A secular progressive defends them - against Hitchens:
Hitchens is responding to the mythical story of the commandments found in the standard religious accounts: the Koran and the old testament. But if he looked at them as a historian or an anthropologist, he might take a more sympathetic view of this extraordinary listwhich has bequeathed to us the weekend, the principle of innocent until proved guilty, the Sunni/Shia split and much else besides.
Moses, of course, dominates the biblical account.
On Mount Sinai, amid storms and booming trumpet blasts, it's he who brings down the perfect tablets, direct from God. Yet this is not the sole source of understanding of the commandments' power. Something quite extraordinary was also happening in real political history at the time. Clues scattered in the Bible, archaeological digs and other sources show that the commandments, at least at the beginning, were quite unlike anything a Bronze Age demagogue would have proposed. They weren't designed to keep a people in servile, superstitious passivity. In fact, they were a progressive creed: helping a band of escaping refugees to find freedom in a new land.
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