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The Ten Commandments vs Modernity

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I recently had a Christian, trying to defend the Creation Museum in Kentucky, trying to convince me that actually there is no such thing as Atheists because every human being actually believes in God, and trying to argue that modern laws, legal systems, and civil institutions are actually striving to be the equal of the "perfect Ten Commandments".

Having some knowledge of the Ten Commandments, I had to contradict him and argue that in my opinion not only are the Ten Commandments incomplete as a legal system, I believe the teachings of the entire Bible do not even come close to constituting a complete and functional modern system of laws, and I believe failing to explicitly forbid rape, slavery, and pedophilia for example (in fact endorsing these things when committed against rival tribes, and also encouraging genocide against rival tribes).

Most importantly of all, in my opinion several of the Ten Commandments stand in direct contradiction to modern laws, rights, and freedoms, at least in the United States.

Focusing on the Ten Commandments:

Commandment #1: Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

This first commandment simply does not gel with freedom of religion. In a modern society, we do not have any laws trying to force anyone to adhere to any specific deity. We do not have any law that says "Hindus may continue to call themselves Hindus, but the only deity they may worship is the Abrahamic deity Yahweh." And we are better for it. Religious freedom, including the right to have no religion or any belief in any deity, is vital to personal freedom and prevents religious persecution. An issue I have is that the Bible calls for capital punishment for the "crime" of having deities other than the Hebrew one.

Commandment #2: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.

Well, Things Engraved is in trouble if this is to be enforced! I kid, I'm not actually being obtuse, claiming that this commandment is forbidding sculptures or carvings. It's forbidding idol worship. Again, this stands in direct contradiction of religious freedom. We have absolutely no law saying you can't make representations of your deities/icons of worship. If I wanted to I could make myself a golden calf and bow down to it til the real cows came home. I personally wouldn't believe it actually represented anything, but even if I did, the government couldn't keep me from doing it. They certainly wouldn't put me to death, as the Bible requests of those in authority.

Commandment #3: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

First, if this were a law it would assume in its language that Yahweh is everyone's god. Which would be a violation of freedom of religion. This isn't so in the U.S. Second, this flies in the face of freedom of speech, another absolutely vital freedom to a modern democratic society. There is no law forbidding me from saying for example a curse word if I want. Why is the commandment against murder not commandment Number 1? Again, the punishment for this is supposed to be death, according to the Bible.

Commandment #4: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

I don't even know what modern laws this would contradict. Freedom of religion AGAIN. But also just practicality, we can't shut absolutely everything down one day a week. We have weekends, which have roots on the Sabbath, but there is no law saying you can't work weekends, or Sundays, or Saturdays. And if there was, I doubt the punishment for disobeying it would be capital punishment, as it is in the Bible.

Commandment #5: Honour thy father and thy mother.

Look, I don't disagree with this one. But no modern soceity would make this a law. It's a generalized social guideline, but certainly not a law. I mean what if your parents are abusive? What if they want to force you into an arranged marriage? What if they're criminals, and they want you to join the family business? What if one of them is a serial killer, should you not report it to the police? I am glad that in our modern society I retain the right to tell my parents to mind their own business on occasion or when necessary. I certainly would be distressed to live in a society where this was illegal, especially if the punishment was death, as it is in the Bible.

Commandment #6. Thou shalt not kill.

Needless to say, I have no problem with this one. It's a good one. Unfortunately, in my opinion much of the rest of the Bible doesn't really seem to think so. There are so many examples of God killing people with impunity and relish, often what seems to me for ridiculous or petty reasons, and so many examples of God proscribing murder, genocide, and wholly unwarranted capital punishment, it boggles my mind. Also, I'm pretty sure that human beings knew that murder was wrong and counter to a well-run society without God giving us this little tip. All that being said, this is the first commandment that is actually a law nowadays. Although I oppose the death penalty for murder, this is the only one where I somewhat understand why death would be the punishment. I'm not crying for Ted Bundy.

Commandment #7: Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Look, this a good social rule. But it isn't a law in modern societies. Seriously ask yourself, if you cheated on your spouse, maybe you deserve severe social criticism, but should you do jail time? Or, as the Bible encourages, should you be put to death?

