A bible for young skeptics?

Read any good books lately?
User avatar
Feathin
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2010 5:01 pm

A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Feathin » Tue Sep 21, 2010 1:19 pm

Hello all, I am new to this site so forgive me if there is a better place to be asking this.

My 13-year-old daughter was recently terribly embarrassed at school because she was the only one in class who did not know the story of David and Goliath. Religion has just never been a part of our household. Regardless of one's spiritual beliefs however, the bible's stories are undeniably a part of our culture, and I have come to the unenthusiastic conclusion that she really should have some better familiarity with them.

So, does anyone know of any good books out there aimed at teaching young skeptics about the bible? Bible stories with some commentary that kids can understand about the contradictions, inconsistencies, and outright abominations contained is said stories?

User avatar
OlegTheBatty
Has No Life
Posts: 11986
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2008 2:35 pm
Custom Title: Uppity Atheist

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by OlegTheBatty » Tue Sep 21, 2010 2:24 pm

http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/preface.html

Its only available online, or as a cd.
. . . with the satisfied air of a man who thinks he has an idea of his own because he has commented on the idea of another . . . - Alexandre Dumas 'The Count of Monte Cristo"

There is no statement so absurd that it has not been uttered by some philosopher. - Cicero

.......................Doesn't matter how often I'm proved wrong.................... ~ bobbo the pragmatist

User avatar
Feathin
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2010 5:01 pm

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Feathin » Tue Sep 21, 2010 2:50 pm

I looked at that, but it got terrible reviews on Amazon and didn't look very easy for a kid to handle. Have you had a better experience with it?

User avatar
Blacksamwell
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1954
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 3:21 am
Custom Title: Buckfutter
Location: Columbia, Missouri, U.S.A.

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Blacksamwell » Tue Sep 21, 2010 3:12 pm

Feathin wrote:I looked at that, but it got terrible reviews on Amazon and didn't look very easy for a kid to handle. Have you had a better experience with it?
Yes, I find it to be the best available resource so far. But I'm not using it to teach children either.

You'll note that the Amazon ratings show a clearly divided readership. 95% of the responders either gave the lowest rating, or they gave the highest, with just a couple 4-star ratings thrown in. I suspect you're seeing a reflection of the reviewer's beliefs. Those who find the SAB supports their own views like it, those who find it counters their views don't.

I like the web page and use it to get up to speed on various biblical topics I may not be readily familiar with. But don't expect the SAB to offer any real explanation or correction to the biblical text. It's great for identifying apparent contradictions and weirdness but it doesn't offer up much in the way of scholarly research.

For scholarly resources, look to the page at http://www.pocm.info/getting_started_pocm.html. The bibliography at this site is a treasure trove of book titles for further research. There's even a guide on which resources are very dry and scholarly and which are more accessible to the lay reader.

Good luck.

User avatar
Lausten
Persistent Poster
Posts: 3926
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:33 pm
Location: Northern Minnesota

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Lausten » Tue Sep 21, 2010 4:01 pm

I'm thrilled just to see someone asking this question. It indicates that there are many more out there wondering the same thing.

When assigned with teaching Sunday School a few years ago, I had to figure how to do it without screwing up their little minds. As much as I resisted, I found out that it is true that when you study the Bible in detail, it is extremely difficult to maintain your faith. Eventually I did lose it. My quest to find a good way to teach the narratives of the Bible, without the dogma, continues.

I have tried the comparisons to pagans, including Osiris, and I don't care for them, so red flags went up when I clicked on the links provided so far. You might want to check out this article by Tim Callahan before digging too far in to that.

My guess is you are going to have to "home school". I put my Sunday School lessons together from a variety of sources. I am designing a web page as we speak to hold them all, but it will take months before I have anything nearing a complete curriculum. Meanwhile, my blog points to many other sources and articles, many of them referenced from this forum, but it is not organized with youth education in mind. Religious Atheism
A sermon helper that doesn't tell you what to believe: http://www.milepost100.com

4sure
BANNED
Posts: 321
Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2010 2:52 pm

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by 4sure » Tue Sep 21, 2010 4:19 pm

Just get her a children's bible and tell her what it is all about.....Things Iike.. it is a collection of books written by different people at different times with different agenda's and has went thru many translations and how it is part of our culture. Oh, and how it was the church who cherry picked what books to be contained in the Bible and that there are a lot more scriptures out there that was ignored.

Or just sit down and tell her all of the famous Bible stories.

Its good that you have kept religion out of her life but it is bad that you want to teach her to be a skeptic. Educate her but be neutral with her and let her come to be her own self. Its a lifelong experience not one book will do it...

User avatar
Lausten
Persistent Poster
Posts: 3926
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:33 pm
Location: Northern Minnesota

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Lausten » Tue Sep 21, 2010 5:29 pm

Parenting on Reasonable Doubts

You will find a few good tips to get you started on the above podcast. At least I think they are good, hope you agree. It also will introduce you to Dale McGowan. He has a book, "Parenting Beyond Belief" and an excellent website. His daughter might be about the same age as yours, or a little older. He has some great stories of teaching her that I suspect you will enjoy. I learned the, "that's what some people believe" phrase from him, and I use it often. Kids want answers now and Biblical questions are not easily wrapped up.

I also learned the answer to "where do we go when die?" from him. A kid who first realizes that life will end and there will be nothingness is no doubt frightened. Dale explained to his daughter that the universe had been there for a long time without her, and she has no memory of that, and she didn't feel anything, and it wasn't scary. It will go on for a long time after she is gone.
A sermon helper that doesn't tell you what to believe: http://www.milepost100.com

User avatar
Squishua
Regular Poster
Posts: 522
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 1:33 am
Custom Title: Invisible Man
Location: California, USA

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Squishua » Tue Sep 21, 2010 5:32 pm

No need to buy a book - she'll learn more than enough about the little stories through osmosis.

Even with my unreligious upbringing I know David was a little guy who's arm was in a sling, and Goliath was a big strong man who was weakened when his wife gave him an apple that made his hair fall out. Or something like that...
"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
- H. L. Mencken

User avatar
matripley
Poster
Posts: 109
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 1:06 pm

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by matripley » Tue Sep 21, 2010 6:19 pm

It's been said before, but maybe the best book to encourage skepticism, especially about religious claims, is The Bible itself:)
http://www.salted.net" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

User avatar
Lausten
Persistent Poster
Posts: 3926
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:33 pm
Location: Northern Minnesota

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Lausten » Tue Sep 21, 2010 8:04 pm

Exactly squishua, that's why just picking up the Bible and reading it cold leaves nothing but questions. Worse, picking up bits and pieces of the stories here and there, from people who already have convoluted them (excuse my grammar).

