An Atheist’s Telethon to Raise Money for a More Accessible Bible

Have you ever thought about reading the Bible and then thought to yourself “Naw, that writing is the worst!”

Well, you wouldn’t be wrong, and we have a solution for you!

Jacob Fortin of The Good Atheist fame is working on translating (for lack of a better word) the Bible into regular human words that are compelling, funny, yet still aligned with the original texts. Here’s a preview:

In the beginning of everything that ever was, God created the heavens and the Earth. A boring, formless mass of liquid cloaked in darkness, the Earth had relatively low property value but tons of potential. The Spirit of God, hovering above it like a comic book villain, said “Let there be light” and the whole place lit up magically without any point of origin. To ensure this bright new creation would forever be different from the black void, the Creator named one of them ‘light’ and the other ‘darkness’. God saw what he had done, and needless to say, was extremely impressed with himself [I mean, wouldn’t you be?].

Awesome — the whole book of Genesis is ready to go and can be found here.

It’s wonderfully written and will feature some awesome original drawings by Fortin, too.

The book is due out in March, but he needs one more financial bump to get it out in time, so he’s doing what any of us would to raise a few bucks: Holding a telethon.

Twelve hours, guys! What can you expect in those 12 hours?

Well, interviews — Sylvia Broeckx, Guy P. Harrison, Peter Boghossian, Dan Fincke, M.C. Brooks and Jerry DeWitt — for a start.

There will also be special musical guests, a preview of Fortin’s cooking show, an older pilot that he filmed and all sorts of delightful entertainments.

In exchange for donations, he’ll be also offering prizes, like this kick-ass t-shirt:

And these hilarious post cards:

For the record, I do not know the answer.

The telethon is this Saturday, November 23, from noon to midnight (ET) and Jacob is accepting donations via credit card or PayPal. You can tune in at JacobFortin.com or on his YouTube channel — see ya there!

About Jessica Bluemke

Jessica Bluemke grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Ball State University in 2008 with a BA in Literature. She currently works as a writer and resides on the North side of Chicago.

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

    How many fucking versions do humans need of this compilation of old, antiquated religious texts? This kind of thing seems more and more like novelty conceived solely to make money from a growing niche market.

    Good luck to you, Sr. Fortin

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    Hmmm.. I was gonna say the first one cause I think God sent either locusts or scary birds or something like that, not fire… but then I realized that its a trick question! They are ALL factually incorrect because none of those come even remotely close to being historical events!

  • Rain

    Great T-shirt!

    • lmern

      $60 though :(

      • Rain

        Then maybe they could put it on a hat or a tie.

  • koseighty

    I’m going with number 3 — it was Joshua, not Moses, who entered the promised land and fucked over the inhabitants to take their land.

  • A3Kr0n

    That post card is killing me. Too funny.

    • Keyra

      Death and suffering is funny to you?

      • A3Kr0n

        You must have read the joke differently than I did. The answer is 4: All of the above.

        • Jacob Fortin

          We have a winner!!!! The total answer is this: God rained down Brimestone, but that was only because they were complaining about being in the desert, not because of eating meat (God sent them poisoned meat for that punishment). Aaron’s two sons were killed, but Aaron was not allowed to grieve at all. As it wasn’t Moses that was told to smash the babies against the rocks. That’s from Psalms when describing how “happy” the jews would be from smashing the Babylonia babies against the rocks. Good job!!!

  • Keyra

    Hilarious? More like trying to be funny. George Carlin however managed to make religious jokes funny (mainly because of his misconceptions), and the T shirt more-or-less sums up “I’m overconfident but IDGAF, I love being immature”. Why not try the ESV Study Bible? It helps to better understand the Bible…but I guess it’s only for the rational and sincere of those who want to know, rather than those who think they know more than they actually do. This is just overconfidence, and hubris at best.

    • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

      If the excerpt doesn’t make it clear, this version isn’t meant to be scholarly. Those interested in actually studying the Bible should use another version, as you rightly noted. Your wording, however, seems to suggest an either-or mentality — that a sincere, rational person couldn’t appreciate this version for its humor, and a study Bible for its… “accuracy.”

      I’d like to mention, also, that some of the people, to whom this product will appeal, have already studied the Bible to their own satisfaction.

      I honestly can’t find an appropriate word, so I settled for “accuracy.” Given the nature of the Bible’s content, and numerous versions, interpretations, denominations, theology, etc, it seemed wrong to use that word literally.

