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The New Ten Commandments


Introduction

There are so many thou shalt nots in the Bible it is hard to determine exactly which ones made it to Moses’ tablet. They include many minor sins and leave out major ones, gagging on gnats and swallowing camels. I felt it was high time somebody brought them up to date.

The Original Ten Commandments

There are three versions of the ten commandments in the King James bible:Deuteronomy 5:7 Exodus 20:1, Exodus 34:13-28.
  1. I am the Lord your God. You Shall have no Other gods Before Me. A recipe for religious intolerance and violence.
  2. You Shall Not Make Graven Images. Graven means carved statues. The word is related to engraved, meaning literally to cut into desired shapes. It has come to have more general meaning in may not have had in biblical times including sculpted representations, or things engraved, carved, inscribed on incised on a surface, hence to the Muslims, any realistic drawing.

    Kristians totally ignore this with their plastic Jesus’s dangling from the dashboard and weeping virgin statues in their churches and statues generally. I agree most of these statues are tacky, but I cannot understand why this should be considered the number two sin. Do statues accidentally entrap spirits trying to incarnate in bodies? Would putting a little warning sign on the statue saying Not a real person suffice to stop it from being considered a danger? Islam has a similar prohibition, even against two dimensional realistic images, possibly based on Deuteronomy 16:22. Is it only because of the temptation to worship them? Is the problem idealisation, creating impossibly beautiful images that no real person could measure up to, basically a condemnation of pornography? What is the history of this taboo? Do dolls, robots, holographic projections and inflatable dolls count as statues? This commandment needs to be reformulated to make it clear why it is needed, if indeed it is. Few people literally worship golden calves any more, though I did read that the golden calf from the movie was being auctioned at Ebay.

  3. Do Not Take God’s Name in Vain. This means don’t swear. Is this really important enough to make it to the top ten sins?
  4. Keep Holy the Lord’s Day. Again, is refraining from Sunday shopping one of the world’s top ten sins? Get serious.
  5. Honour your Father and Mother. This is often taken to mean you should unquestioning take on your parents beliefs, including such things as racial prejudice and xenophobia.
  6. Do Not Kill. However, this does not seem to include hunting for sport, killing whales, killing in war, or capital punishment. This is too wimpy a commandment.
  7. Do Not Commit Adultery. Adultery is about the least valid reason for a couple to split up. This commandment encourages couples who are otherwise happy to split over a single instance of adultery. Adultery handles only one of many important agreements people make with each other.
  8. Do Not Steal. Stealing is defined to be a crime only of the lower classes. When upper class people do it is called cornering the market, "sharp business, monopoly or pressing your advantage". It needs to be reformulated to explicitly cover more territory, perhaps something like the Buddhist refrain from taking that which is not given.
  9. Do Not Lie. Judge Jackson got in trouble for not lying about what he thought of Bill Gates. This is a strange world.
  10. Do not covet your neighbour’s goods. As sins go, this harms only the covetor. Why is it here in the top ten?
How come all this seemingly minor stuff is up there, but all seven deadly sins are not represented? Where is homosexuality?

The Vulcan Ten Commandments

This new ten commandments I have composed might not be so disturbing if you imagined them as a fictitious set of Vulcan Ten Commandments. The formulations here have been diluted for human use, These commandments have not been all that well tested on humans. Please use caution.
  1. You are the planet’s keeper. It is your duty to protect the seas, forests and wetlands and all the species that live therein for all generations to come. I don’t mean we should micromanage the affairs of every wild animal, but that we should preserve natural habitat for other species. Humans are not the only inhabitants of planet earth.
  2. You are your brothers’ keeper. From the point of view of cosmic consciousness, you are your brother. It is your duty to see that every sentient being on earth has food, clean water, medical care and shelter.
  3. Do not kill other sentient beings. Killing is only justified to protect another life and only when there is no other means. This applies to all sentient beings, not just humans. Retribution is not sufficient motive. In some extreme cases, this might even excuse murdering a human (perhaps yourself) to protect a whale. Killing is also justified as a last resort when a sentient being requests death as a way to escape suffering. I have not got this quite right. You could read this to mean it is ok to shoot a man to stop him from killing a turnip. The Arrogant Worms have a song about this conundrum called Carrot Juice Is Murder on their Live Bait album. Here are the lyrics:

