Why Atheists Can't Take the Bible Seriously
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16-10-2013, 04:22 PM
RE: Why Atheists Can't Take the Bible Seriously
(16-10-2013 12:48 PM)PleaseJesus Wrote:  Where's the balanced, open-minded thread showing why the Bible can be taken seriously?

*Tremendous and world-influencing scholars, scientists, architects and philosophers have reveled in its teachings

*It tells great stories--many people worldwide know and affirm creation, judgment, Adam and Eve, etc.

Can this be taken seriously?

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Or:

What profit has a man from all his labor
In which he toils under the sun?
4 One generation passes away, and another generation comes;
But the earth abides forever.
5 The sun also rises, and the sun goes down,
And hastens to the place where it arose.
6 The wind goes toward the south,
And turns around to the north;
The wind whirls about continually,
And comes again on its circuit.
7 All the rivers run into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full;
To the place from which the rivers come,
There they return again.
8 All things are full of labor;
Man cannot express it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor the ear filled with hearing.

Or:

"Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets."
I'd say you could learn from it, see that it as an allegory of the culture at the time it was written. Their values, knowledge and stories. Although I take the bible as mythology such as that of the greeks. Filled with profound metaphors and allegories to life the human condition, human joy and suffering. This god is formless and eternal, all powerful yet he takes the form of a mortal man and walks boldly to the cross despite his tortures to remove sin. He is triumphant and rises from the tomb. It is a very compelling story. Is this an insult? I can appreciate the texts alone but not believe in a literal god? To me god is only a metaphor for all things. Something that should be embraced, that can be found inward.

"I don't have to have faith, I have experience." Joseph Campbell
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16-10-2013, 06:13 PM
RE: Why Atheists Can't Take the Bible Seriously
Hi, guys. Thanks for the interesting responses I’ve got to my thoughts so far. Maybe I shouldn’t have started my first 24hours here by jumping straight in the deep end, but there you go Blush. houseofcantor, I was a little confused by your response. Apologetics is simply the rational defence of a theory or position. I would have thought that on a forum called the thinking atheist that would be right up your alley. An opinion was put out, I thought it was wrong, said my opinion, and (hopefully) don’t have too thin a skin in waiting to hear what you think.

I’m not saying to ignore any perceived inconsistencies or contradictions- the complete opposite, in fact. What I am saying is that you can’t criticise something unless you understand what you’re talking about. A lot of atheists can probably parrot more Bible verses off the top of their head than Christians, but that means nothing if you don’t know what you’re talking about. Reading a text a couple of times and thinking ‘that’s stupid, that doesn’t sound right, how could that not be noticed elsewhere in the empire, it must be completely untrue’ actually doesn’t answer anything. It has to go further than that. That was the point I was making.

Which makes me smile whenever I read people’s rants about Paul. Although I’ve never thought of him in the language you all use, I struggled with him myself for a long time. But then I grew up, took a step back and decided to try and understand before I concluded. I think what you should say (and what I’d actually agree with) is that much of the misogyny found in many Christian denominations for many years can be traced to misogynistic and bigoted interpretations of Paul. A lot of what is spouted here about Paul is completely different to how we see and apply Paul’s teachings today. If you want to discredit today’s Christianity, may I suggest you keep up with the times. After all, you would never think of judging the credibility of science as a whole based only on how people mistakenly used to think the world worked, or the few lone crazy people floating around today, would we?

Long post, I’m sorry. But I wanted to thank Heretic for putting up that book. I read some of it (as much as I could get out of Google Books anyway) and was actually pretty interested. Just a few thoughts though:
- I liked how he acknowledged different interpretation through history
- I like how he acknowledged different ways it’s interpreted today
- He raised good questions, especially about the nature of God, free will and hell, but he didn’t really take them anywhere
- The questions he raised were actually ones that have been discussed for years in the Church and things that we don’t really mind admitting that we struggle with- at least they’re being debated
- He focused a bit too much on Catholic interpretations- forgot that some of the positions have now changed and that he was making blanket assumptions about Christianity without making many comparisons with other positions
- Plus I though he was more literal in his reading than a Bible-belt fundamentalist. He was reading the text of an ancient population with 21st century eyes. Didn’t actually address how the culture of the time read it before seeing how we apply it today.
Overall though it’s a great talking point. Any more books to recommend?
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16-10-2013, 08:55 PM
RE: Why Atheists Can't Take the Bible Seriously
So that's your "rational defense" of your position, that we don't know what we're talking about? OK. Have a nice day. Dodgy

