Biblical Literacy

Many people claim America to be a Christian nation, but statistics indicate that most Americans don’t know what is in the holy book of Christianity, the Bible:

  • Less than half of Americans know Genesis is the first book of the Bible.
  • Less than half can name a single one of the Gospels.
  • Less than 40% can name half of the ten commandments.
  • Nearly a quarter believe Moses was a disciple of Jesus.
  • Over half of American high school seniors believe Sodom and Gomorrah are a married couple.

But according to a recent Rasmussen poll, 63% of Americans believe that the Bible is the literally true word of God. That means that roughly 193 million Americans believe that a talking snake encouraged a woman to eat an apple, a 900 year old man built a giant boat to replenish all life on earth, and Jonah lived inside a giant fish for three days. Or at least it would, if the statistics show that people don’t seem to know what the holy hell they actually believe.

How can you believe that every single word of the Bible is true if you’ve never even read the book? People say America is a Christian nation, but I think these statistics show that America is more a nation of willful ignorance (the two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive). I think if they actually read the book they supposedly revere, they may come to a very different conclusion.

Reading the Bible for the first time, the pious believer would likely expect this book, divinely inspired by the creator of the universe, to be chalk-full of wisdom, wonder, enlightenment and beauty. This text, co-authored by the supreme being, should be the most marvelous collection of words set to page. This volume that is the basis of a religion of nearly two billion should stand side-by-side with modern science texts, not starkly against it. Yet reading the Bible we find that God’s greatest preachings to mankind revolve around who I can and cannot fuck, what I can and cannot eat, when I can and cannot work, how I should treat my slaves, under what conditions I can annihilate my neighbors, and precisely how to slaughter an animal to appease him.

Let’s not forget the way God works to get his point across to misbehaving mortals. Looking behind you is punishable by being transmogrified into a condiment, as we see with Lot’s wife. Ezekiel was forced to eat nothing but bread smeared with human shit for 430 days. And slaughtering entire civilizations was kosher if they were in the way of an Israelite land grab.

This is God’s ultimate message to us? Send me blindfolded into a Barnes and Noble self-help section and I can find more wisdom to my life on the first grab of Chicken Soup for the Soul, which is meaningless pop-psychology in the first place.

OK, this one might actually be worse.

Actually reading the Bible and not being spoon-fed the bits your pastor likes shows us that the pithy soundbites of “love thy neighbor” and “do unto others” are just means of making Christianity a commodity they can sell. A real dive into the Bible shows that for every “turn the other cheek” there are dozens of cases of slaughtering relatively innocent people. The real God of the Bible will smite you for working on the wrong day, wearing the wrong clothes, sex with the wrong person, thought crimes like wishing for a new car, complaining about lack of food, occupying land that he decided wasn’t for you, questioning authority, sassing your parents, breaking the rules for buying slaves, eating the wrong food, or generally not being an Israelite.

The sprinkling of self-evident moral ideals are very much outnumbered by some truly wicked ideas, barbaric rituals and genocidal endorsements.

“Properly read, the bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived” – Isaac Asimov


~ by kriskodisko on June 8, 2013.

3 Responses to “Biblical Literacy”

  1. I will never, ever (and I’m a Christian) understand Christians who believe that the Bible is the literal word of God. Never. If there is one thing I can’t stand is people who take passages of it and use it to justify whatever point they’re trying to make.

  2. You seem a little bitter about this, ha ha ;.) I’ve actually read the bible all the way through and dont think all of it is literal, but I do think most of it is. Do I think Jonah got swallowed by a whale? Maybe, maybe not… but it doesn’t detract form the message of the story. Did God create the world in literally 7 days? I dont really think so… The thing is these stories to not change the faith; however, something like Jesus being the son of God, being born of a virgin, or dying for ones sin… well, that would change ones faith a lot of those things were not literally true. In that case, they are nice stories, but no more important than any fairy tale or bedtime story with a nice moral teaching at the end.

  3. The Asimov quote is one of my favorites. It isvery true. One oof the biggest reasons that I am an atheist is because I read the bible. Cover to cover. More people need to do the same. Not pick and choose parts, but sit and read it from the first page to the last page.

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