Who’s Up for Burning Some Bibles?

Mulling several recent stories about burning or defacing “holy” books:

So why aren’t we atheists burning more Bibles? I mean, really, it would make the point that these books are non-holy, and the second point that we (and others) certainly have the freedom to do it.

.

Snapshot: A rowdy crowd surrounds a big bonfire, their faces lit from below with fierce glee. Bibles and Korans tossed from the surrounding darkness soar in arcs over the flames, and bright sparks rise up into the night sky. The words “Holy Bible,” scribed in gold letters on one soaring book, shine out at the camera with shocking clarity. One bold 8-year-old, in perfect mimickry of his nearby parents, stands mere feet from the flames, his face twisted with childish delight, as he makes a clumsy overhand throw. Off to one side, a young man dressed in worker’s clothes, obviously aware of the camera, grips his genitals and smirks for a future audience — “Yeah, I gotcha holy book right here!” Other mouths gape in the crowd, soundless in the photo but suggesting coarse laughter ringing out in the night, and a stacked table stands close by with hundreds of red-lit Bibles and Korans awaiting their turn in the flames.

I mean, hey, why not?

And yet, far as I know, no such scene has ever been recorded. Or ever will be.

I can think of several reasons.

1) They’ll kill us.

One part of me has a hard time imagining, in this modern era, that we really should have such a fear. Oh no, not from ORGANIZED religion. Yet another part, a part I actually have a little trouble admitting to, can imagine a lone-gunman type, or at least someone pretending to be so, acting with violence. Certainly such things have happened, and recently. I rate the likelihood as low, but still non-zero.

2) It would give “them” ammo against us, which is not in our strategic interest.

Better to keep a low profile, lull the Christian community into the false sense of security that we atheists are only a minor annoyance, until we can rise up in our massed millions and crush them in one triumphant night!

Ahem.

But seriously, it’s not our style. Besides, the point isn’t some sort of pitched battle in the streets ending in military-type victory, is it? It’s freedom for people’s minds, and a social apparatus that will allow that. Trying to achieve that by fighting is like trying to put out a fire by shoveling coal onto it.

The “battle” will be more like a lengthy slog through deep mud. There will be small failures and successes along the way, but steady progress (one hopes) until a majority of minds have gone through a slow educational, generational change, and then a likely tipping point that will nail down the victory.

3) The MAIN reason, the REAL reason:

Burning books? Eww. That’s just … sick.

From Nazis to middle-east Islamic protests, to Fahrenheit 451, to deep-south know-nothings burning sex-ed books and harmless novels, to brainless godders tossing the supposed witchery of Harry Potter into the flames, we all have these other pictures in our heads, such that we sort-of instinctively know: People who burn books are Bad People. Or at least stupid ones.

Even when the books are bad books, poisonous books, I’d wager extremely few of us would find it easy to destroy one.

Because we know what comes out of books: The voices of thinkers past and present, useful information and advice from experts in a thousand fields — books, to most of us, are knowledge itself. Not to mention an ever-flowing river of entertainment, stories handed across miles and ages for our happy diversion.

What we feel for books is not reverence in the religious sense. Not a faux love for a mythical supernatural superbeing. This is the real thing — the recognition that, if ever there was a thing you owed your life to, and the health and safety of all your loved ones, even the very existence of civilization, this is it.

Books.

Books ARE civilization. The foundation, the cornerstones, the windows and doors and protective walls that make it possible for us to exist in comfort and safety and freedom.

And for those few bad books – the Bible, the Koran, the other holy and misguiding and predatory books – the cure isn’t fire but …

More books. Better ones, truer ones.
_________________________________

Oh, by the way, the next time – the next hundred times! – you hear someone tell you to support the troops, because we owe them our freedom, take a moment to thank some people who have fought, in their own way and through the ages, to give us far more: Librarians.

(And, hey, speaking of books. And again: Ahem.)

Print Friendly

  • AlanMacandCheese

    Reason #4

    We do not fear the Bible.

  • AlanMacandCheese

    Reason #4

    We do not fear the Bible.

  • Cuttlefish

    Reason #5 Better to have that bit of carbon sequestered in book form than released to the atmosphere.

  • Cuttlefish

    Reason #5 Better to have that bit of carbon sequestered in book form than released to the atmosphere.

  • Alisdair

    @Cuttlefish — re. carbon sequestration, I wonder if Bible burying would have the same political impact as burning it? Probably not, burning one is an act of protest, whereas burying it would just be seen as weird.

    @Hank — I really like the idea of extending the “thank you for your service” meme to public servants other than military. Social workers in particular seem to me have a really hard job, little pay considering length of training and the level of stress involved, and yet they are practically invisible compared to teachers, police, firefighters etc.

  • Alisdair

    @Cuttlefish — re. carbon sequestration, I wonder if Bible burying would have the same political impact as burning it? Probably not, burning one is an act of protest, whereas burying it would just be seen as weird.

