No angry flame deities (with fire)
From the IAmAnAtheist feedback form:
Thank you for an enjoyable site. I particularly like the atheist rights and responsibilities page. I think being moral means living by the ten commandments or equivalently the items on you list for exactly the reason you say: Because you believe that is simply how everyone should live and not because you are worried about some angry deity setting you on fire. Excellent.
Thank you for the very nice words! I agree that a set of basic moral rules is helpful, and that one’s set of moral rules need not include either a deity or guaranteed justice/punishment for wrongdoers. Unfortunately, not everyone would agree with us.
I’d say that the “Rights and Responsibilities” page — even though it’s written with tongue in cheek — is actually superior to the Ten Commandments from an atheist perspective. There are, as you imply, some good moral rules in the 10C, but there are also some (particularly right at the beginning) that are completely unnecessary if you’re not religious.
There are plenty of people who, sadly, think that you have to be religious to be moral. I’ve more than once heard politicians and others in the public eye say that a moral person must “at least” obey the 10C — and I’m sure they didn’t mean that you could skip the ones that require belief in a deity.