I think one of the great pastimes of creative atheists is rewriting religious ideology, and there’s probably no other single religious dogma that gets more attention in Western culture than the Ten Commandments.
This isn’t to say there aren’t other horrible sets of rules in the Bible, or that other religions don’t have other sets of rules which beg to be altered. The Ten Commandments just stand out for us. Both Christians and Jews claim to honor them, though they can’t seem to agree on how to number them, and Muslims are pretty fond of them, as well.
Atheists and non-monotheists, however, will see many of the Ten Commandments as being… well… dumb.
I’ll be using the Augustinian numbering, since I was raised Catholic.
Commandments 1-3 are some of the most ignorant trash in the whole Bible. It’s full of crap, like: punishing people of the third and fourth generation of someone who worships another God; don’t misuse magical words; don’t work on the Sabbath… and don’t let your animals do anything, and the same goes for any visitors to your town.
It’s not until Command 4 (or the 5th, if you go by the numbering of most Protestants and Jews) that you have a rule that makes any sense at all. It’s a solid rule: honor your father and mother so that you can maintain your inheritance. That’s a pretty good rule, and so rarely do you see a Commandment justify why you should.
I wouldn’t say it’s one of the top ten most important rules… but it’s not a bad rule. Obviously there are plenty of examples where you may have to escape the clutches of abusive parents, but it’s still generally a good commandment for most people.
You shall not kill… more accurately rendered sometimes as “don’t murder,” which takes care of legal caveats we have placed on the rule, like exceptions for self-defense and obviously war. Another good commandment, so we’re 2/5
With number 6, it’s a little bit fuzzier. Again, there are exceptions, and they hold up. I assume if you’re in an open relationship, or you and your spouse are mutually interested in swinging or swapping or whatever the kids are doing these days… it’s not technically adultery, since there is no deception or betrayal.
But what I think makes the adultery commandment so unfair is that, by Biblical standards, if you get divorced and remarry, you are a de facto adulterer. I’m not a fan of divorce, but sometimes it’s just necessary. It’s often better for everyone involved to separate than for a couple to stay together. To demonize people who lose love and look for it elsewhere is just pathetic. This rule is written by jilted wife-beaters, I have no doubt about it.
Stealing is wrong. Not much more to say, another good commandment (I’m calling it 3.5/7)
Again, #8 is a good one. It’s really bad to bear false witness against your neighbor. Today, we call this perjury, but most people extrapolate that honesty is a good policy based on this commandment, and I suppose it’s generally true, but not enough to be a good rule. Still, I’ll give it to the Bible on this one, since the commandment doesn’t say, “Don’t lie.”
Commandments 9 and 10 are not good at all. For one thing, I’m surprised Christianity can be followed by capitalists, since it’s coveting that drives capitalism. I see nothing wrong with coveting. What is bad is if you kill your neighbor to steal his stuff and his wife… but we covered all of those acts already with #5, #6 and #7.
Total score: 4.5/10
Basically, the Ten Commandments don’t even score a D- with a 14 point curve. That’s pretty bad.
I’d like to think that if I put together a list of ten rules, I could get at least a C- (or 7/10). In fact… if I were God and I got to make these rules, I would only want about 7/10 to be good rules. I get why some of the rules aren’t all that great, I really do, but I wouldn’t waste the opportunity by aggrandizing myself.
So, here it goes… completely off the top of my head…
1. Don’t rape anyone. Rape includes forcing someone into any sexual act against their will, having sex with someone who is unconscious, or having sex with someone younger 16, unless they are older than half your age plus seven (the half+7 rule).
2. Don’t murder anyone. Abortion is never murder, nor is it murder if you kill a home intruder… but that isn’t an invitation to drag them down to your rape dungeon, which I hope you only have for consensual use.
3. While you’re not murdering people, don’t hurt people, either. Don’t punch people, don’t kick people, don’t slap, smack or spank people… unless it’s part of some weird sex thing, don’t hurt other people. Can I just point out at this point that perverts are really screwing up some of these rules?
4. Try not to be such a pervert. Save something for when you’re older, otherwise you’re going to end up hanging from a scarf dead in your closet with your pants around your ankles before someone you know finds you and has to stage it like a suicide. I’m not saying, “Don’t be a pervert,” but show some fucking restraint, literally.
5. Don’t steal.
6. Don’t damage other people’s things. If you damage someone else’s property, you should pay to fix it or replace it.
7. Do not make false accusations of criminal activity against someone.
8. Sometimes it’s easier to skip asking for permission and just ask for forgiveness. Smile, nod, then do what you want. Don’t break any of the prior rules in the process.
9. Encourage others to take the high road. It reduces traffic on the low road.
10. If you believe everything you read, it would be better for you to be illiterate.