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Jun 22 2012

Alas, poor Jerry

Jerry Coyne is reading the Bible — the whole Bible, from beginning to end — and is discovering that it is boring and insipid. We could have told him so, but he’s such a scientist and had to confirm the observation himself, and now he’s in for some suffering.

Most Christians don’t read this book that they claim is the divine and holy word of an omniscient being, which would be odd if they actually believed that. If I had a message from a cosmic alien intelligence, I’d sure be studying it carefully. Unfortunately, even a casual scrutiny of the book reveals no useful knowledge, and no sign of a special privileged source of information.

I’ve attended and observed Bible studies. They really don’t look at the book — which isn’t surprising, these are generally people who think of reading as boring work and can’t be troubled to read a good book — they usually have a ‘study guide’. This is a book that excerpts a few verses and then tells the reader what they’re supposed to mean, in the context of their particular and peculiar sect. You know what question the study leaders often get? “What do I believe?”

I find that mind-blowing.

Anyway, let’s hope Jerry’s brain survives rolling about in drivel.

By the way, a hint: he mentions how awkward it is to be seen reading the ‘holy’ book. One solution: I’ve got it on my iPad, so if I’m caught I can tap a button and quickly swap in some kitten photos or something slightly less embarrassing.

90 comments

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  1. 1
    terrie

    I went to a religious private school for high school. (Not my top choice, but they actually did better on accommodating a couple special needs than either the public schools or the local secular private school). So, of course, I had to take a “Bible” class. One of the assignments was that every week we had to pick a passage from the Bible, summarize what it was about and write about how it applied to our lives. I took great joy in picking things like the “begets.” For some reason, I didn’t do very well in that class.

  2. 2
    maddogdelta

    Well, Julia Sweeney went to a bible study where they really did read the whole bible.

    I wonder how that worked out…..(http://www.juliasweeney.com/letting_go_mini/)

  3. 3
    Glen Davidson

    I’ve attended and observed Bible studies. They really don’t look at the book — which isn’t surprising, these are generally people who think of reading as boring work and can’t be troubled to read a good book — they usually have a ‘study guide’. This is a book that excerpts a few verses and then tells the reader what they’re supposed to mean,

    In fact, scholarly works do the same (I realize that I clipped some context, but only to show that it’s also the truth in another, better, context as well). The fact is that it is often very difficult to understand text without the input of people who do understand the context in general, including what was thought in the middle east in general at a given time.

    The Bible is pretty useless without intelligent commentary, in fact. Unfortunately, though, so much “Bible study” isn’t an intelligent search for meaning, rather an attempt to show that the Bible means exactly what a sect always thought that it meant.

    Glen Davidson

  4. 4
    'Tis Himself

    I’ve read the Bible cover to cover three times. It’s a very boring book. However it isn’t quite as boring as the Book of Mormon, which Mark Twain described as “chloroform in print”.

  5. 5
    irisvanderpluym

    Today I unceremoniously disposed of the Gideon’s bible I found in my hotel room. (I desecrated it first, of course, in the most wicked/fun way.)

    If everyone just did their part to destroy (I mean RECYCLE, of course! I’m in California…) them, there’d be no boring bibles for the poor Jerry Coynes of the world to read. Just think of the interminable suffering we could prevent if we all worked together on this, pepole!

  6. 6
    suzysalaksartok

    I remember reading one of those kinda ‘read the bible along with me’ kinda things. I can’t remember where that was though (was a while ago, for my memory, and the only thing I can really remember other than the basic details of the stupid book is the phrase “Jewish Desert Storm” which he used to describe the exodus/slaughter their way into Isreal.)

    A similar thing was done with the Koran, with Kafir Girl – http://kafirgirl.wordpress.com/ but unfortionately I dont think she got all the way through it, and hasnt updated her blog in a few years. But whats there is good.

  7. 7
    Dabu

    Reading the thing is a stark reminder that the Bible gets by on reputation and not much else.

    Take out all the bits about appeasing some insecure tyrant, and the rest would blow away in the breeze.

  8. 8
    skeptifem

    I haven’t read it front to back. I mostly flipped to a random page and read it whenever I happened to have one out, and there was always something really fucked up or nonsensical happening. It was a huge departure from the way church made the book out to be, and the parts I read were never really accounted for. I have a vivid memory about the god loving the smell of buring dead bulls on an altar and thinking “what the fuck? really?”. I was at a doctors office waiting room. I’ve tried to read the bible more after that, but find the skeptics annotated version sufficient for my needs.

    I think the book of mormon is harder to read after you figure out that it is someone trying to sound really old-timey. Its a real “fuck you” to people trying to read the book, since making it sound like it was written long ago also means trying to make it harder to understand. Not to mention he did it very poorly. Asshole.

  9. 9
    John Morales

    There’s Asimov’s Guide to the Bible.

  10. 10
    suzysalaksartok

    Probably OT, but I think Id pay some decent money to get the bible reinterpreted into a noir graphic novel.

    At one point on a forum some people reinterpreted a few verses as though it were done by Frank Miller (riffing on his ‘goddamn batman’, God was referred to always as ‘The Goddamn God”)

    Its basically a huge testament to Gods utter failure, I think it would be pretty good noir’ed.

  11. 11
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Iris:

    Today I unceremoniously disposed of the Gideon’s bible I found in my hotel room.

    I leave them, but only after I tear out every other page.

    Suzy:

    Probably OT, but I think Id pay some decent money to get the bible reinterpreted into a noir graphic novel.

    Like R Crumb’s Book of Genesis?

  12. 12
    Shplane, Spess Alium

    I, admittedly, have never read the Bible cover to cover. I’ve read about halfway through Revelation, which is easily the most interesting part that I’ve ever tried to choke down, and just couldn’t get any farther. Hilariously batshit insanity can only do so much to shore up writing of such shitty quality.

    Honestly, if I want to know what the Bible says about something, I just go here: http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/

    Great way to cut through the begats and find the actually important information. And look, it’s even organized by what type of unspeakable horror YHWH is inflicting on the world!

  13. 13
    saguhh00

    []I’ve read the Bible cover to cover three times. It’s a very boring book. However it isn’t quite as boring as the Book of Mormon, which Mark Twain described as “chloroform in print”.[]

    Alas, it is only aproppriate, for the Book of Mormon contains the Book of Ether.

  14. 14
    truebutnotuseful

    Jerry has my sympathy.

    I attended Mormon seminary as a teenager and had the misfortune of having to read the Bible in its entirety. Of course, at the time I was a god-soaked brainwashed mess of an individual so I considered it a privilege and a duty.

    Seminary was remarkably time consuming. The four years – taken concurrently with High School – covered the Old Testament one year, the New Testament another year, the Book of Mormon another year, and LDS church history – including the Mormon scriptures the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price – the other year.

    We were required to read for 15 minutes a day from the relevant book of scripture. If you finished the book before the end of the year you had to start over from the beginning. The end result being that I had to read the Old Testament about 1.5 times, the New Testament four times, and the Book of Mormon three times. Fortunately, I went to college early and was spared the year of church history, which is unparalleled in its whitewashing.

    In addition to reading the books of scripture, we also had to read workbooks that summarized the ‘important’ information, and which also included quizzes and tests we were required to complete.

    When I think of all the time I wasted reading that drivel, time I could have spent studying useful things with a tenable connection to reality, I can’t help but haz a sad.

  15. 15
    nonny

    Good luck to the guy. The passage he quotes in his blog nearly sent me to sleep.

    I’ve read bits of the bible. Song of Solomon, Proverbs, Jonah, some parts of the new testament. As mythology goes, it’s second-rate. I always preferred the Norse legends.

  16. 16
    gworroll

    ” I’ve got it on my iPad, so if I’m caught I can tap a button and quickly swap in some kitten photos or something slightly less embarrassing.”

    Kittens? Wow. You really hate the Bible don’t you?

    I suspect that there might be some useful information- if nothing else, it should offer insights into the hearts and minds of the ancient Palestinians, and for the New Testament, the early Christians.

    A careful reading of geographical references might point us to some interesting dig sites, or maybe some towns and cities that might have long forgotten Roman records of interest.

    Basically, it might help us form the right questions in seeking to understand the ancient societies featured in the book. Won’t answer any of them(well, maybe a few on their cultural values), but sometimes the hard part is asking the right question.

    It almost seems as if some legitimate historians and archaeologists would have to have looked through it to see if there were any useful starting points, yet I’ve never seen anything presented on their findings. Just gigantic mountains of crap from people who assume if they failed to prove the Bible, they must have misread the reference they started their research from.

  17. 17
    Eristae

    I went to a bible study for a while in college. I discovered that (at least with my particular bible study) they start with their conclusions and then go looking for passages to support it. Example: We’d start the session with the conclusion that “Jesus is both fully man and fully divine” and then go looking for passages to support it. The leader also had a helpful list of passages for us to refer to.

    I had to stop going because I was so angry afterwords that I was losing the ability to hide it from my dorm-mates. You don’t start with your conclusions first and then read the thing; whenever you’re examining something, you find evidence first, then use it to draw conclusions. Gaaaaaaaah!

  18. 18
    laurentweppe

    If I had a message from a cosmic alien intelligence, I’d sure be studying it carefully

    If Aliens who had barely invented agriculture and writing learned about our existence, they would most certainly want to study our writings carefully.
    Now think of the kind of mind-breaking torture such endeavor can be.
    ***

    if I’m caught I can tap a button and quickly swap in some kitten photos or something slightly less embarrassing

    Your failure to embrace the worship of They Who Give Us Puppies will be your doom: already you’re seeing abject enslavement at the paw of the Feline Parasite as a better option than being seen with a book inyour hands.

  19. 19
    Ophelia Benson

    Some parts of it are quite good, in the King James version. Ecclesiastes for instance. Parts of Isaiah. Some psalms.

    Has to be KJV though.

  20. 20
    Stacy

    Take out all the bits about appeasing some insecure tyrant, and the rest would blow away in the breeze

    Ecclesiastes is pretty good. Of course, it’s full of secular wisdom, like “enjoy life while you can because after you die you’re dead.”

  21. 21
    Stacy

    Ophelia: Jinx!

  22. 22
    nemistenem

    I share Jerry’s misfortune as I decided 1-1/2 y ago to start reading the “Beeble”, too. It has at times been actually quite entertaining, at others very tedious but I’m glad to have the experience. I have found some minor inspriration (no, not the right word but found some of Ecclesiates/Psalms, etc. to speak to some of the questions about why we suffer/longings for answers that have been common to much of humanity) in some of the poetic Old Testament chapters. I’m also appreciating having general knowledge of biblical stories, the structure of the bible, how many common names are biblical names (and what’s up with people naming kids after heinous biblical characters?), and how much of our lexicon is based on biblical passages.

    All that aside though, the book is a mess. As PZ says, there is little useful in there for the advancement of humanity in the bronze age let alone modern times. The version I am reading is a Baptist “Living Application” book with lots of text explaining what certain passages are supposed to mean, many of which are more entertaining/ridiculous than the actual scriptural verses. Pretzel logic on every page, seems to be necessary for a great deal of theological thought. BUT, with so many in our western culture so steeped in what they think the bible says, I’m finding it instructional to learn what it actually says. I hope this will give me some cred to be actually listened to when I “debate” Xtians and maybe guide some others away from this nonsense.

    Interstingly, I have also been working my way through Dawkin’s Ancestor’s Tale at the same time – much more interesting material AND truth in there than the supposed holy text. I only have a few holy chapters remaining, and think I might have to resort to some mind-altering substances to get through Revelations, or at least to put me on the same intellectual level with whoever the author was… Overall, I recommend reading the whole thing, especially if you claim to be Xtian – it could well change your mind.

  23. 23
    garydargan

    Lets use the bible as a source for some basic research. It tells us that the 10 linen curtains of he tabernacle were eight and twenty, (28) cubits long and 4 cubits wide. so the overall measurements of the curtains alone is about 14metres by 2 metres, (1 cubit is about 50cm). Add 11 more curtains of woven goats hair, each 15 metres by 2 metres then cover these with curtains of dyed sheepskin topped off with badger skin. Add in 400 square metres of shittim wood for the walls and not to mention cherubim and the tablets themselves and you have a massive weight to cart around. This could be used to calculate the lifting capacity of the average Jewish male or at least those from the priestly caste of the house of Levi.

    From this we get an explanation of why Jewish slaves were so important to Egypt and why these superhumans were so successful in conquering the inhabitants of the land God had promised to them. See no problem the bible is a sourcebook for tongue in cheek science.

