The Ethical Atheist Ten Commandments

  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.

Details here.

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0 thoughts on “The Ethical Atheist Ten Commandments

  1. The next step is to get rid of the old style language and replace the words “Thou SHALT” with “I will use all my abilities to”:

    I will use all my abilities to not believe all I am told.

    I will use all my abilities to seek knowledge and truth constantly.

    I will use all my abilities to educate my fellow man in the Laws of Science.

  2. Future generations? What’s wrong with this one? Am I really doing something wrong if I concentrate on making life easier and more pleasant for the people around me now? Must I accomplish something grand to count?

    And define peace.

    But I’ve already had one argument with him about thinking things through.

  3. Ten is a very natural number to use. It’s the number of digits on our hands, so it’s the basis for our numbering system, and thus our measurement systems.

    Would you prefer a power of 2 instead?

  4. “[I]t’s the basis for our numbering system, and thus our measurement systems.”


  5. “Thou shalt not forget atrocities”

    There’s no reason to single out religion when such great atrocities have been committed naming no God: e.g. Stalin, responsible for perhaps 20 million deaths of his own people.

  6. In my opinion, we should re-arrange and re-phrase that a bit.
    Most importantly, as history ought to have taught us, it seems that if you don’t actually place freedom from oppression and bodily harm first, somebody finds a way to justify it in the name of the lexically prior ‘commandments’.

    As an academic philosopher I tend to be cautious with simplifying ethics and political philosophy in any way – much less to a ‘list’. But I also think making up such lists can help us reflect – and as such they might be a useful tool for the pursuit a reasonable ethics.

    My version would probably go like this:


    1. Always seek to minimize the harm you do. Always investigate the ethical implications of your actions.

    2. Do your best to ensure the continuity of the human species and the biodiversity around you at the highest standard of living possible.

    3. Do your best to ensure that everyone is granted the same maximal schema of basic rights and liberties compatible with the same schema for everyone else.

    4. Always demand rational justification in consideration of all available facts before accepting any claim. Always remind yourself that you are biased. Try to identify your biases and correct your estimation of the situation accordingly.

    5. Remind yourself: You are a part of the universe – asking yourself questions about yourself, others and this universe you live in – you are a part of nature reflecting on itself. Be that as best you can by learning, enlightening others and expanding the boundaries of knowledge.

    6. Beware of ideologies, rituals, and placing value on symbols – in all cases.

    7. Be reflective of your preconceptions – where they are met with criticism, distance yourself emotionally from them and assess them as critically as you can. Only if they withstand
    even the most critical inquiry are you justified in continuing to employ them.

    8. For every question we have about the world there are a multitude of legitimate routes of inquiry – consider all. For every scientific discipline you study, study what academic philosophy has to say about it. For every philosophical discipline you study, study what science has to say about it.
    Try not just to expand our knowledge – try to unify it.

    9. Meaning is not found – it is created. Only you can make this life meaningful for yourself – but you won’t be able to do so alone. Turn not to myth and fantasy – turn to friends and family, for what you can find in them is what you can give to them: Meaning … everything.

    10. Try to be patient with others – or you’ll become bitter. Yes, the world can be a crazy a place – but one more embittered cynic isn’t going to make it better for anyone.


    Well, I can’t say I can always live up to that – especially number 10… but I think it’s absolutely worth trying.

    I know some may raise a brow or two at the point about philosophy – but it really is important. As someone who has studied science, I am often amazed at how easily many philosophers can ignore the implications of scientific fact. As a philosopher (of the analytic tradition), I am often amazed at how easily many scientists can ignore glaring conceptual problems in their approaches or make unwarranted interpretational inferences for lack of awareness of their own preconceptions and those of the theories they employ explicitly or implicitly.

    But, as I am very happy to say, in every scientific discipline there are – among the most prominent experts – enough how are aware of the importance of dealing with the philosophical issues involved – and of the value of scientifically knowledgable philosophers in the relevant debates – just as in every philosophical discipline, there are enough who will always do their best to look for related empirical questions and take into account what science has to tell us in regard to them.

    Two of the best examples (IMO) are the issues in philosophy of biology and animal cognition (see the respective entries in the stanford online encyclopedia of philosophy)

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