‘There Is No One Right Way to Live’: Atheists Invent Their Own Ten Commandments

ContestTwo professing atheist authors recently held a contest in which they asked followers to “rethink the Ten Commandments” and come up with “an alternative secular version … for the modern age.”

Lex Bayer and John Figdor, authors of the book “Atheist Mind, Humanist Heart,” launched the contest last month to “open up for discussion what gives life meaning when secular culture is on the rise.”

The crowdsourcing competition invited atheists and humanists around their world to submit a commandment, which was then voted on by their peers, as well as a panel of 13 judges. The global contest resulted in over 2,800 submissions from 18 countries worldwide.

“Experience as wide a range of pleasures as possible, without excess or harm to others,” one submission read.

“The infinity after your death stretches out as the one before your life,” another said. “Enjoy your short window, lucky one.”

“Have a purpose in life,” stated a third.

Judges in the contest included Adam Savage from the Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters”; National Medal of Science recipient Gordon Bower; Harvard University’s Humanist Chaplain, Greg Epstein; Executive Director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation, Robyn Blumner; and Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association, Andrew Copson. Ten winners were chosen, and each received $1,000 for their entry.

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On Friday, Bayer and Figdor announced the winning submissions:

I. Be open-minded and be willing to alter your beliefs with new evidence.
II. Strive to understand what is most likely to be true, not to believe what you wish to be true.
III. The scientific method is the most reliable way of understanding the natural world.
IV. Every person has the right to control over their body.
V. God is not necessary to be a good person or to live a full and meaningful life.
VI. Be mindful of the consequences of all your actions and recognize that you must take responsibility for them.
VII. Treat others as you would want them to treat you, and can reasonably expect them to want to be treated. Think about their perspective.
VIII. We have the responsibility to consider others, including future generations.
IX. There is no one right way to live.
X. Leave the world a better place than you found it.

The men claim that the secular commandments demonstrate that one doesn’t have to be Christian to be moral.

“There is often a misconception that nonbelievers don’t share strong ethical values. In reading through the thousands of submissions in the contest it’s very clear that is not the case,” Figdor, who works as a humanist chaplain at Stanford University, said in a statement. “The overwhelming positivity and overlap with traditional moral values shows that no matter where you are from, or what your faith tradition has been—or hasn’t been—there are some things we can all agree on as being important and vital to a rich and fulfilling life.”

But as previously reported, Terre Ritchie of CBH Ministries said that it is futile for humankind to concoct its own definition of goodness.

“There has to be more to our faith than being a nice person,” she continued. “Knowledge of the Scriptures is going to tell us what good is. … When King Solomon wrote, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding,’ [he was telling us that] if we’re going on an understanding without God, we’re not going to get far.”


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