Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Importance of the Ten Commandments

My classmate, David Youngberg, on the importance of the Ten Commandments:

Friday on Real Time, Bill Maher argued the Ten Commandments demonstrate the backwardness of religion and have little to do with our time. Most of them are stupid, referring to how great God is, and others are simply obsolete.

But those first five are really about [making] the second five legitimate. If this is the word of the only God (a word your parents are likely to share), and he's serious about being the only God. You better not pay attention to anyone who says some other deity wants to add, subtract or modify the laws. And they're good laws. I'm not a religious person, but it's easy to see the advantages in taking these things to heart.

The sentiment, the big picture, behind the second five are things all cultures can embrace:

  • Don't murder.
  • Don't commit adultery (or, generally, "keep your promises")
  • Don't steal.
  • Don't lie about your neighbor (or, generally, don't lie)
  • Don't covet your neighbor's wife/house (or, don't desire stuff to the point that it hurts others)

...the essential elements of the sanctity of people, property, and promises are there. Religion isn't mindless and the people of the past weren't stupid. Just because it's about God doesn't make it worthless.

Well said, David!

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