Christopher Hitchens has an article in Vanity Fair that deconstructs the 10 Commandments and tries to divine what they meant when they were written and what they mean in today’s world. I’m no religious scholar, but he does make some interesting points:
I am trying my best not to view things through a smug later prism. Only the Almighty can scan matters sub specie aeternitatis: from the viewpoint of eternity. One must also avoid cultural and historical relativism: there’s no point in retroactively ordering the Children of Israel to develop a germ theory of disease (so as to avoid mistaking plagues for divine punishments) or to understand astronomy (so as not to make foolish predictions and boasts based on the planets and stars). Still, if we think of the evils that afflict humanity today and that are man-made and not inflicted by nature, we would be morally numb if we did not feel strongly about genocide, slavery, rape, child abuse, sexual repression, white-collar crime, the wanton destruction of the natural world, and people who yak on cell phones in restaurants. (Also, people who commit simultaneous suicide and murder while screaming “God is great”: is that taking the Lord’s name in vain or is it not?)”
A short version is on video here:
Hitchens suggests “the 10 Commandments” for today’s world. While they may not have come down from on high, how could anyone object to committing to live by these standards (especially No. 8):
1. Do not condemn people on the basis of their ethnicity or color.
2. Do not ever use people as private property.
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, and think and act accordingly.
7. Do not imagine that you can escape judgment if you rob people with a false prospectus rather than with a knife.
8. Turn off that fucking cell phone—you 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.
10. Be willing to renounce any god or any religion if any holy commandments should contradict any of the above.