One observation that always raises my blood pressure is that “The Ten Commandments are the basis of our system”. The first four have to do with religious practices, and since that is removed from ‘our system’ by the first clause of the first amendment, that leaves six. ‘Honor thy parents’ , which I call the abused child commandment, is not part of our law, and the one on adultery,while reasonable, omits many other important issues, such as spousal abuse. Four. Not lying is good enough, but not very original, as with murder and theft. One. The last, which I call the Madison avenue commandment,” thou shall not covet they neighbor’s house, nor his ass, nor his wife’s ass, …not anything that is thy neighbor’s”, is curious and not either easily understood, or codified into law.
Chris Hedges, writing in TruthDig:
“The commandments are a list of religious edicts, according to passages in Exodus and Deuteronomy, given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. The first four are designed to guide the believer toward a proper relationship with God. The remaining six deal with our relations with others. It is these final six commands that are given the negative form of “You Shall Not … .” Only two of the commandments, the prohibitions against stealing and murder, are incorporated into our legal code. Protestants, Catholics and Jews have compiled slightly different lists, but the essence of the commandments remains the same. Muslims, while they do not list the commandments in the Koran, honor the laws of Moses, whom they see as a prophet.
The commandments are not defined, however, by the three monotheistic faiths. They are one of the earliest attempts to lay down moral rules and guidelines to sustain a human community. Nearly every religion has set down an ethical and moral code that is strikingly similar to the Ten Commandments. The Eightfold Path, known within Buddhism as the Wheel of Law, forbids murder, unchastity, theft, falsehood and, especially, covetous desire. The Hindus’ sacred syllable Om, said or sung before and after prayers, ends with a fourth sound beyond the range of human hearing. This sound is called the “sound of silence.” It is also called “the sound of the universe.” Hindus, in the repetition of the Sacred Syllable, try to go beyond thought, to reach the stillness and silence that constitutes God. Five of the Ten Commandments delivered from Mount Sinai are lifted directly from the Egyptian “Book of the Dead.” No human being, no nation, no religion, has been chosen to be the sole interpreter of mystery. All cultures struggle to give words to the experience of the transcendent. It is a reminder that all of us find God not in what we know, but in what we cannot comprehend.”
The last statement implies that those of us who have nothing we cannot comprehend, or perhaps nothing we think is ultimately uncomprehendible, have no place to find god, and therefore become atheists?
for a long post.