Thursday, April 1, 2010

More commandments!

Alright, time to get back to commenting on the ten commandments, and their foundations, as found in Exodus 20.
After God instructs us about his (third) holy day, we finally arrive at a commandment that instructs us in a useful way:

"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you."

First, the good part: showing respect for your mother and father is important, just as important as showing respect to others in your family, and in society at large. After so much ranting and raving from a hyper-possessive God it's refreshing to hear something worthwhile, and you can't go wrong by showing people respect. While it isn't really deep moral teaching as much as it's another order to embrace authority and sing it's praises, this commandment is leaps and bounds better than the previous bunch.

Secondly, the bad part: the assertion that the land you live on was somehow given to you by God is a pretty silly one; I've never found a rational explanation for how or when this gift was given, and so that which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Having your beliefs is one thing, since what goes on inside your mind is your business, but when that belief starts to make objective truth claims about reality, it must accept being examined or tested for validity -- seems fair enough to me at any rate.

One swipe from Occam's Razor seems to settle this matter for me: the most simplistic answer to the question of how I came to live on this land is certainly one that doesn't involve a super-complex and self-contradicting deity -- which people seem to struggle in defining in the first place -- and for who's existence we have zero empirical evidence. Natural explanations are not only simpler, but have evidence to back them up, and even better is the fact that they contain the humility to not claim to know things they do not, or can not, know. Honesty and evidence are important to establishing claims as being fact or fiction, and it's in that area that Gods have a habit of not meeting their burden of proof.

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