Thou shalt not forget the Ten Commandments … except almost all of us have

CAST in stone and handed down the millennia, the Ten Commandments have long governed human conduct, urging mankind to, among other things, "honour thy father and thy mother."

But a new survey has revealed how badly they have been eroded, with one in four children now unable to name a single one.

The decalogue, as the ten short Commandments are called, was the subject of a survey of 1,000 people in Britain, conducted by Electronic Arts, a computer games company, to promote The Sims 3, which simulates modern society.

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It was found that only 6 per cent, or one person in 17, could correctly name each of the ten, while the average number that people could remember was just four.

The survey found the traditional moral standards have become less important in modern Britain as millions struggle to remember or even understand them. And in the age bracket 11-16, 28 per cent could not recite a single commandment.

According to religious belief, the Ten Commandments, which appear in the Bible in the Book of Exodus and the Book of Deuteronomy, were spoken directly by God to the people of Israel and written by God's own hand on the two stone tablets handed to Moses on Mount Sinai.

It is believed that the first tablet contained all those which referred to God while the second referred to those governing the social order.

But respondents also seemed baffled by the language used in the Commandments, with three-quarters of those polled saying they did not understood what it meant "not to covet thy neighbour's wife and goods".

Only 29 per cent claimed to fully grasp the concept of remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy, and just 16 per cent understood the instruction: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image".

Meanwhile the majority of Britons think four of the Ten Commandments should be ditched in favour of more modern moral imperatives such as "protect the planet" and "respect all people regardless of race, religion or sexuality".

Not being motivated by greed and not committing terrorism were also popular modern additions to the list, according to the poll.

The four that are judged no longer "relevant" in today's society (by between 62 and 70 per cent of those polled) covered keeping the Sabbath holy, not making graven images, having "no other gods before me", and not taking the name of God in vain.

The Commandments people are most likely to break include keeping the Sabbath day holy (38 per cent), taking God's name in vain (23 per cent), envying neighbours (19 per cent) and committing adultery (5 per cent).

To reflect these changes in society, staff from Electronic Arts have now carved an "updated" list of new commandments on stone tablets, which it will present to the Houses of Parliament.

The new "ten commandments" ranked in the order of importance to people are as follows:

1. Do not kill; 2. Do not steal; 3. Do not cheat on your partner with another person; 4. Do not envy others; 5. Respect your parents; 6. Do not accuse a person of something they did not do; 7. Respect all people regardless of race, religion or sexuality; 8. Do not commit acts of terrorism; 9. Respect and protect the planet; 10. Do not be motivated by greed.