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Through misreadings and mistranslations, the ten commandments have come to be seen as the rantings of a vain and vengeful God. In fact, they are an early blueprint for self-government forged by refugees escaping tyranny

By David Bodanis   January 2009

I am a fan of Christopher Hitchens. There’s that delightful disdain with which he impales his opponents, his flashing wit—and the hints of seriousness to show that it’s all more than just a jousting game.

But sometimes he gets things very wrong, and his attitude to the ten commandments—one he shares with many modern atheists—is one such mistake. They represent little more, he argues, than the rantings of an angry, vain and vengeful God. Who would possibly want to follow their “vague pre-Christian desert morality,” which shows every sign of being invented by a “Bronze Age demagogue”?

Martin Luther…

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