In a new book, Atheist Mind, Humanist Heart: Rewriting the Ten Commandments for the Twenty-first Century, atheists/humanists Lex Bayer and John Figdor (anagram FIR GOD) offer a list of replacement commandments for the original perfect 10. They were chosen by means of a contest in which non-believers sent in their nominations.
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.
Well, as far as thundering-from-a-mountaintop-type material, these leave a lot to be desired. First of all (or firstable, a nice accidental coinage I came across this week in a survey I was summarizing), five of the ten aren’t even in commandment form. And only one directly addresses belief or non-belief. And finally, all are exceedingly mealy-mouthed and lame. (“Leave the world a better place than you found it”?)
Who are these people who sent in entries, school marms? Let’s just call these “Ten Reminders.”
I don’t have a big enough stone handy, or a chisel for that matter, so I’ll just type out my suggestions for new commandments. I’ve only got five, but after all, this is the era of the Short Attention Span. Who wants ten?
1. Thou shalt have no other god but No God;
2. Thou shalt be devoid of a sense of humor;
3. Thou shalt not believe what thou cannot see, but shalt believe, nonetheless, what thou cannot know;
4. Thou shalt kill every conversation;
5. Thou shalt put thy faith in science, ignoring the idea that “science without religion is lame” (Albert Einstein).
On the Atheist Mind Humanist Heart website, one can read the stirring sentiments of contributors to the “clear set of constructive principles to live by that establish atheism as a positive worldview.” One of those who have stuffed the ballot box is Daniel Kronos (an alias?), who counsels us, among other things, to “Live each day as a time traveler from the future with a responsibility to improve the direction of the timeline you’ve found yourself in…
“Because,” Mr. K. goes on, “actually we are time travelers. We’re all moving toward the future, and it’s a little late to decide what we should have been doing in the present’s past, but we can still decide what to do in the future’s past, as we continue to live through it.”
I believe Criswell put it more succinctly, in Plan 9 From Outer Space:
“We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives…and remember, my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future…God help us, in the future.”