New Commandments For The Non-Believer

created clipart showing book cover with words Guidelines for the Non-Believer

A new book titled ‘Atheist Mind, Humanist Heart: Rewriting the Ten Commandments for the Twenty-first Century‘ by Lex Bayer and John Figdor, included a set of 10 ‘non-commandments’ for the non-believer. The authors also held a contest to crowdsource an alternative set. I was pleased that I agreed with a majority of the items judged the winner. They are good guidelines for living as a non-believer.

Enter the “10 ‘Non-Commandments’ Contest,” in which atheists were asked to offer modern alternatives to the famous Decalogue. And, to sweeten the pot, the contest offered $10,000 in moolah to the winning would-be Moses. (If it helped boost atheists’ public image and drum up publicity for his book, all the better, Bayer said.)

The contest drew more than 2,800 submissions from 18 countries and 27 U.S. states, according to Bayer and Figdor. The proposed “non-commandments” ranged from the quizzical (“Don’t follow your nature”) to the quixotic (“Thriving in space is the ultimate goal”).

A team of 13 judges selected 10 of the more sober and serious submissions, and announced the winners Friday.

Behold, atheists’ new Ten Commandments

Here are the guidelines that made the cut:

  • 1. Be open-minded and be willing to alter your beliefs with new evidence.
  • 2. Strive to understand what is most likely to be true, not to believe what you wish to be true.
  • 3. The scientific method is the most reliable way of understanding the natural world.
  • 4. Every person has the right to control of their body.
  • 5. God is not necessary to be a good person or to live a full and meaningful life.
  • 6. Be mindful of the consequences of all your actions and recognize that you must take responsibility for them.
  • 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.
  • 8. We have the responsibility to consider others, including future generations.
  • 9. There is no one right way to live.
  • 10. Leave the world a better place than you found it.

Being a Humanist, most of these ‘winners’ are items that I try to follow in my every day life. I was pleased that I could agree with almost of all of them.

Number 9 “There is no one right way to live” is a bit murky. I get the gist of it. I believe it means that we should not judge people on how they live based only on how we live. I just wished that item had said it like that instead of being a bit vague.

Regular readers of this blog know that I tend to frown on using religious terminology for my non-belief. So while believers may see these items as “Commandments”, we non-believers know they are just guidelines.

There is no one enforcing the directives. The only “punishment” if we don’t follow them is feeling bad that we might have hurt other people.

I would also quibble with having ten items. That seems pretty arbitrary.

I could reduce the list down to numbers 1, 3, 5, 6, and 7. The others that are left kind of fit into the ones I kept.

I was very happy that there were no items that could be seen as being religious apologetics like ‘we all are spiritual in our own way’ or some clap trap like that.

So, if you are looking for something short and to the point about how to live a better freethinking non-believer life, these guidelines are a great addition to our library of knowledge.