Friday, April 23, 2010

The Atheist Bible Studies


I have a tough time with my Bible reading.  Right now, it sits on my table, along side some bills that have been paid but are not filed away yet, a bunch of Disney pins that I haven't sorted through, and a few other various things.

In fact, to make it worse, there are two Bibles there.  One is the one I use for church, the other is my copy of The Message, which is great for just reading.  And neither have been opened in about two weeks.  I'm a sad, sad Christian boy, but I'm guessing I'm not alone.

The Lovely Steph Leann and I have always struggled with this, and its hard to encourage each other when we don't do it ourselves. 

So tonight, I'm goofing around on the interweb, some program on Investigative Discovery is on, I'm debating on whether to open up Roller Coaster Tycoon and kill a good three hour block of time, and I end up surfind headlines.  I shoot through ESPN, then, then Sports Illustrated online, then Fox News, then Drudge, then Entertainment Weekly, and finally CNN online.  Amongst the headlines I looked at, I clicked on one that read "Blogger:  Test Theory With Boobquake"   Why?  Because I don't have a clue what this story is even about, and I'm curious.  It takes me a story of a Purdue coed who has a blog, and is calling for... well, it doesn't matter.

What caught my attention was that she is "a liberal, geeky, nerdy, scientific, perverted atheist feminist trapped in Indiana." Or so sayeth her profile.  Her site is well done, if a little sad because of how passionate she is about the fact that she is an atheist... and then I see her links and I end up following the trail.

And it leads me to a site called Reading and Critically Reviewing the Bible in 365 Days.  One glance at their posts lets me know that they are committed to this project, as there is at least one post for every day so far this year.  Their own profile says, "I'm a Computer Science major at Purdue University. I'm an atheist, skeptic, humanist, oh and by the way, I read the bible every day."

Oh and by the way, I read the bible every day.

That line just cut me.  Seriously.  I mean, for whatever reason (though I'm sure I could come up with reasons) as I'm sitting here, that line just tore at my own heart.

Oh and by the way,  I read the bible every day.  I'm an atheist, and I read the bible to prove it wrong, and I'll bet I know it better than you do, dear Christ following friends. 

There's a link on that page that takes you to the One Year Skeptic, a site that does the same thing.  The author, who is named Erika, says she is an atheist who wants to read the Bible in one year. 

Perhaps both authors are being led to read the Word, perhaps both will find some truth, some undeniable Truth in those red letters, but there is a little snarkiness and much skepticism in their words.  Both authors take each verse on its own, without context of any verses around it, and rip it apart, asking rhetorical questions... every verse I see as Truth and approach it as such, they see as a jumbled mess and also approach it from their perspective.

And because there are at least two people out there--and I'm sure there are many, many more--who know more about God's written Word than I do, because they disbelief its truthiness as much as I believe it, that makes me... well, it makes me sad.

The commitment to blindness is so much stronger than my own commitment to the Light so apparent before me.  And that makes me sad too.

I just thought I'd share.


  1. I'm with you on this one, it takes a lot for me to read any scripture and nothing at all to play a video game that has no eternal value. When I get home from work I feel like my day should be over and I have nothing of value to offer other than a few moments here and there playing /feeding the kids and getting them ready for bed. My only redeeming quality is how anxiously I've shared with the kids about Jesus' love and passion for us.

  2. Why do we lack passion for the very thing that should shake the foundation of our world each day? Apathy? Laziness? I have no idea.

    I am reminded that we are set free from legalism - there is no requirement for you to read His Word daily for His Word to daily speak to you. If you have the Holy Spirit within you, The Spirit has the ability to call His Words to you at any moment, freshly read or not. The question is - do you listen to His callings to you each day.

    Those who are not sons of God can read the bible all day long and never be able to understand the truths hidden there because they have not the Spirit. (See 1 Cor 1&2).

    This is no reason to neglect God's Word however. It is a sad statement that those who have a passion against Him are driven to the Word, when WE the ones who are supposed to be passionate for Him are not compelled by His word.

    Yet, I cannot say that I make the time to spend time with Him as I should each day either.

  3. Have you ever considered that you might be the blind one? If the Bible only makes sense to those who are already committed to believing it true, perhaps it is, in fact, just the jumbled history and writings of a bunch of people struggling to understand the world around them.

  4. Blegh, that anonymous comment was from me Erika (yes, that Erika). Oh blogger comment system, you frustrate me so!

  5. Also, I mean that as a sincere question. I realize it comes off as snarky in non-spoken form.

  6. Erika,
    I'm glad you left a comment... I'm actually quite pleased you found the link.

    You ask if I ever considered I might be the blind one... and I would be lying to you if I said that the thought of "what if He's really not there? what if this entire life of faith is wasted?" has never crossed my brain.

