The benefits of atheism vis a vie the Ten Commandments

In public I rarely cuss.  In private, it's another matter.  Pain and frustration can cause me to say something like Jesus f***ing Christ!  In religious company, I try to bite my tongue, but there have been occasions where I have let a simple, exasperated Jesus! slip.  There have also been occasions where such an exclamation invited a rebuke inspired by the fourth commandment, such as, Don't take God's name in vain.


I just realized my rejoinder.  Now I have to wait for the opportunity to use it.  I'm not going to go out of my way to provoke someone.  But, if I receive a similar rebuke in the future, I hope I'm quick enough on my feet to reply, Don't worry.  He's not my God.


Atheists also get a pass when it comes to the first commandment.  It says that You shall have no other gods before me.  Well, by default, I don't.  No harm.  No foul. 


As for the fourth commandment, its a little more difficult.  One translation has it as,

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.


Note that it doesn't say, Go to church on the seventh day.  It just says, do no work.  It also doesn't say which day is the seventh.  Most Christians treat Sunday as the seventh.  However, some, more anal interpretations insist that it is Saturday and not Sunday.  For me, it doesn't really matter.  There are times where I will work hard for a stretch, but I try to spend at least one day a week doing things I like, such as gardening or lazing, or reading.  An anal person could argue that some of that is work.  But, there's another saying,


Do what you love and you'll never work a day.


In that sense, I think I'm good.  However, why should this commandment matter much to me anyways?  It's not like the Christians take it seriously.  The Adventists, and others who insist on Saturday as a day of rest, also can't get away from anal interpretations of what constitutes work.  If it's in your nature to get upset over which day is the seventh, it's going to be tough to not split other hairs in other matters.  Although, everyone will fudge on this, realizing when necessities take priority over ritual.  So, if you're going to be strict about this commandment, then you shouldn't work on the sabbath to prepare your breakfast, nor should you struggle too hard with your subsequent bowel movement.  (A breakfast with fruit will help.)  However, while you're at it, why get out of bed?  A physicist could argue that standing up takes work.  So does breathing and thinking.  And if thinking constitutes work, then God himself violates this commandment unless he existed throughout eternity, rebooting his mind every seventh day.  But, wouldn't rebooting the mind also constitute work?...


Then there's the second commandment.


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.


Well, this one is a no-brainer for an Atheist.  I mean, we tend to like art, but we're the least likely to confuse statues with supernatural beings.  After all, we're the only ones who seem to recognize who created who when it comes to God and Man.  In fact, we've opted out of that arena.  So, if you're an Atheist, I think its safe to take a trip to a museum or even someone else's church, and enjoy the paintings and carvings with a clear conscience. And, for the record, I don't hate you, God.  I just don't believe you exist.  So, don't get upset with me.


As for the other commandments, Atheists seem better equipped to handle them in-so-far-as we tend to operate from internal moral codes.


  • Honor your father and mother.  I recognize my parents were decent people.  And, I love them.  But, I would think that John Wayne Gacy's children should get a pass on this if they're having mixed emotions.
  • Don't kill people.  Check.
  • Don't commit adultery.  Well, this is one of my principles.  So far, so good. 
  • Don't steal.  Check.
  • Don't bear false witness against your neighbor.  Check.  (Although, this doesn't discount telling the truth about him if he's going to be an ass about things.)
  • Don't covet your neighbors stuff, like houses, manservants and donkeys.  I guess some people might have trouble with this, even if they don't believe in a God.  We each have different levels of materialism.  But, all in all, if I have a place to sleep, some private space, and enough to eat, I'm fine.  In any case, my neighbors don't have donkeys.  Although, God shouldn't have been so specific when issuing this decree if he realized things will tend to go out of style.  But, who knows, maybe Chevy will come out with the Donkey or the Manservant (that last one is a good name for a truck, don't you think?) and God might once again look prescient.


I guess what I'm trying to say is that, if you're a Christian and you're having trouble with morality, you might try Atheism.  It tends to simplify things so you can concentrate on your deepest issues.  Of course, if you're a Christian, why worry about it?  You have that forgiveness thing built in if you're willing to wave the Jesus flag.  After all, morality doesn't seem to matter much to Him, if you're willing to believe.



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