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Biblical Nonsense: A Review of the Bible for Doubting Christians Paperback – January 19, 2005
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Does the author exhibit anger because he feels he was misled? The title of the book tells it all; Biblical Nonsense. Of course he did. He is angry as any one of would be if we felt we had been deceived throughout our lifetime by people that we were told we could trust. This is not the same level as the sudden realization at age nine that Santa doesn't exist. This deception deals with the bedrock of not only the morality and the holy sacredness we were taught that should exist in our own lifetimes but what we were told about our humanity living on into eternity. So, did the author become sarcastic at times in the text? Yes, but that is only another form of anger expression. All of us should become angry if, indeed, what the author conveys is true.
Does the author attempt to convince you, like most religionists would do, that his is the only way to view God (or whatever you want to identify as being the Supreme Being)? No. He simply wants each of us to take the same responsibility that he has taken and that is to curiously question that which others tell you should be accepted solely on `faith'. We do it in all other less important areas of our lives, why would we not do it in the area that is the most critical to our entire state of being; our spirituality. I congratulate the author for asking such a bold and perilous questions and taking the steps necessary to attain a more honest and meaningful definition of life.
I have read other books of a similar nature and have done countless hours of self-study in these same areas (with nearly the same results). For someone who wants a good summary text that explores the basic areas where the Bible appears to be erroneous, I strongly advise this book. Will you be shocked by what you read? Obviously, yes. Will you be convinced that the author's conclusions are accurate and meaningful to your life? Probably not. But will you file its contents away in the back of your mind and, by doing so, eventually take a fresher look at the question, "Who am I and why am I here?". I certainly hope so.
May God truly speed us all on our individual journeys.....
It's nowhere as scholarly as other books on the subject, but it does an excellent job of summarizing and collating the discoveries of other (more scholarly) writings. I found it to be very informative, and I was able to easily follow along in a copy of the Bible to verify the numerous verses the author uses to backup his statements. If you have already read a number of Bart Ehrman's books, this may fall well short of your expectations, but if you're looking for an easy-to-follow synopsis of the subject, this is an excellent primer.
If I had any criticism of the book it would be the the author's constant use of the word "impartial" when describing his analysis of the Bible. His writing style was clearly anything but impartial, and while I feel he did a good job sticking to the facts, his frequent use of words like "ridiculous" and "nonsense" is likely offensive to the Christian who may be honestly analyzing the validity of his or her own faith for the first time. The author's goal would be better served if he simply served up the facts and let the reader decide whether statements made in the Bible are ridiculous or nonsensical.
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To not believe in this God like Santa Clause figure (that's Santa, not Satan) or to not be good, will, according to most parents, lead to Santa becoming wrathful and ultimately to no presents being left at Christmas time. For the believing kids that would be a very bad, and a very real, thing. Hellish, in fact. So they all accept what their parents have told them and blindly believe in Santa. Sound familiar?
I raise this point as this book is written by a one time believer in the Bible (that other great man made creation) and I sense the style of the book reflects this cathartic conversion from blind belief, following careful examination of scientific and historic facts, and a good dose of common sense.
Following on from the point above, imagine explaining the evidence supporting the actual existence of Santa Clause. The author here would start by examining the evidence for the existence of large scale manufacturing facilities in Lapland sufficient to accommodate the scale of production required to supply all the toys in the world to all the children. He would go onto prove, through carefully examining census records in Lapland, that the population of dwarves in the country was only 6 and therefore nowhere near sufficient to man the plant. He would discuss the local population's view that no jobs have ever been advertised at any such plant and that nobody had seen the vast number of trucks required to supply the raw materials. He would point out that companies like Mattel and Hornby had never been approached by representatives from any company from Lapland about the use of trade marks and no tax records show the payment of VAT or Corporation Tax from any such company. He would then turn his attention to the aerodynamics of sledges that made them impossible to fly, the fact there is no historical record of a Reindeer having been seen airborne and the vexed question as to how a rotund character could navigate a suburban chimney clocking in at an impressive 32 stone. He would point out that, following discussions with leading academics, that the male reindeer doesn't actually sport antlers and that Rudolf could not, therefore, have been male. Finally he would conclude that flight data collected from around the world on 25th December did not support the flight patterns required to visit all the houses in the World on one night and that to do this would require a flight time of at least 10,000,000 years.