Commandment #8: Thou shalt not steal.

This is the second one that is actually a modern law. And I can't really argue with it. Prohibition of theft is important for a stable society and economy. The one thing I will say is I don't think humans ever thought theft was OK. This is the first commandment for which the punishment is usually not death. Instead, it's slavery.

Commandment #9: Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

Another one that is a modern law. Perjury is bad. Again, the one thing I will say is, I believe we as humanity figured that out without God. At least this is one of the ones the Bible doesn't call for capital punishment.

Commandment #10: Thou shall not covet thy neighbors's house, wife, servants, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbors.

First off, this would constitute thought crime. It would be incredibly, laughably unenforceable. Also, what is wrong with being jealous of what your neighbor has, and wanting to have similar possessions? That's like one of the cores of capitalism. Now if you're thinking of stealing his stuff, that is bad, but until you actually steal it, there's no law that is going to be enforced to say "You THOUGHT about stealing your neighbour's Snuggie, that's 5 years!" Also, perhaps most importantly and tellingly, a man's wife is considered property, and so are his servants (ie. slaves).

Now, how are these Biblical principles applicable to a modern civil society?

Edited by GoldenEagle
{{ Changes in red to tone down the OP and sections have been deleted to conform to the ToS.
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Posted · Report post

I don't believe that I ever hear of that word "modernity", to my surprise it is an actual word, my ignorance.

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Posted · Report post

You've never heard the word "modernity"?!? Ummmm...fair enough, but that doesn't get us off to a very good start on the apologetics front.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

I recently had a Christian, trying to defend the Creation Museum in Kentucky, trying to convince me that actually there is no such thing as Atheists because every human being actually believes in God, and trying to argue that modern laws, legal systems, and civil institutions are actually striving to be the equal of the "perfect Ten Commandments".

<snip>

Uh huh....

Are you asking about the Bible as a whole?

Just the Old Testament?

The 10 commandments which were given as a covenant sign to Israel?

The entire body of the law? (613...365 "thou shalt nots" and 248 "thou must do's")

We probably need to narrow this down a bit. :mgcheerful:

Edited by GoldenEagle
{{ To edit and reflect revised quote }}
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Posted · Report post

Let's start with the first commandment. Should that be a law in a modern society?

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Fair enough...

The short answer would be "no"...

But then again the 10 commandments (which carry no civil penalty for disobedience and are therefore not "laws" in that sense) were (as mentioned) given as a covenant sign to Israel. In fact, the tablets of the testament were carried in the "Ark of the Covenant".

This was God's sign that Israel was now a people under a different set of laws and in a different relationship with God than the gentile nations; and as such were never binding upon the gentile nations anyway.

Yet...for all that...there is value and applicability to modern society. To wit: The prohibitions against theft and murder (for that is the actual translation of the Hebrew word Ratsach in the 6th commandment) are certainly applicable to a modern society, and moreover when one considers the precepts contained in the Ten Commandments...well if we all lived accordingly (I know..never happen)...what kind world would we have?

No adultery...shattered families/broken marriages; No covetousness...no burning all consuming desire (once again, the synoymous meaning of "covet") for something that someone else has and therefore no desire to take it from them; Honoring our parents...no elderly left to the tender care of whatever government....and so it goes.

The salient points being that these were not laws in the normal sense, and were moral guidelines/precepts reflecting the nature of God being revealed to His people, and a covenant sign to them.

Edited by Mcgyver
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Posted · Report post

The purpose of the outer court is so those who have a desire to understand more about Christianity can come and interact with Christians and learn. Are you seeking to understand how you might have a relationship with Jesus Christ, agooyers?

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Posted · Report post

I don't believe that I ever hear of that word "modernity", to my surprise it is an actual word, my ignorance.

You've never heard the word "modernity"?!? Ummmm...fair enough, but that doesn't get us off to a very good start on the apologetics front.

By all means, proceed.
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Posted (edited) · Report post

OK, if the Ten Commandments were not laws in a normal sense, and several of them are not even applicable to a modern society, but were in fact moral/religious guidelines for a single human tribe in ancient times, symbolizing to them a deal they believed they had struck with their deity, why should they appear on U.S. government buildings?

