This is not the church of FTB »« Why I am an atheist – Emily

Christians teach me to despise Christianity

Waaaaaah — some poor Christian is whining, Atheists, please don’t hate us! Unfortunately for his desperately pathetic persecution complex, I don’t hate Christians at all: I just hold their beliefs in deep contempt. And then what what does little KevinKing do? He confirms exactly why I despise them! Look at his argument:

Most Christians, including myself, live according to a set of rules. This set of rules is called “The Ten Commandments”. These commandments include:

“1. Honour your father and mother;
2. You shall not murder;
3. You shall not commit adultery;
4. You shall not steal;
5. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour;
6. You shall not covert your neighbour’s house, wife and assets”

Now atheists, ask yourselves, is this a bad thing? I’m really struggling to find a reason why we wouldn’t want more of these people around… And yes, I know that some of you will say “but Christians break these rules all the time!”

Actually, no, that wasn’t the comment I was thinking of at all.

Here’s a good reason to despise Christianity: because it inspires people to think that their religion invented these basic rules for social cooperation, and that they have some unique appreciation of their importance. Seriously, if you think the best reason people ought to like you is your cheery affirmation, “I don’t kill people!” — best said with a little smiley emoticon — then there is something goddamned wrong with you. Outside of death row in a federal penitentiary, there aren’t many communities of people who think mutual plunder, murder, and rapine are ordinary, and that it marks you as special to reassure me that you won’t try to fuck my wife.

But apparently, in Christian communities, it’s noteworthy and wins you a merit badge.

But you know what makes dumb Christians particularly annoying? It’s not just that they think they’re special because they have rules that say they shouldn’t steal my television set; it’s that they’re so patronizingly condescending about it, and go one further and tell us that they know we lack that morality. Really. KevinKing goes on to sanctimoniously smear all atheists for their moral deficiencies…in an article in which he supposedly trying to persuade us to like him.

Yes Christians break the rules (sin) but I can assure you that they are trying a damn lot harder not to break the rules than the average Atheist because for Christians, there is the Almighty, and there is Hell. Atheists have no Almight to hold them accountable and there is not eternal damnation. There is no reason for atheists not to murder, rape and steal other than because the government says so, which is very scary since we are living in a crime ridden country where literally only 10% of violent criminals are caught and convicted. What is then stopping an Atheist from committing these acts?

Oh, you’re trying a damn lot harder than me not to break the rules? OK, that says a lot about you, not me. I’ve never been tempted to murder anyone, or break into their house and steal their stuff. It’s not because I fantasize about it and then think, “Oh, no, I might get in trouble with the government.” It’s because I like my neighbors, like the people in my community, and wish them well — and because I value peaceful, cooperative co-existence. It’s because I have empathy, and can appreciate that other people value their lives as much as I value my own, and could not deprive them of that life without feeling the pain and loss myself.

I don’t need a threat of hell in an afterlife to keep me in line, because I recognize the worth of life in this one.

That’s why Christian stupidity is despised, too: that they think everyone else is plotting to commit crimes, and that there aren’t enough people in jail — in a country with the highest rates of incarceration in the world.

I would ask KevinKing who he thinks is in prison: is it the domain of godless atheists? Or is it full of Christians and Muslims? If we’re living in a crime-ridden country, and as I’m sure he believes, it is a “Christian nation”, how does he reconcile his fantasies of Christians living lives of obedience out of fear to the actual facts on the ground of god-belief flourishing in prisons?

I would also ask KevinKing why he committed the sin of omission. Notice that he listed six of the ten commandments, and that he left out the first four. Why? Is he ashamed of them?

1. “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.
2. “You shall not make for yourself a 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.
3. “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.
4. “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 male servant, nor your female servant, 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.

He should be. Those are stupid. For some reason, his god gave them priority: he thinks the most important rules people should follow, before the rules against murder, theft, adultery, and lying, are that they should serve his vanity, worshiping him exclusively, and dedicate one day in seven to obeisance to this petty cosmic tyrant.

So yes, I also despise Christianity for its fucked-up priorities, in addition to its sanctimony and ignorance and primitive, fear-based morality. Thanks, KevinKing, for representing those faults so effectively.

Comments

  1. Loud says

    I am constantly amazed that so many Christians believe that without a list of crappy rules and the threat of eternal damnation people would be out stealing, murdering, and raping.

    It’s just fucked up, and frankly, pretty scary that this implies if they did eventually realise that their religion was a load of bullshit, they’d be free to steal, murder, and rape to their heart’s content.

  2. Alex the Pretty Good says

    In the immortal words of George Carlin:

    And so, with all of this in mind, folks, I offer you my revised list of the Two Commandments:
    First:
    •THOU SHALT ALWAYS BE HONEST AND FAITHFUL, ESPECIALLY TO THE PROVIDER OF THY NOOKIE.
    And second:
    •THOU SHALT TRY REAL HARD NOT TO KILL ANYONE, UNLESS, OF COURSE, THEY PRAY TO A DIFFERENT INVISIBLE AVENGER THAN THE ONE YOU PRAY TO.

    Two is all you need, folks. Moses could have carried them down the hill in his pocket. And if we had a list like that, I wouldn’t mind that brilliant judge in Alabama displaying it prominently in his courthouse lobby. As long he included one additional commandment:
    •THOU SHALT KEEP THY RELIGION TO THYSELF!!!

  3. quoderatdemonstrandum says

    What is then stopping an Atheist from committing these acts?

    Kev, instead of using this line as an idiotic rhetorical question, have you considered asking an atheist?

    How about just quietly stopping to think for yourself about possible answers? You could even read a book written by an atheist.

    Of course not, it’s not an honest question in search of an answer, in your warped universe it’s another way of saying: “You atheists have no morals”. This despite ample evidence of happy, atheists being law abiding, good citizens and decent people. There are even entire countries full of such people.

    The important thing Kev is that you think your special. Special and better than Atheists.

  4. haslar53 says

    The tenth commandment says that you should not covet your neighbour’s wife or your neighbour’s ass but there is nothing about not coveting your neighbour’s wife’s ass.

  5. frankb says

    “Love me or else I’ll punish your great grandchildren. But I am really a nice guy, just ask those thousand people over there.”

  6. Moggie says

    Why does he mention rape? I don’t recall any of the ten commandments outlawing that. Likewise, there’s nothing about not mistreating kids, or not beating someone to a pulp without killing them. Seems like a pretty poor set of commandments; we can do better.

  7. komponist says

    6. You shall not covert your neighbour’s house, wife and assets”

    “Covert”? The bozo can’t even spell!

  8. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    What is then stopping an Atheist from committing these acts?

    If your imaginary master is the only thing stopping you from committing these crimes, now that‘s scary.

  9. mkoormtbaalt says

    1. Honour your father and mother;
    6. You shall not covert your neighbour’s house, wife and assets

    These two might be detrimental to society. Blind respect and honor for one’s parents (or the implied elders) would lead to a stagnant society. I could say something similar if I never coveted anything.

  10. marcus says

    I generally covet covertly. My girlfriend does not like me staring at my neighbor’s wife’s ass.

  11. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    1. Honour your father and mother;

    This one makes me wonder for another reason.
    My father is anti-religious. Very much so. (He would probably proclaim atheists a cult or religion too because he just hates everything, but that’s another story.)
    Anyway, when I was still Catholic, I was supposed to honor him according to the 4th, but it was also clear that he is a terrible sinner. How does that one work?

  12. says

    mkoormtbaalt, #10:

    Yeah, those two aren’t crimes, for fuck’s sake. Those are general guidelines, and not very universal, at that. Why the hell should you honor your father if he beat you and your mother daily? Why should you honor your mother if she pimped you out for drugs when you were 10? (Both of these situations happened to people I know and love dearly.)

    Fuck that. People like that deserve nothing but contempt. So fuck that commandment.

    Same thing with coveting. It’s a good idea to avoid being jealous of people’s things, but as long as you don’t act on it, it’s not a real crime. God wants to implement thought-crimes, because everybody covets something sometime. It’s the catch-all commandment, the one that will trip up even the best-intentioned folks in the world.

    As for adultery, avoiding it might be a good idea for peace and happiness, but there may be situations where it is warranted or justified. The morality of the act is intensely situational. And I think many (if not most) people would not want to see a law against it.

    That leaves three items that should be codified as law. Three of ten.

    Take into account the many, many other items that should be law or should be a part of a moral code (not owning other people, not fucking over people for your own gain, and so on), and the Ten Commandments turns out to be a terrible list.

  13. says

    3. You shall not commit adultery;

    But serial monogamy where the McNewt of a man divorces his wife for another woman is OK? How about making it: “Men and women shall not treat women or men as property but as equals.” And: “Do not lie about or hide potentially harmful things you do in relationships that are built on trust.” And of course, making death or physical bodily damage the punishment for breaking any of those rules is right out. But what do I know? I’m an atheist!

  14. carlie says

    If we didn’t covet our neighbor’s goods, then all of capitalism would stop dead in its tracks. I doubt the writer would like the results of that.

