Tag Archives: bible

To interpret literally or liberally?

I was raised to believe that everything the Bible says is literally true, and as a nonbeliever I still tend to interpret the Bible pretty literally. Here’s why:

Literalism is the natural form of religion that results from reading the scriptures. When people read the Bible with no preconceived ideas about what it should say, they will tend to assume it means exactly what it says. I wouldn’t expect it to even occur to anyone that the Bible might not simply mean what it says, unless someone else told them to think that. Or unless they were unable to accept what they were reading because they already had other, more strongly-held beliefs that were incompatible with the Bible.

Non-literalist religion is a self-deceptive phenomenon that results when people consider themselves religious, but also have beliefs and values that conflict with the scriptures. If they don’t want to outright reject the Bible or admit that their values don’t come from their religion, they have to make up metaphorical interpretations of the Bible that agree with what they already believe, and ignore what the Bible actually says.1

In a lot of cases, what the Bible says was meant completely literally, and was originally interpreted literally, and no one saw a problem with that. But as humanity’s knowledge of the world and standards of morality have improved over time, it has become increasingly clear to most people that what the Bible says literally is absurdly wrong. So those who can’t admit that the Bible is wrong have had to increasingly reinterpret it figuratively. Some take it so far that they’re basically atheists in denial.

Even literalists are now so used to thinking of certain concepts and expressions used in the Bible as figurative that it might not even occur to them that those things might have once been meant literally. But compared to what the writers intended, literalists aren’t literal enough! Like most people in ancient times, the writers of the Bible actually believed that people literally thought with their hearts. And their kidneys.2

Continue reading To interpret literally or liberally?
Share this post:

Contradictions in the Bible

For a supposedly error-free book supposedly written under the influence of a supposedly perfect God who supposedly wants everyone to know the truth, the Bible sure contradicts itself a lot.

When the Bible contradicts what we know about reality, Bible believers have the option of denying those inconvenient facts. But when the Bible contradicts itself, the only thing that can be wrong is the Bible.

And the Bible does contradict itself, constantly. On this blog, I plan to write about hundreds of biblical contradictions,1 many of which you won’t find documented anywhere else.

Here are all the biblical contradictions (questions that the Bible answers in multiple incompatible ways) that I’ve written about so far. I will be adding a new one every two weeks.

Continue reading Contradictions in the Bible
Share this post:

Bible stories

Have you ever noticed how the serpent in the garden of Eden didn’t actually tell any lies? Have you ever thought about the implications of God’s statement that Job had told the truth about him and his friends had not? Did you spot the huge flaw in Joseph’s plan to save Egypt from the famine?

Have you noticed that despite how much the Bible demonizes him, the guy with the talking donkey was a consistently obedient servant of God? Did you catch the fact that the story of Jonah is about God forcing someone to tell a lie? Or that when Daniel’s friends are disobeying the king so they won’t have to disobey God, the Bible suspiciously fails to mention what Daniel was doing at the time, and vice versa?

Probably not. Maybe you’ve never read the Bible. Maybe you’ve only read “sanitized” versions of the Bible that left out all the awkward parts. Maybe you’ve read the Bible, but you had preconceived ideas of how the stories were supposed to go and what the characters were supposed to be like, which got in the way of seeing what the Bible actually says.

Maybe you’re so familiar with certain passages that when you see them, you just recognize-and-ignore them, instead of thinking about what they’re saying. Maybe the relevant passages were just so far apart in the Bible that you forgot about one by the time you got to another, so you never realized what they imply if you put them together.

It’s easy to miss a lot of surprising things like these in the Bible, for one reason or another. In this monthly series of summarized Bible stories, I’m going to be making those things a lot harder to miss.

I will include a moral at the end of each story. Not all of them are good morals, and not all of them are ideas that Christians are likely to agree with, but they are all lessons that can be learned from the Bible’s stories. For the Parables, I will also include an interpretation at the end, so you can easily see what everything in the story represents.

Below is a list of the Bible stories I’ve published on this blog so far, as well as the rest of the stories I’ll be posting in the future. If you like these stories, you can subscribe to my blog to make sure you’ll get to read more stories as they come out each month. There are several ways you can stay updated, so find something that works for you:

  • Get push notifications on this device by clicking the bell icon in the lower-right corner of the screen.1
  • Use a tool like BlogTrottr to get my posts sent to your email.
  • If you use a feed reader such as Feedly, you can get updates there.
  • Follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

Or if you don’t want to wait a month for each new story, you can get early access to future Bible stories by supporting me on Patreon.

Continue reading Bible stories
Share this post: