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My Take: Are the Ten Commandments still relevant?
December 14th, 2010
02:12 PM ET

My Take: Are the Ten Commandments still relevant?

Editor's Note: David Hazony is the author of "The Ten Commandments: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life" (Scribner, 2010).

By, David Hazony, Special to CNN

Every time I walk into a house of worship I’ve never been to, the first thing I look for is the local version of the Two Tablets.

Synagogues and churches almost always have them: rocky towering things, sleek minimalist icons, retro-embroidery. Some have numerals representing the Ten Commandments, some a word or two, others nothing at all.

Public buildings often have them, too: The U.S. Supreme Court has a frieze that includes Moses and the tablets—like a piece from a majestic chess set depicting our civilization’s heroes, it suggests something powerful about where we’ve come from.

It doesn’t actually list the Ten Commandments, of course. They almost never do.

That’s because in our world, it’s been a long time since the Ten Commandments, as a text, had any real meaning. We’ve put them into a black box, glorified that box and attached all sorts of sacred connotations to it, rendered it symbolically and, having commissioned our artists to depict it visually, have convinced ourselves that we no longer need to know what’s inside.

According to polls, about 90 percent of Americans have an opinion about whether they should be positioned in front of a courthouse, while only 40 percent can name more than four of them. We’ve never let go of the Ten Commandments as a symbol, but as a teaching about life they’ve become largely forgotten.

Of course, as a symbol they mean something. For most of us, devout and secularist alike, that something is faith. When we look at them, we’re supposed to think about following God’s word.

That’s why people are sensitive about their appearance in public places. In a society where public calls to faith set off a whole chain of understandable discomfort, the symbolism of the Ten Commandments draws a lot more attention than do their teachings.

The trouble with faith, however, is that while it’s often inspiring and helps us through tough times, taken the wrong way it can also stifle exploration and questioning. The Bible gives us a thousand pages of tough questions about life, of real human stories and heroes who try to improve their world despite their failings, of nuanced wisdom and longing and sex and politics. It’s a book about faith, but it’s also much more than that.

And when you read the stories surrounding the Ten Commandments themselves, you get the sense that they’re not exactly about faith, either.

Moses, seeing the Israelites worship the Golden Calf, smashes the Two Tablets—the ultimate iconoclastic act, destroying the word of God with his bare hands. Whatever that story means, it’s not about faith per se.

According to one rabbinic tradition, as soon as he saw the calf, Moses realized the Israelites were too busy looking for symbols instead of wisdom—such that the Two Tablets had become an idol, too.

The most important thing about the Ten Commandments, the story seems to teach, is to forget what they look like and listen carefully to what they say. “Sometimes,” the rabbis concluded, “you have to destroy the Torah in order to uphold it.” Holy Moses!

To rediscover the relevance of the Ten Commandments, we need to put aside the whole faith issue, temporarily at least, and try reading them with an open mind. Not the way Christopher Hitchens does—tossing out those that in his view “have nothing to do with morality,” adding new ones that feel more modern, like “Denounce all jihadists” and “Turn off that f-ing cell phone.” But instead to really read them, sympathetically and carefully, as you would a treasure map.

What if we were to discover, for example, that according to the ancient Israelites, the First Commandment—I am the Lord your God who took you out of Egypt—wasn’t just about faith, but about seeing a God who intervenes in history, who takes us out of Egypt, as a kind of ideal, an example we’re supposed to follow because that’s the best way to live?

If the ban on idolatry were also a call to morality, to overcome all those eye-popping things in our world that distract us, the way idols do, from the ideas of right and wrong?

If refraining from false oaths (“taking the Lord’s name in vain”) really pointed to an ideal of integrity as a pillar of human life? If the Sabbath were not just a blind ceremony but a call to invest in ourselves, to build inner spiritual lives that are separate from our achievements, just as God did when he rested on the Seventh Day of Creation?

If the call to honor our parents were also a call to a certain kind of moral wisdom that they alone give us—an instinctive, human wisdom very different from the kind promoted by the Greeks or the wise people of the Far East?

If the bans on murder, adultery, and theft were also gateways to stirring affirmations of life, love, and freedom?

If the ban on bearing false witness against our neighbor were really about the foundations of community, and the mutual trust on which it depends?

And if “coveting” were not just a psychological tick but indicative of a common spiritual ailment, one that lurks at the heart of far greater evils?

What if, in other words, we were to smash the tablets ourselves, forgetting what they look like for a minute and chasing down their deeper insights, finding in them a direction for modern life, something we can breathe and internalize and challenge and approach with our whole being rather than just our limited religiosity?

Suddenly, the icons in our churches and synagogues and Supreme Court building would point to something far more interesting: Not to easy answers, but to a series of deep questions about life and love and who we want to be, regardless of our particular faith. To a never-ending exploration rather than a closed book.