  15. Dhorvath, OM says

    The notion that one is being moral only when acting on the instructions of a tyrant with absolute control of your eventual future would be laughable were it not for the many people who find the notion laudable. I am with Beatrice, it terrifies me that anyone thinks that makes them exemplary moral beings: acting good because of a self interested fear of future retribution is an execrable lesson to teach anyone and differs not one bit from the way this writer views atheists. I am good, at least inasmuch as I am, because it feels good to help other people, to care about other people, and to have my behaviour reciprocated.
    As for neighbour’s asses, I will stick to the ones that want my attention thanks.

  16. jkerber says

    I wanted to quote the late Hitch, but you need a facebook account..

    “Is it too modern to notice that there is nothing [in the ten commandments] about the protection of children from cruelty, nothing about rape, nothing about slavery, and nothing about genocide? Or is it too exactingly “in context” to notice that some of these very offenses are about to be positively recommended?”
    ―Hitchens

    He also once said something so applicable about God waiting so many years since humans have been around and finally saying something. He also pointed out something along the lines of “did they not know not to do these things before god gave them these commands?”

  17. says

    I am usually a most genteel and mild-mannered person. I admit, however, occasionally suffering from intense spasms of temptation to sin. It happens most often when I consider how good it would feel to punch the sanctimoniously smiling face of some prattling religious dweeb. (Being somewhat dweebish myself, this is a painful confession.) It’s a miracle (right?) that I can resist the impulse without the fear of God in me.

  18. tomhuld says

    3 of the six commandments he did include are total garbage.

    1. Honour your father and mother

    pCO2=394ppm, rising 2ppm/year. That our children don’t kill us is a sign of great magnanimity.

    3. You shall not commit adultery

    Why should the church decide which consenting adults get to have sex?

    6. You shall not covert (sic) your neighbour’s house, wife and assets

    Thoughtcrime. No decent legal system has those. Also, your neighbour’s wife actually belongs to herself.

  19. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~will/Gervais%20Norenzayan-%20Gods%20&%20Governments-PsychScience.pdf

    Abstract: Atheists have long been distrusted, in part because they do not believe that a watchful, judging god monitors their behavior. However, secular institutions such as police, judges, and courts are also potent sources of social monitoring and prosocial behavior in large parts of the world. Reminders of such secular authority therefore could reduce believers’ distrust of atheists. As hypothesized, both watching a video about police effectiveness (Experiment 1) and subtly primed secular authority concepts (Experiments 2-3) reduced believers’ distrust of atheists. In addition, we tested three distinct alternative explanations. Secular authority primes did not reduce general prejudice against outgroups (Experiment 1), specific functionally-relevant prejudice reactions such as viewing gays with disgust (Experiment 2), or general distrust of outgroups (Experiment 3). These studies contribute to theory regarding both the psychological bases of different prejudices and the psychological functions served by gods and governments.

  20. Blondin says

    Atheists have no Almight to hold them accountable and there is not eternal damnation. There is no reason for atheists not to murder, rape and steal other than because the government says so…

    Actually, when I was a good little catholic alter boy, what I learned was that I could do anything I wanted, I could be a devious, inconsiderate, selfish bastard, lie, sneak, steal, etc, and all would be forgiven simply by confessing my sins in secret to a man in a box who would tell me how many our-fathers & hail-marys I had to say for penance. Stories about foxhole conversions and deathbed repentance just struck me as coded messages that one could ignore all the rules as long as you asked for forgiveness before you die.

    If anything it seemed to me that religion merely excused or justified bad behaviour.

  21. angelameadon says

    As one of the original responders on that post I am inordinately happy to see the author PWND here. Thank you for adding your voice to this discussion, PZ.

  22. says

    Dhorvath:

    The notion that one is being moral only when acting on the instructions of a tyrant with absolute control of your eventual future would be laughable were it not for the many people who find the notion laudable.

    ^ This. ^

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: following a set of rules set down by an authority is not morality. It’s law.

  23. magic pants says

    What PZ said. KevinKing, are you reading this? Give it some honest, rational thought.

    How many innocent lives would commandments about germs, conquest, and slavery have saved?

  24. quoderatdemonstrandum says

    Yellow banner above the article states:

    This article has been selected as an Editor’s Choice report. Articles are selected based on quality of writing, audience response, newsworthiness and originality, and is at the discretion of the MyNews24 editors.

    Quality of writing? That can’t be it. The author can’t spell “covet”.

    Newsworthiness? Nope, no new event worthy of reporting here.

    Originality? Nope, old trope.

    Audience response? Bingo! 165+ comments = eyballs and clicks to this crappy South African website with journalism standards that include blaming the poor

    PZ why are you featuring this crap? Meanwhile, in real news, the Pope and his Cardinals are leading a renewed assault against the progress of gay marriage in the US and UK

  25. saguhh00 says

    “I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own—a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms.” “A God who rewards and punishes is inconceivable to him for the simple reason that a man’s actions are determined by necessity, external and internal, so that in God’s eyes he cannot be responsible, any more than an inanimate object is responsible for the motions it undergoes. Science has therefore been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hopes of reward after death. It is therefore easy to see why the churches have always fought science and persecuted its devotees.”

    Albert Einstein

    Nuff said

  26. hapticsimian says

    *sigh*

    Why must every South African who makes it onto Pharyngula be an utter numpty? Seriously, PZ… you owe us the courtesy of at least one post showing we’re not an entire nation of singularly moronic troglodytes. :(

  27. Ogvorbis: Now With 98% Less Intellectual Curiousity! says

    since we are living in a crime ridden country

    I find this odd. I hear it every day, yet crime statistics have shown the crime rate dropping.

    I would also point out to this asshat (as PZ has done, though not in the same words) that we also live in a Christian ridden country.

  28. says

    Those theists are still 5 year olds with their hand in the cookie jar.
    They never learned why it is bad to eat those cookies before dinner and that 5 cookies don’t equal dinner.
    They think that the only reason for not eating cookies is because sky daddy is always watching.
    This also explains why they so easily toss aside all those constraints when they think that sky daddy is ok with it. After all it’s not a crime to kill infidels.

  29. dianne says

    What is then stopping an Atheist from committing these acts?

    Let’s see…

    I don’t murder people because I think that their right to life trumps my right to…uh, whatever I was thinking when I murdered them. Plus I don’t want to live with a worthless hunk of crap that would murder someone. No need for external control there at all. Because I might escape the police, I might even escape a god, but I’m never going to be able to escape myself, at least not and still exist.

    I don’t steal because, well, frankly, because I don’t need to. I can buy whatever stuff I need. My preferred solution to theft is to make everyone wealthy enough that it becomes just stupid.

    I don’t covet my neighbors house because it’s identical to mine, except it has my neighbor’s stuff in it. Again, what’s the point? See above.

    Adultery? Well, maybe with my partner’s consent. And preferably involvement. Hmm…this may be going the way of TMI. The point is, sex isn’t the big deal, betrayal of trust is. And why not betray someone’s trust? Well, would you want to give with a creep that did that?

    Honor my father and mother? Sure, they’re good people, raised me reasonably well, etc. Why do I need a rule and a punitive threat to do what is perfectly natural?

    In short, why should a properly socialized and reasonably affluent person feel the need to violate any of the six kind of sensible commandments?

  30. quoderatdemonstrandum says

    hapticsimian @ 28

    Wikipfft says very little about News24 other than it is a web only news media. Since you are local, can you tell me whether News24 is an important news outlet in South Africa?

    Is it the equivalent of Fox News or Chatanooga, Tennessee local news?

  31. kevinalexander says

    You haven’t really thought this through have you Kevin?

    If the only reason that someone would have for doing right is that he fears punishment or that he expects a reward then your god’s heaven is filled with cowards and whores.

    Also, why does the ten not include “Thou shalt wash thy hands so I will not visit disease upon thy house”?

  32. dianne says

    I disagree with you about commandment 4 though. It’s not useless. The premise is false, but the idea of having at least one day each week where you don’t work is sensible. Trust me, I’ve worked for as much as a month without a day off and it’s not at all pretty. Again, though, the reason for requiring time off is that it’s sensible, humane, and good for business (happier workers work better.) No need for gods to explain why it should be done.

  33. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    KevinKing explicitly couples his distrust of atheists with his worry about ineffective policing.

    The relevance of the Gervais and Norenzayan study is striking to me. (I’m not the only one, am I?)

    I conclude that atheists should deliberately attempt to become publicly known for advocating fair and effective policing.

    (Warning! This is another opportunity for racefail! Consult black atheist organizations like African Americans for Humanism and general organizations like the NAACP before stepping in it!)

    When fair and effective policing occurs, atheists should call attention to it. (Also, when unfair and ineffective policing occurs, atheists should call attention to that too, and demand better.)

    As Ogvorbis has done at #29, call attention to known improvements.

    And as a general matter, atheists should speak of the importance of justice and laws which respect human dignity.

    Make the connection between atheism and state justice continually salient.

  34. mas528 says

    Seconded.
    If all that keeps these people from commiting horrendous crimes is the fear of hell, then I fear a post-religious US.

    On the “adultery/coveting” front-

    It still rankles. Daddy owns the woman until he passes ownership to the husband.

    It goes down to respect and not behaving as if women were property.

