I was reading an Amazon discussion post comparing Buddhist moral and ethical precepts to those of Judaism and Christianity. I scrolled through the replies and saw something I want to comment on in a new discussion thread. It's the phrase "The Ten Commandments." When I hear journalists using that phrase discussing the placement of "The Ten Commandments" displays on government property, I get a little annoyed because journalists should be more objective. The correct designation should be "The Ten Commandments of Moses."
"Oh, no!" some Jews and Christians will say. "Those are the Ten Commandments of God, not of Moses. Moses was God's servant."
I look at it this way: Someone climbs a mountain or enters a cave and returns saying, "I talked to God." You can either believe it or not. If you believe it, you're taking that person on his word. No matter how fervently you believe Moses was speaking on the authority of God and that his words were literally God's words, you're really worshiping human authority. You may believe Moses heard the voice of God, and that human beings are sinners doomed to hell, but you have no right to impose your metaphysical assumptions on other members of society.
Wikipedia online encyclopedia quotes presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, as saying, "The Jews have a God-given right to reclaim land given to their ancestors and taken away from them." That outspoken assertion consists of an unverifiable religious belief. If there is one lesson the world needs to learn in the wake of 911, it is that no one has a right to impose their religious ideology on others by denying basic human rights, inflicting punishment, or ceasing land or property in the name of God. That's what the terrorists were doing when they crashed airliners into World Trade Center. They were acting on their metaphysical assumptions and punishing Americans for being evil. Who knows if human beings are evil?
Moses claimed to talk to God and decreed that anyone who had a conception of God that was different from his was to be stoned to death (Deuteronomy, Chapter 13, verses 6 through 10). In the Golden Calf massacre, after returning from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments, Moses ordered his armed security forces to commit genocide against the Israelites in a Rwanda-style massacre. Directing his soldiers to attack the Israelites, Moses said: "Thus saith the Lord God of Israel: Put every man his sword by his side and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor ... and there fell of the people (the Israelites) that day about three thousand" (Exodus, Chapter 32, verses 27 and 28).
Moses ordered his soldiers to attack the Midianites. After slaughtering the Medianite men, the Israelite soldiers brought the captured Medianite women and children to Moses. Moses commanded his soldiers: "Kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known a man by lying with him. But all the female children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves" (Numbers, Chapter 31, verses 1 through 18). Moses was a brutal tyrant who banned religious freedom and savagely murdered his own people. As a spokesperson for God, Moses had no credibility whatsoever.
We can discuss moral and ethical conduct and agree on most points whether we're Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, or atheists; but if that's the extent of the discussion we've hardly penetrated the surface. Buddhism differs from Judaism, Islam and Christianity in the manner in which it approaches the matter of Good and Evil. The Abrahamic religions take Good and Evil seriously indeed. Evil people, even infants and animal life, deserve to die in world wide tsunamis or burn eternally in hell, according to those religions. To an enlightened Buddhist, there is no Good or Evil in human beings, only transient thoughts and feelings. Christianity offers to save us from the curse of Good and Evil. Buddhism liberates us from the illusion.