Suddenly, faith could be the beginning of wisdom, rather than its end.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Art • Belief • Egypt • Ethics • Faith Now • God • Moses

soundoff (227 Responses)
  1. Prodan

    Greetings,I enjoyed eidarng this article and contrast that out with the writting by Khalid Samad ( the MP of Shah Alam). I like the ability of the writer to know everything but some people do have that ability.:) . Do read a bit more and you will find out that many assumptions are not what it is. yet I respect your writtings.From Ah Hong's blog...Say: "Shall I point out to you something much worse than this, (as judged) by the treatment it received from God? those who incurred the curse of God and His wrath, those of whom some He transformed into apes and swine, those who worshipped evil;- these are (many times) worse in rank, and far more astray from the even path!" (The Noble Quran, 5:60)"No magic trick here and note that "God" is "God".Anyway, I am a christian and have been eidarng quran as well. I think it is easy to come out with assumptions as truth. I am not perfect, and Christians ( and the church) is also not perfect because the praise is only for God and conversion/reversions are by Him. Does God need protection? Does He need our concerted plan to go into war with other people? Does He need me to argue and judge others?Ladies and gents, the way i see it is the lack of security and respect. Government arbitary decides on bans and that sets of reaction. It then set of another reaction when the Church is seemed to be bold. The fact is that IF the government speaks to the experts and consults the different parties with respect, this would not have happened. I respect your rights to use the name Allah, God or whichever. Maybe it is time to forgive and kill the hatred spirit?The parody is that since then, government has also banned the word Allantunya and Razak baginda.May God/Allah shines on you.

    March 3, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
  2. Charlie Rowe

    "If the Sabbath were not just a blind ceremony but a call to invest in ourselves, to build inner spiritual lives that are separate from our achievements, just as God did when he rested on the Seventh Day of Creation?"
    Being a Sabbath keeper, this comment had a great deal of meaning for me. There are many people who try to keep the Seventh Day Sabbath Holy and misunderstand it's purpose.

    December 30, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
  3. shower food food selection tips

    Quite gorgeous!! Appreciate your photo!

    October 4, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  4. Muneef

    Whole Creations and universe are of matter that consists of energy and matter of minerals atoms. Assembled and Disassembled by one word from God Allah.
    So if you want to find God and believe in fairy tales read from the links about number of worlds in one world as visible's and invisibles living in different dimensions of time and waves as in Radio Waves.
    http://www.rahul.net/raithel/otfw/hydrogens.html

    December 17, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
  5. Muneef

    Some secular countries heard of recently kidnap children in huge numbers for trafficking human organs,parts or as for S-ex trade,witchcraft trade and the worst heard of was being consumed as a source of meat food for humans and their pet animals? Just as they do with the stray cats and dogs after taking their skins the meat is made cooked and canned for humans and pets as ready cooked food?
    All these crimes are not seen or cared for since every body has made their minds that religions and specially Islam being the enemy for saying God is one and that we should stick to the teachings and all would become fine?!

    December 17, 2010 at 1:32 pm |
  6. Vonnie

    Sadly, most christians in America have been a very poor reflection of God's word but when God comes back to get His church everyone will have to give an account of deeds done- accepting salvation through Jesus or rejecting Him.

    December 17, 2010 at 10:41 am |
  7. RightTurnClyde

    A statute is a rule of law and to violate it is to offend the state (the community). Ethical rules are how we relate to others (we offend other when we act unethically). A moral wrong violates our own being (our soul, sin, our log book). Are the commandments relevant? Is it still a problem to understand self and God? Then the first commandment is relevant. It is still "wrong" to be a killer; a murder? Is it wrong to be a liar,a perjurer? Is it a problem to be at odds with out parents? It is wrong to be obsessed with affluence? (to be obsessed). We can fill libraries with case holdings and rightness .. and we can boil it down to Ten bullets.

    December 17, 2010 at 4:28 am |
  8. Gary

    Even though I am agnostic I agree with and do obey the ten Commandments. Most of the commandments are obvious. I think one would have to be a mean,or dishonest person to kill,cheat ect. unless you are an ignoramous they are easy to live by

    December 16, 2010 at 11:45 pm |
    • NL

      Gary-
      If you obey all of the Commandments then you can't really be agnostic, can you?

      Personally I really only have trouble with #1, not that I would worship any other idols anyway, but it does imply that I would worship the one in question.

      December 17, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  9. JohnQuest

    Muneef, I reasoned that most Muslims believe that non Muslims don't get it because that can't read it. That would explain why the Qur’an has to be read in its original language. I do not however, agree with that statement. That is the same as saying, the reason that you are not a Jew is because you didn't read the Torah in its original language.
    Would you agree that Islam is the single biggest factor of why the Islamic world is falling behind the rest of the world in science, math, economic development, human rights, and other practical matters? I seems to me that if the Islamic world is not translating books and embracing knowledge for all corners of the planet it is by default falling behind. (Just my humble observation).

    December 16, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
    • Muneef

      JohnQuest.
      Islam at certain eras was very highly advanced in knowledge while other nations were behind,but continuos wars it had to face with the crusaders and Tatarians against it and bur-ning of libraries,drowing books in rivers. Any way such wars has caused it to remain behind. Beside that people became to worry about gathering money rather any thing else beside so many enemies made sure that Muslims remain backward.

      December 17, 2010 at 7:11 am |
    • Muneef

      But the worst enemy to Islam is from within with so many hypocrites within misleading Muslims to wrong diractions and tieding them up from inventions and developments as you realized...who ever comes up with knowledge and leadership is made to disappear some how without trace...why had so many scientists removed or immigrated...look round you all arab and muslim scientists who were not eliminated have immigrated and today working for you in America and Europe all doctors engineers and so on are behind the development of your society up to launching your space ships.

      December 17, 2010 at 7:44 am |
    • Muneef

      If those scientists come back with the required finance and power you will see the difference...which is not favored by many countries and nations that do not want Islam or the success of the nations that they stopped once upon the time and brought down to earth into ignorance and backwardness that you see today... God is great and that was his wish for putting his testing upon all but at certain time like your knowledge was inherited from Islam and Muslims,it will be reinserted back to where it would stand with God and those who are against him...Only God Party Will Prevail.

