Here in America we are surrounded by well-funded and well organized groups and individuals that continuously tout the Bible as a divinely inspired collection that is unique in every way imaginable as well as entirely truthful and accurate.
From high-ranking politicians down to the street-preacher and all points in between, people promote the idea that the Bible is the “good book” So successful has this campaign been that even non-bible believers have brought into the idea that this collection is a reasonable “life guide” that all of us should at least pretend to hold in esteem.
But is any of this true? Is the Bible of supernatural origins? Is it truthful and accurate on all matters? Does it even address all subjects? And, finally, should it be considered a reasonable source for life guidance that should be respected by those who do not believe its more fanciful tales?
My answers, in order of the questions, are: No. No. No. No and in light of the other answers – NO. Why do I think this and furthermore think you should answer these questions negatively also? Allow me to explain.
Contradictions: A contradiction is what happens when two or more statements are incompatible. The Bible is full of such contradictions and they begin in the opening chapters of Genesis where we find two creation stories that contradict each other on the order of the alleged creation as well as the way things were created.
Doublets: A doublet, in biblical terms, is the repetition of story lines wherein the characters or emphasis is different. Examples of these doublets include the two creation stories, the two set of commandments (and possibly a third), the three patriarchs prostituting their wives out and the census of the Israelites under David. In fact, I don’t think there is one story in the Bible that does not have a different version. Such things call into question the authenticity of these stories as well as their origins.
A penchant for exaggeration: The bible simply cannot simply tell a story. It exaggerates to the point of being absurd. For example, it describes a flood that is so great in magnitude that the highest land-based mountains are subjmerged. While there is evidence that flooding occured in the area, there is absolutely no evidence for a flood of this size.
The Biblical World: The bible describes an earth that is a dome covered flat and stationary island-like surface that is the center of the universe in which it is magically suspended. This is flatly false. The earth is a slightly oval shaped planet that rotates on its axis with an orbiting satellite we call the moon. The earth also orbits the sun which is the center of our galaxy with eight other such objects and their respective satellites. Our galaxy is but one of many in the universe and like the others it is in continuous motion.
Science: The bible is completely at odds with practically every branch of science. It states that humans and other animals were created as is. Evolutionary biology has the evidence that says we and the other animals evolved over the course of millions of years. The Bible states that the earth is thousands of years old. Various branches of the physical sciences (astronomy and geology for example) have the evidence that the earth is billions of years old and that the universe itself is even older that it. Archaeology and anthropology undermine the uniqueness and factualness of the Bible stories (ie, the flood of Noah is older than the biblical account, the collapsed wall of Jericho predates the biblical story).
History: The Bible is also at odds with the actual history of its times and often tells stories upon which there is no evidence to support. The greatest of these is the alleged exodus out of Egypt. It didn’t happen. The same applies to the story of Esther. It routinely gets the history of surrounding civilizations wrong such as crediting a “Darius the Mede” with the taking of Babylon when it was Cyrus of Persia.
Cruelty: The Bible is full of cruelty in some form or another. From the execution of rape victims to the genocidal slaughter of non-Israelites, there isn’t much in abject violence that is not condoned, even demanded, by the the biblical authors. Of all the ethical problems with the Bible, it is Christianity itself that points out the biggest injustice which is the damning of our entire species due to the specific acts of two individuals.
No rational group or individual concerned with justice punishes the innocent for the crimes (real or imagined) of the guilty. The biblical god consitently breaks this simple idea and routinely punishes the innocent for the alleged sins of others to such a degree that an entire religion has been built up around the idea of punishing the innocent in place of the guilty.
Anonymous Authors: No one knows who wrote the bulk of the texts that make up the Bible and most of the names we’ve been given are from tradition. This applies to both the Old Testament and the New Testament. We also do not know when they written and can only make “best guesses” regarding their origins. I read once (and agree) that if you get five biblical scholars in a room, you’ll get seven different opinions on biblical authorship. For every “Moses didn’t write this” is a “of course, not – Aaron did” and a “you’re both wrong, Jacob did” and of course “no, all three of you are wrong. Moses wrote it.” And round and round we go.
Magic: The bible promotes a view that is completely at odds with how we understand the universe and all things in it. Polite people call that view “supernatural in origin”. I call it plain ole “magic“. Magic in the bible includes a talking snake, a talking donkey, a tree that makes you smart, a tree that makes you immune to death, food falling from the skies, rods turning into snakes, water being turned into blood, water coming out of a rock, people rising from the dead, the sun standing still, witches resurrecting the dead, non-corporeal finger writing on walls, people taking three day rides in the stomach of a whale, virgins giving birth and countless angels and demons inserting themselves into the affairs here on earth. Accordingly, this view promotes the idea that reality can be suspended at any moment without warning and makes dealing with said reality near impossible.
Other Books: The Bible is not unique in claiming to be the word of a god and is in fact just one of many such works. Other such works include (but not limited to):
- Qur’an (Islam)
- Egyptian Book of the Dead (spells & rules concerning the afterlife for ancient Egyptians)
- Vedas (Hindu)
- Bhagavad Gitas (Hindu)
- Tantras (Buddhism)
- Adi Granth (Sikhism)
- Purvas (Jainism)
- Tripitaka (Pali, Chinese & Tibetan – Buddhism)
- Tao Te Ching (Buddhism)
- Book of Mormon (Christianity: Latter Day Saints)
- Dianetics (Scienteology)
The “Bible” itself can be found in various versions with Jews having their version, Catholics having theirs and Protestants having yet another. There are dozens, if not more, different translations in English alone with various specialized versions for (amongst others) women, children and people of colour (cannot find an online source, but it is called the Afro Bible IIRC).
There are other reasons also such as the often bizarre, dangerous and violent behaviour of bible-believers against themselves as well as others. Bible verses are routinely used as reasons for assaulting children, withholding medical care, physical mutilation, xenophobic tendencies, denial of pleasure and many other things.
In conclusion, the Bible has played a dreadful role in our history. It is full of errors, contradictions and absurdities. The problems we have overcome have been in spite of, not because of the Bible. It has been through the application of reason and science that we have overcome the things it has condoned, even demanded. Pretending otherwise is plain silly.