    • Tobias 27772

      Keyra,
      Why would anyone spend any serious time on a book of made up bullshit ?? Life is too short and precious.

    • duke_of_omnium

      The problem is that we DO understand the bible, and realize just how vile and loathesome its precepts are. It would be funny – if so many people didn’t believe it.

  • pete084

    Count me in; my donation will be paid during my next break. Meanwhile, to the Batmobile*.

    *Truck

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    “Gosh, we’re all really impressed down here, I can tell you.”

  • Emmet

    Missing apostrophes, wonky grammar, bad spelling – reminds me of the junior high school essays that I spend many hours marking.

    About the same level of critical thinking too.

    • Carmelita Spats

      I know, right? The Bible on its own terms is hilarious. One of my favorite passages is the impregnation of Mary by a ghost who was her own son. There is a Mexican playwright, Jesusa Rodriguez, who penned a hilarious Christmas play centered on the wild and wet insemination of Mary. She puts on the funky “pastorela” every year in Mexico City despite threats from rabid Eucharist munchers. I’m going to go see the play this year ’cause we’ve come a long way, baby. Jesusa’s play rivals The Book of Mormon which is also goddamn funny on its own terms.

      • Emmet

        You miss my point.

  • clebcal

    The atheist rage against the Bible fascinates me. Spending so much of their short lives on earth raging against a “book of bronze age ethics” amounts to barking at the moon. Keep it up – it shows your true colors.

    • Carmelita Spats

      I don’t rage against the Bible. I find it to be hilarious. I laugh. Hell, if I raged against the Bible, knowing that is is a work of fiction, I’d be more fucked than Lot’s daughters.

      • clebcal

        Yes or no. Is there any historically reliable or historically verifiable information in the Bible? I’m just curious to see how fictitious you think the Bible is.

        • EdmondWherever

          Was there really a war between Troy and the ancient Achaeans, as depicted in the Odyssey and the Iliad? Is there a real Crete, Sparta, Ithaca? Does that mean that Zeus really reigns over the gods, and that Apollo drags the sun across the sky on his fiery chariot?
          .
          Is there really a New York City, as depicted by Spider-Man comic books? Does that mean that a radioactive teenager swings from building to building there?
          .
          Is there an actual state of Maine, as represented so often by Stephen King? Does this mean we should fear monsters from space that turn into clowns, or giant domes descending over our towns?
          .
          The possibility that the Bible contains SOME factual records of SOME actual events does not give us a single reason to believe that its supernatural portions are factual as well. Study of the Bible will lead to mountains of OTHER world “scriptures” as well, full of just as much magic and divinely-ordained barbarism. Despite what real events may appear in these books, there is simply too much evidence for a rational person to classify them as anything but myth. Sprinkled with reality, of course, to make it easier to swallow for those who don’t care to look too closely, but undeniably myth nonetheless.

          • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, TOWAN

            technically, Helios drives the Greek sun god chariot. but i grok and agree with your main point.

          • Neko

            But the question wasn’t whether supernatural events recorded in the Bible were historical. (Of course they weren’t.) The question was: Is there any historically reliable or historically verifiable information in the Bible? A yes or no question.

            • Leiningen’s Ants

              Guess we should get a historian specializing in the time period up in here.

              • Neko

                You don’t need a historian to answer that one (the answer is yes). But for the details, you’re right.

            • beau_quilter

              So you think some commentor should have just dropped in a “Yes.” or “No.” period to please the questioner? What’s your point?

              • Neko

                No, but I thought he could have answered the question more directly, especially since the issue of what reliable history can be excavated from the Bible is such an interesting one, and with less of the condescension betrayed by his concluding remark. His argument by analogy was good as far as it went, but reference to the genres of the Bible itself might be more productive when addressing someone like clebcal.

                Of course I’m one to talk, and I admit I was annoyed by this post/thread to begin with and was quibbling out of pique.

                • beau_quilter

                  I see. Your meaning wasn’t clear.

                • Neko

                  I am often cryptic. My apologies.

