Most people who read the Bible never realize that they in fact are not reading the Bible, they are reading a translation of the Bible. There is indeed a barrier of language which is a great hurdle for many to not know and understand the original languages i.e Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, in which the Bible was originally penned down. What is worse is that the system of interpretation which is the most common and the most popular among Christians and atheists alike is that they read the Bible plainly.
What usually follows is a faith based system of taking verses out of context and treating them as they were universal objective true principles applied to everyday life and person.
What I have seen more is that, atheists have started using the same system of reading the Bible too and that is why they are hilariously wrong at times, at others they make it sound very rational and intellectual to take out their english bibles and point to you a verse, isolating it completely and then asking for explanations.
Yesterday I saw a picture at a tumblr site and was then reblogged onto a couple of wordpress blogs as sarcasm but I have also seen this argument being put forward as evidence that the God was wrong and evil or ill-informed.
It quotes genesis 1:29
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.
The argument put forth was that God intentionally tried to harm us and kill us since we know that many plants are narcotic and poisonous and can not be eaten.
Solid argument I suppose since the Bible says so. But I am not so sure about it. To truly understand a lot of the scriptures we have to actually understand how Hebrews used words and phrases to attach meaning to a story.
For instance, in English we say
“The whole world mourned the death of lady Diana” = does not mean that every single person on the planet mourned her.
“The world is at war” = does not mean that every single country is at war
“Jim can eat all the ice-cream in the world” = does not mean Jim can literally eat all the ice cream in the world.
“…every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth“ = does not literally mean you eat every single plant there is out there in the whole world.
It is an expression to convey a meaning, in words which were familiar and common in the day and age in which it was written. Just like today in many of the phrases the word “world” does not necessarily mean the entire world. Same is the case here, plucking out a verse without use of idioms and expression, context, history and above all common sense and using it literally is plain problematic.
But it is not atheists who I want to talk to but Christians who are so used to read the Bible plainly. It is a poor way of making an exegesis on scriptures. I would encourage you to use online tools, dictionaries, commentaries, translation tools and etc, there are many around which can help you understand context and establish hermeneutic to properly understand the scriptures.