Skip to main content
Why the Ten Commandments are for atheists, too

The First Commandment

     There is a natural divide between the first three and the last seven commandments.  While seven through ten take aim at how people should treat each other, the first three are much more concerned with humanity's relationship with God. Because of this, these are commandments that atheists and agnostics would typically have little interest in.  However, after some reflection (even prayer), it becomes clear that these three can help lead anyone, believer or nonbeliever, in a positive direction.
     Let's have a look...

I, the Lord, am your God… You shall not have other gods besides me.
I live in Wilmington, Delaware. About ten years ago, there was a frightening pattern of violence in our city that had been sparked by drug deals and territorial strife. I opened the newspaper one Sunday and read an interview with a terribly depressed woman who had lost several of her relatives to the violence. Her words stunned me. “I don’t know what we can do,” she said. “Maybe Oprah will save us.”
As believers, we often look to the first commandment for guidance on avoiding superstition or putting too much faith in money or material things. We even sometimes extend this idea to remind ourselves that we should not put too much faith in people, who are flawed by nature. These may be celebrities, politicians, even family members. So can’t this same idea apply to nonbelievers as well? Can’t an atheist see the tragedy that afflicted the poor woman who was actually hoping for a talk show host to swoop in and help her? Of course, an atheist will tell me that I am equally naive for believing that God could do the same thing. I can live with that.
I come from an Irish American family that loves baseball, so superstitions abound: don’t spill the salt; don’t exit a home from a different door from the one you entered; never say the word “no-hitter” before the ninth inning. You get the idea. Sometimes superstitions are fun and can be used as a security blanket. But they can also get in the way of real worship. Should I put my faith in a rabbit’s foot or a strange ritual, or should I put it in the hands of the Almighty?
I should also note that, as a Catholic, I have often been chided by some of my Protestant friends for worshipping saints, especially the Virgin Mary. Some people fail to understand the difference between reverence and worship, and I can’t help that. As a Catholic I simply believe that there are certain holy men and women - I call them saints – that have a special relationship with God and that praying to them, and asking them to pray for me, can be extremely helpful. Not all Christians believe this; so be it.
As for my agnostic and atheist brothers and sisters, I think they can see the dangers of putting faith in the wrong place. And that is what that Commandment is all about, in my opinion.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why the Ten Commandments are for atheists, too
The Second Commandment: You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain. "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will make me go in a corner and cry by myself for hours." -Eric Idle  
             Words matter. A man is hanging a picture.His hand slips and his finger shifts in front of the hammer.Instead of hitting the nail, he hits his thumb.“Jesus Christ!” he shouts. He could have said a lot worse.I have actually had this discussion with nonbelievers who see absolutely no reason why they should refrain from using such expressions.Their attitudes usually soften when I point out that such language might offend people.They also usually concede that such expressions should not be used around children. But can we look beyond expressions of anger or surprise?A friend of mine who is a Catholic priest would routinely use expressions with the Lord’s name, explaining that this is a form of prayer.Whatever you say, Father.

Five Voices is Available!

Five Voices  Get the Kindle version for only $2.99!


Five Voices



     It’s the summer of 1996 and Izzy Buchanan has the news story that is going to make her famous. Twenty years earlier, a psychopath walked onto a campground and started shooting.  Before he was taken down by a heroic bystander, he took eleven lives and injured many others in what was the worst mass murder in the state’s history.  Izzy, an ambitious and brilliant college journalism student, has made it her goal to find and interview five survivors of the St. Anthony’s Campground shooting. A special trait unifies these five: they are the only witnesses who have never spoken publicly about what happened the day of the massacre. The five include the current governor, a young middle school teacher, a retired maintenance man, a woman who has since left the area, and the killer himself, whose pending execution makes Izzy's assignment urgent. The secrets these witnesses have been keeping will change Izzy's life forever a…

Ten Things You Didn't Know About the Apollo Moon Missions

From 1968 until 1972, the United States sent a bunch of men to the moon.  Twelve of them actually got to walk on it.  Since then, nobody has been back.  As the years have passed, much of what those men did while they were up there has either been forgotten by an uninterested general public or ignored by people who didn’t really care in the first place. Most people know that Neil Armstrong was the first to actually walk on the moon, and many can even recite his famous words that followed his first step.  Thanks to the popular movie, many are familiar with the fate of the Apollo 13 mission, which miraculously made it back to earth after an on-board explosion.  A special few have made the lame argument that it was all a hoax, one of whom Buzz Aldrin dealt with by punching in the face.  However, there are tons of interesting facts about the things these men said and did during their historic journeys.  Here a few of the more obscure ones for enthusiasts and casual fans alike. These can be …