Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The Ten Commandments

One of the central ideas in religious morality is the idea of a commandment. It is sometimes said that they are the Ten Commandments, not the Ten Suggestions. Does being commanded by God give something a status of absoluteness or finality that you can't find in secular morality?


Anonymous said...

God is Goodness Itself, and whatever He wills must therefore be good. Also, since He is not an inert thing like a number, but rather a God of judgment, moral duties emerge into reality simultaneously with moral values. Whereas we would have just one of those on some sort of "Platonic atheism" (i.e. moral values), we would have both of them on Christian theism. Hence Christian theism offers the necessary and sufficient conditions for a complete system of morality.

There is nothing like this in any atheistic universe whatsoever.

Papalinton said...

"There is nothing like this in any atheistic universe whatsoever."

He,he he.

shiningwhiffle said...


That. Was. Awesome.

And Samuel Jackson as the Burning Bush... dude...



Papalinton said...



Papalinton said...



unkleE said...

If we conclude that God is indeed the author of a command, then of course it makes a difference. Instead of being unsure about ethics, we can be more sure.

But the problem I see is with the 10 Commandments as an example. They were given to the nation of Israel as part of a covenant that I have never been part of, and which (I believe as a christian) has been superseded by Jesus.

So for me, the commands which have " absoluteness or finality" are not the 10 C's but Jesus' command to love God wholeheartedly and to love my neighbour as myself - a tougher ask in my view.

01010101 said...

You forgot the 11th commandment--the Exemption Clause: "Any of the above policy recommendations may be overlooked, circumvented and/or ignored in times of war, famine, riot, pestilence, OR when a petitioner has a sufficient amount of funds to tender payment to a priest, preacher, rabbi, imam, etc to overlook them."

Or somethin' like that. Anyway..."thou shalt not bear false witness" would put 95% of clergymen out of business (not to say lawyers, professors, politicians, etc).

adc said...

You are correct Victor that a central concept of religion is morality based on commandments. Morality being a system of human conduct based on a knowledge of good and evil.

However, this is not the central doctrine of Christianity. The central message of Christianity is the refutation of commandment based human moral systems -> in other words: 'Religions'.

Perhaps a greater question is - what are the purposes of God's commandments? Is any human being capable of achieving them?

The commandments were given to demonstrate to mankind that his own relativistic morality gained from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is incapable of achieving God's goodness. This includes what are considered "religious system" as well as secular morals. The original lie being - you can be like God, by what you do -- by your own knowledge of good an evil. However, a Christian rejects this lie as God's righteousness cannot be attained through human conduct. That was the purpose of the Commandments -- to show the error -- not to establish a moral code for mankind to try to follow.

Even the Jews misunderstood this and constructed the Talmud in an attempt to feel like that were keeping the commandments - which Jesus later utterly demolished in the face (you say...but I say...etc).

The proper Christian response to the Ten Commandments (The Law) is not to say, as the Jews did, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do.” - but rather to say 'Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Secular morality then is really no different than "religious" morality if it is directed at human conduct. They are both relativistic human interpretations - totally impotent toward making anyone "good." Morality and human conduct is "a way which seems right to a man (it's natural - we all drift toward this thinking cause it's our very nature - myself included), but in the end, is the way of death."

01010101 said...

The old testament means little. The Septuagint was merely a guide. Not dogma. Its not until Luther, Calvinist and co get rolling that the OT's brought back

Gregory said...

I'm not sure what a "moral law" would mean to objects that are wholly ruled/determined by physical/natural laws.

Are "moral laws" just another way of stating a physical reality? For instance, the commandment "thou shalt not kill" is equivalent to something like "1000 electrons rotating at such and such velocity in such and such a vector of brain space".

Even if we were to stipulate that "1000 electrons rotating...etc.," is equivalent to "thou shalt not kill", we have only then discovered some correlation between "morals" and "physical behavior".....what he haven't discovered is whether the physical configuration of rotating electors is the "right" configuration. And even here, we are left with a huge ambiguity. Does physically "right" mean the same thing as morally "right"? I don't think so. In fact, we never consider moral acts in the same way as we consider physical acts. Otherwise, we would be inclined to punish "atoms" rather than "persons".

It reminds me of this scene in the Ninth Configuration:

Which leads me in the direction of rejecting physicalist theories of morality.

Gregory said...

There is something peculiar to human personhood, existentially speaking, by which we treat persons as persons, rather than persons as mere objects.

Atheists, for instance, are going to chime in about how "silly" Christians are for believing that there are reasons for believing in God...whatever those "reasons" happen to be.

But how can the atheist fault the Christian for his/her own "natural" bent towards believing in God....which, according to the physicalist, has to do with the brain's own neurologically determined configuration.

The Christian can then yell back at the universe, because that is all there really is, with:

"Why hast thou made me like this"

Therefore, don't blame God, religion or Christians for God, religion and Christians.....blame the universe.

I think it is here that we will begin to see the hypocrisy of atheists.