A Doubter's Guide to the Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments have influenced non-religious Western culture more than it might imagine. This guide to the famous rules does more than explain what they are or what they say, but why we need them.
This moral code in the Old Testament of the Bible—from which sprang ideas of justice, compassion, human rights, and freedom—has had such a strong impact on our society that it seems to represent what most of us think of as basic ethical reasoning. Even atheists like Richard Dawkins have offered up their own version of the Ten Commandments, and the strange thing is that many of them don't stray very far from the ethical teachings of Moses and Jesus.
Bestselling author and apologist John Dickson explores how these ten rules have changed our world and how they show us what the "Good" (as Socrates called it) looks like in practice. Whether or not one believes in the Bible, these ten ancient instructions open a window to Western thought and civilization—and to our own souls.
In each chapter, Dickson unpacks one of the ten famous commandments to show how they're not simply outdated rules but apply directly to our lives today. Along the way, he discusses broader philosophical implications, such as:
- Why do humans try to be good at all? What's the point of ethics, and why do we systematically seek them out?
- Why the Ten Commandments have outlived the moral codes of the ancient world, such as the Code of Hammurabi and the Maxims of Delphi.
- What does the Bible actually say about punishment and reward?
- How the teachings of Jesus relate to the much older instructions of Moses.
About the Author
John Dickson (PhD, Macquarie University) is an author, speaker, historian, and media presenter. John is author of more than 20 books, two of which became television documentaries. He also cohosted the documentary For the Love of God: How the Church is Better and Worse Than you Ever Imagined. John teaches a course on the historical Jesus at the University of Sydney, Australia, and researches the origins of Christianity in the Roman empire. He is an Honorary Research Associate at the University of Sydney, a Visiting Academic in the Faculty of Classics at Oxford University (2016–2021), and Distinguished Fellow in Public Christianity at Ridley College Melbourne. John presents Australia’s no.1 religion podcast, Undeceptions, exploring aspects of life, faith, history, culture, or ethics that are either much misunderstood or mostly forgotten.