I often get asked why I study the bible if I’m an atheist. Here’s a quick compilation of my reasons:
- The bible is the most important document in western cultural history (since it was the scripture of the institution that wielded power in the west for at least 1200 years).
- It is the best preserved, copied, attested and studied ancient text we have. Early copies are available in multiple languages, from multiple cultures and theologies. This makes it a fascinating and fruitful text to study (if you’re going to study any ancient text, of course).
- It is a text with many unanswered questions that have a possibility of being answered. There are riddles to be solved, and it is taking a multidisciplinary effort to solve them.
- It contains poetry and expression of extraordinary beauty, morality and sensitivity, alongside expressions of the most ugly, debased and depraved sentiments humanity can suffer. There is no better place to study the human condition than in the bible.
- It is a book that is highly politically active. A sizable proprtion of our society wants to give their readings of its dark fantasies authority over our lives.
And here are some reasons for reading the bible I don’t have!
- It is the only written communication of the creator of the universe to his creation.
- It gives us the reliable history of the incarnation of God in human form.
- It is a book with genuine spiritual or supernatural power.
- It is the best guide to human morality and mutual responsibility.
- It is the greatest story ever told!