Cruelty and Violence
Science and History
About the SAB
What the Bible Says About
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the SAB available in book form?
Is the SAB available in a form I can access from my hard drive?
Yes, it is now available in CD-ROM.
The CD-ROM version may be of interest to those who don't have access to the internet or would like to limit their time online. In addition, depending on the speed of your internet connection and your CD reader, you may find that some of the files load faster with the CD-version.
Why do you use the King James Version?
For three reasons:
Most of the Bible's problems, though, are unrelated to the particular
version that is read. Still, it is a good idea to compare the various
versions, and to help with this I recommend The Blue Letter Bible, which has some of the more common ones.
What do you have against sex, anyway? Sex is an important part of human life, so why shouldn't the Bible contain passages dealing with it?
I have nothing against sex. It is included as a highlighted category for the following reasons:
History is filled with violence and the Bible is, at least in part, a history book. So why shouldn't it contain violence?
It's not the violence per se that bothers me; it is the biblical god's role in the violent acts. The god of the Bible ordered Saul to kill "both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass" in 1 Samuel 15:3. And the Bible contains hundreds of other cruel acts of God, any one of which, if true, would be enough for me to reject the Bible and its vicious God.
I do object, though, to the pointless violence in the Bible, even when
God doesn't seem to be directly involved. Judges
19, for example, is one of the most disgusting stories in all
literature. If God was trying to communicate something in this chapter, I
think I'd rather not know what it was.
Most Christians are not fundamentalists. Why do you insist on a literal interpretation of the Bible?
I don't insist on a literal interpretation, but only that all of the Bible be taken seriously and that none of it be ignored. It seems to me that most non-fundamentalist Christians don't really believe in the Bible; they only pretend to do so. Some don't even pretend -- yet all claim to base their beliefs upon it. This seems dishonest to me.
There is no figurative way of interpreting Leviticus
20:13 or Exodus 22:18, for example. You
either think it's a good idea to kill homosexuals and witches or you
don't. If you don't, then say so -- and then be honest enough to admit
that the Bible is neither a good moral guide nor the inspired word of God.
Since you are a skeptic and don't believe in the Bible, why have you spent so much time creating the SAB?
Because so many people believe it to be the Word of God -- most of whom
have never read it and are not familiar with its contents. I'd like people
to look carefully at the Bible and decide if it is worthy of their belief.
That's all. When, if ever, people stop believing in the Bible, I'll take
my site down.
What training do you have?
I am often told by believers (and even sometimes by skeptics), most of whom have never read the Bible, that only those who know Hebrew and Greek, have studied hermeneutics, exegesis, linguistics, etc. are qualified to discuss the Bible. Since I am not an expert in any of these fields, they tell me I have no right to criticize the Bible.
It reminds me of Hans Christian Anderson's wonderful story, The Emperor's New Clothes, where only the "stupid and incompetent" failed to admire the emperor's new, but nonexistent, clothes.
But it was obvious to a child who "could only see things as his eyes showed them to him" that the emperor had no clothes. Similarly, it is obvious to anyone who takes the time to read the Bible that, whatever else it might be, it is not a book that was inspired by a good, just, loving, and all-knowing god.
Still, I am not completely uneducated. I have a B.S. in Botany and a more than 50 semester hours of graduate credit in Chemistry and Mathematics, with 20 years of experience as an industrial statistician. And although I am not a Bible scholar, I have spent many years studying the Bible, and I rely on and cite the work of scholars, updating the SAB with the most recent and best information available.
Please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying (nor have I ever said) that education is not required to see the flaws of the
Bible. Education is absolutely crucial. The more, better, and broader the
education, the more apparent it will be that the Bible was not inspired by a kind, loving, omniscient God. What is obvious
to a little child should be even more obvious to an well-educated adult.
You shouldn't. Read it yourself and decide for yourself what you think about the Bible. That is
the whole point of the SAB.
How do I define inerrant? Well, I'd say something is inerrant if it has no errors.
I should tell you, though, that I don't believe there are any inerrant books, although many come very close. My old Physical Chemistry book, for example. Written by Peter Atkins and published in 1982, that book and I spent a lot of time together when I was taking P-Chem. And though I loved the book and I know of no errors in it, I don't think it's inerrant. I'll bet there are few spelling or grammar errors and maybe a typo or two. And in its 1000+ pages there is probably an important mistake in an equation somewhere - maybe an exponent left off, or something. And since it's been 20 years, it could probably use some revising to get it caught up with recent advances in Chemistry. And, of course, as with any book, there are probably some errors in structure, presentation, and style.
But if you want to call Atkins' book inerrant, well I won't argue about it. And I promise not to start up a Skeptic's Annotated P Chem site or anything. But if I did, I wouldn't have anything to highlight and nothing to say. Atkins need not worry about my snide remarks.
There are a lot of books that come close to inerrancy, but the Bible is not one of them. And its errors are not
confined to missing exponents and poor choice of words. Of all the books that I know of, the Bible is the most errant.
It is by far the worst book I've ever read (with the possible exceptions of the
Quran and the Book of Mormon). I know of no other book, for example, that commands you to kill homosexuals,
Sabbath breakers, nonbelievers, rape victims who don't cry out loud enough, relatives if they believe differently than
you, etc. These are serious errors; they should be taken seriously, especially since two billion people believe the Bible
to be the inerrant word God.
Yes, this is a problem. No one doubts, for example, that 1 Samuel 15:2-3, Ezekiel 23:20, and Leviticus 19:18 are cruel, filthy, and good, respectively. But many other passages are not nearly so clear. Some think they are important and should be included; others think they are trivial and should be left out.
Although I would like make the site as comprehensive as possible, I can't include everything. So I try to apply
the O'Connor test when deciding what
to include or leave out. How would an "objective observer" view the passage? Would she view it as cruel, absurd,
intolerant, or good? If so, then I mark it accordingly. If not, I leave it out. (And when in doubt, I leave it out.)
Yes, whenever possible I provide links to responses from apologists, and two Christian apologists are currently responding to the SAB notes. Links, when available, can be found at the bottom of chapter and contradiction pages. The same opportunity will be provided for the Quran and the Book of Mormon.
In the responses that you've received, do you acknowledge that at least some of the issues have been successfully answered and addressed? If they have, have you removed them from your list of criticisms and, if not, why not?
Although you didn't say so, you are probably referring to the contradictions. They seem to be the only issues that believers are concerned about. God can tell Jehu to collect 70 heads in two baskets, and believers are OK with that, since the Bible is consistent on that topic. But did God kill 23,000 or 24,000 for committing whoredom with the daughters of Moab? Now that's a real problem to a believer. Not that God would kill so many people for so silly a reason. Who cares about that? No, it's the number that's important, because the Bible must not disagree with itself.
I've never seen a contradiction that believers can't resolve, at least to themselves. It could have been this way, it could have been that. That's what it says, but that's not what it means. It was a copyist's error. Whatever. Contradictions are the least of the Bible's problems.
I do, however, correct, revise, or remove contradictions when I have mistakenly interpreted something, or made some other mistake.
Drunk With Blood:
God's killings in the Bible
By Steve Wells