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16-10-2013, 09:13 PM
RE: Why Atheists Can't Take the Bible Seriously
(16-10-2013 06:13 PM)Yasmin Wrote:  Apologetics is simply the rational defence of a theory or position.

NOPE.

But thanks for playing.

(16-10-2013 06:13 PM)Yasmin Wrote:  I’m not saying to ignore any perceived inconsistencies or contradictions- the complete opposite, in fact. What I am saying is that you can’t criticise something unless you understand what you’re talking about. A lot of atheists can probably parrot more Bible verses off the top of their head than Christians, but that means nothing if you don’t know what you’re talking about. Reading a text a couple of times and thinking ‘that’s stupid, that doesn’t sound right, how could that not be noticed elsewhere in the empire, it must be completely untrue’ actually doesn’t answer anything. It has to go further than that. That was the point I was making.

Yes, yes. That's nice.

So why didn't any person anywhere ever make the slightest note of the dead rising from their graves and cruising around Jerusalem for a while?

There's something here that actually doesn't answer anything...

(16-10-2013 06:13 PM)Yasmin Wrote:  Which makes me smile whenever I read people’s rants about Paul. Although I’ve never thought of him in the language you all use, I struggled with him myself for a long time. But then I grew up, took a step back and decided to try and understand before I concluded. I think what you should say (and what I’d actually agree with) is that much of the misogyny found in many Christian denominations for many years can be traced to misogynistic and bigoted interpretations of Paul. A lot of what is spouted here about Paul is completely different to how we see and apply Paul’s teachings today. If you want to discredit today’s Christianity, may I suggest you keep up with the times. After all, you would never think of judging the credibility of science as a whole based only on how people mistakenly used to think the world worked, or the few lone crazy people floating around today, would we?

So... you recognize Paul's flaws? Okay. And?

(16-10-2013 06:13 PM)Yasmin Wrote:  Long post, I’m sorry. But I wanted to thank Heretic for putting up that book. I read some of it (as much as I could get out of Google Books anyway) and was actually pretty interested. Just a few thoughts though:
- I liked how he acknowledged different interpretation through history
- I like how he acknowledged different ways it’s interpreted today
- He raised good questions, especially about the nature of God, free will and hell, but he didn’t really take them anywhere
- The questions he raised were actually ones that have been discussed for years in the Church and things that we don’t really mind admitting that we struggle with- at least they’re being debated
- He focused a bit too much on Catholic interpretations- forgot that some of the positions have now changed and that he was making blanket assumptions about Christianity without making many comparisons with other positions
- Plus I though he was more literal in his reading than a Bible-belt fundamentalist. He was reading the text of an ancient population with 21st century eyes. Didn’t actually address how the culture of the time read it before seeing how we apply it today.
Overall though it’s a great talking point. Any more books to recommend?

A text cannot be both timeless and a product of its times.

If one keeps asking questions the religious answer eventually boils down to never you mind. Which is not particularly compelling...

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16-10-2013, 09:22 PM
RE: Why Atheists Can't Take the Bible Seriously
(16-10-2013 01:27 AM)Yasmin Wrote:  This is a huge topic, but I'll focus on the New Testament, and I'm going to just focus on probably the most common argument that I get given when it comes to the Bible and the one that I get frustrated about because it's something that both atheists and a lot of Christians do, and something you mentioned where atheists have a problem: 'when we read what is in the Bible and make observations based on what we have read.' If you want to understand it - or for that matter point out how stupid it is- at least know what you're talking about beyond a reading of an English translation of ancient Greek texts.