    You have to respect her decision to have married the man in the first place as her own person. Not as “your neighbor’s wife.”
    .

  35. hapticsimian says

    quoderatdemonstrandum @ 32

    Unfortunately, the answer to that question is an unequivocal ‘yes’. Media24 is the single biggest media house in South Africa; the owners of several news papers and ultimately the force behind our single subscription satellite television service.

    That being said, the section of the website this article was published in is filled with user-generated content, and poorly moderated for the most part. It’s not dissimilar to iReport on CNN; the outlet Ray Cumfart has chosen in recent times for some of his diatribes.

    Sadly this particular ‘article’ is rather indicative of what passes for discussion amongst News24 readers on almost a daily basis. The font of intellectual stimulation it is not.

  36. says

    This set of rules is called “The Ten Commandments”. These commandments include:

    “1. Honour your father and mother;
    2. You shall not murder;
    3. You shall not commit adultery;
    4. You shall not steal;
    5. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour;
    6. You shall not covert your neighbour’s house, wife and assets”

    Notice that? 10 commandments and he lists 6. Why? Could it be because 4 out of 10 (40%! just under half!) are obviously just god being a petty little martinet?

    When you have to “spin” the alleged rule-making efforts of your supreme all powerful diety, you’re admitting that they’re not very good.

  37. Brownian says

    Wait, his thesis is “Don’t hate us; we’re better than you”?

    One of the comments below is “Hey athiests, see you in hell, from heaven :)”

  38. ButchKitties says

    Why does he mention rape? I don’t recall any of the ten commandments outlawing that.

    The standard response that I’ve seen is that God forbids adultery, as if that somehow magically eliminates rape. They don’t seem to realize that at best it only limits a man to raping the women he owns. The Bible has long stood in the way of getting marital rape criminalized.

  39. Dhorvath, OM says

    SG of the the lipstick,
    But is it policing that has resulted in our lower crime rates? Not that my reading on such things is extensive, I thought that social pressures were a better correlation than policing techniques for improved crime rates?

  40. angelameadon says

    Perhaps I can provide a link?

    http://skepticdetective.wordpress.com/

    I know, shameless plug and all that, but what can I say? You asked for it. Now if only PZ would feature something I wrote…

    I have been harping on at News24 for a long time regarding the poor quality of their science journalism and the only response I got was when I criticised their publication of a story about a man who advertised for a midget to kick his girlfriend and called it “science”.
    They deleted all my comments.

    Some editorial departments have standards so low the Hartland Institute wouldn’t sink to their level.

  41. says

    One thing that has amused me for some time about first commandment is that it does not actually tell anyone to worship God. It just tells the recipient not to worship anyone else. The worship of the God of the Bible doesn’t come up. Translation: God condones atheism!

    The other thing that annoys me whenever the god botherers start going on about all their rules… Is what it really means is they can’t function without them.

    And they call themselves moral.

  42. quoderatdemonstrandum says

    hapticsimian @ 37

    Thanks for the context; I stand corrected.

    PZ, apologies for my mistaken comment @26. Apparently “this crap” really is news in South Africa’s largest media outlet.

    Woe to Journalism.

  43. robro says

    “6. You shall not covert your neighbour’s house, wife and assets”

    I notice that in his gloss of the last commandment, that Kevin completely omits coveting your neighbors manservant, as well as house, wife, maidservant, ox, ass, or anything. I wonder why that might be.

    As some have already suggested, the inclusion of “neighbor’s wife” in this list of a man’s property, reflects a dehumanizing attitude toward women, not to mention man- and maidservants (I.e. slaves). They are chattel, no different than the ox or ass. What a fine example of morality this fellow is. His beliefs are really helping him be a better person, certainly better than any non-believer…why we atheists might actually think of women as fellow human beings.

  44. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    But is it policing that has resulted in our lower crime rates? Not that my reading on such things is extensive, I thought that social pressures were a better correlation than policing techniques for improved crime rates?

    I don’t know offhand but I think we can extend this usefully either way.

    These social pressures are still largely attributable to some state policies, aren’t they? And the state thereby influences atheists’ behavior as well.

  45. says

    Wait, his thesis is “Don’t hate us; we’re better than you”?

    “Don’t hate us. We’re better than you worthless, dangerous, pieces of shit.”

    One of the comments below is “Hey athiests, see you in hell, from heaven :)”

    How can one enjoy heaven with the knowledge that people are suffering (especially loved ones, but even strangers)? A paradise overlooking a torture chamber is no paradise to me.

  46. pj says

    Quite, robro. Notice also that there is no prohibition against coveting your neighbour’s husband. I.e. the commandments are not directed to women at all since women have no agency. They are under their male owner’s rule, who is under the god’s rule.

  47. Dhorvath, OM says

    LiLaPwL, (I dunno, it’s a handful of a nym.)
    Sorry, that is my fault then for confusing police with policy. Yes, I can totally see emphasizing the things which I and others support which promote lower crime rates. If for no other reason than to encourage expanding those programs and thereby further improving our social environment. That it can have an ancillary effect of making atheists more trusted in the eyes of firm believers seems an added boon.

  48. says

    I have a relative, who is pretty seriously lutheran and (at the time) she had a 13 year-old daughter and a 12 year-old boy. We’d been hanging out on the porch and gently sparring about religion, when I played a pretty wicked maneuver on her. It went like this:

    I asked “Can I borrow your kids, so I can teach you something important about religion?” She thought for a moment and said “OK”. So I asked the kids to come over and got out a pad of paper and a pen and said, “OK, you kids have heard of the 10 commandments, right?” (yes, yes!) “We’re going to play a game of 10 commandments. The idea is for you two to come up with your OWN list of 10. So just throw out any ideas you’ve got and I’ll take notes and then we’ll edit the list down and you’ll have made up your own set of moral rules to live by!” And the kids suggested stuff for a while until they started to get bored, and then they picked 10 and I walked them through prioritizing them, and they were pretty good, really. Stuff like:
    – Be nice
    – Do your homework
    – Keep your room clean
    – Be honest
    – Thou shall not kill (I think they lifted that one…)
    – Be nice to puppies (they had just gotten a puppy)
    etc. So we read them off to their mom, who was pretty proud of her kids – because, for moral values, they really were not bad. And then I raked in all the chips off the table by casually remarking, “Isn’t it odd that a couple of 12/13 year-old kids can come up with a better set of moral precepts in 10 minutes than your god could?

  49. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    All that keeps KevinKing moral is his fear of his god spanking his bottom forever. I’m moral because of the Golden Rule and altruism. I’m not worried about punishment, I want to be moral because it’s good for me and for everyone else. KevinKing is concerned with keeping his god happy, I’m concerned with keeping other people and myself happy. Therefore I think I’m more moral than KevinKing.

  50. says

    A paradise overlooking a torture chamber is no paradise to me.

    Yeah, the stupid christians have their priorities wrong. A paradise without puppies, kittens, and baby badgers, horses, or otters is no paradise. They worship the guy with the abbatoir. You’d think that a paradisical afterlife would involve pizza, beer, philosophical debates, and epic lan parties… But not in yahweh-land!

  51. renaissance13 says

    Why do christians cherry pick the commandments and rules of the bible? Are they embarrassed by what they choose to ignore?

  52. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    LiLaPwL, (I dunno, it’s a handful of a nym.)

    ;) you can pick a subset.

    Sorry, that is my fault then for confusing police with policy.

    Nah, the study I cited was explicitly about police. I’m kinda winging it by making the extension to policy.

    However I do have a reason to wing it, to suspect that the relation holds beyond policing.

    For God (or) country: the hydraulic relation between government instability and belief in religious sources of control.

    (And anyway, if I’m wrong about that extension, it’s probably okay. The objection you bring up regards whatever it is that’s lowering crime rates. It might not have much to do with policing.

    But it certainly is perceptual salience of policing that reduces distrust of atheists. So tying atheism explicitly to justice, and fairer and more effective policing like David Kennedy’s work, and law reform like Michelle Alexander is advocating, et cetera, should be a win/win relationship.)

  53. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    Like you said,

    I can totally see emphasizing the things which I and others support which promote lower crime rates. If for no other reason than to encourage expanding those programs and thereby further improving our social environment. That it can have an ancillary effect of making atheists more trusted in the eyes of firm believers seems an added boon.

    win/win

  54. Anri says

    Why is it so terribly hard for so very many Christians to understand that either:

    a) The 10 Commandments are moral rules set down by a higher power and therefore must all be obeyed,

    – or –

    b) they aren’t?

    Perhaps because it ends up that someone gets around to pointing out that their sky-daddy appears to frown on Sabbath Slacking at least as much as he frowns on murder?
    I speak from experience – it’s uncomfortable admitting to worshiping someone like that. That’s one reason I quit admitting it, and, in time, quit the worshiping biz too.

  55. Blattafrax says

    Yes Christians break the rules (sin) but I can assure you that they are trying a damn lot harder not to break the rules than the average Atheist because for Christians, there is the Almighty, and there is Hell.

    Bullshit.

    If this were the case, then the pope would have turned over the Vatican archives to the police; priests would cut of their own testicles before looking at a child and any moral issue would result on a mass sitting on the fence for fear of getting it wrong. Hell is going to be bad. If you actually believed there was a chance you would be going there you wouldn’t even risk a parking ticket. But none of them really believe in Hell, do they?