      December 17, 2010 at 8:01 am |
    • Muneef

      JohnQuest.
      Find some informations that answers a question by you about Muslim productivity

      Interview with Dr. Omar Khalidi, Author of Muslims in Indian Economy
      http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/644103/interview_with_dr_omar_khalidi_author.html?cat=38

      December 18, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  10. Muneef

    JohnQuest.
    You are so write here? So were you inspired or you got it from some where copied?

    JohnQuest
    I think Muneef, believes it does, that's the only reason we "infidels" do not believe it, the translation did not have the same power. But there in lies a very big weakness, if God (Allah) wrote or inspired or dictated the holy book, why put it in a language that can't be translated effectively, or present it to nomadic herds men living on the fringes of society in the desert. I seems to me, it would make more sense that God (Allah) could have found a better way to spread the word. It all seems so made up, which means it probably is.

    December 16, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |

    December 16, 2010 at 9:11 pm |
    • Muneef

      johnQuest.
      God gave examples of things there then so those Bedouins can understand with the little imagination they had, read this example that came 1400 years ago although not translated as accurate as Arabic word but it told us that Mosquitos carry other livings on it's back;

      Al-Baqara
      Verily, Allâh is not ashamed to set forth a parable even of a mosquito or so much more when it is bigger (or less when it is smaller) than it. And as for those who believe, they know that it is the Truth from their Lord, but as for those who disbelieve, they say: "What did Allâh intend by this parable?" By it He misleads many, and many He guides thereby. And He misleads thereby only those who are Al-Fâsiqûn (the rebellious, disobedient to Allâh). [] (26)

      December 16, 2010 at 9:20 pm |
    • Muneef

      Muneef
      It only takes a word of order by God for all that shown to happen, we are told in the Quran that; one year at God equals ten of our earthly years.
      Allow me to Quote for you verses from the Quran:

      At-Tin sura 95:
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      By the fig and the olive, (1) By Mount Sinai, (2) And by this land made safe; (3) Surely We created man of the best stature (4) Then we reduced him to the lowest of the low, (5) Save those who believe and do good works, and theirs is a reward unfailing. (6) So who henceforth will give the lie to thee about the judgment? (7) Is not Allah the most conclusive of all judges? (8).

      Al-Mulk sura 67:
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      Blessed be He in Whose hands is Dominion: and He over all things Hath Power― (1) He Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deed: and He is the Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving― (2) He Who created the seven heavens one above another; no want of proportion wilt thou see in the Creation of (Allah) Most Gracious. so turn thy vision again: Seest thou any flaw? (3) Again turn thy vision a second time; (thy) vision will come back to thee dull and discomfited, in a state worn out. (4).

      The creation of mankind:
      Al-Anaam sura 06:
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      Praise be to Allah, Who hath created the heavens and the earth, and hath appointed darkness and light. Yet those who disbelieve ascribe rivals unto their Lord. (1) He it is Who hath created you from clay, and hath decreed a term for you. A term is fixed with Him. Yet still ye doubt! (2) He is Allah in the heavens and in the earth. He knoweth both your secret and your utterance, and He knoweth what ye earn. (3) Never came there unto them a revelation of the revelations of Allah but they did turn away from it. (4) And they denied the truth when it came unto them. But there will come unto them the tidings of that which they used to deride. (5).

      Al-Mumenoon sura 23:
      Verily We created man from a product of wet earth; (12).

      As-Sajda sura 32: 
      Such is the Knower of the Invisible and the Visible, the Mighty, the Merciful, (6) Who made all things good which He created, and He began the creation of man from clay; (7) Then He made his seed from a draught of despised fluid; (8) Then He fashioned him and breathed into him of His Spirit; and appointed for you hearing and sight and hearts. Small thanks give ye! (9) And they say: When we are lost in the earth, how can we then be re-created? Nay but they are disbelievers in the meeting with their Lord. (10).

      Al-Anaam sura 06:
      There is not an animal in the earth, nor a flying creature flying on two wings, but they are peoples like unto you. We have neglected nothing in the Book (of Our decrees). Then unto their Lord they will be gathered. (38) Those who deny Our revelations are deaf and dumb in darkness. Whom Allah will He sendeth astray, and whom He will He placeth on a straight path. (39).

      Hud sura 11:
      And there is not a beast in the earth but the sustenance thereof dependeth on Allah. He knoweth its habitation and its repository. All is in a clear Record. (6).

      An-Nahl sura16: 
      And unto Allah maketh prostration whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth of living creatures, and the angels (also) and they are not proud. (49) They fear their Lord above them, and do what they are bidden. (50) Allah hath said: Choose not two Gods. There is only One God. So of Me, Me only, be in awe. (51).

      Al-Noor sura 24:
      Allah hath created every animal of water. Of them is (a kind) that goeth upon its belly and (a kind) that goeth upon two legs and (a kind) that goeth upon four. Allah createth what He will. Lo! Allah is Able to do all things. (45) Verily We have sent down revelations and explained them. Allah guideth whom He will unto a straight path. (46).

      December 16, 2010 at 9:27 pm |
    • Reality

      Just some of the acts of koranic-driven terror and horror from the followers of Allah:

      1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured

      1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh

      2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured

      3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US Troops killed in action, 3,481 and 924 died in non-combat98,691 – 107,707
      Iraqi civilians killed as of 11/9/2010, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and
      defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

      4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.[2]

      5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.

      6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.

      7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.

      8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.

      9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.

      10) – Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan: US troops 1,116 killed in action, 902 killed in non-combat situations as of 08/10/2010. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror

      11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.

      12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.

      13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,

      14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane's wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations.

      15) Followed by the daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings every day in the terror world of Islam.