The believer (the child) would look at the evidence above and, based on an abject fear of not getting any presents, conclude immediately, and without question, that it must be a MIRACLE because its 'what their parents and their faith based school told them was true'. A rational, older, child (the adult) would have just looked at this and concluded - well, it's just a load of tosh isn't it. And equally they would conclude the same about Noah, talking burning shrubbery, virgin birth's, walking on water, Earth consuming floods, talking donkeys and snakes, God giving the Egyptian army piles, God forcing Ezekiel to eat bread made from human excrement, a seven eyed lamb, trumpets that when blown can decimate entire cities, angels with wings, Satan with horns (the evil one), simple magical healing tricks and so on and so on.
However, the annihilation of, for example, the Biblical Noah story in the same punishing and incredulous vein as described above is very entertaining to read (in a laugh-out-loud, fall on the floor, sort of way). The author goes to the extreme level of pointing out, in a completely dead pan way, that if all the animals of the World were indeed corralled into a 150m long wooden boat (the maximum length that a wooden vessel can be constructed according to this book) the build up of methane from the animals could lead to a pretty nasty explosion, particularly given the `FACT' that the ventilation system put in by Noah was only 16 inches wide and only in 1 compartment of the boat. He even tackles the burning question that has vexed the greatest minds in humanity for generations, namely how long it would take Noah and his wife to shovel the tonnes and tones and tonnes of animals waste every day, which as you can imagine is quite a long time.
This book is definitely worth reading despite the sledgehammer and blitzing style described above, as, through the complete decimation of the silly Bible stories, there emerges a large number of clear points that will stick in the mind, such as the BIBLICAL FACT that according to the Old Tasty Mint (the infallible word of God, remember) the wrathful and (self described) jealous GOD, Yahweh, is directly responsible for the deaths of between 2 and 5 million people* (including bizarrely millions of innocent women and children who are seen by the author of the bible as just collateral damage), which puts him into the same league as both Stalin and Hitler - interestingly I am not aware that Satan (the evil one) has killed anyone according to the actual Bible - which is a bit odd given his poor reputation for sneeking around bushes, tempting people with fruit and vegetables and hissing at people in a sinister way (he's behind you..!).
There are lengthy interesting sections on historical time lines, contradictions, the exact authors of the bible, why there are only 4 gospels when 75 are known to have been written, what historical evidence actually exists for the Messiah (all together now, 'he's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy') and so on, which deal with the more grounded parts of the Bible and then goes on to unpick these parts through hard historical evidence. These sections I found more enthralling than the stuff about Noah, Jonah and the Whale and so on which, as I said, is just common sense (even among the dwindling pool of people who actually still call themselves Christian in the UK, according to recent census surveys).
This book, therefore, is heavily biased to the loony tunes old testament, but it is important to bear in mind that millions of people still believe in all of this bronze age stuff (particularly in the US and the middle east) and it is these BIBLICAL FACTS that underpin the whole Bible - without the nonsense in the old testament the later stuff in the new testament doesn't make any sense either, or as a minimum it cannot be relied upon as in any convincing way factual. Put it another way; no Old Testament no 10 Commandments so no 'Moral Compass'; no original sin, so no Catholicism; no Exodus story no Judaism etc. The whole shakey pack of cards is built on these wildly implausible foundations and the author systematically takes a sledgehammer to these foundations with predictable conclusions.
Worth reading for when you are at a party and the thorny issue of religion crops up...
* This figure could be as high as 30 million when you throw in the genocide of the entire human race by drowning, including innocent children, when GOD got upset that his creations were getting fat, lazy and a bit coarse (not to mention all the animals that had to die aswell) - which is truly shocking as it's a cast iron, bona fide FACT as it says so in the Bible. Still, I guess on the plus side, we got bright colourful rainbows to look at to remind us of the 30 million people that died, which is a nice touch.
I began researching loss of faith and found many helpful books and internet articles
It came as a surprise to discover that there are clergy some still serving who no longer believe
This book explains many conflicting statements in the bible and explains how we are conditioned to believing in a supernatural human being
Loved his example of faith by an anecdotal group trial. Says it all.
It is very well written with clear, concise information for the doubting Christian/atheist/freethinker.
It should be required reading in schools across the world and would help so many free themselves from the brain washing of religion.
Don't hesitate, buy it and several more copies for your reasoning and sensible friends.
Definitely a book for the doubting Christian as well as for those who've since moved on.