Saturday, February 13, 2010

God 2.0, or, I'm applying for the position of Supreme Being

I keep asking myself whether this little project isn't some geeky form of mental masturbation. I've decided to go ahead and publish it with this rationalization: if you come here in a frame of mind similar to that in which I started this journey, if you're looking for reasons to ditch Yahweh, then for every one of my Commandments 2.0, ask yourself, "Why didn't Yahweh tell us this?" Not only in the Ten Commandments, five of which are clearly ridiculous (but let's allow that taking a day off at least once a week has a healthy ring to it), but throughout the entire bible, both Old and New Testaments.

Why is our morality so much grander than everything Yahweh ever said?

Ten Commandments, Version 1.0

  1. No other gods*
  2. No idols*
  3. No wrongful use of divine name*
  4. Remember and keep holy the Sabbath
  5. Honor father and mother*
  6. Don’t murder
  7. Don’t commit adultery
  8. Don’t steal
  9. Don’t bear false witness against your neighbor
  10. Don’t covet*
* I declare all of these stupid, useless commandments. If they're from humans, they're just plain stupid. If they're from a deity, no less than the Supreme Creator of the universe, then they're reprehensibly small-minded in addition to being stupid.

Ten Commandments, Version 2.0

Some of these are not fully fleshed out. I'm really just floating this to you, people of Earth, to see what you think. If you're interested, let me know, and I'll put the finishing touches on it.

And hey: if you find my language pompous or long-winded, get over it. God gets to be that way.
  1. Your thoughts are your own. No one can tell what your thoughts are unless you articulate them. It is impossible for anyone to be hurt by your thoughts. There is no such thing as thought crime. How many other ways can I say it?
  2. Human beings cannot be owned. No slavery. Ever.
  3. Any creature, human or otherwise, that has even a rudimentary nervous system can suffer physical pain. Many creatures, human and otherwise, can also suffer psychological pain. It is always wrong to cause deliberate suffering, with extremely limited exceptions--see the animal treatment commandments. Other than that, don’t do it. Ever. I’m serious.
  4. Children have special rights. They are physically and emotionally defenseless. They do not have the faculties to deal with adult situations. Parents/guardians must protect their children and deal with life’s complexities on their behalf, always keeping the children’s best interests in mind.
    • Do not marry a child.
    • Do not have sex with a child.
    • Do not take advantage of a child’s defenselessness.
    • Do not sit idly while you know of children who are being mistreated.
    • Do not tell a child that he/she is bad, unworthy, inferior, or in need of any kind of redemption. Ever.
  5. Equality
    • All humans are morally equal to, and have the same rights as, all other humans. No societal category (e.g., race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, etc.) is inherently better or worse in any way than any other group. No societal group is allowed any legal privilege that is not available to all other groups. No group is to be restrained in a way that is not binding on all others.
    • Segregation of any kind is not allowed, except sexual segregation in public restrooms, because frankly, men are gross.
  6. The value of human life
    • Murder - I'll come back to this; you have a slightly better handle on this than on these other issues.
    • Euthanasia
      • See the constitutional government document described below. It contains a procedure for creating a committee with the best chance of success in reaching a morally sound decision. Sometimes such committees will make mistakes. Welcome to life.
      • The decision for euthanasia must be decided on a case-by-case basis by such a committee except in obvious emergency situations, in which case, hopefully the quality of society emerging from these commandments will have given you good judgment, so do your best.
      • As euthanasia is an act of mercy, it should be considered at any time that irremediable suffering occurs, regardless of the victim’s age. This is a tricky one. Don’t kid yourself; some problems have no easy answers. This one allows for infanticide, just as a minimum example. Life is complex. Get used to it.
    • Abortion: legal but strongly advised against; assume the basic goodness of women, which suggests that very few women would use it as a callous means of birth control. Better to let the failure of the law be in the direction of allowing too much, because basic human goodness in the form of maternal instinct will limit the abuse. Abortion is painful enough without complicating it with rules and shame. Would also have to talk about how the older the baby becomes (even before birth), the harder the decision becomes; at some point well before 9 months, somewhere between three and five perhaps, we'd have to get that moral committee involved again to make the decision.
    • Contraception: legal, moral; I'd love to make a list of cases where they're absolutely required, but that might be impractical. I could seriously countenance an extension of my reproductive responsibility commandments that just sterilizes (reversibly, of course) all boys at birth and then restores their potency upon receipt of a "siring license," which would require courses in parenting and extended admonitions to be good dads who remain with their children and provide for them.
    • Stem cell research: I have to do some more research, but I heard a speaker whom I trust a lot, Sam Harris, point out that the blastocysts that everyone was up in arms about are, at three days after conception, clumps of 150 cells that have no nervous system (therefore no suffering) whatsoever, and nothing more in common with us than any other clump of 150 mammalian fetal cells. While a fly's brain has 150,000 cells in it. He also pointed out that while some people claim that the blastocyst at three days has a soul, such blastocysts frequently split (which half gets the soul, and whence the new soul?) and then after splitting sometimes recombine (two souls in one body?). No solid answer on this one due to lack of research but you can see where I'd take it.
  7. Sex & Marriage
    • Masturbation is good for you. Do it as much as you want to. Just like anything else, don’t become addicted to it. But if you do become addicted, you haven’t committed a sin. Don’t beat yourself up (no pun intended—see, God 2.0 has a sense of humor), just get help.
    • Do not be sexual in any way (including touching and kissing) with anyone without his/her express consent. Ever.
    • What you do, alone or with mutually consenting adults of any number and sex, in a socially acceptable place and time, is part of the joy of life, so indulge yourself as much as you like.
    • Adults, do not have sex with a child. Ever.
    • Children, sexual experimentation with other children is normal, but don’t go too fast. Best to defer intercourse until you’re at least 18. Ask your parents for sexual guidance throughout your childhood, especially during adolescence. When you and they agree publicly (yes, because Sex 2.0 isn’t something to be ashamed of, ever) that you’re ready for intercourse, or when you’re 18, then you’re sexually an adult and can have sex with anyone you like.
  8. Lying
    • Children, you may lie to your parents if you are afraid. It is totally ok for you to protect yourself from psycho parents. But if you're not afraid, always tell the truth to your parents. It's not about being good or bad. It's about your safety and well-being. Parents need all the info in order to maximize their effectiveness on your behalf.
    • Adults, certain lying is ok. Not just white lies, but say for example, you ask me out of the blue whether I've ever tried cocaine. I have a right to lie to you if it's none of your business. Otherwise, if I refuse to answer, you can confidently guess that I probably have, which means that you were able to extract info from me that you had no right to have. If I'm in some sort of trust relationship with you, then depending on the type of relationship, then it is automatically your business. The main reason for this commandment is that so many of you will torture yourselves and ruin your lives rather than tell a completely acceptable lie. Don't be so silly.
    • Society, make it safe for children always to tell the truth to their parents. If a child is put into a situation by his/her nutjob parents such that the child is afraid to tell the truth, then put a stop to it.
  9. Don’t steal (umm, duh?)
  10. Circumcision (no cutting ever for boys or girls or non-specific except when absolutely medically necessary), Sex assignment, Sacredness of intersex people
  11. Education/Teachers/Science/Basic Research
    • Education
      • You have some serious gaps in your primary school curricula. Add the following as required learning: critical thinking (this should be built-in to all of your teaching, but also teach it explicitly), morality, comparative religion, how to fit into society, how to cope with unhappiness, how to be an effective and helpful parent.
      • Private schools are not allowed, obviously, given that none of you is to have any privileges not available to all others. With any luck this will force you who care about education to provide good education to everyone.
    • Teachers
      • Teachers are to be held to the strictest standards of academic and professional quality, and ability to enrich children’s lives in every way possible.
      • Teachers are to be the highest-paid and most respected members of society.
      • The teachers of your youngest children are to be paid at least twice what teachers of adults are paid. Make a linear pay scale continuum from teachers of the youngest children to the teachers of adult education.
  12. Crime/Imprisonment/Mental Health/Addiction/Homelessness/Drugs
  13. Environment Stewardship/Pollution/Resource management/Population
  14. Animals
    • Treatment: you'll need a lot of input from animal experts on this one. Some species, such as horses and dogs but not humans, do rely on very mild and judiciously applied physical suffering as part of their social dynamic. Learn from your experts how to provide a healthy environment for your animals and treat them with respect and dignity, applying suffering when it is best for them.
    • Carnivorism--I'll...heh heh...flesh this out later.
  15. Censorship: at least get your priorities straight. Again, welcome to the complexity of life. If you have your eyes open at all you’ll see that censorship is not a black-and-white issue. Argue amongst yourselves about it all the time because it’s important, but consider this: it is absolutely stupid to allow people to display images of ghastly violence but to forbid images of sexual activities and human bodies. It is absolutely stupid to allow people to broadcast hatred but to forbid specific swear words on the air. Get a clue. Notice the difference between something beautiful and something horrible.
  16. I saved this one for last, because this might be the deal-breaker, especially in the U.S. Listen carefully: there is no such thing as a right to bear children. No one has the right to bring a child into the world if they cannot provide an appropriate childhood. Not even to speak of the environmental stewardship commandment. Use the government I’ve described for you to make good laws concerning reproductive responsibility. Let me be clear: RESPONSIBILITY.
  17. Government: oh, by the way, there is no perfect government, but you are capable of greatness. I’ve given Moses another document describing the best possible government for human society. Its crowning feature is that it’s designed to grow with your society in a safe way. Its central design principle can be expressed as “Make it easy to do the right thing, and hard to do the wrong thing.” And don’t worry: I’m God 2.0; now I know right from wrong.
  18. Finally, if you find any of these commandments ambiguous or in need of interpretation, don’t consult spiritual mediums. Call me. I’m around. I’ll probably involve you in the answer.


