My mother found Jesus when I was about 13. The whole family, myself included,  rapidly plunged to the far right.  I de-converted only after taking an Introduction to Christian Ethics at my Catholic university.  Long story... maybe later.  This was the beginning of my mom and I’s difficulties. If your not for her you’re against her, and if you’re against her you hate her.  Dissension is cannot tolerated. Resistance is futile.  Sigh!  In our numerous “discussions” involving religion or politics or nearly anything else, she always used her old standby “Just read your Bible”  These were always in efforts to prove to me that God was on her side.  She could never quite understand that to an atheist the bible is hardly a moral authority. 

Years later, I began to wonder if there may actually be a purpose to studying the Bible, not with with the blind eyes of faith but the open eyes of reason.  Could there be a point to studying the Bible as literature?   To know thy enemy!   I was inspired again by recently rereading Dawkins’ The God Delusion.  It it he relates the story Randolph Churchill Being dared to read the entire Bible in a fortnight. He kept saying “I bet you didn’t know this came in the Bible”  or my favorite “God, isn’t God a shit?”  

I’ve come to the conclusion that studying the Bible as literature is a useful enterprise.  Knowledge of the forces against us is valid knowledge.  After a few weeks of reading and taking notes, I decided to start over and Blog about it at http://blessedatheist.com.  I have rarely been so entertained! My wife’s getting weary of me quoting rather hilarious verses to her and slapping my knee saying “God, isn’t God a shit?” Yes.  Yes, he is.  no doubt about it.  It makes you wonder if the Christians actually have read these parts.

What do the rest of you think?  Can an atheist in an ocean of theism benefit by studying their opponents idiosyncratic beliefs?  Has anyone else here studied this as literature?  Would it be worthy to you?

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I enjoy reading the bible, I enjoy reading scholarship on the bible, and I enjoy related topics like the Dead Sea Scrolls and other archeological findings. I don't go out of my way to debate.

Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek influences, philosophical shifts, prose, songs, anger, frustration, struggle, joy: the bible is very human (how could it not be). But then, I also like Homer, Socrates, Plato, Euripides, Voltaire, etc. Writing that came from and contributes to culture but should never be taken as scripture.
Of course you should read the bible along with any other religious texts. if you do then you will begin to see that what the bible and other texts are trying to say is quite different from what any given religious person will tell you it is trying to say.
Like any book they are all open to interpretation but, and its a big but, if you lived your life as the bible says that you should for example I doubt that you would be mistaken for a modern christain.
And i don't mean read the bible and use it selectivly to prop up your particular predudice as 'religious' people do but just read it and try to understand what it is actualy about.
The other point is one of the reasons that Dawkins can make a fortune recycling atheist ideas some of which have been around for a couple of thousand years without actualy saying anything which hasn't been said before is because people don't read anymore in general so they don't get exposed to ideas.Not reading something because you think that you don't agree with it is like burning books, the true mark of the barbarian.

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