Is the Bible the Good Book?

Today I was trying to get up to date with one of my favorite podcasts, Skepticality. I was listening to episode 67, where Swoopy interviews Michael Adelson. From the show's very notes "Mr. Adelson had the good fortune to study with the late Rabbi Sherwin Wine. Rabbi Wine founded Humanistic Judaism, a secular movement which provides atheistic and agnostic Jews around the world with a means for organization, mobilization, and a sense of community."

I found the interview very interesting especially because Mr. Adelson speaks about what Humanistic Judaism means and how they treat the Tora and the Bible. They regard the Tora, for instance, with the utmost respect and admiration, recognizing the cultural significance it holds for Jews. However, they don't lose sight of the fact that the Tora is a book, meaning that they feel free to agree with parts of it, admire parts of it and reject the parts that do not seem good.

These words resonated with me. I feel the same about the Bible. There are parts that are nice, parts that are admirable and some that are, well, not good. (How about Lot giving his young daughters away to an angry mob to be ravished? is that good and moral behaviour?) And one of the wonderful things I have experienced in the last year or so as an agnostic is the freedom to feel and judge these things in their proper, humanistic and historical context. Yes, some of the 10 commandments are good rules for social behaviour. But as Reggie Finley (the Infidel Guy) says, the commandment about not lusting for your neighbor's wife is just not fair to our human nature. I may not be able to avoid lusting for my neighbor's wife, teacher, colleague, friend, whoever, if I see her and I find her desirable. That is only human and we should not punish ourselves for that. (Now, acting on that lust is a completely different thing altogether but that is neither here nor now.)

There is no denying the large influence of Christianity and the Bible in our western civilization, as I have said before. We must acknowledge it and embrace it. It is here and it is part of our way of life and values, even for skeptics, agnostics and atheists. But the Bible is a book, written by humans, with all the errors and inconsistencies that come with human nature. Some of it is fiction, some romance, some poetry and some symbolic, almost none of it is a historical account.

As free thinkers, it is our duty to let people know that they can also embrace the freedom of being religion-free. I do not advocate Richard Dawkin's , Christopher Hitchens' or even Sam Harris' activism but I do believe everyone has an opinion to voice and defend. And ideas to get respect for while respecting others' own ideas.

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