The Bible, in its various forms, is quite possibly the world's most popular scriptural work.
It is often cited as a source of moral authority. This is, however, inconsistent with the fact that nobody – not even the staunchest fundamentalist – follows every word of the Bible, and therefore those parts of the Bible which are given as authoritative moral statements are in fact being chosen by the quoter on the basis of her/his own beliefs.
- Over 7000 editions of the Bible have been published
- The Catholic Bible also contains the Apocrypha, consisting of about a dozen books not included in "standard" Bibles
- The official scriptures of the Mormon Church include the Bible and several "latter-day" revealed writings
- Five of the books in the Bible's Old Testament are also the first five books of the Tanakh, the Jewish holy book (to oversimplify a bit)
The Bible was written by humans alone. There is no evidence of any supernatural intervention, either historically or in the book's contents*. The contents do not reflect the knowledge or depth of thinking that any creature of a vastly superior intellect would surely be able to convey, especially if it was also omnipotent or omniscient as is claimed. (*Although those contents do describe several incidents of supernatural intervention, those stories may have arisen either as fables or myths and grown over countless re-tellings, or else may have been inserted with some deliberation in order to color the work as a whole with a sheen of divine authority. Either way, using Biblical text as evidence of the Bible's divine origin is circular reasoning.)
The Bible is also not particularly valuable as a source of moral guidance. Many people use it that way, and although many of them come to sound and humane conclusions as a result, many come to very unsound and inhumane conclusions. Much like a Rorschach inkblot or the I Ching, what you see in it is more a reflection of the perceiver than it is in the work itself; the Bible's value, in this regard, is in its ability to inspire thinking, where it does so – and all too often, it is used as a tool for suppressing the ability to think critically.
It also seems absurd to suggest (unless new evidence comes to light) that a divine being, having authored such a work and wishing for humans to follow its instructions (muddled though they be), would fail to comment on the existence of other supposedly divinely-inspired works (e.g. the Koran), in order to make it clear which such work was the real one. If one starts with the premise that a supremely powerful entity actually did write the Bible, then the only reasonable conclusion is that there must be other supremely powerful entities which wrote the other works and that they have, amongst themselves, worked out some sort of truce. This theory, however, is inconsistent with the Bible's claim that its author was the sole creator of the universe. Either the Bible is in error in this regard, which rather settles the question of the author's purity of intention in the negative, or else we must abandon this theory.
The Bible may be an arresting and poetic work of fiction, but it is not the sort of book you should give your children to form their morals.
SourceWatchno equivalent article (as of 2008-03-13); see search
- Bible Gateway: searchable contents of several dozen different versions
- Skeptic's Annotated Bible: uses illustrations from The Brick Testament
- The Brick Testament: the Bible illustrated using Legos
- According to a comment on Contrary Brin , "The site's author is an atheist, and the depictions of the Biblical scenes are mainly intended to point out how archaic and immoral the actions of everyone involved are compared to modern standards. This hasn't prevented the site from being popular with fundies, as the scenes are completely faithful to the Biblical passages, and the irony sails over their heads completely. Check out the passages from Leviticus, and you'll see what I'm talking about. They're pure comic gold."
- Warning: some scenes not family-friendly (largely because of the source material)
Wikible (wiki): "the public domain Biblical Encyclopedia": site has reverted to a domain squatter as of 2010-10-21; domain currently expires on 2010-12-03. Robot policies on the site apparently prohibited Archive.org from archiving it.
- Jefferson Bible: Founding Father Thomas Jefferson's modified Bible removed passages referring to supernatural events or beings and is still termed a "Bible" (even by Pat Robertson or someone of that ilk; need to find reference), thus one more piece of evidence that you can, in fact, rewrite the "Word of God" (in addition to the fact that all the English translations are rewritten to one extent or another, often heavily in "contemporary" versions, because of translational difficulties) (P.S. Where is the text available freely online, as mentioned in the article?)
- Semantic Bible: "an emerging exploration of new applications of markup and computational linguistic technology to the study of Scripture, with an emphasis on practical tools that encourage understanding and personal transformation."
- Bible abuse, i.e. misusing the Bible by quoting passages out of context for use as tools of discrimination or oppression:
- Confronting Bible Abuse by Micah Royal
- 2014/05/06 [L..T] 1500-Year-Old Bible Discovered In Turkey Indicates Jesus Christ Was Not Crucified "A 1500-year-old bible has been discovered in Turkey. Discovered in 2000, the book that contains purportedly the Gospel of Barnabas has been transferred by the Turkish government to the Ethnography Museum of Ankara with a police escort. Barnabas was a disciple of Christ, and in the work, claims that Jesus was not crucified, instead it says he ascended to heaven alive and Judas Iscariot was crucified in his place. Furthermore, the 1500-year-old bible states that Jesus Christ was not the son of God, but simply a prophet who passed on the word of God."
- 2008-01-19 Bart Ehrman on Misquoting Jesus: “"Misquoting Jesus: Scribes Who Altered Scripture and Readers Who May Never Know," a textual criticism of Biblical manuscript tampering by Bart Ehrman, Professor or Religious Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill” Discusses the origins of the text we now collectively call The Bible in a historical context.
- The Bible episode of Bullshit! by Penn & Teller
Interpretations of Biblical Stories
A member (not an official) of the LDS church interprets the "incident in the book of Judges" (probably referred to in the first video here) as something not sanctioned by God. "The whole book of Judges, as its own introduction points out, was a belief summary of hundreds of years of Judiac history where the people were not following God, did not have a prophet and were not specifically writing down God's word and direction."
The following verses may be useful at stopping overenthusiastic evangelism:
- 1 Timothy 2:11 "A woman [or wife] should learn in quietness and full submission." - obviously useful only against female evangelists
- Matthew 6:5-7 " And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words."
- To be checked:
- Matthew 7:8 / Proverbs 8:17 "God is to be found by those who seek him."
- Proverbs 1:28 "God is not to be found by those who seek him."
New Revised Tower of Babel
5 But the LORD came down to see the civilization that the men were building. 6 The LORD said, "If as one people understanding the same reasoning they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their reasoning so they will not understand each other."
8 So the LORD gave them different faiths and creeds, and with each a separate reasoning and understanding, and scattered their thoughts from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the civilization and fell to warring. 9 That is why it was called Babel – because there the LORD confused the reasoning of the whole world. 10 From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth that they might never speak with understanding to one another.