A fool hath said in his heart, 'God is not;' They have done corruptly, They have done abominable actions, There is not a doer of good. - Psalm 14:1

15 June 2009

The Bible and Atheism

The Bible has a special place in my heart, and not just because I grew up with it. Yes I was once a Christian (now reformed), but also an Episcopalian, which Robin Williams once rightly called, "Christian Lite." I was never a literalist, which probably made the transition easier. I did (and still do) like the Bible as a work of fiction. It's a good story, for its time, written in two parts. The Old Testament is not so much a book as a Madman's Manifesto. This is what Theodore Kaczynski might have written had he been an omnipotent dude responsible for all creation. The New Testament is much better - both in writing quality and content - serving as an eons old prequel to the Left Behind series (but again, better quality and content). I also like twisting Bible quotes for personal use, but I digress...

I know atheists who have a "know thy enemy" take on scripture, but I'm more of a "know it because it's there" type of atheist. Whatever your personal feelings about Biblical influence, it is one of the the most influential books in Western philosophy. Ignoring the Bible because it is a largely amoral conglomeration of sadomasochistic, sexist, and bigoted commentary on human existence is essentially backwards. The book should be read precisely because of these factors.

So I read the Bible and I find the Internet is particularly useful in doing so. Not only can you find multiple translations of scripture, but they can be read in parallel with each other. I particularly like Biblos.com which provides these abilities along with numerous contextual sources.

In a final analysis the Bible taken as a whole actually serves as a microcosm of societal evolution. The various manuscripts (and later decisions over which to exclude) span a thousand years of verbal and written history. The difference in moral statements and implications of text between the earliest and final writings is profound and serves as proof that faith evolved in a positive direction even then, just as it does now, without most of us even realizing it.

1 comment:

Mo said...

Episcopalians (Anglicans as they're called up here) are more like Catholics-lite. See the English/Henrican Reformation for details on that. ;)


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