atheism, books, religion

A New Mission: Reading Christory

Christian history is fascinating

I finished my goal of re-reading the Bible since the last time I used this blog regularly. In the interim, I have found a new focus: reading about biblical history and the cultural impacts of Christianity.

a bookshelf with Bibles and other Christianity-related texts
A snapshot of part of the religion section of one of my bookshelves. Most of these are ones I have yet to read. I’m having some difficulty getting all my religion books, read and unread, properly organized. There may need to be more bookshelves.

I’ve read dozens of books dealing with Christianity’s roots and influences on Western or American culture since I was last “here.” This reading has really changed the way I think about Christianity, Christians, and atheism, among many other things.

As a subject of study, Christianity is all the more fascinating for learning about its history. There are few more wide-reaching, long-running stories of political intrigue and cultural control than is Christianity’s past. And it is so interwoven with American history and culture that I LOVE reading and talking about it with anyone who will listen.

But make no mistake—reading biblical history and cultural examinations of Christianity has not made it any more believable. Quite the opposite.

Not only does studying Christianity’s roots make its claims all the more absurd, it makes it hard to believe that anyone else believes them either. But then reality up and smacks me in the face with the fact that, oh yeah, people actually DO believe this stuff is literal fact.

Right…

[insert awkward chuckle here]

The fremdschämen is so very strong sometimes.

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atheism, morality, religion

Mission Debriefing: Genesis

Ah, Genesis… where it all began. Literally. So much good (or not) stuff here. If nothing else, it is fertile ground for vivid, interesting mental images. Some of those mental images are of massive amounts of death, but yay for creation stories! Creation stories are always interesting, regardless how nonsensical they might be.

The Good

Creation: This is a big one in terms of praiseworthy things. Creating all existence is awesome! Good on ya God! There’s some wrinkles to be ironed out in terms of how and why, but creating everything is definitely a great accomplishment and everything in history depended on it. We can quibble about impressive-good being different than moral-good, but for simplicity sake, I’m counting it.

Other things I marked as “good” was promising never to kill everyone (with a flood) again (9:13-16), and two different instances of blessing Abraham (12:2-3; 17:1-8). The blessings of Abraham were entirely arbitrary on God’s part as far as I can tell, but I think they still count. I’m still not sure if promising not to murder the population in a certain way counts as properly good—one would expect not murdering everything would be the default setting for anyone, let alone a supposedly loving, all-powerful entity—but the pickings were kinda slim.

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atheism, reason, religion

Mission: The “Good Book”

Image
Here’s my NIV bible I received back when I was going through confirmation. Note the pink, blue and orange sticky notes. The orange notes on the side are my notes to myself, the blue are notations of when god did something good, and the pink are notations of when god did something evil. I plan to do the same for satan/the devil along the bottom once that character shows up in the story, but thus far he’s not been introduced.

I have accepted the mission, set by my curiosity in my fellow human, to re-read the bible. My goal is to try to understand why its legions of followers have dubbed it the “Good Book.”

Now, I have read it before, though it was a long time ago. I read the entire book—cheating a bit by skipping all the “begats” portions—when I was going through confirmation when I was about 11. We were instructed to read the bible, and so I did. It did not take long before the overwhelming details of  god commanding death, war, genocide, rape, slavery, torture and otherwise doing or ordering his followers to do some decidedly evil shit that I decided there was a problem. I went to my pastor with questions, and he said to read the bible, as it would answer my questions, so I pressed on.

Long story short, I read it, had ten times more questions at the end than I had early on when I questioned him, the paltry answers I got were in no way satisfying, and ultimately I realized none of what I’d been told in church or read in the bible made any sense.

TL;DR: Read bible –> become atheist.

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