Alternatives to the 10 Commandments:
If you want to follow an ethical code, you could draw one from philosophy or make up your own. (Christians pick and choose verses to follow, and how to interpret them anyway.) But let’s quickly prove there is nothing special about the 10 commandments.
Early Shintoism/Japanese Buddhism:
Here are the “commandments” of Prince Shotoku of Japan (604 AD). They’re pretty much the same, except he’s writing a constitution so there are even more.
The Egyptian 42 Commandments:
Here are the 42 commandments Egypt followed. Remember Egypt occupied Israel in BCE 1500 and probably impacted their religion.
(Notice that both examples have commandments that pay special emphasis to not polluting the Earth, or the water supply. This concern for the environment is more important now than ever before, and it is not addressed in Christianity.)
Babylon’s Code of Laws:
Even earlier is the code of Hammurabi 18th century BC, and from Babylon comes the idea of “an eye for an eye” in line 196. It is believed to be the earliest written code of law in the world.
From 6th century BC Greece we also get the word Draconian, because the early laws Draco etched into a 3 sided pyramid that everyone could read relied on the death penalty so much (they soon became better though.) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draco_(lawgiver)
The 3 Commandments Zoroastrianism:
It you want fewer laws than the 10 commandments though, how about only following 3? The Iranian prophet Zoroaster would command you to (practice) “Good deeds, good thoughts and good words.” Moreover, the Zoroastrians also care about not dirtying up the Earth or bodies of water.
‘The five precepts are the basis of Buddhist morality. The first precept is to avoid killing or harming living beings. The second is to avoid stealing, the third is to avoid sexual misconduct, the fourth is to avoid lying and the fifth is to avoid alcohol and other intoxicating drugs.’
P.S. This 2 part rebuttal sprung from a response to a Catholic.
Atheist’s Question: How do you know your Judeo-Christian values are the best values, unless you’ve given other values a chance?
Catholic’s Answer: With values such as the Ten Commandments, you won’t find anything very different from those values. If you go with Christian values more specifically, meaning Christic values, then you may find other values elsewhere, but none of the Westerners have exchanged their values for anything different from Christian values. Most Western atheists have largely maintained the same values and most don’t even suggest a different set of values. If anything, most people become forgetful about the origin of their daily values; we take them for granted and then start acting like we would have reached them on our own, without society’s push.