      16) Bombs sent from Yemen by followers of the koran which fortunately were discovered before the bombs were detonated.

      17) The killing of 58 Christians in a Catholic church in one of the latest acts of horror and terror in Iraq.

      December 17, 2010 at 12:13 am |
  11. JohnQuest

    Keith, the giraffe argument is so flawed I don't know where to begin. Okay, I will not mention the flaw of only selecting certain animals as proof of creation. I will however make a deal with you, if you can prove the giraffe was created and not evolved I will accept creationism but if I can prove any other animal (including the giraffe) evolved you have to accept evolution, deal? It's an all or nothing game, either everything evolved or everything was created, I don't see how we can have both. Either God created a pig and it has always been a pig or it was something else before it was a pig, agreed?

    December 16, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
    • Eric G.

      Uh, John....... Don't forget about Ray Comfort's banana. Getting rich by confirming stupidity is fun.

      December 16, 2010 at 8:54 pm |
    • Muneef

      JohnQuest.
      There is evolution among animals but not humans nor there were apes developed to become mankind but the Quran tells us that there were mankind's that were degraded to become as apes and pigs for their sins..

      December 16, 2010 at 9:08 pm |
    • Eric G.

      @Muneef: Nine......Nine rings were given to the kings of men. But all of them were deceived.

      December 16, 2010 at 9:22 pm |
    • Muneef

      Eric G.
      Have never heard about any rings to any kings other than King Suleiman/Solomon Ring..?being the only one mentioned in the Holy Quran. Which he lost once to Satanic but was latter regained back by him...

      December 17, 2010 at 8:12 am |
    • Q

      Muneef- There exists a well-ordered progression of hominids connecting modern humans to a common human-ape ancestor. Your assertion doesn't remotely address the numerous species of Ardipithecus, Australipithecus, or Ho-mo species (H. ergaster, H. erectus, H. heidelbergensis, H. neanderthalensis) where each represents a significant transitional form between previous and later forms. This evidence alone indicates human evolution, but when combined with evidence from molecular biology, there is simply no support for a special creation of humans (or any other species).

      December 17, 2010 at 12:06 pm |
    • Q

      Muneef- Furthermore, if the non-modern human forms were degraded forms of the original humans, then humans would have appeared before them in the fossil record, not exclusively after them.

      December 17, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
    • Q

      Muneef- I should have stated the above more clearly. If modern humans, i.e. H. sapiens, were the original source of the other non-modern Hominids, i.e. H. ergaster, H. erectus, etc, then H. sapiens should appear before and not exclusively after the other non-modern Hominids in the fossil record (with the one exception of an early and limited coexistence of H. sapiens and H. neanderthalensis).

      December 17, 2010 at 12:26 pm |
    • Muneef

      Q.
      About subject I can not claim to be a scientist and explain but have quoted above some verses of the Quran that may explain but not as science wants it;
      At-Tin sura 95:
      Surely We created man of the best stature (4) Then we reduced him to the lowest of the low, (5).
       
      Al-Noor sura 24:
      Allah hath created every animal of water. Of them is (a kind) that goeth upon its belly and (a kind) that goeth upon two legs and (a kind) that goeth upon four. Allah createth what He will. Lo! Allah is Able to do all things. (45).

      But there are other verses that speaks of those degraded as being during the time of Moses and Jesus and not that much back in history...

      December 17, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
    • Q

      With all due respect, all available physical evidence indicates Man, i.e. modern humans, was not specially-created and lay at the end of a chain rather than at the beginning of one. The Neanderthals and other pre-modern humans (H. erectus, H. ergaster, etc) existed before us, not after us. While "reduced" in the English translation you provide may refer to some moral status, it simply can't be used to explain early hominid forms as derived "from" modern humans given these forms are exclusively found before modern humans in the fossil record.

      December 17, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
    • Keith

      JohnQuest, May I suggest a book ti-tled, 'In six days', to you and others. I believe it was written by 50 scientists(not all of whom were Christians). I agree, it would seem to be an all or nothing thing. The very thing that Q, yourself and others point to -the fossil record, is the evidence that condemns evolution. There are no missing links. The fossil record is also a powerful arguement for a worldwide catastrophic flood. That said, I'm not going to waste a lot of time arguing with a "reprobate mind". A mind that has been 'given over to believe THE lie'.

      December 18, 2010 at 12:25 pm |
    • Keith

      JohnQuest, Just one more thing-your eternal destiny is no game. Jesus Christ paid your(and my) penalty at the Cross. You can choose to accept that, repent from your sins, follow Him and inherit eternal life. Or you can reject Him and spend eternity in the lake of fire. Or you can do nothing and still go to the lake of fire because you stand condemned already. It truly is not a game.

      December 18, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
    • Q

      Keith- The fossil record, with it's unique and progressive order of the major classes of vertebrate life, directly contradicts literalist requirements that all species or even "kinds" coexisted. There are no mechanisms emanating from a mythical global flood that could produce this distinctive layering, e.g. if humans and dinosaurs coexisted, how did every single dinosaur drown and become buried long before the first human (not mention rabbits, sloths, and all other extant mammals)? The fossil record is replete with transitional forms linking the various classes and provides morphological linkage in many particular lineages. These linkages are further supported via phylogenetic relationships in extant species, particularly when examining endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) and other genomic quirks like defunct pseudogenes. A quick google search will provide numerous instances. Your argument is an argument of incredulity based in a profound ignorance of the facts.

