I'm sure a lot of us have read it.  I'm curious about your reactions to it.  I read it a while ago, and found it disturbing.

I think the Christians in my life thought I was actually looking for their God in it.  I tried to be as open-minded as I could, trying to see what they see in it.  I found it to be violently, depressingly narcissistic.  When I told the Christians my thoughts, they dismissed the OT and praised the NT.

I found the NT to be as insipidly nauseating as the OT.  I had to stop reading it somewhere around Paul's Letter to Some Misguided People Somewhere before I imploded.  

My response to one particularly rabid Christian is that I have read it, and if his deity had wanted to get through to me it had its chance.  He said I need to study it with assistance from somebody who knows how to interpret it correctly.  

Nope!  Call me stubborn, defiant, possessed... whatever.  I say that if people can find guidance and comfort in the Bible, good for them.   I haven't - it's not the book for me. 

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Have you ever read Isaac Newton's original formulation of calculus?   Convoluted, mildly inscrutable, hard to follow.  Leibnitz definitely cleaned things up a bit, but a translation of his original would also not be something that you would hand a first-year calculus student.

Why would you ever expect to read any original source text as a novice and expect to understand it without assistance?

And would I more likely find that "assistance" to be neutral, or biased?

I'm not sure there is such a thing as "neutral" in that context, @archaeopteryx.  Every calculus teacher does things somewhat differently, based on their own experience and background and style.  Based also on the sort of students they have.  So is that biased?  I don't know.  It's certainly socially constructed.

At the same time, there are probably a lot of similarities.  I'd bet that you could mostly recognize a calculus class as a calculus class most places.  None would start with the original source material of Newton or Leibnitz, though they would refer to it.  How we teach calculus has also changed over time. 

Hard to say.

Professor Robert, do you really read Aramaic and ancient Hebrew? That is so cool!  I wish I knew an ancient language, I only do English and Welsh.

However, scientific and mathematical theses, especially from a very mentally unstable deeply christian mathematician, would probably need some form of interpretation, the content actually says more about the writer, he was a complete nut job.  There is evidence that when he was warden for the treasury he once slit open the stomach of a young girl to get to the 'clipped' counterfeit coin that she had swallowed.

Newton, too, was obsessed with the bible, he wrote his (rarely published, funnily enough) theses in a similar way to how the bible was written.  He actually learnt Hebrew and he calculated the day that christ was supposed to have been crucified (3rd April 33 AD) and when Armageddon is due (2060)

On the other hand I have read many, many scientific texts and engineering manuals in my time as an engineer and I haven't needed much assistance at all.  Some additional reading, maybe.  Most sane scientists want their texts to be understood, having to 'interpret' kind of ruins the whole idea.  Finding the the area under a curve is actually pretty straight forward once you have been taught the theory, no interpretation involved.  The (fictitious) works of Shakespeare though, a completely different kettle of fish.

It is hardly reasonable to ask that question as when calculus is expressed in its simplest form with experienced teachers most people still do not get it. But then when people do spend the time to read it and what others say about it and then say they do understand it and it is still nonsense where can you go with that? The best possible interpretation believers agree upon is still nonsense. That is the best you can expect.

Eh? I've taught calculus principles successfully to adults taking GED courses (some of them barely could read well!) I did it by countering Zeno's Paradox but I didn't have to explain that was what I was doing. :D Humans seem to have a good intuitive grasp of "limit". 

OK. It DOES require a teacher who understands learning at a fundamental level (I've done AI research) and understands who to identify with their students. Teaching experience alone isn't sufficient.  

@Robert - Convoluted, try Contradictory, sometimes interesting, sometimes horrific, made up stories. Man's imagination is limitless, throw in superstitious codswallop, and Voila, we have a religion. One doesn't need to be a first year calculus student, one does not need to be able to understand maths, one just has to be able to read. At my age, I still wouldn't be able to understand Isaac Newton's calculus, it wouldn't matter how many teachers I had, I have been reading the bible since I was eleven, and when I didn't understand something that didn't make sense - I got, that is one of the mysteries of god.

The shite really hit the fan when I found contradictory passages in the bible. That was when I was asked not to come back to Catechism class. That didn't stop me from reading the bible, and finding horrific stories and rules, of death and destruction.

Nah, no teacher needed, just an interest in finding the truth. You as a teacher still couldn't teach me how to read the bible. I would be disagreeing with you the whole time, and every passage you quoted I could probably find a contradictory one. I don't cherry pick, you do. I don't make excuses for horrific behavior, you do. That is the thing with most Atheists - they know the bible, that is

1) Why many are Atheist
2) Why Atheists can discuss the bible at length.

So, whose assistance would you suggest - you are not doing a very good job here, Bob.

Bt the by Bob, which particular 'original' source did you read?

when I didn't understand something that didn't make sense - I got, that is one of the mysteries of god.

No, that's just where things get interesting to try to figure out!   You should challenge your catechism teacher!  Ask questions, dig deeply, be skeptical.   Don't be one of the mushroom students that so often frequent classrooms!  Absolutely, engage!

Every human work has mistakes and contradictions.  I seem to remember a study where most school science textbooks have literally hundreds of errors and misrepresentations.  Goodness knows the original source materials are often inscrutable, and the science teachers in elementary and middle school at least tend not to be very capable.  Yet with inquisitive students and helpful instructors we somehow succeed in at least teaching some people science.  Not the majority, apparently, if our Tea Party Americans are considered, but at least a goodly number.

Why would you expect theology to be any different?

From my experience here and elsewhere, atheists have only the most superficial understanding of the Bible, and no real comprehension of the rest of Jewish, Christian, etc. literature.  It's a bit like one of the aforementioned Tea Partiers saying "I read the IPCC Report, I didn't understand most of it, I found all these contradictions... I never took a science class, never engaged more deeply (and I came in with all this anti-science bias to begin with)."  That's what you sometimes look like to us.  The theological version of the Tea Party.  In fact, some of the rants here bear striking resemblance to the anti-global-warming rants you see in those circles.

Technically speaking I'm a licensed minister with three (3) ordinations (minister, evangelist, pastor) so you can be pretty sure I've read it "cover to cover" including both the Protestant and Catholic Apocrypha. Used to have a good copy of Strong's Concordance and other reference works handy. This came after a nasty personal trauma and my critical thinking skills were at an ebb. What do I think of it? Actually the Bibles is a pretty good book. It does have practical advice and guidance once you drop the supernatural elements from consideration. The Protestant Apocrypha has copies of actual treaties between ancient nations in it and those are worth studying if you are a student of law. But Taoist and Buddhist philosophy and literature has similar good points. I'm not sure what part of the NT is "insipid" but I find Romans probably one of the few real gems there.  

I understand that there can be something to be gained by reading the Bible.  The last time I read it I was trying to see what Christians see in it.  I was trying to understand Christians and Christianity better.  I think I was mildly successful but I truly did not enjoy reading it.

Of course I am biased, but I tried not to be as much as I could.  The entirety of it was more or less insipid for me.  That is my experience of it but I understand insipidness is a subjective quality.  Studying it would be torture for me.

I became happier when I stopped reading it both times.  At least I read it!  I figured I could not have much to say about it without having at least read it.  Now I can freely say it's not the book for me.  I find the thesaurus more interesting and useful.  

There is literature that is inspiring and useful to me in the way the Bible is to some, I'm sure.  I am not spiritually dead.  I think deeply about many of the same things Christians think about but in a different way.  

Wasn't that a religious dinosaur? Theosaurus Rex?

Good one, Arch!  Took me a few minutes of searching....



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