I have read the entire Bible through twice. Last year, when my doubts became more and more overbearing, I read large chunks of it again, mostly in hopes that those doubts would be assuaged. Obviously, this didn't work out. Now, I am listening to a youtube series by the Bible Reloaded called The Atheist Bible Study. It is irreverent and dirty and I absolutely love it. Working my way through the Old Testament, now through the eyes of being an agnostic, I find the God of the Old Testament to be absolutely appalling. He is vengeful and cruel, supportive of rape, genocide, infanticide, and slavery. All my life I was taught that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, but we can explain away his cruelty in the Old Testament with one word--Jesus. By Jesus coming, God no longer needed for people to die by the sword, because he had a better punishment for them. Hell. There is salvation of course too, for everyone, even the people that God would probably have killed before.
But if God is the God of yesterday, today, and tomorrow then that means that he is still supportive of genocide, rape, slavery, and infanticide. Did you know that there is an okay reason for abortion in the Bible? (Numbers 5:11-31) Have you seen the amount of times where the Bible says that God commanded them to put every man, woman, and child in a city to the sword or encouraged mass executions? (Genesis 7:21-23, 19:24, Exodus 12:29, Numbers 14:41-49, Deuteronomy 2:34, 3:6, 7:2, 13:15, 20:16-17, Joshua 6:21, 10:10-11, 10:40, II Kings 2:23-24, 1 Samuel 6:19, 15:2-3, 2 Chronicles 13: 15-18) There is more about the approval of genocide in the Bible then there is about disapproval of homosexuality. Imagine for a moment that a group of people came into your town, conquered it, and then announced that God told them to kill every person who lived there. We have a name for those people. We call them terrorists. The Israelites of the Old Testament were terrorists. No wonder the Israelites were so confused when Jesus showed up and said he didn't come for bloody revolution. I mean, that was what the other judges, prophets, and kings had done in the past. No wonder the Jews didn't trust this man. He certainly didn't act like any of the great leaders of legend and his version of revolution still left them under the burden of the Roman Empire. Why are we so surprised that the Jews refuse to believe that the Messiah has come?
My favorite interesting tidbit that never fully occurred to me until now is to when these "historical accounts" accounts were written. How often does the Bible say things like, and he reigned in peace for 80 years? That means that, at the very least, that part of the Bible was written 80 years after the actual events. 80 years?! That's three generations. Three generations of word of mouth, for people to get wrong information, to embellish and misconstrue. It's not like these people had a whole bunch of books to help with their research of historical accounts. There was no Google. They were completely reliant on word of mouth. This is worse than the telephone game because these stories very quickly turned into myths. There is one historical reference for King David in all of archaeology. One. Yet he is touted as this great king. Was he really? Or perhaps Solomon needed to make himself sound better than he actually was. Perhaps it was part of a PR stunt, one in which no one could verify facts, to give himself a pedigree worthy of Israel. History is written by the victors. We will never know the real story.
Have you ever heard of King Omri though? You probably skipped over it while reading your Bible. After all, he is only mentioned in 1 Kings 16 and his reign was brief. Yet there is massive amounts of archaeological evidence for King Omri and his reign. Also, even though the Bible doesn't mention any lineage, we have evidence of him having children and those children carrying on the dynasty. There is a negative tone in the Bible in reference to Omri, which is probably why the Bible seems to gloss over his reign and dynasty even though archaeological evidence shows that he was a great warrior king with quite a kingdom. So King David, who there is hardly any evidence gets chapter after chapter devoted to him while King Omri gets a few throwaway verses and Christians don't seem concerned about it at all.
What I learned about oral traditions was that word-of-mouth stories were so important to ancient people, seeing as it was their only way to pass down stories and history, that you weren't allowed to change a single word. You would study under masters who would make you repeat everything verbatim before releasing you out into the world to tell the stories of your people. Except that isn't quite right. It was understood that each storyteller would have their own personal flair. The Odyssey is considered a poetic narrative masterpiece, yet by the time it was written down, there were several different versions floating around, some better than others. Christians and Jews assume that the Bible is difference because it is God-inspired and therefore nothing in it can possibly be wrong, embellished, or made up. Here is where faith lies, because despite modern archaeological evidence, one must continue to believe in something that is full of inconsistencies and errors and ignore those things in order to continue believing. I can no longer do this.
The Bible is a very interesting historical document, but it is no better or worse than a historical fiction novel. Fact and fiction are so intertwined that it is nearly impossible to separate the two. What I do know is this, a God that commands and supports the murder of entire towns is not one that deserves to be worshipped.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.