    @Hank — I really like the idea of extending the “thank you for your service” meme to public servants other than military. Social workers in particular seem to me have a really hard job, little pay considering length of training and the level of stress involved, and yet they are practically invisible compared to teachers, police, firefighters etc.

  • Mommiest

    The best reason for not burning the Bible is that the writing contained therein is the best possible argument for dismissing the nonsense based upon it.

    There is nothing in that collection of books which was not known to the bronze or iron age civilizations in which they were written. There is no mention of germs, gametes, or North America. Mentioning that the earth revolves around the sun could have saved a bit of misery and the persecution of innocents. A brief note of polar bears or penguins would have been pretty amazing.

    I encourage people to read the Bible, the whole thing, and then defend it.

  • Mommiest

    The best reason for not burning the Bible is that the writing contained therein is the best possible argument for dismissing the nonsense based upon it.

    There is nothing in that collection of books which was not known to the bronze or iron age civilizations in which they were written. There is no mention of germs, gametes, or North America. Mentioning that the earth revolves around the sun could have saved a bit of misery and the persecution of innocents. A brief note of polar bears or penguins would have been pretty amazing.

    I encourage people to read the Bible, the whole thing, and then defend it.

  • Didaktylos

    Don’t burn any books – unless you have legitimate need of a fire.

  • Art

    I’ve always preferred composting books over burning them.

    And no, I wouldn’t destroy any book that is rare enough to have any risk of disappearing entirely. The Bible, Koran, in fact most holy books for major religions, are in no danger of being lost to history.

    Ironically, the original version of Star Wars, is lost forever.

  • Art

    I’ve always preferred composting books over burning them.

    And no, I wouldn’t destroy any book that is rare enough to have any risk of disappearing entirely. The Bible, Koran, in fact most holy books for major religions, are in no danger of being lost to history.

    Ironically, the original version of Star Wars, is lost forever.

  • Iain

    Art – I’m pretty sure that all original texts that contributed to the bodies we currently know as the Bible and the Koran are at least as lost the the original version of Star Wars.

  • Iain

    Art – I’m pretty sure that all original texts that contributed to the bodies we currently know as the Bible and the Koran are at least as lost the the original version of Star Wars.

  • athena

    Didn’t someone once say that where books are burned, people will also be burned?

  • athena

    Didn’t someone once say that where books are burned, people will also be burned?

  • P Smith

    Those holey “holy” books are all printed on the same cheap, thin onion skin paper. It doesn’t flush well, but it works great in outhouses, and since it’s already covered in shit….

    Kidding aside, the reason the religious burn books is because they’re afraid of what’s in them. The strongest argument is the one that answers questions, not the one with the strength to prevent them from being asked. The religious can’t refute science and rational thinking, so they use force to stop it.

    Anyone who is willing to burn books is willing to burn people.

    .

  • P Smith

    Those holey “holy” books are all printed on the same cheap, thin onion skin paper. It doesn’t flush well, but it works great in outhouses, and since it’s already covered in shit….

    Kidding aside, the reason the religious burn books is because they’re afraid of what’s in them. The strongest argument is the one that answers questions, not the one with the strength to prevent them from being asked. The religious can’t refute science and rational thinking, so they use force to stop it.

    Anyone who is willing to burn books is willing to burn people.

    .

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/assassin Assassin Actual

    Muslim Librarians to boot, who kept so much knowledge safe during the dark ages.

    If you can read, thank a Teacher
    If it’s in English, thank a Soldier
    If it’s in context, thank a Librarian

    • fastlane

      I like your blog, AA, but that second line makes no sense. What do soldiers have to do with reading in english?

      Frankly, the US’s narrow minded nationalistic avoidance of learning any other language has been a detriment in the world community. I know (growing up in the service and living overseas more than once), it would have been nice to have some linguistic knowledge in something other than english (I’ve learned a decent amount, mostly on my own).

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/assassin Assassin Actual

    Muslim Librarians to boot, who kept so much knowledge safe during the dark ages.

    If you can read, thank a Teacher
    If it’s in English, thank a Soldier
    If it’s in context, thank a Librarian

    • fastlane

      I like your blog, AA, but that second line makes no sense. What do soldiers have to do with reading in english?

      Frankly, the US’s narrow minded nationalistic avoidance of learning any other language has been a detriment in the world community. I know (growing up in the service and living overseas more than once), it would have been nice to have some linguistic knowledge in something other than english (I’ve learned a decent amount, mostly on my own).

  • Randomfactor

    Of course, the most recent reports of “book burning” were nothing of the sort–the Orange County people tore up (and, one would hope, recycled) photocopies of specific Bible pages.

    Before that, the most recent actual book-burning I can recall was that ludicrous Christian minister in Florida burning the Quran. And then Hitler’s dedicated book-burning efforts, of course.

    So Reason #6: We’re not Christians.

