Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 33

Thread: Should atheists read the Bible for cultural literacy?

  1. Top | #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Sweden
    Posts
    438
    Archived
    5,525
    Total Posts
    5,963
    Rep Power
    50

    Should atheists read the Bible for cultural literacy?

    I have seen the argument being made by some atheists, among them Richard Dawkins, that if you live in a Western country that currently is or historically was, largely Christian (which I think applies to most of us here), then there is a cultural literacy value in reading the Bible. Do you agree with this sentiment or not?

    I find myself sympathetic to this sentiment. I think it would also apply to, for example, the Edda and the Iliad.

  2. Top | #2
    Deus Meumque Jus
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    The North
    Posts
    9,769
    Archived
    9,514
    Total Posts
    19,283
    Rep Power
    47
    I'd replace read with study. That is, study the bible as well as Christianity as a unified whole. It's too easy to just read a book and think we know something about it, without gaining more insight about it's wider context. Reading the bible without understanding Christianity more broadly is like reading Shakespeare as a fifteen year old.

  3. Top | #3
    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Chochenyo Territory, US
    Posts
    3,230
    Rep Power
    12
    Absolutely. Many European and West Asian philosophical, historical, and early scientific works took the Christian Bible in its manifold forms to be the only truly objective source of information about the nature of the universe and its early history; for this reason alone, it often helps to know what's in there.

    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    I'd replace read with study. That is, study the bible as well as Christianity as a unified whole. It's too easy to just read a book and think we know something about it, without gaining more insight about it's wider context. Reading the bible without understanding Christianity more broadly is like reading Shakespeare as a fifteen year old.
    Also true of the Edda and Iliad, as mentioned. People often wave around having read a religious text as some sort of badge of honor or insurance against criticism, even though they can't necessarily remember much of what they learned from the experience and may not have had any context for understanding what was going on in and beneath the text. The Bible is a common culprit, as are any books that people are obliged to read during their schooling.

    I certainly wouldn't consider Dawkins some sort of Bible expert, unless he's done some serious study since the publication of The God Delusion.

  4. Top | #4
    Elder Contributor Keith&Co.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Far Western Mass
    Posts
    17,797
    Archived
    24,500
    Total Posts
    42,297
    Rep Power
    78
    I dunno from philosophy, but from a literacy POV, yes. And i'd replace 'study' with 'Jesys H. CHRIST some familiarity with!'
    Many of my wife's students cannot follow the assigned reading because the teacher or the author makes a reference to a biblical figure they know fuck-all about.
    She might as well be saying, 'this is a retelling of [/i]bibblief forgorbaliester's epistle to the frbrbrbgystanders.'

    They don't know who Moses is, or Noah, or what a disciple is, or much of anything if it wasn't on TV in the last four days.
    So, yeah, i'd support teaching at least a Cliff Notes version of all the big religious lit examples.

  5. Top | #5
    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Chochenyo Territory, US
    Posts
    3,230
    Rep Power
    12
    When I first started teaching my Anthro of Magic & Religion class, I made the mistake of using Bible references for comparison when introducing theoretical concepts, imagining that this would be my students' closest reference point for religious ideas. It turns out young folks (even in what used to be California's Bible Belt) do not these days know even very generally what is in the book. References to Noah's flood or the Tower of Babel get confused looks. So I switched tracks and usually reference comic book movies instead. The more socially authentic mythology of our times.

  6. Top | #6
    Elder Contributor Keith&Co.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Far Western Mass
    Posts
    17,797
    Archived
    24,500
    Total Posts
    42,297
    Rep Power
    78
    My wife just reminded me of her using the term 'a David and Goliath situation.'
    Most of the class was confused. One kid nodded knowingly. "It's a boxing term."

  7. Top | #7
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Port Clinton, Ohio
    Posts
    2,401
    Archived
    591
    Total Posts
    2,992
    Rep Power
    63
    Yes, but don't limit it to cultural literacy. Read it for its humor (the same way you'd read stuff uttered by Charles Manson, Harold Camping, or Trump) and read it for the porn.

  8. Top | #8
    Contributor skepticalbip's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Searching for reality along the long and winding road
    Posts
    5,369
    Archived
    12,976
    Total Posts
    18,345
    Rep Power
    65
    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    I have seen the argument being made by some atheists, among them Richard Dawkins, that if you live in a Western country that currently is or historically was, largely Christian (which I think applies to most of us here), then there is a cultural literacy value in reading the Bible. Do you agree with this sentiment or not?

    I find myself sympathetic to this sentiment. I think it would also apply to, for example, the Edda and the Iliad.
    And Shakespeare, Voltaire, Adam Smith, John Locke, Karl Marx, Mark Twain, etc.

    Although it is humorous the number of Christians who mistake quotations from Shakespeare for Bible quotes. (they seem to take any quote containing a verb with an -eth ending as a Bible quote.)

    People should read.

  9. Top | #9
    Deus Meumque Jus
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    The North
    Posts
    9,769
    Archived
    9,514
    Total Posts
    19,283
    Rep Power
    47
    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    I have seen the argument being made by some atheists, among them Richard Dawkins, that if you live in a Western country that currently is or historically was, largely Christian (which I think applies to most of us here), then there is a cultural literacy value in reading the Bible. Do you agree with this sentiment or not?

    I find myself sympathetic to this sentiment. I think it would also apply to, for example, the Edda and the Iliad.
    And Shakespeare, Voltaire, Adam Smith, John Locke, Karl Marx, Mark Twain, etc.

    Although it is humorous the number of Christians who mistake quotations from Shakespeare for Bible quotes. (they seem to take any quote containing a verb with an -eth ending as a Bible quote.)

    People should read.
    It makes things interesting once you bring names like Marx into the mix. If people were able to read and interpret things with an objective, critical eye I'd agree with you, but unfortunately most of us filter incoming information through our pre-existing biases. This has meant that people enlightening themselves via the work of Marx has done more to confuse politics in the past century than actually help it. Not that I want to derail the thread with a discussion on Marx, but it does raise an interesting point.

  10. Top | #10
    Contributor
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    seattle
    Posts
    5,769
    Rep Power
    14
    Yes. Along with other things. Like it or not the bible is an integral part of western civilization with a lot of influence. It is said to be the best selling book of all time.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •