Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Pondering Walter Williams: God's Priorities

Today I again refer to Walter Williams' list of questions for us to ponder.

Question 92. d) Why do you think that the commandments: "Thou shalt have no other Gods before me" and "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image...." are the two more important amoung the Ten Commandments, in the eyes of God?

There are really two different but related ways to answer this: for monopoly and for legitimacy. Monopoly power is probably the one WW is thinking of so let's start with that.

The first cited commandment is a way to clear out all existing competition. "Dump all your other objects of worship." The second is to establish a lasting monopoly, a barrier to entry. "Not only can you not keep your objects of worship, you can't make any more." Remember, "thy God am a jealous God."

Without competition, God gets final say on everything. Pretty sweet deal.

But it is also possible that God's pursuit of monopoly power wasn't power for its own sake but for legitimancy. It's hard to get everyone to follow the rules if some people think the rule-maker could be wrong. Thus we see God not only as the one true deity but as the ultimate moral authority (even though he gets jealous at times). Weird.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Funny isn't it, that in all the versions of the 10 commandments, "thou shall not murder" isn't first. I posted this question on religious discussions BBS and hear the old story about how "all commandments are equal".

Anyway I notice that the commandments don't say there are no other gods, just not to worship them. Since the ancient gods used idols and statues, I've always seen the "graven images" part to be mostly for reenforcement. Not only can you worship the old gods, you can't worship the new god in the old ways. It's a total break from what was before in who to worship and how to worship.

So not only does God get the final say, but there are no checks on God's power so God can do anything and it will be morally acceptable. Even if it's morally evil if Man does it. If God was after legitimancy, then why doesn't God follow God's own rules? There are passages in the Bible where God commits horrendous acts but it's OK because it's God doing it. What good can these rules be if God doesn't bother following them?