  24. 24
    feralboy12

    Some parts of it are quite good, in the King James version. Ecclesiastes for instance

    Agreed. The problem with reading it front to back in order is wading through Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, some of the more odious shit ever written, before you get to anything cool.
    And I still can’t read Ecclesiastes without sticking the words turn! turn! turn! in there.

  25. 25
    Moggie

    I’ve often been shocked by how little of it many Christians know. I’m not going to judge you if you don’t slog all the way through the OT: you can reasonably claim that much of it is irrelevant to you. But I’ve often encountered Christians who are clueless about the gospels! Good grief, you lazy bastards, Mark is only sixteen chapters! You could read it in a single sitting! Even if you’re a slow reader, the four canonical gospels aren’t a major undertaking. If you can’t be bothered to put in that effort, please don’t insult people’s intelligence by pretending that the bible is important to you.

  26. 26
    The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical

    I took a literature course on the Bible in college, which was perhaps one of the more entertaining ways to do it. Our professor was Catholic and the class was predominately Protestant, but we also had a Mormon, a Muslim and at least one other atheist in addition to myself. There was a lot of confusion as the students would repeatedly discover the book wasn’t nearly as moral and righteous as they expected it to be.

    The most interesting class was when we got to Revelation. The professor had everyone in the class talk about what they thought of it and there was a lot of joy being expressed over the darkest passages. When it finally got to be my turn to speak, I told them exactly how creepy I found them all and how disturbing it was to be sitting in that class, knowing that when they talked about seeing the wicked thrown into a lake of fire they were fantasizing about doing it to people like me. There was some weak protest, but they couldn’t really deny it.

  27. 27
    ChristineRose

    The passage Jerry quotes is about micromanaging construction of a box. It becomes slightly more bearable if you realize that it was written during the Babylonian captivity by people who had just lost an ugly war and their special box–it’s about a mythical future box reconstruction after YHWH gets His holy act together and saves them. A fanatical priestly class was emerging that blamed the loss on religious diversity. They were getting direct messages from God about a whole bunch of minor things with the promise that if you did as told, you’d get your homeland back.

    It is a fantasy for the desperate: God is real, God is interested, God tells me what to do in detail so I can’t mess up again, all my problems are a part of the plan. That makes the chapter interesting: a bunch of suffering people crying out “What do we do now?” and a bunch of self-deluded charlatans spitting out orders that sound profound at first glance but turn out to be just detailed.

    Oddly it seems that the study guides available to Christians never talk about this. They say things like “The perfection of the ark foreshadows the perfection of Jesus” and move on to a new passage. There’s poetry there, it’s just in conflict with the “correct” interpretations.

  28. 28
    robro

    I wonder how many Christians would still be Christian if they were required to read the Bible cover-to-cover? My guess, quite a few would bail. And if they had a good scholarly commentary to go along with it, even more would ditch the exercise. If you get to the part where perhaps Abraham came down from that mountain without Isaac (and why we might think that), well, it can be a real eye opener.

  29. 29
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Meh. I thought it was ok…anyway, I learned a lot about what Protestants were talking about all of the time.

    Which was important since I was asked not to return to the “Get To Know a Protestant” seminar series– complete misunderstanding of what was meant by a “Dutch oven”. Turns out the proddies take pot-luck kind of serious.

    Acts 9-23

  30. 30
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Fuckety fuck.

    Acts 10: 9-23. like a funny pot-luck reference that is no longer funny.

    Sorry.

  31. 31
    kuralssssp

    Dear Paul,

    This is a Hindu speaking, so you know. The KJV is the fount of the modern English writing. It’s a fantabulous yarn! I’ve read parts of it in Indian languages too. But it’s not the same thing – very florid, turgid and dire. But in English – wow!

  32. 32
    Aquaria

    I have to wonder what took Coyne so long to get to the genocidal scumbag manual. Sheesh, my parochial school made us start reading it when I was in 5th grade (so about 10-11). That and the bullshit to try to explain away how vile the book was made me realize I couldn’t in good conscience believe that crock of shit. Well, when I wasn’t having nightmares from the gorier or creepier parts of the book (Lot’s daughters, the ravings of Jeremiah and Salome’s stalker, and so on).

    I wonder what possesed them to require reading their filthy book from cover to cover (more than once!). I think there was something wrong with this asshats. But maybe I was the only one who knew what a real dirty book looked like.

  33. 33
    karley jojohnston

    I skimmed through Revelations a week or so ago to put off work. It was a bunch of cryptic nonsense that would be better accompanied with death metal instrumentals.

  34. 34
    joed

    In The Beginning by Isaac Asimov
    is a book that looks at the first part of the bible, that be Genesis, with the eyes of a scientist. It is interesting in that a lot of stuff taken for one thing is, scientifically speaking, actually in reality something else.
    Dr. Asimov was a scientist.

  35. 35
    jimharrison

    You guys still take religion seriously enough to get upset about it; but if you don’t and think of the Jewish Bible simply as an anthology of Hebrew literature, it’s easy to find lots to admire in it. I’m particularly fond of the book of Jonah which, if you aren’t either a believer or a fire-breathing atheist, is obviously a satire aimed against the self-righteousness and vanity of prophets. Read the goddam thing sometime without ideological blinders on.

    I have a lot of respect for the rabbis who decided what did and didn’t belong in canonical scripture. They included books of literary merit in their Bible (Tanakh)—Job and Ecclesiastes, for example—that were extremely hard to assimilate to their own theological sensibilities. Shows some integrity.

  36. 36
    'Tis Himself

    The King James Bible is a masterpiece of English literature. It’s also a poor translation of the Bible.

  37. 37
    Aquaria

    The KJV is the fount of the modern English writing.

    Bullshit. The translation for the KJV is only one of the sources of modern English writing. Shakespeare is another. Furthermore, Samuel Johnson probably had the strongest effect on the development of modern English by standardizing a great deal of the spellings and usage, or at least making a big fucking dent in it.

    In English, the text is mostly horrible. There are some nice bits in Ecclesiastes, and some catchy turns of phrase here and there. But the rest is garbage.

    Really.

  38. 38
    Reptile Dysfunction

    One of the passages cited by Prof. Coyne seems to presage the
    invention of Velcro™.

