I wanted to see how many of the ideas that many people think are handed down from (G)od really make sense to someone who says, ‘I don't know.'I've argued here before that the Ten Commandments of the Bible are not really such a great guide to morality. We would actually do well to follow one: Always act to minimize the suffering and increase the well-being of living things. But of course, The One Commandment doesn't command the authority that we seem to get from a decalogue.
Here's Penn's list. It's actually quite nice.
1. The highest ideals are human intelligence, creativity and love. Respect these above all.
2. Do not put things or even ideas above other human beings. (Let's scream at each other about Kindle versus iPad, solar versus nuclear, Republican versus Libertarian, Garth Brooks versus Sun Ra — but when your house is on fire, I'll be there to help.)
3. Say what you mean, even when talking to yourself. (What used to be an oath to (G)od is now quite simply respecting yourself.)
4. Put aside some time to rest and think. (If you're religious, that might be the Sabbath; if you're a Vegas magician, that'll be the day with the lowest grosses.)
5. Be there for your family. Love your parents, your partner, and your children. (Love is deeper than honor, and parents matter, but so do spouse and children.)
6. Respect and protect all human life. (Many believe that “Thou shalt not kill” only refers to people in the same tribe. I say it's all human life.)
7. Keep your promises. (If you can't be sexually exclusive to your spouse, don't make that deal.)
8. Don't steal. (This includes magic tricks and jokes — you know who you are!)
9. Don't lie. (You know, unless you're doing magic tricks and it's part of your job. Does that make it OK for politicians, too?)
10. Don't waste too much time wishing, hoping, and being envious; it'll make you bugnutty.
One could do much worse.