The Ten Commandments.

Is it just me, or does it seem like atheists, agnostics and free thinkers in general have read and know much more about the Bible than the average Christian?

I could give many examples of why this seems to be the case, but one of most compelling to me is the case of the 10 Commandments as pointed out in a recent pamphlet by M. Lee Dietz.

As he correctly pointed out, most all Christians, including politicians who want them prominently displayed in government buildings, seem to think the 10 Commandments that God supposedly etched in stone tablets and gave to Moses are as follows...

1.Thou shall have no other gods before me.
2.Thou shall not make unto thee any graven image.
3.Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy god in vain.
4.Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.
5.Honor thy father and mother.
6.Thou shall not kill.
7.Thou shall not commit adultery.
8.Thou shall not steal.
9.Thou shall not bear false witness...
10. Thou shall not covet..

I'm always seeing things like sketches, recreations and artists' renderings of the stone tablets that God gave to Moses. And 100% of the time, the above "charges" will be on them. But these were just verbal charges that God gave to Moses in Exodus 20 and told him to verbally communicate them to the people of Israel. They were never etched in stone and the Bible is very clear about this.

The commandments that were actually supposed to have been carved in stone by the finger of God, not once but twice, didn't appear until Exodus 34 and were as follows...

1. Thou shall worship no other god, for the Lord whose name is Jealous, is a jealous god.
2. Thou shall make thee no molten gods.
3. The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep
4. Six days thou shall work, but on the seventh day, thou shall rest
5. Thou shall observe the feast of weeks
6. Thrice a year your men children shall appear before the Lord, the God of Israel.
7. Thou shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven
8. Thou shall not leave the feast of the passover unto the morning
9. The first of the fruits of the land thou shall bring into the house of the Lord thy God
10. Thou shall not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.

As anyone can see, there is very little resemblance to the 10 charges that most Christians believe to be the commandments that were etched on those stone tablets. Its bad enough that they believe in a book of fairy tales, but it doesn't even look like most of them have even read it to begin with.


  1. And don't forget, there's an entirely DIFFERENT set of "commandments", in the New Testament "sermon on the mount".

    As Richard Dawkins likes to ask (paraphrasing), "Do these people never open the book they put so much belief in?"

    Hm. I guess that's what ministurds are for.....

  2. So Jon, you are saying we have 2 sets of ten commandments engraved in stone? Or, does Deut. make it 3 sets?

    Which one of the three sets is the actual, real set of ten commandments?

    According to Jesus the first commandment is "thou shalt love the Lord thy God" and the second one is "like unto it" and is "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself"

    So there must be another set that we don't know about?

  3. Then what about the ten commandments in Ex. 34 that were also written on tablets of stone?

    Since they are different than the ten commandments in Ex. 20, then there must be two sets of ten commandments written in stone.

    Actually, the set in Ex. 20 was not written on tablets of stone but were spoken (Ex. 20:1).

  4. It is likely that the book of Deuteronomy was written to reconcile these and other contradictions.

  5. There are a lot of assumptions in that argument. I'm particularly unconvinced by the statement that believing it is based on falsehood makes you objective. However, much of what you say I can't disagree with. It is clear that many of the books of the Bible have an editorial hand. While we disagree about the extent of that editing and the time of the editing, to deny it would be folly. Similarly, there are a number of places where we can observe apparent copying errors. We may disagree on the number, but to deny it would be folly. They are there. The Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls do disagree in places from the Masoretic text, and they can't all be right. Come to the NT, and the number of manuscripts and variants is highly surprising to those who have been brought up to think that the words in their Bible are clearly the word of God translated from one original and authoritative text.

    You can surely believe that I would far prefer it to be clear and obvious, with a perfectly preserved text that came down from heaven and could be viewed without doubt as the word of God (written on gold plates perhaps?) However, I think that it is part of God's purpose to leave some things that require faith and belief. There is much in the Bible that is very difficult to prove, and I'm not so sure that it is worth trying, because a record like the Bible must require some faith. I'm happy to give reasons why I believe it (though not now - I'm too busy), but to go from that to absolute proof is hard. [I will note that obtaining absolute proof for other beliefs is also difficult, and sometimes subjective].


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