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← Simply ... should I read the bible?

Al Denelsbeck's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by Al Denelsbeck

Well, I have to go against the flow here and say, only if you're masochistic. The 'key' passages that might provide you with some kind of knowledge are heavily interspersed with some of the most tedious and pointless drivel you've been unlucky enough to come across. And even if your attitude is such that you enjoy mixing it up with religious folk, there's actually very little that you'll get from reading it, since most religions have only a passing acquaintance with scripture anyway. They select what they like and ignore the rest, and even then, often misinterpret what they've selected.

Religion actually isn't about any particular divine communique. It's about privilege. Combating the excesses and abuses of religion isn't fostered by a knowledge of scripture, but a knowledge of how it is wielded, and by highlighting the failures, neither of which is assisted very much by a deep knowledge of the bible et al.

Moreover, for a serious understanding of far too much of it, you'd need to do more than read it, you'd need to study the languages and traits of the time periods when the passages were written. They do not translate easily into English, and the usages have changed significantly. As it is, many biblical scholars are at odds regarding the 'true' meaning of countless passages.

Finally, the primary failures of any religion are the distinct lack of provenance (proof that scripture is anything more than old fiction,) the failure to provide any explanations for historical events or match what we have figured out since their writing, and their inability to guide people towards useful attitudes and ethics. You really don't need to know any specifics to address these points, because scripture is irrelevant to them.

If you have the interest, go for it. If you think it'll be useful, you're almost certainly going to be disappointed.

Wed, 15 Aug 2012 22:11:33 UTC | #950842