Page 2 of 4 FirstFirst 1234 LastLast
Results 11 to 20 of 33

Thread: Should atheists read the Bible for cultural literacy?

  1. Top | #11
    Contributor Cheerful Charlie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Houston, Texas
    Posts
    5,293
    Archived
    3,884
    Total Posts
    9,177
    Rep Power
    60
    It all depends on what one is reading the bible for. For example, those brought up to believe that the bible is a book of prophecies, may read it to look for clues to when the end of the world is scheduled to occur. This is a big past time for many Christians. Plus torturing genesis to support creationism. Not everybody reads the bible for enlightenment or with a critical outlook.
    Cheerful Charlie

  2. Top | #12
    Member aupmanyav's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    New Delhi, India
    Posts
    195
    Archived
    18,926
    Total Posts
    19,121
    Rep Power
    53
    I think most atheists (I do not know about American or European atheists) have already read Bible, Quran and a smattering of Bahai literature also, along with their own scriptures. I am aware of views in Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism too. One does not become an atheist without reading these things. I see atheist replying Bible and Quran thumpers effectively. No, I am not a scholar but I cannot be mislead.

  3. Top | #13
    Contributor
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    seattle
    Posts
    5,769
    Rep Power
    15
    Job is a great timeless story.

    Proverbs are as applicable today as then. The wisdom literature of an ancient people.

  4. Top | #14
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Port Clinton, Ohio
    Posts
    2,606
    Archived
    591
    Total Posts
    3,197
    Rep Power
    63
    Just curious -- do you find the final revelation that Jehovah makes to Job to be sensible/wise/inspiring?

  5. Top | #15
    Contributor skepticalbip's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Searching for reality along the long and winding road
    Posts
    5,471
    Archived
    12,976
    Total Posts
    18,447
    Rep Power
    65
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    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.
    That was sorta my point. Atheists should read the Bible to understand theists' references, capitalists should read Karl Marx to understand their opponents' references, Marxists should read John Locke to understand their opponents' references. In effect, people should not read only literature that supports their particular biases. Reading of the literature that influences a culture will help someone to understand that culture.

    Today, one of the leading Democratic candidates for U.S. presidential nomination is an avowed socialist who has praised Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. I think that a reading of Karl Marx would give someone some insight into his mindset. It can give them an understanding that socialism is not just "free stuff".

  6. Top | #16
    Contributor
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    seattle
    Posts
    5,769
    Rep Power
    15
    Quote Originally Posted by ideologyhunter View Post
    Just curious -- do you find the final revelation that Jehovah makes to Job to be sensible/wise/inspiring?
    I see the ancient Hebrew god as a t eaching and reference talking point rather than a god actually speaking. I look at it like Aesop's Fables. Talking animals in a story to make a point. The Greek and Roman mythologies are obvious. Different gods representing facets of human culture like love and war.

    Some of the books start as teacher to student, father to son. The Oxford Commentary says Job was probably part of a larger set of teaching materials.

    When I grew up in common culture there wre biblical metaphors

    wisdom of Solomon
    Patience of Job
    somebody who thinks he can 'walk on the water'
    someone doing something epic as like 'parting the waters'

    And so on.

    Those metaphors have been replaced by popular colure. People quote Bob Dylan or a rapper. Drug metaphors are common in everyday life like. 'What have you been smoking?' or 'What a bummer'.

    Bad things happen to good people. Job is a righteous guy on whom shit suddenly rains down. His looses everything and friends turn on him.

    He finally breaks and laments his troubles. He looses his faith.

    Job is restored by forgiving those who turned on him, or so I remember it. Spiritual restoration of course.

  7. Top | #17
    Elder Contributor
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Located 100 miles east of A in America
    Posts
    26,908
    Archived
    42,473
    Total Posts
    69,381
    Rep Power
    100
    I'm glad I have the literacy with it, but only for the sake that I can explain these things to my child. It has almost no real world value, as so many Christians don't bother to care about what it says. You go to a Catholic mass and its 1% original content 99% dogma. As if singing a hymn imparts Biblical knowledge. Go to other services, and it is about nitpicking a paragraph to say the same damn thing. About the only thing Christians use the bible for is to justify discrimination. I know plenty of great Christians, but in general, they ain't getting it from the good book.

  8. Top | #18
    Contributor
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Whale's Vagina
    Posts
    5,196
    Rep Power
    28
    Of course. Not only has the Bible had huge influence, but is itself the product of factors and influences that are highly relevant to understanding humans and society. It's important to understand the Bible and also to understand it as a product of the human knowledge, ignorance, prejudices, fears, bigotries, politics, and desires to control that motivated it's authors and are the basis of it's appeal. IOW, it's important to understand the Abrahamic religion as a social phenomenon.

    That context of history, politics, psychology, and sociology are of course equally important for theists to understand. Although if they did, they wouldn't likely remain theists or at least their version of it and wouldn't treat the Bible as a particularly special source of valid knowledge or ethics relevant for today, but rather as a product of highly flawed, ethically questionable, biased humans trying to promote a particular set of cultural and political norms and trying to grapple with experiences and events that they lacked the knowledge and methods to understand. That's why atheists tend to have more knowledge of the Bible, Christianity, and religion in general than most theists do.

  9. Top | #19
    Deus Meumque Jus
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Canada's London
    Posts
    10,150
    Archived
    9,514
    Total Posts
    19,664
    Rep Power
    49
    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    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.
    That was sorta my point. Atheists should read the Bible to understand theists' references, capitalists should read Karl Marx to understand their opponents' references, Marxists should read John Locke to understand their opponents' references. In effect, people should not read only literature that supports their particular biases. Reading of the literature that influences a culture will help someone to understand that culture.

    Today, one of the leading Democratic candidates for U.S. presidential nomination is an avowed socialist who has praised Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. I think that a reading of Karl Marx would give someone some insight into his mindset. It can give them an understanding that socialism is not just "free stuff".
    If only it wasn't more advantageous for people to remain in the dark, than to seek out greater understanding. We should, but I won't hold my breath to wait for it happening.

  10. Top | #20
    Contributor
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    seattle
    Posts
    5,769
    Rep Power
    15
    Quote Originally Posted by ronburgundy View Post
    Of course. Not only has the Bible had huge influence, but is itself the product of factors and influences that are highly relevant to understanding humans and society. It's important to understand the Bible and also to understand it as a product of the human knowledge, ignorance, prejudices, fears, bigotries, politics, and desires to control that motivated it's authors and are the basis of it's appeal. IOW, it's important to understand the Abrahamic religion as a social phenomenon.

    That context of history, politics, psychology, and sociology are of course equally important for theists to understand. Although if they did, they wouldn't likely remain theists or at least their version of it and wouldn't treat the Bible as a particularly special source of valid knowledge or ethics relevant for today, but rather as a product of highly flawed, ethically questionable, biased humans trying to promote a particular set of cultural and political norms and trying to grapple with experiences and events that they lacked the knowledge and methods to understand. That's why atheists tend to have more knowledge of the Bible, Christianity, and religion in general than most theists do.
    Good post.

Posting Permissions

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