- Thou shalt not kill [another human being].
- Thou shalt not kill [another human being] except in self-defense.
It is maximum irony that statement 1 appears stronger than statement 2.
In reality, because statement 1 was weakened by so many exceptions listed in the bible, such as self-defense, revenge killings (justified loosely by the “an eye for an eye” logic, as “a life for a life”; not sure if there is a direct justification for revenge killing in the bible), killing those guilty of capital crimes (including adultery), and killings claimed to be ordered by god, as for example, the killings of the Midianites, where according to the story, god ordered the Israelites to slaughter everyone except for the young girls, who were taken into slavery.
Statement number 2 has but one exception and is so stated – it is more intellectually honest, and it is the proper form for a law, consistent with my overarching principle of intrinsic complexity: strong rule + sole exception.
Statement number 2 prohibits for ALL TIME ALL offensive warfare, ALL revenge killings, ALL capital punishment, and ALL terrorist attacks.
Too bad we are such short-sighted simpletons that we cannot see what is coming at us and frame laws appropriately.
Imagine history without any crusades.
Imagine if a country began an offensive war against another, and every other country warned them of the violation of the commandment, “thou shalt not kill except in self-defense.” If the country persisted with its offensive warfare, every other country would gang up against them, reasoning that an attack on one country is an attack on all countries, in self-defense of the victimized country. Only a lunatic would persist in such offensive warfare. Warfare as we know it would be obsolete because Jews, Christians, and Muslims (over 3 billion people), and many other people agree that the commandments should be obeyed. Unfortunately, the biblical commandments were weakened by being badly worded and directly contradicted by too many exceptions.
If terrorist attacks and revenge killings were prohibited by a commandment from god, the entire history of the world would have been different.
If capital punishment had been outlawed, the history of law would have been much different, and much improved.
That was just a theory – perhaps things would have been worse; perhaps every offensive war becomes a world war and annihilation. The bible would have to make clear -and it helps to use god as the ultimate paradigm- that one must never act hastily, that diplomacy must be tried and retried and retried before engaging in war.