Atheist 10 Commandments

Just read a post by Scot McKnight that listed Alain de Botton’s ‘list for life’. Here is the list:
  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.
Here are a few of the more interesting responses to Scot's post ...
  • Interesting… These are great ideals. If there is no God and the world was completely cleansed of all religion, would these ideals still exist?
  • I suspect that the world would be much darker without the influence of those who have faithfully taken up their cross and followed in his steps.
  • As I understand my history none if these traits were a part of the pre Christian world, except possibly to some degree in Israel.
  • Only in the West, do atheists see these ideals a “the way things are” – because Western culture and ideals have been so deeply impacted by Jesus.
  • I don’t find them consistent with a true atheist worldview. I have often thought Nihilism is the most honest form of atheism.
  • Three principles of significant importance to me as a Christian apologist are conspicuously missing from this list: honesty, integrity, and rationality.
What responses do you have towards the list? Do you think they really represent atheistic thought or do they merely present a humanistic spin on New Testament Christian morality and behavior?


  1. Atheism is the belief that there is no God. One does not have to believe in God to have a belief in the need for morals. Theism is the belief in God. One does not necessarily have to believe in the need for morals to believe in God.

    As a world view, atheism says that there is no greater cause for the universe. Many tend to believe in evolution, and for those who do, these (or any for that matter) commandments would be subjective, and many directly conflict with the idea of survival of the fittest.

    I find 10 the most interesting. For an atheist to say "how short life is and how little we will ultimately lose from risking everything" really seems to contradict a view that says that there is nothing outside of this life. Instead of giving up little, wouldn't that be the greatest risk of all?

    1. Great perspective Don! Hard to see some of these as a logical outgrowth of Darwin.


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