|Left: the German-Catholic version of the Ten Commandments, as would have been taught to Goethe as a child, showing commandment #6, prohibiting adultery, circled, it being the subject of Goethe's 1809 physical chemistry based Elective Affinities. Right: an American cowboy style version of the Ten Commandments.|
In 1809, German polyintellect Johann Goethe published his Elective Affinities, wherein he showed that the physicochemical implications of morality, especially in respect to the sanctity of marriage, are misaligned with Biblical understanding of morality. This misalignment comes out via the voice of the character Mittler, in the last and final chapter (P2:C18), as follows:
There was but one occasion on which [Mittler] uniformly forgot himself—when he found an opportunity for giving his opinion upon subjects to which he attached a great importance. He lived much within himself, and when he was with others, his only relation to them generally was in active employment on their behalf; but if once, when among friends, his tongue broke fairly loose, as on more than one occasion we have already seen, he rolled out his words in utter recklessness, whether they wounded or whether they pleased, whether they did evil or whether they did good.
The evening before the birthday, the major and Charlotte were sitting together expecting Edward, who had gone out for a ride; Mittler was walking up and down the saloon; Ottilie was in her own room, laying out the dress which she was to wear on the morrow, and making signs to her maid about a number of things, which the girl, who perfectly understood her silent language, arranged as she was ordered.
The “punishments" for breaking the ten commandments as carved onto the side of the American Atheist bench (2013), orchestrated by David Silverman, outside Bradford County Courthouse, Florida, installed in reaction to to the installation of the Christian Community Men’s Fellowship Ten Commandments monument, at the courthouse, the year previous; the punishment VII (above): the “adulterer [Edward] and the adulteress [Ottilie]”, from Leviticus 20:10, used by Goethe in the climax end chapter [P2:C18] of his Elective Affinities, to show how Biblical morality is misaligned with physicochemical morality, and in need of fixing, i.e. upgrade to the modern understanding of reality and of right and wrong.
Mittler had fallen exactly on his favorite subject. One of the points on which he used most to insist was, that in the education of children, as well as in the conduct of nations, there was nothing more worthless and barbarous than laws and commandments forbidding this and that action. “Man is naturally active,” he said, “wherever he is; and if you know how to tell him what to do, he will do it immediately, and keep straight in the direction in which you set him. I myself, in my own circle, am far better pleased to endure faults and mistakes, till I know what the opposite virtue is that I am to enjoin, than to be rid of the faults and to have nothing good to put in their place. A man is really glad to do what is right and sensible, if he only knows how to get at it. It is no such great matter with him; he does it because he must have something to do, and he thinks no more about it afterwards than he does of the silliest freaks which he engaged in out of the purest idleness.
I cannot tell you how it annoys me to hear people going over and over those Ten Commandments in teaching children. The fifth is a thoroughly beautiful, rational, preceptive precept. ‘Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother.’ If the children will inscribe that well upon their hearts, they have the whole day before them to put it in practice. But the sixth now? What can we say to that? ‘Thou shalt do no murder;’ as if any man ever felt the slightest general inclination to strike another man dead. Men will hate sometimes: they will fly into passions and forget themselves; and as a consequence of this or other feelings, it may easily come now and then to a murder; but what a barbarous precaution it is to tell children that they are not to kill or murder! If the commandment ran, ‘Have a regard for the life of another—put away whatever can do him hurt—save him though with peril to yourself—if you injure him, consider that you are injuring yourself;’—that is the form which should be in use among educated, reasonable people. And in our Catechism teaching we have only an awkward clumsy way of sliding into it, through a ‘what do you mean by that?’
“And as for the seventh; that is utterly detestable. What! to stimulate the precocious curiosity of children to pry into dangerous mysteries; to obtrude violently upon their imaginations ideas and notions which beyond all things you should wish to keep from them! It were far better if such actions as that commandment speaks of were dealt with arbitrarily by some secret tribunal, than prated openly of before church and congregation—” At this moment Ottilie entered the room.
“ ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery,’ ”—Mittler went on—“How coarse! how brutal! What a different sound it has, if you let it run, ‘Thou shalt hold in reverence the bond of marriage. When thou seest a husband and a wife between whom there is true love, thou shalt rejoice in it, and their happiness shall gladden thee like the cheerful light of a beautiful day. If there arise anything to make division between them, thou shalt use thy best endeavor to clear it away. Thou shalt labor to pacify them, and to soothe them; to show each of them the excellencies of the other. Thou shalt not think of thyself, but purely and disinterestedly thou shalt seek to further the well-being of others, and make them feel what a happiness is that which arises out of all duty done; and especially out of that duty which holds man and wife indissolubly bound together.’ ”
Charlotte felt as if she was sitting on hot coals. The situation was the more distressing, as she was convinced that Mittler was not thinking the least where he was or what he was saying; and before she was able to interrupt him, she saw Ottilie, after changing color painfully for a few seconds, rise and leave the room.