    Oh… If you accept Christ as your saviour, then all your sins are forgiven… I see… Then break all the rules you want, it’s going to be OK in the end. Rape, murder and steal and Christianity gives you the ultimate get out of jail free card.

    So why was it that Christians are less likely to be bad then?

  56. greame says

    Isn’t the tenth commandment “Thou shalt not boil a young goat in it’s mothers milk.”?

  57. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    Dhorvath, please excuse my need for excessive clarification though:

    I can totally see emphasizing the things which I and others support which promote lower crime rates.

    I think to get the pro-atheist effect it might be necessary to talk about law and justice. Doesn’t have to be advocacy of “tough on crime” per se (which I would never advocate, and my links should indicate that), but there should be some mental association between atheism and the rule of law.

    See “God is watching you” and “like a camera in the sky” for why I’m thinking this; believers do comprehend it as a Big Brother authority figure. So just emphasizing the things that may lower crime without making people feel watched just might not be sufficient. However, priming law/justice/policing concepts may be sufficient without also advocating “tough on crime”.

  58. magic pants says

    Yeah, the stupid christians have their priorities wrong. A paradise without puppies, kittens, and baby badgers, horses, or otters is no paradise. They worship the guy with the abbatoir. You’d think that a paradisical afterlife would involve pizza, beer, philosophical debates, and epic lan parties… But not in yahweh-land!

    But we can have them rabbits in heaven, can’t we, George?
    Yes, Kevin, we’ll have rabbits in heaven.
    Tell me about the rabbits, George.

  59. quoderatdemonstrandum says

    Marcus ranum @ 51

    “Isn’t it odd that a couple of 12/13 year-old kids can come up with a better set of moral precepts in 10 minutes than your god could?“

    I have conducted exactly the same experiment with very similar results. The 10 year old I asked came up with a far superior set of 10 principles than Yahweh. She (the child) included preserving the environment, being nice to people, helping the poor and being nice to animals. In comparison, Yahweh’s top 4 look idiotic.

    Conclusion: 10 year old girl(1) smarter, more moral and a better communicator than omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Yahweh.

    (1) any 10 year old of any gender self-identification will do

  60. pacal says

    This comment is a win.

    Oh, you’re trying a damn lot harder than me not to break the rules? OK, that says a lot about you, not me. I’ve never been tempted to murder anyone, or break into their house and steal their stuff. It’s not because I fantasize about it and then think, “Oh, no, I might get in trouble with the government.” It’s because I like my neighbors, like the people in my community, and wish them well — and because I value peaceful, cooperative co-existence. It’s because I have empathy, and can appreciate that other people value their lives as much as I value my own, and could not deprive them of that life without feeling the pain and loss myself.

    Yeah I don’t get it either. The idea that the only thing that keeps people from doing really bad stuff is fear of punishment is both laothsome and so old.

    People generally don’t dothe really bad stuff because they feel that it is bad and wrong to do. People have internalized a set of values and attitudes that makes doing the really bad stuff sorty of hard. After all one of the reasons for the rigorous training of Soldiers is to breakdown the inhibitions to possibly killing someone.

    And there is of course the fact that most people can emphathize with others and sort of figure out if it is unplesant etc., for them it is unplesant for others and that they wouldn’t want to inflict the unplesantness they would feel on others.

    I am constantly amazed at the perception / belief that people are basically amoral psychopaths which only fear of punishment, in this life and the afterlife, keep from doing truly dreadful things to each other. I wonder if among many Christians this attitude goes back to the idea of original sin with its belief that humans are inherently wicked and depraved.

  61. says

    KevinKing’s moral principles are essentially identical to that of a looter who starts stealing expensive TVs the moment the police are occupied with big emergencies, rioters, or whatever. The only difference is their beliefs about the probability of punishment.

    The people who subscribe to such ideas just don’t appear to understand normal people with normal motivations.

  62. Gregory Greenwood says

    Yes Christians break the rules (sin) but I can assure you that they are trying a damn lot harder not to break the rules than the average Atheist because for Christians, there is the Almighty, and there is Hell. Atheists have no Almight to hold them accountable and there is not eternal damnation. There is no reason for atheists not to murder, rape and steal other than because the government says so, which is very scary since we are living in a crime ridden country where literally only 10% of violent criminals are caught and convicted. What is then stopping an Atheist from committing these acts?

    This is sadly typical of all too many theists. KevinKing is essentially asking; “Why do you despise christians? Why don’t you like us, you murderous, rape-happy, thieving, immoral, dangerous, subhuman monsters?”

    Of course, the question is not asked honestly or in a genuine spirit of enquiry – the whole piece is simply an excuse for KevinKing and his co-religionists to feel superior to straw-atheists.

    Which is ironic, given the deeply socially problematic nature of any ethical system predicated upon the idea that all morality flows solely from fear of an omniscient, narcissistic megalomaniac in the sky – it is as good as an admission that the likes of KevinKing see no merit in their fellow humans. To him, and those who think like him, other people are worthless in themselves. He feels no empathy or kinship with other members of his species, and sees no reason not to treat them as eminently disposeable resources, no more deserving of dignity than a hunk of mineral ore, except out of fear of the arbitrary rules of his sky daddy – rules that may be subject to theological reinterpretation at any time and most certainly don’t apply equally to all humans.

    In KevinKing’s supposedly ‘morally superior’ worldview, there most certainly are classes of people who are undeserving of any consideration because they fall outside the supposed ‘grace’ of his unevidenced deity – I cannot speak for KevinKing himself, but traditionally christian denominations have treated pretty much everyone who wasn’t a wealthy, usually white, heterosexual, male member of that particular denomination as either an enemy to be exterminated or a living asset to be used and abused – quite the spectrum of people toward whom KevinKing should (assuming that he actually lives by the code he claims to live by) feel no moral obligation whatsoever. Hardly what I would call a functional system of ethics, let alone a superior one. However, it functions just fine as a means of maintaining the unearned privilege of a theistic patriarchy.

    Why, it is almost as if christian ‘morality’ was created with that goal in mind…

  63. dahduh says

    If Kev is good only because God might get him, he should stay a Christian; he obviously isn’t good enough to be an atheist.

  64. says

    When I was in grad school, I rented a small house. I had little money, so I advertised for a housemate and a young undergrad replied. Frankly, I was surprised. I was a large, thirty-year-old, bearded man that she, a nineteen-year-old sophomore, didn’t know at all. But I knew I was harmless, and knew that she would soon know it, too.

    She moved in a couple of days later, and she soon let me know she was a mormon, and hinted that I might want to become one. I told her no, thanks; that I was happy being an atheist. Then she seemed to get scared of me. Turns out she thought god would provide, and protect her from harm, and she just assumed that everyone believed in god and would be good to her. I was amazed she’d lived so long without being shown otherwise.

    We had a long talk, and she was the first person I’d ever met who truly seemed to believe that the only reason to do good was to prevent eternal punishment. She kept asking things like, “Why aren’t you out partying, like, right now?!” And “Why are you so nice?” I would explain, but she wouldn’t buy it.

    It was interesting, though, how her own morals worked. After living with me for four months, she had only paid for the first month’s rent. She had also spent a lot of time writing execrable poetry on my word processor (this was in the days before personal computers that poor grad students could afford), using up my ink and paper; and she almost never went to class. I’ve never been good at confrontation, but I finally told her that she really needed to give me some cash, since I didn’t have money for the next month’s rent. That night, she packed up and moved out. She left me a note, which started with the sentence, “You nasty, nasty man!” She went on to insist that, of course she would pay me, even though I didn’t deserve it for being so mean in giving her an ultimatum (which I had not done), but she found a way to argue herself out of making that payment by the end of her screed. Her argument? I obviously didn’t need money if I could afford to spend so much of it on useless things like books! A few days later, I got a huge phone bill: she had wracked up many hours of complaining about me to her boyfriend, long distance (I could hear her).

    It was quite a learning experience, for me, anyway.

  65. robro says

    @pj #49 — Good point. Of course, the entire Bible is directed at men living in ancient patriarchal societies. Great rules to live by in the 21st Century. No wonder we’re having public debates with wacko religious candidates and obnoxious radio personalities about women’s health issues while wacko religious state legislators cavalierly pass laws to invade the privacy of women. Perhaps these folks should go live in the 8th Century BC if they want to herd chattel. We would be well rid of them.

  66. says

    Actually, now that I know more about mormons, I guess she was really more concerned with gaining eternal reward than avoiding punishment, but whatever…

  67. says

    One of the better comments for this article on News24 is,

    “What is then stopping an Atheist from committing these acts?”
    Answer: We’re not dicks.

  68. saguhh00 says

    Christianity is immoral and unjust.
    It is immoral because morality is doing good for the benefit of other people, while Christianity promises rewards for doing good and makes people do good because they want to be rewarded and escape punishment, thus going against morality.
    It is unjust because justice is stopping criminals from harming other people and from harming society, while Christianity punishes criminals after they die, when they can no longer cause harm and after they’ve already done all the harm they could, thus going against justice.

