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Why we don't have a bible in the house, nor would...

(120 Posts)
Bags Mon 08-Oct-12 13:14:06

... in the words of Sam Harris:

"There is not a single line in the Bible or Quran that could not have been authored by a first century person. There are pages and pages about how to sacrifice animals, and to keep slaves, and who to kill, and why. There is nothing about electricity. There is nothing about DNA. There is nothing about infectious disease, the principles of infectious disease. There is nothing particularly useful, and there's a lot of iron age barbarism in there, and superstition. And [these are not] candid book[s], I mean I can go into any Barnes and Noble blindfolded and pull a book off the shelf which is going to have more relevance, more wisdom for the 21st century, than the Bible or the Quran. It's really not an exaggeration; every one of our specific sciences has superseded and surpassed the wisdom of scripture."

Greatnan Mon 08-Oct-12 13:24:57

I do have a bible (Gideon!) which I keep for reference along with other works of fiction, although now I have google I use it less and less. I agree with everything in that article. I get annoyed when people cherry pick the bits they like, such as the description of homosexuality as 'an abomination'. Does anybody remember that very funny letter to an anti-gay campaigner which asked questions like:
How much should I pay for a good slave? 'How often should I beat my wife?'

There is some beautiful language though, and of course many phrases which have passed into the everyday language. I notice on the quiz programmes which I love that many young people cannot complete such quotations as 'The fatted......' The bible rivals Shakespeare in the number of quotations which have been taken from it.

Bags Mon 08-Oct-12 13:36:27

I think the language aspect of the King James translation is why That Man Dawkins argues that the Bible is culturally important in terms of 'literature'. Can't say I agree that it still needs to be.

Joan Mon 08-Oct-12 13:37:03

This is true, but they are good for reference. I'm glad I went to Sunday School and learned the bible stories, 'cos this helps me sort out any foolhardy missionaries from the JWs etc who are daft enough to try to sell religion to me. It's like a card game - they spout their bible reference, and I counter with an opposite one (eg 'turn the other cheek' v 'an eye for an eye').

Of course, these days we only need to turn to the computer to check a biblical reference. There are many biblical references in the canon of European literature, which is another reason to have some knowledge of biblical writings.

I believe the Koran is just as contradictory as the bible: I was researching something at university once, and asked the padre, a Rabbi, about the Koran. (Yes, I know it is a different religion but he knew all scriptures from the big three.) He told me it is all over the place and contradicts itself quite a lot. I just can't be bothered to read it myself though.

These days I just get sicker and sicker with despair about religion - all that fighting and misery and death over which invisible sky friend is the right one. Why can't people forget about these ancient, rather nasty, unscientific ideas from ignorant desert people, and just fall out with each other over sport like here in Oz? They go to a match, wear their tribal/team colours, cheer and boo, get drunk, call the opposition rude names, than go home and forget it.

Just as boring as religion, but far less harmful.

Greatnan Mon 08-Oct-12 14:01:30

Joan - you have made me laugh - thank you! Kiwis are the same - my daughter loves them.

absentgrana Mon 08-Oct-12 15:47:14

The Bible has had a major cultural influence on our society although this is now decreasing at a massive rate. I have several different versions of the Bible, including a Hebrew Torah and a Greek New Testament. (I limp about in both of them and am grateful for the footnotes.) I also find this helpful with JWs Joann because when they start in in "the Bible says" – I can start asking which Bible with a [very] small degree of authority.

Bags Mon 08-Oct-12 15:53:50

One of the advantages of living off the beaten track with no street lights is that JWs leave us alone. I've got better things to do than talk to them on the doorstep anyhow. So I still don't need a bible.

Bags Mon 08-Oct-12 15:54:37

We're short of bookshelves as it is. Why waste the space?

Greatnan Mon 08-Oct-12 16:48:29

I don't get any kind of caller at my door - I used to quite enjoy crushing the JWs and the Mormons, but my sister found a good way to get rid of them. She said 'Oh , how nice of you to call, do come and chat to my mother. She never gets visitors since her dementia got so bad'. They legged it.
I do think it is damned cheek to invade somebody's privacy and try to shove your own beliefs on to them - atheists don't do that.