  39. 39
    joed

    Ecclesiastes is a book of the bible that is worth reading; like–which idiot is gonna’ get all my stuff when I die.
    I hear the references to god at the end of ecc. is a latter addition.

  40. 40
    'Tis Himself

    jimharrison #35

    You guys still take religion seriously enough to get upset about it

    You’re right, we do get upset about religion but not because we take it seriously. It’s the folks who use religion to push a misogynist, racist, homophobic, ultra-conservative socio-political agenda who upset us. It’s the Mormons pumping millions of dollars into electoral campaigns to deny GLBTs basic civil rights who upset us. It’s the Catholic bishops claiming that since Baby Jesus cries whenever someone uses a condom that health insurance shouldn’t pay for contraception. It’s the “Operation Rescue” folks killing abortion doctors in the name of Jebus who upset us. It’s Pat Robertson using his religion to promote his far-right politics that upset us.

    You know what else upsets us? Godbots like you acting superior to atheists because we don’t believe in the bullshit delusions you believe in.

  41. 41
    Aquaria

    You guys still take religion seriously enough to get upset about it

    We get upset about it because christurd scumbags won’t stop trying to force people to conform to whatever fucked up interpreations they have on that piece of shit book.

    ; but if you don’t and think of the Jewish Bible simply as an anthology of Hebrew literature, it’s easy to find lots to admire in it.

    If you pulled out all the worthwhile parts you’d have about 100 SINGLE-COLUMN pages of worthwhile stuff. And that’s a very–very–small fraction of the book.

    I’m particularly fond of the book of Jonah

    Which is most assuredly ripped off from other Middle Eastern cultures.

    which, if you aren’t either a believer or a fire-breathing atheist, is obviously a satire aimed against the self-righteousness and vanity of prophets.

    It’s a book about kissing a genocidal sky-fairy’s ass. Same as the rest of the genocidal scumbag manual. That’s the ONLY purpose of the book, dumbass.

    Read the goddam thing sometime without ideological blinders on.

    I have read the piece of shit.

    MULTIPLE TIMES. When I had NO theological blinders, because I was too young to fucking know what those could be!

    I have a lot of respect for the rabbis who decided what did and didn’t belong in canonical scripture.

    I don’t. It’s a crummy book, full of violence and gore and hate.

    They included books of literary merit in their Bible (Tanakh)—Job and Ecclesiastes, for example—that were extremely hard to assimilate to their own theological sensibilities.

    Job is another book that most definitely comes from the Babylonians. A lot of books were included just because they important to a subset of the scribes–and not for any literary merit, dumbass.

    Shows some integrity.

    What integrity?

    If they had any integrity the books would be more internally consistent. They wouldn’t be so full of stupidities–even for their own era!

    Furthermore, the book has all the hallmarks of a process so unwieldy that nobody knew for sure what was where and slapped it together to get everybody on the same page. It shows that it waa compromise between the myth as the people of Judah knew it with the one that the people of israel used. They weren’t the same thing, you know.

    Didn’t you ever grok why there are two creation myths, two versions of the flood myth, and so on? Did you ever bother to look it up?

    And you want to whinge at us about reading the piece of shit?

    Go fuck yourself, you presumptuous dumbass.

  42. 42
    John Morales

    jimharrison:

    You guys still take religion seriously enough to get upset about it; but if you don’t and think of the Jewish Bible simply as an anthology of Hebrew literature, it’s easy to find lots to admire in it.

    But it ain’t simply an anthology of Hebrew literature, it’s an anthology of religious Hebrew literature, and to take it outside that context is to ignore its reality and the mode of thinking it evinces.

  43. 43
    ChasCPeterson

    Fuck Teh Bible; we need a new Holy Book.

    My nomination is Cat’s Cradle.

  44. 44
    SallyStrange

    I’ve never read the Bible all the way through* and I have no intention of doing so. I consider the fact that my parents allowed me to grow up with a minimum of exposure to religious ideas and “holy” books to be a blessing which I have no desire to undermine. I find ignorance of the Bible is just as powerful a tool against goddists as knowledge of it is: I just ask them why I should read the Bible and listen to them flounder. Works every time. I highly recommend it.

    *I have read a few of the interesting poetical bits. That was plenty.

  45. 45
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Chas…first Vonnegut book I ever read.

    It’s as good as scripture…I’m more for a holy library, rather than a holy book. The only rule is keep it down so a fucker can read in peace.

  46. 46
    Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    As mythology goes, it’s second-rate. I always preferred the Norse legends.

    Give me Sophocles. Grandeur and pathos.

  47. 47
    kreativekaos

    Reputable scientist that he is, we know where Jerry Coyne stands on religion: where we all stand where it concerns truth, reason and evidence.

    Yes, he is ‘such a scientist’–and kudos to him for that; delving into something he clearly recognizes as mostly fictional tome of bronze-age wishful-thinking.

    Generally though, you have to give credit to anyone who considers oneself an independent thinker/rationalist who would take on a relatively empty effort like reading the Bible cover-to-cover (uhg! not sure that I could); to at least make an effort to suspend disbelief/criticism long enough to honestly check out the opposing camp rather than taking the opinions of others at face value (‘We could have told him so..’)

    It’s interesting to note that for such a badly written, boring, inconsistent, incomplete, paradoxical, nonsensical and violent writ,…. it supposedly remains one of the best selling ‘books’ in history; without a doubt, a depressingly powerful example of centuries of deep social tradition, conditioning and religious indoctrination.

  48. 48
    Dubravko J.

    Hah, when I used to read it in high-school, I glued some fantasy book covers over it and hoped nobody would be interested in such geeky stuff to bother with asking what I was reading :D

  49. 49
    anthonyrosa

    “Furthermore, the book has all the hallmarks of a process so unwieldy that nobody knew for sure what was where and slapped it together to get everybody on the same page. It shows that it waa compromise between the myth as the people of Judah knew it with the one that the people of israel used. They weren’t the same thing, you know.

    Didn’t you ever grok why there are two creation myths, two versions of the flood myth, and so on? Did you ever bother to look it up?”

    Stuff like this is why I like the Bible. It’s a delicious train-wreck of chaotic editing spread over hundreds of years. I find that kind of thing fascinating, in the same way I find the chaotic filming of Apocalypse Now fascinating. So yes, my personal enjoyment comes from a sort of “it’s so bad it wraps around to good again!” bit.

