No, Atheist Friends, The Bible Isn’t Just “Fairy Tale.”

No, Atheist Friends, The Bible Isn’t Just “Fairy Tale.” January 12, 2017

image of magical little fairy in the forest . vintage filtered

When interacting with (some) atheists online, it isn’t a shocker to stumble upon some who begin a discussion with an overwhelming arrogance as they prepare to rain down their intellectual and moral superiority on you.

I mean, let’s be honest: Every group has its hard-core Calvinists, right? (That’s a joke people. I don’t need more hate mail from Calvinists.)

The other day I wrote a post on some things I wish atheists would stop doing, and one of those things was I wish they’d stop with the conversation-stopping claim that our belief system/the Bible is just a bunch of “fairy tales.”

To my surprise, this was the one point that seemed to get the most push-back. In fact, many atheists doubled down on this point– including Hemant Mehta from Friendly Atheist, who responded, here. Strewn throughout the comment section I found atheist after atheist saying, “Yup, I’m still calling it all a fairy tale.”

This, of course, invites a few more questions: First, is the Bible a fairy tale?

And second, a worthy question posed by a reader in the comment section: Do some atheists have an unsophisticated approach to literature? 

As the Irish Atheist pointed out in the comment section (because some atheists can be atheists without being a total %$@! about it), calling the Bible a fairy tale falls flat, because fairy tale is a very specific, modern, English genre of literature. This specific literary genre is typically short stories, written specifically for children, and is designed to be complete fantasy. What’s a fairy tale? Think Shrek.

This isn’t the literary genre of the Bible. One can think the Bible is complete junk, one can disagree every word of it, some of it can be historically inaccurate or even untrue– but if one thinks the literary genre of this literature is “fairy tale” than I do wonder if such a person actually does have a horribly unsophisticated view of literature in general.

The Bible is a collection of 66 individual books (protestant cannon) written over a large period of time by different people, in different cultures, and for different purposes. In fact, there is a multitude of genres found in the Bible, and not one of those genres is “fairy tale.”

For example, in the Hebrew scriptures we find a wide array of genres that all center around a theme: the birth and development of a people group that came to be known as ancient Israel. Most of it was written in hindsight (I believe most was written in the post-exilic period) as they looked back at where they had come from. From this literature we see how they viewed government, what bronze age nomads considered good laws, how they viewed the divine, which surrounding cultures they clearly hated, and which ones they were happy to borrow from as they grew in their individual identity.

Within that, do they also include some myths (sacred stories that aren’t literally true)? Some legends (popular stories that can’t be historically authenticated)? Yeah, of course. That’s the kind of stuff we expect to find in ancient literature like this.

As we move forward we find them writing about their wars, and see that just like those around them, they grossly exaggerated their victories (as I demonstrate in this 2 minute video of an artifact I stumbled upon in Amman, Jordan). We also see them write beautiful poetry and wisdom, two more literary genres found in the 66 book library. We find them talking about their national problems, their struggles with leadership and how establishing a monarchy backfired on them, and even have an entire book dedicated to things they complained about.

Then we move into another interesting genre– the prophets. No, these weren’t exactly future tellers, but more like the social justice advocates of their day. After the wars, their culture became like ours- the rich grew richer and the poor grew poorer, so ancient “prophets” came along to tell them that such selfishness actually pisses God off. One of them even told people that God hates religious people who mistreat the poor and vulnerable, and that they make God want to vomit. (These guys often got killed, FWIW.)

And, of course, we have the Greek Scriptures, where some Jews started a new religion that became known as Christianity. In here we see fans of Jesus who wrote about his life and teachings, followed by a collection of letters written to different churches around the world– each one addressing different cultural struggles and issues they were having as they began to establish this new religion. The Bible even ends with a truly strange genre–Jewish apocalyptic literature– which was a specific genre that was geared towards giving people hope when struggling through rough times, but is notoriously complicated to interpret in modern times.

That’s a ridiculously truncated version of the literature found in the Bible, but here’s the point: none of it is fairy tale, even if parts of it include myths or legends that are scientifically impossible or historically false.

So, back to the question: Do atheists have an unsophisticated view of literature? Well, if one really believes the Bible can be classified as fairy tale, than yes– one would be holding to an almost laughable lack of sophistication when it comes to ancient literature. It would be like visiting Egypt, looking at all the carvings on the walls left for us by ancient Egyptians, and then saying, “What a bunch of losers and their stupid fairy tales.”

It’s true that the ancient Egyptians may have believed and practiced some crazy shit, but such an arrogant, dismissive attitude actually makes one less enlightened, not more.

It’s such a waste of perfectly good brain cells when bias leads us to dismissiveness and over-generalization, especially in the world of literature. But hey, people do this with Shakespeare too, because dismissiveness is easier than seeking understanding.

But here’s the deal: I don’t think the average atheist is actually that unsophisticated. Instead, I would invite a little more honesty:

When you call the Bible a “fairy tale” you’re not saying it because you believe it’s actually in the same literary genre as Shrek, you’re using the word as a pejorative for the simple purpose of being a %#@! about things.

And I’m sorry, but I don’t see anything morally or intellectually superior about that. It’s ignorant, close-minded, and completely dismissive of windows into ancient history.

In fact, such attitudes remind me of how easy it is for any of us (myself included) to so blindly become the very thing we claim to hate.

 


unafraid 300Dr. Benjamin L. Corey is a public theologian and cultural anthropologist who is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary with graduate degrees in the fields of Theology and International Culture, and holds a doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is also the author of the new book, Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, which is available wherever good books are sold. www.Unafraid-book.com. 

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  • I find it prudent to add that when Dr. Corey texted me to let me know he was posting this article, I responded with numerous pictures of Pilate washing his hands and the sinking of the Titanic.

  • True story.

  • I don’t think that I have ever called the Bible a fairy tale. That just seems wrong.

    I’m pretty sure that I have used the term “myth” for some parts. But myths have an important role in the development of a culture. So I see that as a more respectable term.

    And, of course, some of it is simply fabulous — that is to say, some parts are just fables. But again, fables are not the same as fairy tales.

  • Exactly. Myth, legend, and fable would all be reasonable descriptors of some parts of it, and I think most people know that. I’m growing more and more convinced that folks use “fairy tale” as an intentional pejorative just to be jerks about it.

  • Luciano Joshua Gonzalez

    To be fair, as an atheist activist I’ve never seen skeptics of any sort seriously categorize the Bible as a fairy-tale. It’s done insultingly, when seriously attempting to categorize the Bible as a work of literature many like myself categorize it as a mixture of myth, history, and legends.

    Are there any skeptics who earnestly categorize it as a fairy-tale? As a historian, if they do, I apologize. That’s misguided. I get that the purpose of this post is largely to challenge individuals who do that insultingly, and I agree with that motive. Challenge those people! I liked reading this. Have a nice day Benjamin!

  • I like this!!
    >I get that the purpose of this post is largely to challenge individuals
    who [use the term Fairy Tail as a pejorative], do that insultingly, and I agree with that motive.

    I don’t think they do it exclusively to insult or to just be jerks. I think there is a whole class of atheist who have been spiritually abused. many of us Progressive and liberal Christians have walked away from the hideous monstrosity Christian Mainline American churches have become. One who is becoming disenchanted and has been outed as someone who’s not going along to get along anymore can carry a traumatic, emotional, and spiritual wound for decades before finding Traction and connection again in the realm of the spirit and Acceptance in a community of peers who have empathy who have also grappled with the problem of surviving the Meltdown of isolation and exclusion from family friends one has formally found relationship with. The whole experience left me very angry and grieving a loss that took me years to get over. I’m not over it yet!! I may never get completely over it!! And this anger, confusion, frustration, and lingering contempt and doubt is maybe what atheist and Progressive liberal Christians have in common!! The pain of alienation was so bad I went through a period of being nihilistic and suicidal. I got into a 12-step program because of substance abuse issues. I have a robust spiritual program today that I follow that keeps me wanting to stay sober and clean but the spiritual program is so much more!!

  • Al Cruise

    “but more like the social justice advocates of their day.” Agreed, I think they understood the power of Love ,compassion and forgiveness and saw the concrete and positive results of what those virtues did on all mankind when that path was taken. They also explored and recognized the doubts , fears and questions about self meaning , within their own minds and explored the different avenues that gave peace of mind. They wrote stories metaphorically to share these experiences and give hope. The Truths they recognized about Love , compassion , forgiveness and humbleness have the same power today as they did for those early authors. The power of Love is not a fairy tale.

  • seanchaiology

    Excellent post!

  • Warren

    I take it you didn’t actually read the article.

  • murfle

    While calling the bible as a whole a “fairy tale” is literally inaccurate, I can understand people conflating “myths” and “fairy tales”. At best, it’s casual shorthand for a more complicated reality, but your thesis is likely correct, that most people are being intentionally dismissive and jerky. I can’t imagine a scenario where calling the bible a fairy tale would be rhetorically successful.

  • Bones

    Lol

  • Mark Moore

    fair·y tale ˈferē tāl/
    noun
    a children’s story about magical and imaginary beings and lands.
    synonyms: folk tale, folk story, traditional story, myth, legend, fantasy, fable
    “the movie was inspired by a fairy tale”
    denoting something regarded as resembling a fairy story in being magical, idealized, or extremely happy.
    modifier noun: fairy-tale
    “a fairy-tale romance”
    a fabricated story, especially one intended to deceive.

    I think the Bible fits the definition of fairytale.

  • Bones

    I love Irish….

  • Joslyn Renfrey

    For many of us (myself included), as children, we were taught faerie tales from the bible before we went to sleep at night, so that leaves quite an impression of the fanciful nature of the work. We call it a faerie tale because to us, it is literally a bed time story. As long as christian parents present it as such, that’s what we’ll call it.

  • tyler

    if we were talking about the technical definition of the term ‘fairy tale’, i could understand the pushback against classifying the bible as such. after all, the fairy tale is a well-defined genre that the bible cannot be classified as, and any literary professor saying so in a technical context would be absolutely wrong

    but it’s pretty obvious we’re not talking about literary professors debating genre and style using highly technical language, but about the popular definition of the term, which is essentially synonymous with ‘myth,’ ‘legend,’ ‘fable,’ or ‘bedtime story.’ given that, i can’t help but see this entire post as little more than another one of the stupid semantic arguments that christians tend to be so fond of (see: theory, love, sin, and a million other words where christians alternately muddle or enforce definitions as convenient for them). that in itself might not be so terrible, but if you were really interested in any kind of dialogue on this topic specifically, it seems pretty clear that you could have gotten away with boiling this whole thing down to like two completely noncontroversial sentences: “The term ‘fairy tale’ is unnecessarily combative, no matter how appropriate you feel it is. Atheists arguing in good faith might consider using the word ‘myth’ instead, which has the same meaning you’re trying to get at, but has less connotations of calling the believer an idiot.” voila. easy. i don’t know why people feel like they need to expound this crap out to thirty paragraphs littered with veiled jabs against the other.

  • Damien Priestly

    I think Dr. Corey misunderstands why atheists would call the Bible “Fairy Tales”, it is not because they put it in the same category as Snow White or Rumpelstiltskin…Instead, it is a vernacular way of insisting the Bible is fiction and not worthy of following as the life guide that many insist it is. There may well be literary value in the Bible, but when atheists, a minority, are not regularly confronted with the gospels as settled truth, perhaps they will then look at the Bible as literature.

    e.g. When Falwell, Huckabee, Cruz, Dobson, etc. back off and become as reasonable as the author Dr Corey is…atheists will become more polite, fairy tale claims will dissipate and the Bible may be on the bookshelf right next to Hitchens.

  • Bwdesmo

    The author is right in that, although the argument could me made that the biblical Stories fit the literal definition of fairytale. it’s not what most atheists mean they use the term. So, I’d ask here, if I find the stories in the Bible to be at best fables and at worst silly and controlling, what better term is there to use?

  • Gandolf

    “When Falwell, Huckabee, Cruz, Dobson, etc. back off and become as reasonable as the author Dr Corey is…atheists will become more polite, fairy tale claims will dissipate and the Bible may be on the bookshelf right next to Hitchens.”

    In some countries, it need to go further than that .Just “backing-off” isn’t likely to be enough.For there also need to be more-steps taken forward.For instance , if all those people you have named, were to decide to back-off tomorrow.There will be some pretty extreme aspect of abuse still happening within the USA,blatant abuse in name of religious freedom.Abuse in the name of God

    Consider the life of some children needing to live within a situation like within the video below, for one example (i understand how its an extreme example ive chosen.But even so, hopefully this will then help to also highlight the full scope of the problem)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPpbmDDRm8M

    Tell me why? christian would really need to be very surprised, if in fact some of these children from WOFF religious group had later became atheist at some stage.Some of them rather angry atheists too, whom might even now look for any ways they find, in which to vent some anger.Even if one way they may find may be by classing the bible as a fairy tale .Use of humor, can help to relieve anxiety, sadness or anger and so on

    Im not suggesting that this is the reason that every angry atheist will have

    Dr. Benjamin L. Corey seems surprised that some atheist are also angry atheists. Well im a little surprised that anyone would need to be so-surprised to see the amount of angry reactions.And with all due respect i’m extra surprised when i see a Doctor of Intercultural Studies whom seem surprised.I’m struggling to understand why

    In my opinion there is really no great surprise that there are in fact angry atheist’s.And even less-surprising too (to me) is the numbers of American angry atheist. For there is valid reason why more angry atheist might tend to come from the USA

    It has nothing to do with genetics.And plenty to do with culture. In the US culture, it has much to do with the abundance of religious culture.Coupled with the fact that US atheist citizen can still have even found it harder to secure jobs, or harder to try entering into politics either, if they are to decide to just “openly admit” to being atheist’s

    This must help to explain reason why there now might be so much anger

    I do feel some what lucky to be a citizen in a country outside the USA. Luckily im a citizen of a more secular country. And i choose to use the word lucky, because no child get to choose the country of which they are born

    Backing off wont fix it. Stepping forward a little more might be more likely to help

    P.S im someone an atheist who still sometimes enjoy reading biblical literature

  • Etranger

    It is definitely wrong to say fairy tales. I have always thought the Bible is more in line with mythology. Its stories are very similar to the Metamorphoses by Ovid and other such tales in many other cultures. In fact, what has always seemed fascinating to me is how common many of the myths are to humanity in general (creation myths, flood stories, virgin births, resurrections, etc.). It is dangerous to believe they are “truth” in terms of being literally true, but it is dangerous to dismiss them as meaningless as well.