          • clebcal

            Your “myth category” is not as tight as you think it might be. The Bible, the Greek myths, and Spiderman are very different things. The Bible is unique among the ancient myths in that the creator is “one” and “distinct” from the creation. The pagan mindset envisions a universe where the gods, nature and humanity are connected and contingent on one another. This is not the case with the Old Testament.
            Supernatural claims, like natural claims, can carry more evidence than others or appear to coincide with reality more than others. Imagine a creationist lumping together the medieval theory of spontaneous generation, and an 1800s Darwinian understanding of biology to discredit Dawkin’s, “The Blind Watchmaker,” and he does this because all three are natural explanations to origins. Just because one natural explanation might be false doesn’t mean that the other is. Supernatural claims would obviously work the same way. And so in the end the spaghetti of the pasta monster is nothing but straw.

            • beau_quilter

              As all biblical historians know, the Bible is a text that evolved over time, and the earlier sections of the text show a clear belief in multiple gods. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” was a reference to gods who were in competition with Yahweh. Monotheism is a later, and gradual, development in the belief system.

              When you say “supernatural claims, like natural claims, can carry more evidence than others or appear to coincide with reality more than others”, do you imagine that you are stating something intuitively “true”?

              You might as well have said, “sometimes fairies are the best explanation.”

              • clebcal

                Are you saying the text evolved or the culture evolved later producing the text? If it’s the former then you need to demonstrate this evolution while taking into account the literary devices of the biblical authors. Also, if a person or a culture’s beliefs are evolving does that mean they are entirely false? IF the Israelite had a worldview that entertained the existence of other gods (while it seems to run contrary to clearer passages such as Dt 32:39) then these gods are certainly not in the same category as Yahweh. The dissimilarities between Israel and its neighbors are much more significant that the similarities. Your claim of Israelite polytheism based on the text is a stretch. Like all good evolutionists you also need to cite a change agent for such theological evolution especially with all the cultural pressures around Israel to conform to a polytheistic worldview. It does seem that for Israel, the ultimate death blow to polytheism came during their exile in Babylon. While it seems that the Babylonian captivity put an end to Israel’s unique religion, it had the opposite effects. The reason being that Yahweh’s prophets foretold not only the exile, but also the return from exile. This is the type of evidence that makes one supernatural claim more plausible than another and why the religions of Israel and not of Babylon, have lived on.

                • beau_quilter

                  I don’t need to demonstrate anything; historians have already provided ample evidence both in the relevant textual criticism and in the archeology, although you seem blissfully unaware of the scholarship. If you would like a good place to start, I’d suggest Finkelstein and Silberman’s The Bible Unearthed, an excellent survey of the consensus of archeological and textual scholarship.

                  There is a very obvious explanation for prophecies of exile and return. They were written after the fact; and there are clear anacronistic references in many biblical prophecies that underscore this fact.

                • clebcal

                  I’m not looking for an explanation of the prophecies. I’m looking for an explanation for the strict monotheistic nature of Israel upon their return from exile. One explanation consists of the prophecies of Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah all of which predict a restoration and actually use the prediction to distinguish Yahweh from all other gods. Isaiah makes an argument that hinges on the fact that his prophecy got the prediction write. If it was written after the fact it must have been quite the elaborate con on a level similar to that of the gospel writers. Those Jewish writers were sure good at preaching morality via their scandalous and sophisticated cover-ups.

                • beau_quilter

                  “Isaiah makes an argument that hinges on the fact that his prophecy got the prediction write.”

                  I’m not sure how that even makes sense. It’s quite easy to write prophecies of a return from exile, after the return from exile has already taken place.

                • clebcal

                  Imagine if someone wrote down a bunch of events that took place in 2013 and then 30 years later they showed everyone the writing and said, “Behold, my prophecies about 2013 came true.” This would be bizarre. And yet, that is essentially what you’re assuming about Isaiah and other OT prophets. Here’s the problem I have with atheists – they think their assumptions are based upon evidence but a naturalistic explanation of something is not tantamount to evidence based conclusion. The same could be said of the person of Christ and the claim of his resurrection. Change Christ to fit your naturalistic explanations but don’t pretend that the evidence is on your side. A logical inference from the evidence at hand indicates that the person named Jesus performed miracles and rose. Theoretical naturalistic explanations may fit your assumptions but they don’t fit the evidence. Like it or not Christianity is based upon historical events. It seems that atheism is more of a psychological issue than anything else – a willful self-imposed barrier placed upon the mind to explore certain avenues of thought. Like blind men who pluck out their eyes and ridicule others for saying that they see light.

