SOURCE: Goldberg McDuffie Authors and Experts

December 19, 2014 09:00 ET

Secular Ten Commandments Chosen From Thousands Submitted in Crowdsourced Rethink Prize Competition

$10,000 Prize Divided Between Ten Winners, Chosen by a Panel of Judges

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - December 19, 2014) - The winners of a competition to crowdsource an alternative secular version to the Ten Commandments for the modern age were announced today at Running throughout the month of November, the Prize sought to open up for discussion what gives life meaning when secular culture is on the rise.

Over 2,800 submissions were received, originating from 18 different countries, including 27 U.S. states, and over 6,000 votes were cast by the public for their favorite submissions, said authors Lex Bayer and John Figdor, the Prize's founders. Their book, ATHEIST MIND, HUMANIST HEART, (Rowman & Littlefield) guides readers through their process for establishing and testing principles for living a reasonable, ethical, and happy life without God.

"There is often a misconception that nonbelievers don't share strong ethical values. In reading through the thousands of submissions in the contest it's very clear that is not the case," said Figdor, Humanist Chaplain at Stanford University. "The overwhelming positivity and overlap with traditional moral values shows that no matter where you are from, or what your faith tradition has been -- or hasn't been -- there are some things we can all agree on as being important and vital to a rich and fulfilling life."

The submissions were reviewed by a panel of thirteen judges. On the panel were notables such as Adam Savage from the Discovery Channel's "Mythbusters"; National Medal of Science recipient Gordon Bower; Harvard University's Humanist Chaplain, Greg Epstein; Executive Director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation, Robyn Blumner; and Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association, Andrew Copson.

"The entries brimmed with compassion, empathy and caring for humanity, while endorsing science, reason and critical thinking," said Blumner. "It goes to show how closely linked these values are." Adam Savage added that "These are not rules for living: they are suggestions for living well, and equitably with each other. Our actions are our only true possessions."

To get a better sense of the more than 2,800 beliefs that were expressed, Giorgio Caviglia, a researcher specializing in data visualization working at the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA) at Stanford University, analyzed the beliefs using various text mining techniques. The results reveal a map of the most common concepts and keywords that make up people's expressions of belief. Some of the more popular sentiments that were expressed include: love, respect, truth and humanity. His visualizations, as well as interactive tools for exploring the beliefs can be found at

The final ten winning beliefs of the Rethink Prize, a crowdsourced rethinking of the Ten Commandments, are as follows:

I. Be open-minded and be willing to alter your beliefs with new evidence.

II. Strive to understand what is most likely to be true, not to believe what you wish to be true.

III. The scientific method is the most reliable way of understanding the natural world.

IV. Every person has the right to control over their body.

V. God is not necessary to be a good person or to live a full and meaningful life.

VI. Be mindful of the consequences of all your actions and recognize that you must take responsibility for them.

VII. Treat others as you would want them to treat you, and can reasonably expect them to want to be treated. Think about their perspective.

VIII. We have the responsibility to consider others, including future generations.

IX. There is no one right way to live.

X. Leave the world a better place than you found it.

Each of the above beliefs was accompanied by an explanatory reason provided by the person submitting the belief. These reasons can be found on the website.

The competition was run in association with the Richard Dawkins Foundation, the American Humanist Association, the Secular Student Alliance, and the Global Secular Humanist Movement, among other organizations.

The official list of winners: Jamie Andrews (Stafford, United Kingdom), Eli Chisholm (West Des Moines, IA), Carol Fly (Austin, Texas), Isaiah Jackson (Raleigh, NC), Jeremy Jimenez (San Francisco, CA), Christopher Lager (Fayetteville, AZ), Matthew Main (Brooklyn, NY), Carl Michael Marr (Washougal, WA), Maury McCoy (Austin, Texas), and John Roso (Nashville, TN).

The following files are available for download:

Contact Information