  • The main issue, beyond all of the dancing around points, is this: Calling something a ‘fairy tale’ implies that it’s either entirely or completely false (along with other implications). In contrast, the terms ‘folklore’, ‘mythology’, ‘legends’, ‘stories’, and the like are deliberately ambiguous and denote that things are more complex.

    Naturally, a lot of people use ‘fairy tale’ even if it’s technically wrong. As the author points out, it’s a particularly Anglosphere-based tradition that’s more narrowly defined than just ‘mythological stories’. As the other commentators point out, it’s an attempt at a pejorative rather than anything that serious.

    All and all, I think, most of the Biblical stories are likely reminiscent of something like the tales about King Arthur. An active, flesh-and-blood leader known as ‘Arthur of the X’ probably existed, and he fought multiple battles while assembling a loyal group behind him. At the same time, all of the talk about magic and wizards is likely embellishment long after the fact. To what extent the mythology can be taken either metaphorically true (as good advice about how to act) or literally true (as an account about solid history) is very much unclear. Skepticism is the right way to go.

  • Linguagroover

    I attach a basic definition from the Oxford dictionary. Maybe when we atheists choose to use the term ‘fairy tale’ or ‘fairy story’ re the biblical canon (not cannon, by the way) we are allowed to be quasi-metaphorical and culturally appropriate as we see fit, without theists dictating the debate on their self-interested terms. And maybe if you had received less baffling literature inspired by your alleged benign omnipotent omniscient omnipresent revelation-loving deity, there would not be a vast apologetics industry 2,000 years later. The 66 books are rammed with contradictions, absurdities and nonsense, surely qualifying as ‘untrue accounts’ – eg, talking snake, genocide’n’incest flood by the agency of an allegedly caring deity, several million people plus livestock wandering around a small desert for 40 years, virgin birth, walking on water, resurrections, flying through the air etc etc. And while the narratives sometimes (although far from always) make a passable stab at establishing location and time, they are still heavy on magical and imaginary beings. As for fairy tales appealing to children, it is little wonder that churches make so much effort to recruit the very young with their infantile stories. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3d2fb0ef07563f11eb0258ef2a36296b883cd9fbef39a8883515e176b64e7345.jpg

  • Dude Dan

    I get that you’re trying to make a distinction with the technical use of the literary term “fairy tale” but in any average day to day encounter with a Believer who is trying to “share the gospel” with an un-believer there is absolutely a story telling aspect that is reminiscent to fairy tales. The claims that God has worked throughout history and OT to set the stage for bringing Jesus into the world in order to redeem mankind goes beyond simple mythology because it reads the desired message back into every other book in the Bible regardless of that particular books literary category. So of course from a literary stand point your argument is valid the bible is a collection of books of various genre… but this is all special pleading and misdirection apologetics because the Christian claims about the “good news” that the books of the Bible starting with Genesis describe this overarching story on how God sent his son into the world to redeem mankind from sin via the covenant 2.0 (or whichever covenant version God’s on now)… that’s the fairy tale.

  • Just use “fairy tales”. We’re not talking literary genres here, we’re talking common English. I would agree with the author if we were in the middle of a debate about literary genre, but on the street people see fairy tale as just a shorthand for “not true”.

  • David Ashton

    I think “fairy tale” is pretty accurate, a “grim” fairy tale but a fairy tale non the less

  • NorthC

    Umm, prove that it’s mostly true and it will be called such. No one is writing an English paper when they’re discussing the BIBLE, so does it really warrant an academic discussion about the use of the words “fairy tale” in describing the same book that presents things such as talking snakes, pregnant virgins, parting seas, talking shrubbery, and zombies as true?

    Do you know why libraries put fairytales and mythology in the same “non-fiction” section? Because we’ve deemed them untrue. You want to make a literal distinction for what? Will it change anyone’s mind about the validity if it?

  • Al Cruise

    Consciousness has no scientific formula or physical properties and exists outside of space, time, energy and matter. The Bible was written out of the awareness within consciousness at that time .

  • Taylor Walston

    I am not sure why they say fairy tale when mythology is there to be used and more accurate. The fact of the matter is that while yes, you can add poetry, meaning, and useful rules to a system of religion, those are not in question except for how you tie them to the myths. For example, I can agree with you that respecting your marriage vow and not looking into other hookups is a pragmatically decent way to express a marital commitment… and based on that understanding we will get comparable results assuming our partners agree likewise. When you tell me that I can’t come to that understanding without your god, or that I am assuming your god to have that understanding, we are now in conflict. Specifically, tying good sense (and even some pretty nonsensical claims) to a myth does not make it “more” sensible. It just adds the poetry of certainty. Until such time as we can objectively demonstrate anything supernatural to be true, these claims trying to tie them together to justify believing in the supernatural are exactly what followers of other myths have done throughout our recorded history, and likely before.

  • A related thing I hear a lot that is just as imprecise and a serious barrier to discourse is the statement, “There’s no evidence for X,” where X can run the gamut from God’s existence to Jesus’ existence to something in the Bible to a theological claim or even a historical claim that might have theological import.

    Most of the time, there is evidence for X, but it is evidence that the evaluator doesn’t find convincing, or doubts the credibility of the source, or finds that the evidence could support other conclusions, perhaps in light of other evidence. But none of that equates to the evidence not existing at all.

    If you hear a crash in the kitchen and you find your six year old standing in front of a broken cookie jar, and he says that a robber climbed in through the window, stole a cookie, and knocked over the jar on his way out, there is evidence for that claim. You heard the crash. The broken cookie jar is before you. Your six year old gave an eyewitness account.

    Of course, there are many reasons why you might think this evidence more convincingly fits a different account. Your six year old obviously has motivation to blame someone else. There are probably few burglaries in your neighborhood where a food item was the primary target. Maybe there is other evidence to take into account, like crumbs on your child’s face or the window still being firmly locked from the inside. Perhaps your child could account for that data as well in his story, but then you start weighing probabilities and likelihoods and we decide that it is far more likely that the evidence points to your child trying to sneak a cookie.

    But the evidence for your child’s claim existed the whole time. It’s not that those things didn’t exist; it’s that other interpretations of that evidence combined with other factors were far more likely.

    The reason this is important in discourse is because when an atheist says, “There’s no evidence for X,” this frames the discussion as between someone who uses evidence to evaluate claims (the atheist, typically) and someone who doesn’t care if they have evidence or not and just takes things based on blind faith/preference (the theist). This seems to be important to the ego/identity needs of a certain stripe of atheist.

    But this is both insulting and inaccurate. Both parties can have evidence for their claims and both can value evidence with one party still being wrong, unlikely, or a bad interpreter or evaluator of the evidence. And this way of casting the discussion makes actual discussion impossible, because no matter what the theist brings up, it isn’t evidence because they’re using it to support a theistic claim, and no matter how much falsehood or stupidity comes from the atheist, it is an “evidence-based” position.

    The irony is that the “evidence” clearly points to at least some atheists not caring about evidence at all. You only need to flip over the article about Jesus existing and read the comments to find some of the most outlandish claims. The Josephus passage about Jesus is a forgery because it doesn’t match Josephus’ handwriting?

    Perhaps my personal favorite moment was in a discussion about the James Ossuary, pointing out how only one group said it was a forgery and never released their data to the public, whereas virtually every other scholar – numerous scholars – who studied the Ossuary and had no motive for establishing Jesus’ existence declared it to be authentic with a few even wondering aloud why that other team could have possibly determined it to be a forgery. The response to this data?

    “Still, it’s a laughable forgery.”

    Oh, ok.

    Now, the James Ossuary may be a forgery – that’s not my point. The point is that the evidence didn’t matter. We didn’t get into a discussion about these various researchers and their credentials or their methods or other scholarly evaluations of their research by third parties.

    The irony of all this is that, in many of these cases, these maneuvers were preceded by lectures on how atheists care about facts and evidence and rest their conclusions on that, and how there is no evidence for Jesus’ existence, and then just the dumbest slew of historical myths and up front denial would follow.

    Obviously, the (many) instances one can find in those comments and others does not establish a majority. I’m not saying atheists don’t care about evidence. I’m saying we have clear evidence that some atheists don’t, regardless of their protestations. So to frame the discussion as a clash between people who use “evidence” and people who use “faith” to come to their positions is clearly inaccurate, and this paradigm is supported by the imprecision of statements like, “There’s no evidence for X.”

  • JacobBe5

    Fairy tale is used in more than the genre technical sense of the word. Sometimes it is simply a synonym for myth. That is how language works after all.

    This demand for a prescriptive and I think overly pedantic use of the word is untenable. I have not seen anything which convinces me the lion’s share of your objection doesn’t stem from your feelings being hurt when others reject your doctrinal documents as dismissively as stories about leprechauns.

    From a language perspective you may as well be demanding that literally not be used to describe figuratively, or they as a singular pronoun. Go ahead, attempt to persuade someone to adopt your position. But they are only wrong in so much as that particular definition does not support their usage, there are others.

    I’ll even go so far as to suggest fairy tale is being used to convey a general disdain for the material, such as for stories purportedly containing rules on who one may or may not enslave. And I think you understand that, which means the usage produces effective communication.

  • Frank Atkisson

    No, it isn’t a fairytale.

    It’s pseudopolemic garbage. It’s a hodgepodge of gossip, rhetoric and ignorant exposition.

    It’s value is chiefly that of kindling, or for those favoring a rolled smoke as emergency rolling paper.

    The literary content is of negative value. We are all diminished of intellect, advancement and reason by its having been the fixture for centuries of sociopolitical obsession.

    But no. Fairytale it is not.

    It isn’t fair to fairytales to draw such a comparison.

  • Calaba

    Ok. They are 66 books of fairy tales. Got it.

  • Randy Wanat

    So, your argument is that myths, legends, and falsehoods aren’t the literal definition of fairy tales, therefore…what? Creationists argue that evolution is a fairy tale. Is the proper response to define fairy tales and point out that it doesn’t fit that definition? Or, is the proper response to show that it is true? That you are arguing over the definition of fairy tale kind of shows that you can’t support the Bible’s truth with anything. But, you keep doing you.

  • Tim

    If I had £1 for every time I have seen Canon misspelt “Cannon”…

  • Rob Hughes

    In very sorry if you feel we’re being a bit dickish in discussing religious literature. But perhaps you can find a bit of tolerance for our dismissive attitude when remembering that your kind has, for thousands of years, been torturing and murdering my kind, based on the things written in those collections of myths, legends, and exaggerated historical descriptions. Or fairy tales, for short.

  • mikehorn

    Shrek isn’t a fairy tale. It is a humorous satire/parody of the fairy tale genre. If you are going to whine about sophistication or its lack, please live up to your own standard.

    Second, if you believe the ancient Egyptians believed some really weird stuff, you are halfway to understanding what atheists think of the Bible.

    Third, genres are labels placed by readers and critics and scholars after the fact. Mary Shelley didn’t think she was writing science fiction, and the term didn’t exist yet, but Frankenstein often gets labeled one of the first mature works in that genre. Similarly the Jewish Golem myth is often labeled science fiction. The Bible has many stories that comfortable fit into the Fairy Tale genre, especially the Garden of Eden, Noah’s Flood, and all aspects of Moses. The book of Job and the destruction of Sodom/Gomorrah are especially good fits. The tales around Jesus also fit. Fantastical beings and magical occurrences surrounding some sort of core moral lesson.

    Yes, to someone who doesn’t believe the Bible is actually true, it fits into Fairy tale, or superhero comic book, or ancient mythology equivalent to Egyptian or Greek. I think tales like Moses and Ulysses and Superman (a direct Jesus for Americans mythological construct) are directly comparable and equally true (as in, not at all).

  • LastManOnEarth

    Huh? Care to cite any credible source for “consciousness…exists outside of space, time, energy and matter”?

    That’s a fairly extraordinary claim.

  • My wish is to concentrate on our shared Humanity. We’re all going to die and face our own Armageddon. that is certain!! Death levels the playing field. ideologies that emphasize the proposition of US versus them increases personal angst, isolation and fear of one another in my humble opinion. The sting of alienation from one another!! it’s heartbreaking!!
    One can’t change the past but one can choose an attitude in the present to work with one another for love of doing the creative work to bring love, Justice and peace to the world we have our immediate attention and existence in collectively.

    This is from my blog friend jekylldoc;
    I love this!!
    >In the comments here we have plenty of examples of people declaring that Christians who don’t take the Bible literally are somehow less Christian. That is straight from the fundamentalist playbook. The idea that one can only interpret mythological language as a (pseudo-scientific) claim about
    the nature of reality is a fundamentalism. It saddens me deeply to see atheists not only promoting that interpretation, but actively trying to enforce it.
    And this!!
    >The defense of unfair generalizations (Christians oppose science, Christians believe we are not to do anything against global warming, etc.) is also beginning to operate as a kind of fundamentalism: like fundamentalist Christians, those who take the extreme stance have begun attacking those with broader views as somehow complicit in the supposed evils of “the other side”.

    And this is from teaching nonviolent atonement blog
    >the greatest position of power is found with the victim.

    The anthropologist René Girard explains this phenomenon. He states that the claim to be a victim is unique to the modern world. In no other period in human history have we seen this competition to be the greatest victim. Girard writes in his book I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, “The concern for victims has become a paradoxical competition of mimetic rivalries, of opponents continually trying to outbid one another.”

    Each side makes the same claim to being a victim. It’s what Girard calls “mimetic doubling.”

  • I think maybe Al was expressing his opinion rather than a claim that can be proved and nobody can prove because what animates one’s beliefs & being being is, currently, Beyond human understanding. You’re taking a breath? You’re taking another breath after that? What will happen if you can’t take another breath? You’ll be dead. Then what?

