Professor, Do the Ten Commandments contain an ecologically viable ethic within them?

I believe that they do, and so I put together the following list to help people see those ecological implications:

©Ten Ecological Commandments

by W. John Coletta

These “commandments” are a work in progress and are designed to do four things: (1) bring out the ecological dimensions of the real Ten Commandments, (2) suggest the cultural situatedness of the original commandments, (3) get people to think about why what was left out was left out, and (4) get people to think about what all should be in a list of ecological commandments. What do you think?

  1. Thou shalt not pollute (and thereby dishonor your ecological “father” and “mother”).

  2. Thou shalt not steal from future generations.

  3. Thou shalt not murder even indirectly, thus causing people or other nonhuman persons to be harmed from the maneagble side effects of your actions.

  4. Thou shalt not reify (thus making into absolute, i. e., graven, images) species, races, or ethnicities, thereby denying the unique individuality of each being.

  5. Thou shalt not consider any life form (species or individual) to be more or less “advanced” than any other.

  6. Thou shalt not allow thine own conception of the “next world” (heaven) to lessen the value of the diverse and just sustainable worlds derived from this one, My Creation (remember the Earth Day and keep it holy).

  7. Thou shalt not consider thine own views to somehow necessarily represent universal ones (and therefore in effect bear false witness against thy neighbors’views).

  8. Thou shalt not consider the fate of humans as separate from that of animals (by pitting human interests against those of the birds and fishes, since God commanded not just that we be fruitful and multiply but that birds and fishes too be permitted to do so as well, as we read in Genesis 1:20 about day 5 of Creation: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”)

  9. Thou shalt make no graven image of me in the form of the careless and unjust modifying of–and then patenting for profit at the community’s expense–the altered parts of my Creation (thus committing adulterous acts against that Creation).

  10. Thou shalt not interfere with the shepherding of being, that is, with the ushering into creation of a new self or selves—mineral, vegetable, animal, human, or post-human—as long as non-interference is in accord with the other commandments and as long as the beings that are so ushered into being are autonomous.


Wm John Coletta, PhD, CEO

Wm. John Coletta, Ph.D.  is a proefessor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and is a member of the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Semiotics. He has served as President and Vice President of the Semiotic Society of America and was a system fellow at the Center for 21st Century Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.