DISCUSSION ON THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (of the Ethical Atheist):
1. Thou SHALT NOT believe all thou art told. Humans are generally very gullible. We believe are sorts of false statements, stories, reasoning, etc. We even continue to believe falsehoods after they have been proven untrue. History is full of amazing hoaxes often supported by religion and the teachings of the Church (see Science, Truth and the Church) or by others seeking power, popularity or fortune. We have been told the Earth was flat and has four corners which, if not careful, we may fall off. We have been told that the Earth is the center of the Universe. We have been told that sky if a fixed, firm structure to which the sun, moon and stars are affixed. We have been told that personalities and future events are predictable using astrology, card reading, crystal balls and palm reading. We have been told of prophecies by Nostradamas. We have been told of speaking with the dead, the dead rising, life after death, reincarnation and bending spoons, to name only a few. We must be more skeptical in what we are told, what we read and what we are exposed to through the various forms of broadcast media. When exposed to something new, do NOT accept what you hear without facts to support it. There are other agendas at work in your deception. You must always be on guard to protect yourself and your knowledge.
2. Thou SHALT seek knowledge and truth constantly. There are many adverse factors making it difficult for us to obtain knowledge and the truth. There is often no motivating factor driving others to present you with fair, factual, scientific truths. By weaving a complex web of lies, religions are able to control people and remain in power. Governments may hide facts and events for fear of scaring the public. There are more advertising dollars and higher ratings in broadcasting claims of communicating with the dead than in Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion. Therefore, we must take an active role in our own education and constantly seek the truth. It isn’t always obvious and is often very difficult to obtain. Thou SHALT make time to read non-fiction. Thou SHALT make time to view educational programs. Thou SHALT spend as much time in the library as you do in the mall or watching television.
3. Thou SHALT educate thy fellow man in the Laws of Science. People are generally lazy and hold onto currently held false beliefs. This condition is not acceptable to the ethical atheist. It is not good enough to sit comfortably with your knowledge of the Universe and look in pity at those who are still governed by lies, mythology and sensationalism. Scientific education is the only way to prevail. Only by increasing the comprehension of scientific truths can we hope to continue our progress past the Dark Ages. Only if the world contains more educated people can we hope to not have setbacks. Thou SHALT NOT sit silent and be a closet atheist. Thou SHALT enlighten thy neighbor.
4. Thou SHALT NOT forget the atrocities committed in the name of god. Many people have limited knowledge, or none at all, of the atrocities committed during the Inquisition, the Crusades, etc. by the Church and in the name of religion. Christians are not unique in their cruelty. For example, Muslim civilizations often imprison, torture or kill those attempting to convert their citizens to Christianity. (See Atrocities in the Name of Religion – coming soon…) Few are even remotely aware of these atrocities or think, “Oh, that was a long time ago and could never happen again”. However, it hasn’t been that long ago and is still occurring today in countries like Bosnia, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Israel, Tibet and Afghanistan. Thou SHALT fear a repeat of history.
5. Thou SHALT leave valuable contributions for future generations. The nature of knowledge gain is that new truths are most often found by building upon known facts. If every generation were required to start fresh in its quest for knowledge, our progress would be severely impacted. Our children will not have to go back and prove that the earth is not flat. They will not have to rediscover the atom. It is important that our generation, and all those that follow, leave scientific knowledge and resources for our offspring to build upon. Write a book. Publish an article. Develop a web site. Leave money to organizations that further science and education.
6. Thou SHALT live in peace with thy fellow man. This should not need stating, but murders, torture, wars and brutality are ever present in all civilizations on earth and have been for all of recorded history. Most of the large scale wars, as well as suicide bombers, are driven by religious beliefs and the belief in an afterlife. Even though many religions claim to be against killing, they promote that killing for god is divine and will ensure a special status in the afterlife. If we didn’t have these widespread mythological beliefs, there would likely be a massive decrease in the killings.
7. Thou SHALT live this one life thou hast to its fullest. We do not believe in an afterlife nor that we will be reincarnated to live again in another form. It is, therefore, imperative that we live this one life we have to its fullest. We should not live in a puritanical way, starving ourselves of pleasures, in hopes that it somehow makes us better or that we will be judged more favorably in our “next life”. However, in living our lives to the fullest, we must always be conscious of our actions to ensure that they do not have adverse effects on our fellow man.
8. Thou SHALT follow a Personal Code of Ethics. Everyone should have their own personal code of ethics that drives their behavior. What this contains is an individual undertaking, but current laws are a good starting point. Many of the commandments of the Bible can be summarized by this commandment. For example, it should be self-evident that murder, lying and stealing should be avoided and honoring your mother and father are necessary, assuming of course that they are worthy of this respect (e.g. they are not beating/raping you or otherwise abusing you). In general, a personal code of ethics would not cause harm to others, would be anchored in truth and would strive to make society a better place.
9. Thou SHALT maintain a strict separation between Church and State. It is extremely dangerous to mix the mind controlling, fear generating, mythological beliefs of religion with the governing aspects and power of the state. History is full of examples. Many who founded the United States knew this and were willing to die to escape the horrors of Europe. We know that freedom can be measured by the separation of church and state.
10. Thou SHALT support those who follow these commandments. Get involved! Our progress in the last 250 years has been ard fought. Do not sit idle and let us suffer setbacks. Religious conservatives are highly organized and well funded. They continue to spread lies. They are trying to rid our schools of teaching evolution. They are infiltrating government. They are targeting our children’s young, impressionable minds. We must support those who follow these commandments in every way possible. Support scientific and atheist organizations by submitting writings, donating money, etc. (donations are often tax deductible). Purchase books and subscribe to magazines. Attend seminars. All of these provide backing and support to continue valuable efforts. Worthy organizations include (but are not limited to): Americans United for Separation of Church and State, American Atheists, CSICOP – The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal and the Skeptical Inquirer Magazine, The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, The Center for Inquiry, EvolveFish, Online Library of Literature, your local library, etc. (For more, see Links of the Ethical Atheist.)