      December 19, 2010 at 1:35 am |
    • Keith

      Q, I have a phrase for people like you, "you're so smart that you're stupid". Keep clinging to your Neandarthal Man, Java Man, Nebraska Man, the peppered moth, etc. Evolution is a religion. A religion in which denies a Creator and thus a Lawgiver. Bottom line is this: you don't want to have to answer to God. You want to be your own god. You may seem to succeed at this for a while, but one day you will find out that "every knee shall bow and every tounge confess that He is Lord". If you haven't made a choice to submit your life to Jesus before either you die or He comes back, it will be too late. Choose wisely.

      December 19, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
    • Muneef

      Fossils can be misleading part of the test or even manipulated with to believe the word of man against the words of God through his messengers..? Man might have taken many shapes size and hight's to Cope with hardness of their environments and way of living and you can see in the present the differences that took over man kind to look different in every race although all from the same cell that made Adam&Eve...all those colors, shapes complexions and good being in America you do not need to travel to see the differences among races..so what ever men you mentioned above can still be existing in remote areas who live in hardship or caves or jungles or like those where found in the African Kalahari desert which were very small and short men and women so why would you be surprised if found huge ones looking like apes somewhere in the vast remote mountains caves or even underground..isn't environments and diets play a major role in or physical appearance ?? .

      December 19, 2010 at 7:03 pm |
    • Q

      Keith- This is not a matter of belief or disbelief in a god, but rather accepting what the physical evidence indicates. No different than accepting the physical evidence for the Theory of Gravity or the Germ Theory of Disease. Many Christians accept the Theory of Evolution (e.g. Ken Miller, Francis Collins, etc) because the physical evidence supports the theory and they chose reason and intellectual honesty over fundamentalist denialism. Examine your creationist sources and you will find there exists no legitimate explanation for the order of the fossil record. Furthermore, guess how many oil/gas/mineral companies employ "flood geology" to locate their resources of interest. I'll save you the time by letting you know it's precisely zero. Why do you think this is? Why would profit-driven industries embrace the "lie" of mainstream science over what you contend to be the far superior creationist models? Clearly, they must be trying to "deny God" too.

      Muneef- Yes, H. sapiens represent a broad diversity, however, the pre-modern hominid forms are simply not those of modern H. sapiens. Their morphologies represent consistent differences outside the standard variances within adjacent hominids in the geologic strata. Mind you, it isn't one or two traits but a multi-tude of traits that are considered in these groupings and the divergences which allow placement in one group as opposed to another are far greater than can be attributed to within species diet/environment influences. Furthermore, even if one removes the radiometric dating techniques, the simple stratified groupings of common morphological forms within geologic strata indicates these pre-modern hominids do not group with H. sapiens in the geologic column. In the one exception exhibiting a minimal overlap with modern H. sapiens, i.e. H. neaderthalensis, genomic sequencing indicates that despite some very limited gene flow between the two, H. neaderthanlensis is distinct and separate from modern H. sapiens. Lastly, inbreeding removes diversity from a population and the only way to reintroduce this diversity in an isolated population is mutation. The local effects are highly detrimental and small populations are often lost. The only way for the Adam & Eve hypothesis to really hold water would be for an impossible "hyper-evolution" to take place to allow the species enough genetic diversity to produce the necessary (backwards in time) adaptive radiation you're inferring. This impossible "hyper-evolution" is also required for the mythological Noah's ark to produce the biodiversity observable today. Both are directly contradicted by what we know of population genetics. Not that this really matters because again, the order of the fossil record clearly shows modern species, including H. sapiens, at the end of the chain of life and most certainly not present at the beginning.

      December 19, 2010 at 11:03 pm |
  12. NL

    Methusalem-
    I thought that, 2000 years ago, Jesus supposedly took a dim view of the pharisees who put the Law ahead of treating people with love. So, who are the pharisees of our day who prefer following the strict code of scripture rather than Jesus' example? Any guesses?

    December 16, 2010 at 10:31 am |
  13. Methusalem

    This sort of question was used to be asked 2000 years ago - and folks were told to contine following the commandments - they declined - and they continue refusing - and suffering. We never learn, ehhh!

    December 16, 2010 at 8:30 am |
  14. Muneef

    Wonder what I would find if I put on google search the words "Natural Balancing taking course" I wonder what it could mean.??!

    December 16, 2010 at 8:07 am |
  15. Muneef

    The creation of mankind:
    Al-Anaam sura 06:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    Praise be to Allah, Who hath created the heavens and the earth, and hath appointed darkness and light. Yet those who disbelieve ascribe rivals unto their Lord. (1) He it is Who hath created you from clay, and hath decreed a term for you. A term is fixed with Him. Yet still ye doubt! (2) He is Allah in the heavens and in the earth. He knoweth both your secret and your utterance, and He knoweth what ye earn. (3) Never came there unto them a revelation of the revelations of Allah but they did turn away from it. (4) And they denied the truth when it came unto them. But there will come unto them the tidings of that which they used to deride. (5).
    Al-Mumenoon sura 23:
    Verily We created man from a product of wet earth; (12).

    As-Sajda 32: 
    Such is the Knower of the Invisible and the Visible, the Mighty, the Merciful, (6) Who made all things good which He created, and He began the creation of man from clay; (7) Then He made his seed from a draught of despised fluid; (8) Then He fashioned him and breathed into him of His Spirit; and appointed for you hearing and sight and hearts. Small thanks give ye! (9) And they say: When we are lost in the earth, how can we then be re-created? Nay but they are disbelievers in the meeting with their Lord. (10).

    Al-Anaam 06:
    There is not an animal in the earth, nor a flying creature flying on two wings, but they are peoples like unto you. We have neglected nothing in the Book (of Our decrees). Then unto their Lord they will be gathered. (38) Those who deny Our revelations are deaf and dumb in darkness. Whom Allah will He sendeth astray, and whom He will He placeth on a straight path. (39).