  • Paul Julian Gould

    For myself, good sir, my major dispute with what has become the Christian canon, is that the personal and pastoral letters of passionate preachers were elevated to the status of God’s literal word, and, over the past 2000 years, those letters have been used for so much violence and bigotry….

    It seems to this old Jew that folks over history have generally quoted those things that get printed in red letters, in application to themselves, and the judgements and criticisms of Paul/Sha’ul, when applying to others that they attempt to slam over the head with the book.

    I mean this as no blanket criticism of those (such as yourself, Dr. Ben and many of your commenters), who really try to walk the walk, and with whom I seem to be heading in the same direction on a parallel path, of course…

    Shalom.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    The Talmud, apart from some folks’ paranoid delusions, is a record of rabbinical discussion, explanation, and, at times, passionate dispute about just what the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings were actually about, and rabbis to this day, continue the discussion… so this is a discussion that’s actually been conducted for a few thousand years…

    Compare and contrast to the American-style Evangelical Protestant interpretation that seems to have been considered the de-facto “Truth” in this country, in some circles, that the Bible, in every word and every “jot and tittle” is absolutely true, accurate, and immune from dispute…

    One among many reasons why I’ve, in a rather “liberal” form, adopted the faith of my father, uncle, Grandfather and ancestors…

    Probably another reason that, at about to be 60 on the 14th of Feb., I intend to pursue the profession of my late father and go to law school… The thesis, antithesis and consensus, however much Hegel’s theories have been misused, fascinate me, both in spiritual and secular society…I have no understanding, nor much patience with any who are so fearful that they require a binary, 1 or 0, view of existence, G-d, faith and societal relations… There be dragons, and they are walking among us.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Of course, whatever time remains to me, as I ain’t all that healthy (they’re going to use something to examine my trachea next week, and a colonoscopy the following week, just to make sure some things are not as they seem… just sayin’), I also intend to go to Hebrew school, as a desire to read the Writings in the original sounds like fun to me… I’m kinda weird that way…

  • Dennis Lurvey

    It’s also a fallacy to think that people who use the term ‘fairy tale’ are just exaggerating not unlike the flood story, the destruction of canaan by abraham (provable untrue) the turning of a human to salt by a ‘loving god’, the killing of babies to find jesus, and so many more. I call them fish stories because many have taken a very small event and blowing it up enough to make their person seem special and a super hero. Does anyone know Jerusalem was such a small village it didn’t appear on maps till 400 BC? no, because the bible makes it seem like a booming metropolis from the beginning. It was constantine’s mother that kept juresalem from being abandoned by making it a tourist trap in the 4th centuries. If you ask the locals few believe those sites were special and were invented based on NT stories after the fact.

    he bible invents stories to make the writers seem bigger than they were by saying their ancestors were gods, healed people, built great cities instantly on their own, and pretty much made something from nothing over and over and over. If we assume the stories are only about 10% of what they claim some might actually be true.

    Miracle stories were written to say spirit has power to change the natural world just as certain philosophers were beginning to say otherwise. Early scientists like Phales were starting to figure out nature happened consistently by it’s own laws separate from the spirit world. IF they accepted that natural law was separate from supernatural beliefs they would take the superhuman traits from their deity and he would be confined to the creation (deists) and not able to reward and punish people at will for their ‘sins’.

    The ‘fairy tale’ aspects of the stories were necessary to make god the great and powerful oz while purely provable stories would pull back the curtain to show god didn’t exist/wasn’t needed at all.

  • ahermit

    Well said. Even as an atheist I can find value in the Bible as literature. In fact, I don’t think you can really appreciate a lot of Western literature without reference to the Bible and it’s influence. Too many atheists are willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater on this one.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    It’s also true that, apart from Western literature, so many things that are attributed to Jesus and some of the more poetic writings of Paul have become, in so many ways, parts of the English language as pithy phrases… Of course, it’s also true that so many have been kludged into our Western culture, completely out of context, but, as the Geico commercial says, “It’s what we do”

  • muffiewrites

    I don’t call it a fairy tale because, from a rhetorical standpoint, this is clearly an insult. I do call it mythology because that is what it is. Myths have some basis in fact, there is a temple at Delphi where people came to get information about the future, but the oracle bit is not true. The Bible is a collection of myths.

    Now it is incumbent on those who believe these myths to be either the literal or inspired word of their mythological deity to unbunch their undies when people with different beliefs about their deity and its supernatural entourage tell them that it’s a myth created by unsophisticated sheep herders. Because, whether you like it or not, that is precisely what the Bible is. Unless, of course, you have any actual evidence of the truth of your mythology.

  • seanchaiology

    Your final statement is interesting and I truly get where it is coming from, but let’s explore it a little further and simply ask why the onus is on those people? It is easy to say, and I fall into this category too, I will be nice as soon as they start being nice. But, again, why? They can simply say the same thing, right? It has to start somewhere, so why not start with yourself and see if it might rub off on others. If we are all waiting for the “other” side to play nice and fair first, then it will never happen. Additionally, when you allow people such as those you mentioned to be your sole representation of a population, then you are not expanding your horizons nearly far enough. As you stated already, you recognize there are those that differ from them (Dr. Corey), so why assume ALL are like Falwell, Huckabee, etc.??? Be kind to all until he/she individually and personally gives you reason not to be, and even then still do it. That’s the only way to break barriers, in my sincerely humble opinion.

  • Yes and no. Yes, the Bible as a library of books from various ancient times does include myths.

    No, the Bible isn’t “a collection of myths.”

    Consider only one example, the book of Ecclesiastes:
    “The content too points to a Hellenistic dating. There is reason to think that the author was influenced by Stoic philosophy (see Rudman in Bibliography). Also, competitive foot races, alluded to in 9:11, entered the Near East only in the third century B.C.E.”
    “A deeper indicator of Greek influence (which would scarcely be possible before the Hellenistic period) is the book’s display of the mindset of Greek philosophy. This enterprise tried to determine the good by the application of human reason alone, without appeal to tradition or revelation.”
    https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0006_0_05531.html

    There are others: the Book of Ruth and the Book of Jonah are thematic short stories based in legend on the importance of inconclusiveness (opposing the exclusiveness of the Jewish leaders),
    the Song of Songs is romantic erotic poetry,
    the Book of Job takes myth and creates a long poem criticizing most forms of theology dealing with the questions of why there is so much suffering and evil,

    ETC.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    ‘Scuse me, y’all… gonna go fetch a compass…

    *chuckle*

  • It seems that maybe you missed Corey’s central point

    Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary
    (the one we world literate teachers used for years)
    “Definition of fairy tale
    1
    a : a story (as for children) involving fantastic forces and beings (as fairies, wizards, and goblins) —called also fairy story
    b : a story in which improbable events lead to a happy ending
    2
    : a made-up story usually designed to mislead ”

    Corey was pointing out that calling the Bible “fairy tales” is inaccurate.

    And that atheists who use such a dismissal aren’t seeking to increase people’s knowledge,
    but rather are engaging in negative putdowns (similar to this last presidential election cycle).

    As a former world literature teacher for many years, I would have to say that I can’t think of anything in the Hebrew Bible that fits in the “fairy tale” genre.

    Maybe a few stories such as the one about Elijah making an ax head float to the surface of a lake?

    Generally, there is no magic, no fairies, no goblins, elves, mermaids, etc. in the Bible.

    Where the Bible is clearly not true, it is the case of myth and legend and religious delusion.

    Also, generally, no one thinks that a “fairy tale” is real. It’s well known to be a magical tale.

    In contrast, “myths” are widely believed by literate, even brilliant people.

    For instance, consider how many brilliant Jewish leaders still believe in the the Torah.

    I don’t know of any Jewish (or other scholar) who believes in Cinderella literally.

    There is the connotation of the words too.

    “Fairy tale” is a story meant for children.

    In contrast, “myth” is a defining story of a people, a society.

    At times the borderlines are fuzzy, but I don’t know of any secular literary scholar who equates the Hebrew Bible as “fairy tale.”

    If you know of any scholars who do, please send me the urls.

    I have never met a literary rabbit I didn’t want to chase down some historical cavity;-)

    Also see:
    Legend: “a traditional story sometimes popularly regarded as historical but unauthenticated” and “an extremely famous or notorious person, especially in a particular field.” But what you need to know is that legends are based on a real historical person or event, and can be narrowed down to a specific time in history. While legends are often embellished over time, they are rooted in reality. King Arthur is a great example, since it has been established he was a real person in history, though his achievements are often exaggerated.

    Myth: Where legends are based on historical events and real people, myths are largely rooted in a religion or belief system. Some myths have their origins in something real — like a place, or a group of people that existed historically — but a myth’s purpose is to explain a natural phenomenon, and its content often contains supernatural or fantastic beings, gods, and demigods. Greek mythology is an excellent example, as those myths were derived to explain the seasons or weather. But they also explain, and are strong reflections of, Greek culture and thinking. Paul Bunyan is a strong example of what might seem like a legend, but is actually a myth. His large size, his super-human strength, and the fact that he wasn’t a real person, place his tale in the camp of mythology. The dictionary defines a myth as: “a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.” What’s tricky, however, is sometimes “legend” is listed as a synonym for a myth. And while the two are closely related, now you know the difference.

    Fairy Tale: We’ve all heard fairy tales, and many of our favorite childhood stories fall into this category. What makes a fairy tale unique are elements of the fantastic. Fairy tales contain unicorns, elves, mermaids, and gnomes, for example, as well as other fantastic or magical elements. A girl can sleep for 100 years, or a pumpkin can turn into a carriage. Fairy tales, like myths and legends, can be difficult to describe, but they often (traditionally) contain clear narratives that identify good and evil. Fairy tales were born out of oral folklore and many of them are also fables (told with the purpose of teaching a moral lesson). And while many of them have morphed and changed throughout the years, they remain the bedrock of children’s stories and are beloved among many classic and contemporary authors alike.”
    https://mastersreview.com/literary-terms-legend-myth-and-fairy-tale/

  • TheMarsCydonia

    Though the bible contains fairy tale elements, I doubt any atheists think the bible is an actual fairy tale. I think the term is mainly used to highlight a similarity between the bible and fairy tales:
    Colloquially, a “fairy tale” or “fairy story” can also mean any far-fetched story or tall tale; it is used especially of any story that not only is not true, but could not possibly be true.

  • Rob Hughes

    I said nothing about being a victim or about how various religious groups treat each other. I simply stated the fact that those considered to be heretics, apostates, etc., are, even today, beaten, tortured, and killed for being heretics, apostates, etc.

    As far as sitting around a campfire singing kumbaya together, when religious people stop killing non-religious people for the great crime of not being religious, then maybe we can talk. Until then, the chances of, for me at least, treating the religious with anything other than great suspicion is close to zero, at least until such time as that person proves they aren’t likely to go all righteous fury on me. This is no more than the same level of caution I’d use when encountering a wild animal or generally uncivilized person. However, since you can’t even stop killing each other over whether or not dancing is a sin and whether or not it’s ok for a woman to go to the store without a male escort, I don’t see that happening in the foreseeable future.

  • mikehorn

    To an atheist, the entire bible is full of fantastical beings doing magic, and it most certainly deceives people. Anyone who takes its seriously or historically or literally might as well be taking the Little Red Hen as accurate.

    The Bible has talking animals, magic, supernatural mambo jumbo.

  • Rob Hughes

    The author is being quite pedantic in insisting that “fairy tale” is a specific genre of literature and describing the reasons the bible does not fall into that category while ignoring the commonly accepted usage of the phrase “fairy tale” to describe anything that is a blatantly untrue fabrication.

  • TheMarsCydonia

    “Fairy tales contain unicorns, elves, mermaids, and gnomes, for example, as well as other fantastic or magical elements.”

    “As a former world literature teacher for many years, I would have to say that I can’t think of anything in the Hebrew Bible that fits in the “fairy tale” genre.”

    I would call the bible’s use of fantastical creatures such as dragons, giants, unicorns or talking animals as having fairy tale like element. Its use of magic and enchantments as well.

  • Sorry, but as a literature teacher, I can’t think of any story in the Bible that promotes “magic,” not one at all.

    Generally, Jews have strongly opposed “magic,” though there are some sects which embraced magic in the Middle Ages.

    Nor were any of the Jewish books in the Hebrew Bible meant to “deceive people.”

    There is no story in the Hebrew Bible that is meant to be taken literally just like no one takes the Little Red Hen as real.

    It is true that there are fables about animals and trees, etc., but even 2,500 years ago, they weren’t believed in.

    In contrast, millions of Jews (and Christians and Muslims) have, and millions still do believe in the myths of the Bible.

    Think of the American myths such as that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves and was for equality.

    Not true.

    Or that the “Sons of Liberty” were freedom-loving good guys.

    Not true.

    Both are larger sized American myths and legends.

    But they aren’t fairy tales.

    Yet millions of Americans give Lincoln a larger-than-life stature, like Jews have done for David, Samson, Moses, etc.

    As I requested, please provide any secular scholar who thinks that the Bible is fairly tale, and I will reconsider my views (based on my years of study at the University of Nebraska, Cal State Long Beach, U.S.C.B.).

  • But the Hebrew Bible wasn’t “a blatantly untrue fabrication.”

    Even those secular scholars who think that very little in the Bible is historically true,
    don’t categorize the myths and legends of the Bible as “blatantly untrue fabrication.”

  • However, besides the myths, legends, and delusions in the Bible there are historical accounts, prose narratives including skeptical reflections, etc.

    The description, “…it is used especially of any story that not only is not true, but could not possibly be true”
    only describes the myths and fables of the Bible.

    Look at any good scholarly history of ancient civilization. There’s plenty of history (from the view point of the Jewish people of course) which matches the histories of the Persians, etc.

  • I don’t recall any mention of “unicorn” in the Bible, though I do remember there was a discussion of whether or not one word in ancient Hebrew might refer to “unicorn.”

    I would agree that the mention of the dragon and the realm of Chaos (as in some passages in the Psalms) and the angelic giants of Genesis have a “fairy tale like element,” though most textural scholars call such references, “mythic,”
    not fairy tales.

    I think atheists would be more clear if they said that many of the stories in the Bible are “myths.”

    The vast majority of scholars–including many Jewish scholars agree that there are many myths in the Bible.

