How Can a Made-Up Bible Still Be God’s Word?

Jan 28, 2015

By Herb Silverman

A few months ago, Patton Dodd highly recommended two books for Christians who are experiencing acute and painful doubt. Though I’m an atheist who experiences no such painful doubts, I do experience painless curiosity about books meant to “cure” such doubts. Eternally behind on my to-read list (if I believed in eternity), I decided to read one of these books.

Both recommended books promote liberal Christianity. I only read excerpts of My Bright Abyss, about Christian Wiman’s spiritual growth when confronted with his own mortality, coupled with suggestions on resolving faith paradoxes. I fully read the book with the more intriguing title, The Bible Tells Me So, by Peter Enns. Maybe I was inspired by childhood memories of the song by the same simplistic title.

Most atheists would agree with much of what Enns says about the Bible. I’ll first mention my points of agreement before explaining why we come to opposite conclusions.

Points of agreement

I agree with Enns that the Bible largely consists of made-up stories by unknown authors attempting to explain their views of the world and its origins. These authors sometimes modified stories from earlier cultures to shape their present needs and goals. There are countless biblical contradictions, as well as historical and scientific falsities.

Enns and I also agree that we should not accept the Bible as literal truth or attempt to make sense out of nonsense, a view that offends Christian fundamentalists. The God of the Bible is no role model. God can be a tyrant who orders the enslaving or killing of innocent people (including children) because they worship the wrong gods or live in lands that God wants his chosen people to occupy. God commands the Israelites to kill everything that breathes in Canaan.


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24 comments on “How Can a Made-Up Bible Still Be God’s Word?

  • OP :

    Storytelling is how to understand the Bible, not as history writing, concludes Enns.

    Well I can’t disagree with that !

  • 2
    Miserablegit says:

    If you treat the bible as it should be, namely a list of fables and fairy tales then no problem. When you start treating it as the gospel truth that’s when the blood gets shed.

  • A few months ago, Patton Dodd highly recommended two books for Christians who are experiencing acute and painful doubt.

    Theists have to be indoctrinated to believe that doubts are painful!
    Reading many of these stories without pain from doubt, would merely lead to laughter at the ludicrous claims!
    Reading the rest would lead to sorrow at the perversity of the thinking!

  • Both recommended books promote liberal Christianity

    In other words “Wait, don’t go, it’s not ALL genocidal, woman-hating, homophobic clap-trap! You can be the fluffy kind of Christian instead!”

  • @Herb – to add to your reading list [if you haven’t already seen it] “God’s Secretaries” The Making of the King James Bible by Adam Nicolson, 2005 – a brilliant exposition of the political, religious, academic, and economic circumstances that led to the King James Version. Christians lose their composure when I discuss the facts associated with the KJV, and for the most part are virtually ignorant regarding its origin.

    Another extraordinary read is R. Crumb’s “The Book of Genesis”. His illustrations are outstanding, and he hasn’t left much out nor to the imagination. The sex is graphic, exactly as the old testament presents it, and done only like the pen that created Fritz the Cat could manage. There is also a fascinating backstory as to why Crumb – of all artists – would chose to illustrate this book.

  • 6
    Light Wave says:

    The Article said…..”God commands the Israelites to kill everything that breathes in Canaan.”…….They really do believe in taking ‘the word’ a bit too seriously to this day…..Its prime minister has just threatened Lebanon with “You seen what happened in Gaza last summer”….he said that on TV… jaw drops

  • There is this crazy idea underlying all religious texts that they are man made but that some particular men had powers or contact with supernatural god/s that the rest of us mere mortals cannot have for some reason. I’d submit that if such humans/creatures existed or exist, they would be a different species and would warrant the most intense scientific scrunity as they would have access to all the major questions of humanity as we know it.

  • Both recommended books promote liberal Christianity.

    Believers are obviously losing their faith or there would not be “liberal christianity”. They are catching at straws, hahaha. Good, perhaps they will liberate themselves of religion altogether. 😉

  • As You said – jaw drops.

    Then I remembered how accurate was the saying of Karl Marx: “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce”.

  • Good, perhaps they will liberate themselves of religion altogether.

    If we don’t set that as a goal we may get more traction in changing minds for what really counts.

    We should be seeking for all our citizens a dogma free morality, open to new insights of harms in others and not based on group identities. Once here we can pack up and go home and leave people in the safe hands of education.

    (And just to be clear, selling the unevidenced and the false as truth is just such a harm.)

  • Jesus didn’t do what a Davidic messiah was expected to do.

    a common thread with prophesies that “come true” is the conclusion bares no resemblance to the prophesy which is why we need priests to point out when something that looks completely different (e.g. the messiah will come back and kick seven shades out of the romans so the Jews can have their land back/ a man calling himself the messiah is handed over to the roman authorities by the jews to be tortured so we have something to celebrate each spring), is actually exactly the same thing only more so.

    Maybe if a doubt is “painful” it’s the rational part of your brain cringing in agony at what you accept without question

  • 12
    mombird says:

    Doubt scares a lot of people. For the fearful something must replace religion or their brains will explode. Some people need guidance of some kind or they can’t function. I’d love to see secular support groups form rather than religious ones which is what “liberal Christianity” really is in a sense. How about instead of, “Jesus loves me” we love each other? IMO, the Bible won’t go away unless there is a personal moral code that has emotional meaning for the cowering masses. So many people need comfort and the Bible provides that. They don’t care that it is non-sense. It gives them hope. That being said, what can fill the hole? We need a new paradigm.