It's fairly obvious to anyone who has thought beyond the pages of the KJV that David and Goliath is something about a smaller nation or grass roots organization overthrowing the lumbering power structure. The Simpsons does a nice take on it by having the people be mad at Bart (who takes the role of David) because Goliath built aquaducts and other such public service projects. Anyway, I digress, I do that a lot, which is why I can't remember who the players represent, or if there is agreement among historians on that one.

There is a good PBS show out there that has one archaelogist's theory on what happened. Not the David and Goliath story specifically, but around that time. Bible's Buried Secrets As I'm sure you know, the history surrounding the Bible stories is vague and uncertain. Some stories could be said to be disconfirmed due to lack of evidence. I certainly agree with those who say that the Bible is not constructed or perserved in a way that it can be used as a historical reference.

If you are looking for a reference for contradictions, myth busting and such, I recommend "Jesus for the Non-religious" by John Shelby Spong. He still believes in the spirit of Jesus, so you'll have to filter out some commentary at the end, but this book put a huge crack in my belief system. He does not leave wiggle room for hanging on to some notion that miracles might have happened. For a good side by side comparison of the four gospels, "Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time" by Dominic Crossan is also good. Both of these books are skeptical and they also provide a little insight into why someone might want to believe anyway. No prostelytizing though. This might be helpful when you try to explain all this to a kid, and they come back with, "but why do so many people go to church?"

The PBS might be a little boring for kids, depends on their interests. The books are at least junior high school level, probably something you will need to read for her, or at least with her.

I just had a thought. I will try to get this done before this Christmas, but I doubt I will have time. Pick a favorite Christmas TV special, sit down with a book like Crossan's and watch it. Try to match the story on TV to the Bible. Note how they take bits and pieces from the four gospels to make a coherent story. Note what they leave out and discuss why. Easter would be good for this too. Some stories won't work, like the little drummer boy, the whole manger scene is based on half of a verse, and I have never found a chocolate bunny in there either.
A sermon helper that doesn't tell you what to believe: http://www.milepost100.com

User avatar
vanderpoel
Perpetual Poster
Posts: 4577
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 3:01 am
Location: Honolulu

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by vanderpoel » Tue Sep 21, 2010 8:59 pm

Feathin wrote:Hello all, I am new to this site so forgive me if there is a better place to be asking this.

My 13-year-old daughter was recently terribly embarrassed at school because she was the only one in class who did not know the story of David and Goliath. Religion has just never been a part of our household. Regardless of one's spiritual beliefs however, the bible's stories are undeniably a part of our culture, and I have come to the unenthusiastic conclusion that she really should have some better familiarity with them.

So, does anyone know of any good books out there aimed at teaching young skeptics about the bible? Bible stories with some commentary that kids can understand about the contradictions, inconsistencies, and outright abominations contained is said stories?
I recommend a dictionary, they're full of fun facts:
Goliath |gəˈlīəθ|
(in the Bible) a Philistine giant, according to legend slain by David (1 Sam. 17), but according to another tradition slain by Elhanan (2 Sam. 21:19).
David 1 |ˈdāvid|
(died c. 962 bc), king of Judah and Israel c. 1000– c. 962 bc. In the biblical account, he killed the Philistine Goliath and, on Saul's death, became king, making Jerusalem his capital. He is traditionally regarded as the author of the Psalms, although this has been disputed.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
"When you put a toucan on a monkey’s ass, don’t be fooled by the brightly colored plumage, beware of the enormous bill!"

User avatar
Lausten
Persistent Poster
Posts: 3926
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:33 pm
Location: Northern Minnesota

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Lausten » Tue Sep 21, 2010 9:08 pm

Yeah, I remember lots of 13 year old girls hanging around the lunch room giggling and talking about their dictionaries.
A sermon helper that doesn't tell you what to believe: http://www.milepost100.com

User avatar
Feathin
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2010 5:01 pm

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Feathin » Wed Sep 22, 2010 2:02 am

Wow, lots of good suggestions and links! It'll take me a while to filter through them all.

I think in the meantime I'll start with a basic children's bible and go from there. While osmosis must have worked for me, we're currently living in the Bible Belt, so her ignorance is more of a problem than it might be elsewhere. The Bible Belt around us is also why I think a "neutral" stance is not quite enough. She may not have picked up any bible stories, but babysitters and "osmosis" caused a great deal of angst a few years ago when she became absolutely distraught at the thought of me going to Hell for not believing.

User avatar
Squishua
Regular Poster
Posts: 522
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 1:33 am
Custom Title: Invisible Man
Location: California, USA

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Squishua » Wed Sep 22, 2010 2:37 am

Bible belt 'round Anglo waist
Putting sinners in their place...


Sorry, had a Marilyn Manson flashback there. Bible Belt, huh? That's a baaaaad neighborhood for nonconformity!
"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
- H. L. Mencken

User avatar
Lausten
Persistent Poster
Posts: 3926
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:33 pm
Location: Northern Minnesota

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Lausten » Wed Sep 22, 2010 1:56 pm

She may not have picked up any bible stories, but babysitters and "osmosis" caused a great deal of angst a few years ago when she became absolutely distraught at the thought of me going to Hell for not believing.
Sorry to hear that. Hope you find something better here. I have poked around a little and haven't found a site better than this one. It slips into the usual ad nauseum of discussion forums every now and then, but there are some good regulars here.

As Garrison Keillor once said about a boy who didn't fit into his small town surroundings, "it sharpened his interest in geography."
A sermon helper that doesn't tell you what to believe: http://www.milepost100.com

nmblum88
Has More Than 8K Posts
Posts: 8137
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2009 6:28 pm

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by nmblum88 » Wed Sep 22, 2010 5:45 pm

I learned to read from a dual language (Hebrew-English) bible... my grandfather's.
And as an atheist I recommend the source, the actual scriptures.
And not only the stories, but all of it...

