Monday, August 20, 2007

"You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth." So, should Simon Cowell be trembling in his shoes? I suppose the answer depends on what in the hell this Commandment means, a small point on which there seems to be little agreement. The most common interpretation is to say that you shouldn't worship false Gods. But what is a false God? Is it a statue of a cow, or is it anything that you value in your life apart from God? It is also argued that what is prohibited is worshiping any image of God. This is close to the position Muslims take regarding Muhammad, and the reason that the Danish cartoons caused such a uproar. Today I read on, that what is prohibited is not the representation of God with a symbol, but rather the representation of God as something less than he is. According to this enlightened scholar, the second Commandment is very relevant today because the God worshipped today is the supreme being and the most powerful force in reality, but not the transcendent cause of everything. We conceive of God as potentially "thwarted [by] [s]atan, demons, [or] human free-will," and thus "we have made ourselves polytheists and have failed to obey the second commandment." I love that. Human free will is comparable to a demon or Satan. Wow. Very cool.
This Commandment is very much like the first one: it's idiotic. First of all, there would appear to be quite a bit of evidence that humans cause a few things, and that human free will is real and leads to a wide variety of ends ranging from 'good' to 'bad' and encompassing everything in between. Of course, logic is probably another demon. Rather than relying on centuries of accumulated research and experience, let's rely on a book written many many many years ago by people who had never seen a printing press, a phone, a microscope, a telescope, a computer, a camera, a car, a boat, a train, a laboratory, a test tube, a strand of DNA, or any of Robert Frost's poems. Second, aren't there more important things to worry about. If I want to worship a cow, why not let me? Third, who gets to determine what is a false idol. Why should it be a Christian? Fourth, while it is clear that many people have misplaced priorities, I wouldn't include a doctor spending many nights searching for a cure for cancer rather than attending church. In fact, misplaced priorities seem to be a speciality of many conservative Christians. In many parts of Africa people are starving , AIDS is running rampant, children are being kidnapped and forced to fight in wars, natural resources are being stolen and little given in return, and, worst of all, some groups are distributing condoms. How horrible. What do you think. Fifth ... well maybe I can stop, because I think the point is clear. If the Christian God was real, this Commandment would be unnecessary, thus the Christian God can't be real and worshipping him is a sin.

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