  • 13
    Richard says:

    Still resent that atheism is being presented in the same idiotic templates religions are. We actually have T-shirts and banners and spokespeople? Yeah Team! But, we’re supposed to be above trivial conflict. When we enter into it, we firm up the template that needs to vanish.

    Norman Maclean had it right:

    After you have finished your true stories sometime, why don’t you make up a story and the people to go with it?
    “Only then will you understand what happened and why.
    “It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us.”
    Now nearly all those I loved and did not understand when I was young are dead, but I still reach out to them.

    Isn’t that the Bible and what religions offer? The Bible is/was assembled therapy process claimed by idiots as literal fact. If you keep kneeing in the groin those who find solace in it, you’re creating unnecessary opposition and anger and uniting your ‘base’ much as the religious do their own.

  • True, but blood is also shed in the name of the godless state. So it’s not so much religion or the absence of religion, it’s whether or not you’re a douche nozzle.

  • 15
    Karenlm26 says:

    “You don’t need religion to have morals. If you can’t determine right from wrong then you lack empathy, not religion.” ~ Anonymous

  • To play devil’s advocate, how about a deity writing a work of fiction, deliberately bungled, to make it look more familiar, that humans mistook as a history book. Sooner or later the Christians will cave on ignoring the errors and come up with a rationalisation for them.

  • Joe Jan 30, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    True, but blood is also shed in the name of the godless state. So it’s not so much religion or the absence of religion, it’s whether or not you’re a douche nozzle.

    I can’t find any history of anyone killing in the name of “absence of religion”! They either kill in the name of religious domination, the name of territorial conquest, the name of hero-worshipped dictators, or the name of ideologies.

  • I went looking for Bible variants, recalling a partial list from Barbara Kingsolvers excellent “The Poisonwood Bible,” a highly recommended read on the emergence of the Congo. Googling for this particular variance of the King James Bible is swamped in the book references. So I did a more general search, to find that Wiki gives, for what it is worth, a total of 253 translations and variations in the English language alone between 1582 and now. It is remarkable that it is even recognizable at all.

    [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_English_Bible_translations][1]

  • JC Sheepdog Feb 13, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    I went looking for Bible variants,

    Here’s a historical list I used earlier on the now defunct RDFS site:-

    They do know that The “bible” is true!….. …. That is:-

    The Hebrew Bible (Tora)

    The Septuagint (Greek translation)

    The New Testament (Paul’s letters)

    Latin Vulgate Translation, (Commissioned by pope)

    Alcuin Bible, (Charlemagne)

    Paris Bible,

    Wycliffe Bible ( First English translation 1382)

    (1408 RC archbishop forbids English translations)

    Gutenburg Bible,

    Dutch scholar Erasmus translation ( Latin and Greek)

    Luther Bible,

    William Tyndale English translation 1526 (which leads to his execution),

    (Henry VIII takes over CofE from RC),

    Coverrdale Bible 1535,

    Matthew Bible 1537,

    Great Bible 1539,

    Geneva Bible 1560 (Published in English in Switzerland),

    Douai-Rheims Bible,

    King James Bible 1611,

    New English Bible.

    These repeatedly translated, mistranslated and contradictory works, are all pronounced to be THE UNERRING TROOOFF!
    Usually by people who have never heard of them and never read them!
    Still that’s fundamentalism!!

  • The Bible has numerous quotations. I often wonder how the spoken word could have been recorded at the time
    and why. With no tape recorder or short hand, it seems impossible. The sermon on the mount is one example but
    the large majority of the quotes are just a few words . RSVP

  • Edward Wilcock #21
    Jan 9, 2017 at 2:18 pm
    RSVP
    The Bible has numerous quotations. I often wonder how the spoken word could have been recorded at the time

    It wasn’t!
    None of the canonical gospels (or others) were written within decades or centuries, of supposed events, or written by the attributed authors (illiterate fishermen etc.)!
    “Quotes” were folk-law presented by early Christian sects – promoting their own versions of events.
    (Gospels of: Mary, Judas, Peter, Thomas, etc.)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Judas

    These four bible gospels, were then an edited selection from a larger collection of conflicting versions stories in the 4th century, chosen by Constantine’s Roman bishops for the purposes of the Roman Empire!

  • Edward Wilcock #21
    Jan 9, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    I often wonder how the spoken word could have been recorded at the time and why.
    With no tape recorder or short hand, it seems impossible.

    The were of course written versions of speeches and notable events, recorded by Roman writers of the time, but biblical characters (apart from possibly Saul/ Paul), and claimed spectacular biblical events, are noteworthy by their absence from these!

  • Alan4discussion #20

    A Wicked bible! hahaha… I didn’t know of that one. hahaha… soooo good! Made me laugh! It is interesting though, to know if today are done some deliberate mistakes! Who knows. 🙁 I wouldn’t be surprised. I supose, it wouldn’t be hard. If it is true that only small percentage of believers actually read bible, it is easy to spread sentences that were not there in previous editions. Today’s editors would certanly put something to justify their present agendas, so they can continue to bully others with “their proves” ;).

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