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Humour, politeness and hope: The 10 rules that teach you how to be a good atheistHope and sacrifice can lead to a happier life, says writer Alain de Botton
Manifesto unveiled because evil had a 'peculiar kind of glamour'
05:37 GMT, 4 February 2013
01:20 GMT, 5 February 2013
Alain de Botton has unveiled a guide for the atheist
From Catholicism to the Qur'an, the majority of religions have a code of rules for followers to practice.
And now philosopher Alain de Botton has created a set of 10 new rules for atheists.
The best-selling author said he was unveiling his Manifesto for Atheists in an attempt to promote overlooked virtues including resilience and humour.
De Botton, whose work includes a stint as a writer in residence at Heathrow Airport, said he came up with the idea in response to a growing sense that being virtuous had become 'a strange and depressing notion', while wickedness and evil had a 'peculiar kind of glamour'.
He said: 'There's no scientific answer to being virtuous, but the key thing is to have some kind of list on which to flex our ethical muscles.
'It reminds us that we all need to work at being good, just as we work at anything else that really matters.'
The 43-year-old writer, who once summarised Marcel Proust's work as a guide on how to lead better lives, compiled a list that atheists can look to as a moral compass.
He emphasizes the importance of being polite which is linked to tolerance, and how sacrifice is essential for a happy family life.
The 10 rules for atheists are:
1. Resilience. Keeping going even when things are looking dark.
2. Empathy. The capacity to connect imaginatively with the sufferings and unique experiences of another person.
3. Patience. We should grow calmer and more forgiving by getting more realistic about how things actually tend to go.
The writer says that like anger, humour comes from disappointment, but it's disappointment optimally channelled
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.
Politeness. Politeness is very linked to tolerance, the capacity to
live alongside people whom one will never agree with, but at the same
time, can't avoid.
6. Humour. Like anger, humour springs from disappointment, but it's 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.
8. Forgiveness. It's recognising that living with others isn't possible without excusing errors.
9. Hope. Pessimism isn't necessarily deep, nor optimism shallow.
10. Confidence. Confidence isn't arrogance, it's based on a constant awareness of how short life is and how little we ultimately lose from risking everything.