Saturday, June 25, 2011

Commandment #6 of 10

Thou shalt not kill.  Exodus 20:13

Now we reach the first commandment to actually be codified into our laws and stay there.  We do of course consider it wrong to kill other human beings, except in certain limited cases like self defense or war.  

However, I have a major problem with this command.  Besides being vague, god regularly violates his own law, and even hands out orders which regularly violates this law.

Take this passage from Samuel 15 for instance:
Thus saith the Lord of hosts ... go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare him not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
Now, understand if this were just a war I would have a certain modicum of understanding, we in the modern world still unfortunately end up in wars, but the command god levels here clearly orders the killing of non-combatants, to be frank he orders a genocide on a level more extreme than any 20th century dictator.  War is always ugly, but in the U.S. we make a special point to avoid injuring non-combatants.  God, on the other hand, seems to think murdering infants, elderly, women, even pregnant women we can assume (so much for abortion being wrong by god's standards) is fine, you know as long as he commands it.

This leaves those who believe morality is commanded by god in a odd position.  Most Christians like to claim their morality is objective, however it seems in this case to be completely relative to whims of god's command.  It's wrong to kill, until god commands you to kill babies, and then suddenly its time to pick up swords and stop lopping off baby heads.

Perhaps I am being crass, but I think its needed.  I cannot stress how horribly immoral and unethical I find the bible to be as a whole.

This leaves the modern Christian with an interesting logical conundrum.  Many of you may remember the story of Deanna Laney who, in 2004, stoned her children to death because she felt god told her to.  Now as an atheist I think its clear there was a lot more wrong with her than her religion, she clearly had mental problems.  Most Christians would of course join me in that assessment, but how do they justify their position?

Christians must believe that god does hand out commands to his followers, and clearly god has had no problem in the past telling people to kill children so how can they be certain that people like Deanna Laney were not told by god to kill their kids?  This is the basic problem with a supernatural centered world view.  The belief in forces that are undetectable by any natural means leaves it fundamentally impossible to determine if people's subjective views of reality are true or not.

Of course this a bit far afield of the original topic.  The point I am trying to make here is that even though this command is built into our legal system in theory, in practice U.S. law is much more clearly defined, and more consistently practiced than the biblical law.  Odd isn't it, that god, a supposed perfect being, can't even create an ethical system as well organized and consistent as us flawed humans.  It's almost as if these laws were just created by men and not by a god at all.

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