I came across this morning a book titled, “Biblical Nonsense.” Seeing as the author made it available in PDF format on his’ website, I figured I would give it a read. As the title suggests, it is definitely not a book written in support of the Bible. I have only just begun the book, so I cannot comment much. However, I find it interesting how the book starts out. In just the third paragraph of the introduction, the author Dr. Jason Long states:
People often ask me why I spend a great deal of time denouncing and disproving the Bible. Although I can’t offer an exact reason, my passion is probably driven by the salient danger created by Christianity and its subsequent influence on nearly two billion people every day. While the evil forces of certain deceitful religions have somewhat subsided in more recent times, the hatred inadvertently generated by these belief systems remains the greatest threat to humankind’s continued existence. In the past 2000 years, Christianity has been guilty of initiating several wars and crusades resulting in thousands of needless deaths, blatantly oppressing women to the point of worthlessness, abhorrently justifying the enslavement of Africans and perpetuating cruelties upon them we would rather just forget, shamelessly driving its followers to hang or burn alleged witches, nearly exterminating the entire Native American population, and inconspicuously robbing billions of people of countless man-hours that could have been much better spent on improving our planet. Someone certainly needs to address these issues, and the book most of the Western world swears by demands a thorough critical analysis.
Why does it seem that so many of the books that are written with the expressed goal of attacking the validity of the Bible ultimately start out with this same outlook? Please don’t tell me that it is because it is true – give us a fact check please. Comparatively speaking, Dr. Long does not have a case.
Dr. Long offers “thousands of needless deaths” at the hands of Christianity and I counter with the millions of deaths caused by atheists in the twentieth century alone. See: Lenin, Stalin, and Khrushchev in the USSR, Hitler, Mao Zedong, and the Khmer Rouge. Anyone of these non-religious regimes makes the mention of Christianity (over a 2000 year period no less) not even worth considering. It is like talking about the greatest linebackers in NFL history and then referencing your son who is in the peewee league.
Dr. Long states that Christianity is guilty of “abhorrently justifying the enslavement of Africans” and I remind you that even if we accept the notion that it was purely Christians who perpetrated the crime of slavery, it was also in large part, Christian abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison who fought for the end of slavery.
Dr. Long mentions the loss of “countless man-hours that could have been much better spent on improving our planet” and I remind you of the countless positive improvements made at the hands of Christianity.
The point, of course, is that it seems more and more the modus operandi of atheists to portray Christianity in the harshest of light (case in point: this post on 3/13). Given the real history of the world, it hardly seems warranted.
Dr. Long also makes several attempts to make painfully clear that he underwent an “honest, dispassionate, and emotionless analysis of the Bible.” And yet, given his above statements on the alleged horrors of Christianity, how is it possible for me to believe him? He goes on to state about Christian defenders of the faith, “As for the Christian defense of these findings, I could see a lot of straw grasping. Their best representatives, having obtained bogus doctorates from self-accredited paper mills, stretched and twisted biblical text in order to make it fit with their predetermined agendas.” I hear echoes of Richard Dawkins in this statement, always trying to discredit the credentials of Christian apologists. Do your own investigation and you will find plenty of reputable apologists with – guess what – real degrees!
The degrees themselves do not so much concern me, however – in the same manner, I have resisted the urge to point out Dr. Long’s degree that is irrelevant to this study of the Bible. A degree might get you in the door, but it is the honest and accurate analysis of the critic or the Biblical scholar that is important. Dr. Long and so many atheists would have you believe that the Christian scholars are actively perpetrating lies to support the faith or that they are so delusional that they cannot tell the difference. The question I ask of you is who do you believe – Dr. Long, who already in the third paragraph of his book has misrepresented several historical observations of Christianity and also misrepresents Christian apologists? Or do you give credence to Christian apologists and scholars who have honestly devoted their lives to a better understanding of the Bible, some to a level well beyond the abilities of 99.9% of the population?
I will wait to make any further judgments about Dr. Long’s reasoning at this point without reading the entire book. Instead, I would like to further discuss this idea of the Christian apologist being delusional. It seems atheists are well invested in this idea. A cursory reading of Dawkins, Sam Harris, and now Dr. Long makes clear that they do not take seriously the credentials of intelligent Christians. Why? It couldn’t be that a rational, reasonable, and intelligent person would actually believe in the Bible, could it? They have to be delusional!
The Biblical landscape is literally painted with scholars who have investigated the Bible to its’ fullest. Are we honestly to believe that someone who has studied the Bible – not just in reading it casually, but studied its’ history, its’ languages, and its’ cultures down to the most minute detail – is so delusional that they could not see with rational thought processes the many contradictions atheists purport to have found? Further, which one is the most likely to accurately assess the alleged Biblical errors – the professional scholar? Or, the laymen critic with no other knowledge than a cursory reading of the Bible (relying ostensibly on an expressed purpose of looking for errors)? If you said the latter, then you are not quite the freethinker you think you are.
I will provide some more commentary in due time. For now, if you are already familiar with this book from Dr. Long and would like a Christian response on the concepts presented, please see: http://www.tektonics.org/lp/longj01.html