No, atheists do not interpret the Bible like fundamentalists

Libby Anne has a post replying to an earlier post of mine on fundamentalists vs. liberal Christians. She apparently didn’t read my follow-up reply to James McGrath, which explains my position a little more, but there’s another issue here that I’ve been meaning to address for awhile: no, atheists do not interpret the Bible like fundamentalists.

It true that I think on some issues, the “fundamentalist” position is a more plausible reading of the author’s intentions than the “liberal” one. But I’d be surprised to find an atheist who thinks this is generally true. As I point out at the previous link, the Bible contradicts itself a lot, something which atheists frequently point out in criticizing fundamentalists. I can enthusiastically agree with James McGrath that fundamentalist insistence on inerrancy ends up doing violence to the text.

Furthermore, while my impression is that liberals and fundamentalists alike would mostly like the issue to go away, the general position of liberal Christians at least makes it possible to admit that the Bible commands slavery (and is wrong about this). In the modern US, where slavery is widely seen as a Bad Thing, most fundamentalists can’t do that, unless they going to pull a Doug Wilson and insist that slavery wasn’t that bad. (The fact that liberal Christian Fred Clark has a similar view of what the Bible says about slavery should be the last atheists hear from liberal Christians about “but you’re agreeing with fundamentalists!”)

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