    Hud sura 11:
    And there is not a beast in the earth but the sustenance thereof dependeth on Allah. He knoweth its habitation and its repository. All is in a clear Record. (6).

    An-Nahl 16: 
    And unto Allah maketh prostration whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth of living creatures, and the angels (also) and they are not proud. (49) They fear their Lord above them, and do what they are bidden. (50) Allah hath said: Choose not two Gods. There is only One God. So of Me, Me only, be in awe. (51).

    Al-Noor sura 24:
    Allah hath created every animal of water. Of them is (a kind) that goeth upon its belly and (a kind) that goeth upon two legs and (a kind) that goeth upon four. Allah createth what He will. Lo! Allah is Able to do all things. (45) Verily We have sent down revelations and explained them. Allah guideth whom He will unto a straight path. (46).

    December 16, 2010 at 7:03 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Muneef, you can't really believe this, do you? If you do believe the words you are typing, please explain to me, what in your real world view would cause you to believe any of it is true. Or is it the case that, it doesn't matter if it is true or not, you are going to believe it anyway.

      December 16, 2010 at 10:01 am |
    • Muneef

      JohnQuest.

      Hi, do you mean the Quran verses i have pasted? If it is what you refer to, I would say yes I trust it with my life every and each word with out doubt that they are the true words of God to his messengers last of which was Muhammed PBUH.

      Listen I can trust with my life every word of the Quran in Arabic but not much if translated in English or any lang-uage other than Arabic since there is a chance that they do not reflect the same meanings of the Arabic word.. Think many should think of learning Arabic as a second language and that not only in order to understand the real meanings of the Quran but as well being a language of great importance business wise. As well my advice to my brothers and sisters Muslims to learn Arabic in order of understanding the true Quran meanings and not give a chance to misinterpretation of it's contents and as well non Arabic Islamic countries should make Arabic as their second language since Arabic is the lang-uage of the Quran for the same reason otherwise it is easier to be misled by misinterpretation or translations...

      December 16, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
    • Bob

      25.52. Therefore listen not to the Unbelievers, but strive against them with the utmost strenuousness, with the (Qur'an).

      This is why they cannot learn. They refuse to even consider the other side. Why would the ultimate truth need to hide from scrutiny in this way? Should it not be able to defend itself if it's from God?

      December 16, 2010 at 12:56 pm |
    • Bob

      Is there not a saying in the Hadith that claims that if you eat 7 dates, you shall be immune to poison? Eat seven dates and then take a gram of ar-senic, or let a cobra bite you.

      You'll soon prove yourself not as ded-icated to the scr-ipture as you think, or you shall be a corp-se.

      December 16, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Muneef, I understand that you believe what you read in your holy book "Qu'ran". My question though, was what make you think any of it is real and not just a collection of folk tales (for lack of a better phrase)? Please, I mean no offense, I just don't understand how a rational, intelligent person can read what appears as old folk tales and believe them wholeheartedly, I have read many holy books from different parts of the world (I admit, translated into English), most have the same basic principles, (although the three Abrahamic religions are more violent than others). I don't see how the Qu'ran is any different than the Bible or Torah.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
    • Maybe

      Muneef,

      "...learn Arabic in order of understanding the true Quran meanings."

      When people learn the vocabulary of another language, they simply learn the meaning of the different words according to their understanding of the concept in their native tongue. The Arabic word for 'tree', for example, can be easily understood and people can get a mental image of what is being referred to. Intangible concepts are a little trickier. The Arabic words for 'beauty' or 'happiness' or 'ecstasy' are not superior, in themselves.

      And I'm sure that there are different connotations for Arabic words, depending of the presentation. The English word 'set' has the most definitions of all. Then also, one needs to know the intent of the speaker/writer. 'Cool' can mean, low temperature, unruffled behavior, or excellent; plus if used with irony or sarcasm, it can mean 'bad' - as it "cool move, Dude", when deriding someone for a stupid goof.

      No, the Arabic language has no magic in its communication of meaning.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      I think Muneef, believes it does, that's the only reason we "infidels" do not believe it, the translation did not have the same power. But there in lies a very big weakness, if God (Allah) wrote or inspired or dictated the holy book, why put it in a language that can't be translated effectively, or present it to nomadic herds men living on the fringes of society in the desert. I seems to me, it would make more sense that God (Allah) could have found a better way to spread the word. It all seems so made up, which means it probably is.

      December 16, 2010 at 3:41 pm |
    • Reality

      Once again we come to save Muneef and the other 1.5 billion lost Muslims from their Three B Syndrome, i.e. Bred, Born and Brainwashed in Islam but this time reducing to the Five Step Program for Deprogramming Islam to One Step in order to by-pass most of the language barrier:

      Gabriel never existed!!!!!! No Gabriel, no communiques from heaven and therefore Islam has no foundation!!!

      from Google Translate:

      غابرييل لم تكن موجودة!!!!!! لا غابرييل، لا بالبيانات من السماء، وبالتالي لا يوجد لديه أساس الإسلام

      December 16, 2010 at 3:53 pm |
    • Muneef

      johnQuest.
      You got the second comment correct and that is God in the Quran was talking to small mentalities there and then and that's why made examples easy for that time people to understand but the words it self expandable to reach higher knowledge minds..beside the soundings of the verses and words adds to it but all that magic goes with translations to flat words..
      Wanted to quote words here for your first comment but moderation is holding me all time wasted with such free less speech..

