Project Bible for Atheists: Introduction

I am currently listening to the audio book Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible, by David Plotz. (I am literate, by the way, but it is unsafe to read and drive at the same time). This book originated as a blog series on, which Mr. Plotz is currently the editor of. Plotz is a secular Jew, and he decided to undertake this endeavor when he was flipping through a Bible at a Bat Mitzvah and discovered an alarming story he had never heard of or read before.

The book is incredibly interesting. It is a reaction to the most widely read and translated book in the world by a normal, albeit well educated, man. It is intelligent and insightful without being academic and boring. I am not sure who his intended audience is though, and in fact it would seem that he has no particular audience in mind. Plotz relates a lot of what he is reading to Jewish culture and the current situation in the Middle East, but as an atheist from a Christian background I do not feel left out of the discussion.

Listening to this book has sparked my interest in delving into this incredible work once again. The first time I attempted to read the Bible, it turned me into an atheist. The first time I actually made it through the Bible in its entirety (I might have skipped a few “begots” here or there) it was for a class at Union called World of the Bible, which was an examination of the bible as an historical and cultural document.

This time through I want to read the Bible specifically from the point of view of an atheist. I want to see what a non-religious person might glean from this text. Just because I don’t believe in the existence in real life of the main character of the book and that I believe almost nothing written on its pages to be the literal truth doesn’t mean there aren’t ways a serious reading can’t be enriching. After all, I feel I have been enriched by reading many novels, notably The Lord of the Rings and the Ender series.

As I read through the Bible one more time, I will reflect on the things that even an atheist can take away from it. Our understanding of history, human behavior, morality, philosophy, and more will be improved.

Oh! How could I forget? Another thing an atheist might come away from a perusal* of the Bible with is an arsenal of contradictions and horrendous stories to use in the battle against the Religious Right.

I have to credit David Plotz for inspiring me to reread the Bible and share my own thoughts with you. I hope he will keep in mind that imitation is the greatest form of flattery.

* peruse – verb – to read through with thoroughness or care. Crazy, huh?


Angie Jackson said...

Let us know how the reading goes, with updates. I've read that book too many times as a Christian - I'm not quite ready to do it as an atheist, but I'll enjoy reading your thoughts on it.

jdk said...

Thanks for the encouragement Angie. It will be easier to get through this project if I know people will be following along.

Compassionate Heathen said...

nice...i'm currently doing the same...

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