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I will not kill. I will not lie. I will not steal...
Monday, April 28, 2003
(Read the title as Bart Simpson writing on the chalkboard.)
Eugene Volokh's post on the legally enforced prohibitions against murder, stealing, and bearing false witness remind me of an anecdote my father once told me.
He was talking to an Indian (from India) co-worker of his, and they came to the topic of the Ten Commandments.
The friend pointed out that the Ten Commandments were not actually all that unique in what they said. It's not like there are societies encouraging people to kill, steal, and lie. (Yes, I do know that there were pathological examples of these cultures throughout history, but they were few and far between.)
Rather, he pointed out, the thing with the Ten Commandments was that, where most other cultures had been able to figure these things out on their own, Moses had to be told these things. Is that really a sign of superiority?
This isn't really to impugn anybody. I think most people today believe killing, stealing, and lying is wrong, and don't need to rely on a religious text to make their case. I just want to point out that those people who claim the Ten Commandments makes Christians and Jews special or more moral may want to think a bit about exactly how that would work.
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