This ties directly to my last post “Can opinions be wrong?” and the point I was trying to make about all sorts of people trying to criticize the Bible.
Every year, I try to do at least two things with my students at least once. First, I make a point of addressing them as “philosophers” – a bit cheesy, but hopefully it encourages active learning.
Secondly, I say something like this: “I’m sure you’ve heard the expression ‘everyone is entitled to their opinion.’ Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself, maybe to head off an argument or bring one to a close. Well, as soon as you walk into this room, it’s no longer true. You are not entitled to your opinion. You are only entitled to what you can argue for.” Read more
You should always believe in your self,…but not when you are wrong!
Every once in a while I get the chance to run into someone who thinks that they know the Bible. Atheists, Christians, Agnostics, it can be any individual from any group. And unfortunately they have read their bibles 10 times at least. I say at least because they haven’t read it in full. No, they just cherry pick stories and read it. The first three books of the Bible Genesis and Exodus and Leviticus, Joshua, Job, Kings, Chronicles, Jonah, the gospels, and revelation. Most people only read these 15 books out of the 66 which are in the standard protestant canon – and they think they understood the complicated history, the texture, the technicalities of the most widely read book in history. Atheists often do not read the Bible at all or read it selectively, they would prefer a “killer” book by some very outspoken atheist than read the Gospel.
So getting to know these 15 books out of the 66, makes an atheist comfortable, because he or she thinks they got it nailed down. I have rarely met an atheist who actually knows about Biblical scholarship without talking from both sides of his mouth. This is not a generalization, simply my experience. And not to begrudge my good atheist friends, I admit it without any hesitation that the same goes for most Christians too, they do not have any idea about the intricacy of the Bible, they just love the Sunday school stories and that’s pretty much about it.
Anyone who wants to critically look at the Bible should know three things before they even think about establishing views about the Bible.
3. Context and historical background
If you do not know these principles do not bother wasting your time. It is like digging up a dinosaur fossil with your bare hands and no knowledge of placing it right in the tree of life, you will mess up big time and people do. Most people I have seen barely know the last point. And yet people are forming opinions as if their opinions are based on some scholarship, that scholarship usually means a few pages of some website which they skimmed through. Read more