Double whammy: one gets the story straight from its authors, and as Julia Sweeney has famously asked (in "Letting Go of God") of her parish priest "have you actually READ this book."
It if now a cliche to suggest that nothing has turned out as many skeptics if not atheists as the bible stories themselves.
And not only for the violence and bloody hatreds evinced in the "history," but for the actual moral negativism that pervades the books
(It's one thing to tell a youngster about the racism, xenophobia, misogyny and homophobia that has infected our own society but how much more effective to see the words in print?)

And then of course, there are the opportunities for really wonderful family discussions that are the result of such inquiry into the meat of the the "god said...." matter.
My own children were educated in bible stories by the circumstances of their lives: frequent travel and the ubiquitous Gideon Society editions of the Bible to be found in most hotel rooms everywhere outside the Soviet Union and some of the their satellite countries..

And certainly there really is no way of understanding Western poetry or literature without a fair education in the bible.
Certainly, Shakespeare, Marlowe,Milton.... would be dimished if not incomprehensible.
Think only of the thousands of book titles, that lend their sensibilities to Scripture: the Sun also Rises, Our Vines have Tender Grapes, East of Eden, Absalom,Absalom......are just a few of the title that have come from the Bible...
How to understand 'Moby Dick" without recognizing "Just call me Ishmael...?"
(In fact how to understand the traumas of the Middle East without that line?)
And how to even have a discussion of the moral ambiguity of Abrahamic religion without "Am I My Brother's Keeper?"
Or to make a young man or woman think (without adult moralizing) about the inherent hypocrisy codified in the Decalogue... right there on the "printed" stone tablets.

And then there's jazz:, and the fun of :
"You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene

(To illustrate his last remark
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark
What did they do
Just when everything looked so dark)

Man, they said we better
Accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between
No, do not mess with Mister In-Between
Do you hear me, hmm?"
("Accentuate the Positive,by Johnny Mercer (Ella Fitzgerald version).

Norma Manna Blum
Skepticism:
" Norma, you poor sad lonely alcoholic. You entire life is devoted to interrupting other people's posts on this forum, regardless of the topic, to tell them what's wrong with them. The irony is, here you are doing it again, with this very post.
Your fanciful card games, movie sojourns and exciting overseas trips, that all take place within the four walls of an aged care retirement home, do not suggest your own children offered you the care, I gave my parents."

User avatar
Jeff D
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1132
Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2009 5:24 pm

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Jeff D » Wed Sep 22, 2010 6:17 pm

I agree that in the long run, the best antidote for the notion that the Bible is inerrant or is god's word or is history is to just read the thing, in the best available translation, and preferably in a verson with explanatory footnotes or annotations. The Revised Standard Version is not as beautiful (on the page or when read aloud) as the KJV, but overall it's more accurate in its translations from the Greek and Hebrew.

However, I think it's very difficult for a child or teenager (who is not already familiar with the Bible) to get much out of reading it, unless he or she has had some previous education in general religious literacy and some familarity with ancient history (Mediterranean and Asian civiilizations) and mythology.

So while I think that all the other suggestions on this thread are very good, and although I don't have children of my own, if I were constructing a recommended-reading list for a child between, say, ages 7 and 16 who hadn't heard or read of David and Goliath, I'd probably recommend these books first (Most of these I have recommended before in other forums or on the older version of this Forum):

(1) Any good general book on classical (Greco-Roman, Egyptian, Persian, South Asian) mythology. I picked up my favorite illustrated coffee-table-type book for five bucks on some discount counter or sidewalk a few years ago.

(2) Religious Literacy by Donald Prothero. Just skims the surface, and a little too shallow for my taste (mentions the Nicene Creed but doesn't reproduce the text), but this is a useful ready-reference.

(3) What the Bible Really Says by Manfred Barthel (translated by Mark Howson, Wings Books 1992). This is a good general introduction to the topic of how, when, and by whom the Old and New Testaments were combined and what textual elements and stories were borrowed from other religions and other cultures.

(4) Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman.

(5) The Bible Unearthed by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman (Touchstone / Simon & Schuster 2002). The best book on the general topic of the lack of archaeological or contemporary historical evidence for the actual happening of most of the events (the Exodus from Egypt, the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites, the “empires” of David and Solomon) depicted or written about in the Old Testament.

Only if the child asked me and expressed an unforced interest in books about religion or the Bible from an explicitly skeptical, freethinking, or atheist/agnostic perspective, I would add these books to the list:

(6) Superstition and Other Essays by Robert G. Ingersoll (Prometheus Books, 2004). OK, he was called the Great Agnostic, not an atheist, but in late 19th-century America, he was at least as famous and popular as an orator as any number of Bible-thumpers. A freethinker and an enemy of dogmatic, "revealed" religion in the same vein as Thomas Paine. The prose is a bit florid, but that's the 19th century for ya.

(7) The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine.

(8) and (9) The Demon-Haunted World (Ballantine, 1996) and The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God (Penguin Press, 2006) by Carl Sagan. Both of these beautifully-written books cover much the same territory — looking at the universe with a sense of wonder AND intellectual curiosity AND the clarity that comes from skepticism and critical thinking — in Sagan's inimitable style. The 2006 book is the published, transcribed version of Sagan's Gifford Lectures in Glasgow in 1985 — rediscovered and edited by his widow, Ann Druyan.

(10 Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don’t Add Up, by John Allen Paulos (Hill and Wang 2007). This little book (156 pages, roughly 4 by 6 inches) is a very readable survey of all the classic arguments in favor of god’s existence (and some newer arguments) with Paulos’s analysis of or responses to them.

(11) 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God, by Guy P. Harrison (2008). Longer than Paulos's book but very clear and readable, and gentle and reasonable in tone. Each chapter states one of the 50 "I believe in my god because . . ." reasons, followed by Harrison's response.

