Have You Read The Bible?

If I had a dime for every time I’d been asked whether I’d read the bible, I’d be a mediocre rich person.

Maybe.

Okay, probably not. But I could certainly afford to buy a few more coffees.

I find that Christians often bring out this argument when they either feel they can’t get through to us heathen-ish atheists or when they’re losing a debate so badly that they feel they need to whip out the Ace card  they’ve been hiding up their sleeve.

It’s as if the Christian believes that if I’d only take the time to read their holy book, I wouldn’t be able to disagree with it. I’d finally admit that their God exists and I’ve been a foolish moron the entire time. Maybe they believe the holy spirit will descend and open my eyes once and for all.

Dear Christian: I have read the bible. I used to be a Christian much like you. I believed in Jesus. I believed in the bible and I believed what my pastor told me the bible said.

One day I decided to read the bible for myself. I’d been told this was the be-all-and-end-all of books so I’d be a fool not to read it at least once, especially since I was expected to base a good portion of my life around it.

It wasn’t what I’d been expecting. I found it was full of violence, genocide, rape, misogyny, contradictions, internal inconsistencies and what I considered to be unethical teachings.

Since then, I’ve read the bible several more times. Each time I read it, it reinforces in my mind that this book that is revered by so many was written by humans – and men in particular. I can’t understand how so many people believe the magical claims found within its pages, especially when they’re told point blank that they need faith to believe it.

There is no evidence any of the supernatural occurrences described in the bible are true. The teachings in the bible are unethical in my opinion, and while there are some good parts in the book, I don’t understand why we don’t treat it like any other book and file away the good parts, acknowledge the horrible parts, learn what we can from it, and finally admit it was written by superstitious people who believed all sorts of nonsense.

The short answer is that yes, I’ve read the bible.

It’s one of the premier reasons I’m an atheist. I wish more Christians would read the bible for themselves, instead of relying on their Pastor or Minister to read it to them.

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36 Comments

  1. Hello,

    I enjoyed reading this post. As a Christian and an Agnostic Theist, I can appreciate anyone who takes the time to read instead of simply deny thevexistence of any Deity. This week alone I have realized something shilst reading the bible for myself: Many Atheists are more Christ-Like than most Christians. It was the weirdest thing. As a believer in the bible as the word of Yahweh and my personal interpreation of Yahweh being the ultimate God of the bible, it occured to me, why do so many Christians attack people just for their disbelief in the book they claim to follow? There is a simple answer for this: THEY have NOT read the words in the book for themselves. The Jesus described in the bible is patient and loves others more than himself. Putting humanity before himself and took the time to examine the scriptures for himself. Who was the biggest enemies of Jesus? Was it the nonbelievers? Was it the Greeks? The Romans? No, his biggest enemy was his own people. Jews had become so legalistic and indoctrinated with the law that they forgot about who they claimed theirvlaw-giver was. This week has really helped me appreciate Atheists more as human beings while pitying those who are not practicing what they preach. Again, I enjoyed this post. Keep them coming

    Alexander Capo

    • “But why did you go from Christian to not believing in any higher power?”

      That’s an excellent question.

      I didn’t go straight from being a Christian to being an atheist. It was more of a circuitous route that I made over time. I started out a Christian. I was raised in the faith. My father was an elder of the church and my mother and I cleaned the church every week. We attended church every Sunday.

      I went from a Presbyterian church to a Baptist church. Once I lost my faith, I began to explore other religions. I was probably a deist, with strong ties still to Christian thinking. I explored the Koran, ancient religion, mythology, history, Buddhism and other faiths or religions.

      Eventually, I realized I didn’t have faith in any deity. I still find religion fascinating. I’m a different person now than I was then. I still enjoy things like superstition, unexplained phenomenon, science and the unexplained. I still think about things like what a deity might look like, but I simply don’t believe ancient manuscripts written by people who lived in a time where superstition was second nature knew the answers any more than we do today. I find most God hypothesis to be weak, lack in evidence and don’t make logical, reasonable sense. I also think these faith based structures can (and do) cause great harm to society.

      I think at one time they may have been needed, but I seriously think we need to leave our fantasies behind and take a good long look at reality.

      I hope that answers your question. 🙂

      • I too have read the Bible, and spent years in a chatroom where everyone beat each other over the head with verses that a script can spit out if you just type !john 3 16. But then I started to read how we actually got the Bible, and for a time I clung to the belief that somehow God managed to use that imperfect process to draw out a perfect document. Finally I asked myself why would a deity have to do that, and what distinguished that deity from one that did not exist.

