So I've been involved in a lot of discussion about religion lately, where I on one side maintain that religion, in all its organized forms, is vile, retrograde, repulsive, backwards, and generally unpleasant. On the other side, several friends who maintain that without christianity (in this case) I would have no morals, and every quote I toss out that highlights a contradiction is "ripped out of context" and I don't understand it (which, actually, is one of my main pet peeves - the fact that there are so many factions/interpretations of the bible, doesn't that tell you something about the reliability and objectivity of religion?), I'm going to make the effort to read the damn thing. From cover to cover - old and new testaments.

Has anyone here done this, and can suggest a good version, or source, or way to study it? I have considered asking a coworker (who is very religious, but incidentally not part of the discussion I mentioned above) to act as a guide I can toss questions to. I feel that some of the questions I have, in order to give them the best chance of being answered in a "truly" christian way, should be answered by a theist. 

Let me know what you think - am I smoking something, or is this a good thought?

Oh and by the way - in the discussion, I asked no less than THREE times "Name ONE good action taken or thing said by a theist that could not also be done or said by an atheist" - not a single response to that. Humor :)


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I love hearing about the ex-pastors who become strong atheists - Good on ya, mate! Ben Tegland ( and Matt Dillahunty ( are but two other brilliant examples. My friend, though, knows that he stands little chance to convert me, so maybe he'd give it to me straight. I dunno - maybe that's a bit naïve on my behalf.

Start at page 1 and make notes - but it's a tedious job! I read the bible when I still lived with my fundie parents, luckily I forgot most of it.

It appears to "ammo up" as it were, you really need to know where they're coming from - in a literary sense. The apparent logical hoop-jumping and acrobatics is something I have, thus far, seemed unable to perform.

Re: "out of context" - give an exasperated but level stare and just ask: "what possible context could make [insert biblical outrage*] moral/legal/a good idea etc...

*take your pick from the book of numbers, judges and especially Joshua (the bloodiest book of the entire saga)

Yeah Leviticus is another favorite, but then I get "Christians get their morals from the new testament", upon which I inquire "So there's nothing of moral value in the old testament?", something I have yet to receive a response to.

Yeah, I also use this. Then I hit 'em with Matthew 5:18. Jesus says ( I'm not gonna quote direct, just summarize ), that not one word of the law--OT-- would pass away until the end of time. So the "morals" of the OT are still in effect. Am either stared at, told I am taking it out of context, or some things I won't repeat here. Good times.

I love that one too Tony always a conversation stopper! He came to 'keep' the law, it kind of destroys the loving, meek, mild, liberal Jesus idea.

Will check that out - thanks!

Until I read some more of the stuff, I'll have to hold off on asking questions. Although - I have told my opposition that every time he brings up the bible, I will bring up LotR - both with things to teach you, and both fairly impressive, if not really professionally written, literary works.

I can, alas!, not take credit for that particular question. If the question (and its follow-up) haven't been given a name, they should be named Hitchen's Challgenge, or The Hitchens Challenge - unless somebody preceeded him with it.

The follow-up, if you're not familiar with it, is "Name a wicked action taken or thing said by a theist that could not be said by an atheist". Hitchens, awesomeness personified, liked to pose these two questions on talks, and I don't think he ever received a legit response.




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