Also, let's be honest, there were "penalties" for disobeying the ten commandments. Leviticus 24:16 calls for "he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord" to be put to death. The Israelites destroyed nations/cities numerous times that wouldn't accept their God, ie. obey the first and second commandments. Exodus 31:14 and 31:15, call for those who "defileth" the Sabbath or "doeth any work" on that day to be put to death. Leviticus 20:10, calls for adulterers to be put to death.

So it would seem Christians have in fact picked and chosen which Biblical mandates they want to obey. It's all from God, but sometimes God was... misquoted? Moreover, I believe even some of the Biblical mandates Christians hold to themselves, they recognize are not appropriate in having a well-run and relatively harmonious modern civil society. Especially the claims that the Bible is inerrant and the writings were writings were revealed to the human authors by a perfect, benevolent being. How can one reconcile this?

Edited by GoldenEagle
{{ Changes in red to tone down the post and sections have been deleted to conform to the ToS. }}
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Posted · Report post

Modern society is by no means "civil." It is barbaric. And as asked above, are you seeking to have a relationship with Jesus Christ or are you here to cause discontent. If it is the latter, perhaps you should read the ToS.

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The purpose of the outer court is so those who have a desire to understand more about Christianity can come and interact with Christians and learn. Are you seeking to understand how you might have a relationship with Jesus Christ, agooyers?

One could say I have a desire to understand more about Christianity, in that I want to understand the way Christians think. Christians attribute some rather large claims for their religion, and in the United States especially seek some rather ambitious special consideration for their beliefs, and I want to hear their supporting arguments in that regard.

Of course I am not seeking to have a personal relationship with someone who in my mind a dead man, to my mind the idea is ridiculous, delusional even. And considering this is the "Apologetics" section of the forum, it would seem rather disingenuous of you to then imply that if I adamantly state that I am not willing to be converted, that I'm not allowed to discuss Christianity on this forum. So let me be clear: It would take very compelling evidence to persuade me to believe any metaphysical claim made by anyone. No, I actually do not want to believe in a cosmic being who can read my thoughts, demands that I worship him, and threatens me with eternal torture if I don't accept on faith (ie. belief without evidence) his existence and that I should obey his commands (in my opinion not direct commands, but ancient second hand accounts). I would be willing to believe it if there were compelling evidence of such. I have yet to be presented with any.

Maybe I should ask you a question, gdemoss. Do you intend to ban me now that I have admitted that I want to discuss Christianity, but have absolutely no desire or intention to convert?

Edited by GoldenEagle
{{ Changes in red to tone down the post and sections have been deleted to conform to the ToS. }}
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OK, if the Ten Commandments were not laws in a normal sense, and several of them are not even applicable to a modern society, but were in fact moral/religious guidelines for a single human tribe in ancient times, symbolizing to them a deal they believed they had struck with their deity, why should they appear on U.S. government buildings?

Be careful...your bias is showing through... :grin:

But to answer, why not? Historically we as a nation have been a "religous" society. Whether you agree with it or not, it is a part of our heritage.

Also, let's be honest, there were "penalties" for disobeying the ten commandments. Leviticus 24:16 calls for "he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord" to be put to death. The Israelites destroyed nations/cities numerous times that wouldn't accept their God, ie. obey the first and second commandments. Exodus 31:14 and 31:15, call for those who "defileth" the Sabbath or "doeth any work" on that day to be put to death. Leviticus 20:10, calls for adulterers to be put to death.

You've shifted from the 10 commandments to the body of the law contained in the Torah.

You didn't ask about Levitical Law...you asked specifically about the 10 Commandments. :laugh:

I'd be happy to discuss the 3 divisions of the Levitical Law with you, if you wish.

So it would seem Christians have in fact picked and chosen which Biblical mandates they want to obey. It's all from God, but sometimes God was... misquoted? Moreover, I believe even some of the Biblical mandates Christians hold to themselves, they recognize are not appropriate in having a well-run and relatively harmonious modern civil society. Especially the claims that the Bible is inerrant and the writings were writings were revealed to the human authors by a perfect, benevolent being. How can one reconcile this?