  1. I did something similar but was able to sum it up in 4 commandments. Try shorter and to the point.
    1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. ( I stole that one)
    2. Never cause harm of any kind to anyone else. This includes physical, psychologoical, sexual, financial etc... (This includes acting irresponsibly that ends up hurting someone in the future)
    3. Never cause harm of any kind to yourself. This include phsycial, psychological, sexual, financial etc...
    4. Your final commandment in this life is to learn everything you can about this life without breaking the 1st 3 commandments.

    Side note. Please be an extremist in these rules. I promise you can't hurt anything by doing so.

  2. I agree, but only in parts. If you pay teachers of young children more than university professors (who also have to do hours of research in addition to teaching, of course), you'll severely hinder scientific development and possibly shut down universities. But I do agree completely that teachers to those of any age should be paid very well. They should also be shown respect.

    Good points about euthanasia. There should be (imho) health, incest, and rape exceptions for the abortion rule, even if it's only until the point of viability. (In an ideal world there would be no rape, but not everyone is going to listen to your other commandments regarding not hurting others.) Also, in case of fetal defects that will lead to still birth or a very short lifespan, abortions should be allowed until the end of pregnancy, even if it's just inducing premature labor. Again, these are my opinions, so...they are what they are. I know it sounds like I want you to change your mind. I don't. :)

    It's great that your followers would be able to clear up any questions with you ;) , as ambiguity in the phrasings of other religious texts have caused a multitude of problems.

    Btw, truthseeker (commenter above me), you have a contradiction between rules 2 and 3. If you are being attacked by someone else, and you don't want to cause harm to them in self-defence, they are going to harm you. So by not wanting to hurt someone else, you've indirectly harmed yourself. Also, I think if someone wants to harm their own physical body or mind, they should be able to.

    I'm glad these are just blog posts and comments, not real laws. Part of the problem is that no one is perfect, no one can think of everything, and no one can phrase everything in completely precise language.

    Sorry for length. haha