Book Review: A Doubter’s Guide to the Ten Commandments

by ggeurs

This is a review of the book A Doubter’s Guide to the Ten Commandments by John Dickson.

This book is good. This book is thorough. This book has a misleading title. Let me say these three things about A Doubter’s Guide to the Ten Commandments up front. I enjoyed reading ADGTC‘s contents. As soon as I started to consider how the title connects to the subject, I come up short.

The back cover of the book mentions that the Ten Commandments are “10 ancient instructions that have changed the world- like it or not.” In actuality, ADGTC walks the reader through how a 3,500 year old document has molded and shaped Western morality and ethics. Dickson does a compelling job of demonstrating this reality. He walks the reader commandment by commandment through how the driving notion behind it was applied in context and then how it is applied to everyday life. He also addresses how prominent contestors of religion- Harris, Krauss, Dawkins, etc.- would refute the various commandments by stating they are nothing more than another version of a different religion’s teachings, like the Buddha’s. Then he deconstructs the nuances of their arguments and shows how it is truly the driving thought of the commandment that has informed Western morality.

Where this book gets me is that the title seems to be edgy for the sake of being edgy. Reading from the lens of the doubter, the only big thing I would have walked away from this book with is that the Ten Commandments have a hand in how we function as a culture. In order to doubt the Ten Commandments, I would have to know what they are already. The only way I could be a doubter is to be a doubter as to how large a role in our culture the Commandments play. Perhaps that is the intention; if so, Dickson succeeds. If not, well…

A Doubter’s Guide to the Ten Commandments is full of research, incorporated thought from prominent philosophers and intellectuals, and practical application. It is worth a read for the history and context, as well as thoughtful discourse on religion.


I received my copy of this book for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for writing a review. I was not obligated to post a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.