Take the four gospels- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Firstly, these are four different books written for four different audiences. For example, Matthew was writing for a Jewish audience so it focuses on how Jesus fulfils the Messianic promises. Luke is written for Greeks, more interested in the philosophical side of Jesus. Mark's Romans loved power so it focuses on how powerful the ministry of Jesus was. And John was just a good all-rounder- he wrote for everyone.

Think of it this way. When the election for Barrack Obama was on, it was covered by the world wide media. Some countries didn't have the history of Black-White social tensions that have existed in America, so their coverage included extra information on that. Other countries might have already experienced some of those tensions and their own coverage would reflect that. The ways in which it is told doesn't change the truth of the central narrative of a black man being elected president- it's just told in multiple, culturally appropriate ways. The trick is being able to understand how it's told before you discover what it means. So when someone says 'this gospel says it was a mud roof and that gospel says it was a tiled roof' and uses that as way of saying they don't agree, you wonder whether that person actually thinks it's a real blow against the credibility of the Bible or just a half-hearted attempt at trolling. Ignorance is not intelligence- something both sides need to learn

Do you really think that the 4 gospels you referred to were written by guys named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John?

Most christians are more committed to the book than knowledgeable of the book.
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16-10-2013, 09:23 PM
RE: Why Atheists Can't Take the Bible Seriously
(16-10-2013 08:55 PM)houseofcantor Wrote:  So that's your "rational defense" of your position, that we don't know what we're talking about? OK. Have a nice day. Dodgy

It wasn't a defence of my position, it was a critique of yours. I was saying that the sense I've got reading through some ofthese threads, if an athiest has already decided that Paul was nothing but a misogynistic, bigoted, egotistical bastard based on their reading of the scriptures, then nothing someone who has actually studies the original greek text can ever actually impact on that opinion. Would reading any work by Karl Marx- without caring about what he believed, where he came from, what the purpose of the work was, etc- automatically justify me standing up, pulling out a random sentence here and there and saying that I knew more about it than someone who had studied him and actually cared about his opinions for years?

Sadly, I've rarely met an athiest who actually is interested in engaging on any other level than insinuating that believers are nothing more than mindless sheep while simultaneously acting the same way. The 'rational defence' I refered to was about the fact that a lot of athiests- while sitting on their humanist, logical, high horse- rarely ever show by their words or behaviour why their position is any more rational.
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16-10-2013, 09:29 PM
RE: Why Atheists Can't Take the Bible Seriously
(16-10-2013 09:23 PM)Yasmin Wrote:  
(16-10-2013 08:55 PM)houseofcantor Wrote:  So that's your "rational defense" of your position, that we don't know what we're talking about? OK. Have a nice day. Dodgy

It wasn't a defence of my position, it was a critique of yours. I was saying that the sense I've got reading through some ofthese threads, if an athiest has already decided that Paul was nothing but a misogynistic, bigoted, egotistical bastard based on their reading of the scriptures, then nothing someone who has actually studies the original greek text can ever actually impact on that opinion. Would reading any work by Karl Marx- without caring about what he believed, where he came from, what the purpose of the work was, etc- automatically justify me standing up, pulling out a random sentence here and there and saying that I knew more about it than someone who had studied him and actually cared about his opinions for years?

Sadly, I've rarely met an athiest who actually is interested in engaging on any other level than insinuating that believers are nothing more than mindless sheep while simultaneously acting the same way. The 'rational defence' I refered to was about the fact that a lot of athiests- while sitting on their humanist, logical, high horse- rarely ever show by their words or behaviour why their position is any more rational.
Wow..that sounds familiar. Don't theist do something like that? Saying that we are hopeless folk with no meaning in life unable to feel joy and destined to burn in hell? huh. Did I miss anything?

