08 April 2008

America's favorite book

According to a new Harris poll, America's favorite book is a book most Americans have never read -- the Bible.

Richard Dawkins once famously said that "if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I'd rather not consider that)." The same could be said about someone whose favorite book is the Bible.

Of course most people who that say about the Bible have never read it and are therefore ignorant of its contents. But anyone who has actually read the Bible and still considers it her favorite would fall into one of Dawkins' other categories: stupid (consider the absurdities), insane (Have you read Revelation lately?) or wicked (approving of 1 Samuel 15:2-3 among hundreds of other cruelties).

It's time to stop pretending that the Bible is a good book. It isn't. (Except for Ecclesiastes.)

If those of us who have read the Bible stop calling it good, maybe ignorant people who have never read it will stop believing it to be good (their favorite book, even), leaving the Bible to those who could honestly call it their favorite book: the stupid, the insane, and the wicked.


The Amiable Atheist said...

that's too funny. when i ask christians about all of the genocide and other such atrocities in the bible, they look shocked and demand that i cite verses. it's as if they've never read it all! most of them just read the good bits in the NT.

Aquaria said...

I reached the conclusion about Ecclesiastes being the only decent book in the bible (both in its message and in its writing), when I re-read the whole of the big book after not touching a bible for several years. Thought it was time to sharpen my claws, so to speak.

I know most Americans haven't read the bible, not even the average evangelical. They've read parts of it. But definitely not all. If you ask them to explain which of the ten commandments to follow (What? There's more than one set?), or which ark story to believe, or which beginning of life story--they give you a blank look. They have no idea that the bible is an obvious synthesis of two tribes' equivalent holy books. The dispute about the historical basis of this is quite fascinating, by the way, especially considering the favoring of second/younger sons throughout Genesis.

And that's another thing: If these people are sooooo into their religion, why have they read less biblical scholarship than an atheist like me? Oh--Wait. I think it's because so much of it adds to claims that the book is written by men. The merging of the Genesis texts is so clumsy you can't miss it.

Aquaria said...

And for the record--Gone with the Wind is the second favorite book?

Proof that America is crap.

Gone with the Wind isn't a horrible book. It's interesting in many ways. But that people consider it a favorite book, or Lord of the Rings (zzzzzzzz) or The Stand (????) indicates how shallow most of them are.

I guess I have to take consolation that To Kill a Mockinbird and Catcher in the Rye are in the top 10, yeah Harry Potter is a cute series, but the rest is pop fiction or nonsense (hello Ayn Rand).

Rourke said...

What's most frustrating to me is the moderates--people who are decent, otherwise rational and lovable people who still insist that the Bible is "a good book." I'm surrounded by 'em, and I'm frustrated that most atheist blogs don't really address the problem of the moderates. If I say, "Do you believe that's literally true?" they say "Yes... no... sorta." And how do you answer to that?