(12) Godless by Dan Barker (2008).
Jeff D

User avatar
Martin Brock
Has More Than 6K Posts
Posts: 6036
Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2006 3:36 pm
Location: Athens, GA

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Martin Brock » Wed Sep 22, 2010 8:16 pm

Feathin wrote:So, does anyone know of any good books out there aimed at teaching young skeptics about the bible? Bible stories with some commentary that kids can understand about the contradictions, inconsistencies, and outright abominations contained is said stories?
I suggest Pearl Buck's Story Bible.

http://www.amazon.com/Story-Bible-Pearl ... 0517149818" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

It's a story book for children and young adults, not a "skeptic's Bible". Buck was a non-believer, as well as a Nobel laureate for literature, but believers generally like this book. If you want your child to learn the stories, rather than either theistic indoctrination or atheistic debating points, it's a great choice. All of the reviewers at Amazon seem to be believers, and none of them seem to know that Buck was not. That should tell you something.
Bible stories with some commentary that kids can understand about the contradictions, inconsistencies, and outright abominations contained is said stories?
You can look for this approach if you want, but when was the last time you read a book on Greek Mythology including commentary about the contradictions, inconsistencies, and outright abominations in the myths? Greek myths contain contradictions, inconsistencies and outright abominations, but when we study them as literature, we don't focus on these characteristics. I suggest that you introduce your child to the Bible in the same way. Why teach her that Hebrew mythology is "special"? Give her Buck's book. Tell her about Buck's life and work and that Buck was not a believer. You could even give her a book of Greek myths at the same time. Suggest that she compare and contrast.

Buck is also a good role model for your daughter.
People associating freely respect norms of their choice, and relationships governed this way are necessarily interdependent.

More central authorities conquer by dividing, imposing norms channeling the value of synergy toward themselves.

"Every man for himself" is the prescription of a state, not a free community. A state protects the poor from the rich only in fairy tales.

User avatar
rrichar911
Perpetual Poster
Posts: 4853
Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2005 9:03 pm
Location: Texas, God's country USA

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by rrichar911 » Wed Sep 22, 2010 10:11 pm

I don't see much point in reading a bible that line by line also tells you that what your reading is garbage. Your not reading the bible, your reading someones opinion of the bible.

I would read the Bible and then read opinions of the Bible separately.


You would not read about Einstein's theory of Relativity written up by an author that thought it was garbage. You would study the theory, and then the critique, as reading the critique is not the same as studying the theory.
What really intrest me is whether God had any choice in the creation of the universe ~ Albert Einstein

User avatar
Squishua
Regular Poster
Posts: 522
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 1:33 am
Custom Title: Invisible Man
Location: California, USA

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Squishua » Wed Sep 22, 2010 10:17 pm

Did you just compare the Bible to relativity theory? :confused:
"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
- H. L. Mencken

nmblum88
Has More Than 8K Posts
Posts: 8137
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2009 6:28 pm

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by nmblum88 » Thu Sep 23, 2010 12:14 am

rrichar911
I don't see much point in reading a bible that line by line also tells you that what your reading is garbage. Your not reading the bible, your reading someones opinion of the bible.

I would read the Bible and then read opinions of the Bible separately.


You would not read about Einstein's theory of Relativity written up by an author that thought it was garbage. You would study the theory, and then the critique, as reading the critique is not the same as studying the theory.

At last, a meeting of minds.
So glad rrichar911 agrees that the bible itself, with no adornment or interpretation, and no excuses either, is the very best way to educate anyone, but especially an adolescent , in the blood and guts of our mutual bible: give it to 'em straight!

Biblical "insufficiency" ( read moral turpitude) is better received as a recognized fact from the Book itself, the horse's (or devil's) own mouth, so to speak.
That way there will be no arguments of "liberal lefty atheists" being responsible for the disappearance of religious influence in secular governance by lying about what lies between the pages of that invitation to bad dreams and worse character.

It will be understood that "the devil did it."
Himself.
We can go home now.


Norma Manna Blum
Skepticism:
" Norma, you poor sad lonely alcoholic. You entire life is devoted to interrupting other people's posts on this forum, regardless of the topic, to tell them what's wrong with them. The irony is, here you are doing it again, with this very post.
Your fanciful card games, movie sojourns and exciting overseas trips, that all take place within the four walls of an aged care retirement home, do not suggest your own children offered you the care, I gave my parents."

User avatar
Gord
Obnoxious Weed
Posts: 34969
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:44 am
Custom Title: prostrate spurge
Location: Transcona

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Gord » Thu Sep 23, 2010 2:37 pm

Martin Brock wrote:Greek myths contain contradictions, inconsistencies and outright abominations, but when we study them as literature, we don't focus on these characteristics.
Wait, what? You must have taken different courses than I did, because when I studied Greek myths as literature, the contradictions, inconsistencies and outright abominations were areas we addressed directly. We read different versions of similar myths and wondered why they were different, or why they couldn't be matched like puzzle pieces, or why they seemed written to endorse one side or another.

Of course, we accepted them as myths from the start, so I guess it was okay.
"Knowledge grows through infinite timelessness" -- the random fictional Deepak Chopra quote site
"Imagine an ennobling of what could be" -- the New Age BS Generator site
"You are also taking my words out of context." -- Justin
"Nullius in verba" -- The Royal Society ["take nobody's word for it"]
#ANDAMOVIE
Is Trump in jail yet?

nmblum88
Has More Than 8K Posts
Posts: 8137
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2009 6:28 pm

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by nmblum88 » Thu Sep 23, 2010 3:34 pm

Gord wrote:
Martin Brock wrote:Greek myths contain contradictions, inconsistencies and outright abominations, but when we study them as literature, we don't focus on these characteristics.
Wait, what? You must have taken different courses than I did, because when I studied Greek myths as literature, the contradictions, inconsistencies and outright abominations were areas we addressed directly. We read different versions of similar myths and wondered why they were different, or why they couldn't be matched like puzzle pieces, or why they seemed written to endorse one side or another.

Of course, we accepted them as myths from the start, so I guess it was okay.

I too was surprised at the idea that the contemporary study of Greek myths as literature eliminated examining them for flaws of intellect, and wondered what schools the poster had attended that awarded him that privilege.
Perhaps some regional perspective accounts for such an approach.
My own introduction to Greek culture, all aspects of it, was critical even when it was admiring.
And contrasted always to our own sensibilities, literary, social, political and religious.
How else would I have known that the Western (Christian) world into which I had been lucky enough to be born, was not the be all and end all of civilization?

NMB
Skepticism:
" Norma, you poor sad lonely alcoholic. You entire life is devoted to interrupting other people's posts on this forum, regardless of the topic, to tell them what's wrong with them. The irony is, here you are doing it again, with this very post.
Your fanciful card games, movie sojourns and exciting overseas trips, that all take place within the four walls of an aged care retirement home, do not suggest your own children offered you the care, I gave my parents."