    Carrot Juice Is Murder  click to watch


    Listen up brothers and sisters. Come hear my desperate tale.
    I speak of our friends of nature trapped in the dirt like a jail.
    Vegetables live in oppression served on our tables each night.
    This killing of veggies is madness. I say we take up the fight.
    Salads are only for murderers. Coleslaw’s a fascist regime.
    Don’t think that they don’t have feelings just cuz a radish can’t scream.
    Chorus:
    I’ve heard the screams of the vegetables, (Scream, scream, scream.)
    Watching their skins being peeled. (Having their insides revealed.)
    Grated and steamed with no mercy. (Burning off calories.)
    How do you think that feels? (Bet it hurts really bad.)
    Carrot juice constitutes murder. (And that’s a real crime.)
    Greenhouses prisons for slaves. (Let my vegetables grow.)
    It’s time to stop all this gardening. (It’s dirty as hell.)
    Let’s call a spade a spade. (Is a spade, is a spade, is a spade.)
    I saw a man eating celery so I beat him black and blue.
    If he ever touches a sprout again, I’ll bite him clean in two.
    I’m political prisoner trapped in a windowless cage,
    Cause I stopped the slaughter of turnips by killing five men in a rage.
    I told the judge when he sentenced me, "This is my finest hour
    I’d kill those farmers again just to save one more cauliflower."
    Chorus:
    I’ve heard the screams of the vegetables, (Scream, scream, scream.)
    Watching their skins being peeled. (Having their insides revealed.)
    Grated and steamed with no mercy. (Burning off calories)
    How do you think that feels? (Bet it hurts really bad.)
    Carrot juice constitutes murder. (And that’s a real crime.)
    Greenhouses prisons for slaves. (Let my vegetables grow.)
    It’s time to stop all this gardening. (It’s dirty as hell.)
    Let’s call a spade a spade. (Is a spade, is a spade, is a spade.)
    How low as people do we dare to stoop
    Making young broccolis bleed in the soup.
    Untie your beans, uncage your tomatoes, Let potted plants free.
    Don’t mash that potato,
    Oh, spare the spider, Eat up calories, Oh!
    Chorus:
    I’ve heard the screams of the vegetables, (Scream, scream, scream)
    Watching their skins being peeled. (Fates in the stir fry are sealed.)
    Grated and steamed with no mercy. (You fat gourmet scum.)
    How do you think that feels? (Leave them out in the fields.)
    Carrot juice constitutes murder. (V8’s genocide.)
    Greenhouses prisons for slaves. (Yes your compost’s a grave.)
    It’s time to stop all this gardening. (Take up macramé.)
    Let’s call a spade a spade. (Is a spade, is a spade, is a spade.)
    Power to the peas.
    Give peas a chance.
    All we are saying is Give peas a chance.
  4. Tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Don’t repeat stories you don’t know to be true.
  5. In all your dealings, treat other sentient beings as you would have them treat you. Put another way, love your enemies. Conversely, treat yourself with as much kindness, respect and politeness as you would any other human. This implies looking after your physical and mental health. This does not mean buy your wife a fishing rod for her birthday, unless of course, she loves fishing as much as you do. Treat her as you would like to be treated if you were in her shoes with her preferences and mental programming.
  6. Doubt. If you disagree with anyone, remember that both of you could be wrong.
  7. Respect the privacy of other sentient beings. Do not meddle in the private affairs of others that do not concern you. This includes selecting their reading material for them, selecting which recreational drugs they should take, selecting their movies and deciding when they should be allowed to die. Refrain from spying on your neighbours. Treat children with similar respect for their wishes and privacy whenever it would not harm them.
  8. Keep your agreements. Don’t agree to anything you know you can’t keep. This even applies to little things like arriving when you say you will, paying bills on time or completing work by a deadline. If you know you might not make it, or won’t make it on time, don’t say you will. This is one of my most common sins. I did not think of it that way until I composed this. I have the sneaky suspicion that is why I have so much trouble with other people keeping their appointments with me. If I let myself feel too much remorse, I will just go unconscious and keep on doing it. Hopefully, I can be gentle with myself, catch myself doing this and shape up.
  9. Treat all sentient beings as your equal. They are not your chattels. They do not own you. We are all part of one great Life. Every part of it is literally a part of you. Don’t make as ass of yourself either kowtowing to it or feeling superior to it.
  10. Respect children. They are not your chattels. Though they cannot always articulate their desires clearly, they too have wishes and needs that should be taken into consideration. Every child deserves to be welcomed into a loving family of at least two adults committed to bringing that child to adulthood. No child should have to live where s/he is not wanted, or where s/he is abused physically or sexually. You may wonder what happened to honour thy father and mother. Children learn respect by example, not by being preached at. Did you ever wonder why some children have such difficultly learning the words please and thank-you? They never hear them! Not to worry, respect for parents comes out in the wash.

