 February 2017

 Authors note.

Although at first blush you may think that this piece has little to do with politics, indirectly it does. That is if decency, civility, compassion and good manners are to form any part of future politics. There are many members of Parliament who profess to be Christians. How do they measure up? Do they follow the Ten Commandments? Or would a revised set uninhibited by religion be more appropriate.

I cannot ever remember reading a book that has not in some way left an impression on me. It might just be the absurdity of a poorly written novel that adheres it to one’s memory. Alternatively, it may very well be the profound sense of goodness that books like To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) or The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck) do for your thoughts on social justice. Or even the boredom that a text-book might bring in research or study. On the other hand, it may be writers like Tim Winton and Marcus Zusak who compose sentences that send one’s head into a divine heaven of literary bliss.

Even a poem can leave you with a beguiling sense of awe. I recently read a poem a friend sent me that painted a masterpiece with words that still occupy the labyrinth of my thoughts. The residue it leaves speaks of the power of one’s imagination.

This then brings me to the book by Richard Dawkins titled “The God Delusion”. It left me reconsidering many personal philosophical and theological concepts. However, with regard to impression. What has remained indelible in my mind is his short discourse on ”The Ten Commandments.” I have long-held the view (even at the zenith of a past theological acceptance), that in a modern-day society where science and reason have superseded literal Biblical thought, they hold little if any relevance. By relevance I mean directly connected with, and important to, a modern twenty-first century society.

In his book Dawkins advocates a replacement set of values drawn simply from a google search and ads in a few of his own for consideration. He points out that they are not the work of any great sage or prophet or professional ethicist but rather from ordinary citizens.

Listed below are the original Ten Commandments and the suggested alternatives. I will say no more other than with your reason and logic decide which have the more relevance and are therefore more applicable for the world of today.

”You shall have no other gods before Me”

”You shall not make for yourself a carved image–any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth”

”You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain”

.”Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”

”Honour your father and your mother”

”’You shall not murder”

”You shall not commit adultery”

”You shall not steal”

”You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour”

”You shall not covet your neighbours’ house; you shall not covet your neighbours’ wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbours”

Or these as alternatives.

”Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you”

”In all things strive to cause no harm”.

”Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness and respect”

”Do not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted”

”Live life with a sense of joy and wonder”.

”Always seek to be learning something new”

”Test all things; always check your ideas against your facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them”

”Never seek to cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you”

”Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason and experience; do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others”

Question everything.

And some further alternatives from Dawkins.

”Enjoy your own sex life (so long as it damages nobody) and leaves others to enjoy theirs in private whatever their inclinations, which are none or your business”

”Do not discriminate or oppress on the basis of sex, race or (as far as possible) species”.

”Do not indoctrinate your children. Teach them how to think for themselves, how to evaluate evidence and how to disagree with you”

”Value the future on a timescale longer than your own”

”In conclusion. The purpose in writing this is my contention that the Bible is the only ‘How To” book ever written never to have been updated. If the Bible is the supposed literal (or inspired) word of God why then did he stop dictating or even revising? Now that’s something to think about”

An observation.

”The ability of thinking human beings to blindly embrace what they are being told without referring to evaluation and the consideration of scientific fact and reason, never ceases to amaze me. It is tantamount to the rejection of rationale explanation”

My thought for the day.

”I have come to the conclusion that one of the truly bad effects religion (any religion) has on people is that it teaches that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding”

 

 

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20 comments

  1. Lord John

    I wonder which book of Commandments Donald Trump follows?

  2. Roswell

    Lord John, Trump is above all that. Didn’t you know? 😇

  3. Robert G. Shaw

    Whenever I see the Golden Rule I am always reminded of Shaw’s cheeky rejoinder,

    “Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.”

    Some people in this world, and it’s eminently understandable why, feel the need to have the ballast of faith.
    It’s not so much a rejection of Reason as a private, deeply personal, relationship with something larger than themselves which helps navigate a more centered, grounded, redemptive, moral path through their lives.

    If, and it’s an immense ‘if’, if it remains a personal endeavor, never venturing into the sphere of a public domain – politics, law, society – then personally i have no issue with faith.
    When it seeps out into the world at large as a source, THE source of contradiction and antagonism, well, then we’ve got problems…..

    I remember a debate many years ago that posed the question that the good (that religion does) is in exact proportion to the bad.
    For every death or act of suffering perpetrated in its name, there was a ‘good’, an act of benevolence, done in its name – Compassion International or World Vision, for example, or the millions of small acts performed each day – from soup kitchens to volunteer hospice care.

    It is indeed a vexed question.

    For me the criteria is simple: no infringement on the basic Enlightenment values – freedom of speech, equality, and a public liberal humanism.

  4. Kaye Lee

    You don’t have to worship a supernatural being in order to do ‘good’. If you are only doing good through fear of punishment or in hope of personal reward in the “afterlife” it kind of misses the point of genuine philanthropy.

  5. johnlord2013John

    Robert the quote you mention. Do unto ………is taken from the Bible and generally attributed to it however, it appears in many cultures. The oldest is recorded in early Egyptian history.

