Universal Commandments December 19, 2007

Universal Commandments

Blog reader Cameron offers these (non-religious) Ten Commandments that we all can follow.

  1. When faced with any viewpoint or choice, consider and weigh the merits of each opposing angle with your own.
  2. Do not make conclusions when ignorance is involved.
  3. Judge individuals by individual actions only and recognize when change alters their stature.
  4. Make everything you do and say a showcase of your capability.
  5. Do not waste. Keep the use of resources and words at the necessity to succeed.
  6. Do not interfere with another’s right to succeed in any area at any level.
  7. Seize every opportunity to learn.
  8. Be open, be skeptical.
  9. Question everything and do all possible to find the answers.
  10. Do all possible to ensure the most peaceful, educated, and easy life for those around you and in future generations.

Short, sweet, and should be followed by everyone.


Do any of these need to be revised?

What would you add to the list?

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  • TonyInBatavia

    I’ve always been a fan of Steve Allen’s Ten New Commandments. They are:


    1. Honor love as the greatest of virtures for it brings both immediate and distant blessings, and turn your face against hatred for it produces much of the evil in the world.

    2. Strive always to be honest, not only in deed but in word.

    3. Be generous in all ways, for as you are grateful for the generosity of others bestowed upon you, so you must share your blessings with others, and not only in a material sense.

    4. If there is an all-loving God, a person would be a heartless child who would not love such a Father. In the day of his coming, if it occurs, the loving heart will know how to respond. In the meantime, be compassionate to that concerning which there can be certain knowledge: the world and its inhabitants.

    5. Educate your children and yourself till the day of your death, for knowledge brings power to improve the world, whereas ignorance leads to confusion and misery.

    6. Value freedom by being philosophically tolerant, for, though all intellectual camps are certainly not of equal value or virtue, there is as yet no court of universal appeal. If you would have freedom to live by the light of your own conscience, you must grant the same to others, so long as they do not transgress reasonable legal codes.

    7. Respect the property of others, as you wish the world to respect your own. You have the right only to what is freely given to you, what has fallen into your hands through generosity of nature, or what you have worked to obtain in an honest manner.

    8. The vows of mutual love, exchanged in marriage, are legally and morally binding. Do not hasten into marriage, for by that act you renounce your freedom to engage in romantic or sexual conduct with others. This commandment, too, is largely an expression of the Golden Rule.

    9. Because you would not want to be physically abused yourself, therefore do not abuse others.

    10. You have heard it said that children must respect their parents. There is great wisdom in this instruction, but only insofar as parents respect their children.

    Not as short-and-sweet … but surely as universal.

  • Adam Hall

    Here is one.

    11. If you are an adult and you still need commandments to instruct you on how to be moral, don’t bother reading.

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    Thou shalt not be led by any other than your intellect.

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    Thou shalt not coerce another to follow you or your cause.

  • James Koran

    I like explaining to Christians and others that I feel the “Golden rule” is axiomatically flawed from the get go, especially if your suicidal. As (Yip) Harberg (1896-1981) wrote: Love thy neighbor as thy self, keep that motto on the shelf, let it lie there, keep it idle, especially if you’re suicidal. I especially like the “Platinum Rule” that Atheist Michael Scott Earl advocated in his Bible Stories Your Parent Never Taught You. Do unto others as they would have done unto themselves. This is the general rule that I think about when doing things for others. Axiomatically it just makes more sense to me.

  • Mriana

    Why not make it short and sweet: Do onto others (including nature) as you would have them/it do onto you and seek knowledge in all things with love, compassion, and reason? Yes, it could be construde as religious, but I think it would apply to everyone, as well as everything, and it certainly shortens the list quite a bit.

  • Adrian

    If these “rules” were valuable and made sense (I think they do) and the audience are thinking adults then they shouldn’t be Commandments.

    The only time you need Commandments are when the rules are a grab bag of nonsense or when you’re dealing with moral juveniles who can’t reason through moral decisions on their own and only respond to orders. I guess this list was compiled as a joke or a demonstration that the 10 Commandments of the bible (or is it 20 or 30, how do you count?) are not such a great example of moral clarity, but it still treats us as children.

  • Vincent

    This list is just as impossible to obey as the original.

    And didn’t the Buddhists have a version of the Golden Rule that made more sense? “Don’t do unto others what you would not have done to you.”

    I like George Carlin’s shortening of the original 10.
    Something like: 1.- be honest. 2. – try not to hurt anyone.

  • Mriana

    Hear! Hear! Vincent. 🙂 Similar to what I said, only even shorter than what I said. 😆

  • Interesting lists. I like Peter Singer’s ideas of extending our compassion to creatures beyond our own species. I love humanist ideals, but the one flaw I find is the central focus on “human”. (I am assuming the “others” in the lists above is intended to mean “other humans”.) If you are an atheistic naturalist then you should understand there is no clear border between humans and other animals, so why shouldn’t the golden rule and these new ethical “commandments” be extended to them?

    Yes I am a hypocritical meat eater, but I might not always be. I’m still mulling things over.

    Can anyone think of a name for a positive ethical philosophy along the lines of Humanism, but with a broader scope to include all sentient creatures with the capacity to suffer?

  • James Koran

    Humanimalism. I don’t know it just rolled off my tongue.

  • Really, you’re asking us to apply commandment 9 to the commandments themselves.

    It reminds me of someone trying to apply the principle of parsimony to the principle of parsimony. I think he’s still rather confused about all that.

  • Claire

    This is list is exhausting. Seriously, if a person were to really try to live up to it, they wouldn’t get to work until after noon and lunch would be crowding bedtime. 4,7, and 9 alone would make it impossible for me to accomplish anything in a single day.

    Plus, they are just plain preachy, too many to remember, and some repeat themselves.

    So, let me propose something simpler still.

    1) Be nice.
    2) Use your brain.

    What little the first one doesn’t cover, the second one should. Then I thought about how we live on a planet with only so many resources, and how we are only on it for so many years, so I added a third one.

    3) Realize that there are limits.

    I can’t think of many situations that those three don’t cover.

  • Mike Higginbottom

    You only need one commandment:

    1) Act to maximise the universe’s happiness.

    The only tricky part is working out where to focus your efforts. Usually we need to push that focus futher away from ourselves.

  • Richard Wade

    Add: Question all commandments, starting with this one.

  • Kenneth Rapp

    of even more practical value than the above:

    – never get involved in a land war in Asia

    – never go in against a Cicilian when death is on the line.

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