    What they find exaggerated is the negative name-calling.

  • Steven Weir

    It is the same as a fairy tale in the sense that it tells a scary magical story to convince people to change who they are.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Perhaps the current definition of “fairy tales,” (or that definition of such as meant by the circles in which you travel) but I would refer you to Tolkien’s essay, “On Fairy Stories,” and see that such a desigination is no less rigid than the fundamentalists’ view that it’s all true, exactly as written and every word is “G-d breathed” and means exactly what the literal text says.

  • Rob Hughes

    Perhaps not in your experience, but I have seen the phrase used in reference to at least parts, if not the entirety, of the bible by biblical scholars, including in the Oxford Bible Commentary.

  • Rob Hughes

    Perhaps in some overly-pedantic circles, but I would simply encourage you to look up the common/colloquial usage of the phrase to see that there is a distinction between common usage and usage in literary/academic/ circles. There, you will see in the former that the phrase has a rather much looser definition in the former, and is rather much more rigid in the latter.

    That so many have gotten so wrapped around the axle over the common vs the academic meaning of the phrase tells me that the original core argument is likely even weaker than I originally thought.

  • Both extremist sides of the Biblical equation (atheists on one side, fundamentalists on the other) have it wrong. No, the Bible is not a fairy tale; no, the Bible is not to be taken literally. It should be treated as a literary book…scratch that, a series of literary books. When Wm Blake said it was the Great Code of Art, I believe that was what he was talking about. Literary stories/treatments (and one has to include nonfiction here as well) attempt to convey truth, though they do so in a literary/artistic way–that is the only way to convey truth other than scientific/mathematical language. I wish every pastor/priest had a good education within the English Literature field, as well as translation theory, and a good helping of aesthetics thrown in too.

  • Jack Dingler

    All of this to make the point that literary professors don’t like us us misusing the term, and that if a story contains elements that might be true, then it can’t be a fairy tale?

    Like children have been abducted and eaten, so Hansel and Gretal can’t be a fairy tale?

    The Holy Bible contains stories about anthropomorphic being with wing (faeries or angels) flying up and down from a castle in the sky on orders from a powerful wizard.

    So the book is full of faeries. And even has a whole chapter with a talking donkey

  • Jack Dingler

    I’d like to make the point that angels are in fact, just a Middle Eastern version of a fairy.

    They are magical beings in service to a king or queen. They have music, wings, magic, armor and weapons as tools to serve their masters. And of course the reason that angels have wings, is so they can fly back and forth from the sky were God lives in his golden palace.

    This sounds very much like a faery tale.

  • rationalobservations?

    “The bible” begs the question – which bible? There are many diverse and different, confused and internally contradictory editions of the bible that can be traced back as being written by men from the 4th century onward.
    The oldest bible (Codex Sinaiticus”) was written by a team of four men in the late 4th century and is significantly different to those we know today.

    There appears to be nothing unique or original within the Urban Myths at the root Judaeo/christian religion – but be assured that the rapidly growing and third largest “religious” cohort (the non-religious) treat all the thousands of apparently imaginary gods, goddesses and god-men/”messiahs” with exactly fair and equal skepticism.

    We atheists find the human blight of religion fascinating but seek to educate and inform those who remain in thrall to one strange death cult or another and to encourage those so blighted to develop curiosity to to actually study the fraudulent roots of their particular cult and the ridiculous, contradictory, scientifically absurd and historically inaccurate content of their particular version of bible or other unholy book. It appears to be working since fewer than 17% of Americans and fewer than 6% of Europeans remain active members of any business of religion.

    Christians are often baffled how atheists could deny the existence of their (originally Canaanite) god, “Jehovah/Yahweh” and their (Roman) god-man/”messiah” “Yeshu/Jesus”, but they shouldn’t be. Christians deny thousands of the same gods that atheists deny. Atheists just deny one more ridiculously unconvincing god and one more mythical god-man (among many hundreds of thousands of very similar undetectable and imaginary gods, goddesses and god-men) than Christians.

    Some fail to justify their enthrallment to their specific brand of religion by pointing out that the non-existence of any of the gods cannot be proved. If inability to prove the non-existence of deities is enough for some to believe in them., they must be very busy worshiping Amun-Ra, Apollo/Zeus, Quetzalcoatl, Pratibhanapratisamvit, Buddhist goddess of context analysis.and Acat, Mayan god of tattoo artists. and Tsa’qamae, north american god of salmon migration – and many thousands of other undetectable hypothetical entities among which “Yahweh” and “Jesus” remain merely mythical and of which no one ever provides proof or reason of (or for) existence and therefore non-existence may be assumed by default.

    All the evidence indicates that the christian religion was cobbled together in the 4th century from mainly “pagan” components and exclusively “pagan” feast days and festivals.

    So all you gloomy and fearful christians: Please at least try to have a happier life and shrug off the self loathing and hatred of humanity your death cult demands and reject all the other evil influences of a death cult that invokes terror of an imaginary and disgusting “wrathful god”.

  • screaminscott

    I think the term is mostly used used to describe the premise – that there is a supernatural world with a god, and all these supernatural elements affect our lives. Sure, there are real historical facts in the Bible. But it’s all presented as part of a ‘plan’ of this supernatural deity. And that’s the fairy tale part.

  • There aren’t any gods in fairy tales, though, just magic. The Bible fits more like mythology if you’re going to be fair about it.

  • That talking donkey is one of my favorite Bible stories! :D Love that story.

  • What you describe is a fable or a parable.

  • Frankenstein is science fiction? Not horror? Interesting. Is that because it features a scientist?

  • There’s a big difference in literature between a god/goddess and a king/queen.

  • He’s just pointing out that “fairy tale” is used to insult. If you use the word “myth” (which is a far more accurate interpretation of what several of the books that make up the bible are) it takes away the hatred of the insult. So, if your goal is to insult or demean, then call it a fairy tale.

  • Ficino

    The article by Neil Asher Silberman and Yuval Goren, “Faking Biblical History,” in Archaeology 56.5 (Sept/Oct 2003) is very thorough on the James Ossuary as a modern fake made by inscribing on the back side of an authentic ancient ossuary. There is much more in the 2009 book, Resurrecting the Brother of Jesus, a collection of papers edited by Ryan Byrne and Bernadette McNary-Zak (Univ. North Carolina press).

  • Tim Boone

    Mythological and mystical!! And it can be true without being empirically provable…. we are far more complex than only logic would allow..

  • In my humble opinion you have reasons and wisdom to be hidebound about religious issues. I think you have probably been traumatized, (as a child?) by caretakers who were religious addicts. Maybe you have been bravely trying to cope with your emotional and spiritual wounding in the only way a Survivor with unhealed trauma can in over controlling, disconnecting defenses rather than creative compassionate, open hearted, open minded, responses that have the possibility of satisfying activities of future Bridge building, a shared community of compassion and inclusion.
    I would like to hear your story. Specifically I’d like to hear how you were hurt by Christians, did anybody help you get over your trauma, how they helped you heal and how you are now And what you recommend to heal the breach between Believers and non-believers.

  • soupgoblin

    The bible has magic, monsters, and morality plays.

    It features animals that talk, and reads like Aesop’s Fairy tales.

  • soupgoblin

    I can’t wait to hear in the news about this author (radical Christian) being arrested for killing a doctor or doing something horrible to children…

    Not advocating for bad things to happen, but the radical Christians tend to go those two directions.

  • Melanisia

    It’s more of a collection of fairy tales then. Like the complete Grimms.

  • Dear soupGoblin you have publicly conveyed, in this forum, a deliberate, unreasonable, and undue interest in and enjoyment of the suffering of others. What makes you wish so much harm on people you do not know? Where do your assumptions come from?

  • Reading comprehension isn’t your strong suit, eh?

  • Ficino

    You are a mod, but you indulge in snarky, one-line, irrelevant comebacks like a troll. I am supplying some info about a topic you brought up on your own. No one else mentioned the James Ossuary. I have not failed to comprehend anything in the long screed you wrote.

    If you aren’t interested in reading the cited publications, don’t read them.

    ————–

    Adding: above you write this: “only one group said it was a forgery and never released their data to the public, whereas virtually every other scholar – numerous scholars – who studied the Ossuary and had no motive for establishing Jesus’ existence declared it to be authentic … ”

    I did not say that you defend the authenticity of the James Ossuary. But you come very close to doing so, because the person “pointing out” in yours above seems to be you. And the assertions you make in the lines I quoted are contradicted by the publications I cited.

    If your role as mod is to promote discussion, then I urge you to promote it and not to shut down discussion with insults.

  • James Quinn

    Considering the fact that he’s literally famous for his teachings in nonviolence and for being an activist who destroys guns, I’m doubting we’ll see him arrested any time soon for killing someone.

    And he’s also given his life to adopting and raising orphans with special needs, so it looks like you struck out on that one too.

  • Unhiddenness

    The term “fairy tale” is being used loosely to describe a book which the irreligious consider to composed almost entirely of fantasy, half-truths, and flat out lies. We could be more precise in our language, but this is not an inaccurate descriptor of this piece of literature.

  • Chris

    Maybe he’s read the Bible which advocates such favourites as raping children, rapingraping and stoning wives oh and let’s not forget the occasional touch of genocide….
    All as recommended in the Bible ‘the greatest lie spread for the longest of times’

  • Chris

    Walking on water= David Blaine = magic
    Walking through things = ‘dynamo’ British magician = magic
    And so on
    Calling a magician a god doesn’t make it so
    Hence Bible= fairytale

  • Roder51

    Grimms with violence included.

  • Roder51

    I take it you didn’t agree with his opinion.

  • Roder51

    I googled fairytale and this was the 3rd hit.

  • It’s definitely not a fairy tale. It’s about as factually accurate as a fairy tale, but nobody actually brainwashes their kids into believing fairy tales are true. Nobody starts wars to defend a fairy tale. Nobody uses fairy tales to justify hatred, misogyny, bigotry and the mistreatment of millions of people.
    If it was a fairy tale it’s contents would be forgiveable.

  • Roder51

    In the beginning and Once upon a time. Same bulllshit but different stories.

  • Elzeenor

    It’s poorly written archaic trash fantasy.

  • This is from my blog friend jekylldoc;
    >In the comments here we have plenty of examples of people declaring that Christians who don’t take the Bible literally are somehow less Christian. That is straight from the fundamentalist playbook. The idea that one can only interpret mythological language as a (pseudo-scientific) claim about
    the nature of reality is a fundamentalism. It saddens me deeply to see atheists not only promoting that interpretation, but actively trying to enforce it.
    And this!!
    >The defense of unfair generalizations (Christians oppose science, Christians believe we are not to do anything against global warming, etc.) is also beginning to operate as a kind of fundamentalism: like fundamentalist Christians, those who take the extreme stance have begun attacking those with broader views as somehow complicit in the supposed evils of “the other side”.
    And this is from teaching nonviolent atonement blog
    >the greatest position of power is found with the victim.
    The anthropologist René Girard explains this phenomenon. He states that the claim to be a victim is unique to the modern world. In no other period in human history have we seen this competition to be the greatest victim. Girard writes in his book I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, “The concern for victims has become a paradoxical competition of mimetic rivalries, of opponents continually trying to outbid one another.”
    Each side makes the same claim to being a victim. It’s what Girard calls “mimetic doubling.”

  • 1blueadept2

    Your attempt at showing the difference is wrong. Literature that is trying to show a morality and uses supernatural forces is by it’s very essence a fairy tale. You cannot prove any of the “miracles” that happen in these stories, and therefore your argument falls flat. While I used to be a believer who spent the better part of twenty years researching the Bible and Pentateuch, and Koran, I finally came to the conclusion that it’s all just fairy tales. I came to that realization not from some atheist pushing, but from religious zealots pushing. The problem with humans is Greed, and the Greedy use religion to control the masses.

  • David Flynn

    The Wholly Babble, is filled with talking animals, witches and zombies. When I read anything by the brothers Grimm, I fail to see the difference. Then again, maybe I’m just being unsophisticated.

  • Keith L.

    Yeah guys, let’s be fair about this. It’s not specifically a “fairy tale.” It’s a collection of greatly embellished “history.” It’s legend. Equivalent to tall tales. It’s mythology. Get it right!

  • You know, when I wrote what I did, which is clearly about the way people discuss topics and not at all about the validity of the Ossuary, I thought to myself, “Out of the people who are going to read this, many of them have an axe to grind, and some of them are idiots. Somebody, somewhere, is going to read this and it’ll all be white noise except my example of the James Ossuary, and they will argue with me about its legitimacy.” It was specifically to aid people with this combination of personal characteristics that I included the paragraph:

    “Now, the James Ossuary may be a forgery – that’s not my point. The point is that the evidence didn’t matter. We didn’t get into a discussion about these various researchers and their credentials or their methods or other scholarly evaluations of their research by third parties.”

    The best laid plans, I suppose.

    As it turns out, Silberman and Goren’s study depends a lot on the IAA team and occurs right on their tails, so even though it could be easy to include all of that in the initial claims of forgery, I still tried to qualify my statement with “virtually every other scholar.”

    Goren, especially, has written other articles on the Ossuary since then in which he summarily dismisses the many later objections to his research without evidence or counter-argumentation. For instance, my favorite example in fact, in this article for the SBL:
    https://www.sbl-site.org/publications/article.aspx?ArticleId=374

    He denounces the various cleanser theories, the last one noting that it betrays a lack of knowledge of even basic chemistry. Taking his potshot at Lemaire (although there were others who also pointed out that if anyone bothered to clean the inscription, it would produce the same O isotope levels that Ayalon said made it a forgery), who was one of the first to declare the Ossuary’s legitimacy.

    Well, Dr. James Harrell noted that the levels are perfectly consistent with cleansers and commissioned the Georgia Center for Applied Isotope Studies to run actual experiments that proved this was the case:

    https://www.acs.org/content/dam/acsorg/education/resources/highschool/chemmatters/articlesbytopic/atomictheory/chemmatters-feb2006-ossuary.pdf

    There have been plenty of diverse scholars – Israeli and non – from many different fields who have taken issue with Goren and Ayalon’s conclusions. At least some of these testimonies were used in Golan’s trial – a trial in which he was cleared of the charge of forgery. Obviously, that doesn’t prove the inscription isn’t a forgery. It does lend credibility to the idea that the arguments produced by Team Legit aren’t spurious.

