Christian Says We Need To Embrace These Ideas In The Bible… And I Agree!

Christian Says We Need To Embrace These Ideas In The Bible… And I Agree! March 15, 2018

Good people

I hadn’t even had my first coffee yesterday before I stumbled upon this post on Faithwire: 9 Words in the Bible That Every Atheist Should Have No Problem Embracing by Billy Hallowell. I admit I groaned out loud when I read the title, loud enough to drown out the gurgling of my coffee maker. I expected a condescending piece about how atheists are angry little Stalins just looking to steal your Jesus. If you know me, you know I can’t resist the opportunity to brutalize a strawman, so I strapped on my helmet and dove in.

Like McDonald’s decision to put McChicken sauce on retail shelves, boy was I wrong. Billy wrote without a condescending tone at all. In fact, the entire piece was sincere, respectful and kind of sweet. I totally saw where he was coming from and I didn’t find myself struck by the usual urge to flush one of my Bibles afterwards. No, instead, I actually found myself agreeing with Billy… to an extent.

What Billy wanted to impart to us heathens was a Bible verse, particularly Galatians 5:22-23. The verse reads,

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

The nine words Billy would have atheists embrace are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

With the exception of faithfulness, I would wholeheartedly agree that any human being stands to gain from embracing these ideas. Billy is absolutely right.

The one thing that Billy missed, though, is that we do embrace these things already. Not all atheists, but there are loads of us who already cherish these ideas; who live them, and preach them and use them as cornerstones in our everyday lives. These ideas, believe it or not, Billy, exist outside of the Bible, too. What’s more, I would suggest that exploring these ideas can only honestly be done outside of the Bible, because much of the Bible contradicts them. It’s difficult to learn kindness from a book that tells us we are so broken that only a blood sacrifice could save us. It’s not easy to feel goodness coming from a book that assures us we are fools who will suffer a torment worse than anyone could imagine, for all time.

That’s why atheists like to explore these ideas outside of the Bible. Those of us who do like to call ourselves humanists and while there are certainly Christian humanists, humanism takes nothing at all from the Bible. Billy, these ideas you wish everyone to embrace existed long before the New Testament was ever written. We do not need scripture to understand them. I’d like to suggest that you don’t either.

Billy also said,

The reality is simple: Jesus came, died for our sins and changed human history. Accepting this reality and living a life transformed by Christ’s sacrifice and by the Bible’s guidance is key.

Except that it’s not key. Millions of non-believers living good, peaceful, compassionate lives are evidence of that.

But considering where we are right now, it’s essential that everyone — theist and atheist, alike — be willing to at least pay attention to two simple New Testament verses Galatians 5:22-23.

It’s a lovely sentiment, Billy, but you have to see how alienating it is to those who do not share your religious beliefs. A better way to say it would be,

But considering where we are right now, it’s essential that everyone — theist and atheist, alike — be willing to at least pay attention to the ideas put forth in New Testament verses Galatians 5:22-23, whether they do so with the help of the Bible or not.

You see, there are also billions of people across the globe who have religions that are not Christianity. Many of these people have also been able to understand and explore love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Some of them have done so through their own faith, which has nothing to do with the Bible nor Jesus Christ.

In fact, Billy, if we put a group of really amazing, compassionate people representative of the world’s religious demographics in a room, only 31% would have reason to suggest that their goodness comes from their study of the Bible.

So, while I think the message you’re trying to get across with your post is good, it could have been better had you taken the Bible out of it. What you’re saying is that we need more love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in the world. This is a great message and one that I wholeheartedly agree with, although I would argue that faithfulness is not something we need more of. These are things atheists can and do embrace with the exception of faithfulness.

But we do it without the Bible, Billy, because there is no Bible required to embrace any of these ideas.

How would you respond to the idea that atheists need to embrace these verses? Let me know in the comments!

Image: Creative Commons/Pixabay

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  • Raging Bee

    9 Words in the Bible That Every Atheist Should Have No Problem Embracing

    It didn’t say “No. 5 will SHOCK YOU!!!” so I didn’t bother.

  • Annerdr

    I’m okay with “faithfulness” if it means “loyalty.” Loyalty can be a positive attribute – loyalty to friends and family, loyalty to your system of morality and ethics, etc. Loyalty, like any attribute, can be misapplied, but it could potentially be a positive. If “faithfulness” means “having faith”, then no. Just no.

  • Etranger

    Interestingly, I have always thought those were important qualities to have. I actually learned them in Catholic School. Unfortunately, for the the Catholics I guess, I did realize at age 20 that in order to truly embrace those qualities, I had to leave the Catholic Church. Most Christian sects do not encourage their embrace in practice.