Charlotte constrained herself to seem unembarrassed: “You will leave us the eighth commandment,” she said, with a faint smile.
“All the rest,” replied Mittler, “if I may only insist first on the foundation of the whole of them.”
These "though shalt not commit adultery" comments, echoed into the ears of Ottilie, as she entered the room, resulted immediately in her collapse to death, and shortly thereafter to the death of Edward.
In 1830, Goethe wrote the following to his friend composer Carl Zelter: 
“Following on what went before, let me tell you in fun, that in my Elective Affinities, I took care to round off the inward, true catharsis, with as much purity and finish as possible, but I do not therefore imagine that any handsome fellow could thereby be purged from the lust of looking after the wife of another. The sixth commandment, which seemed to the Elohim-Jehovah to be so necessary, even in the wilderness, that he engraved it on granite tables with his own finger,—this it will still be necessary to uphold in our blotting-paper catechisms.”
The description of a god that writes laws on granite tablets with "his own finger", to note, refers to the description of the Akhenaten's monotheistic son god Aten, typically depicted in carvings as a sun disc with many long outstretched fingers; Akhenaten's monotheism generally considered the prototype to Moses' monotheism.
Goethe, in short, shows how the "double mental adultery" that takes place in the novel, explained through the language of a "double elective affinity reaction" (double displacement reaction), is at odd with morality define by Mosaic law.
|Citizen protestors during the Kanawha Country textbook controversy over some 300+ new school books that went against their Christian morality beliefs, many of whom cited the Ten Commandments as being at odds with situational ethics and sexuality studies.|
Kanawha Country | Hillbilly morality
The following are interview excerpts, from people in the heat of the Kanawha County textbook controversy, showing how the self-defined "hillbillies" of Kanawha county saw the ten commandments as inflexible and at odds with situational ethics and evolution being taught to their children:
“Let me put it this way: If Darwin’s right, we’re just sophisticated monkeys. The Bible is wrong. There is no god. And without god, there’s no right or wrong. We can just make up our morals as we go. The basis for all we believe is destroyed. And that’s why this country is headed to hell in a handbasket. Is Darwin responsible? I’ll say this: people have to choose between science and faith, between evolution and the Bible, between the Ten Commandments and make-‘em-up-as-you-go ethics. We’ve made our choice—and we’re not budging.”— Local businessman (1974), response to Lee Strobel when asked if Darwin was responsible for the shootings, violence, and protests amid the Kanawha County textbook controversy 
“We’re trying to get our kids to do the right thing. Then these books come along and say that sometimes the wrong thing is the right thing. We just don’t believe that! The ten commandments are the ten commandments.”— Elementary school parent (1974), commentary to Lee Strobel; stated in reference to the new teaching curriculum wherein one textbook included a “situational ethics” story of a child cheating a merchant out of a penny, and asked: “Most people think that cheating is wrong. Do you think there is ever a time when it might be right to? Tell when it is. Tell why you think it is right.” 
The following are related quotes:
“The first and second laws of thermodynamics are of course known to us as the ten commandments, and probably obeyed more consistently.”— Howard Seifert (1961), “Can We Decrease Our Entropy?” 
“When it comes to bullsh*t, big-time, major league bullsh*t, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims, religion. No contest. No contest. Religion. Religion easily has the greatest bullsh*t story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He's all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can't handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullsh*t story. Holy sh*t!”— George Carlin (1999), “god skit”
“If Goethe overthrew the 6th commandment, I need to overthrow the entire Bible.”— Libb Thims (2014), duty mental note, arisen per penning of Goethe on religion article, 9:19AM CST, Dec 8
● Bible vs physical science conflicts
1. (a) Lewisohn, Ludwig. (1949). Goethe: the Story of a Man: Being the Life of Johann Wolfgang Goethe as Told in his Own Words and the Words of his Contemporaries, Volume 2 (pgs. 165-66, 174). Farrar Straus and Co.
(b) Die Wahlverwandtschaften – GoetheZeitPortal.de.
(c) Goethe, Johann and Zelter, Carl F. (1892). Goethe’s Letters to Zelter: with Extracts from those of Zelter to Goethe (sixth commandment, pg. 386). G. Bell and Sons.
2. (a) Strobel, Lee. (1974). “Textbook Battle Rages in Bible Belt County” (Ѻ), Chicago Tribune, Sun, Oct 20.
(b) Strobel, Lee. (2004). The Case for a Creator: a Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence that Points Toward God (pgs. 7-18). Zondervan, 2009.
3. Seifert, Howard S. (1961). “Can We Decrease Our Entropy?” (abs), American Scientist, Summer-June, 124A.
● Ten Commandments – Wikipedia.