Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Ten Commandments of the Ethical Atheist

While I certainly embrace being called an "atheist" (for, in fact, that is precisely what I am), I am often disgruntled with the condescending attitude my more spirited non-secular peers adopt in discussions about morality. "Where do you think your morals come from?" "If we were all atheists there would only be chaos." "Religion provides humanity with a necessary moral code." Although I do not believe that humans have an innate and absolute moral code from which they can determine what is right and wrong in virtually any complex ethical dilemma, I do believe that all rational humans (read: those without mental illnesses) are equipped with a definitive sense of morality on the major issues.

The order of "Thou shalt not kill" from the Ten Commandments of the Judeo-Christian faiths was not revolutionary at its canonization; Murderous crimes were punished with vigor by civilizations predating Moses, and the evolution of human societies and social norms suggest that moral codes dealing with such fundamental issues of order in free societies are here to stay - regardless of whether or not the majority continues to cling to religious codes. Yet despite these self-evident truths about humanity, atheists are often branded as amoral and unconditionally self-interested by the religious right (and my really annoying, evangelical neighbor from spring 2006). For this reason, I like to frame my atheism in the context of secular humanism.

Today, I came across a nice set of "Commandments" for ethical non-believers, straight from the
Ethical Atheist Foundation. Click on each commandment to find a more detailed explanation of each moral tenet. And so, let it be known:

1. Thou shalt not believe all thou art told.

2. Thou shalt seek knowledge and truth constantly.

3. Thou shalt educate thy fellow man in the Laws of Science.

4. Thou shalt NOT forget the atrocities committed in the name of god.

5. Thou shalt leave valuable contributions for future generations.

6. Thou shalt live in peace with thy fellow man.

7. Thou shalt live this one life thou hast to its fullest.

8. Thou shalt follow a Personal Code of Ethics.

9. Thou shalt maintain a strict separation between Church and State.

10. Thou shalt support those who follow these commandments.

1 comment:

Vanessa said...

This is a really fun post. I relate to annoyance of athiest haters...and I appreciate the secular humanist perspective. However, the 10 commandments of the ethical athiest mirror good old patriarchal religious order: no reference to women. gotta love the umbrella term man.

p.s. i linked to this