      December 16, 2010 at 8:45 pm |
    • Muneef

      JohnQuest.
      Al-Anaam sura 06:
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      Of them there are some who (pretend to) listen to thee; but We have thrown veils on their hearts so they understand it not and deafness in their ears; if they saw every one of the Signs, they will not believe in them; in so much that when they come to thee, they (but) dis-pute with thee; the Unbelievers say: "These are nothing but tales of the ancients." (25).

      December 16, 2010 at 8:48 pm |
    • Muneef

      An-Nahl sura 16:
      When it is said to them, "What is it that your Lord has revealed?" they say "Tales of the ancients!" (24) Let them bear, on the Day of Judgment, their own burdens in full, and also (something) of the burdens of those without knowledge, whom they misled. Alas how grievous the burdens they will bear! (25).

      December 16, 2010 at 8:49 pm |
    • Muneef

      Al-Furqan
      But the Misbelievers say: "Naught is this but a lie which he has forged, and others have helped him at it." In truth it is they who have put forward an iniquity and a falsehood. (4) And they say: "Tales of the ancients, which he has caused to be written: and they are dictated before him morning and evening." (5) Say: "The (Qur'an) was sent down by Him Who knows the Mystery (that is) in the heavens and the earth: verily He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (6).

      December 16, 2010 at 8:51 pm |
    • Muneef

      Al-Naml
      Still less can their knowledge comprehend the Hereafter: nay, they, are in doubt and uncertainty thereanent; nay, they are blind thereunto! (66) The Unbelievers say: "What! when we become dust― we and our fathers–shall we really be raised (from the dead)? (67) "It is true we were promised this we and our fathers before (us): these are nothing but tales of the ancients." (68) Say: "Go ye through the earth and see what has been the end of those guilty (of sin)." (69) But grieve not over them, nor distress thyself because of their plots. (70).

      December 16, 2010 at 8:54 pm |
    • Muneef

      Bob.
      It is said we are not to leave our houses with out breakfast and we are at least to have seven dates eaten it would save us from many sicknesses that results from empty stomachs..but about the other things you mentioned these are only for one type of dates they call dates of Medina and could be exaggerated about but after all generally speaking dates are very very good for body and health whether you eat seven or a hundred...

      December 17, 2010 at 8:44 am |
    • Bob

      > It is said we are not to leave our houses with out breakfast and we are at least to have seven dates eaten it would save us from many sicknesses that results from empty stomachs..

      Interesting point. Sickness is caused primarily by bacteria or viruses, which are not affected by "empty or full" stomachs.

      December 17, 2010 at 9:22 am |
    • Muneef

      Bob.
      It is some thing to do with immune system depends so much on what and when you eat and we are told breakfast is the most important meal of the day to strengthen immunity of the system. Another thing dates are full of minerals and fibre which is important for the immunity as it does filtering to the blood cells and as cleanser for the digestive system which is considered the main source of most illnesses that the body might suffer...

      December 17, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
    • Muneef

      Importance of dates to health

      http://www.buzzle.com/articles/date-fruit-benefits.html

      December 17, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
    • Muneef

      December 17, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
  16. Jim

    How can it be proven we are evolved?
    I love evos.

    December 16, 2010 at 12:25 am |
    • Q

      While proof is only valid in mathematics and formal logic, evidence supporting a "proof beyond reasonable doubt" is available. Whether one considers the fossil record of hominids and pre-hominids, our less than functionally "designed" physiology (e.g. male nip-ples, recurrent laryngeal nerve, bad knees/backs/necks/eyes, etc) or some simple bits of evidence from molecular biology (e.g. ERVs, phylogenetic relationships, chromosome 2, a defunct gene for egg yolk, etc, etc), the concordant physical evidence indicates human evolution. Of course, there's no amount of physical evidence which could satisfy an unreasonable doubt, particularly if the doubt is deemed necessary to preserve a hope of immortality.

      December 16, 2010 at 1:04 am |
    • Let Us Prey

      @ Jim

      I haven't seen this posted for awhile – you might find it helpful. Carl Sagan was obviously not a mental giant compared to "Q", however he did have a unique ability to communicate his ideas. I suggest that, rather than slogging your way through our friend Q's brilliant utterances, you simply watch this clip from Sagan's 'Cosmos.'

      December 16, 2010 at 1:49 am |
    • Muneef

      It only takes a word of order by God for all that shown to happen, we are told in the Quran that; one year at God equals ten of our earthly years.
      Allow me to Quote for you verses from the Quran:

      At-Tin sura 95:
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      By the fig and the olive, (1) By Mount Sinai, (2) And by this land made safe; (3) Surely We created man of the best stature (4) Then we reduced him to the lowest of the low, (5) Save those who believe and do good works, and theirs is a reward unfailing. (6) So who henceforth will give the lie to thee about the judgment? (7) Is not Allah the most conclusive of all judges? (8).

      Al-Mulk sura 67:
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      Blessed be He in Whose hands is Dominion: and He over all things Hath Power― (1) He Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deed: and He is the Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving― (2) He Who created the seven heavens one above another; no want of proportion wilt thou see in the Creation of (Allah) Most Gracious. so turn thy vision again: Seest thou any flaw? (3) Again turn thy vision a second time; (thy) vision will come back to thee dull and discomfited, in a state worn out. (4).

      December 16, 2010 at 6:24 am |
    • Bob

      > How can it be proven we are evolved? I love evos.

      The same way we do paternity tests and dna matching. Thanks for writing!