  6. Frunobulax

    Nobody ever includes the 11th commandment, “Thou shalt not presume to know the will of thy God”.

  7. Ian

    If instead of believing in gods people believed in themselves, imagine what good could become of the world.

    A belief in a god releases a person from critical thinking by allowing them to be able to cast off difficult ideas as ‘god’s will’. An easy and non-threatening release of responsibility from considering ideas or situations with a critical eye results but in it’s place is a void in that person’s real-world observations. It has been known for centuries that non-critical thinkers are easily controlled hence the church’s power.

  8. Harquebus

    “Question everything.”
    Why?

    “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil – that takes religion.” -– Steven Weinberg

    Cheers.

  9. Keith

    As a child, too many years ago, people with conservative views placed high regard for respect, civility, and manners to be promoted. A child would be scolded if they called an adul by their christian name ( I’m now meant to say first name). It seems to me that the extreme right are the worst offenders in relation lack of common decency. Many extreme right wing people profess to be Christian, but I wonder whether their Bibles have had the Beautitudes edited out.

  10. Jack Straw

    Indeed Ian: If instead of believing in gods people believed in themselves, imagine what good could become of the world.

    For this is the truest religion of them all. CHEERS !

  11. Kaye Lee

    You put a smile on my dial H. Great comment. 🙂

    Off topic, but Trump’s latest tweet…

    “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

    That list keeps getting longer every day and he is going to have to add John McCain to it as well.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/02/17/john-mccain-just-systematically-dismantled-donald-trumps-entire-worldview/?utm_term=.77aad148d3a7

  12. Ian

    And to you too, Jack!

    There are times I feel sad that so much potential is wasted on false beliefs, little self-confidence and so much guilt. This cripples people from achieving their true potential yet delivers enormous power to the religions, most of which abuse it horrendously.

    Cheers.

  13. wam

    Plenty to think about, Lord!

    Unfortunately thinking about’ is not allowed in religion as faith is the driver and belief is the end point.
    The golden rule for today has been clearly set by the politics of this century:
    do unto others before they do unto you
    the focus of religion is male, the object of indoctrination is children and the instrument is women. The latter is the key when the men place the last straw.

  14. O

    Not to be forgetting the “Sin of Sodom which is the ill treatment of the Poor”. A Sin the LNP graciously practices with great glee on top of ” He shall have no other Lord expect the mighty Dollar ” made up I know but I’m sure its a amendment to their Christian faith practices

  15. Pat Garnet

    There would be few people, who if they have followed the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse and the cover-up by Organisations (religions included),would not be horrified that members of these ‘CULTS’ could still BELIEVE. This is something I have passionately followed, and DO know quite a (activist 20 yrs) lot about. My recommendation is for the Sunday homily in all religious institutions, include a testimony from a different victim (dead or alive) each week be read, until there are no more available. I will be ‘popping up daisies” , oh no I won’t, I will have already have been used as fertilizer before that happens. “Religions are a MONEY making CULT borne out of an IDEOLOGY” (Stephen Fry).

  16. Ella Miller

    Pat Garnet, I whole heartedly agree.
    Religion like , race , wealth , colour only serve to divide society as a whole.
    I object to religion being taught in schools …replace it with ethics.
    My dear father would turn in his grave if he could, on hearing me say that.
    When as a young woman, I raged about the fact that God has turned his back on man and our earth…he would say,
    God gave man brain ..he can use it for good or evil..

  17. jimhaz

    John McCain represents what a conservative politician should be. I think he is a man of good morals.

  18. Zathras

    There are actually about 600-odd “laws” mentioned in to Jewish Torah and others such as not “boiling a baby goat in it’s mother’s milk” are mysteriously overlooked.

    Others, like not wearing two types of cloth, eating shellfish, planting different crops in the same field and so on, are also conveniently overlooked (except those that persecute others) as being out-of-date.

    The first four of those Commandments are all about protecting God’s home turf and the last one consigns women to the status of cattle or “goods” not to be covetted.

    George Carlin performs an excellent dissertation where he reduces them all down to a couple –

    “THOU SHALT ALWAYS BE HONEST AND FAITHFUL, ESPECIALLY TO THE PROVIDER OF THY NOOKIE” plus “THOU SHALT TRY REAL HARD NOT TO KILL ANYONE, UNLESS, OF COURSE, THEY PRAY TO A DIFFERENT INVISIBLE AVENGER THAN THE ONE YOU PRAY TO”.

    He includes one more – “THOU SHALT KEEP THY RELIGION TO THYSELF!”

    Also, Jesus is always somehow credited with inventing “The Golden Rule” (“Do unto others…”) but the reality is that it preceded him by centuries and can be found in several forms in many ancient civilisations and in all religions.

    Who really needs to see the notion that that murder is wrong stated in writing before they accept it?

  19. kerri

    Ella Miller
    I prefer Robin Williams version……
    God gave man a brain and a penis.
    And only enough blood to run one at a time.

  20. margcal

    “If instead of believing in gods people believed in themselves, imagine what good could become of the world.”

    If anyone believes in himself, it’s Donald Trump.
    Oh, and Tony Abbott … and Malcolm Turnbull, and and and and ……

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