IdleTheory The 10 Commandments

The Ten Commandments are accepted by Judaism, Christianity and Islam as a summary of important rules of behaviour. It would be disturbing if Idle Theory were to contradict any of these commandments.

However, the meaning of the Ten Commandments is a matter of interpretation. Any text or speech always requires interpretation. It is in the nature of language to be more poetic than precise. And it is in the nature of words that their sense subtly changes with the passage of time.

One immediate difficulty Idle Theory has with the Ten Commandments is that there is no 'God' in Idle Theory in the sense of a supernatural Supreme Being who is separate and apart from his creatures. The 'God' of Idle Theory is the one good of Idle Theory: idle time. The 'God' of Idle Theory is a much more akin to the 'god within', and inseparable from all living creatures. To love this god is to love idleness, and to worship this god is to seek idleness, and to know this god is to dwell in idleness.

However, in the Ten Commandments, the 4th Commandment concerning the sabbath makes an explicit division of time into the working week and the non-working (and therefore idle) sabbath. And since the sabbath is 'blessed' and 'hallowed', great value is assigned to the sabbath. And therefore it might be argued that the 4th commandment contains Idle Theory's busy-idle duality, and its valuation of idle above busy.

Given this proviso about the nature of 'God', or of the 'One Good', it becomes possible to consider the commandments with a modified conception of God.

Ten Commandments Idle Theory interpretation
1st Commandment: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." The One Good of Idle Theory is Idle Time, and it admits nothing greater.
2nd Commandment: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." There is nothing in the world which is of greater value than idle time. To put anything above it is a great error.

Idle time is not something that can be seen or touched. It cannot be represented by some image. It can only be experienced.

The price of worshipping anything else has effects which may last for many generations of men. Those who do not seek idleness, or hate idleness, condemn themselves and their children to work.

Indeed, Idle Theory would go further, and say that the ultimate price of failing to seek idleness is death and extinction.

3rd Commandment: "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." If "taking the name" means swearing an oath, then this means that one should not break solemn promises. To promise to do something for someone, and then not do it, is almost certain to cost them idle time.
4th Commandment: "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." The sabbath is here a period of idle time, in which no work is done. This commandment therefore makes an explicit division between busy and idle time. And the idle day is a holy day.

The principal difference with Idle Theory is that only one day in seven is idle in this commandment, while Idle Theory seeks to expand the sabbath to ultimately the entire week.

The division of time into working days and holidays (holy days) may have been to force a distinction between busy and idle time so that the two did not get mixed up together, and people were idle when they should be busy, and vice versa. Also, the division of society into working week and sabbath was a way of measuring social idleness. In busy societies, a week would consist of many days of work, and few idle days. In idle societies, the idle sabbath would occupy most of the week, with one or two busy days making up the rest.

5th Commandment: "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." As parents look after helpless children in their infancy, so children should look after their parents in old age. In childhood children contract a debt to their parents which they should repay. If this debt is not paid, then following their parents' example, the children's children will not care for their parents in old age, and they will die young.
6th Commandment: "Thou shalt not kill." To kill somebody is to deprive them of their idleness, and therefore of their life, and is the greatest deprival possible.
7th Commandment: "Thou shalt not commit adultery." On the face of it, this about marriage. And adultery is illicit sex.

However, there might be placed a much wider meaning on this commandment, in which to "commit adultery" is to adulterate. To adulterate is to make impure by adding extraneous, improper, or inferior ingredients: adulterate coffee with ground acorns; debase silver with copper; doctor wine with water.

In sexual adultery, a man or woman becomes adulterated and impure. But this is only one case of adulteration. Adulterated food and drink are unwhole (and unwholesome) food and drink. Adulterated money is debased money.

One explanation of monogamy.

8th Commandment: "Thou shalt not steal." Theft of possessions of any sort imposes a loss of idleness on the victim, and an overall social loss of idleness.
9th Commandment: "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour." To lie or to mislead is to place obstructions in the paths of others, and to reduce their idleness.

One argument against lying

10th Commandment: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's." To covet is to want to take or steal. Even wishing to have something that another possesses is to wish to steal it.

This commandment is the only one which deals with intention.

Idle Theory

Author: Chris Davis
First created: March 2004
Last edited: Feb 2005