User avatar
Lausten
Persistent Poster
Posts: 3926
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:33 pm
Location: Northern Minnesota

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Lausten » Thu Sep 23, 2010 4:02 pm

JeffD: Thanks for that list. I don't know all of them, but given your reputation, I suspect they are all good.

Picking the correct annotated Bible is critical and can make all the difference. I had the 10th anniversary NIV Study Bible drop in my lap. It has helpful time lines, maps and charts as well as introductions that discuss true authorship, archeology, disputes and literary critiques.

One shining example is a footnote for Mark 16:9-20 "Serious doubt exists as to whether these verses belong to the Gospel of Mark. They are absent from important early manuscripts and display certain peculiarities of vocabulary, style and theological content that are unlike the rest of mark."

It is not all that good, there are many examples of "here we see the glory of God's...." and some attempts to explain the violent nature of passages that are truly confounding. But I still prefer it to reading King James with no notes at all.
A sermon helper that doesn't tell you what to believe: http://www.milepost100.com

User avatar
numan
BANNED
Posts: 2938
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 7:04 pm
Location: What! Me Worry?

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by numan » Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:05 pm

'
I am surprised that no one has mentioned Isaac Asimov's Asimov's Guide to the Bible!

Simple and readable---with commentary--- and by a non-believer.

,
Neither man nor woman can be worth anything until they have discovered that they are fools. This is the first step toward becoming either estimable or agreeable---and until it is taken, there is no hope.

User avatar
Jeff D
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1132
Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2009 5:24 pm

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Jeff D » Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:30 pm

I actually had Asimov's Guide to the Bible in an earlier version of my post with the list -- I had looked it up on Amazon and found that it's now sold in 2 volumes in one -- but that post got lost / trashed before I could hit "submit," and when I retyped the post, I forgot to add Asimov's book.

It would be an excellent first or second book on my list, or anyone's list.
Jeff D

User avatar
Martin Brock
Has More Than 6K Posts
Posts: 6036
Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2006 3:36 pm
Location: Athens, GA

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Martin Brock » Fri Sep 24, 2010 1:06 am

nmblum wrote:I too was surprised at the idea that the contemporary study of Greek myths as literature eliminated examining them for flaws of intellect, and wondered what schools the poster had attended that awarded him that privilege.
You surprise yourself. No one else has suggested that the contemporary study of Greek myths as literature eliminated examining them for flaws of any sort.

On the other hand, here are the first five hits from a google search for "greek mythology".

http://www.greekmythology.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_mythology" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://www.mythweb.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://www.theoi.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://www.desy.de/gna/interpedia/greek ... _myth.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I'll let you point out the similarities between these sites and this one.

http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I don't see a list of categories like "Absurdity", "Injustice", "Cruelty and Violence", "Intolerance" and "Contradictions" at any of the Greek Mythology sites. Greek mythology exhibits all of these characteristics, of course. So does Anglo Saxon mythology, like King Arthur and Robin Hood and John F. Kennedy, but I don't expect an obsessive focus on these particular characteristics at a site on Anglo Saxon mythology either.

So if I want my children to understand Hebrew mythology like Greek mythology, as ancient literature, I don't direct them to the Skeptics Annotated Bible, because the treatment of the subject is not remotely the same. I don't want my children to perceive Hebrew mythology as particularly evil. I only want them to perceive it like other ancient mythology, no better and no worse.
People associating freely respect norms of their choice, and relationships governed this way are necessarily interdependent.

More central authorities conquer by dividing, imposing norms channeling the value of synergy toward themselves.

"Every man for himself" is the prescription of a state, not a free community. A state protects the poor from the rich only in fairy tales.

User avatar
Lausten
Persistent Poster
Posts: 3926
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:33 pm
Location: Northern Minnesota

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Lausten » Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:28 am

Martin Brock wrote:So does Anglo Saxon mythology, like King Arthur and Robin Hood and John F. Kenned, but I don't expect an obsessive focus on these particular characteristics at a site on Anglo Saxon mythology either.
Good point. I take back some of the bad things I have said about you.
A sermon helper that doesn't tell you what to believe: http://www.milepost100.com

nmblum88
Has More Than 8K Posts
Posts: 8137
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2009 6:28 pm

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by nmblum88 » Fri Sep 24, 2010 4:18 am

Lausten wrote:
Martin Brock wrote:So does Anglo Saxon mythology, like King Arthur and Robin Hood and John F. Kenned, but I don't expect an obsessive focus on these particular characteristics at a site on Anglo Saxon mythology either.
Good point. I take back some of the bad things I have said about you.
Oh Lausten, even when jumping on a bandwagon, looking to the left and right before the leap could be a good idea.
All commentaries are not created equal.
John F. Kennedy did not share mythology, language OR ethnicity with King Arthur OR Robin Hood.
Perhaps the poster was still thinking (bitterly) of Kennedy's federalizing the Alabama National Guard and sending it to expedite the desegregration of the University of Alabama with the attendance of James Meredith..
Aha !! . a sort of variation (to the bitter, perhaps) of stealing from the rich to give to the poor!!!
Far fetched of course, but bitterness will do lead a man down such a garden path once in a while..
But maybe you can, while making nice, inform the scholar of Anglo -Saxon mythology that John F. Kennedy, whatever he was, and even as a joke, was NOT an Anglo-Saxon, not in reality, and not in myth.
I'm sure that the remark has a point... the dread socialism WILL raise its repellent head, or maybe, King Arthur having some luck with the ladies. MIGHT have something to do with it.
Or maybe its connected with "all white liberals who speak English look alike..."
Whatever.
Because while making even a modicum of sense is hardly the requirement of internet forums any more than it is of tea parties or the Freemasons, or the Latter Day Saints... and in sloppy, uneducated usage, the designation Anglo-Saxon has been used (incorrectly) to refer to anyone who has white skin and speaks English....... still, an Anglo-Saxon is an Anglo-Saxon and an Irishman is something else... descendent of the Gaels for one thing.
John F. Kennedy .... are we talking about a former President of the United States? ... was indubitably and proudly descended from Irish antecedants, on both sides of his family.
And the Anglo -Saxons were their traditional antagonists.
Moreover, the Irish contemporaries of either King Arthur or Robin Hood, didn't even speak English, but Erse, which some of them do to this very day.

Ergo, by the necessities of history and geography they did not share a mythology with John F. Kennedy but had distinct and separate ones.
Just because mythology is mythical doesn't mean it that it is made up on the fly by anyone who wants to make a point.

