The Bible and the Christian Tradition are Irrelevant

Let's just face it. The Bible and the people who produced it were barbaric and superstitious. The only redeeming qualities about the Bible or the Christian tradition are those things that civilized people agree with them about, and hence they are irrelevant to modern scientifically literate people. To see this argued for you must read this book!


Anonymous said...

Let me elaborate further.

The Bible is irrelevant to modern scientifically literate people, as is the whole Christian tradition, except perhaps in the lessons learned from history in general which made us think the way we do today.

Granted, people won't accept my arguments. But I can make them anyway. One way to do this is to ask Liberal Christians (in particular, which is my focus here) to show me why I should accept anything in the Bible BECAUSE it's in the Bible. This, they will not attempt to do. And I can ask them to likewise show me why I should accept anything in the Christian tradition BECAUSE it's in the Christian tradition. This too, then cannot do. Their ONLY justification for accepting the Christian tradition in the first place is because they were born into a Christian culture, and that isn't good enough. The rest of the grounding of their faith is in religious experiences which are shared by people of differing faiths, along with atheists who sense a feeling of wonder at the beauty of the universe.

Anonymous said...

The Bible is about love. If anything seemed wrong in the Bible, you either misinterpreted it or you need to read the original text...

That's what I was told last week. I don't know how you can get through to anyone who is firmly convinced that the Biblical writings are perfect and wholesome and there is a way to interpret everything correctly to make it sound good.

I once listened to a theist in a debate, who was presented with a Biblical tale in which God's people are commanded to kill everyone in a village except for the women-- which God allows them to keep for their own pleasures. The theist's response to this was that God was kind enough to let the women live and that in their slavery, they would be protected from other men who might abuse them (the abuse would then only come from their owners, which of course shows God's kindness and consideration).

This kind of dishonesty is insulting; not because the theist prefers to deceive himself, but because the theist believes he can deceive us as well.

Anonymous said...


Your comment raises another good point. Christian literature receives more consideration than other god-based literature simply because it is popular. They are born into it, as you said. And they are born into it because (at least in the US) Christian settlers managed to kill off their competition (manifest destiny) and populate the entire country through indoctrination and suppression of alternate beliefs. If anything, we should be more suspicious of this brand of religion because of its history.

Emanuel Goldstein said...

The people who produced the Bible were barbaric?

The bible was produced by the Jews, who had a lot more advanced ideas of justice than a lot of the surrounding cultures.

So the Jews were barbaric?

Sounds like the same kind of garbage you can find in Mein Kampf.

Emanuel Goldstein said...

By the way, Avalos says in his book Fighting Words that religion must be ELIMINATED from public and private life.

Thats been tried before, at the cost of millions dead.

We can dismiss Avalos as a bigot in his own right.

GordonBlood said...

The arguments made by Avalos are certainly not "new" by any stretch of the imagination, unless one assumes things such as naturalism and not realizing the bible isnt about science (which people have known since before Gailleo).Im not even going to tough on John's whole idea that the only reason a person would be a Christian is to believe in it. Im almost 100% sure that John himself doesnt believe that as hes far too intelligent to make such an ignorant claim.

Brandon Dahm said...


I haven't read Avalos' book, but have not been impressed by him in other venues -

For what it's worth.

James F. McGrath said...

I would agree that you should not accept something just because it is in the Bible.

I've asked the question on my blog what the atheist contribution to world civilization is. Hopefully some of the bloggers and regular visitors here will take the time to answer the question over there, and to discuss the answers that others leave.

Anonymous said...

Brandon Dahm, I heard this debate and think Avalos got into specifics and forgot his over-all case. But in chapter four of his book he does a more than adequate job.

reason42 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emanuel Goldstein said...

Actually saying the bible is irrelevant to ethics in a "scientific" world is itself irrelevant, since science can't tell you about ethics.

Hume, whom atheists love to quote on miracles, also demonstrated that you can not derive the "ought" from the "is".

Try again.

zilch said...

Andrew- you're half right: science cannot tell us what our ethics ought to be, but science can tell us something about where ethics start from: our social animal nature. Science can also tell us that lots of stuff in the Bible is false, which means that it is unlikely to be the Word of God; in which case, its ethics should not be privileged over any other ethics.

And while I agree with Hume, that one cannot derive "ought" from "is", without an "is" (evolved human nature) no "ought" makes any sense.

Bill Gnade said...