No..we don't pick and choose what we will obey. The New Testament gives us clear guidance. But to understand why the law was given in the first place, one must look at the nature of God.

Additionally, it is recognized biblically that we are to obey the civil laws of the land. Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-17 are two prime examples.

You see, Israel was a theocracy...and no other society has been. So to try to fit a series of laws governing a theocracy with any modern society is not going to work...although certain precepts may be universal.

Edited by GoldenEagle
{{ To edit to reflect revised quotes }}
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Posted (edited) · Report post

Modern society is by no means "civil." It is barbaric. And as asked above, are you seeking to have a relationship with Jesus Christ or are you here to cause discontent. If it is the latter, perhaps you should read the ToS.

Oh, another one. I thought this was the "apologetics" section of the forum? As in Christians attempt to defend their religion against logical criticism? Was I mistaken? Also, is having Christianity rationally criticized going to cause you discontent?

I believe it seems some of you aren't much for free speech, or open, honest discussion.

Edited by GoldenEagle
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Posted · Report post

I'm in. To the best of my ability anyway. As long as the condescending tone is squelched.

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(@agooyers) I don't know about that...I'm talking to you, aren't I?

If we are in the wrong section of the board, simple enough to ask a mod to move it to a more appropriate section without getting snarky about it.

BTW...I also would be delusional if I wanted a personal relationship with a dead man...but who said Jesus is dead?

Have you ever seriously studied the ressurection?

After 21 years of studying every scrap I could get my hands on...I am firmly convinced that Jesus is alive and well and is coming again.

Edited by Mcgyver
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Maybe I should ask you a question, gdemoss. Do you intend to ban me now that I have admitted that I want to discuss Christianity, but have absolutely no desire or intention to convert?

Do I intend to ban you? No. Do I believe you will end up banned? Most likely. From the tone of your posts and considering previous people who have come with that tone, I don't expect you to last long at all.

Edited by GoldenEagle
{{ To tone down post and edit text in red. }}
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Posted · Report post

It is against the ToS to insult GOD on this forum. You need to stop.

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OK, if the Ten Commandments were not laws in a normal sense, and several of them are not even applicable to a modern society, but were in fact moral/religious guidelines for a single human tribe in ancient times, symbolizing to them a deal they believed they had struck with their deity, why should they appear on U.S. government buildings?

Be careful...your bias is showing through... :grin:

But to answer, why not? Historically we as a nation have been a "religous" society. Whether you agree with it or not, it is a part of our heritage.

Also, let's be honest, there were "penalties" for disobeying the ten commandments. Leviticus 24:16 calls for "he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord" to be put to death. The Israelites destroyed nations/cities numerous times that wouldn't accept their God, ie. obey the first and second commandments. Exodus 31:14 and 31:15, call for those who "defileth" the Sabbath or "doeth any work" on that day to be put to death. Leviticus 20:10, calls for adulterers to be put to death.

You've shifted from the 10 commandments to the body of the law contained in the Torah.

You didn't ask about Levitical Law...you asked specifically about the 10 Commandments. :laugh:

I'd be happy to discuss the 3 divisions of the Levitical Law with you, if you wish.

So it would seem Christians have in fact picked and chosen which Biblical mandates they want to obey. It's all from God, but sometimes God was... misquoted? Moreover, I believe even some of the Biblical mandates Christians hold to themselves, they recognize are not appropriate in having a well-run and relatively harmonious modern civil society. Especially the claims that the Bible is inerrant and the writings were writings were revealed to the human authors by a perfect, benevolent being. How can one reconcile this?

No..we don't pick and choose what we will obey. The New Testament gives us clear guidance. But to understand why the law was given in the first place, one must look at the nature of God.

Additionally, it is recognized biblically that we are to obey the civil laws of the land. Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-17 are two prime examples.

You see, Israel was a theocracy...and no other society has been. So to try to fit a series of laws governing a theocracy with any modern society is not going to work...although certain precepts may be universal.