    The Noah’s Ark story appears to be two completely separate accounts of the story mashed together, like they said “eh, the stories are similar… so let’s just alternate lines between the two!” The end result is terrible, but it’s an interesting kind of terrible, at least to me.

  50. 50
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Aside from what Aquaria said at 37, the KJV was written in an artificially archaic prose that never really existed as presented. Elements were certainly real at different times in certain places in England, but not the whole, which strives to raise an obscene mishmash of trash to the level of the Shakespearean soap-opera.

  51. 51
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    In English, the text is mostly horrible. There are some nice bits in Ecclesiastes, and some catchy turns of phrase here and there. But the rest is garbage.

    Don’t overlook the Book of Armaments. “Then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.”

    Sheer beauty.

  52. 52
    thunk: y'all know ageism is a thing?

    Well… I tried to read the bible.

    I managed to slog midway through Deuteronomy and the boredom became intolerable.

    Since I have bigger fish to fry than the exact details of box construction by the Hebrews, I have done fun stuff in my life.

    However, I have read Asimov’s Guide (both parts) and that was actually engaging.

  53. 53
    shoshidge

    Another option to consider is doing it as an audiobook, that was the only way I was able to slog through the whole thing.
    I have the New Testament narrated by Johnny Cash, which seemed to help somehow.

  54. 54
    joed

    @35 jimharrison
    jimharrison you should have been around when the commenters on this blog got all uppty about “cathedrals”.
    Seems these folks here are mighty defensive.
    I think it is because they don’t really know what they think so any disagreement with them and they try to intimidate or marginalize the dissenter.
    Anyway, i agree with you for what it is worth, there are parts of the bible that have some things to say to the modern world. And it is beautiful literature here and there.
    Isaac Asimov describes the 600 year history of the writing/editing/combining of the 2 separate myths of the bible. Once you know about this history then the bible an archeology wonder.

  55. 55
    Rey Fox

    I’m still trying to slog through it myself. I think it’s taken me a year and a half just to get to where I am now, which is towards the end of 2 Kings. Man, what a clusterfuck that book is.

    I’m reading it off the Skeptic’s Annotated web site, which is the only way I can keep my eyes on it. I’m also comparing notes with the guy they link at the end of every chapter who blogged the Bible for Slate.com, he gives most of the obvious criticisms, but still finds merit and interesting interpretations because I think he’s still an observant Jew.

    Reading the thing is a stark reminder that the Bible gets by on reputation and not much else.

    Yep.

    Fuck Teh Bible; we need a new Holy Book.

    Nah, we really don’t.

    jimharrison you should have been around when the commenters on this blog got all uppty about “cathedrals”.

    Why’s that? Whose authority were we being insolent toward?

    Seems these folks here are mighty defensive.

    I notice that you didn’t say that we were wrong.

  56. 56
    noyourgod

    I just spent 5 days at the boss’ beach house (he’s a really nice boss). For the 1st day and a half, I was out there alone. My goal was to dig into the bible and quoran during that time, as I had never either book. (After all – isn’t it the appropriate thing to read trashy fiction while vacationing at the beach?)

    My mistake was to not start the bible until after the 4th beer. What made it so difficult to read (well, besides the really bad writing and ridiculous plot) was that PEOPLE REALLY BELIEVE THAT SHIT!

  57. 57
    John Morales

    joed:

    Isaac Asimov describes the 600 year history of the writing/editing/combining of the 2 separate myths of the bible. Once you know about this history then the bible an archeology wonder.

    The only wonder is that anyone takes it at all seriously.

  58. 58
    ibyea

    I read the whole Old Testament and half of New Testament. It was so BORING!

  59. 59
    ibyea

    Oh, and I can’t wait for him to get to Revelations. To say that the book is insane is an understatement.

  60. 60
    BrianX

    ibyea:

    I think I can honestly say that a lot of the images in Revelation are all but impossible to make sense of in the human brain, especially when you bring math into the equation and try to figure out how many horns you can distribute over how many heads.

  61. 61
    Brian Walsh

    I know how he feels. For fun, I started reading and blogging the Bible yesterday. I’ve never actually sat down and read it all the way through. I’m through the first chapter of the first book, a very long way to go.

  62. 62
    jimharrison

    If your mental horizons are so narrow that the only options you can imagine are 18th Century-style village atheism or 19th Century fundamentalism, it’s no wonder you’re extremely touchy: claustrophobia’ll do that. There is a whole world outside the phone booth you’ve decided to inhabit, however; and in that space you’ll find, along with an enormous number of other possibilities, folks who don’t feel an obligation to ritually denounce other people’s literatures even if they themselves haven’t believed in God for half a century. Do I also have to assure everybody that I don’t sacrifice oxen to Zeus before I express admiration for the Iliad?

    Speaking of the Iliad, let us take advantage of a teachable moment: The King James version of the Bible is a lot like the Iliad in that it is the product of a long oral tradition. Translators back to the time of Wycliffe worked on rendering scripture into English and amended the results in the light of how they worked in preaching to their parishioners. The process was similar to the way in which generations of Greek bards refined the language of the Homeric epics by working and reworking each line through countless oral performances. Which is how traditions produce works whose language gives an impression of inevitability as if there were no better way to say that, whatever that is. Of course recognizing the virtuosity of such cultural products doesn’t imply belief in their messages, though folks in these parts will automatically assume that everybody who doesn’t share their philistine inability to recognize quality is, what’s the expression? a godbot.

  63. 63
    stubby

    At least the bible has some variety in writing styles and flavors of ignorance. The koran is one paddleless douche canoe meandering down a river of stupid.

  64. 64
    ChristineRose

    @BrianX, 60

    I have just one word for ya: Legos!

  65. 65
    Cipher

    Jimharrison, your comment was one long rambling tedious irrelevance. I can see why you would admire the Bible.

  66. 66
    razzlefrog

    I also tried reading the Bible once. Never got past the “begat”s. Bored me into an existential coma.

    And I also experienced the self-consciousness reading it, haha. Like, what if a sensible atheist walks by and rolls his eyes at me? I can’t just holler, “No! But I don’t actually believe this! I swear!”

    I looked like I had Tourette’s constantly looking up reading that thing.

