Look - it was written a long time ago and novel writing has gotten a lot faster paced and, frankly, more formulaic, but ...

I find that is too bad that, due to the whole Inquisition, Crusades, Conquistador, Machiavelli, Witch Burning, gay bashing aspects of reading the Bible as if it were anything other than an amazing collection of short and long fiction even atheists can't read it for what it is.

Much of it is a transcription of centuries of oral histories. Some of it is an almanac of sorts (largely because it is a transcription of oral histories.) And some is pure allegory no less valid than that written by Plato.

For example - Genesis is utter crap - dangerous, mind melting crap at that - if read as if it were a science text. And it, surely, is rife with a level of sexism commensurate with the time and culture it was transcribed in.

But if you read it as a myth or allegory, one thing it comments on is our fall from nature's grace. Keep in mind that the first five books were (ostensibly) written down by the Pharaoh's love child with a Hebrew slave - Moses.

The rise of hierarchical and technologically based patriarchal civilization set man artificially (ironic term usage, I know) apart from nature. The species' tendency to participate in collective narcissism in regard to our place and role in the ecosystem resulted in true abominations - like mass killing (war) for objectives other than scarcity of resources. War, in turn and due to its destructive nature, often actually caused scarcity of resources.

So, one reading of the Eden story is that, when we began to fabricate laws (knowledge of good and evil) as surrogates for natural laws (don't eat the whole herd) we became capable of causing mass suffering of our own kind combined with damage to the ecosystem. Truly, a cautionary tale.

Just as it is possible to read Kurt Vonnegut and find the wisdom between the lines of quirky satire, so too the Bible - as long as we don't consider it, in any way, the word of god, a history book, or a science book. It is a book.

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Thanks. I'll check it out.
Those books in the bible were, like you said, local myths put together over a long period of time. When Constantine held the assembly where they created a single "correct" version of the book they threw out a lot of regional mythology. There was even a time when people tried to de-myth the bible (to make it easier to accept) but too much of the core Jesus story hinged on unbelievable aspects, walking on water, virgin birth, etc.

I consider the bible a failed attempt at stringing a bunch of fictions together as an attempt to teach morals to a large populace. The bible will one day suffer the fate of all myths, be forgotten.
I should point out that, when used as a kind of Michelin Guide to the Holy Land - much of the Bible can enrich one's understanding of the region. Also, since there is pagan lore woven into it that, when read with the eye of say, Joseph Campbell, it is a fascinating treatise on certain key aspects of western cultural development. How could it be otherwise. I tend to be a tad suspicious of anyone who writes off the 'madness' of western culture purely as 'madness'. One reason I'm an atheist is because I am suspicious of anyone who offers it as a given that they are just 'a little bit superior' - no matter how obvious it may be that they are.
As an optimist, I say that truth evolves.
The optimist invents the aeroplane, the pessimist the parachute.— George Bernard Shaw
Almost any book published in the last 2000 years has a better, more interesting, and important message than the Judeo Christian bible. If it is just to be regarded as a book with no "holy" or historic relevance, it is poorly written, enigmatic (incomprehensible really) gibberish. Thinking of works considered important literature, such as Homers Odessey, Iliad, the famous Greek myths, Aesop's Fables, Grimm's fairy tales, then the tens of thousands of important and sophisticated works produced in the 19th and 20th centuries like Dicken's works, the Holmes mysteries, Ayn Rand's books, and so on.

The difference is, the bible provided context for a large chunk of great literary works, and for better or worse its ridiculous allegory inspired much better works to be produced. A poor beginning that led to some great art, music, and literature.

So the Bible is important in the historic and cultural sense to be preserved and collected, but as literature on its own, its really a huge piece of embarrassing junk, but then, a lot of what we as a species originally did compared to how we behave now is embarrassing. It just is what it is.
"My last statement may have been irrefutably obvious, but even atheists can embue it with more than is there - giving it power they should attribute to those who believe it is the word of god."

Yes, it is just a book! A jumble of ancient myth, local history, out right fictions, and allegory.

"The difference is, the bible provided context for a large chunk of great literary works, and for better or worse its ridiculous allegory inspired much better works to be produced. A poor beginning that led to some great art, music, and literature."

Which is why one needs to know a bit about the bible in order to understand western culture.
Agreed. Western literature is rife with biblical allusions, so a knowledge of the bible is worthwhile for a complete understanding of an author's meaning when those allusions are made.
Even everyday aphorisms like "poor as Job's turkeys" are derived from the bible (although there were no turkeys in the "holy lands").
Recalling that healthy and tasty vegetables can be grown in horse shit - as long as you wash the shit off before eating.
Well if the bible didn't exist until now, no one would read it.
It's terribly written and frankly, full of so many atrocities that I find myself needing a relaxing walk of solitude every time I read it.
It's not a path to asceticism (even if you took the bible as 'advice' instead of religion) - there is denigration towards women, the environment, and the truth.
It's offensive. It's stupid.
If Christianity wasn't so curiously ubiquitous, I wouldn't have bothered reading past page 1.

Also, of course atheists read it for what it is. If atheists don't believe the bible is true, then every single one of them naturally comes to the conclusion that it's a myriad compilation of folklore and oral myths.

As for the 'wisdom' of the bible... get real. Read Harry Potter, Ender's Game or some other modern fiction novel, and it has far more wisdom than the bible. If you think there's wisdom in the bible you're searching so hard you should probably go to the store and pick up some tear drops.
The truth is that the bible is crap - pure, disgusting, offensive trash that should have quotas on it like Hitler's Mein Kampf does in Germany, due to its damaging nature.
There is wisdom in that book - and comparing it to Harry Potter is like comparing an early stone wheel to modern automobile. Much of it was crap - mostly the stuff used for political purposes - genealogies of power, threats and demagoguery.

But, some of it - Ecclesiastes, the Beatitudes, certain dietary law (for the time), etc. was good stuff.

And while Ender's Game is an excellent read -0 you realize Card is a Mormon nut case - right?
The bible is a poorly written attempt at combining several tribal stories into one text. As many people have said, there are thousands of better books that are older. For a book that condones the beating of women and the ownership of slaves I'm really surprised it is still considered by some as "literature."
I'm familiar with the idea of the Bible as a great work of fiction, but I can't handle it. I find it hilarious, however, that my school chums love to read their Holy Books, and despise The Scarlet Letter, my favorite book, because the language is "too hard"?

There's still a lot of fascination in religion for me though. I just need to let go of the bitterness and learn to be a bit less literal.


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