Most people are familiar with the story of the 10 Commandments. The short version is that God called Moses to Mount Sinai where he gave him two tablets of stone that contained the 10 Commandments. These 10 Commandments, according to the story, summarized the absolutes of spiritual and moral living that God intended for his people. The Jewish Torah and Christian Bible both contain the story of the 10 Commandments, and it can be found in Exodus 20:1-17.
According to a number of studies though, religion is in trouble. A survey by the PEW Research Center in 2012 saw record numbers indicating a huge upswing in Atheism, with 20 percent of Americans now identifying as Agnostic, Atheist or "Unaffiliated" with a religion. This was the highest percentages ever of "nones" or those who are unaffiliated in Pew Research Center polling.
So with more people considering themselves atheist, what do they believe when it comes to the rules to live by? As part of the new book Atheist Mind, Humanist Heart: Rewriting the Ten Commandments for the Twenty-first Century, authors Lex Bayer and John Figdor held a contest in which atheists were asked to offer modern alternatives to the Ten Commandments.
Here are the winners of the "Ten Non-Commandments:"
1. Be open-minded and be willing to alter your beliefs with new evidence.
2. Strive to understand what is most likely to be true, not to believe what you wish to be true.
3. The scientific method is the most reliable way of understanding the natural world.
4. Every person has the right to control of their body.
5. God is not necessary to be a good person or to live a full and meaningful life.
6. Be mindful of the consequences of all your actions and recognize that you must take responsibility for them.
7. Treat others as you would want them to treat you, and can reasonably expect them to want to be treated. Think about their perspective.
8. We have the responsibility to consider others, including future generations
9. There is no one right way to live.
10. Leave the world a better place than you found it.
And there's your moral code. No need to carve it in stone or hand it down from a mountain. Did we ever really need a supernatural being or a book to tell us these things? I think we'll be just fine on our own. All we need to do is start thinking for ourselves.
In fact, why stop at the 10 Commandments? Isn't it time we questioned the entire Bible? The Bible is a book of symbolic literature. It's a fusion of stories, ideas, chronologies, and traditions woven together over at least 1,000 years. The authors, editors and the massive organization of people that followed set out to control the world through their view of morality under the threat of eternal damnation for noncompliance, and it worked. This wouldn't be surprising 2,000 or even 200 years ago, but in 2014 it's almost unbelievable.
Critical thinking says people don't believe in the Bible because it's believable; they believe it because they want to believe it. They need to believe it. The prospect of eternal death is too much for most people to bear. So instead of searching for truth, they cling to this book like a drowning man to a life preserver. The most intelligent and emotionally mature people in society know this, yet most allow the delusion to continue in order to avoid panic, depression, and hysteria among the masses. Ignorance is not only bliss, in this case it's the glue that holds civilization together. Brilliant thinkers like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and many other prominent Americans in our history recognized that the Bible wasn't the word of God, yet they purposely tried to appease people by attempting to find the good in a bad book.
American's won't put their Bibles in the fictional file in our lifetime, but it will happen eventually if the country survives long enough. All superstitions are eventually disproved by science and tucked away as remnants of past ignorance. The Bible will become an ancient relic of the past someday. Until then, we need to have the courage to question and probe every aspect of this book and the multibillion dollar mob that wields it as a weapon. It's time we start putting polite conversation behind and begin debating the Bible in mixed company.
It's time for Americans to begin engaging in serious discourse regarding the future of this country -- before it's too late.