  67. 67
    raven

    jimharrison the kooky troll:

    There is a whole world outside the phone booth you’ve decided to inhabit,

    Jim, you are an idiot. Most of us are ex-xians!!! We know. Cthulhu, another moron who thinks the stork brings atheists. Jim, the stork you are thinking about is a myth. Some of the atheist leaders are ex-ministers and current and well known biblical scholars.

    however; and in that space you’ll find, along with an enormous number of other possibilities, folks who don’t feel an obligation to ritually denounce other people’s literatures even if they themselves haven’t believed in God for half a century.

    This is stupid. Who is ritually denouncing the bible? It’s a kludgy train wreck of genocide, obsolete morality, mixed in with old tribal politics and fairy tales.

    Reading the bible started me out of xianity. I was 7 when I tried to read Revelation. I decided it was gibberish. It took another 4 decades and some xian atrocities to complete. And oh yeah, I’ve since read Revelation a few times. Not only is it still gibberish it is false. Nothing John said was going to happen, ever happened.

    Do I also have to assure everybody that I don’t sacrifice oxen to Zeus before I express admiration for the Iliad?

    Probably not. Do you burn a witch or scientist at the stake or sacrifice a human child by medical neglect before reading your magic book. Or just wish the era of the Reformation wars was still going on.

  68. 68
    raven

    JH:

    folks who don’t feel an obligation to ritually denounce other people’s literatures even if they themselves haven’t believed in God for half a century.

    The churches are well aware that their magic book isn’t very magic. They try to hide it anyway they can.

    It’s very rare to find a xian who has ever read it or has the slightest idea what is really in it. The churches do this deliberately.

    1. My own church, with the best of intentions did this. They weren’t biblical literalists and treated the OT like it was obsolete. Revelation was like the crazy uncle locked in the basement. I don’t blame them.

    2. The Catholic church tried for centuries to keep the bible away from the common people. The first guy to translate it into English was Tyndale, burnt at the stake for it.

    3. What especially the fundies do is quote mine and cherry pick a few dozen or hundreds of passages out of context and use those to claim that is the bible. If you actually read the context, more and often than not, what they claim is just a lie. It happened to me just a few days ago.

    But feel free to back up your assertions. What do you like about the bible? Amuse us, most of us can’t see much in the way of redeeming features. I hated the KJV, the archaic language of thees, thous, goeths, killeth and so on were a pretentious distraction for a kid.

    PS Strangely enough, while the bible is a train wreck as a holy book, it is quite fascinating as a historical document. I’ve probably read most of the popular scholarship on it including Asimov’s guide which was OK. It is a big window into the ancient tribal minds and cultures that came before ours. Hard to believe those people are us but they have to be us without electricity or cars.

  69. 69
    John Morales

    jimharrison:

    [1] There is a whole world outside the phone booth you’ve decided to inhabit, however; [2] and in that space you’ll find, along with an enormous number of other possibilities, folks who don’t feel an obligation to ritually denounce other people’s literatures even if they themselves haven’t believed in God for half a century.

    1. Which you imagine people here are unaware of. Nope.

    2. Such purple prose for your imaginings!

    <snicker>

    Speaking of the Iliad, let us take advantage of a teachable moment: The King James version of the Bible is a lot like the Iliad in that it is the product of a long oral tradition.

    Really.

    Of course recognizing the virtuosity of such cultural products doesn’t imply belief in their messages, though folks in these parts will automatically assume that everybody who doesn’t share their philistine inability to recognize quality is, what’s the expression? a godbot.

    No, you’re just another opinionated person with a pompous pretension to didacticism.

    (Like me! :) )

  70. 70
    ChristineRose

    How does one “ritually denounce” a book? Is there a “book denouncing” ritual published in some obscure volume of Crowley? Is that what happens when churches burn Harry Potter and the Player’s Handbook?

  71. 71
    txpiper

    garydargan,

    “Add in 400 square metres of shittim wood for the walls and not to mention cherubim and the tablets themselves and you have a massive weight to cart around. This could be used to calculate the lifting capacity of the average Jewish male or at least those from the priestly caste of the house of Levi.”

    Not all Levites were priests…only Aaron and his descendants. There were three Levite sub-tribes who contributed about 8500 service-age males to assemble, dismantle and move the tabernacle and everything associated with it. The heavy stuff was hauled, as you noted, on carts, but the altars and articles had to be carried by hand.

    Numbers 7:
    6…Moses took the wagons and the oxen, and gave them unto the Levites.
    7 Two wagons and four oxen he gave unto the sons of Gershon, according to their service:
    8 And four wagons and eight oxen he gave unto the sons of Merari, according unto their service, under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.
    9 But unto the sons of Kohath he gave none: because the service of the sanctuary belonging unto them was that they should bear upon their shoulders

  72. 72
    truebutnotuseful

    jimharrison wrote @ #62:

    If your mental horizons are so narrow that the only options you can imagine are 18th Century-style village atheism or 19th Century fundamentalism, it’s no wonder you’re extremely touchy

    As Han Solo said, “I can imagine a lot!” Unfortunately, the real world – that sphere where evidently most of us minus you reside – is still home to a great deal of medieval fundamentalism. Spend five minutes watching or reading the news and witness the many horrors perpetrated by believers on a daily basis.

    it’s no wonder you’re extremely touchy: claustrophobia’ll do that.

    …says the obviously privileged person. I’m very happy for you that you are free from the oppression of religious tyranny, or have at least been deluded into thinking you are. Not everyone is as fortunate as you, however.

    There is a whole world outside the phone booth you’ve decided to inhabit, however

    It’s a police box, actually.

    and in that space you’ll find, along with an enormous number of other possibilities, folks who don’t feel an obligation to ritually denounce other people’s literatures even if they themselves haven’t believed in God for half a century.

    Why do you care if some strangers are critical of a work of literature? If you’re defending it but you don’t believe in it, you’re just “leave Britney alone!” -ing. Besides, if you take time to actually read the thread you will see many people here commenting favorably about the good parts of the Bible.

    Do I also have to assure everybody that I don’t sacrifice oxen to Zeus before I express admiration for the Iliad?

    Gee, I don’t know – do Zeus-worshipers comprise over 80% of the world’s population? Do people who believe in Zeus routinely harrass those who don’t? Do they “push a misogynist, racist, homophobic, ultra-conservative socio-political agenda?” (h/t ‘Tis Himself @ #40). Is belief in Zeus a de facto requirement for holding public office?

    let us take advantage of a teachable moment

    Let us, indeed! Look up the Dunning–Kruger effect, study it carefully, then run along and weep in shame for being such an obnoxious condescending clod.

