April 9, 2009

Reading the bible Part two

If you remember, it was suggested to me that I read the bible several weeks back.  I was less than enthusiastic about it too.  Part of my issue was feeling pressure to do it.  I find myself pushing back often when I feel like there is some expectation that I should be doing something that I am not.  Part of that was on the homeschooling front since the philosophy we follow strongly suggests having a core book that is read from daily for guidance, inspiration, etc.  Religious texts naturally fill that role for people who believe in them.   Since the majority in this country are Christian, the suggestion was that I use that as my core book as well, even if I don't believe in it, if for nothing but the cultural significance.  The other source of pressure was less direct, but in response to reading often in the blogosphere that if a non-believer does not know the bible, then they can't write off religion.  I pretty well addressed that in the other post.  In the end, I sort of crossed my arms and "hmpf'd" at the whole idea.   

But then, at the suggestion of Teacherninja (who rocks!), I started checking out the Skeptic's Annotated Bible.  This site is way too awesome to not be read.  Then I realized I probably would enjoy reading the bible and maybe even talking about it.  I mentioned it to my friend, Mo and she suggested we read it alongside Asimov's Guide to the Bible.   Then we mentioned it in a few lists we are part of and set out to read one book a week.  We can then discuss it at TJEd Online.   We started this week and I've already learned a few interesting things that I didn't know.  Discussions also can vary because no one in our current forum takes the bible literally, and it seems that most of them believe it was written by men who made mistakes along the way.  I, of course, started out reading it literally and had to be told a few times to cut it out :) and to read it more as Christian mythology and fables.    That's not nearly as much fun though.  So to entertain myself with snarky comments, I've been reading the SAB as I finish each chapter.  

 I've often told B that you can't argue with belief.   I'd never really tried myself.  Now I can see how true that statement is because even though the bible can be very specific in some parts, it's also very easy to speculate on what people were thinking, or how it was translated, or what the "real meaning" of a passage was, etc.  Honestly, that makes discussing it no fun at all for me.  How should I know what Abraham was thinking as he walked Isaac to be sacrificed.  Perhaps he was doubtful or hoping it would be called off, but it certainly doesn't say that in the bible.  So to say that you believe he was thinking those things makes no sense to me.  Can I also believe he was hoping to find out what boy-BQ ribs tasted like?   Probably not, although at this point I don't see how cannibalism is any worse than the rape/incest/lying/fire and brimstone/ that's already been threatened or carried out.  Sorry, my snark is showing, let me put that away.  

I've had much less to say now that I am getting a feel for how people want to discuss this book.   My initial impression so far, which is only a little over half way through Genesis, is this:  even the interesting stories are so convoluted that I can't pick out any good moral messages.   God mostly acts like a spoiled child, most of the people have been liars or deceitful in some way.  Violence and sex are a theme.  Women cause a lot of trouble and get jealous easily (although I'm not sure I can blame them when the all-loving God closes their wombs).  Oh, and I found out that the phrase "gave up the ghost" is in the bible.  I loved that.  

I'll probably keep up with it a bit here too.  So if you are interested in reading along, or just commenting here and there, let's hear it.  Snark is welcome!


  1. I rock? Thanks! Good to see you're having fun with it. I read it in HS/college because as a Lit. major you need it as a cultural touchstone, like it or not. My favorite part is Daniel 14: there's a skeptic in the bible!

  2. Of course you rock, don't be so modest. :)