Norma Manna Blum
Skepticism:
" Norma, you poor sad lonely alcoholic. You entire life is devoted to interrupting other people's posts on this forum, regardless of the topic, to tell them what's wrong with them. The irony is, here you are doing it again, with this very post.
Your fanciful card games, movie sojourns and exciting overseas trips, that all take place within the four walls of an aged care retirement home, do not suggest your own children offered you the care, I gave my parents."

User avatar
Gord
Obnoxious Weed
Posts: 34969
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:44 am
Custom Title: prostrate spurge
Location: Transcona

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Gord » Fri Sep 24, 2010 4:45 am

Martin Brock wrote:I don't see a list of categories like "Absurdity", "Injustice", "Cruelty and Violence", "Intolerance" and "Contradictions" at any of the Greek Mythology sites. Greek mythology exhibits all of these characteristics, of course. So does Anglo Saxon mythology, like King Arthur and Robin Hood and John F. Kennedy, but I don't expect an obsessive focus on these particular characteristics at a site on Anglo Saxon mythology either.
Of course not. Nobody believes those myths to be true and accurate representations, nor do people have entire television ministries dedicated to spreading them as Ultimate Truth. But if it ever had become popular to spread such disinformation about Greek or Anglo Saxon mythology, then you would certainly see such websites.
So if I want my children to understand Hebrew mythology like Greek mythology, as ancient literature, I don't direct them to the Skeptics Annotated Bible, because the treatment of the subject is not remotely the same. I don't want my children to perceive Hebrew mythology as particularly evil. I only want them to perceive it like other ancient mythology, no better and no worse.
Then you'll need to find some sources that treat it like ancient mythology, with with commentaries, because the society your children live in will be filled with people who insist these particular ancient myths are true and accurate history.
"Knowledge grows through infinite timelessness" -- the random fictional Deepak Chopra quote site
"Imagine an ennobling of what could be" -- the New Age BS Generator site
"You are also taking my words out of context." -- Justin
"Nullius in verba" -- The Royal Society ["take nobody's word for it"]
#ANDAMOVIE
Is Trump in jail yet?

User avatar
Lausten
Persistent Poster
Posts: 3926
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:33 pm
Location: Northern Minnesota

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Lausten » Fri Sep 24, 2010 6:12 pm

Martin Brock wrote:I don't see a list of categories like "Absurdity", "Injustice", "Cruelty and Violence", "Intolerance" and "Contradictions" at any of the Greek Mythology sites. Greek mythology exhibits all of these characteristics, of course. So does Anglo Saxon mythology, like King Arthur and Robin Hood and John F. Kennedy, but I don't expect an obsessive focus on these particular characteristics at a site on Anglo Saxon mythology either.

<Jeff responding to Martin>
Of course not. Nobody believes those myths to be true and accurate representations, nor do people have entire television ministries dedicated to spreading them as Ultimate Truth. But if it ever had become popular to spread such disinformation about Greek or Anglo Saxon mythology, then you would certainly see such websites.
Kinda expected that. I don't think television ministries justify what I would call "hate sites" against Christianity. They might justify hate sites against television ministries, but that is all. Just like you can't kill all the terrorists to get rid of terrorism or bulldoze the crack houses to get rid of people addicted to crack, exposing all the things that are wrong with religion and/or the Bible won't get rid of people who want salvation from an invisible parent figure.
JeffD wrote:Then you'll need to find some sources that treat it like ancient mythology, with with commentaries, because the society your children live in will be filled with people who insist these particular ancient myths are true and accurate history.
True, but "society" is too broad a term here. Our society is in flux, it has been for a couple hundred years. There are more and more people saying the Bible is narrative and it is getting easier to find them. Many of them disassociate themselves with religion, but there are a few that manage to keep getting invited to churches to speak.

Brian McClaren is a good example. As with any theologian, he is slippery, tough to pin down what he believes, so I linked to a blog that gives an interpretation, and says how wrong it is. While doing that, he lays out McClaren's beliefs fairly accurately in my opinion. I'm not suggesting anyone should read this guy's book, or follow his ideas. I'm simply pointing out that he exists and what the debate looks like from his point of view.
A fundamentalist blog against McClaren
A sermon helper that doesn't tell you what to believe: http://www.milepost100.com

User avatar
Martin Brock
Has More Than 6K Posts
Posts: 6036
Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2006 3:36 pm
Location: Athens, GA

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Martin Brock » Fri Sep 24, 2010 6:21 pm

Gord wrote:Nobody believes those myths to be true and accurate representations, ...
I suppose somebody might believe Greek myths to be true and accurate representations, but my children don't, and they don't believe Hebrew mythology to be true and accurate representations either.
... nor do people have entire television ministries dedicated to spreading them as Ultimate Truth.
Teaching children not to believe what they see on television makes perfect sense to me, and I don't direct them to sites describing Hebrew mythology as the very essence of virtue, but I don't direct them sites describing this mythology as the essence of vice either, because both descriptions are hyperbolic.
But if it ever had become popular to spread such disinformation about Greek or Anglo Saxon mythology, then you would certainly see such websites.
Sure, I would, but I'm not denying the existence of the Skeptics Annotated Bible or even suggesting that it should not exist. The OP wants his daughter to learn something about the Hebrew mythology, like the story of David and Goliath. Maybe he also wants his daughter to join the Great Culture War dividing Believers from Non-Believers, but I don't recommend it.

Someone once posted here (I think) that his children's take on religion differs from his, because he raised them without any indoctrination into a traditional faith. His children don't reject religion, because they never accepted it in the first place. They're just indifferent to it, as they might be indifferent to Greek Mythology or Renaissance Art or the Calculus of Variations. This father might encourage the same attitude in his daughter. It's an option.
Then you'll need to find some sources that treat it like ancient mythology, with commentaries, because the society your children live in will be filled with people who insist these particular ancient myths are true and accurate history.
Common treatments of Greek mythology, aside from being called "mythology", do not emphasize in every commentary that the stories are false and inaccurate. They're more likely to discuss the stories as allegories.

My society is filled with people insisting all sorts of things, but I don't go out of my way to draw my children's attention to them by saying, "Look at how wrong those people are." Other people get off on sites debunking Ancient Astronauts and Area 51, but I'd rather give my kids a book on Egyptology or the Wright Brothers, because debunking Area 51 is only slightly less a waste of time than bunking the subject.
Last edited by Martin Brock on Fri Sep 24, 2010 7:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
People associating freely respect norms of their choice, and relationships governed this way are necessarily interdependent.