  • But number 8 left me speechless!

  • I agree. Well said.

  • BlueBlazeSpear

    If anything, this should have been an appeal to his fellow Christians. I’ve seen a lot of them ignoring some of these concepts – if not acting outright against them – lately. Using The Bible as a source of context to people who actually believe in it makes far more sense. And none of those people will object to these moral precepts being presented as solely and explicitly Christian ones.

  • Annerdr

    Number 7 started a new religion!

  • Tawreos

    The verses mentioned are the ones they like to pull out and show when they want to prove that the bible is not all bad, but they never seem to abide by verses like those. They seem to prefer the verses with all the smiting and damning into hell. The idea expressed in the verses is good for anyone to live by.

  • Yes, I would agree with you. There are not enough Christians who live by these good ideas to assert that the Bible is the source.

  • Yes, Billy’s argument would have been much better received by believers.

  • Ahh, yes! The problem is that believers are supposed to put their god and their faith before any of these qualities. If the religion conflicts with these ideas, the religion wins. I’m happy to hear that you overcame that. Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Michael Neville

    The reality is simple: Jesus came, died for our sins and changed human history. Accepting this reality and living a life transformed by Christ’s sacrifice and by the Bible’s guidance is key.

    Billy, I don’t think you understand what this atheism thing is all about. We reject your “reality” for the simple reason there’s evidence to support it and therefore no reason for us to accept it. Come on down and we can explain how to be good without gods (please note the plural, Billy, there’s more gods than your favorite deity).

  • Amen!

  • LeekSoup

    I would have read faithfulness that way. Loyalty, keeping your promises, sticking to your word, showing integrity. I’d never have interpreted it as ‘believing without question’ even back when I believed.

  • Where I work, we refer to the “Easter Bunny argument”. One person is convinced the Easter Bunny is real. The other is convinced the Easter Bunny is not real. Each is convinced of their reality. How do they have a conversation?

  • Michael Neville

    The burden of proof is on the person making the positive claim. In your example that’s the one claiming the Easter Bunny is real. This is because evidence for a negative claim (the Easter Bunny is not real) is difficult or impossible to provide.

    If I make the positive claim that granite floats in water then we get a lump of granite, heave it into the nearest body of water and watch it sink to the bottom. Claim disproved. If I make the negative claim that no granite floats then we would have to test every chunk of granite on Earth (or possibly in the universe) to disprove the claim. In a similar way, the person making the Easter Bunny is real claim merely has to produce a functioning Easter Bunny and all spectators will become Easter Bunnyists. But the one making the negative Easter Bunnies aren’t real claim has a problem because the Easter Bunny could be out of sight when searches for it are being made.

  • mason

    Citing the so called “Bible” for anything can elevate it to a dignity and respect that is totally undeserved. It is not by any stretch of the imagination the “good book” … here’s a couple examples https://smile.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_7_10?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=dan+barker+god+the+most+unpleasant+character+in+all+fiction&sprefix=dan+barker%2Caps%2C156&crid=2K6ZMZQBXMUT0 https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/65726d11c8cd3dd3be167e62649ba4f5476615bbfa5da6fb282b5a15d9803558.jpg

  • mason

    yes, out of the context of the bible 🙂

  • I so loathe arguing the Bible with Christians – as someone who has never been religious, the Bible is nothing to me. I like your stance, here.

  • Lerk!

    There are more gods in his book than just the one! There’s El Elyon (God Most High) and Yahweh (Jehovah) aka The LORD (Adonai) right there together in Deuteronomy 32! Turns out Yahweh is one of the sons of the Most High. And he has brothers!

  • wolffie

    Yes, there is good stuff to be found in the holy books. Even a broken clock is correct twice a day. Every Great Lie needs a sugar-coating to help the poison go down. The Skeptic’s Annoted Bible/Koran labels about 1% of the verses “good stuff”. This good stuff is often found better-expressed elsewhere, and can be emulated by nonbelievers. See Chfristopher Hitchens Moral Challenge https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqFwree7Kak :
    Name 1 good thing a believer can claim that an unbeliever cannot.
    Name a vile things that derives only from religion (example, honor killings).
    This is the Euthyphro Dilemma (worth reading, if you are unfamiliar with it). Morality and ethics do not come from the gods.

