December 21, 2015

Reading the Bible and Other Options

bible stories Have you ever read the bible that many Christians refer to as "holy" from cover to cover? If so, you know that it is long, inconsistent, and confusing in many places. It is almost as if it was written by many different authors over the span of several decades! If you've read it, you also know that it is filled with injustices, intolerance, hatred, and far too many atrocities to count, including murder, rape, torture, and genocide. Lots and lots of genocide. Despite the bits of "good news" some insist that it contains, it is an awfully nasty book for the most part.

Why would anyone want to read such a book? If it is not the most influential book in shaping Western civilization, it is certainly one of them. And since many of us spend much of our lives surrounded by people who claim to take it quite seriously (even though they rarely do), many of us eventually get curious about its contents.

If I didn't already have a couple of bibles on the shelf and wanted to read one now, the one I'd pick up would be The Skeptic's Annotated Bible by Steve Wells. He's the guy behind the Skeptic's Annotated Bible website. This is the one I'd pick because it provides the bible along with Wells' notes and critique. This makes is incredibly easy for the reader to spot all the problems. I think this would be a great reference tool for most atheists, and I will eventually add it to my collection even though I really don't need another bible.

But what if you are curious about the contents of the Christian bible but have neither the time nor the patience to take on the monumental task of reading one of the many available versions? What then? You might consider something like The Nonbeliever's Guide to Bible Stories by Dr. C. B. Brooks. It is only 128 pages long and gives you an irreverent take on the influential book. And if humor is your thing, you might also want to check out Awkward Moments Children's Bible, Vol. 1 as another option (see here for more on this one).

I am not sure I would go so far as to say that every educated person should read the Christian bible, although this is a statement I have heard many others make. What I will say is that I found it worth reading a few times. Still, I am glad that there are some other options for those who want to get a general sense of its contents without having to read it all.

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