Thursday, August 28, 2003

Some of the noises come out of Alabama these days are almost too absurd to even comment on. Like this one: "This is a tragic day for religious liberty and the First Amendment." So says Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition.

I'd think that anybody with the most rudimentary knowledge of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution should see why this is just wrong on the face of it. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." How this can be turned around to forbid the forbidding of exactly what it sets out to forbid...? If you're reading this, you probably already know what I'm getting at. To use an appropriate metaphor, I'm preaching to the choir.

Believe it or not, I actually bookmarked the passage in Exodus that first lists the Ten Commandments, because I wanted to look into Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's statement that the Ten Commandments are are "the foundation of our law," presumably meaning Western law or American law. Now I can somehow believe that Moore has only a vague grasp of the Bill of Rights. But Jesus, has he read the Ten Commandments themselves lately? Because only three of them (stealing, killing, and perjury) are actually illegal. As for the historical influence of Judaic law, Alabama would probably be more justified enacting a monument to Hammurabi. You know, that Iraqi dude with the stuff written on the rock. His influence in codifying civil laws far exceeds that of Moses.

Again, some of these things that so plainly obvious that nobody wants to be the first to point them out. Thankfully, Christopher Hitchens exposes the Ten Commandments as a whole lotta malarkey in yesterday's Slate.

As with most of Hitchens' material, he tends to interlink his various arguments so that when one falls, they bring the others with it. For instance:

One is presuming (is one not?) that this is the same god who actually created the audience he was addressing. This leaves us with the insoluble mystery of why he would have molded ("in his own image," yet) a covetous, murderous, disrespectful, lying, and adulterous species. Create them sick, and then command them to be well? What a mad despot this is, and how fortunate we are that he exists only in the minds of his worshippers.
I couldn't agree more. God is by far the most creepy and neurotic character in all of the Old Testament. But you certainly don't have to be an atheist, or believe, as Hitchens does, that "religion is not just incongruent with morality but in essential ways incompatible with it" to see through the ridiculous statement that the Ten Commandments are "the foundation of our law." (Link via Reason's Hit & Run.)


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