  • Dyslexic, agnostic insomniac

    I think most Christians simply like the idea of being associated with an organisation that upholds the fine (intrinsically human) ideals of compassion, kindness, forgiveness and etc., even if they don’t always adhere to those ideals. Where they alienate themselves from atheists, however, is when they insist on all the supernatural baggage that goes with those ideals. They seem to struggle with the notion of just being good for its own sake – without the whole celestial punishment/reward deal. Many of us wish they’d just grow up.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “The nine words Billy would have atheists embrace are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

    They are fine words to embrace. But this is because they are good words, not because the words happen to appear in the Bible.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “The reality is simple: Jesus came, died for our sins”

    It’s only reality if it can be proved to have happened.

    According to the Bible story, Jesus died but was resurrected a couple days later. Not much of a sacrifice. ( also, if we don’t accept this and believe in him we get tortured for all eternity)

    According to the story of Prometheus, he stole the secret of fire from the gods & gave it to humans to make our life easier. For this, he gets chained to a rock to have his liver eaten out of his body by a bird for all eternity. ( also, whether we accept & believe this story or not, we face noi consequences)

    Prometheus made a much greater sacrifice.

    And while neither story has been proven to have happened, we DO have fire.

  • ThomasBonsell

    A lesson of the Bible that Christians should pay heed to, if not embrace, is in the letter from Paul to Timothy at II Timothy 3:1-7. It’s a good read.

    In that letter Paul has described the modern Republican/conservative Christian alliance. And it is pretty accurate.

    The only question remaining is did Paul look into the future and see what was to come or did he have a keen understanding of the nature of humans who have to rely on religion to function? I opt for the second explanation.

  • Dennis Lurvey

    There are many secular teachings in the bible, human teachings, no god needed. Love your neighbor, is one, turn the other cheek is one, a lot of the sayings of jesus in the gospel of thomas are secular sayings about behavior, kindness, inclusion, etc. back then they believed good behavior was taught from scripture, now we know we are born that way and do not need a god or religion. It’s a combination of nature and nurture where nature overrides nurture. No matter how many times my father used the N word I always knew it was wrong, it made me squeamish that he talked about people in that tone from the time I was around 7.

    But if you do not come to know yourselves, then you exist in poverty, and you are poverty, what goes into your mouth will not defile you, Rather, what comes out of your mouth will defile you, You see the splinter that is in your brother’s eye, but you do not see the beam that is in your (own) eye, When you remove the beam from your (own) eye, then you will see clearly (enough) to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye (the beam is arrogance).

  • Dennis Lurvey

    “9 Words in the Bible That Every Atheist Should Have No Problem Embracing” assumes we are born as blank slates, complete free will to embrace or not. But we are all born with those pre wired into our brains, we have to make a conscience decision to NOT embrace them. It’s something we know now they could not have known back then, and something many christian still have not learned (that we don’t need god to be good).

  • Brother TC

    The author says, “You have to see how alienating it is to those who do not share your religious beliefs.”

    Please don’t pay attention to the people. God is willing to draw you near.

    “You see, there are also billions of people across the globe who have religions that are not Christianity.”

    Jesus Christ became flesh to tell us that He is the way, the truth and life, and that no man comes to the Father but by Him. That’s an exclusive offer.

    “We do it without the Bible, Billy, because there is no Bible required to embrace any of these ideas.”

    By His grace, God has given you a conscience, a natural understanding of right and wrong (Rom 2:14-15). It’s because of this reason that you have no excuse for your sins (Rom 1:20).

    I know you think you’re good without God (that’s the tagline of the American Humanist Association, though they add an indefinite article and fail to capitalize the proper name of God). I thought I was good without God too, for 43 years. All my friends and family agreed that I was a good person. But I wasn’t. May God crush your pride and show you the truth. That would be a blessing.

  • Jack Baynes

    Yes, I understand that you believe your god doesn’t care whether we’re good, just whether we suck up to him. You can abandon morality if you like, but you still need to live in this world and those of us actually trying to be better people don’t need your god to do it.

  • Brother TC

    You’re describing a false belief known as antinomianism. The Bible teaches nothing of the sort.

  • Jack Baynes

    If your god can’t even get all his followers to agree on how to find salvation, clearly He is not a reliable path to salvation.

  • Brother TC

    God is not a puppet master, and people are free to choose the wrong path. The Bible is clear. Further, the preponderance of false beliefs (including yours) does not impugn the one true way.

  • Yes, exactly!

  • Jim Jones

    How would you respond to the idea that atheists need to embrace these verses?

    That’s one of the biggest benefits of no religion: we can choose the ideas we want, whether they come from a magic book or elsewhere.

    For example, the Harry Potter series is more believable, less contradictory and far more moral than the bible et al.

  • Jim Jones

    Gods are impossible, Jesus never existed and the bible is very poorly written (and anonymous) fiction.

