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If I am not a believer, can I still use the Ten Commandments as an ethical base?

by Mrs. Dinka Kumer


Library » Mitzvot » Should I do them? | Subscribe | What is RSS?


While proper intentions are important for the fulfillment of the commandments, even partial observance is better than none. Perhaps in the merit of some of these Mitzvahs, you will be blessed with some clarity as to the existence of G-d.

For someone looking for ethical bases, yes, the Ten Commandments are the right address to start (don't forget to look into the other 603 commandments, too), though several of them do not seem relevant for someone who considers himself an atheist. How do you relate to "I am the Lord, your G-d" (Commandment #1), or "Have no other gods" (#2), "Do not take My Name in vain" (#3), and "Remember the Sabbath to sanctify it" (#4)? That leaves only six commandments for an ethical base!

If a person does not consider the first four to be absolutes, why should he accept the latter six as truths. If a person chooses which commandments suit his beliefs, he may one day choose to delete any of the remaining six. Unfortunately, history and current events demonstrate how sophisticated people and governments violate basic human rights in the name of their justified goodness. Their own "ethical base" may displace any of the commandments leading to genocides, lootings, anarchy, etc.

Without believing in G-d, there is no ethical base, since it is neither constant nor consistent
Also, how do you define 'murder'? Does it include suicide or abortion, how about the killing of animals? You have your answers, while your best friend has an opposite interpretation. Ethics become relative, if not random, due to the subjective understanding of each individual. Actually, it is not a base at all, since the word 'base' denotes solid stability. The commandments are reduced to suggestions, allowing every person to select the ones he finds appropriate, and this selection is subject to revision. Without believing in G-d, there is no ethical base, since it is neither constant nor consistent.

For an ethical base to be real, it must have a firm foundation in G-d. When we believe these commandments are divinely given we will not violate or alter them. As absolute truths, the commandments make us accountable for our actions, and responsible to teach them to others. G-d taught how to understand each of the commandments, so there could be clarity and unity among us. G-d is our base, and His commandments are our ethics.


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The meaninglessness of Athiesm

Posted by: Anonymous, Anchorage, AK on Jun 06, 2008

The Atheist has no objective basis for moral law. This is a well established fact.

As this article so aptly put it "For an ethical base to be real, it must have a firm foundation in G-d."

An atheistic world view can only base its morals from a subjective basis, and therefore selects laws from preferences that are utilitarian, pragmatic, or emotive.

I find such basis for morals to be unlivable, as do many in this world who daily suffer under atheistic governments. G-d finds the atheists morals to be repugnant for they reject his sovereignty over the earth.

As this article so aptly points out for an atheist to choose to live under the 10 commandments without accepting the reality of the Lawgiver who gave us these commandments is, impossible. Also, if an atheist accepts the reality of the Lawgiver of the Moral law, he/she is no longer an atheist.

A Universe without G-d is meaningless, with no ultimate source of morals. But G-d gives ultimate meaning to life.


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It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.