My bias? If we're going to accuse each other of biases, I could just as easily point out what I perceive your christian bias. Now, let me ask the question more succinctly: Why should the Ten Commandments be presented on government property, implying endorsement, when only 3 out of 10 are even laws, and 4 of them actually violate U.S. law. If by bias you mean I have a position on the subject, a) you're misusing the word "bias", and b) yes, I have a position on the Ten Commandments appearing on U.S. government buildings. It shouldn't be so.

You said there were no civil penalty for disobedience of the Ten Commandments. Being put to death would seem to be a pretty stiff penalty, maybe I misunderstood?

I am curious what you mean when you say "to understand why the law was given in the first place, one must look at the nature of God."

Edited by GoldenEagle
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Posted · Report post

It is against the ToS to insult GOD on this forum. You need to stop.

When did I insult the Hebrew deity?

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To all,

A few reminders to everyone. First, please keep in mind this is a Ministry (Worthy) that just happens to have a discussion forum (WCF).

Second disrespect of God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, or the Bible will not be tolerated.

Third, abuse of other posters is not allowed. Please debate the subject and not the person. It is possible to disagree about a doctrine and/or subject without insulting the person you are debating.

Fourth, the purpose of the Outer Court is to learn more about what it means to be a Christian. It is not a section that gives people free reign to disrespect God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, or the Bible. Plain and simple.

From the WCF ToS (Terms of Serve or Board Rules)…

You may not post any material that is disrespectful of God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, or the Bible. This includes user names or anything in your profile, or sig. (Ex. 20:7)

Abuse of other posters is not allowed. This includes, but is not limited to, name calling, insulting, harassing, threatening or in any way invading the privacy of another poster. (Eph. 4: 29)

Debate the subject, not the person.

It is possible to disagree about a doctrine or subject under discussion without insulting the person with whom you are debating. Also remember that the fact that a person disagrees with you does not mean they are attacking you as a person. Respect each other in the love of God! This is the main reason that threads get stopped, shut down, and even deleted! Users that cannot respect others will be banned. (Lev. 19:18)

If you have a problem with any of the Moderators or Chat admin, please keep it private. The moderation team serves this ministry on a voluntary basis. They are human beings and make mistakes. If you disagree with one of their decisions, make use of the PM system or email or the Repost Post button to get satisfaction. (Matt. 18:15)

This is a privately funded message board, we reserve the right to edit or remove any postings that we feel are detrimental to the fellowship on this board, or detrimental to the witness of the board, as we see fit. It is not possible to read every post. If you see a board violation, please report it using the “Report Post” button.

There are two main sections to Worthy Boards, the Inner Court and the Outer Court. The Inner court is designed for fellowship and discussion among those who know Jesus Christ as Savior. The Outer Court is an area where we allow anyone who wishes to learn more about our belief to ask questions and learn.

Please proceed accordingly once this thread is cleaned up and is re-opened.

God bless,

GE

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Posted (edited) · Report post

When did I insult the Hebrew deity?

Calling Jesus a dead man and disrespecting God... Surely you knew that would offend a Christian?

Edited by GoldenEagle
{{ Edited in red to reflect comment that was deleted/changed. }}
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This thread is closed for review.

Edit: This thread has been revised, the posts toned down, and the posts now reflect the WCF ToS I believe. Please proceed by respecting God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Bible. Please also respect each other in your posts or this thread will be closed again. Debate the subject not the person.

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Hello agooyers,

you have many thoughts, I'd like to pick up some out of the corrected version in case you didn't mind and think that these postings still provide a basis for discussion?

Having some knowledge of the Ten Commandments, I had to contradict him and argue that in my opinion not only are the Ten Commandments incomplete as a legal system, I believe the teachings of the entire Bible do not even come close to constituting a complete and functional modern system of laws, and I believe failing to explicitly forbid rape, slavery, and pedophilia for example (in fact endorsing these things when committed against rival tribes, and also encouraging genocide against rival tribes).

[coloured and bolded mine]

1) you didn't provide any scripture to give evidence to you claim that the Bible endorsed rape for example. It's absurd, I think.

