This comment and similar ones made me wonder if you have ever read the Bible. I have studied it for years, and only read it end to end one time. I admit I glossed over some of the genealogies and other lists, but I read all of the substantial narrative. There were some times where I cringed and thought, “no don’t say (or do) that…” but generally not. It was usually people, acting on their own, apart from God, who did the things that most made me cringe. The same is true today. Anyhow, I’m wondering if you haven’t, if you would. Getting your Bible book reviews from Richard Dawkins is a bit like getting restaurant reviews from Hannibal Lecter. You should give it a try. It would only take you a few months.
Yes, I have read the bible. If you want to read in detail what I mean by the bible being full of errors inconsistencies, immoralities and injustices, that a look at this book:
I was curious, when did you read it? Did you read it Genesis to Revelation? I’m quite familiar with Dawkins, having read The God Delusion, cover to cover. I found Dawkins to be just as described above: jealous, petty, unforgiving, bloodthirsty, vindictive… and worse, unconvincing.
When you read the Bible, did you enjoy any of it? When you read it, did you possess the same opinions that you have now regarding it? Or did you read it from a neutral perspective and then develop them later?
Portions of the Bible do portray God using human characteristics. I don’t know why people find that odd or unsettling.
I went to Catholic School so the Bible was introduced at a young age. Even as a child was very skeptical of what I was hearing and reading. Never believed any of it literally. OT seemed childish to me. Regarding New Testament, I always felt sorry for Jesus. An innocent man mistreated. I never felt that God the Father was a good father. The NT never gave me inspiration nor hope. Maybe because I really had no major adversity to overcome in my life. And my parents were pretty laid back cultural cafeteria Catholics. In college, in the South, I first encountered Southern Baptism students. To them Northern Catholics were as close to Satan as were Iranian Muslims (Ayatollah Khomeini) and rich Northeaster liberal Jews. That’s when I studied Revelation and found it to be bizarre. Also in College, I met my first YEC and was astonished that anyone could actually believe that Genesis was literally true. As I said, I was an apathatheist Catholic until 911 and then Dawkins The God Delusion blow the lid off. I now studied the bible to help my friends like Dan Barker research the bible to discredit its inerrancy, its authority and its morality. From what I have learned from @Alice_Linsley from archaeology and anthropology together with David Reich’s Ancient Genome work, I will be helping to support work that further discredits the Bible of its sacredness, its super-naturalism and show how it was a man made book of stories that evolved with culture of its time and place.
There are many things that happen in our lives to shape how we perceive things for sure. 911 was a catalyst for many… Like all tragedies, it drove some away and drew some closer. I’m really surprised, though, that the God Delusion affected you at all. I was really afraid to read it because I didn’t want to have to digest something that was utterly faith challenging… but the truth is the truth, right?? So I read it and marked it up all the way through. I felt that the arguments were incredibly weak, almost laughable, but that some poor kid would be affected by them. But good luck to you with that other stuff. People have been discrediting for thousands of years. Jesus is still on the throne.
They were incredible weak and laughable. But so was my faith. The God Delusion showed me that I really never had any faith. That I was doing all of it for the family cultural aspects of it. How can you have an Italian American Christmas without Baby Jesus? How could someone be born without having a hugh post Baptism celebration. How could somebody not get First Holy Communion at age 7. And then confirmation at age 13 (Catholic Barmistvah) And the final thing how could anyone die without a funeral mass at Church and burial in the parish cemetery?
@Patrick I’m curious your thoughts on this article:
Can someone one with BioLogos forum access invite the author (Marshall) to join us?
Downloaded and looking forward to reading. Also, academia.edu informed me I’m mentioned in 1,250 PDFs!
What a painful way to write. As a discussion between two people. The paper has some good historical research in it. But it gets obscured by the back and forth aspect of the dialogue between two people. I would have preferred a history book on the subject. Just history no theology.
I think it works in this case. Give it a chance.
Sure, but I come into it with the assumption that the Bible is just an embellishment of Israeli history. I think there is more truth in the archaeology, anthropology and historical writings of other cultures than in the Bible.
Good luck substantiating this. Why would you think this?
A few weeks studying the artifacts and anthropology on @Alice_Linsley facebook group. A lot of real historical stuff there which shows to me that the Bible has been misinterpreted for millennia.
Misinterpreting the past is different than saying that there is more truth in other cultures. It is exceedingly easy to misinterpret the past.
Wow, that conversational format was not ideal, but the message was very interesting! What did you think about that? I could not help but notice that the Kristin character echoed so many of your own views. It would be interesting to see what @Alice_Linsley thinks about this. The article puts forth suggestions that have cleared up a lot of questions for me. It would be interesting to hear her spin on it from an archeological/anthropological perspective!
Thanks, @swamidass, for the share!! This was a great read!
I appreciate the occasional article written in a dialogue format like this. Thanks for the share, Dr. @swamidass. This is a difficult thesis for those of us who grew up believing in biblical inerrancy (the book of Joshua is much more difficult for me to see as non-literal than Genesis 1!) but I think it is very much worth considering.
Also, I don’t think it has been mentioned here yet, but Paul Copan’s book Is God A Moral Monster? also addresses this question from an evangelical perspective. He deals not just with the issue of the conquest of Canaan, but also with many other stories and the laws of Moses.
It does not have to be that difficult. In this case it seems to be a type of historical fiction or historical entertainment, such as when we watch a WWII movie. The war was real and the characters are often real too, but the fiction and history blend together in a way that is not easy to untangle. In ethical movies, no one is being deceitful. Still it is hard to tell truth from fiction.
In the case of Joshua, I think we can legitimately wonder, because of several lines of evidence, including theological and textual, if we misunderstood Joshua as Anne Franks diary when it was actually Schindler’s List, the movie version. The error is with us, not with Scripture.
The same questions might arise with Jonah and Job. In particular Job appears to be written as a play, with clear dialogue and dramatic elements. Some of which looks like stage direction. Maybe it happened historically, but key parts of the narrative are clearly “imagined/inspired” and give view, for example, of the divine court. The story is told from an omniscient viewpoint, not from Job’s point of view.
This just raises questions about the line between fiction and history in these stories, from the original authors’ point of view. Forgetting that they wrote fiction back then too, it is certainly not surprising to think we might have made errors in assigning genre in these books.
In my view, what makes Genesis different is how Paul uses it later. The only possible parralel might be Jonah and Jesus, but I personally remain unconvinced this is the same.
Or, perhaps we could say (taking some of the language from the dialogue) that it is “prophetic retelling/interpretation of cultural memory” more than what we think of as “history” per se.
You or someone with your same name? Are you an academic?