  • Randomfactor

    Of course, the most recent reports of “book burning” were nothing of the sort–the Orange County people tore up (and, one would hope, recycled) photocopies of specific Bible pages.

    Before that, the most recent actual book-burning I can recall was that ludicrous Christian minister in Florida burning the Quran. And then Hitler’s dedicated book-burning efforts, of course.

    So Reason #6: We’re not Christians.

  • http://mostraum.wordpress.com Eva @ Mostraum Viewpoint

    I would never attend a book burning (unless I took part in The Day after Tomorrow.
    I do however throw books away fairly regularly. Mostly at work at my library but also privately. Nothing that is rare or worth a lot, but books.
    I also throw away any bible found in my hotel room. When I’m at a hotel I rent a room with a bed, a desk and a bathroom. I’m not asking for a bible and I don’t want one. I don’t mind the hotel having bibles and other religious books at the premises, but there shouldn’t be one in my room if I havent brought it along myself. If there had been books from every religion + atheist books I woudn’t have minded, but this pesky preferential treatment of one brand of superstition is just too annoying.

    • R. Schauer

      I thought I was the only one snarky enough to throw bibles away from my hotel rooms. But now, I can embrace that the fact I’m part of a much larger and very snarky “dump the bible from your hotel room” movement.

      btw, I throw them in public trash cans outside of the hotel to ensure complete removal.

      • Jgold

        I like to annotate hotel bibles.

        • piguy

          I like to annotate hotel bibles.

          Brilliant!!! I’d usually just drop them behind the dresser but I might have to start carrying a yellow highlighter with me.

      • speedwell

        No, I throw them away too. There are some funny stories associated with this.

        In a hotel in Johannesburg that was attached to a casino complex, the Bible was fished out of the trash where I put it again and again. I poured Coke over the thing on the third day and they supplied me with a new one. I threw it out the window in a windswept billow of pages, and it landed under a lawn sprinkler, and they brought me a new one. I took it to the front desk and asked wrathfully how they would like it if I filled their bedrooms with religious hate literature, and they finally put a stop to it.

        In a hotel outside of Dallas, two maids refused to clean my room because I was a “Satanist.” My room actually was left uncleaned for a few days because the manager sided with them. A call to the corporate office for the chain resulted in an apology and a move to a different hotel.

  • http://mostraum.wordpress.com Eva @ Mostraum Viewpoint

    I would never attend a book burning (unless I took part in The Day after Tomorrow.
    I do however throw books away fairly regularly. Mostly at work at my library but also privately. Nothing that is rare or worth a lot, but books.
    I also throw away any bible found in my hotel room. When I’m at a hotel I rent a room with a bed, a desk and a bathroom. I’m not asking for a bible and I don’t want one. I don’t mind the hotel having bibles and other religious books at the premises, but there shouldn’t be one in my room if I havent brought it along myself. If there had been books from every religion + atheist books I woudn’t have minded, but this pesky preferential treatment of one brand of superstition is just too annoying.

    • R. Schauer

      I thought I was the only one snarky enough to throw bibles away from my hotel rooms. But now, I can embrace that the fact I’m part of a much larger and very snarky “dump the bible from your hotel room” movement.

      btw, I throw them in public trash cans outside of the hotel to ensure complete removal.

      • Jgold

        I like to annotate hotel bibles.

        • piguy

          I like to annotate hotel bibles.

          Brilliant!!! I’d usually just drop them behind the dresser but I might have to start carrying a yellow highlighter with me.

      • speedwell

        No, I throw them away too. There are some funny stories associated with this.

        In a hotel in Johannesburg that was attached to a casino complex, the Bible was fished out of the trash where I put it again and again. I poured Coke over the thing on the third day and they supplied me with a new one. I threw it out the window in a windswept billow of pages, and it landed under a lawn sprinkler, and they brought me a new one. I took it to the front desk and asked wrathfully how they would like it if I filled their bedrooms with religious hate literature, and they finally put a stop to it.

        In a hotel outside of Dallas, two maids refused to clean my room because I was a “Satanist.” My room actually was left uncleaned for a few days because the manager sided with them. A call to the corporate office for the chain resulted in an apology and a move to a different hotel.

  • kraut

    Bibles likely make excellent mulch when incorporated in your compost pile – nicely torn up.
    Book burning shows fear of the content – using disliked books as toilet paper or mulch shows contempt tempered by ecological awareness.

  • kraut

    Bibles likely make excellent mulch when incorporated in your compost pile – nicely torn up.
    Book burning shows fear of the content – using disliked books as toilet paper or mulch shows contempt tempered by ecological awareness.

  • Pingback: Greeting Promo Blog

  • Pingback: The Paid Surveys Authority

  • Pingback: The Paid Surveys Authority

  • http://www.dingdangbaba.com Edmund Bahoora

    haha, great! I adore this idea! Would you review my own homepage?


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X