                • beau_quilter

                  clebcal

                  You’re imagining the wrong story. Here’s a better parallel: The self-professed “psychic” Sylvia Brown, just died a few days ago. Imagine someone writing down events that happen in 2014 and printing them in a book of predictions citing Sylvia Brown as the author. Now this “ghost writer” doesn’t take the book to a group of nonbelievers; he takes it to a group of Sylvia Brown devotees who have always believed she was a real psychic. The book just confirms their former biases, and probably goes on to promote teachings that are important to the forger.

                  clebcal, your belief that atheists are biased against believing the Bible really just showcases your own biases. Do you believe in the miracles of the Quran? Do you believe in the gods of the Bhagavad Gita? Do you believe in the prophecies found in the Book of Mormon? Then you are guilty of the same “willful self-imposed barrier” that you ascribe to atheists – you just apply it to every religion except Christianity.

                  I have a word for that “willful self-imposed barrier” to believing ancient miracle stories: it’s called Reason.

                • clebcal

                  Perhaps semantics need to change – a term like “supernatural” is too theologically loaded. Atheists employ a lot of theoretical explanations and see no problem in waiting patiently for “the collected speculations of humanity which have yet not been explained” (see EdmondW’s comment) to be explained. Yes, faith is being sure of what we hope for. What if the remaining supernatural claims have a more naturalistic explanation? What I mean is that In the age of virtual worlds is it really that unbelievable to consider that other such possible worlds exist or that we exist within the framework of something similar? Could God be more akin to a programmer? If we infer from the fine-tuned universe an existence of multi-universe or infinity universes could some of these universes house god-like creatures that can interact with our own?
                  You should get your head out of your ass and open up your mind to the fact that existence is much greater than the small space within your skull or the few decades of your limited experiences can ascertain. If ultimate explanations exist they have to come from without, not within. The origin of life and the dizzying complexity of the universe are beyond what we can even imagine – fitting the universe in side a human skull is like trying to explain the politics of gay marriage to my dog – he’s just going to stare blankly and lick himself. But such thoughts are frightening for an atheist who wants the universes to work a certain way. The cliche, childish and crude world of internet atheism is much more comfortable and doesn’t require deep thinking. I would encourage you to at least be agnostic – if I were the mind behind the universe I would find the humility of the agnostic much more palatable than the pretensious nature of atheism.

                • beau_quilter

                  Atheists are “cliche, childish, and crude”?

                  Those are precisely the adjectives I would use to describe your comment.

                  As for atheists being “frightened” of the dizzying complexity of the universe. How silly!

                  Atheists are excited by scientific discovery, they understand that paradigm shifts occur as our understandings of quantum mechanics and relativity grow and change. We are comfortable with having unanswered questions, but we not content with answering questions with meaningless supernatural stories.

            • EdmondWherever

              Supernatural claims carry zero evidence, ever. Once evidence becomes present, the event is then recognized as natural. There is no catalog of “known supernatural events or entities”. There is no list of events that are known to have supernatural causes. There is only the collected speculations of humanity which have not yet been explained. Supernatural claims are simply perception errors that await debunking.
              .
              The Bible isn’t truly different from any of these other myths. Having a creator who is separate from his own creation certainly doesn’t lift suspicions that the Bible is myth. Someone eventually needs to find a talking donkey, or a pregnant virgin, or a reproducible examply of water being transformed into an alcoholic beverage. Real-world examples are what put natural events into our body of factual knowledge. Supernatural claims would need to work in THAT same way. No one should be swallowing supernatural claims that don’t have demonstrable, repeatable, falsifiable evidence.

    • duke_of_omnium

      You’re confusing bemused contempt with rage. It’s a common mistake.

      We find the bible funny – in a “look at the silly stuff some people believe” sense of “funny”. We find frightening those who believe the bible to be true or even moral (look at how many people defend the atrocities commanded by God as being morally perfect).

      The rage comes when those same morally bankrupt people try to impose this risible, offensive book on the people smart enough to reject it. How much “rage” would you summon if someone wanted to infect a child with syphilis (or islam).

      • clebcal

        I have a hard time viewing something as both frightening and hilarious. Terrorism is not funny. Your argument against the morality of the Bible is subjective.

        • duke_of_omnium

          I don’t. Voltaire said that “God is a comedian whose audience is afraid to laugh.”

          And yes, morality is always subjective. Whenever we say that “X is immoral,” we are really saying is, “we find X repugnant.” Thank you, Captain Obvious.

          • clebcal

            Then your statements on morality are meaningless and your criticisms of a worldview’s moral structure has no bite. Atheism is pathetically parasitic. Borrowing moral concepts to destroy moral constructs without the ability to pay off the debt.