Lilygran Mon 08-Oct-12 16:51:15

I think Sam Harris (who he?) is very silly indeed if he thinks the only books worth keeping are those which specifically relate to modern technology. I won't start listing any as that would be almost as silly as he is. I've got the Bible on my Kindle along with lots of other lovely books, old and new. Don't take up any shelf space at all.

Greatnan Mon 08-Oct-12 16:53:15

I love this!

Greatnan Mon 08-Oct-12 16:56:54

This should make it easier to read:


March-21st-2004, 10:35 AM

First, before I post the letter, let me give some back story...

Evidently, a college professor received an email with the following letter to Dr. Laura enclosed, he forwarded it others and his email has his signature and title on it, so other people that received the email assumed that he was the writer. My local paper had a piece on it today talking about the volume of people that have contacted the professor in support or opposition to the views in the letter. also has a page dedicated to the letter.

I have mentioned other bible verses that people forget or assume just don't apply, yet they still use the bible as their basis for gay bashing....

Here's the letter, I think it's funny as hell and makes it's point cleary.

Dear Dr. Laura,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?

i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.

Bags Mon 08-Oct-12 17:07:08

That is not what he said, lily. And I think you know that.

You can google to find out who he is.

Bags Mon 08-Oct-12 17:15:33

But I'll explain it again, just in case you really don't understand. What Sam
Harris is saying is that practically any book pulled at random off an American bookshop shelf is going to be of more relevance to the people who read it than the Bible or the Quran. This, of course, does not (repeat, not) rule out other, more useful and relevant old books. He is not only talking about books to do with modern technology. He means that even a book about knitting or growing petunias is of more use and more relevant to the society we live in than those two awful books, which are full of nastiness as well as a few good things – good things that can be found in lots of other better books which don't have all the nastiness as well.

Lilygran Mon 08-Oct-12 17:32:03

SH is quoted as saying that the Bible and the Koran are irrelevant to us today because they don't deal with modern concerns. That's a very shallow reason to reject any text.

Greatnan Mon 08-Oct-12 17:32:35

I think the spoof letter bears that out!

Bags Mon 08-Oct-12 17:40:22

He says they're irrelevant also because they espouse nastinesses like slavery and killing people. They are not good guides to leading a good life.

Bags Mon 08-Oct-12 17:52:02

BTW, I'm not sure I entirely agree with Sam Harris on this, but I think he has made a good and useful point.

Lilygran Mon 08-Oct-12 17:54:03

Espouse? More like warning against.

Mishap Mon 08-Oct-12 18:39:00

I do have a bible in the house - it is useful for understanding references in poetry and literature.

petallus Mon 08-Oct-12 21:29:18

I have several bibles in the house although I'm an atheist. I like ancient books because they give an insight into the way people's minds worked in bygone ages. I particularly like the bible because it is poetic, interesting, humorous (unintentionally) and the new testament gives a fairly sound philosophy for living one's life.

One of my bibles I bought from a junk shop. It is inscribed in the front from Albert to his sister Maud, 1914. The pages are somewhat mouldy.

I used to be rather agressive and rebellious when it came to Christianity and then all of a sudden I outgrew that attitude and now I'm fairly relaxed on the topic.

Bags Mon 08-Oct-12 21:39:02

Not in the old testament, lily, which is a good deal of the bible. Slavery is definitely OK by the OT, as is sacrificing your son, and behaving in primitive tribal ways. No, not a nice book to have around at all. And, as I said, one can find the good stuff in plenty of other places.

Lilygran Mon 08-Oct-12 21:54:07

The sacrifice of Isaac, if that's what you mean, is a highly nuanced narrative. And yes, slavery was accepted and slave owners were urged to treat their slaves kindly. Yes, they were primitive tribes-people who saw visions of a God who inspired them to become much better people.

wisewoman Mon 08-Oct-12 22:36:38

I don't usually comment on these religious threads because I am interested in friendly discussions about other peoples' beliefs but not in "robust" debate of the "everyone who believes in God is irrational" type which seem to prevail on gransnet. I take Greatnan's advice and don't become involved in the debate since it seems to me to be unkind. I don't know why I even read these threads (masochistic, I guess) I did find it interesting however that Bags is so pleased she doesn't have to waste her time talking to JW's etc at her door but she is glad to waste time denigrating the belief systems of fellow gransnet members. As I said I don't usually comment and I won't again because it is a pointless debate adding more heat than light.

petallus Mon 08-Oct-12 22:45:07

I agree with wisewoman