Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The Atheist's 10 Commandments

Could Atheist Alain de Botton have come up with a way of having a civilising influence on modern life? As we live in an increasingly secular society that sees Judeo-Christian teaching such as the original 10 Commandments out of date and no longer relevant.

Indeed it is hard to see how anyone could argue with de Botton's on how to be a 'nice person', and equally could any person of faith argue that all these characteristics are not in keeping with their religions beliefs?

Whereby many see the 10 Commandments as a form of social control, this list for atheists is a 21st-century guide to pleasant coexistence with which no one could argue. Perhaps with the exception of  Richard Dawkins, because this list is mostly definitely all about the 'Unselfish Gene'.

It does raise some questions, does sacrafice have a place in 21st centruty living? Whcih de Botton repies, "We won't ever manage to raise a family, love someone else or save the planet if we don't keep up the art of sacrifice."

Psychologist Jacqui Marson claims, "Religion doesn't have a monopoly on ethics, and this list is an excellent, thoughtful guide to behaviour. It places the onus back on the individual to listen to their humanity and trust in other people, rather than laying out rigid instructions for living."

de Botton says that his list is aimed to "ignite a vital conversation around moral character to increase public interest in becoming more virtuous and connected as a society". Something that he claims doesn't often happen for the non-religious.

How does this compaire to the 10 Commandments? Do atheists and the non-religious really not strive to be more virtuous? Does this list function in the same way as the 10 Commandments? Do you think de Botton is in danger of moving towards his own cult, in a similar fashion to 'Dawkinism?'
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/life/the-10-commandments-for-atheists-20130205-2dw83.html#ixzz2K16eaghz

Alain de Botton's 'list for life'
  1. Resilience: Keeping going even when things are looking dark.
  2. Empathy: The capacity to connect imaginatively with the sufferings and unique experiences of another person.
  3. Patience: We should grow calmer and more forgiving by being more realistic about how things actually happen.
  4. Sacrifice: We won't ever manage to raise a family, love someone else or save the planet if we don't keep up with the art of sacrifice.
  5. Politeness: Politeness is closely linked to tolerance, -the capacity to live alongside people whom one will never agree with, but at the same time, cannot avoid.
  6. Humour: Like anger, humour springs from disappointment, but it is disappointment optimally channelled.
  7. Self-awareness: To know oneself is to try not to blame others for one's troubles and moods; to have a sense of what's going on inside oneself, and what actually belongs to the world.
  8. Forgiveness: It's recognising that living with others is not possible without excusing errors.
  9. Hope: Pessimism is not necessarily deep, nor optimism shallow.
  10. Confidence: Confidence is not arrogance - rather, it is based on a constant awareness of how short life is and how little we will ultimately lose from risking everything.
Also available in a print out/PDF version: <here>

1 comment:

  1. I suppose the question is "what powers it all?". I obviously need to read the book where he presumably talks about that, but just looking at his list, some of it just seems a bit cold and superficial. Infact, he admits that in his description of politeness: "given what we are really like, deep down, we should spare others too much exposure to our deeper selves". So - if what's "deep down" in us isn't "good", where do we get the strength/energy/love to do all these good things? Or does he reckon it works from the outside in - ie if we practice it enough, and exercise our "good" muscles, it will affect our deeper selves? The difference then, with Christianity is that it works from the inside out - a transformation of the inside by the Spirit, producing "fruit" - love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22). To continue our previous conversation, Christianity has a poor image, certainly in the UK. The phrase I've been thinking about since has been "to be found in Him and Him in me" - not sure where exactly from but similar to what's in John 15:4 "Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." See - fruit!