Biblical Ten Commandments
The 10 commandments come from Exodus 20:1-17. Here is the verse:
And God spoke all these words, saying: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
- You shall have no other gods before me.
- You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
- Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's."
Although some of the biblical commandments continue as part of today's moral code, it is easy to see that they reflect very different historical, political and social contexts. Some ethical principles seem to be universal while others must evolve or be developed as history unfolds and knowledge grows. For example, in the case of the biblical commandments, the first four may be personally valuable but are irrelevant in a diverse modern secular society and the last one deals with thoughts that are personal and not actions that involve others. To covet something may be a waste of time but it is certainly not a moral offense.
The "New Ten" and "Dawkins Four" come from The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (pgs. 261-262). Dawkins begins by quoting a set of ten commandments from an atheist website and then adds four of his own.
- Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.
- In all things, strive to cause no harm.
- Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness and respect.
- Do not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted.
- Live life with a sense of joy and wonder.
- Always seek to be learning something new.
- Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.
- Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you.
- Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason and experience; do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others.
- Question everything.
- Enjoy your sex life (so long as it damages nobody else) and leave others to enjoy theirs in private whatever their inclinations, which are none of your business.
- Do not discriminate or oppress on the basis of sex, race or (as far as possible) species.
- Do not indoctrinate your children. Teach then how to think for them selves, how to evaluate evidence, and how to disagree with you.
- Value the future on a time scale longer than your own.
It is interesting to compare the preceding with values expressed by "The Affirmation of Humanism: A Statement of Principles" found under the "World View" tab and those defined under "International Bill of Human Rights" found under the "Human Rights" tab. The themes and specifics found in these contemporary documents exhibit considerable overlap and reflect values that are much more appropriate and relevant in today's society than the biblical ten commandments.