Dear John (and Andrew),

I have no experience with Dr. Avalos; I have not heard of him until a few minutes ago. I am sure he is a brilliant and skilled intellectual. His book interests me to no end.

I wonder if he begins with a Protestant -- an evangelical Protestant -- perspective on Sacred Scripture, or if he takes a more Roman Catholic approach. I think it's easy to debunk the more Protestant idea that the Bible in toto is the word of God; I believe that the Catholic position, i.e., that the Bible (the NT) is the word of the Church that contains the word of God, is a much more difficult theological premise to dismiss. Some commentators in this thread have clearly equated the Bible with "the word of God;" one person has concluded that since the Bible is wrong about science it could not be God's word. Such comments are clearly directed at Protestant view of the Bible.

Not that this point means much here. I know that you are committed to debunking Christianity on all fronts, though I don't know why you would choose to bother with any other front but one.

I agree with Andrew above, though I can only agree reservedly: Mr. Avalos' arguments are not just anti-Christian, they are indeed anti-Jewish. This smacks of anti-Semitism, of course, but I will not accuse Mr. Avalos of something so dreadful.

John, I would not implore you to believe anything because it is in the Bible, just like I would not implore you to believe X because it is in the writings of Albert Einstein. Nor would I expect you to believe anything because it is in Mr. Avalos' book. Such silliness is the fallacy of appealing to authority.

It seems to me that forgotten in all of this is that Christianity is not based on the Bible. It simply isn't, irrespective of what some Christians assert. If anyone wants to explore my views on this, I bid them to read my essay, Theology As Sport?, wherein I challenge a fairly well-regarded Christian blogger and apologist's view of Scripture (and defend my claim that Christians do not believe in Christ's resurrection because it is written in a book). I may be overstating my case, and thus revealing my naïveté, but I think the essay makes some very interesting and pertinent points.

Anyhow John, I am not feeling all that well, so I beg your forgiveness if I have rambled and wandered.

Peace to you, and thanks for the book recommendation!

Bill Gnade

Unknown said...

The Bible and Christian "Tradition" are Irrelevant, The Jewish Messiah warned against it.

He said you are wrong, you follow "The traditions of the elders, commandments and precepts of men"

I believe the Torah is relevant, we should honor our parents, not commit adultery, not steal, not bear false witness, not covet other peoples property.

Another thing, I feel ashamed when I am naked in front of others except my spouce. Do agnostics and athiests? If they do I guess they really do believe in Elohim too.

zilch said...

dic says:

Another thing, I feel ashamed when I am naked in front of others except my spouce. Do agnostics and athiests? If they do I guess they really do believe in Elohim too.

I don't feel ashamed to be naked in front of my spouse, my kids, or even strangers in some circumstances: at the nude beach, in locker rooms... So whom do I believe in?

If being ashamed to be naked shows that you believe in Elohim, then being nice instead of naughty shows that you believe in Santa Claus.

Shygetz said...

dlc said: I believe the Torah is relevant, we should honor our parents, not commit adultery, not steal, not bear false witness, not covet other peoples property.

That is not the whole of the law, just a subsection that has become quite popular. Do you keep the 613 mitzvot commanded in the OT? The Torah doesn't end with the Ten Commandments.

Bill, part of the point is that no one should believe in anything because it is written in the Bible. If you don't believe in the authority of the Bible, then how do you justify calling yourself a Christian in the common usage of the term? Are you not merely following your own whim (or subjective religious experiece; I'll give you your choice of terms) and giving it the grandiose label of religion? And as we know that people have mutally exclusive religious experiences (and we know from a utilitarian standpoint that rationality is a useful worldview that allows us to successfully manipulate apparent reality in an independently verifiable manner), can we not say with justification that your whim has no greater truth value than the whim of someone who follows the words of the living Napolean, or their bunny rabbit Thomas?

I'll chime in with John; the Bible retains only what meaning we give to it. Of itself, it has no relevance to modern society other than as a historical document. It is no more a "living text" than is The Canterbury Tales, and people who insist upon using it as the sole basis for anything insist upon barbarism.

Andrew, the ancient Jews were barbaric by current standards, so anyone living by their codes today would be barbaric. By ancient standards, they were fairly typical of tribes in the region. Your argumentum ad Hitler speaks poorly of you.

Need I remind you that when people set out to impose any kind of ideology by force, be it communism, Islam, or your beloved Christianity, it leads to widespread death. Did Avalos suggest people have their religion stripped by force?

I didn't think so.