The Ten Commandments – Brief But Brilliant!

December 8, 2011 by
Filed under: Answering an Atheist, Old Testament 


 

Why are the Ten Commandments so shallow/narrow? Why do the commandments say nothing about children’s rights, the internet or offer great insights about math?

 

I found the above question a little amusing. It came originally from an Agnostic/Atheist type (Agath) and is very different to what you would expect. Agaths usually oppose restrictive laws and here one is asking for more. Doesn’t make sense!

But that’s not the only weak point in this question. Three areas of concern are mentioned: Children’s rights, mathematics and the internet. And the complaint is, God failed to regulate these issues.

Well, I agree and disagree.

Mathematics

When it comes to mathematics I agree completely. God said nothing about it and we shouldn’t be surprised.

The physical world is numbers-based and life is a series of computations: watching the time, measuring weight, assigning value, etc. Everything is calculated.

Which is to say, God designed mathematics to fit well within the boundaries of the human domain and, accordingly, He endowed humans with extensive mathematical abilities. We love playing with numbers and have done so since the beginning of time.

The Egyptians with their Pyramids demonstrated advanced knowledge of mathematical concepts and the Pyramids were built before the Ten Commandments were written. There is evidence South American communities were advanced mathematicians also.

So, the question is: If God created us with the ability to figure these things out why would He waste time giving us all the answers.

Instead, He respected our intelligence enough to leave mathematical concepts for self discovery.

Internet

And the internet?? What would we expect God to say?

Remember the word “Google!” You’ll need it in 3000 years!

Jokes aside, if Agath is worried about the misuse of the internet, well, a little investigation shows that the Ten Commandments provide more than sufficient guidelines to cover these infractions also.

More about that just now.

Children’s Rights

Of all three complaints this one echos the greatest sense of indignation as if God or Christians are uncaring but is actually a bit short sighted. It made me wonder if Agath had actually read the Commandments.

For example, the Commandments say things like:

  • ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.’

The Sabbath was primarily a day off, a day to rest. Religious people, unfortunately, have limited the significance of the Sabbath by suggesting it is primarily a day of worship. Sorry, we don’t worship on the sabbath any more than we do on any other day. Worship is what we do 24/7. Even sleeping, done properly, honors God. The Sabbath is the day we worship by resting.

But here is the point. Wouldn’t that mean kids get a day off too?

Remember, in those days kids didn’t attend day school. They were very involved with chores around the house and the family business. The career path for kids in antiquity was determined by the profession of the parents. Jesus’ carpenter skills were learned from Joseph.

So, child labor issues are covered.

  • ‘You shall not murder.’

Doesn’t that mean children can’t be murdered or must God specifically use the word “children” for us to get the picture?

  • ‘You shall not commit adultery.’

Wouldn’t it be adultery if a married person sexually abuses a child?

  • ‘You shall not steal.’

Surely that means we can’t steal from kids and since kids have little material wealth it means we can’t steal their innocence or the best years of the lives to learn, grow and development. A little imagination, very little, enables one to see that kids are well accounted for in the Commandments.

  • ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.’

Doesn’t the word “neighbor” include children?

You get the point. Children are very much in view with the Ten Commandments.

Brilliance In Brevity

What most people don’t readily see is the brilliance of the Ten Commandments. Every law, statute and regulation can be categorized under one of the commandments.

In fact, according to Jesus every law regulating human relationships can be narrowed even further to just one commandment:

“Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

If every person loved their neighbor like they should we wouldn’t even need ten commandments and since children are neighbors they are clearly allowed for.

Two quick and final questions from Agath:

Doesn’t the conflict between Christian, Muslim and Jewish beliefs cancel each other out? If one is right wouldn’t the others be considered atheists?

No, the differences mean one of several possibilities:

  • One, they may all be absolutely wrong.
  • Two, one may be absolutely right and the other two absolutely wrong.
  • Three, one may be mostly right and the others different but not critically wrong.
  • Four, they may all be wrong but not critically so.

But the differences would never imply atheism. Atheism is only one way to be wrong. There are many “believing” ways to be wrong also.

Why doesn’t God heal amputees (restore lost limbs)? Why does He only heal things that have a statistical possibility of healing on their own, e.g., cancers?

Two things.

Firstly, the only way any person could say with certainty that God has never healed an amputee is if that person was completely omni-capable and eternal. You would need to know every amputee that ever lived to know that God had never restored a limb.

Secondly, I would neither encourage amputees to expect this type of healing nor suggest that every claimed miracle was truly a miracle. Very sincere people make outlandish claims all the time. That doesn’t mean they are accurate. In fact, I have written another post explaining why I believe God doesn’t grant miracles on demand.

Claiming miracles in the name of God is a popular thing to do and Agath types see these claims for what they are, a desire to be recognized by God and accepted by the greater community of Christians.

The desire is driven by insecurity.

But because Christians sincerely get it wrong occasionally doesn’t mean God can’t or doesn’t perform miracles. It just means our perceived need for miracles does not guarantee one.

Also understand that the desire for a miracle isn’t wrong even if it isn’t wise. Non-Christians get this wrong too. More than one person has told me he or she became atheist because the miracle they prayed for wasn’t granted. How shallow is that!

Misunderstandings about miracles prevail on both sides of the issue.

God’s miracles serve higher purposes not personal ones and when people, Christians or not, get that wrong God shouldn’t be implicated or His existence questioned. He has never claimed to be the heavenly Santa Claus. The evidence for God is sufficient without the performance of individualized miracles.

By the way, I can understand an agnostic response more than one that is atheistic. An agnostic says, “I can’t be sure” when God doesn’t respond the way they expect or responds in ways they don’t understand.

An atheist responds by saying, “He doesn’t exist.” That’s like a wife saying her husband doesn’t exist every time he fails to do the things he should do, never mind what she requests him to do.

Agath has the option to refuse God if he or she wishes but please don’t use Christians or the claims they make as an excuse.

THINK!AboutIt

In The Reason For God Timothy Keller confronts head on the questions that skeptics are asking, yet without a confrontational style. It is sensible, rational and engaging. A must read for every thinking person, Christian or not. His approach to hard questions about God not only provides answers it encourages us to develop analytical thinking skills. Also available is a DVD with discussion guide for small group interaction.
 


Comments

2 Comments on The Ten Commandments – Brief But Brilliant!

  1. Terrah on Sun, 25th Dec 2011 3:25 pm
  2. I might be beantig a dead horse, but thank you for posting this!

  3. EnnisP on Mon, 26th Dec 2011 7:53 pm
  4. Hey Andrea,

    Seems like your question is rhetorical so I won’t bother responding. Thanks for the visit and the comment though.

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