Friday, April 10, 2015

Atheists Rewrite The Ten Commandments

We had a discussion at church last week about whether or not atheists can actually be kind people. I, of course, brought in the Buddhist perspective, and others in the group admitted knowing some atheists and that they were all very kind, thoughtful people, and most of them were basically pacifists. Then this appeared on facebook, and I copied it here to share with you.

Atheists Rewrite The Ten Commandments — They’re Much Better Than The Originals

Author: Joe Fletcher December 22, 2014 12:57 pm

Authors Le Bayer and John Figdor have just completed a very daunting task. The two have created a new list of ten commandments for the 21st century. The two have authored the book Atheist Mind Humanist Heart: Rewriting the Ten Commandments For the Twenty First Century. The authors wrote the book in hopes that it will show that religion does not hold a monopoly on ethical codes of conducts for living life in a virtuous manner. Bayer and Figdor have created a list of ten “non-commandments” that they view exemplify those with a humanist perspective. They are referred to as non-commandments because the authors would like them to be non-dogmatic and have the ability to change based upon new evidence.

They then decided to take the idea of putting together a list of non-commandments and used it to create a contest where people would send in their own suggestions for what the new list should be. The suggestions where then voted on by people online. Those that got the most votes where then selected by thirteen judges who decided the final ten winners.

One of the judges was none other than Mythbusters star and prominent Atheist, Adam Savage.

The Re-Think contest received over 2,800 submissions. Here are the winning non-commandments

1.  Be open minded and be willing to alter your beliefs with new evidence.

Why: It is essential in order for us to be able to collaboratively work together to find common solutions to pressing world problems.

Jeremy Jimenez

2.  Strive to understand what is most likely to be true, not to believe what you wish to be true.

Why: We’re more likely to believe what we wish to be true over what we wish not to be true, regardless of veracity. If we’re interested in learning the truth, then we need to actively separate our beliefs from our desires.

Matthew M.

3.  The scientific method is the most reliable way of understanding the natural world.

Why: Every time humans have questions this method is used to solve them. If we don’t know, we don’t know but instead of making up the answer we use this method to reach a conclusion/answer.

Zay Jackson

4.  Every person has the right to control over their body.

Why: This includes a person\”s right to not be murdered, raped, imprisoned without just cause (violating another person\’s rights), kidnapped, attacked, tortured, etc. This also protects a person\’s freedom of speech and freedom to dress and represent themselves as they so choose.

Chris Lager

5.  God is not necessary to be a good person or to live a full and meaningful life.

Why: When one does a good deed it isn’t because God tells one to do a good deed, but because one simply wants to be good person. As Human beings we are capable of defining our own, different, meanings for our lives, with or without a god.

John Roso

6.  Be mindful of the consequences of all your actions and recognise that you must take responsibility for them.

Why: It may sound obvious, but negligence and refusal to take responsibility are an immense source of harm in the world, from interpersonal relations to Global issues.

Jamie Andrews

7.  Treat others as you would want them to treat you and can reasonably expect them to want to be treated. Think about their perspective.

Why:If everyone did their best to carry this out as far as it can go, everyone would get along much better.

Carol Fly

8.  We have the responsibility to consider others, including future generations.

Why: As human beings, we have great power. As Voltaire noted “With great power comes great responsibility.” To not consider others would be selfish and petty. We have demonstrated the ability to be magnanimous, are rapidly becoming more so, and will be even more so in the near future.

Michael Marr

9.  There is no one right way to live.

Why: If you look, even a little, you find many cultures living in moral societies that are fundamentally different, with only a few very basic principles being adhered to between them. Just because one group is different, does not mean they are wrong.

Eli Chisholm

10. Leave the world a better place than you found it.

Why: The Japanese concept of Kaizen teaches that small incremental improvements can have a profound effect over time. We should all strive to leave the world better than we found it be it through relieving the suffering of others, creating works of art, or passing along knowledge.

Maury McCoy

With 20% of the population of the United States identifying as being unaffiliated with any religion, there is a definite need for people to come together and have a discussion about secular morality. Atheists and secular humanists are often accused of not having any sense of right or wrong. This contest goes to prove that this is a false accusation.


PhilipH said...

Nothing wrong with these ten statements. Common sense and kindness covers it I guess.

Snowbrush said...

I don't think it would be hard to do better than the originals, and I can't say that I disagree with these, but a lot of them seem to contain implied criticisms of religion rather than what might have been written had religion not been a factor. Another thing that strikes me about them is that they're awfully left-brain in their praise of rationality and science as opposed to beauty and art. Finally, they're statements that would be accepted by those who already accept them and denied by those who don't, and this, for me, gives them a feeling of "preaching to the choir."

Ginnie said...

I can only visualize how wonderful it might be if we didn't have these commandments or the originals and just did the next right thing because it was the right thing to do and not because some god or other entity told us to !!!

Snowbrush said...

I don't see the atheist version as authoritative statements but as rules for living that a person can adopt if they make sense and not adopt if they don't make sense. Perhaps, to you the "right thing to do" is obvious, but it's often far from obvious to me.

possum said...

Buddhists have 5 Precepts that are general "suggestions" for a peaceful life. They are:
The Five Precepts

1. Not killing or causing harm to other living beings. This is the fundamental ethical principle for Buddhism, and all the other precepts are elaborations of this. The precept implies acting non-violently wherever possible, and many Buddhists are vegetarian for this reason. The positive counterpart of this precept is love.
2. 2. Not taking the not-given. Stealing is an obvious way in which one can harm others. One can also take advantage of people, exploit them, or manipulate them. All these can be seen as ways of taking the not given. The positive counterpart of this precept is generosity.
3. 3. Avoiding sexual misconduct. Over the centuries different Buddhist schools have interpreted this precept in many ways, but essentially it means not causing harm to oneself or others in the area of sexual activity. It includes avoiding breaking commitments in the area of sexual relations, and avoiding encouraging others to do the same. The positive counterpart of this precept is contentment.
4. Avoiding false speech. Speech is the crucial element in our relations with others, and yet language is a slippery medium, and we often deceive ourselves or others without even realising that this is what we are doing. Truthfulness, the positive counterpart of this precept, is therefore essential in an ethical life.
5. 5. Abstaining from drink and drugs that cloud the mind. The positive counterpart of this precept is mindfulness, or awareness. Mindfulness is a fundamental quality to be developed the Buddha’s path, and experience shows that taking intoxicating drink or drugs tends to run directly counter to this.

Or in 3 words - Do No Harm.

Snowbrush said...

Thanks for sharing the Buddhist precepts, Possum.