      December 16, 2010 at 8:26 am |
    • Keith

      Q, I'm no scientist, but could you maybe explain to me how the circulatory system of a giraffe "evolved"? It would appear that any thing other than it's current form would have been fatal. And even a dumb pipefitter knows that dead animals don't evolve. It looks like God did a pretty good job in this case, wouldn't you agree?

      December 16, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
    • Bob

      The giraffe's circulatory system developed in tandem with it's height. Not one then the other. It's as simple as that. Thanks for writing.

      December 16, 2010 at 9:39 pm |
    • Q

      Keith- As Bob suggested, your argument is falsely presuming no functional intermediates which are clearly evident in the fossil record (e.g. Zarafa, Paleotragus, Giraffa jumae, etc).

      December 17, 2010 at 11:50 am |
  17. Muneef

    Another Ten Commandments for Reality;

    The most selfish 1-letter word is "i" avoid it.
    The most satisfying 2-letter word is "we" use it.
    The"most poisonous 3-letter word "EGO" Kill it.
    The most used 4-letter word "LOVE" Value it.
    The most pleasing 5-letter word "SMILE" Keep it.
    The fastest spreading 6-letter word "RUMOUR" Ignore it.
    The hardest working 7-letter word "SUCCESS" Achieve it.
    The most enviable 8-letter word "JEALOUSY" Distance it.
    The most powerful 9-letter word "KNOWLEDGE" Acquire it.
    The most essential 10-letter word "CONFIDENCE" Trust it."

    December 15, 2010 at 9:37 pm |
    • NL

      Muneef-
      Thank you for the very good alternative list! They are all excellent virtues, but I particularly like the ninth, Knowledge: Everyone really should acquire it. It is, in fact, because of my knowledge that I have the tenth, Confidence, in my atheistic position.

      December 16, 2010 at 10:07 am |
    • Muneef

      .NL

      Luqman sura 31:
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      To Allah belong all things in heaven and earth: verily Allah is He (that is) free of all wants, worthy of all praise. (26) And if all the trees on earth were pens and the Ocean (were ink), with seven Oceans behind it to add to its (supply) yet would not the Words of Allah be ex-hausted (in the writing): for Allah is Ex-alted in power, Full of Wisdom. (27) And your creation or your re-surrection is in no wise but as an individual soul: for Allah is He Who hears and sees (all things). (28). 

      December 16, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
    • Muneef

      NL.
      How much of the Ninth you have got to be so sure of the Tenth being your stand in your belief??

      December 16, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
    • Muneef

      NL.
      Maybe just maybe less than a tea sp-o-on out of an whole oc-e-an?!

      December 16, 2010 at 8:25 pm |
    • NL

      Muneef-
      "How much of the Ninth you have got to be so sure of the Tenth being your stand in your belief??"
      Depends on if you misunderstand what you believe in faith as actual knowledge. What I consider 'knowledge' requires no faith to accept. That's why I can claim confidence in my position.

      December 17, 2010 at 9:47 am |
    • Muneef

      NL.
      Only the Holy Books of Wisdom and Knowledge were behind the stimulation of today's science and where it reached for nothing but to challenge these holy books and only through such acts we would become to know which books or verses are the words of men and which are those being the words of God since some think books were manipulated with deliberately or non deliberately. Therefore science is some thing that God urge us learn,search,research since only by our findings we will learn the greatness and mercifulness of God the creator of all..

      December 17, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
    • Adel

      Interesting article on your blog oetbhrr. Lets think of it in a reverse way. People in this region always have the fear of Christianity. And it is because of this mind set that most will actually not learn other religion other than their own. Without clear understanding of Christianity the people will know the truth of this religion. If one know Christianity well, he/she wont be trapped by the Christian missionaries.Ok going back to looking back at reverse, if we look at the western world, more and more people are reverting to Islam. The question is why? The best answer to fit that is because the of the da'wah done by our oetbhrrs and sisters in the western world. This people came to a conclusion that there is corruption in their religion (Christianity) and then find the truth of Islam. How do we share Islam to people who tries to find God/Allah? Do we say something like' you know YOUR GOD is false?'or ' YOUR GOD IS NOT GOD ?'. I would say 'you know OUR GOD is....'Its easy to reason out that Jesus is not Allah. Even the Coptic Christians knows that. A sane mind will.In the Malaysian case, I will only blame myself of not doing enough da'wah. Malaysia have so many muslims but how many tried to reach out to the non-muslims? I have talked to some Asli people and most will tell you that muslim here will help in their reversion but eventually they will stop visit and it ends there. While the Christian missionaries will come over from time to time and they will bring money and gift in every visit.As for the conversion of Malay muslims to Christians, I can tell you that its not because they were confused of Christianity but its because they are confused by the Islam practiced in Malaysia.'Christian easy ma, Islam so hard'I heard this words before.We have so many muslims and we cant fight a bunch of Christian missionaries? Anyone can see how strong the Malaysian muslim's faith is. After so many years of independance, how many of us spread the truth and share Islam to the non-muslim. Maybe thats the reason the late Ahmad Deedat call us Malaysian muslim spineless 'obor-obor'.Bad intention only can only appear because of there is a 'chance'. That chance or weakness is from us. Anyway the Hindu sangam will not succeed because even if they do, will they call all their deity Allah? Same name? Hahahaha... 'membuka pekung di dada'I look on the positive side of the name 'Allah' to be used by the Christians. They will not succeed to convert the literate people, they will look for the people who are illiterate and do not have knowledge in Islam. They will look for the people who are abandoned by the muslims in Malaysia.I am sorry if I offended anyone with my ideas. Maybe I just look at the situation in another angle.Wsalam

      March 2, 2012 at 8:53 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.