    Obviously, there have been people arguing for the Ossuary’s legitimacy who are nutballs. In fact, one of them made a movie about it that was rightly decried.

    Now, I have not read the UNC book you mention. Maybe they pull together new evidence that blows the doors wide open and clearly proves the Ossuary inscription is a forgery. If so, good. It’s good for truth to be out there, and if it is a forgery, that’s valuable information. Do you know if that book produces any new evidence?

    But here’s the kicker:

    If we find a video on Golan’s computer called me_forging_the_inscription.mp4 and it shows him painstakingly carving the inscription into the box, that does not change a single thing about the documented fact that, in a discussion about the Ossuary, a champion of “evidence of facts” responded to a presentation of evidence, not with critique, but denial. And that was the whole point of my comment.

    Does that help you at all, or do you still think I’m on about proving the legitimacy of the Ossuary inscription?

  • David Flynn

    My friend and I were watching Shrek, and he says, I get the three bears, Pinocchio, and the rest, what fairy tale does the talking donkey come from? Hmmm, I wonder.

  • Wes Edwards

    Maybe fairy tale is a bit harsh but it still can be called a fairy tale where Christians go to live happily ever after in la-la land.

    It contains things which cannot possibly be true along with myths and parables which likely did happen much like described. It contains a pile of good morals but also a shit ton of guilt, judgment, and intolerance. Calling it a fairy tale could also be described as putting lipstick on a pig. You have to discount the claim that it is divinely inspired to say anything positive about it.

  • Janhoi Mccallum

    The Bible is a whole library of literature with different genres and styles of writing written over the span of 1500 years of Jewish and Early Christian civilization. We can use the example of the Ancient Greeks here. Greek literature is a whole Canon of literature. Some elements contain myth like Homer’s writings or Hesiod’s works. Some contain poetic elements like the plays of Aristophanes and Sophocles. Some contain philosophy like the works of Aristotle and Plato. Some contain history like the writings of Thucydides. No one would be ignorant enough to say the whole of Greek literature is just fables and fairy tales and that they were just stupid Ancient people who knew nothing.

    It’s the same thing with the Bible. As a library of literature some parts contain myth(such as the creation story, flood story, etc). Some contain epics and sagas such as the stories of Joshua and Samson and others. Some contain poetry and hymns such as the Psalms. Some contain prophetic elements like the works of the prophets. Some contain philosophy like the wisdom literature. And some history like the works in the Books of Kings and Chronicles.

    To just arrogantly dismiss that as “all a bunch of fables by desert dwellers” reveals (i)A cultural arrogance and elitism that assumes that anything that doesn’t fit into a modern, western paradigm is trash. (ii) A massive ignorance on the part of people who make those claims.

  • Janhoi Mccallum

    I think whether people like it or not the Bible has influenced the course of our civilization and still has themes that speak to our time. One example that Ben mentioned is the prophetic literature. The prophets give us two major themes relevant to our time
    (i)Social Justice
    -Over and over against the prophets are speaking about justice for the poor, widow, orphan and the stranger.
    -The Prophet Isaiah for instance states “See that justice is done, help those who are oppressed, give orphans their rights and defend widows”(Isaiah 1:17). He also states “The king of fasting I want is this: remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice and set the captives free”(Isaiah 58:6).
    -The prophet Micah shows the same theme saying “Listen to me you rulers of Israel, you that hate justice and turn right into wrong. You are building God’s city, Jerusalem, on a foundation of murder and injustice”(Micah 3:9-10). He goes on to say “Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God”(Micah 6:8).

    (ii)Speaking truth to power
    -The prophets over and over again are confronting the Kings of Israel and speaking truth to power even if it cost them their lives. Jeremiah does this with the Kings of Judah. Nathan does this with David.
    -Not only do they speak truth to political power, but also religious power as well. The prophetic literature contains the harshest critiques of institutional forms of religion and it’s often the Chief Priests in the Temple that are the first to imprison the prophets.

    Those two prophetic themes are still important for our times and it influenced figures like Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador and others in our modern times in the pursuit of social justice.

  • Jack Dingler

    The Holy Bible refers to God as both a Lord and King.

    Heaven.is referred to as a ‘Kingdom’.

    Please read the literature in question.

  • Jack Dingler

    Mitacles are not scientifically explainable, therefore magic.

    Let’s list a few.

    God speaks incantations to cteate heaven and earth, then plants, the the sun and mokn etc… All magic.

    Then God makes a manshaped figure of dirt and breathes life into it. This a Jewish Golem Spell.

    God removes a rib, casts a spell on it and chsnges it into a woman.

    Then magic talking serpent. Magic fruit that gives a person knowledge.

    We hace a magic flood.

    Aaron has a sorcery contest i. Egypts where he and his opponents change sticks into living snakes. Aaron then uses the new snake he created to nagically poison an.entire city.

    God sends fairy angels to kill babies in Egypt.

    Moses uses magic to part a sea.

    Mises talks to a magic burning bush.

    Moses magically gets lost 40 years in a populated land on a two week journey. No one notices the 50,000 people and the vast heard of animals with him…

    If you want more, there is much much more. Let me know.

  • Jack Dingler

    What grand hipocrisy!

    Your point is that your people have in fact killed and tortured millions for Jesus, but you folks say mean things, so it’s the same.

    The USA had a war just over a hundred years ago where Christians slaughtered 600,000 Christians and maimed 1.2 million more over the question of whether God’s love of slavery should be honored.

    Back in 2001, all of my local churches were holding services to make young men feel good about going to “Kill Muslims for Jesus’.

    And we’re mean to you?

  • Cathyn McKenna

    Dr. Corey,

    I believe that, to call the Bible a “fairy tale” to be precisely as accurate calling it “the literal word of God.” Both are shorthand. Your description above, to me, sums up what someone might actually mean when they call the Bible the “literal word of God”, only using four words rather than the many used above. When an Atheist refers to the Bible as a “fairy tale”, they are also employing shorthand for “a collection of works of fiction, exaggerated non-fiction, and some ideas, both good and bad, written by stone-age nomads trying to explain why eating unrefrigerated shellfish will kill you and why owning slaves is OK as long as they’re people you conquered and not your own people…” Obviously I will not be summarizing the entire Bible in this comment, but you minimize the legitimacy of their position, while failing to de-legitimize the position of those who call it “the literal word of God”, when both are equally valid or invalid for exactly the same reasons.

  • Cathyn McKenna

    No need to be rude. Dr. Corey made a point with which both you and I disagree, however, he did so politely, and without intentional insult. Attempting to rebut his point by being rude invalidates your position.

  • Jack why do you have to have something to be against in order to function?

  • Steven Waling

    How about you stop using ablist language?

  • Ficino

    Thank you for the above links. I had not seen info about the O isotope levels and cleansers. I have no expertise in chemistry so can’t evaluate.

    What you wrote in your longer comment above makes it sound as though most scholars who studied the ossuary believe it genuine and only a few, with axes to grind, believe it a fake. From what I’ve encountered so far in sources accessible via JSTOR, i.e. academic ones, that picture is not accurate. Rather, the opposite seems to be true – but I have by no means seen everything.

    I don’t know whether you’ve read Jodi Magness, “Ossuaries and the Burials of Jesus and James,” JBL 124 (2005) 121-154. Magness argues from literary sources that even if the ossuary is authentic, it won’t be the ossuary of James the Just. So that’s one more voice and perspective.

    The UNC Press book I mentioned is a collection of papers by six scholars. I have not read all the papers. As far as I can see, all deny authenticity. I don’t see new evidence in the book, though.

    I agree with your original point that bare assertions of “there’s no evidence for X” lack precision. And I agree that in comboxes, atheists often declare things with no seeming interest in presenting evidence.

  • Feldman and Krumbein also presented a paper to the Geological Society et al after archaeometric analysis on the Ossuary where they argued for its authenticity. This was 2008:

    https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2008AM/finalprogram/abstract_139934.htm

    As far as I know, neither the IAA nor Goren nor Ayalon has responded to those findings, but I could be very wrong about that.

    I should clarify that I do not believe that scholars who believe the Ossuary is a fake have axes to grind, or if by chance they do, that’s not why they produced the findings they did. Goren has pointed out that he and the IAA have been criticized on the grounds that they -want- to believe the inscription is a fake, and I would say such a claim would be fallacious unless there were some evidence that these people had an ideological stake in what they were doing besides the efforts themselves.

    Where the axe-grinding comes in is one level of abstraction up – in public discourse.

  • Ficino

    “Your final statement is interesting and I truly get where it is coming from, but let’s explore it a little further and simply ask why the onus is on those people?”

    I think Damien Priestly has in mind the political power that conservative evangelicals wield in the USA. Cruz is a particular example; Huckabee would be if he had won the presidential nomination and election.

  • Ficino

    I have no clue how to evaluate the 2008 paper on the patina, but thank you for the link.

    Your arguments elsewhere, by the way, that Jesus was a plant are very hard hitting. I can’t see how to prove you wrong! heh heh (:

  • It’s a very undervalued position. :)

  • Mamas McClure

    Its just something I say to annoy people who blatantly refuse to examine anything scientific. Honestly. If you’re going to call The Theory of Evolution laughable I’m going to call your work of heavily-plagarized fiction a fairy tale. Petty? Yes. But I thought y’all were supposed to take the high ground…

  • Miracles in the Bible–at least none that I can think of–aren’t magic.
    Magic is condemned in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible.

    Also, my major at university was anthropology. I am looking at this from the view of anthropology. In that field, “magic” is a human effort whereby the gods are made/required to do certain things for humans.

    Magic is the manipulation of the gods for human benefit.

    However, I don’t actually have a ‘dog’ er god in this fight since I don’t think the miracles in the Bible happened.

    But I am disappointed in most of the atheist responses to Ben Corey. Atheists state that they use reason for their views. But on this topic they seem to be confusing categories, the first basis for reasoning.

  • ?
    Not according to the scholars. “Angel” in Hebrew simply means “messenger.”

    Angels have nothing to do with “magic.” Actually, the Hebrew Bible condemns “magic.”

    According to various sources,. no “messenger” in the Hebrew Bible had “wings.”

    Supernatural beings in the Jewish heaven are said to have wings, the seraphim and the cherubim.

    Besides look at the collegiate dictionary definitions.
    Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
    ‘fairy 1: a mythical being of folklore and romance usually having diminutive human form and magic powers’

    angel “1a : a spiritual being superior to humans in power and intelligence; especially : one in the lowest rank in the celestial hierarchy”

    I never thought fairies existed, not even when I was a little kid. Besides my parents were practical people and emphasized there were no such things as fairies, etc.

    And I’ve not thought angels existed for many, many years.

    Lastly, you wrote, “this sounds very much like a faery tale.”

    Not from the perspective of a world literature teacher.

  • I’ve read hundreds of textural scholars and historians over the last 55 years but don’t recall any of them writing, the Bible is “blatantly untrue fabrication.” Well, maybe, a few such as Robert M. Price?

    But as I recall from reading his writing in the past, I don’t think he even goes that far.

    Do you have a several scholars that you could recommend?

    I will check out the Oxford Bible Commentary. I don’t have that one in my library.

    Thanks for the recommendation.

  • Steven Waling

    The destruction of canaan by abraham? Don’t you mean Moses?

  • Dennis Lurvey

    I don’t care. There is no proof of either outside the bible.

  • Steven Waling

    So you don’t care about accuracy. Got it.

  • Amber Barnhill

    I get what you’re saying here, but I think this is just arguing semantics. A fairy tale is an imaginary story about magical beings generally written for children. When an atheist calls the Bible a fairy tale, that is precisely how they see it, an imaginary story about magical beings written for intellectual children. The only differentiable factor is the age of the audience. And no, calling the Bible a book of imaginary stories about magical beings is not “unsophisticated” in the least, nor is it necessarily intended to just be used as a low-blow by the asshole types. And I mean, come on, the Bible includes witches, spirits, talking animals, magic fruit, and unicorns… there’s a whole lot of crossover there with your standard fairy tale, not to mention the very foundation of the whole thing, good vs evil. (I have to note the irony that you defined a fairy tale as Shrek. Ya know what other book has a talking donkey in it? I’ll give you two guesses ;p)

    There is just as much actual historical context in the Bible as there is in Cinderella or Rapunzel. Your argument that the Bible is different than fairy tales because it is a collection of multiple stories written by different people over a long period of time etc etc.. includes insight into how the people thought about government back then, social and political norms, built around a theme etc etc… those points are all correct for the Bible AND fairy tales. If you can’t understand how fairy tales can be ‘windows” into historical cultures and societies, than you my ‘friend’ are the one with unsophisticated view of literature.

    Saying the Bible is akin to fairy tales is not the same as calling Christians losers. We appreciate ancient Egyptian literature and art and understand that it gives insight into the culture that created it. Why would you assume we’d call them all losers for coming up with some magical, make-believe stories? It seems to me you can’t have this conversation because you equate honest evaluation of your beliefs system with personal attack? Just because someone doesn’t give the Bible the same meaning that you do, does not mean they are inherently arrogant and dismissive or that they aren’t seeking understanding. (oh the irony of those claims lol)

    “When you call the Bible a “fairy tale” you’re not saying it because you believe it’s actually in the same literary genre as Shrek, you’re using the word as a pejorative for the simple purpose of being a %#@! about things.” —- no. I say it because I understand what fairy tales are and what the Bible is well enough to know they’re much the same. Really just sounds like someone straight up can’t accept the fact that other people perceive things differently than he does.

  • Amber Barnhill

    uh… did you read his article? lol. There was an incredible amount of generalizations and some name calling.

  • Cathyn McKenna

    Two things:
    1. Is “They go low, we go high” lost on you?
    2. “Being rude invalidates your position”

    There’s a broad generalization that we atheists are a bunch of condescending jerks. Prove them wrong. Use logic and facts to disassemble their argument(s). Be polite in the face of their rudeness, be better than them. Do not, by any means, surrender, stay polite, stay on message, and prove them wrong, about us, and about their arguments.

