Penn Jillette's 10 Commandments For Atheists

In case anyone hasn't seen these before, they are worth reading!

1. The highest ideals are human intelligence, creativity and love. Respect these above all.

2. Do not put things or even ideas above other human beings. (Let's scream at each other about Kindle versus iPad, solar versus nuclear, Republican versus Libertarian, Garth Brooks versus Sun Ra— but when your house is on fire, I'll be there to help.)

3. Say what you mean, even when talking to yourself. (What used to be an oath to (G)od is now quite simply respecting yourself.)

4. Put aside some time to rest and think. (If you're religious, that might be the Sabbath; if you're a Vegas magician, that'll be the day with the lowest grosses.)

5. Be there for your family. Love your parents, your partner, and your children. (Love is deeper than honor, and parents matter, but so do spouse and children.)

6. Respect and protect all human life. (Many believe that "Thou shalt not kill" only refers to people in the same tribe. I say it's all human life.)

7. Keep your promises. (If you can't be sexually exclusive to your spouse, don't make that deal.)

8. Don't steal. (This includes magic tricks and jokes — you know who you are!)

9. Don't lie. (You know, unless you're doing magic tricks and it's part of your job. Does that make it OK for politicians, too?)

10. Don't waste too much time wishing, hoping, and being envious; it'll make you bugnutty.


Anyone have any to add??
Teasaidh Teasaidh
26-30, F
1 Response Sep 8, 2012

Interesting. I'm curious, though, how do you determine to an absolute what is "right" and what is "wrong"? :)

Hmmm...did you read the post? That was kind of the point. Penn pretty much lays it all out there.

Ok, I'll pose the question to you in a different way. What moral authority does Penn - or anyone else for that matter - have to dictate to others in absolute terms what is "good" and what is "bad"? :)

He has the same authority that you or I or any other person does to posit a moral code - he is a fellow human being.

Walt Whitman says it best:
"This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants...have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body."

That is essentially what I strive towards. Humans should base our morality on respect for each other - celebrate our differences and learn from each others experiences. We should recognise and celebrate the good in others. I base my "moral compass," as you will, in truth and reason and a respect for others. I think that freedom and equality are vital to humanity's survival and advancement, and we need to strive towards improving the lives of everyone around us.
In the end, I am only the only person responsible for my actions - I do not look to some being in the sky to thank for the good in my life, nor do I blame some underworld bogeyman for all the evil in my life. This is the only life I have, and I want to spend it improving myself and doing whatever I can to improve the lot of my fellow human beings.

I say all of this knowing that you will not consider it valid since it does not include a higher power.

So, let me ask you this, how can you base any morality on a book that orders genocide, even the death of infants, but allows you to keep the young virgins for yourself,
advocates stoning people to death for working on the sabbath,
turns a woman into a pillar of salt for having trouble letting go,
presents the most "righteous" man in town as someone who would hand his daughters over to be gang raped,
gives humans a monetary value and women are worth only half of what men are worth,
advocates slavery (as long as they are not of your own race),
forbids interracial relationships and condemns people to death for loving someone of the same sex,
orders that anyone that is not of your faith should be destroyed or enslaved,
condemns doubting and freethinking,
forbids even friendship with nonbelievers,
and spends most of the book stating that anyone who does not fall all over themselves in worship and devotion to this being is condemned to eternal damnation and torment.

The entire message seems to be one of fear and control: reject any independent thinking, believe or be damned. The medieval church was much closer to following biblical guidlines than any modern church is.

I agree, the Qur'an contains a very hateful message however, at no point in time have I advocated abiding by the Qur'an's or Islam's precepts :)

More to the point, since everyone is equal, everyone's opinion is just as valid as yours or mine which means that everybody's right. This also means that everybody's wrong.

This being the case, you don't have the right to impose your opinions on anyone - nor can I or anyone else for that matter. This is why, for instance, slavery, the sexual abuse of women and ********** are moral practices in many countries while it's abhorrent in others.

This is also the reason why bloody massacres and savage wars have always been and will always be a part of human history. At the end of the day the only rule that applies is "might makes right".