  73. 73
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    I really feel for Jerry. I wouldn’t subject myself to having to sit through all that mindless bullshit in one reading. Maybe break it down to ten page sections, then read something real in between as a form of zen mantra to stabilize. Doing it all in one go is like volunteering for the Bataan Death March.

  74. 74
    DLC

    So, if I haven’t studied ancient literature or theology or Iron-age asshattery I can’t comment on an old book of fairy stories ? If it weren’t used by three of the world’s most popular forms of delusion and mind-control, would I still not be allowed to critique it just on it’s lack of quality ?

    As literature, the bible stinks. It’s poorly written, has horrible plotting and the story is confusing and poorly concluded.
    The only good bits are the poetry and the parts of the Old Testament that Alex from a Clockwork Orange liked, because it’s “full of ultra-violence and guttyworks.”
    Otherwise there’s not much to recommend it. Sorry, I’ll write a more detailed critique when I get my degree in theology, which is on my list of things to do right below eating a fistful of molten lead.

  75. 75
    jonjermey

    Perhaps we could pass the hat around and get Jerry a copy of the Lolcat Bible:

    http://www.lolcatbible.com/index.php?title=Main_Page

    Leviticus 5

    1 If sum1 is liek, “O Hai! I saw dat he did bad nstuff! but i no b a tattlkitteh, so i’s not gunna talk an be liek, ‘O ya, he didded it.’” If sum1 duz dat, then he gun get pwnd plus teh kitteh dat did teh bad NEwai.

    Or not.

  76. 76
    johnhodges

    Some years back, after being an atheist for 15 years or so, after reading enough philosophy to reach an understanding of ethics that satisfied me, I heard that the teachings of Jesus were the Absolute Truth about ethics. So I decided to find out what DID Jesus teach about ethics… I read through the four gospels looking specifically for ethical teachings and compiled them. I think it is useful (in argument with Christians) to know what Jesus taught (since most Christians don’t.)

    Jesus believed and taught that the world was soon to end, Judgment Day was coming Real Soon Now, certainly within the lifetime of the people standing there hearing him speak, and very few would be saved, almost everyone would be condemned to eternal punishment in a fiery Hell. We know this not only because he said so, many times many ways, but also because his instructions about what people should DO were extreme and utterly unworldly. Abandon your earthly families, sell everything you own and distribute the money to the poor, practice strict Nonviolent Nonresistance, follow the Law of Moses down to the last iota, abstain from all sin and be perfect, even in your thoughts, even to the point of self-castration to avoid thoughts of lust. His ethical teachings actually (well, mostly) make perfect sense, if you accept his starting premises.

    I wrote up my findings, see
    http://www.atheistnexus.org/profiles/blogs/the-ethics-of-jesus

  77. 77
    drummer25

    Best book I’ve read about the origins of the bible is Who Wrote The Bible? by Richard Elliott Friedman. Has all the answers.

  78. 78
    gravityisjustatheory

    irisvanderpluym
    22 June 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Today I unceremoniously disposed of the Gideon’s bible I found in my hotel room. (I desecrated it first, of course, in the most wicked/fun way.)

    I wouldn’t vandalise or destroy other people’s property.

    Instead, what I always do when I find a Gideon’s Bible in my hotel room is to bend the covers back, so it naturally opens one of the really nasty bits (e.g. Deuteronomy 22:23, which says that rape victims shoud be killed if they didn’t call for help when they could have).

    It was randomly opening a Gideon’s Bible at that verse that really started me on the road to New Atheism.

  79. 79
    julietdefarge

    Who knows, Coyne might emerge with a new interest in politics and propaganda in the ancient world, taboos and tribal identity, etc., etc.
    My particular resentment of the Bible is that it has led many people who could have become harmless nerds, perhaps even academics who contributed papers of interest, to disappear down one of its many rabbit holes.

  80. 80
    mikmik

    suzysalaksartok
    22 June 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Probably OT, but I think Id pay some decent money to get the bible reinterpreted into a noir graphic novel.

    http://www.thebrickbible.com/

  81. 81
    No One

    jimharrison @ #62

    Greek mythology. Hebrew mythology. Which of these two sentences could cause you harm if uttered out loud?

  82. 82
    charlesyoung

    It is in fact a commendable commitment, even if treating it as literature makes it something of a waste of time. My wife read the KJV, in one go, start to finish. It took her about a month and she hated every character, except perhaps one of the Pharaohs, who she thought got dealt a bad hand. Then she realized that every gospel has a different lineage from David to Jesus, and none of them count up to 40. She’s an accountant.

    I don’t have the patience, and have many things I’d much rather do with my time.

    Consider that being able to say, “Why yes, I did actually read it. The whole thing. Did you?” is a powerful tool/weapon for the atheist.

  83. 83
    hausdorff

    I have been reading through the new testament on my blog too. It has been boring at times, but I have been picking up little facts as I go. Overall I’m glad I started this project.

  84. 84
    Kagehi

    You guys still take religion seriously enough to get upset about it; but if you don’t and think of the Jewish Bible simply as an anthology of Hebrew literature, it’s easy to find lots to admire in it. I’m particularly fond of the book of Jonah which, if you aren’t either a believer or a fire-breathing atheist, is obviously a satire aimed against the self-righteousness and vanity of prophets. Read the goddam thing sometime without ideological blinders on.

    Which respect, the people with ideological blinders on are the ones who treat it like it showed up out of a vacuum. For example, I can’t help but wonder how much of the details of Sumerian legend in the novel Snow Crash are accurate, because it provides a real nice source for both the “Tower of Babel”, and the whole, “A woman ruined everything for us in paradise.”, but much like the likely connection between Noah and Gilgamesh, its blindingly obvious that (again, presuming they have the basic details right in the novel), the Semitic people decided that the expulsion from a Sumerian, priest led, existence, in the great valley they once lived in, and the fall of the old priesthood’s power, didn’t ***fit*** into the new narrative that they wanted for their new priesthood, so they ripped the thing apart, and invented two, brand new, stories, which only superficially represented what ever *actually* happened.

