The Bible is the name used by Jews and Christians for their differing but overlapping canons of sacred texts. It was written and edited by mostly anonymous authors and has gone through many revisions as material was added and deleted over the centuries. The Christian Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. As strongly advocated by Martin Luther, the Bible is now normally available and read in vernacular languages, which brings additional translation problems. There are over 50 translations of the Bible in English with many having significant differences in interpretation. The Bible has been translated into other languages. Christians and Jews usually consider the Bible to be divinely inspired. Apologists argue that the Bible is true and many fundamentalists consider it to be inerrant and interpret it literally.
- 1 Problematic issues with the Bible
- 2 Composition
- 3 Christian perspective
- 4 Atheist perspective
- 5 Criticism
- 6 References
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
Problematic issues with the Bible
Some Christian apologists claim that the Bible is authenticated by historical sources. Despite apologists heavily relying on the Bible, the Bible is not a reliable historical source. It is also filled with long and improbable genealogies, internal contradictions and scientific inaccuracies.
When non-believers read the Bible they are often surprised at what seem to be morally questionable sections, including atrocities ordered by Yahweh and bizarre laws regarding animal sacrifice, homophobia, misogyny, dietary restrictions, clothing restrictions, sexual restrictions, slavery, etc. Different schools of thought exist among believers as to how to address these problems, as explained further below. An excellent Biblical resource for atheists reading the Bible is available at The Skeptic's Annotated Bible.
- Main Article: History of the Bible
The Jewish and Christian Bibles are actually collections of what were originally a number of independent books. The overwhelming majority of Christians refer to the Bible as the combination of Hebrew Scripture, known to Christians as the Old Testament or First Testament; and the New Testament, which describes the life and message of Jesus. For Roman Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox, and some Protestants, the Deuterocanonical books — various writings important in the Second-Temple period of Judaism (often regarded by many Protestants as (or part of the) Apocrypha) — are considered to be part of the Old Testament and as such part of the Bible, although they are rejected by many Protestants and are not in the Hebrew Bible as accepted in modern Judaism. Some books considered deuterocanonical by Orthodox Churches are considered apocryphal by other Orthodox Churches and/or Catholics. For Jews, the term refers only to the Hebrew Bible, also called the Tanakh, which includes the Five Books of Moses (the Torah) as well as the books of the Prophets and Writings. Both Christians and Jews regard the Bible as divinely inspired, with widespread variation on its accuracy, interpretation and legitimacy. Archaeological study has shown that the primary elements the first five books of the Bible, especially Exodus, were around before the Old Testament was. They were found in several unrelated oral traditions around 500 BCE, but the oldest examples of biblical scripture were dated using radiometric dating to have been written between 325 and 125 BCE. The Bible is nowhere near as old as claimed by the majority of Jews and Christians)
- "The Bible, which [the new atheists] are so fond of attaching a incoherent, was never designed to be a coherent book. [...] In ancient libraries it was not a unified whole but a collection of scrolls places in cubbyholes. These scrolls, all read separately, contain wisdom literature, moral treatise, stories, rules, aphorisms, creation myths, letters, fables, polemics, histories and poems."
Fundamentalists believe that the Bible is both divinely inspired and inerrant. They claim that every word of the Bible is literally true, except for the parts which are intentionally written as allegories or parables. It is free of contradiction and error. So for example, a Fundamentalist would most likely believe in six-day creation because he believes in the literal truth of Genesis. Many Christians believe that the Bible was written by eyewitnesses, which is contradicted by evidence and common sense.
Liberal Christians take a more open view of the Bible, often believing that it is "inspired by God" but not inerrant. They may believe that, while the Bible is a good spiritual guide, it is not necessarily meant to be taken literally.
Atheists regard the Bible as just a period piece of literature. Its authors may have been sincere when they wrote it, but they were nomadic sheep herders with a narrow perspective on the world. In that sense it is little different than any other ancient text such as The Odyssey: an interesting perspective on the mindset of early cultures, but of questionable accuracy, especially those passages that refer to supernatural events.
"It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies."
- — Mark Twain, Letters From the Earth
Atheists are closed minded
- "Time and time again I have heard it written off as 'a load of rubbish', or as 'myths' or 'folklore' but this kind of approach reminds me of the pre-election car bumper-sticker that read, 'My mind is made up. Please don't confuse me with facts.'"
The facts are consistent with the Bible being largely or entirely mythological. The earlier sections are clearly mythological and are contradicted by historical facts. Historians consider the New Testament to be highly embellished or even entirely ahistorical. It is also untrue that atheists are closed minded.
Contradictions within the Bible
- Main Article: Biblical contradictions
The first two chapters of Genesis contradict each other on the creation of man. Gen 1:26 Man was created on the sixth day. Notice the first 5 days god was busy creating animals and plants. Gen 2:4-7 Man was created right from the start.
- Main Article: Scientific inaccuracies in the Bible
The Bible was also written well over a thousand years before the discovery of science, which means that the Bible is nearly irrelevant to any scientific discussion. Not only is the literal story of Genesis completely at odds with modern cosmology, but there are many other scientific errors in the Bible.
In contrast, apologists claim the the Bible contains scientific foreknowledge.
The Bible is a terrible guide for living, with repugnant sections on:
- What if Satan wrote the Bible?
- Holy books can be interpreted in any way you choose to believe
- History of the Biblical canon
- The Brick Testament
- Fun facts about the Bible
- God's character changes in the Bible
- Religious teachings should not be written down
- biblegateway.com An excellent online Bible, searchable in many languages
- The Skeptic's Annotated Bible
- The Fallible Gospels
- RationalWiki's Guide to the Bible
- Bible Study Tools, learn the history of different bible versions and compare verses
- The Bible on the Scripture Project
- The Dark Bible, violence and hatred in the Bible.
- The Holy Quran Experiment, street interviews about sections of the Bible, while pretending the sections are actually from the Qur'an.
- Who Wrote The Bible?, The Atheist Experience #483
- A List of Biblical Contradictions
- Bible Inconsistencies: Bible Contradictions?
- Biblical Contradictions
- Bible Contradictions
- Bible Contradictions