Given this lamentable situation, wouldn't it make sense to abide by the perfect laws provided to us by our loving and generous Creator? :)

my examples are all from the bible...not the Qur'an.

I did not say "everyone's opinion is just as valid as mine." I said I think morality is based in respect for each other as human beings. I don't have to agree with everything (or in fact, anything) you believe, but I believe you have the right to say it and believe it. I do not, however, believe you have the right to enforce your beliefs on others. Consider it the "golden rule" principle. As long as you are not causing harm to another human, believe whatever you want. If you start trying to force others to follow your beliefs or injure or kill someone because they don't follow your beliefs, then I will stand up against you.
You refer to slavery, **********, bloody massacres, and savage wars as if these things don't happen in christian nations. Read a history book recently?

Really? Please cite the biblical passages you're referring to.

You're still missing the point. Perhaps an intellectual exercise will help. If you would, kindly explain, why is murder wrong?

Righteous men offering their daughters to be raped: Genesis 19:8, Judges 19:24-25

Lot's wife turned to pillar of salt: Genesis 19:26

Genocide: Genesis 7:23, 11:7, 17:13, 23:24, 23:27, 34:11-14, Numbers 12:1-3, 31:1-54, Deuteronomy 2:34, 3:3-6, 7:2, 7:16, 13:15, 20:16-17, Joshua 6:21, 10:40, 1 Samuel 15:2-3 (just to list a few...it goes on and on)

Breaking the Sabbath warrents death: Genesis 31:14, 35:2-3

Advocating slavery: Exodus 21:2, Exodus 21:7, Exodus 21:20-21, Exodus 22:3, Leviticus 22:11, Leviticus 25:39, Leviticus 25:44-46, Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22, 1 Timothy 6:1, Titus 2:9-10, 1 Peter 2:18

Monetary value of human life: Leviticus 27:1-8

Forbids interracial relationships: Deuteronomy 7:3-4, Numbers 25:6-9

Anyone not of your faith should be destroyed: Exodus 22:20, Leviticus 10:1-6, 26:14-15, Numbers 33:50-52, Deuteronomy 4:25-26, 6:15, 12:30, 13:6-10, 13:12-16, 17:2-7, Luke 10:10-15, Acts 3:23

Condemns doubting and freethinking: Numbers 15:39, Proverbs 28:26, Numbers 16:1-35, Proverbs 3:5-8, James 1:6, 1 Corinthians 1:19-27, 3:18, Luke 1:20, Romans 14:23, 2 Corinthians 10:5, Galatians 1:8-9

Forbids friendship with nonbelievers: 2 Corinthians 6:14-17, Romans 16:17-18, 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, 10:20, 2 Corinthians 6:14-17, Ephesians 5:5-7, 2 Timothy 2:16, 2 John 1:10

I am not particularly interested in your intellectual exercise. If you cannot understand from my previous statements why I think murder is wrong, then there isn't much more for me to say.
After reading all of the violent admonishments in the bible, how do you say murder is wrong?

While the Bible candidly relates Jehovah God’s past adverse judgments you must bear in mind that they were always against wicked people. For example, it was not until the earth of Noah’s day became “filled with violence” that Jehovah said: “Here I am bringing the deluge of waters upon the earth to bring to ruin all flesh in which the force of life is active.” (Genesis 6:11, 17) Regarding another judgment, it was only because the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah had “abandoned themselves to sexual immorality and were bent on perverted sensuality” that God caused it to “rain sulfur and fire.”—Jude 7, The New Berkeley Version; Genesis 19:24.

Did God relish bringing all flesh to ruin in Noah’s day? Or did he derive some fiendish pleasure from destroying the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah? For an answer, let us look at the events surrounding the Flood of Noah’s day. After stating that God would wipe wicked mankind off the surface of the ground in order to cleanse the earth of violence, the Bible says: “Jehovah . . . felt hurt at his heart.” Yes, it grieved God that “every inclination of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only bad all the time.” Hence, to save as many as possible from the impending Deluge, God dispatched Noah, “a preacher of righteousness,” to sound a warning message and to build an ark for preservation.—Genesis 6:3-18; 2 Peter 2:5.

