For some reason, I was thinking about the bible while I was in the shower this morning and I decided I was going to do one of those read-the-bible-in-a-year plans just for kicks and grins.
A common thing atheists hear from believers is “If you’d just read the bible, then you’d understand and you’d believe.” I highly doubt that, but it is true that I’ve never read it cover to cover. That doesn’t mean I’m completely ignorant of what’s in there; I actually have a pretty good idea what the bible says. I attended church 3 times a week for 18ish years wherein bible knowledge was imparted upon me. I’ve even attempted to read straight through it since becoming an atheist, but got bored and gave up by Numbers chapter 10 (78 pages in).
You know, the fact that read-the-bible-in-a-year programs are even a thing is telling of just how un-interesting Christians find the bible to be as well. According to the Christian Broadcasting Network:
- More than 60 percent of Americans can’t name either half of the Ten Commandments or the four Gospels of the New Testament.
- Some 80 percent including “born again” Christians believe that “God helps those who help themselves” is a direct quote from the Bible.
So, it’s a bit unfair for Christians to demand that atheists read their holy book, when quite a few of them don’t even bother. But I’m going to try anyway. I figure it’ll be fun to say to Christians “Yeah, actually, I *have* read it” and it’ll be good blog fodder. I’m going to try to post a brief synopsis and/or my thoughts after my reading each day.
If you’re interested in playing along (something I highly encourage if you’re a Christian and you haven’t read the darn thing either), I’m using this schedule. It officially starts May 1st, but I figure if I start out ahead of schedule it won’t look so bad when I fall behind. I shall be reading the New King James Version, since that’s what I already have on hand.
Alrighty, here goes nothing.
Today’s reading is Genesis 1-3. Here are the things that stuck out to me:
Day 1 of creation, God made light, but didn’t create the sun and moon until day 4. Um…how does that work? I guess everything was just flooded with light until God concentrated it and “made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night.” (Gen 1:16) Because we all know the moon gives off it’s own light. Wait…
I’m in chapter 1 and the bible’s already getting things wrong! We know for a fact that the moon is just rock that reflects the sun’s light, but the bible says God made two distinct lights. Sounds more like people who didn’t understand astronomy wrote this than an all-knowing God…
1:7&8 – God divides “the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament” then “God called the firmament Heaven.” There’s water above Heaven? Man, how cool would it be if there was water in space?!? It would certainly make space travel easier.
Moving on, there are two different accounts of creation here. Chapter 1’s basic outline is nature on days 1-5, then humans on day 6. Chapter 2, however, says “before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown,” God made man. Then he made the garden of Eden, then animals, and then finally woman. Which is it?
3:1- “The snake said to the woman…” The snake “said”… Said? Snakes can’t talk. C’mon.
3:5- “For God knows that in the day you eat of it [the tree in the midst of the garden] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So, God told these people not to eat from a specific tree without giving them any prior idea of what good and evil means. Then he punishes them for breaking his rule when they didn’t realize what they did was wrong until after they did it. And it was serious punishment too. It would be like telling a 2 year old child not to spoil their dinner with sweets, then forcing them to move out and get a job when they disobeyed. Completely disproportionate punishment.
3:16- “To the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” I remember reading this passage as a teenager, back when I was in the deepest throes of my Christian faith, and drawing a frowny face next this verse in my bible. It still makes me frown.
Also, children as punishment for sin? What a sad view of building a family. Also also, see my above concern about disproportionate punishment.
And finally, 3:24- “So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.”
That sounds cool! I want to meet angels, and see swords on fire move themselves! Tell me, where can I find this place? Ch 2 verses 10-14 lay out rather specifically where the garden is located. We know where the rivers Tigris and Euphrates meet (2 places, actually), so why can’t I go to the Middle East and visit the garden?
Okay- feedback time. Good idea? Bad? Will you play along with me?