            • duke_of_omnium

              That’s nice. Now run along and play. The grownups are talking, dear.

            • EdmondWherever

              No one needs to “borrow” moral concepts, certainly not from the (entirely human) monsters who cobbled together the Bible. The morality depicted there was born from the brutal subsistence of the day, where smashing the babies of one’s enemies against rocks was advantageous to the tribe. Those people, however, WERE just as capable as we are today in constructing morals that are more advantageous to EVERYONE (not just one’s own tribe or in-group). And they did so occasionally. The Bible DOES contain some pearls of wisdom here and there. How could it not? It’s a HUGE book, created over thousands of years, by human beings struggling through the toughest examples of history. Of COURSE they’re going to come up with some good morals. But that doesn’t meant that those morals were “handed down” from on high. The were hard-fought and hard-won (and human-fought and human-won) by people who had to solve these issues on their own, at the dawn of our species’ development. They are going to have some BAD morals, too, which worked for them as long as they didn’t care too much about the next tribe down the road. WE’VE had to suss out the good from the bad, not only in that book but in MILLIONS of other human writings. There is no “borrowing” going on. There is BUILDING on top of older efforts, improving them as we grow and learn. If we still behaved today in accordance with the “morals” of the Bible, we’d be about as advanced as the barbarians we’d be expected to emulate.

            • beau_quilter

              The most useful moral concept that can be found in the bible is the golden rule … and the bible “parasitically” borrowed that concept from other cultures, where it appears first.

    • EdmondWherever

      As a gay man who’d like to marry my partner, and as a science-lover who’d like to see better education and critical thinking skills in the next generation, I don’t really think of what we do as “barking at the moon”. Maybe you didn’t notice some of the laws crafted by people who think this book is a historical document and a guide for modern morality? Maybe you like those laws, I don’t know. I HOPE our efforts show our true colors. If I can be remembered as someone who fought against that nonsense, then those would indeed be my true colors.

    • Ophis

      A satirical translation is not exactly “rage”. That’s like saying the writers of Bored Of The Rings were raging against Tolkien. In any case, there’s a wide range of attitudes towards the Bible among atheists, with varying degrees of hostility, appreciativeness or indifference depending on which particular atheist you talk to.

  • Neko

    Jacob Fortin’s parody is “awesome”? Really? Actually it’s sophomoric, and we would all be doing him a favor to nip this thing in the bud. He should stick to comics (the cards and the tee shirt are better). This sort of thing has been done before and better by people with some grasp of the Bible’s cultural value, like R. Crumb’s “The Book of Genesis” and David Plotz’s Good Book on the Old Testament.

    Some atheists will just never get over Christianity. What’s the point of understanding that there is no god or gods if you remain enslaved by religion? The truth will set you free. Let go of the Judeo-Christian legends if you hate them so much.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, TOWAN

      it’s a hard economy out there, esp for the young. if he can get a book published, and sell lots of copies, more power to him. this isn’t your brand of humor, so don’t buy it. atheism comes in all flavors, including those who feel compelled to parody xtianity more than any other religion.

      i’m guilty of that myself, truth be told. i think wicca, judaism, hinduism, jainism… all the rest of them too, are bunk. but i spend way less time mocking them, for reasons that i hope are obvious to any american atheist right now.

      • Neko

        I have no problem with parodies of Christianity (Monty Python, come on down). I have a problem with lame parodies. If Fortin’s piece had wit and critical acumen then I would support it. But it doesn’t. It’s forced and unfunny. The economy has nothing to do with the merits of this work-in-progress, and it’s a deflection on your part to mention it.

        Then, too, there’s the rank philistinism of Jessica Bleumke, who offers…

        Have you ever thought about reading the Bible and then thought to yourself “Naw, that writing is the worst!”

        …before raving about this other stuff as “awesome.” Seriously? She must know nothing about literature or satire and assume her readers know nothing as well. Perhaps her post is a favor for a friend. I sure hope so.

        • Neko

          I feel a little bad about being such an unfriendly atheist to Jacob Fortin. It takes a lot of work to tackle this sort of thing, and it’s always easy to play the critic. Good luck, Jacob!

  • Mitch

    Feels like an atheist’s take on “The Message” translation of the bible.

  • TychaBrahe

    What’s wrong with TheBrickTestament.com/home.html?


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