Sunday, 7 February 2010

"The Ten Commandments and Me" - Ann Widdecombe

I just watched a programme on UK Channel 4 with MP Ann Widdecombe explaining why she thought the Biblical Ten Commandments were so relevant, and suggesting that society today would be a better place if we took more account of them. There was a subtext running through the programme that Christianity had served our country well down the centuries, and we would be well advised to stick with it as an alternative to our current obsession with consumerism and celebrity.

I have no problem with a majority of the exhortations in the ten commandments. I do however have an issue with the notion that without these biblical commendments we would lose our way in the moral maze of life. Are we seriously to consider that "Thou shalt not kill" is a uniquely Christian idea, or that without it we would all feel that it was acceptable to kill

At this point fundamentalists are liable to quote Stalin or Hitler or Pol Pot as examples of how atheism leads to people being "permitted" to indulge in mass slaughter. Oh pleease! They did not commit those crimes BECAUSE they were atheists. I am an atheist, but I don't think that gives me a licence to kill. It's a basic tenet of a civilised human society not to kill fellow humans. The same shared values apply equally to all the other non-supernatural Biblical commandents.

However, atheists and humanists are individuals rather than subscribers to a specific creed. I think we tend to see ethics and morals as self evident. There are many religions and cultures amongst humans around the World, but I'm not aware of any that have a markedly different view to the Christian code of behaviour. These values are absolutely not unique to Christians.
Perhaps we should nail our colours to the mast a bit more and declare what we all share in common. Hmmm... Something to think about. It is absurd to accept some Christians' position that we need to embrace their religion to be truly moral humans.

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