    People say that without god there would be no justice and no morality, but in reality the opposite would be true. If god existed morality would be replaced by fear and justice would be replaced by sadism.

  69. Ogvorbis: Now With 98% Less Intellectual Curiousity! says

    Isn’t the tenth commandment “Thou shalt not boil a young goat in it’s mothers milk.”?

    No. I think it is, “Thou shalt always vote for the ones who want to give your money to the rich.”

  70. says

    Actually I have a problem with all the commandments because they are a morality via fiat. Do these things because I said so, not because of any end goal or for any purpose.

    This is why some Christians think that it would be immoral to steal to save a life or to lie to save a life. That is a warped sense of morality that reduces ethics to a list of proprietary commands given equal weight with no guidance on how to solve conflict.

    They are equivalent to the laws of robotics, except those are ranked by priority and importance.

  71. Dhorvath, OM says

    Pitbull with Lipstick,

    I think to get the pro-atheist effect it might be necessary to talk about law and justice.

    That could be a problem for me, I am inclined to view law keeping as a failure further up the line. I wonder if it would be enough to talk about how our contact with other people promotes better behaviour? As in, we are basically never operating outside of observation, it’s just not an eye in the sky who sees us.

    (which I would never advocate, and my links should indicate that),

    Yeah, I can’t say as that has ever been my impression of you.

    but there should be some mental association between atheism and the rule of law.

    I am troubled by the difference of view that this appears to represent to me. Laws are descriptive for the majority of people who I know, not proscriptive. Is this the fundamental difference that I am missing?

    See “God is watching you” and “like a camera in the sky” for why I’m thinking this

    That will take a bit, but will do.

  72. grumpyoldfart says

    * KevinKing has listed a few of the laws from Exodus 20.

    * The laws in Exodus 20 were not written on stone and they were not called the Ten Commanments.

    * It wasn’t until Exodus 24 that God gave Moses a set of laws on stone tablets.

    * But they still weren’t called The Ten Commandments.

    * And we don’t know what those laws were anyway, because Moses smashed the tablets as soon as he came down from the mountain and saw his people worshipping a golden calf. (Exodus 32)

    * We can guess that “thou shalt not kill” was NOT on the list, because Moses immediately ordered the Levites to kill those who worshipped the calf – and the final tally was 3,000 dead! (Exodus 32)

    * It was much later, in Exodus 34:1, that “The Lord said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and I will write upon these tables, the words that were on the first tables, which thou brakest.”

    * Those words are listed in Exodus 34:14-26

    * And at last we have laws from God; written on stone tablets; given to Moses and, for the first and only time in the bible, they are specifically called “The Ten Commandments” (Exodus 34:28)

    * These laws are completely different to the laws in Exodus 20, but they are, nevertheless, The Ten Commandments. The bible says so!
    -

  73. 24fps says

    The idea of the reward of heaven and the punishment of hell reminds me of something my non-believer father once said. We were talking about the fundalist family I was about to marry into, particularly my holier-than-thou future in-laws, and he said: “Here’s the difference between us and them. They do the right thing because they want the reward and they’re afraid of being punished. We do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.”

    And when it came right down to it, when the dissolution of that marriage (mine, that is) inevitably happened, it was non-believer me who was the least selfish when it came to the point of dividing assets.

    I’ll take atheist morality over Christian any time.

  74. Agent Smith says

    If you want to melt the frosty atheist hearts, you’ve gotta do better than trot out the same old boilerplate.

    Kevin lives down to expectations. Trot out the commandments (with the embarrassing ones excised), and mention how there’s a big nasty boss and an eternal Room 101 to ensure you’re good, unlike those atheists; unmuzzled DOGs who roam about with nothing to dissuade them from raping, murdering etc.

    Well, anyone who thinks that having a hell where people are tortured forever and a vicious omni-vigilant cosmic dictator are good things has a bad case of moral anosmia.

  75. Loqi says

    My father was a meth-addicted, abusive alcoholic with a rage problem and felony convictions. Don’t you fucking dare tell me I should honor him, KevinKing, you sanctimonious piece of shit.

  76. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    That will take a bit, but will do.

    The abstracts, and the abstracts of those papers which cite them, will get the point across, I think.

    I am troubled by the difference of view that this appears to represent to me. Laws are descriptive for the majority of people who I know, not proscriptive. Is this the fundamental difference that I am missing?

    Maybe. I mean, I don’t confuse law with morality and almost nobody here does, but I know you’ve seen folks do it.

    I think Rawls has an interesting argument that there’s a duty to obey democratically enacted laws, though. It might be the sort of thing you could feel not-slimy about advocating.

    I wonder if it would be enough to talk about how our contact with other people promotes better behaviour? As in, we are basically never operating outside of observation, it’s just not an eye in the sky who sees us.

    I dunno. This is not so effective when the only person who sees is the victim.

    Maybe? But I think there’s some reason why so many people conceptualize the Leviathan state as a potential rival to God, while they do not apparently conceptualize a mere neighborhood watch program as such.

    That could be a problem for me, I am inclined to view law keeping as a failure further up the line.

    Not sure what you mean here.

    But at an overly basic level I guess what I’m saying is we have to acknowledge that we know there’ll always be theft and murder, for example, and so we see the need for a system of justice which handles these things, such that the community or state monopolizes the right of retaliation, thus preventing feuds, personal vengeance and vigilantism.

    Like, this should go without saying, but apparently it does not.

  77. left0ver1under says

    The “ten commandments” is poor third-hand rewrite of the Code Of Hammurabi which predates it by about 1300 years.

    http://www.commonlaw.com/Hammurabi.html

    It is utter fiction to say that those who wrote the bible thought it up, especially when the tale of moses is a complete ripoff of the tale of marduk “shining light from the skies” into stone, giving the code to the Babylonians.

    http://www.thenagain.info/Classes/Sources/Hammurabi-Prologue.html

    Bring it up the next time someone tries to claim that nonsense. It’s usually effective except with the rabid and mentally deficient.

  78. Amphiox says

    Those six commandments aren’t unique to Christianity of course. They were cribbed wholesale from earlier ethical codes, and continue to form the basis of, oh, just about every single ethical code ever used by humans, religious and secular.

  79. greame says

    @77 Grumpyoldfart

    That’s exactly what I was thinking of. The Ten Commandments are not what the typical xian thinks they are. Once again showing that we know their bible better than they do. I couldn’t remember the exact passage though thanks.

    26 “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God.
    “Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.” 27 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.

  80. angelakingdom says

    KevinKing, I assume you are reading this blog. The prison population comprises of over 90% who claim to be religious; doesn’t that tell you something?

  81. flex says

    What I find interesting is the form of the argument. While reading his screed it reminded me of one of the weekly arguments I get into with one of my co-workers.

    Our argument goes like this:

    Him: Everyone knows that government is less efficient than private business because there is no profit motive.

    Me: But that ignores not only numerous studies which suggest that money is not the main motivator for workers. It also doesn’t explain why we, employed by a multi-national, are committed to doing a good job when our wages have been stagnant for years and there is no promotion opportunity. And there is also little chance of being laid off because there aren’t enough of us to do the work we have, which is highly technical and usually takes 2-3 years of on-the-job training.

    It also ignores my own experiences that the government employees I know, who are administrative assistants, utility workers, parks employees, treasurers and clerks are all doing the same type of work and appear to be just as efficient (if not more efficient) than their privately employed counterparts.

    So no, everyone doesn’t know that government employees are less efficient than people employed by a corporation. I certainly don’t.

    Him: But you have to admit that even with all that, there is an additional incentive for a privately employed individual to work harder because of the profit motive.

    Me: No. I don’t.

    Conversation ends to be repeated, without variation, next week.

    The point is, that my friend can agree with all the evidence I present which shows that government employees are at least as dedicated to their jobs as people privately employed. He agrees with all the evidence I provide him. But he always adds his one conviction, a conviction which he didn’t reach rationally, but believes is simply common sense.

    From what I read, our friend Mr. Kevin King would agree with all the statistics about prisons having a lower population of atheists than the general population. He would agree with a lot of the other previous comments in this thread.

    Yet, just as my friend would agree with everything and still say that the addition of the profit motive means that private industry is more efficient, Mr. King would say that the addition of his creed means that christians are more moral.

    It’s a more is better problem. When something is seen as a positive, more of that something is seen as a greater positive.

    The addition of profit to other incentives to work hard means more efficiency in the workplace (take that governments and unions!).

    The addition of a religious code to other social mores means greater morality (take that atheists!).

    I’ve noticed this “more-is-better” idea is quite common. But it’s pretty obvious that it breaks down pretty quickly.

    Even if the profits are shared with workers, more profits does not always mean greater efficiency. As an example, a company could be less efficient because employees want to restrict growth to maximize their profits (less of a pool to share in the spoils).

    A healthy society doesn’t increase its morality by the addition of a religious code. It may decrease its overall morality by creating in-groups and out-groups.

  82. Aquaria says

    1) Those rules aren’t exclusive to christardery–IOW, your delusion isn’t required to practice them

    2) The other rules leading up to these absolute basics are idiotic, hateful and stupid.