    I’d rather get my ethics from porn: there’s less rape, incest, murder and genital mutilation than in the bible.

  • Jim Jones

    > God is not a puppet master

    And yet, like Trump, he prefers people who lie to him and flatter him.

  • Jim Jones

    > In that letter Paul has described the modern Republican/conservative Christian alliance.

    Ezekiel 16:49 — “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”

    Sounds like Republicans to me.

  • Jim Jones

    > Prometheus made a much greater sacrifice.

    And Odin gave up one eye for wisdom.

  • Jim Jones
  • Not to mention way more fun.

  • Lerk!

    Excellent!

  • ThomasBonsell

    No argument from me. You got it right.

  • Brother TC

    “Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight” (Prov 12:22).

  • Brother TC

    God is impossible for anyone who has blind faith in a materialistic universe.

    The Bible recounts the sins of men in history with truth, but not salaciously. You’re just as bad as they, as evidenced by your preference for porn.

  • Jim Jones

    Quote Harry Potter, not the crapfest that is the bible.

  • Jim Jones

    If you read the bible, you read worse porn than is found in other books.

    Psalm 137:9 : “Happy shall he be, that takes and dashes your little ones against the stones.”

  • E.A. Blair

    It doesn’t make any difference. Easter has been cancelled…yeah…they found the body.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    Odin also rid the Earth ( Midgard) of frost giants.

    Jesus? So far, it amounts to “don’t worry, be happy, everything will be OK …… AFTER you die”.

  • Brother TC

    Psalm 137:9 speaks of prophetic vengeance against Babylon, which had done the same to Jewish children. In ancient Israel, the law was “an eye for an eye” (Exo 21:24).

    But as Jesus Christ said, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matt 5:38-39).

    And Paul wrote, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Rom 12:19).

    You need to let scripture speak for scripture, but I wouldn’t expect an unbeliever such as yourself to give the Bible a fair reading.

  • Brother TC

    No.

  • Priya Lynn

    Porn doesn’t hurt anyone and so by definition is moral. Your god commits genocide and so is immoral.

  • Priya Lynn

    Its the believers that don’t give the bible a fair reading. The god of the bible is the worst monster in all of fiction.

  • Brother TC

    The word “genocide” was coined in the 20th Century to describe the horrors committed by godless regimes bent on advancing their relativistic desires. That is, genocide belongs to men of your ilk, not God.

  • Brother TC

    With porn, you defile yourself, not to mention the exploitive nature of the industry. Don’t fool yourself.

  • Brother TC

    What a wicked impulse it is to try to judge God. You need the Holy Spirit to see the truth.

  • Socrates (Euthyphro’s Dilemma) said it all beautifully centuries before Jesus. To paraphrase and put in a Christian context; does God loeve the good because it is good, or is it good because God loves it? If the first, we don’t need God to define good. If the second, goodness depends on God’s whim

  • shinytape

    I read it as “loyalty.” “Having faith” would simply be “faith.” The former is also more in the same context as the other attributes listed.

  • Annerdr

    Faithful has multiple meanings. Loyalty is one. Having faith is another.

  • shinytape

    That meaning is obsolete, and at any rate, I can’t think why “faithfulness” (the actual word in the discussion) would be used to mean “faith” (especially as the meaning would then be so unclear).

  • Annerdr

    And yet, faithful means having faith. For the very religious, sometimes they will use faithfulness. Is this so important to you that we need to parse out definitions 3 months later?

  • shinytape

    I just saw this today, not when it was posted two months ago; but you might want to ask yourself that question.

  • abb3w

    Loyalty seems a positive attribute in so far as it corresponds to merit. Loyalty that is blind to demerits and flaws would seem to lead to things like sex scandal coverups.

    A poke at Google indicates the oldest manuscript extant of Galatians is in Greek (possibly the original language), and used the word “Pistis” (πίστις), a term from Greek rhetoric. Poking around some more suggests that it seems to originally correspond (in Aristotle’s “Rhetoric”) to belief resulting from effectively reasoned argument, although that the meaning later shifted slightly under Christian use. However, it’s been decades since I last studied Aristotle’s “Rhetoric”, remember damn near nothing about what learned about it, and may be misreading what’s turning up on the web, so this shouldn’t be taken as particularly reliable.

  • abb3w

    There seem quite a lot of Christian moral doctrine where humanist-style atheists accept the conclusions, but merely dispute the (divine command) basis for moral (ought) reasoning. The one I’ve most commonly pointed to has been the Works of Mercy. While “pray for the living and the dead” in the “spiritual works” isn’t one atheists see much point to, the other spiritual works and all the corporal works seem generally considered good things to do.