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You should read it, but equally you will get nothing out of it
Disclaimer, I believe I'm an exception to my opinion. I was agnostic and got converted by my experience of reading the Bible

First of all. Yes this is something you should read. Duh. 1, it governs the behaviour of 1 billion humans. 2, every material you thing you create in life will be destroyed, every friend you meet will die, every emotion you feel will be forgotten. Every legacy will fade into nothing. If you aren't at least exploring what your personal goals and path should be then you're are deluding yourself with apathy. If you believe lack of evidence proves a negative A) You are no mathematician. B) You refuse to open doors because nobody has proved conclusively to you that there is anything behind them.

Secondly, if you do choose to read it, don't start at Genesis. Not because it is "less favourable" but just because you will give up around Leviticus and you'll have to go back to my "firstly" (I started at Genesis). Read a selection of Jonah, Ecclesiastes, EITHER Mark, Matthew, Luke and then read John, Acts and a random sample of letters. Revelation if you feel optimistic, and then go from there.

Thirdly, you will only get out of it what you will get into. Stuff requires thinking and if you are set to think negatively, or positively then you will interpret it this way. I was reading an interesting Atheist annotated version which was fine until I read stopped and realised that he was challenging statments like "How much more is a human than a sparrow?" when X) It was a metaphor, Y) the writer probably wasn't vegetarian and so a human isn't worth more than a something he would happily kill and eat if it tasted good.

I read the Koran recently and I'm going to have to read it up again because I realised I was so caught up in thinking Islam as inferior that I'd stop being willing to actually understand how it could make sense, and the true meaning of what was written. Don't do this.

Fourth, don't read the King James, it is mistranslated. The NIV, RSV or ESV are all fine. The Good News too, but remember those aren't literal.

Fifth, enjoy and appreciate it for the powerful kind figure Jesus was even if significance gets in the way of that. Remember that many christians believe that creation wasn't word for word in the same way that God didn't literally take away the Devils legs and force him to be a snake just after
Would be a better review if it was less preachy.

Also, how is "2, every material you thing you create in life will be destroyed, every friend you meet will die, every emotion you feel will be forgotten. Every legacy will fade into nothing" a reason to read a work of literature?
comment #8159 eveil 18th Jun 11
rather good. Almost word for word my conversion experience.
comment #8197 richierua 20th Jun 11 (edited by: richierua)
Sorry about the preachiness :( the best I can say is at least I was preaching for several other points of view too. You should read the Koran, The Selfish Gene, The Demon Haunted World, Contact, A Brief History of Time(although we've now learnt that Steven Hawking was talking about a boring stop gap sort of God, who made an imperfect universe and whose attention was required to even keep it running) etc all for the same reasons.

Also the reason 2 works, is because it's a piece of literature that claims to know something about your goal in life and the sustainability of your actions. Even if you've already written it off as a piece of literature (which is already a proactive look at finding your path in life and commendable, providing you put thought and research into it) it's still got value as a philosophical piece and should be read and evaluated. The main philosophy of the Bible is a direct counter to the fleetingness of everything.

But thank you for being polite
comment #8205 Tomwithnonumbers 21st Jun 11 (edited by: Tomwithnonumbers)
There's a lot of philosophical books about the meaning of life and other similar stuff. Most Bible fans don't read it for philosophy though; they value it because they take it literally.

By the way, you might want to be careful about generalizing. "If you aren't at least exploring what your personal goals and path should be then you're are deluding yourself with apathy. If you believe lack of evidence proves a negative A) You are no mathematician. B) You refuse to open doors because nobody has proved conclusively to you that there is anything behind them. " kind of sounds like an attack to a lot of people.
comment #8208 eveil 21st Jun 11
You can get most of what you described out of other literature, of by simply living life. Experience is the best teacher.

And I don't see what's wrong with demanding proof about something before believing in it. Using your analogy, if there's a physical door in front of me, if I'm not sure about what's inside, I can take a peek first. When it comes to relgion, even the door is imaginary. Either you believe it or you don't, and there's no reason to believe anything about it besides blind faith, which is less of a reason and more of an irrationality.

The Bible does not teach people anything they couldn't learn on their own, and thinking otherwise is to severely limit yourself.

Anyway, I'm not a hater of religion, even though I don't believe in it, and I respect your beliefs as long as you respect my decision to reject religion as well. I'm posting this mostly because what you wrote made you sound pretty smug, and it rubbed me the wrong way.
comment #8218 Scarface675 21st Jun 11
Since I, like most people in my country, went to a Catholic school, I at one point got a pocket copy of the New Testament from some guest speaker or other, read Revelation, and went on my way.