    3) The one about honoring your parents is one of the most pernicious, disgusting foundations that sadists, molesters and abusers routinely fall back on to coerce children into lives of pain, humiliation and terror. Parents aren’t automatically worthy of respect. This is an idea that has got to fucking go. It has caused irreparable harm to children the world over.

    4) The obsession about what people do with their sex lives, the odious adultery commandment, has made our nation a bunch of quivering ninnies about sex, fearful of our own bodies, and it inevitably leads to treating women like property–up to and including honor killings. Fuck you, I’m not property, and I’m not ashamed to have sex.

    5) Capitalism would stop dead in its fucking tracks without people coveting with all their fucking hearts. American society wouldn’t know what to do with itself without it. We’ve sort of noticed that it’s mostly christscum who are the overwhelming majority of blatherers of the “free market” mantra. IOW: You’re a bunch of fucking hypocrites, so shut the fuck up.

    Fuck you.

    And fuck off.

  83. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    Dhorvath, also (like I said I’m guessing here a bit, but the secular authority priming words used by Gervais and Norenzayan were rather general: “civic, contract, jury, court, police”), I think we can be pretty diverse in how we prime law/justice/policing concepts.

    Just publicly discussing what sorts of justice theories — retributive, rehabilitative, restorative, et cetera — are appropriate to an atheist, physicalist worldview, I think, would have some positive effect of associating atheism with state justice and thus reducing anti-atheist prejudice.

    And we’ve had those sorts of discussions arise quite naturally on TET, so it needn’t even be contrived.

  84. Aquaria says

    Him: Everyone knows that government is less efficient than private business because there is no profit motive.

    Tell this co-worker to cite the studies that say government workers, or union workers, are less productive or efficient than their private sector counterparts. Because I’ll give you a hint: I’ve looked and haven’t found a single study that supported that bullshit assertion.

    If there were one, they’d be touting it until we would want to punch them.

    The only study that has been done comparing worker productivity was done by the AFL-CIO. That’s a biased source, but it is the only study I’ve been able to find, and it contrasted only union and non-union workers. That study found that union workers were more productive, for a lot of reasons like the health care benefits that come with most union jobs, and the lower levels of stress that result from that, and being able to take vacations, have more say in their jobs, etc.

    And that makes sense.

    So tell them to cite the fucking study, or shut the fuck up.

    It’s a myth. An urban myth that hasn’t been based on any kind of reality.

  85. twist says

    I do love how some christians seem to think they were the first ones to come up with the idea of not being a murderer. Newsflash: God didn’t write those. People did, because for the most part, they make some sort of sense for large groups of people living close together. Nothing works very well if people just keep murdering each other. It’s bad for the society as a whole, as well as the individuals who get murdered. Anyway, it’s not as simple as “Thou shalt not kill” is it? It’s more like “Thou shalt not kill, except for when god tells you that it’s a good idea, or the person you’re killing is an abortion doctor”.

    As an atheist, I see life as special, becuase I know this is all I’m going to get. It’s all anyone else is going to get as well, and it’s not my right to decide to take that life away. That, and the fact that I don’t have to try particularly hard to not kill people, because I don’t actually have any desire to kill people, is why I don’t kill people.

    The thought that all Kevin has to prevent him from killing people (and apparently, he has to try really hard) is fear that if he’s not good, his imaginary friend will burn him forever. I don’t feel that he would be a particularly safe person to be around.

  86. otrame says

    @28

    Why must every South African who makes it onto Pharyngula be an utter numpty?

    You think you’ve got a problem? I live in Texas.

  87. Usernames are stupid says

    Actually, there are TWELVE Commandments (you pick the ten you want, based upon your cult).

    Jeebus’ 6 commandments (Mark 10:19) :

    1. Do not commit adultery,
    2. Do not kill,
    3. Do not steal,
    4. Do not bear false witness,
    5. Defraud not,
    6. Honour thy father and mother.

    And the “traditional” Ten

    1. I am the Lord your God who has taken you out of the land of Egypt.
    2. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.*
    3. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
    4. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
    5. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
    6. Honor your mother and father.
    7. You shall not murder.
    8. You shall not commit adultery.
    9. You shall not steal.
    10. You shall not bear false witness.
    11. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
    12. You shall not covet your neighbor’s Manservant, maidservant, ox, ass, or anything else.**

    * some sects combine 2 and 3
    ** some sects combine 11 and 12

  88. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Also obvious question which organization is going to do better at a task of say treating the sick

    a) One formed to make a profit
    b) one formed to treat the sick.

    but

    BUT

    INVISSSSSSSSSSSABLE HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND

  89. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    christardery

    I don’t know why anyone thinks this is okay. It’s not.

  90. Ogvorbis: Now With 98% Less Intellectual Curiousity! says

    Rev:

    The only thing the Invisible Hand of Capitalism does is jerk off the poor* to pleasure the rich.

    * No pleasure involved — the IHC uses sand and habanero jelly as a ‘lubricant’.

  91. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    I’m going to be nice and not derail the thread by discussing how Smith’s “invisible hand” has been used and abused over the years.

  92. frog says

    I don’t object to him leaving out the first four commandments–those are strictly for the folks who believe in a deity, and would be easily dismissed by an atheist as inapplicable. Perhaps some kudos are due to KevinKing for spotting that distinction.

    I am left with the impression that some Christians hold as the highest attainment those things that atheists consider the very minimum of civilized behavior.

  93. Dhorvath, OM says

    Pitbull with Lipstick,

    I don’t confuse law with morality and almost nobody here does, but I know you’ve seen folks do it.

    That is fair enough. I am just troubled because I don’t want to reinforce that bias and am unsure I am clever enough to do so without explicitly distancing myself from the idea. Something that I can fix through better practice I hope.

    I think Rawls has an interesting argument that there’s a duty to obey democratically enacted laws, though. It might be the sort of thing you could feel not-slimy about advocating.

    Regarding Rawls, I have lately found myself unconvinced that there are any situations in which some liberty is not being restricted, I will need more time to digest the ‘special conception’ of liberty discussed. Thanks for the link.

    From the abstract of God is Watching you:

    This effect was at least as large as that obtained when concepts associated with secular moral institutions were primed

    So one needn’t use a deity as the watcher in order to see an effect, although it’s still institutions, not more implicit structures that they reference.
    And I note that table 1 from Like a camera in the sky shows a stronger response for social priming than for priming by way of deity watching. I find that very interesting.

    This is not so effective when the only person who sees is the victim.

    Ah, I was thinking more along the preventative measures as opposed to dissipating situations. That a person’s fear of being socially judged is only useful if they think they may be caught is certainly an argument against relying solely on that. The evidence that I could get in front of the paywall on Camera indicates that it may be more effective as a deterrent than concern about deity watching though.

    But I think there’s some reason why so many people conceptualize the Leviathan state as a potential rival to God, while they do not apparently conceptualize a mere neighborhood watch program as such.

    I was not thinking of strangers watching, but of fellows being aware. People can place an emphasis on the importance of their friends and acquaintances versus strangers knowing things about them, so that is where my mind was at.

    That could be a problem for me, I am inclined to view law keeping as a failure further up the line.

    Not sure what you mean here.

    To expand: I was initially balking at telling people that laws and their maintenance is a critical endeavour. I do not think that most people who adhere to the majority of our laws are doing so because of fear of conviction and punishment, but out of commitment to the ideals that the laws were constructed to reflect. Likewise, I don’t think that most people who break laws are doing so out of lack of awareness of these ideals nor the laws that are built upon them, but that they find themselves in situations which encourage them to ignore these things or rationalize unconventional interpretations of those ideals. To paraphrase my statement, I feel that I verge on blaming people for bad situations when I think about arguing in favour of law enforcement. You may be on to something with the notion of arguing in favour of adhering to laws, at least as my personality relates to the discussion.

    But at an overly basic level I guess what I’m saying is we have to acknowledge that we know there’ll always be theft and murder, for example, and so we see the need for a system of justice which handles these things, such that the community or state monopolizes the right of retaliation, thus preventing feuds, personal vengeance and vigilantism.

    This I would not argue with, save in terms of retaliation, I do get that there is some degree of restraint that a system will have to impose on individuals, I just don’t know as retaliation is where it should be directed. Perhaps it’s just my bias reading you poorly, but that words sits poorly with me.
    And I see you apprehended me there too:

    Just publicly discussing what sorts of justice theories — retributive, rehabilitative, restorative, et cetera — are appropriate to an atheist, physicalist worldview, I think, would have some positive effect of associating atheism with state justice and thus reducing anti-atheist prejudice.

  94. Gregory says

    I’m reminded of an anecdote about three people who volunteered in their community, were conscientious parents, who turned down promotions because they would mean compromising their integrity, and otherwise actively exemplified integrity, gravitas and civitas.

    One was a theist, who did what he did out of a fear of Hell.
    One was an agnostic, who did what he did out of a hope for Heaven.
    One was an atheist, who did what he did because it was the right thing to do.

    The illustration ends with the question: Which person better exemplifies the proclaimed Christian ideal?

    Oddly enough, this question always pisses off the theists.

  95. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    Thanks for the response, Dhorvath. It’ll probably be tomorrow when I reply, so I’ll drop you a note on TET when I do.