Adverse judgments from God have always resulted because wicked people adamantly refuse to abandon a bad course, not because Jehovah enjoys killing people. But you may wonder, ‘Did not Jehovah encourage the Israelites to war with the Canaanites and to annihilate them?’

Spiritism, child sacrifice, sadistic violence, and various forms of perverted sex worship were the order of the day. As a God of justice who exacts exclusive devotion, Jehovah could not allow these disgusting practices to disrupt the peace and security of innocent people, especially Israel. (Deuteronomy 5:9) For example, imagine if the community in which you live was without a reputable police force or militia to enforce the laws of the land—would that not lead to anarchy and violence of the worst kind? Similarly, Jehovah was compelled to act against the Canaanites because of their licentiousness and the real danger they posed to pure worship. Therefore, he decreed: “The land is unclean, and I shall bring punishment for its error.”—Leviticus 18:25. “It is for the wickedness of these nations that Jehovah is driving them away from before you”, we read at Deuteronomy 6:4-6, “It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going in to take possession of their land; in fact, it is for the wickedness of these nations that Jehovah your God is driving them away from before you.”

Divine justice was carried out when God’s executional forces—the Israelite armies—destroyed the Canaanites. The fact that God chose to use humans to carry out this judgment, rather than fire or flood, did not diminish the sentence. Thus, when warring with the nations of Canaan, the Israelite armies were instructed: "It is only of the cities of these peoples that Jehovah your God is giving you as an inheritance that you must not preserve any breathing thing alive, because you should without fail devote them to destruction, the Hit´tites and the Am´or·ites, the Ca´naan·ites and the Per´iz·zites, the Hi´vites and the Jeb´u·sites, just as Jehovah your God has commanded you; in order that they may not teach YOU to do according to all their detestable things, which they have done to their gods, and YOU may indeed sin against Jehovah YOUR God." —Deuteronomy 20:16-18.

As a respecter of life, however, God did not sanction indiscriminate killing. Deuteronomy 20:10-14 explains, “In case you draw near to a city to fight against it, you must also announce to it terms of peace. And it must occur that if it gives a peaceful answer to you and it has opened up to you, it must even occur that all the people found in it should become yours for forced labor, and they must serve you. But if it does not make peace with you, and it actually makes war with you and you have to besiege it, Jehovah your God also will certainly give it into your hand, and you must strike every male in it with the edge of the sword. Only the women and the little children and the domestic animals and everything that happens to be in the city, all its spoil you will plunder for yourself; and you must eat the spoil of your enemies, whom Jehovah your God has given to you."

While Israelite soldiers were allowed to marry captives they had to treat them with the same rights and respect due to an Israelite wife. Unlike what's seen in today's wars, Israelite soldiers were not permitted to rape or otherwise abuse female captives. Jehovah instructed, "In case you go out to the battle against your enemies and Jehovah your God has given them into your hand and you have carried them away captive; and you have seen among the captives a woman beautiful in form, and you have got attached to her and taken her for your wife, you must then bring her into the midst of your house. She must now shave her head and attend to her nails [for hygienic reasons], and remove the mantle of her captivity from off her and dwell in your house and weep for her father and her mother a whole lunar month; and after that you should have relations with her, and you must take possession of her as your bride, and she must become your wife." - Deuteronomy 21:10-13

When the residents of one Canaanite city, Gibeon, asked for mercy, Jehovah granted it. (Joshua 9:3-27) Would a bloodthirsty war god have done this? No, but a God who loves peace and justice would.—Psalm 33:5; 37:28.

Time and again, the Bible associates God’s blessing with peace. That is because Jehovah is a lover of peace, not war. (Numbers 6:24-26; Psalm 29:11; 147:12-14) Consequently, when King David desired to build a temple of worship to Jehovah, God told him: “You will not build a house to my name, for a great deal of blood you have spilled on the earth before me.”—1 Chronicles 22:8; Acts 13:22.

While on earth, the Greater David, Jesus Christ, spoke of a time when God’s love of justice would no longer allow him to tolerate the present-day evil we see. (Matthew 24:3, 36-39) As he did in the Flood of Noah’s day and in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, God will soon take judicial action to rid the earth of selfish, wicked men, thus paving the way for peaceful conditions to exist under his heavenly Kingdom rule.—Psalm 37:10, 11, 29; Daniel 2:44.

Clearly, Jehovah is not the bloodthirsty God you accuse him of being. On the other hand, he does not shrink back from exacting judicial punishment when it is due. God’s love of goodness requires that he act in behalf of those who love him by destroying the wicked system that oppresses them. When he does so, true peace will flourish earth wide as the truly meek ones unitedly worship Jehovah, “the God of peace.”—Philippians 4:9.

The slavery that existed in Israel was vastly different from the tyrannical forms of slavery that have existed throughout history.

God's Law stated that kidnapping and selling a human was punishable by death. Furthermore, Jehovah provided guidelines to protect slaves. For example, a slave who was maimed by his master would be set free. If a slave died because his master beat him, the master could be punished with death. Women captives could become slaves, or they could be taken as wives. But they were not to be used for mere sexual gratification. The gist of the Law must have led righthearted Israelites to treat slaves with respect and kindness, as if these were hired laborers.—Exodus 20:10; 21:12, 16, 26, 27; Leviticus 22:10, 11; Deuteronomy 21:10-14.

Some Jews voluntarily became slaves to their fellow Jews in order to repay debts. This practice protected people from starvation and actually allowed many to recover from poverty. Furthermore, at key junctures in the Jewish calendar, slaves were to be released if they so desired. (Exodus 21:2; Leviticus 25:10; Deuteronomy 15:12) Commenting on these laws regarding slaves, Jewish scholar Moses Mielziner stated that a "slave could never cease to be a man, he was looked upon as a person possessing certain natural human rights, with which the master even could not with impunity interfere." What a stark contrast to the abusive systems of slavery that mar the annals of history!


Slavery was part of the economic system of the Roman Empire, under which first-century Christians lived. Hence, some Christians were slaves, and others had slaves. (1 Corinthians 7:21, 22) But does this mean that disciples of Jesus were abusive slave owners? Hardly! Regardless of what Roman law permitted, we can be confident that Christians did not mistreat those under their authority. The apostle Paul even encouraged Philemon to treat his slave Onesimus, who had become a Christian, as "a brother." —Philemon 10-17.

The Bible gives no indication that the enslavement of humans by other humans was part of God's original purpose for mankind. Furthermore, no Bible prophecies allude to humans owning fellow humans through slavery in God's new world. Rather, in that coming Paradise, righteous ones "will actually sit, each one under his vine and under his fig tree, and there will be no one making them tremble."—Micah 4:4.

Clearly, the Bible does not condone the ill-treatment of others in any form. On the contrary, it encourages respect and equality among men. (Acts 10:34, 35) It exhorts humans to treat others the way that they would like to be treated. (Luke 6:31) Moreover, the Bible encourages Christians humbly to view others as superior, regardless of their social standing. (Philippians 2:3) These principles are totally incongruous with abusive forms of slavery practiced by many nations, especially in recent centuries.

It would have been quite interesting to get a better look at your views considering how you support a woman's right to murder her unborn child. Oh well ...

oh yes, god was sorrowful to kill all those wicked little children and infants. And no matter what you say, slavery is slavery. Do you honestly believe any of those women went willingly into marriage with the men that murdered their husbands and fathers and brothers? I use "women" loosely, since it was only the virgins that were spared, so that would be around 14 and under that were spared and forced into marriage.

I don't know where you are pulling out this rule about it being against god's law to kidnap and enslave. That is exactly what he instructed the israelites to do time and again.

Whenever this is brought up, I always hear the arguments of, "oh, it was a different time...it was part of the culture." well, if this book is the word of a superior being passed on to man shouldn't it stand apart from the crimes of it's society? shouldn't it demand a higher set of standards? instead, it is filled with the violent, brutal ideas of a violent, brutal people.

After some reflection, I have concluded that i can gain nothing from a debate over morality with someone who justifies genocide, slavery, and forced marriage of female captives. So long.

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