Bertrand Russell’s Decalogue

I added Bertrand Russell’s Liberal Decalogue to the Agnostic Universe online library. It’s a much better guide to morality than any religious writings I’ve read that usually cover obvious ethical viewpoints such as murder being a bad thing. Do we really need a god to tell us murder is bad?

Here is what an agnostic by the name of Bertrand Russell wrote in 1951, as good a year to write down words to live by as anything written 2166-440 BC or 50-95 AD:

1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.

3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.

4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.

5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.

6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.

7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.

9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.

10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

2 thoughts on “Bertrand Russell’s Decalogue

  1. These are some really good moral Proverbs but I’m not sure that i see the connection to not need God because some things are obviously wrong. What if the reason that you think some things are obviously wrong is because God has put in all of us a moral standard. That would make since because i think everyone would agree to some level that murder is wrong. How did we all come to that concussion, we all come from different backgrounds and beliefs. I would agree its because God has placed that in humanity. Also how is it any better to get advice on life from somewhere else if obvious advice is not needed. I think that Bible says a lot more than just don’t murder and would argue that it is a book of great wisdom and hope. I would even go as far to say that i would even benefit nonhristians to read it because of what it offers.

  2. I cannot figure out how the Ten Commands in the Old Testament are ten. Every time I could them, I get more. Mr. Russell did a much better job at sticking to the number that is the first increment in our decimal system. I am proud of him.


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