    • “I strongly disagree that faith based structures cause great harm to society. I think it is the lack of, that is what is harming our society.”

      Fair enough. Can you give me some examples of what sorts of faith based structures you think would improve society?

      Please explain why you disagree.

        • “Well first, im keeping an open mind so, why do you think that faith based structures cause harm to society? How?”

          Do you want specific examples of faith based thinking causing harm?

          Such as faith healing that kills children, when medical attention would have saved their life? Or how homosexuals have been oppressed and demonized? Or how same-sex couples have to fight for their right to enjoy marriage? Or perhaps how women are forced to wear bags in some Middle Eastern countries? Or how in some third world countries, they want to kill homosexuals because of what the bible says? Or how in some places, widespread belief in witchcraft leads to horrendous deaths? Or maybe how exorcisms are still carried out, sometimes with horrible consequences? Or maybe how the Catholic Church covered up pedophilia and people continue to put money in the coffers because of their religion? Or how hypocritical it is of the Pope to tweet about feeding the poor, while wielding a gold cross and sitting on a throne?

          I could go on and on and on.

          • Yoy named a lot of stuff that people do, like the pope who I have never thought was right. And catholic pedophiles, those are people not God or the bible. And I know there are atheists who think homosexuality is wrong, there are also christians who couldnt care less. But if we could follow the 10 commandments things would be so much better, oh and of course one more, a new command I give to you, love one another. do you not think so?

            • “But if we could follow the 10 commandments things would be so much better, oh and of course one more, a new command I give to you, love one another. do you not think so?”

              I disagree, besides the last one you said.

              The 10 Commandments actually would set up a theocracy and violate your constitution, since 4 of them command you worship one specific god, thus violating freedom of religion. The punishments for quite a few of the 10 commandments are death, including stoning.

              It’s another example of harmful faith based thinking, coupled with a horrible ideology.

              “Yoy named a lot of stuff that people do, like the pope who I have never thought was right.”

              Often they do it because of faith based thinking, being raised to believe it’s their holy mission and because the bible commands or teaches they do it.

              That’s the problem.

              “And I know there are atheists who think homosexuality is wrong, there are also christians who couldnt care less.”

              Yes, but same-sex couples aren’t fighting for their civil rights primarily against atheists but Christians and the religious. Atheists also can’t hide their bigotry behind a veil of holy scripture. Atheists are much, much easier to call out for their bigotry.

              “Okay, im going to bed 4:00 comes very early, but once again I’ll be back. Goodnight, say your prayers, lol, sorry had to say that.”

              LOL. Have a great sleep. I’ll leave the prayer part to you. *smile*

        • Hello, I also find my opinion on this subject to be quite odd. I feel when an atheist or an antitheist sees religion as harmful to society, they are talking about the institution itself and not the individual person. Unlike the bible or other holy books, places such as churches, mosques, and temples tend to find themselves having different interpretations of the same texts. These interpretations can go either way on the scale of Liberal to Conservative. The more conservative or “orthodox” a place of worship and its elders claim to be, the more exclusive of other groups it is. We do not have to look far to see what the dangers of extreme legalism are with the news speaking of Boko Haram, or the female circumcision process that many American girls are flying overseas to get against their will. When a group that calls themselves believers puts the law before the people, the people lose.

          I know many Christians personally that are disgusted by homosexuals, simply because the bible says that a man should not lie with another man. First off, the last time I checked, I have a lot of single gay friends that are not lying with other men at the moment. Being gay is not a choice and too many Christians miss the point that Jesus tries to make in fulfilling the law, and explaining that the greatest of all commandments is love. When a group of Christians (who obviously either do not read their bible or only pick the parts that they agree with) becomes like this and has this animosity towards another group of people, again, the people lose. Speaking on behalf of the Christian community, the community itself is failing to spread God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice, rooting their hate in a strict legalistic view of the old laws of Moses which CANNOT apply in a society so different from that era.

          This is why I am a Theist, who is against the religious institutions and see that they are harmful to society. When a theist or an atheist reads these religious texts, and then compares it to the way these texts are being used by the groups that claim to follow them, they see the bigotry, the hypocritical standpoints many of them take and the devolution of society (Why many believe Religion is holding society back). I hope this gives you another perspective, from the eyes of a self-proclaimed follower of Christ.

  2. The Bible is one of the Great Books of our Western Heritage regardless of whether one is religious or not.

    It is a treasure trove of wisdom, ancient culture and a priceless compendium on human nature.

