Science is the Ultimate Religion
The validity of the Ten Commandments comes from their
Empirical Wisdom rather than the Authority of God.
“Who is Einstein to tell The Lord what to do?”
– Niels Bohr
Within Judaism there are 10 basic concepts so intensively institutionalized in the religion that they are known as the 10 Commandments. Despite their overwhelming authoritarian tone, they each have a very empirical basis.
1. I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee
out of the
Despite Judaism's historic respect for education, when the 10 Commandments were originally codified Jews were overwhelming illiterate. As with dealing with a very young child, the most efficient way to impose behavior guidelines on someone childish or uneducated is not as "suggestions" supplemented with a rational social benefit or statistical validity, but to impose them as authoritarian "Commands." And the most efficient way to give those Commands authority is to claim their authorship from the Ultimate Authority. That Authority also then serves as the basis for all of the other religious requirements and traditions.
The irony is that there is within the core of Judaism, as exemplified by Abraham, a search for an empirical explanation for how the world functions, and a unifying belief that there is a unifying and constant and consistent and eternal and omnipotent concept that governs it. With the quantification of natural forces we call that concept “Science” which used to be called the “Laws of Nature.” The difference is that Science now quantifies those Laws, and that anything that supposedly violates those Laws is actually NOT a reflection of God, but is more likely a result of misinterpretation, misinformation, or misrepresentation.
2. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; Thou shalt not bow down unto them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; And showing mercy unto the thousandth generation of them that love Me and keep My commandments.
At the time of its inceptions and the codification of the Bible, Judaism was surrounded by other religions with their cultural God or gods. Religions predating Judaism tried to simplify causality by isolating specific events rather than proscribing an underlying unity. Thus, the references to the god of fertility, the god of the sea, the god of war, etc. One might vie this as similar to describing the properties of chemical atoms (which of course was inconceivable at the time to those cultures) but it also was inadequate in explaining the underlying nature of those atoms.
However, the God of Judaism is incorporeal. The necessity of a God that is constant and consistent and eternal and omnipotent requires that IT cannot be described or represented in any specific physical form. No matter what that form may take. When we put physical supernatural powers on any object, even a Torah, we are turning that object into a “graven image” and violating the basic concept of God. What makes Torah sacred is NOT the words it contains, but rather the wisdom it represents and the questions it inspires. When those words are ossified as being the “word of God” the very function of the Torah becomes a violation of the Second Commandment rather than a guide for its application.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.
You cannot have a stable society or stable relationships based upon deceit or misrepresentation. To use the “Name of God” serves as the ultimate authority to proclaim honesty and integrity. While there still might be circumstances where a lack of total openness might be disruptive or destructive, open deceit or misrepresentation will always be disruptive and destructive.
Viewing the Torah as a “sacred object” rather than as a representation of historic wisdom and a vehicle for learning violates the basic concept of God and, in turn, is “taking the name of the Lord in vain.”
4. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath in honour of the Lord thy God; on it thou shalt not do any work, neither thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Recognition of time as a factor of human behavior was basic because of the concept of the day. Recognition of units of time of multiple days (as well as quantifying units of time down to milliseconds) was a breakthrough.
But “work” is an emotional concept as well as a physical
concept. Physical concepts of work
5. Honor thy father and thy mother; in order that thy days may be prolonged upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
Survival as a species requires reproduction of the next generation. The actions of parents serve as role models for their children. Honoring parents has a dual function in that it not only recognizes that role model relationship, but it encourages the parents to be worth of that honor. Notice that the Commandment does NOT say “obey your parents.” Blind obedience, to parents and/or to God, becomes potentially destructive of both the individual and the relationship due to misinterpretation or misunderstandings.
6. Thou shalt not kill.
Killing is an overt act of taking the life (as implied as taking the life of another human). Someone who is capable of that act is also not capable of having a symbiotic relationship with other people, and therefore is destructive to those individual in close proximity as well as to society at large. Primitive cultures and societies tended to have its leadership based on killing those who threaten the leader as a primary method of maintaining that leadership position. As humans, however, survival of a society and the economic benefits of being in that society are frequently based on symbiotic rather than on predatory relationships. Discouraging killing as a means of settling disputes or determining leadership tends to be counter-productive as to growing the wealth and skills of society as well as providing the next generation of its leadership.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
In primitive societies, female members of that society were often regarded as property of the males. Adultery has two complications: one, it becomes “theft of property” and two it confuses the origin of offspring as to inheritance. There is another factor in that adultery leads to jealousy and rivalries whose emotional impact might lead to one or more of the parties trying to kill the other members to resolve those adultery conflicts and emotions. See Commandment number six as to why this is not advisable and can be counter-productive.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
Society functions best when there is symbiosis and trust among its membership. Stealing destroys that symbiosis and becomes counter-productive as to increasing the wealth of that society.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
Bearing False Witness is not just “lying” but “lying under oath.” Again, it is counterproductive to the symbiosis of society since that is based on trust.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.
Coveting the assets of your neighbor (even where the neighbor’s wife is NOT regarded as property) may lead to actions where an individual’s actions leads to stealing those assets or killing in order to acquire those assets. That behavior is also counterproductive to the stability and growth of a symbiotic society.
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