The Humanist Ten Commandments
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At a summit of Nobel Peace award winners in Warsaw, Polish Nobel Peace laureate Lech Walesa called for a “secular Ten Commandments,” a guide for universal values that transcend religious beliefs. The response has been a heated debate among secularists about what could constitute such a guide. And while some have criticized the idea for being too dogmatic, others have embraced the notion of a set of rules which might bridge the gap between evangelicals and nonbelievers.
Thus we propose herein to provide such a list, a Humanist Ten Commandments, that it might serve to aid those questioning the moralities of the universe regardless of their religious belief or nonbelief. Many of the ideas behind these commandments are inspired by the tenets of humanism, as outlined in the Humanist Manifesto, and by the Kochhar Humanist Education Center’s “Ten Commitments.”
First, though, it must be said that the idea of a secular Ten Commandments should best be viewed not as a set of rigid, unbreakable rules (for what punishment should a humanist fear from breaking them?). Rather, these should be read more as strongly-worded suggestions for living, the kinds of ideas that, if everyone followed them, might make the world a better place all around.
THE HUMANIST TEN COMMANDMENTS
1) Thou shalt strive to promote the greater good of humanity before all selfish desires.
2) Thou shalt be curious, for asking questions is the only way to find answers.
3) Harm to your fellow human is harm to humanity. Therefore, thou shalt not kill, rape, rob, or otherwise victimize anyone.
4) Thou shall treat all humans as equals, regardless of race, gender, age, creed, identity, orientation, physical ability, or status.
5) Thou shalt use reason as your guide. Science, knowledge, observation, and rational analysis are the best ways to determine any course of action.
6) Thou shalt not force your beliefs onto others, nor insist that yours be the only and correct way to live happily.
7) If thou dost govern, thou shalt govern with reason, not with superstition. Religion should have no place in any government which represents all people and beliefs.
8) Thou shalt act for the betterment of your fellow humans, and be, whenever possible, altruistic in your deeds.
9) Thou shalt be good to the Earth and its bounties, for without it, humankind is lost.
10) Thou shalt impart thy knowledge and wisdom gained in your lifetime to the next generation, so that with each passing century, humanity will grow wiser and more humane.
What are your thoughts about the Humanist Ten Commandments? Let us know in the comments!
Christian Hagen is the communications assistant for the American Humanist Association.