A few years later, I read the Qu'ran, and after that decided to read the Bible for real, cover to cover. Hence, I went out and bought a complete NRSV, and started reading at Genesis 1:1. I actually enjoyed most of the first half of the Old Testament, even getting through Leviticus and Numbers without too much difficult. I slowed down a bit in the philosophical sections, and eventually stopped dead in the middle of Sirach. Sirach is just so incredibly DULL, but I couldn't just skip it because I wanted to experience it in the proper order. Hence, I gave up on the Bible for a while, and made a few sporadic attempts to start again, but just couldn't get back into Sirach for more than a chapter or two.

Anyway, I recently did force myself through Sirach, and it turns out things pick up dramatically in Isaiah; I finished that book in a few days, and earlier this week I started on Jeremiah.

By the way, regarding the KJV, quite apart from translation issues, it's bloody hard to read. Now that I think about it, that might be why the fundies love it so much - since nobody else can understand it, they can say it means whatever they like, secure in the knowledge that most people won't have the mental stamina to investigate their claims. It's reminiscent of how the Catholic Church used to keep the Bible literally under lock and key to prevent people from reading it, which is hypocritical, since most fundie sects grew out of the Protestant tradition that believed ordinary people should read the Bible and take their own messages from it.
comment #8224 VampireBuddha 22nd Jun 11
^ Now I have read the entire Bible, but I have no idea what Sirach is. Does it go by a different name, or is it apocryphal?

Anyway, interesting theory on the KJV popularity. I'm inclined to agree with you.
comment #8226 shiro_okami 22nd Jun 11
"There's a lot of philosophical books about the meaning of life and other similar stuff. Most Bible fans don't read it for philosophy though; they value it because they take it literally. "

I'd disagree, in two ways. One I've got no ability to split the measure of christians who take it completely literally but it's not the number you are thinking of. As far as evolution goes, when I became a christian I assumed everyone believed in it. When I went to my first church I found most people don't, when I went to university I found most people do.

Two, religion is a philosophy. It's a viewpoint on life that guides all behaviour and values. Don't get me wrong, when I say you've got to read it for the philosophy, I'm not saying "read it because the philosophical implications are cool, whether or not God exists" because it makes the fundamental underpinning axiom of everything in the Bible is, God exists. People read it to learn more about how they live their life and I think even the most die-hard fundamental, if they had to make a choice between the literal events happening, or their wider teachings being true, would in the end pick the latter without hesitation.

@The door thing. It's true. It's not an attack in so much as it's just a statement of an logical fallacy. Take my favourite imagery for the fallacy of certain atheist arguments. Russel's Teapot. Russel says there is a teapot in space. You have no way of proving this and the absence of evidence makes it an absurd thing to believe.

Now a lot of people think this is applicable to religion. It maybe, but not how they think it is. The argument isn't 1. There is no evidence for this. 2. Therefore it probably doesn't exist

Instead actually, what makes it ridiculous is 1. We have a good idea of how the universe is formed. 2. Teapots are man-made objects and therefore unlikely to be found in an environment without man. 3. Therefore this is absurd.

It's not absurd because there's absence of evidence, but because there is evidence against it. To illustrate, if I told you I had a cat, without providing evidence, and you said, hmm there is no evidence, therefore you don't own a cat. Wouldn't that be equally absurd?

So the only logical position is "God could very well exist or equally God could very well not exist" until you find further evidence. Christians present the Bible and their day to day experiences in their lives as evidence and it's good to examine it and then dismiss it if you so choose.
comment #8258 Tomwithnonumbers 23rd Jun 11
"I'd disagree, in two ways. One I've got no ability to split the measure of christians who take it completely literally but it's not the number you are thinking of."

They don't need to take the whole thing literally; it's usually the things about Jesus, God, and the afterlife. If they didn't believe in those things, then I doubt they'd value the Bible as much as they do.
comment #8260 eveil 23rd Jun 11
The problem is that, when you make a claim, the burden of proof is on you. So if you claim God exists, you can't just say that you're right 'cause what you said can't be proven wrong. You brought it up, you gotta prove it. If you can't, then it's bullshit until proven otherwise.

Now, like I said earlier, I'm not a religion hater. Like you said so yourself, I think religion is valid as a philosophy. There are some good things that you can get out of the Bible, in this case, that can enrich your life in any number of ways.

