Atheists’ Creeds

I sort of like the idea of a defined creed to which one must adhere if they are to lead a just and noble life. However, I have a bit of a problem with this one, in that it’s a direct ripoff of the Ten Commandments. It’s cute and all, but invites religious people to claim that it’s impossible for us atheists to have morality without God, and see, look, we’re even using God’s laws save for number 1 and 2 which we heathens have corrupted!

Really, since the Fifteen Ten Commandments comprise but ten of the 613 mitzvot of Jewish tradition, and those are likewise revamps of Hammurabi’s Code of Laws, why can’t we likewise take the kernel of truth codified in these commandments and distill them down to their essence?

For instance, the core of every one of the commandments, the one Jesus (if he existed) said all the other commandments hung upon — well, this, and “God’s the Only God For Me, And Better Be for You Too” — is “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Every one of those commandments that matters, is predicated on treating others respectfully and in a manner befitting our species’ specialization as a social animal. In other words, we evolved to be social creatures, and if we act with disregard to the rest of our species, we are doing ourselves as much harm as we’re doing others. That we codified laws and a system of punishment (imaginary spiritual punishment or otherwise) tells me that the need for these behaviours is so great that then, as like today, we needed laws to enforce adherence to them, even when most people were content to adhere to them without the laws being delineated as such ahead of time. Basically, we needed a way to ensure everyone was playing by the then undefined rules, so we defined them, and said “if you break these rules, you’ll suffer these consequences”.

And I would contend that, because life is short, and it is all that matters (being that there is no afterlife, no big reward or punishment, no game over screen with continue option, and no high score list), not only should you treat one another as well as possible, but you should also do your utmost to enjoy the time you have on this mortal coil. It’s practically a truism to say that you should live life to the fullest, so much so that it seems trite — this is because we all know and understand this fact intrinsically.

If you’re paying attention, you’ll realize that I just boiled down the commandments to the following:

  1. Be excellent to each other.
  2. Party on dudes.

Now those are laws I can get behind.


Atheists’ Creeds
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7 thoughts on “Atheists’ Creeds

  1. 2

    Meh, I think the comparison is integral to the message of it.  I doubt very much that many reasonable people would disagree with your final analysis, but the comparison isn’t to create a guide for atheists.  The point is that we don’t need a god to make us do what the Christians do because their god will send them to hell if they don’t.

  2. 3

    I’ll agree that it’s integral to the site’s intended message.  I guess something just rubs me the wrong way about actively inviting theists to make these unfair and spurious connections.  You know, like the “Darwin was Wrong” cover.  No matter how right the cover was — because Darwin didn’t get all the facts straight by virtue of not having access to the fossil record or DNA — they went and used it as an example of how scientists thought “Darwinism” (e.g. evolution via natural selection) was wrong.


  3. 4

    In Victorian England, society had taken comfort in the fact that they had evolved past crime until 1855 when William Pierce, a well spoken English gentleman, executed what is now called “The Great Train Robbery”.

    It wasn’t the amount of money that was tolen that shook Englands beliefs, it was the fact that it happened at all. That a refined educated gentleman stole, not because he needed to, but because he WANTED to…

    Your view is just as delusional. lets take 15 commandments, cut them down to 2 and the world will be better.

    “People” will never be excellent to each other and most times will only party on if someone else is flipping the bill for the drinks…

    I feel let down by this. I expected more…

  4. 5

    Is there an argument in your comment that cannot be equally and as validly leveled at Taoism?

    As I’ve said, I’m not so sure about the utility about writing a code at all any more. What is delusional, is the thought that we can reformat every single brain in humankind to follow ANY commandments universally.

  5. 6

    That much we can agree on. Look at how many ways the belief of God has been fractured and splintered to suit Man’s needs and self interests.

    What I read from the Tao and take from it isn’t neccessarily what the next person will. Everyone is wired differently. But the one thing that appears to be universly in common, is the need every belief/non-belief has is the insatiable need to point out how screwed up everyone else’s belief system is. There are even verses in the Tao that support your belief, but I lack that faith.

    We as a species have proven time and time again the evil we are capable of. Nazi Germany. Bosnia. Rwanda. Stalin’s Russia. China. We read what we want to into any ideology so long as it supports what we want. Our goals and desires.

    It is the measure of a man, what he reads into his belief system. Another Athiest by the name of Goparaju Ramachandra Rao, author of “Postive Atheism” where he “suggests guidelines for a positive atheist philosophy, meaning one that promotes positive values. Positive atheism entails such things as being morally upright, showing an understanding that religious people have reasons to believe, not proselytising or lecturing others about atheism, and defending oneself with truthfulness instead of aiming to ‘win’ any confrontations with outspoken critics.”

    I respect your personal beliefs but any forum created to illuminate how their belief system is superior to everyone else, just contributes to the problems of the world and does nothing to solve it. This whole debate is just another pebble in a mountain of problems.

    We are supposed to find the good in all things. Sort it out, ponder and decide for ourselves. The world is not, nor never will be perfect. Conflict will always be part of our nature it seems.

  6. 7

    Again, you misunderstand the point of this forum. It is my blog. It is my personal beliefs. It is stuff I think is cool, and not cool. I provide the comment feature to allow for (and actively encourage) dissent because I learn something from each argument. It is not to illuminate how superior atheism is to Christianity or any other faith. I do like to illustrate how superior the epistemology of science (e.g. the objective study of reality) is to wild guesses from Bronze-age tribes in discovering how reality really works. But that’s not a belief system — that’s a knowledge system. That’s what epistemology means.

    There are some things that people should NOT be forced to sort out themselves. I don’t support teaching phrenology alongside psychology, astrology alongside astronomy, or creationism alongside geology and biology. That would just lead our children into confusion and apathy. Both of which, religious folks would seize upon to destroy the only epistemology that has ever been proven to work.

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