  • Ficino

    I think I remember a talking donkey in C.S. Lewis’ The Horse and His Boy, one of the Narnia stories.

  • Atheists say this kind of thing because of the Bible’s fantasy elements – its angels, demons, devils, indwelling spirits, heaven and hell. They say it because of the high improbability of its events – the virgin birth, the miracles, the resurrection, Matthew’s zombies. They say it because of the magic that permeates it – Jesus’ exorcisms, magic cloths, fantastic (as in ‘unbelievable’) answers to prayer, the incantation required to be ‘saved’. The real world just isn’t like this; fairy tales are.

  • gimpi1

    I’m always stunned that people think being rude, dismissive and uninformed is a really great way to convince people. Atheists, Evangelical, whatever, being rude and dismissive just drive people away from us, and not bothering to do a bit of research about what you’re discussing is just foolish.

    Be polite. Remember, it’s better to remain silent and be thought ignorant than to speak and remove all doubt. Take the time to learn about a topic before commenting on it, and be respectful of other people’s views. This should apply to everyone, in all conversations.

    When did we all forget it?

  • Ficino

    In a Patheos post on April 18, 2016, Philip Jenkins said that he does not “believe in the James ossuary.” He didn’t state reasons. In the combox of his last post I just asked him whether he can give his reasons – since I don’t know whether he’ll get comments at this point from his April article.

    I see Ben Witherington also rejects the ossuary. His most recent post about it is a summary of the published papers from the 2008 Jerusalem conference. He accepts their negative conclusions. Earlier, Witherington had reported Shimron’s 2015 claims about soils and rejected Shimron’s claim that the James ossuary comes from the Talpiot tomb:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2015/04/07/once-more-with-feeling-did-the-james-ossuary-come-out-of-the-talpiot-tomb/

    James McGrath was searching for more info also last spring, esp. in response to James Tabor’s blog pieces. Tabor argues that the Talpiot tomb was that of Jesus’ family. He makes other claims that I won’t mention here. I haven’t seen that McGrath has done any more since then.

    The Wikipedia articles on the ossuary and on Oded Golan sound as though their author thinks the ossuary is genuinely 1st century, based on the patina traces claimed to be in the incised letters. That in fact to me seems the most substantial piece of evidence on the side of authenticity (i.e. of a 1st century date).

    All this seems even murkier than the case of the Shroud of Turin.

  • Yes, like you, I didn’t find the Wikipedia articles helpful in themselves, although I did find the links to other source material helpful.

    I am interested in that UNC book, because it seems to be more recent than many of the things I’ve read, and it would be worth the price of admission if they bring new things to light, or even if they can provide a complete layout of the landscape.

  • Ficino

    From my perusal of the UNC book, it appeared that only one article directly dealt with the archaeology. That’s the article by Byron R. McCane, author of Roll
    Back the Stone: Death and Burial in the World of Jesus, Harrisburg PA:
    Trinity Press International, 2003. He also published an article in 2007 on
    ossuaries around Jerusalem, which I have not seen. (I’ll report if it states anything useful about the James ossuary.) I didn’t see that McCane presented new evidence in the UNC book. He seemed to be going largely on the earlier IAA reports, the heart of which, I gather, was overturned at Golan’s trial.

    The other articles are more about the response of academics, journalists and the public to the findings. And as far as I can tell, the papers in the UNC book are from lectures given in 2004. So I would not spend money on it.

  • Ficino

    As for McCane’s 2007 paper, it’s about Jewish customs of secondary burial and use of ossuaries, but it does not mention the James ossuary.

    “Jewish ossuaries of the Early Roman period : continuity and change in death ritual.” In: The archaeology of difference : gender, ethnicity, class and the “other” in antiquity : studies in honor of Eric M. Meyers. Douglas R. Edwards and C. Thomas McCollough, edd. Boston:
    American Schools of Oriental Research (2007) 235-242. A summary of McCane’s paper in L’Annee philologique: “Known before ca. 30 B.C., Jewish limestone ossuaries used for individual secondary burial proliferated in and around Jerusalem during the 1st cent. A.D. and persisted in various locations across Palestine until at least the mid-3rd cent. It may be argued that the rise of the Jewish ossuary belongs to the story of the encounter between Judaism and Hellenism. In particular, it was the increasing influence of Hellenistic cultural norms valorizing the individual which led Palestinian Jews to develop a form of
    secondary burial that preserved individual identity.”

  • Not “just”, no…

  • Marissa van Eck

    Dr. Corey, on a personal level I admire your truthfulness, your humanity, and your willingness to question dogma that discourages introspection and searching in the worst possible way (i.e., “you’ll burn alive for eternity, heretic!”).

    But this is arguing semantics. “Fairy tale” would be a step up for the Bible…and before you ask, I’m not an atheist. Not even close. I’ve studied the Bible in some depth, some of it even in Koine (NT) and Hebrew (OT).

    Yes, there are 66 books (and a bunch of those are pseudepigraphical, which is how you guys in the Bible club refer to fraud). Yes, they represent several genres. *And this isn’t relevant.*

    When the atheist refers to the Bible as “fairy tales,” s/he is using it as a shorthand, very much the same way someone might refer to all politicians as “a bunch of lying scum” when in fact there are some politicians who are NOT lying scum. It’s a generality, but it’s a generality that has a lot of truth to it.

    And you can’t escape the Bible’s horrors by “reinterpreting” it or attempting a cultural-relatavism dodge along the lines of “but that was acceptable BACK THEN.” At least not without utterly vitiating it.

    Furthermore, If the horrors of, say, Numbers 31, passed across your God’s mind in even the slightest little bit, he’s responsible for it. He could just as easily have, you know, not inspired that bit. Or any of the other horrors. He is, after all, omniscient, omnipotent, absolutely sovereign, etc. This omniscience brings with it a knowledge of what people would do with the material they even THINK he inspired them to write.

    As it is said, the standard you walk past is the standard you accept. An omniscient being “walks past” EVERYTHING, observes EVERYTHING, and so to let ANYTHING like this pass is to accept and endorse it wholeheartedly.

    No, on the whole, “fairy tale” is much too charitable an epithet for the Bible. And not even your progressive attempts to define away the problems in it will save it.

  • Richard Worden Wilson

    Wow, I find it altogether fascinating that so many atheists, agnostics, and general non-believers find the candle flame of Benjamin’s posts so irresistibly attractive that they come here in flocks to singe their wings.

  • 1Myles1

    Arguing about the type of literature found in a book designed to enable leeches to get rich and exert their immorality over the world is pointless.

  • 1Myles1

    How can you be polite with adults who have imaginary friends and push their foolsish delusions in your face continually (or you will burn for an eternity in the fires of Hell)?

  • 1Myles1

    You forgot the Zombie walking on water and Jonah living in the fish’s belly among the thousands of others.

  • gimpi1

    Because everyone deserves basic politeness. Polite behavior isn’t something you have to earn, it’s something you get as long as you treat others with basic politeness. I try to be civil to everyone unless and until they behave so rudely to me that I can’t ignore it. I don’t treat people rudely because they believe things I don’t, even things I think are laughable. People don’t have to be logical or consistent to be entitled to basic civility. If we demanded that, we’d be darn nasty to almost everyone:-)

    Most of us have, somewhere deep down, a belief or two that may be off the beam. I’ve known scientifically-minded Atheist fellows who were over-the-top libertarian followers. To me, that’s so obviously unreasonable as to be laughable. Do I treat them badly because I find their ideology stupid and dangerous? How does that make things work better? How does that contribute to mutual understanding?

    Look, I get it. You find religious belief laughable – even dangerous. You do understand that there are many believers that think the same thing about Atheists, right? However, if we all just sit in our separate corners, sniping at each other, how can we find some common ground, perhaps do some good?

    Remember, there were religious believers on both sides of the Civil Rights Movement. Many religious believers work hard to get medicine to sick people, to get food and clothing to victims of disasters and to offer a (basic, secular) education to kids all over the world. Do those seem like laudable things to you? If so, would you drive off people working to do them if you found out they believed in things you think silly?

    Now, if someone is insulting, nasty or mean, I try to avoid contact, and may get snippy if I can’t. But someone simply holding a belief that I don’t share, that I may even find ridiculous, does not make them insulting,, nasty or mean. We can find common ground, sometimes discuss our beliefs politely, sometimes avoid that conversation, and simply concentrate on other things.

  • There are simply too many to name!

  • ClementC

    It’s not a book of fairy tales. But it is a book of angel tales. Fairies and angels both have wings, magical powers, vary from benevolent to indifferent to malevolent towards humanity, and don’t exist.

  • Linnea912

    Re: the Delphi oracle.

    I went to Greece in 2006, and learned that archaeologists, along with specialists in other fields, have figured out what was actually going on with the “oracle.” Turns out that the women who gave the prophecies (properly called the “Pythia”) were breathing a type of gas that issued from vents in the ground. If memory serves, they discovered it was ethylene, which can indeed cause hallucinations of the type experienced by the Pythia. Also, the girls chosen for that post were subjected to a very strict lifestyle- lifelong virginity, periods of fasting, etc, which probably made them more susceptible to the effects of the gas. This also explains why, for example, on some days, the oracle wasn’t available: there wasn’t enough ethylene coming out of the ground to affect the Pythia. Conversely, sometimes the Pythia would experience convulsions and other ill effects, the result of an overdose of ethylene.

    Eventually, the oracle closed up shop because, in all likelihood, the ground shifted- Greece is in a very geologically active part of the world- thereby closing up the vents and trapping the ethylene underground again.

  • Melanisia

    Have you ever read the ORIGINAL Grimms? It’s down right biblical. Cinderella’s step sisters cut pieces off of their feet to fit into the glass slipper, Sleeping Beauty is raped by the king while she sleeps and awakes after she’s given birth to twins then marries him, Rapunzels prince loses his eyes to thorn bushes below the tower then wanders in the wilderness, and snow white and her prince make the evil queen wear red hot iron shoes and dance at their wedding.

  • Roder51

    I wasn’t being rude. I was calling a spade a spade. What he said was BULLSHIT! Don’t like it? TOUGH!

  • I have always found a lot of common ground with liberal Christianity when it comes to issues of social justice. But you are choosing to draw a very peculiar line against the phrase “fairy tale”.

    As I commented on your previous post, insisting that a “fairy tale” is an isolated, narrow genre is a false conceit. The vast majority of uses of the phrase “fairy tale” are informal; but even academic uses are not limited in the way you describe.

    While some studies or associations of “fairy tale” might refer to Western European children’s story, you are demanding a limited technical definition for “fairy tale” that is simply false. Scholars of both literature and cultural anthropology use the term “fairy tale” frequently in ways that include mythological roots and don’t fit in the tight little “modern, English genre of literature” box you suggest:

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonianmag/fairy-tales-could-be-older-ever-imagined-180957882/
    http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-general/brothers-grimm-story-proven-right-many-fairy-tales-stem-ancient-oral-traditions-005220
    https://www.timeshighereducation.com/books/the-irresistible-fairy-tale-the-cultural-and-social-history-of-a-genre/419722.article
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/6142964/Fairy-tales-have-ancient-origin.html
    http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/030908928601103402
    https://books.google.com/books?id=K8X2DymK5UcC&pg=PA43&lpg=PA43&dq=fairy+tale+genre+bible&source=bl&ots=-OKoTY5o1b&sig=JAu15DNF0eV30OOl9PeJZS3Iy-I&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjb-93_ydTRAhWI6oMKHbW1Cek4HhDoAQhJMAk#v=onepage&q=fairy%20tale%20genre%20bible&f=false

    And speaking of unsophisticated approaches to literature, even if you did limit yourself to, say, the sixteenth century, since when were fairy tales limited to “English” literature?!

    There’s something more going on in your protestations than you are letting on. You argue that the issue is one of incorrect genre, and cite as evidence a “multitude” of biblical genres – as though a lack of sophistication on the part of atheists were truly the problem.

    If one were to call, say, Homer’s Iliad & Odyssey or the Enuma Elis a fairy tale, you might correct someone in a moment of conversation (a dubious correction, I might add), but you would not devote an entire blog post to the issue, nor call it “ignorant, close-minded, and completely dismissive of windows into ancient history” or “being a %#@! about things”.

    Because, speaking of honesty, it is clear that this is not a “literary” issue for you. You’re not upset at the use of “fairy tale” because your literary sensibilities are offended. You would not take such offense if someone called the ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts fairy tales.

    You are offended because the Bible means something more to you than a collection of literary genres; but (in this post at least) you are being a bit cagey about what that something more is.

    You are clearly offended by the use of the phrase “fairy tale” to describe anything biblical, but I seriously doubt this is a “literary” offense.

  • Nixon is Lord

    “protestant cannon”?
    Is this a weapon nobody’s used since the Treaty of Westphalia?

  • Bones

    It’s not fairy tales.

    I think a lot of it is propaganda eg the Old Testament is pro-Jewish in contradiction to historical fact eg the figures of moses and joshua whereas the New Testament is anti-Jewish eg the destruction of the temple is God’s judgement against Judaism.

  • Joseph Shaw

    Just because there are historical elements or philosophical elements – place names and influences – doesn’t mean that an ancient story cannot be classified as mythology. How many Greek mythological tales involving Olympian gods, creatures like the satyrs and the furies, and supernatural events, take place in historical cities such as Athens and Thebes? There are historical names referenced in ancient Greek mythology as well.

    A collection of myths certainly is among the things one can find in the bible.

  • bobbyingersoll

    Good point. “Fairy Tale” has far more nontechnical uses than technical literary uses.

    “denoting something regarded as resembling a fairy story in being magical, idealized, or extremely happy”

    “a fabricated story, especially one intended to deceive.”

    If Corey really thinks that using “fairy tale” as a descriptor for the bible is “being a %#@!”, it has nothing to do with genre!

  • ? I agree with your points, so why did you comment?

    The Bible does contain a “collection of myths.”

    My previous comment was: “Yes, the Bible as a library of books from various ancient times does include myths.”

    I was disagreeing with a previous statement that “…it’s a myth created by unsophisticated sheep herders. Because, whether you like it or not, that is precisely what the Bible is.”

