Skeptics, We’ve Been Challenged To Read The Bible
I love to read classic literature. I don’t always like the stories, some are fucking drab and remind me that the “classics” are really just yesterday’s best sellers. A quick glance at today’s bestsellers list will prove that depth, talent and plot aren’t always key factors in making it to the top of the charts. Take Jane Austen for example. Her stories are nothing but helpless women, desperate to marry up and cash in. It’s the Desperate Housewives of the 19th century. Horseshit, if you ask me.
On the flipside, you read something like the Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde or Moby Dick by Herman Melville, The Idiot by Dostoevsky, and you’re suddenly struck with awe. Awe at how one person can be so talented, so imaginative, so creative. How capable some writers are of painting a picture with words. The sheer beauty of the text, typed black on the cream coloured pages, can make your eyes glisten with pure, unadulterated enchantment.
And yet, some people purposely deprive themselves of this, because they’re sure all the “classics” are like pre-television versions of the Bachelor, a la Jane Austen.
One such self-depriving fella is this guy. Jonathan Peterson felt this way about the classics for a long time. A Jeeby-lovin’ connoisseur of non-fiction, his friends and family had to nag and nag and nag to get him to read a A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.
He explains that it started out slow and he was not enjoying the story at all. However, somewhere in the middle of the book, he began to develop an appreciation for it, and eventually felt as though he could not put it down.
Kudos to Jonny-boy for making the effort. He admits, his attitude toward classics was previously childish… and then, in not so many words, says skeptics appear to be the same way towards the Bible.
The title of his post is: Challenge for Skeptics: Read 100 Pages of the Bible and after illustrating how he overcame his teenaged attitude toward classic literature, says,
Some people approach the Bible like this. They’ve never read it—at least not slowly, as an adult, with some technical assistance. Yet, just like the proverbial 15-year-old, they know it’s stupid.
It’s not difficult to piece together the fact that he’s referring to us skeptics. See, what he’s done here, is take the attitudes and behaviour of the Jeebots around him, and assumed most people, even skeptics are this way. Little does he know how much we already have, in fact, read the Bible. Little does he know, that’s the reason most atheists are nonbelievers.
Trying even more desperately to sell us the book we are more familiar with than him, he says,
But there are reasons this book has influenced our culture, arguably, more than any other text. There are reasons it continues to sell more copies than any other book, every year.
Yeah. that reason is the threat of eternal hellfire. Do you really think, Jonathan, that all or even most of those people buying the Bible are actually reading it? You know the Christicles don’t actually read their holy book, right? Were you aware of the recent study done that concluded atheists and agnostics score the highest in religious knowledge? Followed by Jews, then Mormons. The crucifix crowd barely even ranks.
The patient and attentive reader of the Bible will be repaid tenfold.
This patient and attentive reader of the Bible was repaid tenfold with nightmares, Dreaming of fathers sacrificing their sons, and bloody carcasses hanging from crosses, and children being mauled by bears. I tossed and turned through images of how disfigured the entire population of the world would all be if we really, truly had come from just two people. I trembled at the idea that original sin, for which we all must be forgiven, is a metaphor for seeking answers, using your mind, being curious. I drifted in an out of horrifying daydreams about mothers in heaven, knowing their sons or daughters are burning for eternity in hell, and thinking, how can that possibly be blissful? I struggled with the idea that so many people in this world accept the stories of magic and of miracles so wholeheartedly – water into wine, parting the red sea, a 600-year-old man saving two of every animal on earth by building a big enough boat to house them and their food and figuring out a system to dispose of the tons and tons of excrement produced by the saved animals and the animals kept as a year’s worth of food for lions and tigers and bears…
Have you ever read the Illuminatus Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson? If you have, you know you’re dealing with an overly absurdist plot, probably one of the most absurd ever written. There are talking dolphins and underwater cities and giant, worldwide conspiracies tying into numerology and mind control. It’s completely insane, but it’s meant to be this way. It’s designed to be over the top, to poke and prod at your cognitive dissonance. You are not supposed to believe it, yet many feel there are truths within its pages. Many are on the verge of believing the entire trilogy. That, my friends, is a terrifying thought.
Of every book I have ever read, the only one that has ever exceeded the absurdity of the Illuminatus Trilogy is the Holy Bible. And billions take that book at its word.
The Bible is a work of fiction. Like The Idiot, Like Pride and Prejudice, Like A Tale of Two Cities, like The Illuminatus Trilogy. The only thing reading 100 pages (again) will do for me, Jonathan, is remind me how batshit insane our world really is.