As many readers know, I frequently attend Sunday School with my wife. She is very religious; me, not so much. Ok, Ok, none at all.
Recently we have been having a series on the Ten Commandments, going over them in general and then dissecting them one at a time. I often carry with me to such meetings literature or other documentation to back up anything that I might say.
After all, what I might say is often in contrast to the head nodding sycophants who are subscribing without thought to the “inerrant word of God” – the Bible. It helps for me to have back up.
For this weekly meeting on the Big Ten, I carried a 48 page copy of The Code of Hammurabi along with secondary document of 44 pages. Both were printed from Wikipedia. And yes, I know that Wikipedia along with other Internet sources can be wrong. In this case, I had vetted and substantiated both of my references.
The Code of Hammurabi is from about 1770 – 1795 BC or BCE, and thus predates the Bible and the Ten Commandments by about 500 years. It lists 282 rules and regulations for living and seems to be the first complete documentation of society’s rules. It is predated by fragments of documents from Ur-Nammu (2100 BC or BCE) and an earlier dynasty of that area of the world.
With the Code of Hammurabi, it seems closer in detail to some of our rules of today or perhaps the total of 613 rules of Judaism. Thus, both today and in the Hammurabi Code, there are references to different types of theft, robbery, burglary and punishments for the same.
Adultery is punishable with death, but for the sexual crime of incest, both parties are burned alive. Since this Hammurabi Code predates the Bible it is often used as an example of what might have been stolen or plagiarized for use in the Bible.
Thus, with this I was able to discount or question the possibility that the Big Ten were written specifically by God for exclusive use by the Israelites.
The other document was in my folder by accident, left over from a previous Sunday School discussion. This was an 1872 document by Francis Galton on his statistical study of the efficacy of prayer. It essentially proved that prayer does not work; cannot work.
His study reasoned that since all in England were encouraged each Sunday to pray for the health of the Royal family, the Royal family, also blessed with the best in medicine and care at the time, should have longer life spans than others in the population.
In Galton’s studies from the period of 1758 through 1843 he found that this was not the case and that the Royal family had slightly shorter (yep, shorter) life spans than English clergy, lawyers, doctors, Naval and Army officers, the English aristocrats and others.
During the Sunday School meeting, several were interested in both documents and I was glad to pass them around. I did so with the stipulation that these were personal reference copies, not examples of a multi-copy hand-out with one for everyone.
Upon getting ready to leave this class, I could not find my two personal references and printed documents. Yep, they were stolen by someone or someone’s in the Sunday School class.
Sure, I suspect that I can find them on the Internet again and print them out for my use – one 48 pages and the other 44 pages. But finding them again and printing them out for my personal use is not exactly the point, is it? Ironically, one of the Big Ten we are studying is “Thou shalt not steal.”