I am just an ordinary mortal, but I think these new commandments above that I have composed more accurately reflect the true spirit of Christianity (and the other world religions) than the traditional ones. I think they raise the bar. They urge you to strive for excellence, rather just do enough to get by. Instead of a minimal set of thou shalt nots I composed them with a set of unattainable goals like a distant star to keep you on course, after the spirit of the Vow of the Bodhisattva:

The deluding passions are inexhaustible.
I vow to extinguish them all.
Sentient beings are numberless.
I vow to save them all.
The truth is impossible to expound.
I vow to expound it.
The way of the Buddha is unattainable.
I vow to attain it.
~ Stephen Gaskin (born:1935-02-16 died:2014-07-01 at age:79)  This Season’s People

My version of the ten commandments is a crude attempt at bringing the Ten Commandments up to date. However, my impudence may spark a project by professional theologians to do it properly. Even then, we should not assume we have composed the final word on wisdom. A set of commandments like this need to be tested in the real world for its practical effects, not just its beauty.

Even if theologians decide the current set are just fine for humans, they might consider what sort of set we should create as hints to the artificial intelligences coming down the technological pipe. How do we convince them not to harm us?

You may wonder why I left out a specific stealing commandment. It is covered by the new first and fifth commandments. I think in future it will not be much of an issue. For why, see my essay The End of Work.

Pruning The Bible

The Old Testament contains many passages I don’t think Jesus would approve of. This includes much of Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Exodus where people are condemned to death for all manner of arcane sins. In particular I would like to see verses such as the following officially excised: Deuteronomy 16:21, Deuteronomy 20:14, Exodus 21, Exodus 22:18, Exodus 22:19, Leviticus 11:9, Leviticus 25:44-45, Leviticus 12:3, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 24:16, Numbers 31:17.

I could go on an on and on. Perhaps it is time for Christians to disown the violence, craziness, cruelty and retribution of the Old Testament as Jesus suggested in  I John 2:7-12 and embrace the message of forgiveness in the New Testament.

On the other paw, Jesus suggests you are stuck with all that nuttiness in  Matthew 5:18-19.

Given that no one bothered to record his words as he spoke, it is little wonder accounts of his sayings conflict.

I am not the first person to suggest that the Bible should be pruned. No less than President Thomas Jefferson was so disturbed by this admixture of dross with the gold, he edited a condensed Bible with the obsolete parts removed. Another way to look at it, that was his Bible Study Guide to point you to the most important parts of the Bible.

Videos

Christopher Hitchens critiques then revives the Ten Commandments click to watch Richard Dawkins on the Ten Commandments click to watch
Bible Study Guide
CCism
Combating Kristianity
reader feedback on this essay
Roedy’s Personal Life Philosophy

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