Monday School: Why do Atheists read the bible?

It’s Monday! Time for another session of Monday School! Thank you once again for returning for more ‘Rational Corrective To All That Nonsense You Learned Yesterday!’

Today we’re going to tackle a recurring issue I’ve had to combat since becoming an Atheist twenty years ago. When believers realize that I do not follow any religions, they often assume the reason why is because I just haven’t read their holy book, which apparently has the powers to convince me that billions of years of big bangs, dinosaurs and countless evolutions never happened.

Sure, whatever.

Yet this turns into a Catch 22 for non-believers who actually take the time to read the holy books. While I had read bits and pieces of the bible prior to declaring myself a non-believer in high school, I actually read most of the bible, Quaran and a few others while I took various courses in religious studies when attending University. I know what you’re thinking, why would an Atheist take religious studies? Well, one answer was because it seemed like the most interesting courses available during the summer and I needed a certain number of courses to qualify for a student loan. Another answer would be because I wanted to be a shit disturber, as my plan was to have fun heckling the class and the professor all summer. Then I found out that the professor was an atheist and the class was a lot more fun than I thought it would be.

So when taking those courses, I did read various religious books in which one of them was the bible. I’ve been told by various believers that the real reason why I took these classes is because there was a part of me that wanted to believe and was just looking for salvation. To that I give a hearty chuckle and a piss off. I read the bible for the same reason I read Lord Of the Rings, Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas and A Clockwork Orange: I was curious.

Another good reason for atheists to read the bible is because many of us know that believers lie to themselves about what they think it says. They preach that it’s a moral document, but anyone who reads it knows that it’s the exact opposite. You would be stunned if you knew how few Christians have actually read the book. What a lot of people also don’t realize, this is exactly how the Church prefers it. In the early, early years of Christianity, it was prohibited for regular folk to actually read the bible. I’m not making this up! People had to go to church to learn the word of god because it wasn’t translated into their language until much, much later and they had to take the word of the Priests who could read it in the original text to what it said and what it meant. Needless to say, it’s much easier to preach your own truth if you’re the only one who can translate the holy book. Gives the whole idea of ‘taking something on faith’ to a new extreme, eh?

That was still a very long time ago but it’s well documented that the priest-class didn’t want their sheep to know exactly what was written in the book. This allowed priests the opportunity to cherry pick what parts they preferred to use and simply disregard the passages that would prevent them from cashing in with the collection plate. If the masses are under the impression that their God would smite them if they didn’t do what their priest said the book told them, it was fair to see priests truly held great power back in the day as they could convince their faithful to do or believe anything they liked.

So this is one reason why many atheists read the bible as well as other religious holy books. That way we understand and know what it truly says, instead of the rose coloured glasses version that is taught in churches today by cherry picking clergy. So instead of going along with the uninformed assumption of what a great dude this guy names Moses was, I learned from reading the bible that he murdered many people, often at the request of his god. This great saviour of the Israelites also ordered his men to kidnap and keep the virgin daughters of their victims to serve them as slaves. Don’t believe me? It’s in that book everyone keeps telling me to read, right there in Numbers 31:15-18.

Whenever someone talks about Jesus, it’s always the same old hooey about peace, love and forgiveness. Yet when you actually consult the actual book, the late JC is actually quoted as not promoting peace, but the sword against those who don’t follow him. There’s actually a direct quote where Jesus says that he wants to rip apart your family if just one of them don’t believe in him, and if you love anyone more than him, even your parents, you’re not worthy to hang with him and his entourage (Matthew 10:34-37). Does that sound like peace, love and forgiveness to you?

And according to biblical terms, if you are found to be ‘unworthy’ of Jesus, that means you’re getting a one way ticket to eternal fire and brimstone down below in the pits of hell… that same place that isn’t even mentioned once in the old testament. A small omission from the original text, or just some fearsome thing that someone made up to shut the pie holes of those that doth protest too much?

In various parts of the book Jesus speaks in parables, which are vague metaphorical stories that are made specifically meant to confuse the shit out of people. This is purposely done so that people cannot know what Jesus expects of his followers in order to be forgiven and deemed worthy (Matthew 4:11-12 and 13:11-15). It’s kind of hard to win forgiveness and be deemed worthy if the table you’re playing at has a crooked dealer. And just like in casinos, the house usually wins and you end up leaving church with your pockets feeling a little lighter.

This is the reason why many Atheists take the time to read up on the holy books that are out there. Just by reading the book, we end up knowing more about someone’s religion that a lot of its followers who actually never take the time to read it themselves. As a result we know more about it than many people who practice it, and by knowing a bit about it allows us to defend ourselves and others from people who are not only misquoting the book they never read but falsely misrepresenting it.

It’s kind of like getting vaccine for religious bullshit. We subject ourselves to reading the bullshit in a controlled setting, basically inoculating ourselves for when people walk up to us later with their own outrageous interpretations. Besides, the bible is a work of fiction. If someone were to walk up to me tomorrow and try to tell me that ‘The Lord Of the Rings’ was a true story and what not, I’d have the exact same response, I’d demand proof and would refuse to believe a word until such evidence was presented and thoroughly analyzed.

So to the people who state that Atheists should read their holy books, I will end by saying this: I have read your book. The only thing I was convinced of when going through it was that I had made the right decision twenty years ago when I declared myself an Atheist. I would instead challenge the ‘believers’ to do the same: read your book. Cover to bloody (literally) cover and I’m curious to see how people would respond if they read all of their book and stopped cherry picking just the good stuff. I think many would be surprised by the results if people actually read all of that monstrous book rather than just bits and pieces.




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