The Ten Commandments


Big ups to Antonio D’Arcangelis, a reader of this blog, for pointing me in the direction of Christopher Hitchens’ dismantling of the Ten Commandments.

When I see Hitchens on TV, I often think, “I’d rather lick the Grand Central Station bathroom floor than spend an hour with this guy.” In other words, he’s pompous, dismissive, rude—just a jerk. And yet, he’s wicked smart, and shares most of my beliefs when it comes to religion. I’m not 100% convinced that there’s no such thing as an afterlife, but I do consider organized religion to be a 98% useless and harmful endeavor. When people say, “Look at all the good it does,” I often think, “Look at all the bad it does.” When people scream, “Religion gives us a moral code!” I scream, “Religion gives us molesting priests! The Crusades! Racism! Homophobia!”

The wife and I debate joining a synagogue, and it’s one I’ll likely lose. She wants the kids to have a sense of Jewish identity—even if we don’t really buy the religious stuff. I suppose I understand, and a part of me shares her take. But, really, how can you be Jewish or Christian or Muslim and not believe in God? Not believe in the founding principles of your faith?

Clearly, in this case Hitchens is right—the Ten Commandments are a load of crock; an outdated, ludicrous concept that most of us ignore without much thought.

29 thoughts on “The Ten Commandments”

  1. “Religion gives us molesting priests! The Crusades! Racism! Homophobia!”

    I am not sure if this is entirely true. There are plenty of child molesters who aren’t priests.

    Wars start over things that aren’t about religion.

    Racism and homophobia would exist if religion wasn’t there. As long as intolerance is around, so will racism, homophobia, etc.

    I think that you’d be more serviced to yell that “Religion gives us more hypocrites.”

  2. For the record, I would like to apologize to the gay community for associating homosexuals with the Mets. I sincerely regret it.

  3. The problem with organized religion is that it’s filled with people. And people suck. People do horrible, terrible things, and it doesn’t matter what religion or political party or skin color or whatever – people are people.

    I would argue that the hostility and vitriol that Jeff ordinarily has towards religious people is due to the fact that while religious people are every bit as bad as non-religious ones, their affiliation with a moral code makes them hypocrites. This, unfortunately, ignores the fact that Jesus of Nazareth explicitly stated that he was here for the weak, downtrodden, and immoral people of the world. Therefore, true followers of Jesus readily admit their hypocrisy; that’s why a relationship with Jesus is needed.

    Unfortunately, when Jesus’ followers ignore that same fact, Jeff and others of like mind are given more ammunition than they can spend in a lifetime. And that sucks. But it’s reality, and all Christians (or other religious folk) can do is to live lives of love, compassion, mercy and grace, and let those qualities speak for themselves.

  4. See, I just have to shake my head: ‘Jesus of Nazareth explicitly stated that he was here for the weak, downtrodden, and immoral people of the world. Therefore, true followers of Jesus readily admit their hypocrisy; that’s why a relationship with Jesus is needed.’ It starts out great and then goes totally, batshit insane at the end by claiming to communicate telepathically with a two-millennia-dead guy. It’s precisely as ridiculous as saying, ‘I believe in loving the people around me and caring for the earth, because Abernathy the Magic Dung Beetle told me to.’

  5. “i would argue—fiercely—that the foundation of homophobia is Biblical.”

    I don’t know that if would fiercely argue against this, I think that you’re right that many anti-gay views come from people’s religious leanings.

    But, I don’t think that if all of a sudden we lived in a world without religion that homosexuals would have to worry about intolerance.

    I think that human nature is predisposed to hate or find fault with things that are different. Thus, if a majority of men had sex with women, there would still be some people who looked strangely at same sex relationships.

    Look at 12-year-olds, they rip on gay people all the time and I don’t think that it’s because of religious beliefs. My contention is that most homophobic people are essentially over-grown 12-year-olds.

    I think that where the religious part comes in is when people want to “justify” their hate.

    I pretty much agree with what Drew said. It’s sort of easy to blanketly blame religion and I’m not 100% sure that it’s that easy.

  6. Gordon,

    I’m not here to argue. But if Abernathy the Magic Dung Beetle had the influence to begin a worldwide religious and philosophical movement solely based on the fact that thousands of people believed that he walked the earth for 40 days after he was killed, then it may not be so ridiculous to attempt to telepathically communicate with him.

    Regardless of what anyone thinks about Jesus or Christianity, Byron’s nailed it – bigotry has existed as long as people have, and Christianity has only existed for two thousand years. It’s not Christianity’s fault; it’s the fault of people in general.

  7. It’s the whole “I don’t like people who are different” thing. Not necessarily religion. Religion only codifies what is pretty much in our thoughts anyway.

  8. Even if I did tell you 1 million reasons why God exists, I do believe that you would need 1 more reason. Man does not reject religion for intellectual reasons, he rejects religion for moral reasons. Submitting to a higher authority may sound like imprisonment, but it is exactly the opposite. Having a moral code is the only way for society to have freedom. Living in a society without a moral code is not freedom, it is anarchy. Just look at WWII Russia and Germany.

  9. That depends on what your definition of a moral code is. Like I said before. If you deny there is a God, it is not because of intellectual reasons, as there are plenty of those. Its because of moral reasons. Read “Can Man Live Without God” to find further perspective.

  10. Jeff THINK before you pop off.

    Religion did not give us molesting priests.
    There is nothing in the Catholic Religion that tells priests to molest.
    Perverts are found in all branches of society. A person could just as easily claim public schools give us molesting teachers.

    The 1st Crusade was indeed a response to the Muslim invasion upon the Byzantine empire. Alexios 1 requested the aid of Pope Urban 2 to help repel the invasion of his country.
    Later Crusades fed off of that religious passion. It was a mostly Catholic Church driven event.
    The RCC has always been more political than faithful.
    Politics and power, using religion as an excuse.

    Racism has nothing to do with religion at all – Zip, Zilch, None.
    Some of the most racist people I have known were Atheists.
    I also have met many homophobic people that were Atheists.
    People hate those that are different than themselves.
    Homophobia comes from that mind set, not religion.

    Hitler was power crazed, not religious.
    Stalin was an atheist, responsible for the killing of thousands of priests, monks and nuns.
    Japan invaded Pearl Harbor not because of religion.
    Pol Pot killed over 20% of the Cambodian people, he was not religious.

    Man by his very nature is wicked, some more than others.
    The bible, and I am sure other religions, teach this.
    You need to learn it to, instead of trying to excuse all the worlds troubles on religion.

    Why are you afraid to believe in God???????????????????????
    You are nearly paranoid about religion.

    1. sorry, jmw, but you’re wrong. let’s take homophobia as an example: the basis on it—and the base of it—is purely, strictly biblical. people have used Biblical teachings as excuses for their gay bashing forever. because, in the minds of many, if man with man is deemed sinful in the Bible, it’s sinful—thought need not be applied.

  11. Muhammad Goldstein

    Jeff, you should explore the basic principles of Buddhism. it is very very possible to have a strong moral foundation in a “religion” that does not have a “God”..or to be more accurate, just ignores the “God-s” and focuses on what we humans have the potential to be..

  12. Jeff, the bible does speak out on homosexuality.
    I don’t deny that.
    That doesn’t explain why primitive societies that knew nothing of the bible also oppressed homosexuals.
    Like it or not it is an aberration of natural law.
    If you are in to Darwin there is no way for a gay couple to reproduce.
    My daughter is gay, and I love her with all my heart.
    I understand the issue.

  13. To accept or deny God is the largest decision you will ever make in life. Might as well look at both sides of the equation, don’t you think?

Leave a Reply