    The correct way to read the Bible is to just let it speak to the reader. All the Great Books are to be read that way for maximum enjoyment and benefit.

    • I have seen something we all have in common, until today I have not met an atheist who was not angry and mean to me, most atheists know a lot of christians who were angry and mean, this just proves that sometimes people suck, I am a christian like I said, and regardless of what someone believes in or doesnt believe in, or how someone chooses to live their life.I will be kind and loving toward them, and I will not judge them. The only thing I am ccompletely and totally against, is abortion. Other than that I can get along with pretty much anybody.

  3. The problem is that you did not read it with an open heart. Go read it again, asking Jesus to show you the truth and you will magically believe! Seriously, what I do find odd is that Christians assume atheists (and Jews) do not read the Bible or have any idea of what it says. They do believe that Jesus literally speaks through the words, so perhaps that is one of the reasons they are always suggesting we read it.

    • Well I am a Christian and I dont believe Jesus literally speaks through the words, and in most conversations I have had with atheists, they have no knowledge of the bible at all. They just repeat hearsay. It wasn’t until yesterday that I had spoken with an atheist, who didnt verbally attack me because I said I believe in God. Mike is honestly the first atheist I have had a conversation and debate with who didnt cuss me out.

    • “They do believe that Jesus literally speaks through the words, so perhaps that is one of the reasons they are always suggesting we read it.”

      Hi Dena. Thanks for stopping by.

      You might be right. I think it’s because they’ve been thoroughly convinced and very few take the time to explore arguments against their own. People are raised to believe in their deity, and some assume everyone knows their deity exists. God is their default position. They think if they only show us this wonderful book they’ve been raised to believe is the best book in the world, then we’ll surely be convinced by its contents.

  4. Good reply, Dena. One reason I rarely call myself an Atheist (I prefer Freethinker or Secular Chaplain) is the angry anti-theists out here in blogspace. Faith or no faith, it seems to me building bridges on common ground rather than blowing them up on battleground is the healthiest way forward.

    • Hi Chris. Thanks so much for taking the time to type out your thoughts.

      “One reason I rarely call myself an Atheist (I prefer Freethinker or Secular Chaplain) is the angry anti-theists out here in blogspace.”

      I can understand that.

      However, I wear the label proudly. I do so more to lessen the stigma attached to the label.

      While I try to treat people with respect, I think different methods work for different people. I think some people need to be shaken before they will examine their beliefs, while other people respond more to rational arguments etc.

      I also think some people have a real reason to be angry.

      I was lucky enough to grow up in a religious household that also encouraged me to grow. I enjoyed my childhood and even the religious aspects of it. I think of that period as a learning period.

      Some people may not have been so lucky. I can imagine what it would be like to live in a stifling religious atmosphere. To be told they’re going to hell. To have to hide their lack of belief. To be subjected to constant indoctrination.

      They may have a very good reason to be upset or angry, and I think they deserve to be heard as well.

  5. Christianity is a way of life not just belief in the bible. People can and always have drawn different interpretations from the bible. If you read it determined to prove God is some horrible monster you will likely succeed. I am sure the opposite can be true as well.
    As a Catholic I think the bible and the Church go hand in hand. Beyond being Catholic I think both are inspired by God but both are also possible to contain some errors.
    But when someone gives up the Christian way of life I wonder what way of life will they then live by? What I have found is that when their moral beliefs and the basis for those beliefs are explored we find they are often more hollow than the basis for Christianity.

  6. Hi True. Thanks for leaving your thoughts.

    “If you read it determined to prove God is some horrible monster you will likely succeed.”

    That’s the thing. I didn’t. I read it to confirm what I’d been taught my entire life. The reality was undeniable.

    “But when someone gives up the Christian way of life I wonder what way of life will they then live by?”

    What do you mean?

    “What I have found is that when their moral beliefs and the basis for those beliefs are explored we find they are often more hollow than the basis for Christianity.”

    Hollow in what way?

  7. I really enjoy reading the conversations here. It is good to see people being able to express their opinions in a respective way.
    As someone like Mike who grew up a devout Christian and has found his way to atheism I too see the Bible now as a horrific tale of murder, genocide, incest, and mind bending fables that are made for children to believe.

  8. Reblogged this on Scouting Knowledge and commented:
    I’ve only recently discovered Mike Moore, but I can already tell I’m going to be a longtime fan. His succinct takedown of the Christian question of, “Have you even READ the Bible?” Ensues below. He took the words right out of my mouth.

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