What's the point of "reading through the bible in a year"?

An activity that's very popular with evangelicals is called "reading through the bible in a year". It is exactly as described: using a furnished checklist of roughly a few chapters a day, the evangelical reads their allotted scripture passages each day, until they have read through the bible in a year's time. There are also web sites and computer programs that will help you keep track of your progress as well. The motive behind this is to get christians to read their bibles completely through, which it's my understanding that very few of the faithful actually do in their lifetime.

The only problem with this is: for most people, bible reading becomes simply a mechanical chore, and you don't read critically what the passages are saying. I should know, because I would speed read a lot of scripture, and never really take the time to ponder what it really meant. Once I started taking my time, and actually READ the scripture--especially in the pentateuch--the bible began making less and less sense to me, and I began to really consider how silly and unbelievable the bible really was.

It was only when I actually began to read and comprehend the meaning of what was supposed to be god's "word" that planted the seeds of doubt in my mind, and ultimately led to me rejecting the bible and god altogether.

A christian on a proselytizing mission may tell an atheist/nontheist to read your bible in order to understand faith. For me anyway, it was the other way around: it drove me away from faith and myths. Once you drop the chains and shackles of religion and theoretical deities, you can really begin to comprehend the meaning of life and live it more fully without the cloud of eternal damnation hanging over your head.

Views: 25

Tags: atheism, bible, evangelicalism

Comment by James on March 5, 2011 at 5:53pm

I agree that reading the Bible really should have the inverse effect to the one they are shooting for. And from personal experience, I can tell you that reading the Bible turned me away from the religion of my upbringing, rather than closer to it. When you think about it, that's the only honest outcome for anyone that reads it with and open mind free of predetermined bias. I actually encourage people to read it if they are doing so if they are open to learning what it actually says, regardless if if may clash with what they thought they knew.

My parents don't know what's in their Bible but I do. Yet I'm an Atheist... I feel like that tells you something right there.



Comment by J.R. Callahan on March 6, 2011 at 7:13am
The weirdest thing I have noticed is highly intelligent people with critical thinking skills who still believe the hocus pocus. I think that cultural norms, familial and group peer pressure and fear sometimes over-powers even the strongest and brightest among us from thinking and acting rationally in regards to this subject. That book has been falsely put on a pedestal for so long that everyone living in it's jurisdiction has been brought up to think of it as if it so good and right that they don't even have to read and decipher it's meaning. In fact, many churches don't want you to read it and think. The chuches who rob the blind and the poor don't want them to know about the history surrounding the early years of Christianity. My ex mother in law once said, "The bible has been around for over 2000 years, it's stood the test of time, so it's got to be right." Wrong. This shows how culture can be a much greater force than reason.
Comment by Freek on March 6, 2011 at 7:38am

I can relate,

I have both speed-read through the bible. It took me more than a year, but it was still too fast to actually read it.

When I started paying more attention to verses, later helped by youtubers and great sites like this, the bible made (and still makes) less and less sense.

And even though most of the internal inconsistencies I have yet encountered were more or less successfully countered by my christian friends, the overall idea makes no sense anymore.

Comment by Christian McFadden on March 6, 2011 at 10:21am
Reading the bible in this fashion is another way Christians convince themselves that they are "doing good".
Comment by Lindsie on March 6, 2011 at 10:49am
What I find interesting, having been raised catholic- attended preschool through 8th grade in the same parish- is that I was given a Bible but never actually told to read it. From what I remember, Masses cycle through the same sets of readings every three years according to the church's calendar, with interesting alignment to what is happening at that time of the year (such as a reading about giving so much financially on the same weekend the church is trying to get people to increase their yearly donation). It's about "faith and good works" for catholics, and of course being spoon fed what is in that book so it's not necessary to actually crack it open.
Comment by Skycomet the Fallen Angel on March 6, 2011 at 2:23pm
Hmm... perhaps it's a show-off thing? Like "I read the whole bible nya nya nya!"

IDK... what I do know is that the old catholic church had a good reason for forbidding the translation of the bible into vernacular [on pain of death]. The church correctly believed then, what it doesn't seem to understand now [at least a lot of protestants don't understand it]... lay people reading the bible breeds heresy that is in contradiction to official church doctrines. 
If the evangelicals had any brains at all they would DISCOURAGE people from reading the bible because by doing so they are actually destroying themselves.

The bible has a long history of creating and spreading unorthodox ideas and skepticism among people, as well as a disallusionment with the establishment of the church.

But DON'T TELL THEM THAT THEY'RE BEING IDIOTS! They're actually helping us by encouraging ppl to read the bible! ^_^
Comment by andrew j van der veen on March 6, 2011 at 3:16pm

lets see, , all churches allready  embrace altruism ,

evolution towards more worldly views is inevitable (...)

lets keep our minds open and  eloquently invite  ALL people to use

more common denominators . Respect eachother in speech and thought.

no question is too silly, really!

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on March 6, 2011 at 7:38pm
What's the point of "reading through the bible in a year"?  I think it accomplished two things.  First, as I've found, the main difference between Christians and "former Christians" is that former Christians have actually read the bible.  This is often and embarrassing statistic for church leaders, and so getting their 'flock' to go through the process of reading it reduces that embarrassment.  Second, the time limit is set in order to ensure that they don't think too much about what they are reading - in order to avoid creating more 'former Christians'.
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on March 6, 2011 at 10:23pm


Heh. That sorta points to the conclusion that the atheists were just the ones that had the mental capacities to read and comprehend the Bible in a year. 

Christians just skim. That's why they are still Christians. 

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on March 6, 2011 at 10:30pm

Even when they do "read it through in 2002", or whatever, they are mechanically pushed through it, usually with accompanying material that 'explains' what they are reading.  The entire process produces a person who is glad to say that they read the whole thing straight through, also believing that they actually understood it, but typically they end up just being further indoctrinated to their cult.  The worst part is that you will likely never get them to read it again without the accompanying documents so they wind up worse off than if they hadn't read it at all.


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