"I don't have to have faith, I have experience." Joseph Campbell
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16-10-2013, 09:34 PM
RE: Why Atheists Can't Take the Bible Seriously
Wow..that sounds familiar. Don't theist do something like that? Saying that we are hopeless folk with no meaning in life unable to feel joy and destined to burn in hell? huh. Did I miss anything?
[/quote]

Never in my life have I or anyone I know ever said that. If I judged every athiests by what some have said to me, I perhaps might be as bitter as how some people on this forum come aross.
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16-10-2013, 09:37 PM
RE: Why Atheists Can't Take the Bible Seriously
(16-10-2013 09:23 PM)Yasmin Wrote:  
(16-10-2013 08:55 PM)houseofcantor Wrote:  So that's your "rational defense" of your position, that we don't know what we're talking about? OK. Have a nice day. Dodgy

It wasn't a defence of my position, it was a critique of yours. I was saying that the sense I've got reading through some ofthese threads, if an athiest has already decided that Paul was nothing but a misogynistic, bigoted, egotistical bastard based on their reading of the scriptures, then nothing someone who has actually studies the original greek text can ever actually impact on that opinion. Would reading any work by Karl Marx- without caring about what he believed, where he came from, what the purpose of the work was, etc- automatically justify me standing up, pulling out a random sentence here and there and saying that I knew more about it than someone who had studied him and actually cared about his opinions for years?

Sadly, I've rarely met an athiest who actually is interested in engaging on any other level than insinuating that believers are nothing more than mindless sheep while simultaneously acting the same way. The 'rational defence' I refered to was about the fact that a lot of athiests- while sitting on their humanist, logical, high horse- rarely ever show by their words or behaviour why their position is any more rational.
First of it's Atheist not Athiest

Sorry sweetie but your going to find that most of us have read a lot more of the works than you seem to think. As to Paul I have never found a redeeming feature in him. He was a cult leader who actively said that lying for God was a commendable thing and was far more interested in control of his followers than any search for truth. I can dismiss him as an arrogant little toe-rag because I think he, more than any single other person, caused Humanity to take 1000 years off of progress, to wallow in faith instead of exalting knowledge. Paul was definitely far more influential than the illiterate rabble rouser the Romans nailed to a cross to the founding of the official religion of the later Roman empire.

The fact is when the bible is compared to outside sources it is inevitably shown to be in error. From local history to the dawn of time to the Rulers at the time of their God-mans birth it is a jumble of hyperbole and frankly incorrect data. If the first 5 books of your most holy text are nothing but mythology and bear no relation to reality how do you expect the rest to be of any real value in a rational setting.

Arrogant no knowledgable and frankly sick of being told I am taking things out of context when there is no context it could be put into that isn't horrible. I will end with a question. Do you support slavery?

(31-07-2014 04:37 PM)Luminon Wrote:  America is full of guns, but they're useless, because nobody has the courage to shoot an IRS agent in self-defense
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16-10-2013, 09:51 PM (This post was last modified: 16-10-2013 09:54 PM by grizzlysnake.)
RE: Why Atheists Can't Take the Bible Seriously
(16-10-2013 09:34 PM)Yasmin Wrote:  Wow..that sounds familiar. Don't theist do something like that? Saying that we are hopeless folk with no meaning in life unable to feel joy and destined to burn in hell? huh. Did I miss anything?

lol bitter? No, we aren't bitter. Some were dealt a rough hand of course, everyone in life has. But hell we push forward no matter what. Some are afraid to tell what they think because in some cases ostracization is a very real thing. Do you have any idea what would happen in a muslim country under sharia law? Would you believe that they want this everywhere? Listen, we oppose theocracy, everyone should theist and atheist alike. Here in america the religious right are making a push. Not one day goes by when someone cries bloody murder when some religious relic isn't allowed to be in a public space or the push for intelligent design in our schools. We have a separation of church and state that must be upheld. They think we hate religion, want it to be abolished. No, I can't think of anyone who actually thinks that. Sure some dislike it but I can't vouch for everyone. I myself take religion as mythology along the lines of the great greek myths. If you look you could even find a few parrales. This is by no means an insult, its all a wonderful story. Taking it literally, then yeah I got a problem.

"I don't have to have faith, I have experience." Joseph Campbell
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