    By taking it seriously, I can ask questions like, “OK, so what real, but badly distorted event, or prior mythology, did they steal, then mangle nearly beyond recognition, to create this nonsense?” What do you get out of not taking it, or the people that believe in it, seriously, a dissertation on how badly written some parts are, compared to others? And, where, in this “examination” of the Bible, in a vacuum, do you find any actual facts about where all the gibberish in it actually arose, and out who whose actual mythology.

    The thing, as far as I can tell, should have, on the first page, “Names have been changed, to cover our asses, in case some of the people that originally came up with the nonsense that follows are still around, and object to what we did with it.” Its like seeing, “Based on a true story.”, slapped onto the latest idiocy about how some financially strapped idiots, with no ethics, and a business card for the nearest “paranormal” book publisher, where “terrorized by evil spirits”. Its pure bullshit, but good luck watching the film, and figuring out how much of it is outright lies, how many times they changed the story, to make it “better”, or even figuring out of the people involved where just crazy, seeing things, or, as usually the case, made it all up for money.

  85. 85
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    @joed #54: The only person being defensive is Jim Harrison, who feels the need to spew insults and condescension at people for the terrible crime of mentioning that the Bible is a collection of lousy writing and dubious moral lessons.

  86. 86
    joed

    @57 John Morales
    “The only wonder is that anyone takes it at all seriously.”

    It’s not the bible but the history of the bible that can be taken seriously if looked at in a critical/philosophical/scientific method way.
    I am not talking biblical archeology or other nonsense. but rather a look at what can be KNOWN about the history of the bible.
    Mr. Morales, you and i may not take the bible seriously but many millions of u s citizens do take it seriously and they are the people that are creating public policy/educational outlines and laws today. you may want to take seriously the venom and hatred these bible people have for you and me.
    they have taken over and they rule, seriously rule, the u s.
    Reconstructionist Gary North, theologian David Chilton, Kay Coles James of the bush admin.
    these are a few of the folks that are running the show in the u s. And they take the bible seriously.
    these name i got for Joe Bageant’s book, Waltzing at The Doomsday Ball. and i don’t want to forget, http://raptureready.com/
    Seems the bad guys won and i take it seriously.

  87. 87
    charlesyoung

    @84/Kahegi… There is the true source of the conflict. You take scripture as a literary source, legends, chronicles, philosophy, accounting records, legal codes. In that one can find value, and only a fool would accept it 100%, but what person of reason accepts any sources 100%? The True Believers(tm) take it is the word of God, inerrant and unquestionable.

  88. 88
    Kagehi

    Yeah, that is the major conflict.

    But I have also noted a possible trend in how these things get distorted. The story of Inana/Ishtar places the woman involved, presumably, in the position of the one that brought knowledge out of the temple, and “broke” the power of the priesthood of the time. It didn’t take long for it to be replaced, but the things replaced was a women condemning humanity to all the tribulations of failing to follow gods law, and the fall of a fabled tower, which people tried to use to reach god. All of the innocents/heroes become the villains, and the villains become the heroes.

    Gilgamesh vs. Noah. The “villain” was Gilgamesh, and his greed, and those whose money he lost in this doomed venture where the innocents. Noah.. makes Gilgamesh the hero, and everyone else the villain.

    So… Lets look at Exodus, not as something that happened when the Bible claims, but as a reversal of events from an earlier point, poorly remembered, because, at the time, no one wanted to remember them. At one time the Semetic people controlled Egypt. They where driven out, their own armies routed. Its even plausible some tried to flee in a very poorly planned direction. The villains become the innocent, simply trying to escape oppression, the heroes become the villains, who die not “running away”, as may have happened, but, “pursuing those righteous people, who only wanted to leave in peace.”

    Mind, this is purely conjecture, but.. when you have people that already have a habit of redefining events so that they look like the good guys, the chosen, or the victims, you can’t help but wonder what else might have been “adjusted” in a similar fashion. Mind, everyone did this, when they lost, but where not flat out absorbed by the conquerors, but there is something almost formulaic in how the stories changed.

  89. 89
    karlwithakay

    “I’ve attended and observed Bible studies. They really don’t look at the book” … “they usually have a ‘study guide’. This is a book that excerpts a few verses and then tells the reader what they’re supposed to mean, in the context of their particular and peculiar sect.”

    I attended Christian school from Kindergarten through senior year of high school, and that pretty much sums up all my Christian theological/religious education and Bible study. There was never any honest discussion of possible dissenting or alternative views, except in the context of why they are obviously wrong. The focus on bible verse memorization now strikes me as particularly misguided (even if you are a believer). It was actually more important to memorize & regurgitate the exact wording of the bible verses than it was to have any real understanding of the meaning or (supposed) importance of the verses.

    I later read the entire book on my own. Though it was intended to be a process of getting closer to god, it ended up being one of many contributing facts in my gradual evolution to becoming an atheist.

  90. 90
    dondruid

    I don’t know about all that.

    I was always plenty entertained by the Bible from a young age on. The Torah was very exciting narrative-wise – brutal! capricious! unforgiving! to its main characters – and I found the books of the Law to be very far from how a lot of atheists describe them. They were probably the most interesting part of the book to me, especially comparing Leviticus and Deuteronomy. The laws of an older civilization, awarded a status out of time by later societies. A little that made intuitive sense to me, a child raised Christian in 20th-century America, and a lot that didn’t. The latter was what kept me coming back again and again – it was fascinating.

    The histories of Israel and Judah I enjoyed nearly as much – filled with obvious bias, but potent myths for a national history.

    The Prophets were similarly exciting given the proper (and disputed) historical context of their calls for cultural purity. The Gospels were interesting in a very Rashomon way, with looming, ever-present tragedy (my favorite being the “sequel” combination of Luke and Acts). In the Epistles we see the political battles inside and outside the Church as an organization, and in Revelation, a psychedelic journey through the end-times faith of the persecuted.

    Of course looking to those books for infallible moral guidance was as suspect as looking to Gilgamesh for the same, but honestly, I found the idea of a society that wouldn’t let you in the temple if you had crushed genitals, or found it necessary to explicitly ban cooking a kid in its mothers milk, to be fascinating – because it made me ask, why? and more importantly, what the hell?

    With liberal, pro-science Christian parents, it never occurred to me that I had to believe in all of it. So I was interested in it, and still am. YMMV, I guess, but it’s goofy to think that “the Bible is boring” is anything but a purely subjective judgment made by some atheists (and no doubt many Christians!)

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