    But... I have been a Christ follower since 1995, January 5th to be exact. And since that time, that now 15 years, my life has been blessed beyond measure. There is too many things, too many occurances, too many incidents in my life that can only be explained as a hand of God, too many things to be just mere coincidences. Do I have all the answers? No. I don't know how dinosaurs, which obviously existed, fit into the Biblical timeline. I don't know how to verbalize what there was before God created the Earth. I don't know sometimes which verse to turn to when being pressed for proof of faith... but what I do know is that I believe in God. I believe in the power of Christ's resurrection. I believe in that so strongly and so deeply that I would put my own life, the life of my family and the life of my (as yet uncreated) children on it. If you asked me to choose which is more true--the grass is green, or God is real, I'd choose the latter. Every time.

    I admire your committment to reading the Bible, even if I'm unsure as to why you are doing it. I dont know if its a "know thine enemy" thing, because I would think that Believers would certainly not be your enemy. Though I think Im more bothered by your assessment of it as a "jumbled mess"... if it weren't true, it would be the most beautiful work of fiction in all of the history of the world, since the Big Bang.

    But I believe it is true. I believe the Word of God to be as true as He is. I've heard it often said, though, that we Christians struggle with the fact that some people are more excited about a lie than we are about the Truth.

    (also... to anyone wanting to comment, please don't turn this comment string into an evangelism session--discussion is welcome, as are constructive, open comments and questions...)

  7. Hey Dave~ Can I say I think we are apathetic Christians because...we are American?

    I think I struggled with daily commitment until I traveled internationally. And found myself supporting and praying for a handful of international missionaries who do a great job keeping me up to date about what is happening all over the world. People are giving up so much to follow Christ.

    We do not truly face persecution or need to fully rely on God because we have our comforts and our needs met in America (generalization, yes, but largely the case. I love CS LEWIS' book SCREWTAPE LETTERS. It is soo convicting on these points. There is a real enemy out enemy of our SOULS and he is the prince of distraction who's goal is to render Christians useless and doubting).

    But when we look at our brothers and sisters around the world who are forsaking comforts, families, futures and facing major persecution for their faith...who are ripping out pages of scripture and memorizing them before they pass them on so that they will ALWAYS have it with them...and when we ourselves come to the point of despair, it is amazing how we will then thrust our utter dependence on God.

    I'm with you Dave, it is sad. I could be so much more committed to living out Truth than I am. To loving and giving. And as believers we will be accountable before a Holy God with our time and how we used it. Not because of God's wrath (that was poured out on Christ on the cross) but because like a loving Father, He desires our good. And as His children, don't we desire His glory?? READ ROMANS will blow you away!!!

    Press on brother. And get in the Word! You will not only be blessed, but you will KNOW HIM MORE and LOVE HIM MORE and in turn, LOVE OTHERS MORE... the goal of every believer. (Luke 10:27)

    (PS: Have you considered a spiritual fast?)

  8. You say, "Though I think Im more bothered by your assessment of it as a "jumbled mess"... if it weren't true, it would be the most beautiful work of fiction in all of the history of the world, since the Big Bang."

    Have you read the whole thing straight through? It is a jumbled mess if you read it that way. There are parts that were obviously inserted later (interrupted the flow the original narrative). There are multiple versions of the same narrative strung together. There are contradictions galore (did Othniel win Acsah's hand before or after Joshua's death?).

    Parts of it are beautiful. Many of the poems are beautiful, as are many of the stories. The first two creation stories in Genesis are among the best cultural creation stories. However, other parts are down right ugly (the God commanded genocides in Joshua, for example).

    You also say, "And since that time, that now 15 years, my life has been blessed beyond measure. There is too many things, too many occurances, too many incidents in my life that can only be explained as a hand of God, too many things to be just mere coincidences."

    I would suggest you read some books about the human brain and how unreliable it is. In particular, you may be interested in learning about Confirmation Bias. If you are interested in reading some books I would suggest Tavris and Aronson's "Mistakes were made: but not by me", Medina's "Brain Rules", and Thaler and Sunstein's "Nudge".

    As for my motivation, why do I need any more motivation to read the Bible than any other classic work of literature? Any educated person should have read the Bible to know all the parts of it that have become part of our culture (and to realize how many parts are carefully not mentioned because they are terrible or embarrassing).

    Never stop trying to learn and discover more, wherever it may take you.


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