Now before you disregard this article because you think I’m a religious evangelical, I’m quite the contrary. Depending on the mood I’m in, I’m either an atheist or an agnostic. So why on earth would I actively promote everyone to read the bible? Below I’ve compiled a list of reasons.
1) It is the single most influential book in history!
This statement is incontestable. No book, not even Harry Potter, holds it’s weight in salt against the Bible. The Bible is written in over a 1,000 languages, nearly 1/7th of all the languages that exist in the world. It comes in dozens of versions, including the notables such as the King James, New International Version, and Revised Standard Edition. Literally billions of copies have been produced over the past two thousand years. It has spurred religious crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the reason we celebrate Christmas! There are few aspects of current day society that haven’t been influenced by christian and judeo traditions. Therefore just reading through the original text can give insight into our very history.
2) Almost 84% of the world is religious?
No matter what your disposition, there is something to be said that the VAST majority of the world believes in some form of religion, with 1/3 being Christians. I may be an outspoken disbeliever in a god, but I also believe strongly in evolution, and in this case more specifically evolutionary behavioral biology. I believe it’s a fair assessment that “belief” has played some evolutionary advantage in our vast history of human evolution. What specifically that trait is, whether by providing structured rules or bringing groups together, still reamins unclear. So what about the Bible, or any religious text for that matter, is powerful enough to convince billions to follow it’s word? Aren’t you simple curious enough to know what it says?
3) If you are a Christian, you better have read the entire thing
There is nothing worse in my eyes than a hypocrit. Claiming to believe in the word of God, yet not actually having read them, only confirms your blind allegiance to the teachings of others. Even having heard the whole bible through a preacher, or teacher, restricts you to the interpretation of another. Now I whole heartedly believe every individual must strongly believe in something, however you must come to those beliefs on your own accord. Therefore if you are a Christian, you better well have read the Bible. If you’re a Muslim, you should be familiar with the Koran. If you are an evolutionist, you better well know the scientific data that supports your theory. Until you have done so, you are simply a puppet to those who indoctrinate you to their beliefs….or rather their interpretations.
4) If you are an Athesist/Agnostic, you will only gain better insight to your beliefs
Similar to the argument I was making previously, to truly be a good thinker, you must know and understand both your side and the side of those holding opposing beliefs. Understanding both sides will give your stance better weight and validity. By understanding the other side, you can better understand yours. In a metaphorical sense, how can you know what is “good” if you don’t know what it means to be “bad?” (DISCLAIMER: I am merely using this analogy to better shed light on the subject, in NO WAY am I implying one belief is good and the other bad.) Similarly to what Sun Tzu stated in the The Art of War, “if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.”
Why I am reading the Bible
It is because of my strong conviction to understand the other side that led me to begin reading the Bible. In my crusade to better understand “beliefs” in general, I originally started by reading Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this extremely atheist propaganda because it is written in a very logical manner. However I realized I was becoming the hypocrit that I so despise; I was reading literature that already supports my beliefs, and use them as evidence to substantiate atheism.
So I chose to dive right into the real deal, the ultimate form of religious literature–the Bible. I chose the New Insternational Version because I felt it would be the most unbiased, given it was a collaboration of multidisciplinary scholars, complete with extensive footnotes. I’ve spent months reading it, meeting weekly with a theologian to ask questions to better elaborate any uncertainties. Despite the fact that I’ve read 500 extremely dense pages, I’m only 1/4 of the way done. To help with the process, I’ve also delved into another “pro-religious” book called The Language of God, by Francis Collins. Written by a hardcore scientist, in fact he was the lead scientist on the human genome project, he argues in favor of believing a God. I have yet to finish, but I think they will complement each other well.
I know that it is a daunting task, but as with ALL life goals, it’s a journey. So in summary, whoever you are, I urge you to read the Bible. You may just learn a lot about yourself. And if you want extra credit, you should move on to the Koran and the eastern religions. So good luck, and God speed….get it?