Recently, a group of atheists led by Lex Bayer, an executive at AirBnB, and John Figdor, a humanist chaplain at Stanford University, held a contest. Â The purpose: produce a list of â€œTen Non-Commandmentsâ€ for the unbelievers of the world to rally behind. Â A team of 13 judges chose the 10 which were announced Friday in a book the pair co-wrote: “Atheist Heart, Humanist Mind.” Â There were over 2,800 submissions of rules by which atheists should live.
The big problem with them from a religious perspective according to those of us who believe that Scripture is sacred and Godâ€™s word given to us: the atheists still invoke Godâ€™s rules in the most civilizing of the list. Â To wit:
1. Be open-minded and be willing to alter your beliefs with new evidence.
When God came to Earth as Jesus Christ, and He began to teach, one of the core tenants of His teaching was openness to a new way, doing things in His name, not in the name of the law. Â That was a massive change for the chosen race, and quite contrary to human nature. Â The evidence Christ produced that this is the way to be? Â Do you believe in miracles?
2. Strive to understand what is most likely to be true, not to believe what you wish to be true.
Truth is truth. Â What is real is that which is true. Â Wishes and most likely are not part of the discussion. Â (See Christâ€™s conversation with Pilot in the Passion.)
3. Â The scientific method is the most reliable way of understanding the natural world.
If so, how does science explain the duck-billed platypus? Â Is this God giving Darwin the finger or is there a better, more â€œscientific explanationâ€ of how a mammal lays eggs rather than whelps, and has lizard like webbed feet, but only two, and only the males really sharp venomous claws? Â On the other hand, remember that the â€œscientific methodâ€ was developed by a bunch of friars and monks throughout the centuries. Â The scientific worldâ€™s Albertus Magnus is better known as St. Albert the Great to Catholics.
4. Â Every person has the right to control of their body.
Yes, and furthermore, from the Bible we know every person has the responsibility to do so. Â A little honesty and scientific fact would also remind everyone that teeny tiny humans in the womb are not part of the body of their mothers, but unique people in their own right.
5. Â God is not necessary to be a good person or to live a full and meaningful life.
Maybe not. Â But staying out of jail generally means following the rules God laid down in the actual Ten Commandments. Â Which brings us to:
6. Â Be mindful of the consequences of all your actions and recognize that you must take responsibility for them.
7. Â Treat others as you would want them to treat you, and can reasonably expect them to want to be treated. Think about their perspective.
These two should be taken together as they are two parts of the same whole of the Golden Rule, or as Christians know it from the Gospel of St. John, the actions related to the second part of the Greatest Commandment. Â (The first being â€œLove the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul.â€ Â That isnâ€™t in play here.) Â Sorry, atheists, but this one is straight out of the Bible, albeit extrapolated.
8. Â We have the responsibility to consider others, including future generations.
Well, duh. Â Thatâ€™s what life on earth is all about. Â Civilization is passed down from generation to generation. Â The Bible teaches that, even if it is not said implicitly.
9. Â There is no one right way to live.
Whoever said there was? Â Thatâ€™s what freedom is all about, although just about everyone seems to thing THEIR way is the right way. Â The concept that we are free to live as we choose comes straight from Christâ€™s teaching. Â He just asks that we follow a few guidelines as outlined in numbers 6 and 7 in this compilation.
10. Â Leave the world a better place than you found it.
Which of course is the end goal of the goodness laid out in the Bible. Â Of course, religious people do it in Godâ€™s name. Â Atheists do it to feel good about themselves.
So, how secular is this list of Ten Non-Commandments? Not really at all. Â The civilizing concepts listed originated in the Bible itself. Â There may not be anything about the Lord Our God delivering us from bondage or keeping the Sabbath holy or honoring our parents, but there is quite a bit from the Gospels enumerated here. Â Science trumping God? Â Given that the Church has always been in search of the truth in any form, that cannot be supported as demonstrated above. Â (Besides, evolution is still just a theory.) Â No, one does not need to believe in God or be a religious person to live a good, fulfilling life or to be a good person, but one does need to follow Godâ€™s rules to be part of civilized society. Â At least in the west.