Christopher Hitchens’ Ten Commandments, via Hemant Mehta’s Friendly Atheist blog.
I’m fascinated by the obvious irrelevancy of the traditional, Biblical, commandments, and have collected here on my blog various alternate versions (I need to create and retroactively tag those earlier posts on this subject.)
Christopher Hitchens, who died in 2011, was of course a famous author and raconteur, given to heavy drinking and smoking, habits which he realized contributed to his relatively early death at age 62. He’s best known in popular culture as one of the three ‘atheist horsemen’ (along with Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris) who published books in the 2000s about the pernicious effects of religion and faith; Hitchens’ book was god is not Great (2007), with its deliberate un-capitalization of the first word of the title.
Here’s a summary and gloss on his talk, at that link.
Hitchens presents his ideas as opposed to the *four* versions of the commandments that Moses released. (I was aware of two; I’ll have to check out his reference.)
He discusses the problem of ‘graven images’ and Christian art. And other obvious problems with the traditional ten.
(As I’ve said before, half of the traditional ten are simply special cases of the general “Golden Rule”: do unto others what you would have them do unto you.)
Either God, Hitchens says, or the people who invented him, the early Jews, improvises, is jealous, is inconsistent, and is short-tempered.
And so here is Hitchens’ Ten:
#1 Do not condemn people on the basis of their ethnicity or their color;
#2 Do not ever even think of using people as private property, or as owned, or as slaves;
#3 Despise those who use violence, or the threat of it, in sexual relations;
#4 Hide your face and weep if you dare to harm a child;
#5 Do not condemn people for their inborn nature; Why would God create so many homosexuals only in order to torture and destroy them?;
#6 Be aware that you too are an animal, and dependent on the web of nature. Try to think and act accordingly.
#7 Don’t imagine that you can escape Judgement if you rob people with a false prospectus, rather than with a knife;
#8 Turn off that fucking cellphone; you can have no idea how unimportant your call is to us;
#9 Denounce all Jihadists and Crusaders for what they are: psychopathic criminals with ugly delusions, and terrible sexual repressions;
#10 Be willing to renounce any God, or any faith, if any Holy Commandment should contradict any of the above.
In short: Don’t swallow your moral code in tablet form.
My comment: he’s a bit off the rails with his 8th, which almost undermines his entire project (of course he might have stated it more generally, e.g. don’t be so selfish; be considerate of others), but in general his suggestions, as with most of the alternatives I’ve linked here previously, are superior to the traditional ten, which were born of illiterate desert tribes who thought the world was flat.