Doug, the photo above is not a contradiction. It is hyperbole. Here is a site that provides you some actual ones, though not even all of those are valid. List of more credible bible contradictions
This also provides you a chance to see the apologetic responses, so that you at least know what they are.
Tom, you might like the site I just linked. Some of the contradictions out there are real contradictions and there is little getting around them. I wasn't saying the whole NT is allegorical because it isn't. And the Bible is a mess of political posturing, and power grabbing in politics and faith passed off as new revelations from God. A lot of it is meant to be taken literally, but sometimes like when we say "I am staving" we aren't even aware we are using literary devices.
John has an extremely valid point. We as non-theist must not fall into the same fallacies that the theist community clings too. If we want to have intelligent conversations we must be able to logically defend our position.
It's a hook. Some people like to fish.
Mabel, there are so many hooks out there that are the truth, that it just makes me aggravated when I have no capacity to distance myself from this. Then when I use actually devastating arguments, their effect is diminished because a bunch of well-intentioned amateurs came ahead of me, and established atheists as terrible at interpreting scripture. If they had have adhered to the basic principles of skepticism, they would have gotten it right, but I don't know why many of you just get gullible when it comes to atheist scripture interpretations.
I am wary to deconvert, but when I do make efforts, I want them to be effective. I believe we can use the actual text of the bible to help restrain Christians from doing the amount of damage they would otherwise do. But to be able to have this power, we have to be able to wield the power in the first place.
Heather is right, I should write a blog, but I lack the passion for it unless I am interacting with other people who I can directly try to influence. I know you and Rob and many others here really want to be effective. I hope I can convince some of you that this is really not the way to go about it.
The way is to be a skeptic. It is to adhere to academic standards. One of the things I love about the amateur site I linked is that the author took the time to actually put the response arguments out there and rate how devastating a criticism of the bible was based on what kind of responses would be given to defend against it. I don't want to shame or anything, but at the same time, I want to try to shock you all into the reality of how skepticism is abandoned in the fight against the damages caused by religion. There is something simply wrong with this. I would be so much more understanding and gracious if atheists didn't stand for a skepticism-based approach to all information. And of course, I get that atheism can have a broad meaning, but the implications of the disbelief in supernatural realities leads the community at large toward common goals and shared ideologies.
Not all of us have the ability, time, and/or desire to learn that much about the Bible, its meaning, and the arguments from both sides. I do like to have solid responses when challenged about my atheism, but that is more for my comfort level than to attempt to de-convert anybody.
Because of this, I do not engage in that kind of debate. I know I don't have the requisite knowledge. I am glad others do. I think the Bible should be challenged intellectually, on their terms.
I don't want the Bible to have much space rented in my head.
I see both John's and Diane's points.
If you aren't prepared to learn a lot about the Bible you probably shouldn't argue about it with theists who really know it. Far better to let them argue with each other in that case (and they've been doing it for almost 2000 years). But of course you can argue about plenty of other things instead, creationism, the existence of god, whether the United States is founded on Christian principles, whether it should be, etc., etc. Nevertheless there is room a lot of times to demonstrate to the average Xian in the street that he doesn't know Jacques Schitte about the bible, and 90 percent of the time, they really don't.
On the other hand, if learning about the bible just isn't your cup of tea, like with Diane, that's fine too. I would hope in that case you don't then proceed to argue stupidly/ignorantly about it after not learning anything about it. It's really not necessary for an atheist to know the bible backwards and forwards just to be an atheist. The bible is an answer to the second question, the one that pops up after someone gives the wrong answer to the first question.
Q: Does god exist?
A: Yes [sic]
Q: OK, if he exists, what does he want from us? (Or: Has he said anything to us?)
A: Here, read this book.
An atheist answered the first question no not yes, so the bible is secondary to him. (And also he will be unimpressed with someone who tries to argue with him out of the bible.) Arguing about it is in some ways fighting on their turf, and although there is some good meat in there for arguments, it's not as abundant as a casual reading or a list of quote mines would lead you to believe. You are especially asking for trouble if you are using the King James Version since many of the words used therein have had subtle shifts of meaning over the past four centuries.
Someone in chat the other day tried to argue that Leviticus 20:13 was a prohibition against having a male-female-male threesome, not homosexuality. He read "as with a woman" to mean "while with a woman" rather than "like with a woman". I thought at first he was joking but he was dead serious.
tl;dr: It's OK to be an atheist without knowing a shit ton about the bible--if you just have no interest in it, fine and dandy! On the other hand, it's a bad idea to try to engage in serious discussion about the bible with a knowledgeable theist without that knowledge, and you should probably stick to stuff you do know about, arguments against the existence of god, why creationism is wrong, etc. ProfMTH is a good example of someone who can argue the Bible, Thunderf00t is an example of someone who doesn't (though for all I know he could). Anyone want to say Thunderf00t is not a good atheist?
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