The “atheism industry” was already getting on my nerves. Most of these people I already suspected of being bandwagon-jumpers. Now, they’re becoming alternative moralists.
Humanity has just spent several thousand years getting preached at by uninvited moralists. Now we have atheist commandments, too? Well, sort of.
Let me set the scene. One of the world’s biggest industries, religion, famous for non-delivery, has been going since before recorded history began. First there were pagans, who mainly had orgies and magical rituals and were essentially free spirits. Then came the monotheists, who decided everything should be as dull and dreary as possible, and that they had the right to approve of anything and everything.
Then came the atheists, who didn’t believe in the monotheists. Atheists are unique in that their belief system is based on not believing in what other people believe in, and telling other people not to believe in things. They’re evangelical non-believers. Like the religious maniacs, they also don’t shut up.
What’s really needed is a Martin Luther of atheism. We’ve got the books, so get rid of the middlemen.
Apparently God’s Beneficiaries and Atheism’s Angels are pretty similar. We now have a new agar plate full of guides to the non-afterlife and like the laziest thinkers on Earth, nihilists, offering nothing but verbosity about nothing.
Now the 10 Commandments of Atheism courtesy the Sydney Morning Herald, which must have been let out to frolic early. This article has it all, including authors agreeing with each other, which ought to be illegal.
The author of the 10 Commandments is Alain de Botton, is interested in virtue. This is impressive. The Chinese and Greeks covered in incredible detail 3000 years ago, and apparently these newbies think they can run it like a whole new subject.
De Botton's commandments are an easily digestible roll-call of solid, indeed old-fashioned, virtues: resilience, empathy, patience, sacrifice, politeness, humour, self-awareness, forgiveness, hope and confidence.
Most of them are self-explanatory, but several provoke thought. Sacrifice, for example, is not a fashionable concept, being more evocative of the knights' Code of Chivalry at Camelot than our brash Age of Entitlement.
Actually, that’s exactly what people need. Easily digestible virtues. Spiritual supplements taken with each meal. Imagine being told to have a sense of humour. Very encouraging, de Botton, had no idea it was necessary.
Meanwhile, the article digs up some psychologist who agrees with de Botton and also gets a plug for her book complete with rhetorical set up question.
But isn't there a risk that by cultivating these quaint, if entirely admirable traits within the context of our highly competitive, dog-eat-dog culture, we are liable to get trampled over, exploited and taken advantage of?
Not so, according to chartered psychologist Jacqui Marson, whose new and insightful self-help book The Curse of Lovely, warns against the dangers of being too amenable, too obliging and too willing to put others first.
Now the Ten Commandments:
Here’s a selection of de Botton’s List for Life:
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.
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.
Short assessment- No shared values, it’s all on the recipient, as usual, a "thou shalt". No demand for acceptance of oneself, no right to respect of individuals.
“Humour springs from disappointment”- OK, there aren’t all that many French comedians, and they must be very disappointed. Other humourists see things differently. Anger often has very good reasons.
…And so on. Expect yet another tide of incredibly knowledgeable people patronizing you in your local book stores at great expense. I’m on my third generation of these windbags.
Can’t say I’m impressed with the sophistries and the lack of resonance with real human suffering. Atheists, it seems, are just another self-promotional racket. As bad as religion and nihilists, repeating old ideas as if they’re new. Let’s hope there’s at least a hell for all of them to go to.
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