More central authorities conquer by dividing, imposing norms channeling the value of synergy toward themselves.

"Every man for himself" is the prescription of a state, not a free community. A state protects the poor from the rich only in fairy tales.

User avatar
Jeff D
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1132
Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2009 5:24 pm

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Jeff D » Fri Sep 24, 2010 6:51 pm

Lausten,

Actually it was Gord replying to Martin, and not I, but my views are not much different from either Gord's or Martin's.

"Indifference" toward all religions (as in "not important or emotionally evocative to me) is probably a pretty good attitude or stance to encourage in adults, but because religions have been a significant part of human culture(s) and have been both deadly and positive in their effects, I wouldn't want to deliberately cultivate, in my own child or anyone else's, an attitude of complete apathy or disinterest toward religions. Incuriosity toward one aspect of human culture might be contagiousor contaminating, and children should not be incurious about any cultural phenomenon of historical or current importance.

And I'd rather encourage a child to read a fairly neutral, non-aligned book on a particular religion or "holy book" -- such as Asimov's Guide to the Bible, or an annotated R.S.V., or Manfred Barthel's book that I cited above, than to encourage that child to read, as one of his or her first forays, a book with a specific a priori viewpoint or axe to grind, such as Mere Christianity or The Purpose-Driven Life or even The God Delusion or The End of Faith. I'd have no problem recommending all of those books to an adult because of his or her previous exposure to other books with "agendas." But in the interest of helping a child find his or her own way, I think neutral books are the best ones to recommend first.
Jeff D

nmblum88
Has More Than 8K Posts
Posts: 8137
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2009 6:28 pm

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by nmblum88 » Fri Sep 24, 2010 7:44 pm

Helping a youngster to understand the mythologies of the Hebrew Bible AND the Gospels, seems like putting the cart waaaaay before the horse.
How to even approach those myths without first taking on for examination, the greatest, most pervasive myth of all?
All the stories in the Hebrew Bible pale in their fictional glory before the most laborious, most illogically conceived myth, the myth that leads all the rest: the existence of an omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent deity who not only created the universe, but everything in it and continues to direct its operation and the fate of its myriad species.
And while certainly reading a good book of the roots and meat of biblical myths is helpful for the interested adolescent, there are other ways to encourage youngsters to negotiate their own ways through the shoals of religious inquiry.
One way of course, and a source of instant ignition of interest in the subject is a visit to a planetarium or observatory...
Permit me a bit of geo-centric tale telling: on a recent (and stunning) visit to the magnificent, not to be missed, Griffith Observatory not too far from my new home, a friend and I were charmed to hear a young girl, perhaps 6 or 7, ask her father as they emerged, "but where was god in that sky?"
I didn't hear Father's reply , but the question itself was a sign that thinking was going on.... and that's always a good thing.
Add to that that the whole family spent a splendid sunny day in a fabulous setting, atop (more or less) the Hollywood Fault, always a reminder that the evolution of the planet, and our fate as denizens of it, whether we survive to evolve further or disappear has nothing to do with the supernatural but everything to do with nature.
Which reminds me that as with everything else, the perpetuation of religion itself rests on life being so unfair.
In this case, people from rural areas suffer from a lack of stimulation that is available to those who have great libraries, planetaria, and observatories at their disposal for help in educating their children.
It is no accident that people who have a Museum of Natural History or a variation of the Hayden Planetarium within a short bus trip away, are more likely to be skeptical about first, god's existence... and then, as the night follows the day, the idea that a god, already suspiciously non-existent, could get Abraham to agree to kill, on command, his only begotten son.
And then do it again a few thousand years later.

NMB
Skepticism:
" Norma, you poor sad lonely alcoholic. You entire life is devoted to interrupting other people's posts on this forum, regardless of the topic, to tell them what's wrong with them. The irony is, here you are doing it again, with this very post.
Your fanciful card games, movie sojourns and exciting overseas trips, that all take place within the four walls of an aged care retirement home, do not suggest your own children offered you the care, I gave my parents."

User avatar
numan
BANNED
Posts: 2938
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 7:04 pm
Location: What! Me Worry?

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by numan » Fri Sep 24, 2010 8:24 pm

'
Martin Brock wrote: I suppose somebody might believe Greek myths to be true and accurate representations....
The Genie of the Web is at your command:

Worshippers fight for the right to use Greek temples
Athens - Across from the Acropolis, on one of the busiest streets in Athens, dozens of worshippers who believe in the 12 gods of ancient Greece gather to pray in the Roman-era Temple of Olympian Zeus.
Standing near the temple's imposing Corinthian columns, tunic-clad Doretta Pepa recites a hymn calling on the ancient gods to bring peace to the world....
Despite a court decision last year which officially recognised the Ancient Greek religion, the group says it is repeatedly denied its religious rights and is demanding the government register its offices as a place of worship - a move that could allow the group to perform weddings and other rites.
'We are perhaps the only religion in Europe that is not allowed to function - we want the Greek government to recognise our faith as an official religion. But for years these requests have been ignored in violation of European Union human rights laws,' said Pepa.
.
Neither man nor woman can be worth anything until they have discovered that they are fools. This is the first step toward becoming either estimable or agreeable---and until it is taken, there is no hope.

User avatar
Martin Brock
Has More Than 6K Posts
Posts: 6036
Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2006 3:36 pm
Location: Athens, GA

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Martin Brock » Fri Sep 24, 2010 11:23 pm

nmblum wrote:John F. Kennedy did not share mythology, language OR ethnicity with King Arthur OR Robin Hood.
Winston Churchill then. Mea Culpas to the Irish.
People associating freely respect norms of their choice, and relationships governed this way are necessarily interdependent.

More central authorities conquer by dividing, imposing norms channeling the value of synergy toward themselves.

"Every man for himself" is the prescription of a state, not a free community. A state protects the poor from the rich only in fairy tales.

User avatar
Lausten
Persistent Poster
Posts: 3926
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:33 pm
Location: Northern Minnesota

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Lausten » Mon Sep 27, 2010 3:06 pm

Radio show on spirituality of parenting
Here’s another link that might have something interesting. No ringing endorsements here, but worth a look. This is the NPR Sunday morning radio show called “Being”, formally called “Speaking of Faith”. The topic is “parenting”. The guest is a rabbi, but she is selling some generic children books about religion. The books seemed geared toward early readers and early thoughts on God, but I didn’t preview them in detail.

