Who Needs 10 Commandments Anyway

Pen Jillette has his 10 Commandments up from his new book. I take issue with what I’m seeing as naivete. So, blog post!

1. The highest ideals are human intelligence, creativity and love. Respect these above all.

2. Do not put things or even ideas above other human beings. (Let’s scream at each other about Kindle versus iPad, solar versus nuclear, Republican versus Libertarian, Garth Brooks versus Sun Ra— but when your house is on fire, I’ll be there to help.)

3. Say what you mean, even when talking to yourself. (What used to be an oath to (G)od is now quite simply respecting yourself.)

4. Put aside some time to rest and think. (If you’re religious, that might be the Sabbath; if you’re a Vegas magician, that’ll be the day with the lowest grosses.)

5. Be there for your family. Love your parents, your partner, and your children. (Love is deeper than honor, and parents matter, but so do spouse and children.)

6. Respect and protect all human life. (Many believe that “Thou shalt not kill” only refers to people in the same tribe. I say it’s all human life.)

7. Keep your promises. (If you can’t be sexually exclusive to your spouse, don’t make that deal.)

8. Don’t steal. (This includes magic tricks and jokes — you know who you are!)

9. Don’t lie. (You know, unless you’re doing magic tricks and it’s part of your job. Does that make it OK for politicians, too?)

10. Don’t waste too much time wishing, hoping, and being envious; it’ll make you bugnutty.

I like the beginning of the first point he makes. Human intelligence and creativity are awesome. Love is suspect. It smacks of woo. Altruism, self sacrifice, loyalty and so forth are things that should be discussed separately. After all, what is love? Baby, don’t hurt me no more.

The second point is crap. “Do not put things or even ideas above other human beings.” That’s unusable. It sounds like it makes sense. But every dollar you don’t spend in starving African nations is a dollar spent that could have saved lives. It reeks of feel good and when you dig you get to economy which is the balance of limited resources against unlimited wants. You can’t always put people first. People are important. Point two is poorly thought out.

I can get behind point 3. Honesty is important. Privacy is also important. Say what you mean. But leave room for jokes and privacy.

Point 4 is okay albeit boring. It’s like rest and have down time.

Point 5 I take some issue with. “Family” is a loaded word. I think we covered people being important on point 2. But if your family is killing you as they do by draining you and being familiar strangers no matter how much you just want to make sense, drop them. Or at least reduce their impact. For the sake of all people you should be willing to tailor your involvement to sustainable levels. Penn doesn’t give you all that leeway and promotes that “love is deeper than honor”. No. Love is a foil. Blood doesn’t make a friendship. If your relatives are friends, more power to you.

Point 6 is point 2 again. But this time it can be an argument for pro-life stances. I disagree with it.

Point 7 is Point 3. Keep your promises is a lot like say what you mean. Furthermore, I think your word is important but is it the seventh most important thing? No. That’s because you need to be willing to grow and change at any time and sometimes that affects your current promise.

Point 8 is simple “don’t steal.” It’s naive. Steal if you must to survive. If you steal from me, we have a conflict. And so it goes. It is unnatural to own property and with desperate times full of people at wide varieties of income, well, I just hope they are doing whatever they can think of to survive. I think that’s the appropriate game theory.

Point 9 is Point 7 and Point 2. Don’t Lie. Say what you mean which involves keeping your promises. Is honesty that important? No. Falsifiability is.

Point 10 is the joke at the end representing the don’t covet clause of the Old Testament. It’s not serious and so I won’t overly debug it. I think ambition is generally an awesome thing. Channel yours.

Soon, I will come up with my rebuttal to the 10 Commandments but I haven’t decided if it’s important to come up with my top ten or just to try and structure my most important concepts that I personally would advocate.

Stay tuned.

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3 Responses to “Who Needs 10 Commandments Anyway”

  1. Ben says:

    Top ten lists suffer from one of two issues: to make an exact number they either repeat themselves with different wording (see above) or they cut out things that should be in there.

    Besides, here’s the one rule to rule to them all:

    Be respectful of yourself and others, in that order.

    Steal if you need it to survive, but don’t steal just for fun. Keep your promises, except when its necessary to break them. Take time for yourself but meet your obligations if you can. Don’t kill, unless you have to protect yourself or somebody else. Be ambitious, but also realistic.

    I think that pretty much covers all of those commandments and covers the breaking of rules out of necessity.

  2. Seth's World says:

    I can live with that. Be respectful is a good starting point. Let’s see… the next point should be Attempt to see the big picture when making decisions. That way you’re encouraging people to take a moment and see how what they are doing and how they are feeling works for or against various goals.

  3. jerry says:

    Seth…
    You always have interesting posts – and even more interesting responses.
    Also like #1
    #2 – thats from Susie Orman. “People first, money second, things last” eh.
    3-5 – OK..can live with most of that. But like you said…..blood doesn’t automate with love or even like. Might give someone a pass or two – but after that – they are who they are, family or not.
    6-10….keep it simple. The first five pretty much cover these – if not in a broader sense.

    Cant wait to see your list. I think you can do it in three. Take care my friend!

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