Part I: What’s really in the Bible?
Although I have regularly picked up my King James Bible, I haven’t had the stamina to plow all the way through. Kudos to the authors of the “Skeptic’s Annotated Bible.” We know they really made it to the end because they left proof along the way: They annotated the entire Bible, using sassy icons to point out its many contradictions and absurdities.
Reviewing the SAB reminded me of the protests of one of my evangelical relatives, “You shouldn’t spend so much time finding fault with the Old Testament. You should move on the the New Testament.” Her approach was to ignore the embarrassing parts. In my experience, the great majority of those who quote the Bible skip over these many embarrassing parts. Hence, the project of the SAB:
The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible attempts to remedy this imbalance. It includes the entire text of the King James Version of the Bible, but without the pro-Bible propaganda. Instead, passages are highlighted that are an embarrassment to the Bible-believer, and the parts of the Bible that are never read in any Church, Bible study group, or Sunday School class are emphasized. For it is these passages that test the claims of the Bible-believer. The contradictions and false prophecies show that the Bible is not inerrant; the cruelties, injustices, and insults to women, that it is neither good nor just.
You can find the entire Skeptic’s Annotated Bible at: http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/index.htm
Part II: Americans say they read the bible, but do they actually read it? Apparently not. See this commentary from Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:
“Americans revere the Bible–but, by and large, they don’t read it. And because they don’t read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates.”
Fewer than half of all adults can name the four gospels. Many Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the disciples. According to data from the Barna Research Group, 60 percent of Americans can’t name even five of the Ten Commandments. “No wonder people break the Ten Commandments all the time.
Some of the statistics are enough to perplex even those aware of the problem. A Barna poll indicated that at least 12 percent of adults believe that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife. Another survey of graduating high school seniors revealed that over 50 percent thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife. A considerable number of respondents to one poll indicated that the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham.
These observations are entirely consistent with my own observations that those who bark the loudest that the Bible is the Word of God know very little about it and care very little about the meaning of the actual words of the Bible.
This hypocrisy reminds me of one of Daniel Dennett’s many points from Breaking the Spell (2006): Most Believers don’t really believe in God. Rather, they believe in belief. They feel compelled to say that they believe in God even though they don’t actually believe in God.
How else can we explain that they need to remind each other of the Bible’s basic “truths,” week after week, in church? Why so many reminders? Do they keep forgetting the world’s most imporant events? And how else can we explain that we rarely if ever see anyone carrying the world’s most important book to professional sports events, to a shopping mall or to cocktail parties? If Believers truly believed, they would carry the Good Book everywhere and talk about it constantly, not just while in church.
Ergo . . .