    No secular literary scholar or secular historian that I know of would state that the Hebrew Bible was “created by unsophisticated sheep herders.”

    The Hebrew Bible is a compilation of a wide variety of literary forms including myths.

  • Realist1234

    Actually most angels, at least those who have appeared to people, do not have wings.

  • Realist1234

    So you view Christians as ‘leeches’ and ‘immoral’. Really?

  • Realist1234

    ‘fantasy elements’ in your opinion. And you can hardly use probability theory in relation to miracles, which by definition are supernatural. I find it telling that even the Jewish authorities didnt question Jesus’ miracles, but rather the source of His power.

  • Realist1234

    ‘Zombie walking on water’?

  • 1Myles1

    Getting rich from a scam is basic theft.Leeches live from what they can steal.
    What about religion is not immoral?

  • 1Myles1

    Permitting evil to make its way unhindered among the innocent is not only immoral, it is foolish.

  • 1Myles1

    What is the proper term for some imaginary thing that died and then got up from its grave?

  • Realist1234

    The Midianites were punished severely because they had encouraged the Israelites to indulge in the worship of a false, demonic ‘god’. The Israelites themselves had already been punished for said indulgence. About 250 years later, the Midianites, instead of learning from their experience, joined with the Amalekites to try to exterminate God’s people, and they were again severely punished.

    You’re right, judgement can be ‘horrific’ but it was still deserved.

  • Realist1234

    That is the exact opposite of Jesus’ teaching. And believe me, I along with many Christians are neither leeches nor rich.

  • Realist1234

    Jesus walked on water BEFORE He died and was resurrected.

  • 1Myles1

    So you deny passing the collection plate?Do you deny also pushing that evil garbage against the innocent?
    Nothing more harmful and damaging to humanity has ever existed than religion.
    Have you beaten your slave today?

  • 1Myles1

    Nobody ever died and came back from the grave or walked on water,either. jesusneverexisted.com
    Ecclesiastes 9:5 “For the living know that they will die,but the dead know nothing,and they have no more reward:but the memory of them is lost.”(Even foolish books of fairy tales sometimes get something right.)

  • Realist1234

    In my church, money from the collection plate is used to pay towards the wages of the minister, and other staff such as youth worker, charitable donations, paying the heating and lighting bills etc. The church also sponsors a school for orphans and a hospital in India, which would not exist without funds from the collection plate. You seem to have a very narrow view of Christianity and Christian churches, and dont appreciate the genuine good they do. Thats a shame.

  • Realist1234

    Jesus resurrected Lazarus. And Jesus was resurrected, never to die again. Just 2 of a number. I wont even bother looking at your web link as the existence of Jesus of Nazareth is an historically established fact. No reputable historian believes otherwise.

  • 1Myles1

    How is it that every religious “charity” always brags about all the good work they accomplish on the pittance they receive.Nobody brags about the salaries they pay.Franklin Graham gets paid nearly one million dollars every year from his “charity” yet christians continue to fund that crook and his “Samaritan’s Purse”.The Popes bought their own country,with two golden thrones.
    When you use the poor,the un-educated,the sick,the orphans,the widows,the old and the mentally ill to get rich,how can you claim to be doing good?
    Secular charities give no tithe to phoney gods.Their collection go to good works and charity.

  • 1Myles1

    How is it that the imaginary jesus grew up in a city that never existed until one hundred and twenty years after it died? jesusneverexisted.com
    Even the mentally ill have never met anyone who claims they came back from the dead.You are truly disturbed.

  • I didn’t include the miracles under ‘fantasy elements’, I listed the… erm, fantasy elements. If you think miracles qualify, however, by all means include them.

    The probability of miracles being ‘supernatural’ is remote, given the supernatural itself is highly improbable. All you’re doing is claiming that magical events are verifiable because they’re part of an even greater magic. Magic is magic is… fantasy.

  • TheMarsCydonia

    How was Jesus’ existence established as a fact? And how
    did you determine that “no reputable historian believes otherwise”?

  • Realist1234

    Ill quote 2 scholars, one an atheist historian and the other a Christian New Testament scholar:

    Atheist historian Michael Grant –

    ‘This sceptical way of thinking reached its culmination in the argument that Jesus as a human being never existed at all and is a myth…. But above all, if we apply to the New Testament, as we should, the same sort of criteria as we should apply to other ancient writings containing historical material, we can no more reject Jesus’ existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned. Certainly, there are all those discrepancies between one Gospel and another. But we do not deny that an event ever took place just because some pagan historians such as, for example, Livy and Polybius, happen to have described it in differing terms…. To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ myth theory. It has ‘again and again been answered and annihilated by first rank scholars.’ In recent years, ‘no serous scholar has ventured to postulate the non historicity of Jesus’ or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary.’

    New Testament scholar Graham Stanton –

    ‘Today, nearly all historians, whether Christians or not, accept that Jesus existed and that the gospels contain plenty of valuable evidence which as to be weighed and assessed critically. There is general agreement that, with the possible exception of Paul, we know far more about Jesus of Nazareth than about any first or second century Jewish or pagan religious teacher.’

    I think that sums it up.

  • Realist1234

    You really should be more careful as to what you read.

    As much of your link is based on the work of Rene Salm, for once in my life Ill quote that great doubter Bart Ehrman who sums up the evidence nicely:

    ‘Salm’s basic argument is that Nazareth did exist in more ancient times and through the Bronze Age. But then there was a hiatus. It ceased to exist and did not exist in Jesus’ day. Based on archaeological evidence, especially the tombs found in the area, Salm claims that the town came to be re-inhabited sometime between the two Jewish revolts (i.e., between 70 CE and 132 CE), as Jews who resettled following the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans relocated in northern climes.

    Salm himself is not an archaeologist: he is not trained in the highly technical field of archaeology and gives no indication that he has even ever been on an archaeological dig. He certainly never has worked at the site of Nazareth. Still, he bases almost his entire case on archaeological reports about the town of Nazareth. In particular he is impressed by the fact that the kind of rock-cut tombs that have been uncovered there – called kokh tombs, otherwise known as locula tombs – were not in use in Galilee the middle of the first century and thus do not date to the days of Jesus. And so the town did not exist then.

    This is a highly problematic claim, to start with. It is hard to understand why tombs in Nazareth that can be dated to the days after Jesus indicate that there was no town there during the days of Jesus. That is to say, just because later habitation can be established in Nazareth, how does that show that the town was not inhabited earlier? Moreover, Salm fails to stress one of the most important points about this special kind of rock-cut tombs: they were expensive to make, and only the most wealthy of families could afford them. There is nothing in any of our records to suggest that Nazareth had any wealthy families in the days of Jesus. And so no one in town would have been able to purchase a kokh tomb. So what does the fact that none were found from the days of Jesus indicate? Precisely nothing. The tombs that poor people used in Palestine were shallow graves, not built into rock, like kokh tombs. These poor-person graves almost never survive for archaeologists to find.

    I should also point out that these kokh tombs from later times were discovered on the hillside of the traditional site of Nazareth. Salm, however, claims that the hillside would have been uninhabitable in Jesus’ day, so that, in his opinion, the village that eventually came into existence (in the years after 70 CE) would have been located on the valley floor, less than a kilometer away. He also points out that archaeologists have never dug at that site.

    This view creates insurmountable problems for his thesis. For one thing there is the simple question of logic. If archaeologists have not dug where Salm thinks the village was located, what is his basis for saying that it did not exist in the days of Jesus? This is a major flaw: using forceful rhetoric, almost to the point of indiscretion, Salm insists that anyone who thinks that Nazareth exists has to argue “against the available material evidence.” But what material evidence can there be, if the site where the evidence would exist has never been excavated? And what evidence, exactly, is being argued against, if none has been turned up?

    There is an even bigger problem however. There are numerous compelling pieces of archaeological evidence that in fact Nazareth did exist in Jesus’ day, and that like other villages and towns in that part of Galilee, it was built on the hillside, near where the later rock-cut kokh tombs were built. For one thing, archaeologists have excavated a farm connected with the village, and it dates to the time of Jesus. Salm disputes the finding of the archaeologists who did the excavation (it needs to be remembered, he himself is not an archaeologist but is simply basing his views on what the real archaeologists – all of whom disagree with him — have to say). For one thing, when archaeologist Yardena Alexandre indicated that 165 coins were found in this excavation, she specified in the report that some of them were late, from the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries. This suits Salm’s purposes just fine. But as it turns out, there were among the coins some that date to the Hellenistic, Hasmonean, and early Roman period, that is, the days of Jesus. Salm objected that this was not in Alexandre’s report, but Alexandre has verbally confirmed (to me personally) that in fact it is the case: there were coins in the collection that date to the time prior to the Jewish uprising.

    Salm also claims that the pottery found on the site that is dated to the time of Jesus is not really from this period, even though he is not an expert on pottery. Two archaeologists who reply to Salm’s protestations say the following: “Salm’s personal evaluation of the pottery … reveals his lack of expertise in the area as well as his lack of serious research in the sources.” They go on to state: “By ignoring or dismissing solid ceramic, numismatic [that is, coins], and literary evidence for Nazareth’s existence during the Late Hellenisitic and Early Roman period, it would appear that the analysis which René Salm includes in his review, and his recent book must, in itself, be relegated to the realm of ‘myth.’”

    Another archaeologist who specializes in Galilee, Ken Dark, the Director of the Nazareth Archaeological Project, gave a thoroughly negative review of Salm’s book, noting, among other things, that “there is no hint that Salm has qualifications – nor any fieldwork experience – in archaeology.” Dark shows that Salm has misunderstood both the hydrology (how the water systems worked) and the topography (the lay out) of Nazareth, and points out that the town could well have been located on the hill slopes, just as other nearby towns were, such as Khirbet Kana. His concluding remarks are damning: “To conclude: despite initial appearances this is not a well-informed study and ignores much evidence and important published work of direct relevance. The basic premise is faulty, and Salm’s reasoning is often weak and shaped by his preconceptions. Overall, his central argument is archaeologically unsupportable.”

    But there is more. As it turns out, another discovery was made in ancient Nazareth, a year after Salm’s book appeared. It is a house that dates to the days of Jesus. Again the principal archaeologist was Yardena Alexandre, the excavations director at the Israel Antiquity Authority, whom I again wrote. She has confirmed the news report. The house is located on the hill slopes. Pottery remains connected to the house range from roughly 100 BCE to 100 CE (i.e., the days of Jesus). There is nothing in the house to suggest that the persons inhabiting it over this time had any wealth: there is no glass and no imported products. The vessels are made of clay and chalk.

    The AP story concludes that “the dwelling and older discoveries of nearby tombs in burial caves suggest that Nazareth was an out-of the-way hamlet of around 50 houses on a patch of about four acres… populated by Jews of modest means.” No wonder this place is never mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, Josephus, or the Talmud. It was far too small, poor, and insignificant. Most people had never heard of it and those who had heard didn’t care. Even though it existed, this is not the place someone would make up as the hometown of the messiah. Jesus really came from there, as attested in multiple sources.’

    As I said, you should be careful what you read and believe.

  • 1Myles1

    Claiming that jesus existed at all is nonsense.Look up sun-god to see where the idea of jesus came from.
    To try to pretend that fairy tales are real must be exhausting to one who is mentally disturbed.
    Trying to dis-prove actual history when you only have hearsay to back you up really makes you look like a cretin.

  • Realist1234

    You clearly didnt bother reading my post. Im afraid you are the one living in fairy land if you dont accept Jesus was a real historical person. But it seems your mind is made up, despite the contrary evidence.

  • 1Myles1

    Hearsay is not evidence but it is all you have.
    Did Josephus visit Luxor Temple in Egypt?Is that where he copied all the relevant details about another sun-god to create jesus?
    If you have evidence that contain actual facts and not dis-credited garbage,present it.

  • Realist1234

    Seriously? At least you made me chuckle.

  • TheMarsCydonia

    I’ll agai ask then: “How was Jesus’ existence established as a fact? And how did you determine that “no reputable historian believes otherwise”?

  • 747

    My issue with what you’re claiming here is that it takes a very narrow view of religious institutions. Surely “secular charities” – as you call them, also have to pay bills, like utilities and property management. And yes, salaries. So it cannot be accurate to say that “[all] their collection goes to good works and charity.”

    I also think that to conflate Franklin Graham, Osteen, and the Pope is somewhat ungracious. Many little congregations have no golden chairs or mansions or private jets. Most people of faith would ascribe this ostentatious wealth you describe with ’empire’, in any event. No Scripture would support amassing private wealth from widows, the sick and orphans. And aberration cannot mean writing off a good idea. Imagine if we banned trucks because someone packs it with explosives and drives into a crowd of party-goers; indeed, if we held that government was a bad idea because Bob Mugabe in Zimbabwe is a dictator?
    Your analysis seems over-simplified.

  • 747

    One of the things I really like about the Bible, besides the textual beauty in places, is the fact that its writers and editors never try to justify the bad, ugly, even scandalous bits.
    Intriguingly, you used the word “inspired” in your response. And you used it with the implication of the way BLC never ever approves of.

    Most Christians believe that we can glean spiritual truths from the text. That does not require the text itself to be perfect in every way. Nor does this require the text to be “inspired” (in “” because the precise understanding of this word is contested, even amongst people of faith.) You learned something useful from “Shrek”, didn’t you? (be yourself no matter what; be kind; help people; you never know how something will end; be brave; etc) And I bet if you read any of Aesop’s fables you’d also be able to learn some life lessons. In the same way, we can learn lessons from the biblical text, since the people who wrote the Bible believed that God was present and active in their lives. And we today read what they wrote and we too can ask where the lessons are in those ancient texts.

    So being “fraudulent” has zero to do with it. Over Centuries and generations, people have benefited from their reading and meditation on the Bible. Yes, there have been those who have used it to clobber all and sundry. Again, my Toyota gets me from a-b reliably; even though some use it to rob banks or to run old ladies down. Does that make my Toyota bad? Would you say that a bank robber “vitiates” the benefit I gain from my Toyota?

    Yes, there are uncomfortable things in the Bible. Yes, there are things like slavery and rape and homophobia in the Bible. All of that impacts my interaction with the text – but it does not make the text of itself bad. The Bible invites the reader to interact with it. It is not “given” as a “fixed” document, but the reader is expected to dialogue with it.

