Secular Law and Commandments

I’ve been meaning to write a post for a while about the claim that Western Democracies are founded in Judeo-Christian religion – in particular, that the so called 10 Commandments are the basis for western law.

Considering that there are many different versions of the commandments, even rolling them into a comprehensive version shows that most of the commandments have no reality in law.

Most of the commandments are about blindly worshipping authority, be it a god or your parents. Not having jealous or envious feelings about other people and their property and some behavioural guides.

But the only commandments that have any reality is law is not killing and not stealing. Do we really need to go outside of human experience to know that stealing and killing are bad things to do to each other?

I mean, if the commandments are supposed to represent how to be the best kind of person – why isn’t not raping or not assaulting people on the list?

In any event, Austin Cline has a good breakdown of why the commandments are not the foundation for any secular laws – but shows the relationship of how religious thinking did make some of the commandments into laws that were rolled back, because there was no secular social need that was served by such laws – for example, no retail stores open on Sunday – since how we spend our days are our own concern and not the state’s concern to restrict our options based on some people’s religion.

After all, you can stay home and not shop any day of the week you want, but there’s no justification for a religion group’s rest day to be imposed on businesses and shoppers who are not adherents to said religion. Or at least, not strict followers of the archaic rules of their given religion.

3 thoughts on “Secular Law and Commandments

  1. I’m baffled why this is even an argument. To have an argument, one side needs to have some element of credibility in what they are saying. The only commandments relative to our laws pertain to killing and stealing. These were on the books well before the old testament was written, because you can’t have a functioning society if people kill and steal with impunity. The other 8 are as relevant to western democracy as a giant rabbit delivering baskets of colored eggs is to the resurrection of Christ.

    • Yes and I think that’s the missing part of the discussion.

      Religious believers start with a completely different premise about the nature of reality.

      So if we act as if their belief could be true, then there can be no further discussion with them – since their belief excludes any reality wherein their beliefs are not true.

      They are literally not living in the same world as the rest of us.

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