My departure from Christianity was the result of a long process of study and prayer. After engaging with atheists at alt.atheism.moderated back in the late nineties, I set out to prove (to myself and, if I could, anyone else that would listen) that the Bible could withstand even the most brutal and earnest assaults on its character.
Needless to say, I failed.
That experience, along with many follow-up experiences dealing with Christians after I de-converted, convinced me that most of them are ignorant of the Bible's contents. Their faith consists largely of sound bites and quotations regurgitated ad nauseum from pulpits and pundits, which is in some ways fortunate but is otherwise just sad. Fortunate because much of what gets regurgitated is meaningless pap, while the really 'dangerous' stuff is dismissed by the majority as anachronistic (yes, I know there is some nasty stuff regurgitated too). Sad because ignorance is never actually bliss.
What put me in mind of this is an entry over at CNN's religion blog, titled: Actually, that's not in the Bible. Here's the money quote:
"Most people who profess a deep love of the Bible have never actually read the book,” says Rabbi Rami Shapiro, who once had to persuade a student in his Bible class at Middle Tennessee State University that the saying “this dog won’t hunt” doesn’t appear in the Book of Proverbs.
“They have memorized parts of texts that they can string together to prove the biblical basis for whatever it is they believe in,” he says, “but they ignore the vast majority of the text."
The entry cites several examples of "phantom" Bible verses, such as "This, too, shall pass", "God helps those who help themselves", and "God works in mysterious ways." Even the story of the Fall is inaccurate as it exists in the popular imagination, saith CNN's religion blogger.
Personally, while the entry's message is well taken, I think it's a little to literalist in what it judges as a misquotation. It's annoying to me - and counterproductive in debate - when someone argues semantics, nitpicking quotes and other minutia for the sake of scoring a few non-essential points.
Being in the company of a number of new potential e-friends, I'd like to know what you think. Does the article get it right, or is it too nitpicky? What, if anything, do these misquotations tell us about our society?