Freethinking for Dummies

Skepticism, secular humanism, social issues

The Bible is the Literal Word of God; Except When Its Not

Atheist Revolution has a nice entry about how the bible condemns public prayer. I’m waiting to see what kind of spin the Christian apologists will put on that one. I have talked about this whole, the-bible-is-literal-except-for-the-parts-I-don’t-like phenomenon before here. There is a technical name for this, coined by Penn & Teller; it’s called BULLSHIT.

I want to quote from that piece of mine that I mentioned above and elaborate a bit on it:

Jay Walker: So how do you decide what parts of the “Old Testament” to believe and which parts not to? I thought the whole bible was the word of god? I’m not asking to be sarcastic, I’m honestly curious.

Bob Santaniello: It isn’t a decision; I believe as you said, all of the Old and New Testaments is the true word of God as given to men by the Holy Spirit. The deciding part is to hermeneutically figure out to whom the different parts were written, why things were written, the cultural surroundings in which they were written, the style of writing – poetry, symbolism, narrative, prophetic – most all can be found in them. The more I study God’s word, the better I come to understanding Him and in building a relationship with Him – and how to live according to His word. 1 Corinthians 2:14 tells how Bible truth is revealed to mankind.

So the bible is literally true, except when it is poetic, symbolic, or whatever else the apologist decides best fits his current bullshit explanation of the “word of God”. For some reason, the all-powerful, all-knowing god, although he writes quite persuasively, can’t seem to write very clearly. You would think that a deity the likes of which Christians describe would be able to get his message across clearly and succinctly. I’ve known 9th graders who were able to write much more lucidly and get their point across with infinitely more clarity that this all knowing, all add-your-grandiose-trait here, ne plus ultra deity (I used to teach high school English so I’ve seen plenty of 9th grade writings so I know that of which I speak.)

The bible is ragtag collection of manmade texts with no self-consistency of facts, theology or history, if anything, the contradictions within them are glaring and numerous. There are numerous sources that I could cite, two excellent ones are Biblical Nonsense: A Review Of The Bible For Doubting Christians, by Jason Long and Self-Contradictions of the Bible, by William Henry Burr. You can also google “bible contradictions” and that will turn up hundreds of sites with thousands of examples.

Christians would have you believe that the bible is akin to a sports or game rulebook for living life.
Here is an exercise that you yourself can do to approximate the clarity and explanatory power of the bible:

  • Acquire rulebooks for baseball, basketball, polo, monopoly, chess, poker and horseshoes.
  • Carefully tear each page out of each rulebook.
  • Throw all the pages up in the air. (It would help if there was a fairly stiff breeze).
  • Collect them all up and throw them into one big pile.
  • Organize them into a stack so that all pages are orientated the same way.
  • Staple, tape, or bind them all together in a binder.
  • Now, on the outside of the binder write, “The Bible”.

Viola! Your very own rule book that makes just as much sense and was organized in much the same way the book Christians call their bible. You and your friends will have just as much trouble figuring your book out as Christians do theirs.

If you do decide to try this experiment, please, for the love of all that is good, burn your book as soon as you are done leafing through it so that some nut doesn’t find it and start preaching that he’s found the true way to play the game of life.

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February 11, 2011 - Posted by | Religion, Skeptical | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. I don’t neccesarily agree with your metaphor of tearing up numerous rule books and arranging them at random, but I appreciate what you are trying to convey.

    A proper apologist will be able to ad hoc explain his way out of ANYTHING he finds distasteful in the Bible, but will be able to argue with incredible proficiancy why the parts he does like are beyond interpretation or reproach.

    It is the sad truth that smart people are very good a justifying things they have come to believe for stupid reasons.

    Comment by phantomposter | February 11, 2011 | Reply

  2. [...] childhood friend on FB responded to my post, The Bible is the Literal Word of God; Except When Its Not. Here is what he [...]

    Pingback by Have I Read The Bible, Hell Yes! That’s Why I’m an Atheist! « Freethinking for Dummies | February 12, 2011 | Reply

  3. The title of the post doesnt seem to fit the text. Are you arguing that there is no legitimate reason to attempt to discern differences in genre of writing within the Bible? Is there some passage of text within the Bible which suggest that different writing styles are not used and the entire Bible is to be understood rigidly?

    For example, should I take your post on this topic literally, except in parts where you claim to be speaking in metaphor–i.e. any attempt by a Christian to offer a defense of your objection is actually offering feces from a cow, literally. Or that a search of the internet will only produce hundreds of examples of alledged contradictions, that there are no more than 999, otherwise it wouldn’t be hundreds. Or that an actual inanimate nut, like a pistachio or walnut will come to life and develop a ministry around the rule book?

    The Bible should be attempted to be understood as it was intended to be understood. Authors have ways they write things which do not always utilize “literal” meanings of words. Every author does it, why is this a liability for the authors of the Bible?

    One more example, is this also a liability for the sports page in a news paper or broadcast? When we hear the Bears devoured the Lions, are you taken aback at the idea one football team canibalized the other? Or if the Bills trampled the Jets? Do you conclude the Bills team literally stomped the other players in the middle of the field as though they were making wine from grapes?

    Of course you don’t. We take what is written and said as it was intended to be understood.

    Comment by John Barron Jr. | February 13, 2011 | Reply


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