2) Let's talk about terminology. "Genocide" (i) is the wrong expression for anything that God ordered. God is allowed to do whatever he wants. When people kill other nations without having received a direct commandment of God, that's genocide. The Bible, however left no doubt about the fact that God himself ordered the killing of the Kanaanites. Let me give you an analogy to get my point across. When the state collects taxes, is this called theft? No it isn't. However, when I'd take your purse, it is.

(i) according to the definition that is presented here: http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007043

Edited by thomas t
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... now I'd like to go into more detail:

Commandment #6. Thou shalt not kill.

Needless to say, I have no problem with this one. It's a good one. Unfortunately, in my opinion much of the rest of the Bible doesn't really seem to think so. There are so many examples of God killing people with impunity and relish, often what seems to me for ridiculous or petty reasons, and so many examples of God proscribing murder, genocide, and wholly unwarranted capital punishment, it boggles my mind.

[bolded mine]

I think what you are doing here, even in the corrected version - and GE seemed to have had tons of work for monitoring this post - is nothing else than a slap into God's face, I think. When we accuse the Jew totally without any firm reason, It's called anti-semitism. I think what you did here with the remark "relish" is blasphemy. You don't have the slightest bit of evidence for that.

Commandment #1: Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

This first commandment simply does not gel with freedom of religion. In a modern society, we do not have any laws trying to force anyone to adhere to any specific deity. We do not have any law that says "Hindus may continue to call themselves Hindus, but the only deity they may worship is the Abrahamic deity Yahweh." And we are better for it. Religious freedom, including the right to have no religion or any belief in any deity, is vital to personal freedom and prevents religious persecution. An issue I have is that the Bible calls for capital punishment for the "crime" of having deities other than the Hebrew one.

Commandment #2: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.

Well, Things Engraved is in trouble if this is to be enforced! I kid, I'm not actually being obtuse, claiming that this commandment is forbidding sculptures or carvings. It's forbidding idol worship. Again, this stands in direct contradiction of religious freedom. We have absolutely no law saying you can't make representations of your deities/icons of worship. If I wanted to I could make myself a golden calf and bow down to it til the real cows came home. I personally wouldn't believe it actually represented anything, but even if I did, the government couldn't keep me from doing it. They certainly wouldn't put me to death, as the Bible requests of those in authority.

Commandment #3: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

First, if this were a law it would assume in its language that Yahweh is everyone's god. Which would be a violation of freedom of religion. This isn't so in the U.S. Second, this flies in the face of freedom of speech, another absolutely vital freedom to a modern democratic society. There is no law forbidding me from saying for example a curse word if I want. Why is the commandment against murder not commandment Number 1? Again, the punishment for this is supposed to be death, according to the Bible.

Commandment #4: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

I don't even know what modern laws this would contradict. Freedom of religion AGAIN.

[bolded mine]

Now let's turn to the less horrible things (my opinion) out of your posting: You claim that there wouldn't be religious freedom, if the ten commandments would turn into law. You are right in a sense that anything prohibiting different religions would be wrong. However, Jesus wants us to deliberatly believe in him. Turning this commandment into what you think corresonds to it best (the law), would counteract free will, which is a necessary ingredient to faith.

I'd like to add that your opinion I bolded in the above quote pointed to particular occasions only!

Thomas

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I recently had a Christian, trying to defend the Creation Museum in Kentucky, trying to convince me that actually there is no such thing as Atheists because every human being actually believes in God, and trying to argue that modern laws, legal systems, and civil institutions are actually striving to be the equal of the "perfect Ten Commandments".

<snip>

Uh huh....

Are you asking about the Bible as a whole?

Just the Old Testament?

The 10 commandments which were given as a covenant sign to Israel?

The entire body of the law? (613...365 "thou shalt nots" and 248 "thou must do's")

We probably need to narrow this down a bit. :mgcheerful:

Hello McGiver,

I didn't like your posting because it went over all the blasphemy out of the old post you quoted. I mean (that's my personal opinion) the first thing we should do when we deal with someone mocking God is to tackle the blasphemy. What you did was going over it and instead mcgivering details. What you did is just spreading the poison of blasphemy, I think.

Thomas

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