Richard Dawkins has made the point that if God were so perfect that he could have come up with ten better commandments than the ones in the Bible. Depending on your particular flavor of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religion (singular as always for me), the ten commandments may differ slightly. Here are the ten commandments on wikipedia with a good write up, including the original text of the Bible, which is either 16 or 15 paragraphs, depending on whether you prefer to take the version from Exodus or the version from Deuteronomy. That there are two versions and that they differ should immediately strike any thinking person as signifying that the Bible just may not be quite as perfect as many people assert anyway.
Anyway, Dawkins makes the point that most of us could do a better job in a few minutes coming up with ten better commandments than the ones in the Bible. Here’s my attempt. Please feel free to post either your opinion of my commandments or your own version. Let’s see whether we can do better then Moishe did.
- Thou shalt not breed like rabbits thus overwhelming the limited resources of the one planet you have.
- Thou shalt take all reasonable care to avoid causing unnecessary suffering or death to either humans or any other species.
- Thou shalt respect the peaceful views of others though they may differ from your own.
- Whenever possible, thou shalt avoid waging war.
- Thou shalt not muck up thy planet with toxins and substances that outlast a human lifespan. Thou shalt also be careful with other waste products, even when they will not outlast a human lifespan.
- Thou shalt respect the rights of others to peacefully seek happiness in their own way.
- Thou shalt respect the basic life and health sustaining needs of all.
- If thou chooseth to eat of the flesh of any animal of the land, sea or air, take care to have the utmost respect for that animal in life and ensure that his/her death is swift and with minimal suffering. Thou shalt avoid eating and should take extra precaution to avoid killing any animal whose numbers will not rebound swiftly.
- Thou shalt always maintain a long term view of thine actions as well as a short term view and remember that long term is defined in many times the lifespan of a human, preferably as long as millions of years, or even longer when possible.
- Sex between consenting parties is never sinful. Enjoy sex consensually, leaving others to do the same in their own way.
Extra credit goes to anyone who can provide an adequate explanation of why any putative supreme being would need to create subjects and then spend a third of the text of his/her commandments on demands for external validation. As a programmer, I do not feel the need to write code that spins off many processes displaying messages to me telling me how great I am as a programmer. That would be silly. Any god who creates billions of subjects for the primary purpose of telling him/her how great s/he is, is equally silly.
Please note that Dawkins has his own list of commandments in The God Delusion. This is merely my attempt at creating a sample list that would work better than the existing 15 or 16 ten commandments. I welcome all suggestions and corrections for improving this list. The more important point of this post though, is to show that the Bible is not only not the best source for morals, but that most of us can do better with a few hours of serious thought on the subject.
Please also note that I added the tenth of my commandments partly as filler. I think that if it were not there, it would still be implied by the others. I wanted to stick to the traditional ten for my commandments as well.