Sunday, January 9, 2011
Why on Earth Am I Reading the Bible?
Reading the Bible is a truly odd proposition to undertake when I've been an atheist for 25 years... I first bought Why I am Not a Christian by Bertrand Russell in 1986 when I was sixteen. Even before that, my family was what you might term "christian-lite", in that we occasionally went to a church but never spoke at all about religion other than that. So with that said, the stories we were told from the bible have always seemed like odd folk-tales to me, completely removed from everyday life. Later I discovered that the stories they told us usually censored out the parts that were too disturbing, lurid or obscure... In other words, they totally left out the stuff that makes it an interesting and human document.
What was really interesting for me is to realize that these words are not the infallible word of god, but a huge series of disputes and revisions between multiple cultures, philosophies, political theories and ideologies over the past three thousand years... and it is still evolving. This evolving thought is an incredibly important part of our literature, art, music, architecture, philosophy and our system of law. It has influenced the good parts of our culture as well as the bad... I think it is all worth looking into.
I've been wanting to look more into the actual text of the bible for a while, but it is a huge undertaking. At the first of this new year, someone started a new blog that is a sort of bible study for atheists...
Over the course of the next year, he and whoever follows his blog will read and discuss the oddity, the beauty, the inconsistency, the humanity and the inhumanity of the bible from start to finish. The commenters on this blog have been incredibly knowledgeable so far.
This is a recent video on a similar subject. The amount of research that went into it is admirable.