  96. tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach says

    I can’t count how many times I’ve heard or read some christian uttering the immortal words
    “but surely everyone can agree to live by the <glitter>Ten Commandments</glitter>”
    as if there were nothing contentious there. Like, for example those first four (or five, depending upon cult. I think)

  97. Amphiox says

    Like, for example those first four (or five, depending upon cult. I think)

    Actually, you have to include the tenth one too. Commandment 10 is really insidious. It makes a deed of thought alone, with no action, a mortal sin.

    While one could argue that suggest an admonition is reasonable, as a basic guide to ethical thinking, to rank it up there with the other 9 is beyond the pale.

    Commandment 10 is responsible for a HUGE amount of human suffering, by inspiring the idea that thoughts alone can be crimes, not just in the suffering generated by the zealous attempts at enforcement, but also in the effect in individual psyches brainwashed into thinking themselves inadequate if they cannot measure up.

  98. flex says

    Aquaria wrote,

    Tell this co-worker to cite the studies that say government workers, or union workers, are less productive or efficient than their private sector counterparts.

    Oh, I’ve tried that. That t-shirt is already worn out.

    But I didn’t mean to de-rail the thread to talk about other nuttiness, only to illustrate a possible commonality in their mode of thinking.

    Its a primitive sort of algebra.

    Something good + more of something good = something better.

    From Mr. King’s standpoint the equation probably looks something like this:

    Somewhat moral society + additional code of morals = increased morality in society.

    His trouble is that he makes this equation and says this must be true. Then has to find a way to justify why immoral behavior still occurs even among the, in his understanding, people with greater morality.

    So he says that the additional fear of punishment by the divine boss means that even though the chosen people can’t always resist temptation, they are more moral because they had a greater morality to overcome before they fell to temptation.

    In other words, atheists are less moral than theists (by his equation), so maintaining moral behavior is easier for an atheist because they don’t have to reach the same level of morality that a theist does.

    So he sticks his tongue out at the atheists and goes, “bleh, even when we are immoral we are more moral than you. Why do you hold us in contempt?”.

    And we laugh at him. Because morality is not like a skill level in a video game. People don’t have scores in morality and someone with a 95 is more moral than someone with an 89. You can be moral by following hundreds of minor rules, or half a dozen broad rules. In our household we had four moral rules:

    1. Don’t hurt yourself.
    2. Don’t hurt anyone else.
    3. Don’t hurt anything.
    4. Don’t swing on the chandelier.

    Were we always successful in following these rules? No. But adding more rules to this list would not have increased our morality.

  99. CJO says

    The “ten commandments” is poor third-hand rewrite of the Code Of Hammurabi which predates it by about 1300 years.

    This is a better characterization of elements of the Levitical and Deuteronomical codes. But the Decalogue is not actually even a law code, it’s the terms of an agreement. Notice that the commandments are absolute; they do not make provisions for punishment, which all ancient codes of law including the Code of Hammurabi and most of the rest of the Torah do.

  100. Amphiox says

    Him: Everyone knows that government is less efficient than private business because there is no profit motive.

    I will just point out that one doesn’t have to play this rhetorical game at all. Just say “efficiency is not the only criteria on which something should be judged.”

    Additionally there are some things that are important to do, and perhaps a hypothetically big enough and powerful enough private business MIGHT be able to do them more efficiently, but no private businesses exist or ever have existed that are big enough to actually do it. Government IS big enough to do it, and perhaps, hypothetically, it may not do it as efficiently as this theoretical big enough private business could, but that’s irrelevant because this theoretical big enough private business does not exist.

    The “private enterprise is best at everything” people tend to forget their history. They forget exactly why the big government programs became government programs in the first place. Things like the post-office, medicare, pensions, social security, and so forth. All them USED to be done by the private sector. And in each and every case, the private sector messed it up horribly, so much so that the citizens of the democracies DEMANDED the government take over and do the job right. Most of the time the governments were very reluctant and had to be pushed over many years, before agreeing to do it.

    And, at least in the western world, the primary motivation for the citizens to demand their goverments do these things, was because they were inspired by their religious principles of Christian charity.

    Just about the only things governments EVER did willingly, without being pushed into it by their citizenry, was military and policing. (And occasionally roads and infrastructure, but typically only because it helped with military and policing).

  101. truthspeaker says

    I mean, I don’t confuse law with morality and almost nobody here does, but I know you’ve seen folks do it.

    I have certainly seen folks do it, and it’s not something I want to play into or encourage. To me it seems like just another path to authoritarianism.

    I think Rawls has an interesting argument that there’s a duty to obey democratically enacted laws, though. It might be the sort of thing you could feel not-slimy about advocating.

    I couldn’t. Maybe I’m saying that because at this very moment* I’m disobeying a law that was enacted by a federal legislature that was kind of sort of democratically elected.

    *I had to put the pipe down to type, but I was exhaling the smoke when I typed so it still counts.

  102. truthspeaker says

    Flex, your coworker isn’t even arguing for capitalism correctly. I don’t think anybody (besides your coworker) claims that people employed by private firms will work harder than government workers because there is a profit motive. Employees don’t have a profit motive. It’s the owner or owners of a company that have the profit motive. The profit is supposed to motivate the owners, or the company itself as a gestalt entity. Employees can expect to get paid as little as the labor market will allow. Having greater control over labor costs is supposed to be one of the things that makes the private sector more efficient.

  103. CJO says

    Actually, you have to include the tenth one too. Commandment 10 is really insidious. It makes a deed of thought alone, with no action, a mortal sin.

    “Covet” is actually a terrible translation of the Hebrew chamad. The sense is closer to “take by subterfuge, or conspire to take”. The error is entrenched at this point and of long standing, so the damage you speak of is perfectly real, but it’s based on a misunderstanding of the intended meaning.

    As Joel Hoffman explains,

    Consider how chamad is used in Exodus 34:24, where God promises that “no one will chamad your land when you go up [to Jerusalem] to appear before your God three times a year”. Here “covet” is not a reasonable translation of chamad. Other people could desire the land whether or not the landowners were present. Rather, the landowners might have reasonably feared that people would take their land during their pilgrimage. Chamad must be a kind of taking.

  104. truthspeaker says

    There is, or was, a regular poster here, Walton, who used to be a free market uber alles type and then thought better of it. Back before the change, he once posted something about 19th Century England as coming close to the libertarian economic ideal. My (internal) response was Exactly! And that’s why we never want to do it again!

    Many of them don’t seem to have studied much history, so they don’t understand why we have the laws and regulations for our economy that we do.

    Some do understand, but they’re not the ones who would be working 12 hour days six days a week for company scrip, they think, so they don’t care.

  105. petejohn says

    Yes Christians break the rules (sin) but I can assure you that they are trying a damn lot harder not to break the rules than the average Atheist because for Christians, there is the Almighty, and there is Hell. Atheists have no Almight to hold them accountable and there is not eternal damnation.

    This point of view really, really bugs me. Under this framework, Christians really only do good things because they want to kiss up to SkyDaddy. They are really, really scared of hell and don’t want to go there, so they follow the rules so they don’t want SkyDaddy mad. But here’s the thing… that isn’t morality. It’s being a kiss-ass.

    I don’t plan on killing anyone today. It’s not because hell scares me. It’s because I’m pretty damn sure we human beings only get one shot at life, and I don’t feel too great about snuffing out the life of someone else.

    I don’t plan on stealing anything today. It’s not because hell scares me. It’s because I operate under the assumption that the owner of that stuff likes that stuff and has it because it makes their one life on Earth more liveable, and stealing that stuff would decrease their happiness.

    I’m not married, but I also don’t plan on cheating on my ladyfriend today. It’s not because hell scares me. It’s because I think she’s a wonderful person and I don’t want to hurt her feelings and destroy the trust we have for each other.

    This jackwagon probably won’t do these things either today, because like most people he’s probably a decent person overall. But he’ll argue he’s not doing those things because he doesn’t want to burn in hell while Satan gleefully torches his feet. Again, that’s not morality. It’s selfish, it ignores the humanity of other people, it’s all about him. I don’t see how that can possibly be moral, and if it is it’s only moral in the “Someone’s watching and I don’t want to get caught” sense, and I’ll be damned if I don’t try as hard as possible to get my middle school students out of that mindset. Hell, many of my MS students are more moral than this dude because they do things out of kindness and respect for their classmates and peers.

  106. kome says

    PZ – I think you’re on to something. There was an article published in 2011 by researchers Douglas and Sutton in the British Journal of Social Psychology on people prone to conspiracy theorizing that found evidence to suggest the people most prone to thinking major events are the result of a conspiracy (9/11, Princess Diana’s death, faked moon landing, etc.) are those who would themselves be willing to conspire. Perhaps religious people who espouse the “atheists have no morals” schtick might really want to engage in more criminal activity. Not to say all religious people want to, just those who seriously believe that without a divine threat of punishment atheists have no reason not to be criminals and immoral.

    This isn’t too far removed from a study I’m currently doing and a separate study another person in the lab I’m in is also currently doing, so I’ll definitely tinker with the idea of how to investigate it. But, interesting thought. Thanks, PZ!

