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The Ten Commandments

[Editor’s note: Two articles by William Edelen under the title of “The Ten Commandments,” which were previously published separately in the Secular Web Library, have been here combined into one.]


There is no need to ever fear aliens from outer space moving in with us. They would take one look at Congress and know, without a doubt, that we had not evolved past a Neanderthal mentality. They would give their space ships full throttle and head for home and sanity.

Mark Twain said it like this: “In the first place God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made congressmen.”

On June l7, the House voted to allow the Ten Commandments to be posted in schools and other government buildings. Rep. Robert Aderholt (Republican, Alabama) said “this will end children killing children and promote morality.” Rep. Bob Barr (Republican, Georgia) said: “If the Ten Commandments had been posted at Columbine High School, the April 20 massacre would never have happened.”

Mark Twain used the word “idiots.” I would call them mentally deranged bordering on insanity.

The Ten Commandments are in fact only a primitive cultic code of taboos written BY Hebrew men FOR Hebrew men. The famous actress Ruth Gordon put it in perfect perspective. She said to an audience; “There is one commandment I have never broken … I can assure you. I have never coveted my neighbor’s wife.”

All “thou shall not kill” meant is that thou shall not kill another Hebrew. The giver of the commandment, Moses, continued to order genocide, murder, a scorched earth policy and “ethnic cleansing” on all of his enemies. And all with this primitive tribal God’s blessing.

“thou shall not kill” was not understood by Moses, or the Israelites, or “God” to be any kind of a moral or ethical prohibition of killing.

“honor your father and mother,” you bet, or else be killed by your Hebrew dad. “for every child who curses his father or mother shall be killed” and with God’s blessing. (Leviticus 20:9) Post that in schools and government buildings.

The so called “sexual” commandments had absolutely nothing to do with sexual morality. They were taboos based on the rights of property. Women in this day were owned possessions. Men could sell them or divorce them at will.

The so called “Ten Commandments” were a primitive cultic code of taboos written BY Hebrew men FOR Hebrew men. Congress wants this primitive code of 3000 years ago to be a divine code of “morals” for 1999. It is mental derangement bordering on insanity. Religious ignorance gone to seed.

What is good and what is right can be found in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Combined with your own innate, humane, moral and ethical sensibilities and sensitivities today as to what is just, good and right, and that is quite enough.


We are being drowned today in biblical ignorance, religious illiteracy and historical stupidity by the religious and political right in this country. In no other place is this so visible as in the prostitution of the “Ten Commandments.” They want these archaic and primitive cultic codes posted all over the U.S. in schools … court houses … public buildings and on and on and on into a nightmare of militant ignorance. Goethe defined “evil” as “militant ignorance.”

These archaic “commandments” were nothing more than a cultic code written BY Hebrew men FOR Hebrew men. Nothing more–nothing less.

No one has so put these “Ten Commandments” in perspective better than Ruth Gordon, the actress. She said to an audience, … “There is one commandment that I can assure you … I have never broken … I have never coveted my neighbor’s wife.”

Sir James Frazer in his classic THE GOLDEN BOUGH writes: “these commandments of Israel are taboos of a familiar type in primitive religions disguised as commands of a tribal God.”

Dr. Ernest Colwell, former Dean of the Theological Seminary, the University of Chicago, writes: “these were prescriptions written ONLY for the Hebrew cult. They acquired authority due to their association with the rites of the cult.”

All “thou shalt not kill” meant is that thou shall not kill another Hebrew. The giver of the commandment, Moses, quite obviously ignored it with everyone except the Hebrews. And all with his jealous and war like God’s blessing. In the Book of Numbers, Chapter 31, verse 17/18, Moses gives this order: “now kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known a man by lying with him. But all the women children, the virgins, keep alive for yourselves.”

Probably in all of history there has never been a command more revolting to human sensibilities. A scorched earth policy. Genocide. Ordered by Moses, AFTER the so called Commandment “not to kill.”

According to Christian fundamentalists, at the same time they are extolling the virtue of the commandment “thou shalt not kill,” they claim that they would have been deprived of salvation if Jesus had not been killed. In other words, they claim that through the violation of this commandment, the human race was saved. What double talk and gobbledegook they live with.

And yet today … the biblically ignorant and religiously illiterate want to post these archaic and primitive cultic codes on every tree, fence, wall, room, building, school, park in the United States.

There is just no limit to the stupidity of the religious and political right.

“Evil … is militant ignorance.” And so it is.