    This does not mean that “all” Christians see it this way, of course. And it may not even resolve all the problems in the text. Neither, btw, have we resolved how quantum physics works, but that dos not make it less valuable to us. Textual problems shouldn’t scare us one bit.

    Now you seemed to take the position (a paraphrase) that since God “wrote the Bible text and / or knew the outcome before-hand, therefore, God must be evil if God allows evil, or as in the case of Numbers 31, even to order that evil be committed.” I think that God neither wrote nor ordered that such things be done. [Interaction with the text] And I think that God would not order anyone to pillage a village and enslave it occupants, any more than I think God ordered any soldier to massacre the Mai Lai village in Viet Nam! No matter how much a soldier may claim that, I just don’t think God would do that.
    So I would prefer to turn to a text that has more relevance for me and learn from that. And there are plenty to choose from! (like Matthew 5-7, for example). It does not mean that I reject that text, just its most literal implication. (Because I’m reading it and interacting with it, not merely receiving it; so I’m free to say I disagree – that God would not order me to do something like that, and I might be inspired to reflect on what kind of God I do believe in.) Since you have studied biblical books you will know that the ancient Rabbis taught that the text should be argued with, not merely ‘received’. We should interrogate, argue with, and engage with the text. So Numbers 31 is not a text I would specifically turn to for inspiration.

    I think most of all, I have learned not to take myself too seriously, and especially not to believe everything I think! Peace.

  • 1Myles1

    The only people to ever benefit from the religious scam are the leeches who push that filth on the innocents of society.
    White-washing very seldom covers up evil stupidity for long.It starts seeping out around the edges.
    Hospitals, schools and charities that use their immoral values to decide who gets what treatment or care or what subjects can be even taught are only the tip of the ice-berg.
    Mother Theresa, the newest christian Saint, chained her victims to their beds so they would die in her hostels and thus increase her charitable appeal.Her family is now one of the richest in Albania.The ice-berg starts to melt.
    Which death-cult are you shilling for?

  • 747

    Oh, ok, you’re settling for name-calling rather than a discussion. Whatever then. I assume you’ve heard of the term, “trolling”. Have fun.

  • 747

    The word ‘unicon’ is used in the KJV; I have no idea where, but other translations don’t use the word ‘unicorn’.
    Oh, here we go: 9 times, actually:

    Daniel 8:5
    And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.

    Numbers 23:22
    God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.

    Numbers 24:8
    God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows.

    Deuteronomy 33:17
    His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.

    Job 39:9
    Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?

    Job 39:10
    Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee?

    Psalm 22:21
    Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.

    Psalm 29:6
    He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.

    Psalm 92:10
    But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.

    Isaiah 34:7
    And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.

    King James Version (KJV)
    Public Domain

  • 1Myles1

    What name-calling?
    I assume you are aware that nothing more harmful and damaging to humanity has ever existed than religion.

  • Yes, I know that the word “unicorn” is in the KJV.

    It was my understanding from some textural critics I’ve read in the past, that such a translation has no basis in the Hebrew.

    But this Jewish site, states this:

    “Question: What does the Talmud tell us about unicorns?

    Answer: Thank you for your excellent question. There are several references in the Talmud and other Torah literature that may be interpreted as unicorns.

    The Talmud in Zevachim 113b mentions an animal called “Orzila” in Aramaic, which is considered the same as the great horned mammal known as “Re’em” in many places in the Bible (Job 39:9-12; Ps. 22:21, 29:6; Num. 23:22, 24:8; Deut. 33:17, et al). The Talmud says that this animal was too large to fit into Noah’s ark, but survived the Flood by grasping onto the ark with it’s horn. This animal is described as a wild kosher animal.

    The Talmud in Chullin 60a tells us that Adam sacrificed a one-horned mammal. If it was used as a sacrifice, it was most likely a domesticated kosher animal.

    The Talmud in Chullin 59b mentions a mammal called a “Keres” which has one horn and is kosher to eat.

    The Talmud in Shabbos 28b describes the “tachash” mentioned in the Bible (Exodus 26:14 et al) as an animal used for its skins, particularly to make the curtains of the Tabernacle, as a colorful unicorn that only appeared at that location in the desert for Moses to use for the Tabernacle, and afterward became extinct in that location. It is also assumed to be a kosher mammal.

    There are also references in the Kabbalah to unicorn like animals living under the earth. This can be found in the Zohar Parshas Bereishis and in the Sefer Chesed L’Avraham concerning the “Sod Sheva HaAratzos” – “The Secret of the Seven Lands”.

    All the best,
    Rabbi Kolakowski
    Richmond, VA
    http://www.jewishanswers.org/?p=3555

    I am not literate in Hebrew so I don’t know. When I lived in Palestine-Israel, our Hebrew teacher gave up on us foreign workers. Too difficult.

    But based on Rabbi Kolakowski, it appears there was “unicorn” myths in the Hebrew Bible.

    Thanks for bringing this topic up. I am always intrigued with ancient textural questions.

  • Richard Seese

    I’ve always viewed the Bible as a propaganda piece. It’s been revised and omitted so many times throughout the years by kings and other “leader types”. These changes were meant to hijack it and keep their peasants in line based on the evolution of mankind and based on the rules of the land.

    People cherry-pick the bible all the time. Honestly, I’m okay with that if they are cherry-picking all the good things within it. But they should never ignore the terrible things condoned in it such as slavery, killing, incest, etc.

    As a secular humanist, I appreciate someone who actually asks the question “What Would Jesus Do” and act kindly to others, as opposed to perverting the religion for political intent. I don’t care if people are religious or not, but I do care when religion is used as a shield and weapon to inflict harm or even death on others.

  • kobe_beef2424

    yep, religion has been used to oppress others, and it’s just a fairytale

  • Jennifer Brandon Thompson

    The modern Christian religion is just that fairytales. It is a creation of Constantine the roman emperor

  • Louis Schiano

    I can’t tell whether the conceit is a bit clunky in how it’s presented or if the basic thesis is serious. The focus on people describing the Bible a (literal) fairy tale is just about ridiculous except for it’s introduction of some ideas about the Bible that cannot help but invite progress towards seeing the Bible’s stories as nothing but literarily or anthropologically interesting. I thought it was brilliant until the end, when the conceit was taken seriously.

  • BB93

    It’s a load of bullshit, though, and that is bad enough.

  • Ray Smith

    Disagree. Not sure how anyone justfies the slaughter of an entire people group including children, babies and babies in the womb. I grew up in church. I heard all the sermons attempting to justify these horrible texts. “It’s in the Bible, so it must be true and right.” No. It is not right. I was indoctrinated like so many others to accept all scripture as innerrant and infallible. Then one day, in my 50s, I put my critical thinking hat on. I realized I had been committing so many logical fallacies during my lifetime, primarily the argument from authority. The Bible was put together by humans and declared to be the Word of God by humans. Humans are not infallible and they have agendas. No, it was wrong to slaughter innocent children then and now.

  • Ray Smith

    Calling the entire Bible a book of fairy tales is definitely not accurate. But I understand that group’s issue. I also have trouble with all the “supernatural” references in the Bible. If someone today made the claims that the Bible does, most thinking people would not accept them as facts. But when you put 2,000 years between the reader and the writer, somehow those unbelievable events become believable.

  • Realist1234

    I understand where youre coming from, but I disagree. Jesus held the Old Testament in very high regard, so we cant simply dismiss parts of it – though what that means depends on how you view Jesus.

  • Cartwright

    “fairy tale is a very specific, modern, English genre of literature”

    Fairy tales are English? I don’t think you can presume to school us on the meaning of “fairy tale” if you’ve never heard of the Brothers Grimm. Or perhaps you didn’t know they were German. Hans Christian Anderson? Danish.

    I can’t tell you if “some atheists” have an “unsophisticated approach to literature.” But you certainly do.

  • JustSaying

    You admit there’s myth inside the Bible but still feel insulted at the notion that it’s being called a fairy tale?

    Yes there’s many different genres of literature in the Bible, it’s not that atheists don’t recognize that, we just don’t care. It’s a complete work of fiction to us, even if there does happen to be some semblance of ancient history. We call it a fairy tale as a response to the assholes who try to use it to justify their nonsense on Theological grounds. Sure, not all Christians do that, but a good number of our politicians do, and the moment the Bible is used to justify anything outside the four walls of the Church, is the moment it invites ridicule.

    If that makes atheists “unsophisticated” then what does it make those who use it to try to strip rights from gays and women?

  • Wonderful article. Being dismissive of certain biblical books is just like dismissing Homer’s stories or other early works (it is likely that the Torah was composed at about the same time as Homer…at least threads of Genesis). Atheists as well as the fundamentalists insisting on historical literal readings both err.

  • millieretro

    Well said. Calling something a “fairy tale” does not have to be formal statement of genre. It is a common, informal way of saying that a story has unbelievable supernatural elements; and this is true for both conservative views of the Bible that see all the stories as literal and true, and for liberal Christian views of the Bible that see (at the very least) the resurrection of Jesus as literally true.

    If someone takes offense at a reference to biblical story as “fairy tale”, it’s not because they are offended by a literary distinction (who gets offended by literary distinctions); it is because they accept at least some supernatural elements in the Bible as true in a literal sense.

  • Justin Jake Ashton

    The Bible isn’t a fairy tale by definition. Still not proven true.

  • Justin Jake Ashton

    People being murdered + fake history about Egyptians and Romans + exaggerated past events (Noah’s Ark) + the fact that people in the past were stupid and irrational + dismissing everything unexplainable as a “mystery” or “miracle” = Every single holy book.

  • PatBryanTX2

    Depends on how you define ‘fairy tale. Much of the Bible is made-up nonsense and folklore to answer inconsequential questions like “Rabbi! Rabbi! where did humans come from?”. So the Rabbi made up some story. It got repeated and written down, and now we have asshats who want to teach it as science in public schools.

  • 747

    I see where you’re coming from, and to some extent I agree with you. My point of departure is with the word “myth”. Just as “evolution” has a technical meaning, so does the word “myth”. “Myth” or *mythos*, does not mean “a story made-up”, rather it is a story that conveys some meaning. Mythos text always has a meta-meaning.

    So, yes, it is possible to “… admit there’s myth inside the Bible but still feel insulted at the notion that it’s being called a fairy tale”

  • ethwc

    I agree that it is fallacious to refer to The Bible as a series of fairy tales. Fairy tales are obvious fiction intended primarily for entertainment with additional goals of some degree of morality instruction. The Bible is better characterized as a grouping of myths. Myths are stories with the primary intent of explaining one’s environment, instructing on a society’s ethos, and explaining how a society’s deities came to be and how those deities conduct themselves.
    The biggest problem I see with many current members of the Christian churches is their insistence on considering the biblical myths as being factual descriptions of history. As such, the myths lose much of their power for instruction. In addition, those not subscribing to the Christian belief systems find this tendency to believe myths as facts makes of the myths fairy tales.

  • while the bible may not be a literal fairy tale, this article certainly is a literal waste of words.

  • Matt Stoecker

    Would you prefer ‘myth’?

  • Aaron Voltaire Hodge

    After reading the Bible, I’ve tended to refer to it as “historical fiction” but I can see how it could be described as a fairy tale when applying the definition “fabricated story, especially one intended to deceive.”

    It’s not a big deal though. I’m fine with folks who require a belief in any number of gods, leprechauns, Santa, but don’t expect anyone to take you seriously when making “truth” claims regarding these characters —
    and expect a fight if you attempt to inject your beliefs into other people’s lives.

  • Chris Inness

    No buddy, a fairy tale is not “a very specific, modern, English genre of literature”. Fairy tales go way back, and come from all over the world. Hell, even your example of a fairy tale, Shrek, does not even fit your definition. Amazing that you have the gall to talk about others having an unsophisticated view of literature….

    In any case, I’ve been looking around all over the place at every definition of a fairy tale I can find. Absolutely none are the definition you are using. I have found some though, maybe you could tell me if they apply to the Bible or not:

    – A story, often with a moral or happy ending.
    Well, whether or not you would think the stories in the Bible have happy endings, many consider them to be moral stories, and so would fit this definition of a fairy tale.

    – A story, usually for children, about elves, hobgoblins, dragons, fairies, or other magical creatures.
    The Bible features things such as dragons, gods, demi-gods, angels, devils, unicorns, and talking donkeys and also makes mention of things like wizards. So it definitely fits the “magical creatures” part of this definition. It does say that the story is usually for children. But “usually” doesn’t mean “always”, and so this definition of fairy tale would apply to the Bible.

    – An incredible or misleading statement, account, or belief.
    Yeah, this definition absolutely applies to the Bible.

    – Something resembling a fairy tale in being magical, idealized, or extremely happy.
    Yup, this one absolutely applies too. Also, the definition makes note that this use of fairy tale is “often as a modifier”, which is to say, a way of describing something (eg. Fairy tale romance). So to describe the Bible as a collection of fairy tales is just fine according to this definition.

    – A fabricated story, especially one intended to deceive.
    Even Christians will admit that many stories in the Bible are fabricated and didn’t actually happen. Even without the “especially to deceive” part of this definition, fairy tale works to describe the Bible.

    – A story involving fantastic forces and beings.
    Yeah. I’ll just end with this one. This will be the definition of fairy tale I will use.

    So in the end I guess there’s just one thing to say: The Bible is a fairy tale.

  • Matt Stone

    Cliff’s notes: “I don’t have anything to say, so I’ll just slam rationalists for their understanding of literature with a pathetic semantic argument and make a few concessions to sound hip.”

  • Bob Loblaw

    First, Don’t you ever call me an atheist, you antirealist, second: I am not nor will I ever be your friend and third: yes, it is and it is my opinion so I cannot be wrong.

  • The Mouse Avenger

    You shut the deuce up–you don’t know what you’re bloody talking about! :-(

  • The Mouse Avenger

    Well, thank you for being so nice & polite & mature about your viewpoint! :-) I & others really do appreciate it! :D

  • Brandon Roberts

    the bible is most likely mostly fake though, i have no issue with you just telling my personal opinion