A new book titled ‘Atheist Heart, Humanist Mind‘ 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 Humanist.
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.
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.
One could probably quible about the meaning of one or two of them, why there are only 10 items, and there is the usual complaint about using religious terminology for our Humanism, but I was very pleased to see an avoidence of any religious apologetics I sometimes see in Humanist circles.
While the word “commandments” might turn people off, this list is 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.
Unlike the Biblical 10 Commandments, this list of guidelines are open to being improved based on new information.
So if you are looking for short and to the point guidelines you can use to explain Humanism to someone on an elevator, or you are looking for a summary of Humanist beliefs, these crowdsourced ‘commandments’ are a fine addition to our collected library of knowledge.