My problem with religion is the whole supernatural thing. God, paradise, Creationism... None of this makes any fucking sense, no matter how you slice it. We got more reasonable explanations for nearly all mysteries of life. Even if some theories are yet to be concretely proven, it's nonsense to disregard them in favor of a nonsensical, baseless, fairy tale-like explanation for the origin of life like Creationism.

And yet it's this kind of bullshit that has attracted new followers to religion for centuries. Not just that, but also the promises of godly rewards for faith, and of eternal bliss upon death; few legitimately care about the important lessons they could get out of it.
comment #8261 Scarface675 23rd Jun 11
You can show someone your cat. You can't show someone God.
comment #8289 ading 26th Jun 11
@shiro: It's also called Ecclesiasticus. I think it's one of the books that Protestant Bibles leave out, you if you read a Protestant version, you wouldn't have read Sirach.
comment #8291 VampireBuddha 26th Jun 11
"The problem is that, when you make a claim, the burden of proof is on you. So if you claim God exists, you can't just say that you're right 'cause what you said can't be proven wrong. You brought it up, you gotta prove it. If you can't, then it's bullshit until proven otherwise." No, he's not saying he's right because it can't be proven wrong; he's saying you can't entirely dismiss it because there's no evidence for either stance. The logical stance is that of an agnostic.

How does a creator of the universe not make sense? It makes more sense to say that than it does to say that everything happened on its own. Creationism is a dying belief among Christians. Even the Pope has stated he believes in evolution. The foundation of science was founded by Christians, Muslims, and other religions. And modern day science sometimes doesn't make sense either. Scientists even say that the "rules" prior to the Big Bang don't make sense according to our standards. There are also "contradictions" within Quantum Mechanics. There's been a study that shows that a photon (I think it was a photon) can both pass through a slit and not pass through a slit at the same time.

"By the way, regarding the KJV, quite apart from translation issues, it's bloody hard to read. Now that I think about it, that might be why the fundies love it so much - since nobody else can understand it, they can say it means whatever they like, secure in the knowledge that most people won't have the mental stamina to investigate their claims. It's reminiscent of how the Catholic Church used to keep the Bible literally under lock and key to prevent people from reading it, which is hypocritical, since most fundie sects grew out of the Protestant tradition that believed ordinary people should read the Bible and take their own messages from it." This.

Also I find it unfair that people seem to think that your standard Christian is a homophibic, misogynist, fire and brimstone Fundie. How would you feel if the image most people have of atheists are the great Communist murderers like Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc.?
comment #15503 seven7star 23rd Jul 12
Oh and just to make things clear, I'm aware that it's the crazies that get the most attention. But on the other hand, it's the crazy atheists who get the most attention as well (Dawkins, Harris, Mayer, Pullman, etc.).
comment #15504 seven7star 23rd Jul 12
It is literally impossible to get nothing out of something that you read. You can read a the worst ever written piece of literature in the history of time and still get something out of it. You can read Vogon poetry out loud, or have one sing it to you and still get something out of it.

If you are referring to the "Everything Dies and Ends" aspect, then consider the very end of Revelation. It refers to a "new beginning, new heaven, and new earth". Much like some theories about the universe's origin don't rule out a previous universe from ever existing before this one, so too does Revelation hint at a new universe, except with less Satan and more God. Wiping the slate clean does not mean "Everything Dies".
comment #24259 LordHerobrine 4th May 14
"If you believe lack of evidence proves a negative ... You refuse to open doors because nobody has proved conclusively to you that there is anything behind them."

The review was too preachy for my tastes, but this line here was my biggest gripe. Dunno how you were ever able to call yourself agnostic if you don't even understand how burden of proof works. If the door has "Abandon all hope ye who enter here" in giant, blood red type above it, obviously I'm not opening it.

"Also I find it unfair that people seem to think that your standard Christian is a homophobic, misogynist, fire and brimstone Fundie."

Considering these are the most overabundant ones, I'd say it's in no way an undeserved assessment. Since you bring up tired equivocation to dictators (whose reigns were in no part inspired or driven by their alleged atheism, despite how you've been lied to), the connection holds no water when you attempt to turn it around. Like, fire-brimstone-bigot Christian is literally a google search away, while the murderous red scare atheists thing isn't even true.

When it comes to something like the bible that's had to be reinterpreted ceaselessly over the centuries so as not to be laughed out of society, I do agree with a few of your points. You get out what you put in, positively or negatively. You ding the atheist annotated bible verse for what was obvious to you as a metaphor, when, in all likelihood that was meant to be taken totally literally.

My whole thing is, if you read the whole bible and were converted to Christianity? Man, we must not be reading the same passages. Oh well.
comment #24532 Blacknumber 27th May 14
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