  107. Brownian says

    I’m going to be nice and not derail the thread by discussing how Smith’s “invisible hand” has been used and abused over the years.

    God, my right hand and Smith’s “Invisible Hand” should get together for a kvetch session over coffee.

  108. flex says

    @truthspeaker,

    I’ve explained that aspect to him as well, he doesn’t see any of the obscene wealth our CEO just got from stock options. He admits it.

    The infuriating thing (or it would be if I let myself get mad about it) is that he not only admits all of these things may be important factors, and that his personal reason for doing a good job is not because of his wage but because of his work ethic. But he will not transfer his personal ethic to others, he still insists that government workers are less efficient because of that tiny little extra incentive of profits.

    He is a good worker, and a pretty good friend as well, and an overall nice guy. The funniest bit was that last week one of our co-workers told both of us that he enjoyed listening to our discussions because he was learning a lot. So there is a lurker affect even in the workplace community.

    And, for what its worth, I know who Walton is. I’ve been the occasional poster using the handle ‘Flex’ since before Pharyngula joined SB. (What was that, 7-8 years ago?) I followed the endless discussions of Walton’s opinions, but didn’t see any need to join in. Y’all were doing a far better job than I could, given that I usually read these threads hours or days after their development.

    However, establishing my Pharyngula cred is worth far less than reminding the lurkers that, as Twain wrote, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme”. Eliminating the hard-won laws and regulations which improve the quality of life of the working population will result in a deterioration of the standard of living of all.

  109. cag says

    “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath,

    This one flew right by me for a long time, but it is now obvious that any christian who uses a camera is going to … well somewhere.

  110. TimKO,,.,, says

    Kevin King, for you to to be correct, Japan would have to be a criminal cesspool. And stats would show that crime in the US outside of the Bible Belt is radical by comparison. Yet stats show the opposite of both. Why is that, Kevin?

    (And WTF is figuratively 10% of violent criminals?)

    And re the commandments, Kevin:

    If Xtianity is going to dig in the Torah for its moral guidance, why do they:
    *Ignore the 11th commandment approving of slavery?
    *Ignore the 10th commandment given to Moses on Mount Sinai in the book of Exodus 34: Thous shalt not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk
    *How about the one about keeping the Jewish Passover? (Commandment #3)

    What you are doing, Kevin, is looking for verses in the bible which fit the moral code you already have (your non-theist self) and ignoring what the Torah ACTUALLY SAYS.

    You create a strawman atheist and a strawman bible; a book you reference and yet clearly haven’t bothered to read. (The bible says the commandments you list were never adopted between Yahweh and the ancient Jews). I’d say this pretty much defines idiocy.
    Moral fail.
    You count yourself a member of a religion of hate.

  111. Azuma Hazuki says

    CJO, you really really need to write a book of this stuff sometime :) Or at least a big ol’ pastebin somewhere. We desperately need more people with your kind of knowledge!

  112. Celeste says

    Sometimes reading your blog, PZ, is like taking a hot shower. Afterwards I feel cleansed, rejuvenated.

  113. says

    I worked as an RN in the prison system in Minnesota; seven years at the prison in Rush City, two years at Oak Park Heights in the maximum security prison. I NEVER met an atheist in prison. Atheists are not bad, failed, or inattentive christians, muslims, etc. In fact, all of the very worst folks I met, from serial child-killers, to the two Al-Qaeda members held secretly in the Administrative Control Unit at Oak Park Heights for six months in 2007, (know by corrections staff as the Hannibal Lecter Unit), were deeply, profoundly religious, no matter the sect, cult, or denomination. Of course there’s also damn few jews, or Greeks for that matter. But no avowed atheists, at all.

  114. flyonwall says

    Using KevinKing’s reasoning Christians should be the least moral people based on the following doctrine. Christians are saved based solely on their belief in Christ. As such they can break all of the rules and still make it to heaven. They will be forgiven regardless of their crimes. Belief in a Christ that saves you regardless of your actions is license to do whatever horror you choose and still go to heaven.

    If a Christian kills someone, he/she merely sends them to either heaven or hell just a little sooner. Either way they are in Gods hands.

    If an atheist kills someone, he’s destroyed them forever. They are annihilated, robbed of the precious little time they had left. The magnitude of such an act horrendous.

    Since the atheists actions when killing are so much more heinous than that of a Christian, the Christian is far more likely to kill. Since the Christian is saved, there is no reason to be moral.

  115. says

    Is it just me, or did they leave the wife out in the Sabbath commandment?

    Surely women do not count, so the “you” must refer to a man. So apparently, the only person who is “allowed” to work on the Sabbath is the wife. I bet wives loved the Sabbath in those days. They weren’t even allowed servants to help them with all the cooking and cleaning.

  116. ianm says

    On the whole matter of which commandment takes precedence Christ was pretty explicit, citing a commandment which didn’t make the top ten: Treat other people the way you would want to be treated.
    I’ve never seen that proposed for an Alabama courthouse.

  117. anubisprime says

    I wonder where these brain dead pricks get their ‘atheists have no morals and would slaughter us in our beds if the police were not there’ contentions from?

    They are all the same toxic bile in taste…bordering on hysterical sensationalism…and they are all to a claim fucking insulting in the extreme.

    Oh!…wait…yeah of course they are all herded xian sheep regurgitating and imitating the utter bollix by the local Shepherd ‘pompous and functionally ignorant’…ahh..makes sense now…still does not make it right!

  118. says

    I don’t think anybody (besides your coworker) claims that people employed by private firms will work harder than government workers because there is a profit motive. Employees don’t have a profit motive.

    I make a hell of a lot more money since I left the private sector and went to work for the government. However, that’s more of an artifact of geography. In my neck of the woods, the largest employer of people in my field is a certain institution that gets public funding, and none of the smaller businesses can compete with the salary and benefits. But, move a couple hours south or east and things change fast.

  119. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    Dhorvath

    That is fair enough. I am just troubled because I don’t want to reinforce that bias and am unsure I am clever enough to do so without explicitly distancing myself from the idea. Something that I can fix through better practice I hope.

    Well a trivial method would be to always pose the question “what should the law be?” whenever legality is discussed, so that no law is taken for granted in your presence.

    And I note that table 1 from Like a camera in the sky shows a stronger response for social priming than for priming by way of deity watching. I find that very interesting.

    This may be an artifact of the experiment. “In the God Prime condition, participants (N = 114) rated how well each of the thirteen adjectives describe God. In the People Prime condition, participants (N = 82) rated the extent to which each adjective describe the way that other people view them.”

    Then they completed the Situational Self-Awareness Scale. So the people prime is explicitly about self-awareness, while the God prime is not. I’m not sure the results of these two primings are useful for direct comparison; the more clearly important result is that the God prime causes self-awareness relative to the control prime.

    The evidence that I could get in front of the paywall on Camera

    Paywall? Here you go.

    I was not thinking of strangers watching, but of fellows being aware. People can place an emphasis on the importance of their friends and acquaintances versus strangers knowing things about them, so that is where my mind was at.

    It matters who their friends and typical acquaintances are, though. There are numerous peer groups who are aware of a con artist, murderer or rapist within their midst, and do not regard this as worrisome, as long as the offender’s actions are directed outside of the group.

    To expand: I was initially balking at telling people that laws and their maintenance is a critical endeavour. I do not think that most people who adhere to the majority of our laws are doing so because of fear of conviction and punishment, but out of commitment to the ideals that the laws were constructed to reflect.

    I don’t think it’s one or the other; I think both of these act as inhibitors at different levels of consciousness. There’s something to your point about “fellows being aware”, but isn’t that partly about social judgment as punishment?

    Likewise, I don’t think that most people who break laws are doing so out of lack of awareness of these ideals nor the laws that are built upon them, but that they find themselves in situations which encourage them to ignore these things or rationalize unconventional interpretations of those ideals.

    You may enjoy The Situationist blog.

    To paraphrase my statement, I feel that I verge on blaming people for bad situations when I think about arguing in favour of law enforcement.

    Ah, you know, I don’t believe in free will, and I’m sympathetic to this concern. Nevertheless law enforcement is necessary, though I’d like to do away with all notions of moral desert.

    Perhaps it’s just my bias reading you poorly, but that words sits poorly with me.

    No, the word was deliberately chosen because it’s ugly, yet I think it’s what states actually do. I figure the people demand blood for blood; the state can standardize a minimal spilling of blood to satisfy this demand as procedural justice.

  120. gravityisjustatheory says

    Outside of death row in a federal penitentiary, there aren’t many communities of people who think mutual plunder, murder, and rapine are ordinary,

    Heck, even communities that did/do think such things are acceptable (the Vikings, the Mongols, the Mafia, etc) were able to come up with laws against doing it to each other.

    (Also, according to the Bible, after Moses recieved the 10 Commandments, but before he had a chance to relay them to the Israelites, the Israelites made an idol and worshipped it. Wherapon God wanted to exterminate all of them (for breaking a rule they hadn’t actually heard yet), and only didn’t because Moses managed to talk him out of it – and then went on to kill 3000 of the most guilty ones. So even from the (alleged) begining, the 10 Commandments were a receipe for tyranny and bloodshed).