A couple high points. Rather than focus on “why am I here”, this talks more about questions that kids might really worry about. For instance, she mentions the significance of seeing a squirrel run over by a car for the first time. To adults, we’ve seen it before, and maybe squirrels destroyed something in our basement once, big deal, dead squirrel. For a kid, who is just getting the sense of animals being smaller living creatures with feelings and families, that might be traumatic.

About 9 minutes in, she gives a definition of spirituality. When she introduced it, I thought, oh boy, here comes the schlock. But what she says is pretty good, and understandable to a young person. “Spirituality” is the feeling we all have of inter-connectedness, the oneness of the universe. This is one, or possibly the only feeling, related to religion and talked about for centuries that has continued to be in agreement with science.

She then relates this to the story of Moses. He goes up on a mountain, sees God, comes down with a glow on his face, has the ten commandments. (No she doesn’t mention the part where he gets a little angry with the bull worshippers). This story, and the commandments are an attempt to contain the feeling of oneness. We call that religion.

With that definition, you can now talk about the various containers, critique them and maybe understand them without needing to be contained by them.
A sermon helper that doesn't tell you what to believe: http://www.milepost100.com

User avatar
Jeff D
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1132
Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2009 5:24 pm

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Jeff D » Mon Sep 27, 2010 3:29 pm

The female rabbi (described by Lausten) is using or defining "spirituality" in a fairly typical / popular fashion, by making it a label for the near-universal human feeling -- a pleasurable or positive feeling, I'd say -- of being aware of and awed by one's interconnectedness to the rest of the cosmos. While someone else might say "transcendence" or "numinousness," this rabbi and many others say "spiritual."

So, not much of a Humpty-Dumptyism. What bothers me about "spiritual" and "spirituality," and the reason that I don't reach for those words as even second- or third-choice descriptors, is that "spiritual" and "spirituality" lack well-defined boundaries, and they carry with them the idea that there is some hidden realm or plane of existence in which "spirit" or "soul" or some similar invisible essence or energy is prominent and separate from the rest of the "material" or physical universe. And once the folks who like to use words such as "spiritual" or "spirituality" get a foot in the door, they often use "spirituality" as a means of passing off incoherent ideas as profound ones.

Human beings can have that powerful, pleasurable feeling of awe, wonder, and appreciation for the interconnectedness of life and the cosmos without accepting any claims about the existence of "spirit," "souls," or "supernatural" beings.
Jeff D

nmblum88
Has More Than 8K Posts
Posts: 8137
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2009 6:28 pm

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by nmblum88 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 5:00 pm

Lausten:
She then relates this to the story of Moses. He goes up on a mountain, sees God, comes down with a glow on his face, has the ten commandments. (No she doesn’t mention the part where he gets a little angry with the bull worshippers). This story, and the commandments are an attempt to contain the feeling of oneness. We call that religion.
Maybe YOU, or that mysterious "we" that you throw into your mix, but without identification, call it religion..
Excuse me: but WHO "we?"
I call it "a story in a book that has taken on a patina of other-worldliness."
And for no ostensible reason other than that is has been repeated, in a context of moral authority, so often that it's like the multiplication tables: you memorize it and then you don't have to think about it any more.
Including the unlikelihood of there ever having BEEN a Moses.
What you left out, for whatever your reasons, is that religion demands that you surrender your reasoning power to the idea that the story is not only true but connotes, imparts, some immutable moral lesson, by which men can live improved lives.
Improved that is, over the lives of those who either discard them as silly or more significant, totally irrelevant.

So, excuse me for laughing: Moses had a glow on his face?
Could it have been from the simple exertion required of a very old man who had to not only drag himself up a considerable hill which still, some thousands of years later, exhibits a rough terrain, and then, GOD HELP HIM, had to be further tortured by the arduous task of shlepping around those tablets.....including reading them to an illiterate population.
And of course... although you and your lady Rabbi seem to think nothing of it, ... there is still the question of what is "spiritual" in such a story, taken literally, or figuratively, as an object lesson, as a parable .... in any way at all.
So far "spiritual" remains elusive.... and the more you try to ascribe meaning to it from your various sources (read sermons) whatever murky meaning it might have had grows even more dubious.

I may have mentioned this before, but in the wide variety of conclusions that man has come to in his search for that elusive (and still undefined) spiritual.... there was D.H. Lawrence... whose conclusion was that nothing in the world better conjured up the "spiritual" than the congress between a man and a woman, wherever, whenever, as early and as often as possible.... the more for the merrier future.
If he had been a minister, his message would have been "stay in bed on Sunday" ... (and every other day).
So much so that the author and critic Lawrence Durrell, an even more skeptical skeptic, laughed and said of Lawrence, "he built a cathedral around the {!#%@}."

Nobody knows, it appears, what "spiritual" means.... only that it's important to talk about it endlessly as if it actually (sorta like Jesus or Moses and those silly tablets) actually exists.
And is an improvement on our real world..... our glorious, incomparably beautiful, endlessly fascinating, real world.

Norma Manna Blum
Skepticism:
" Norma, you poor sad lonely alcoholic. You entire life is devoted to interrupting other people's posts on this forum, regardless of the topic, to tell them what's wrong with them. The irony is, here you are doing it again, with this very post.
Your fanciful card games, movie sojourns and exciting overseas trips, that all take place within the four walls of an aged care retirement home, do not suggest your own children offered you the care, I gave my parents."

User avatar
Lausten
Persistent Poster
Posts: 3926
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:33 pm
Location: Northern Minnesota

Re: A bible for young skeptics?

Post by Lausten » Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:04 pm

JeffD wrote:What bothers me about "spiritual" and "spirituality," and the reason that I don't reach for those words as even second- or third-choice descriptors, is that "spiritual" and "spirituality" lack well-defined boundaries, and they carry with them the idea that there is some hidden realm or plane of existence
Keep in mind this is a thread about books for kids. What I liked about the definition was it did have a boundary. For a kid as yet uncorrupted by the many abominations of the word (if the writer of the OP is honestly reporting his experience) it seems like a reasonable place to start. A 13 year old should be starting to get some sense of being connected to other cultures, and should have heard that the universe has lots of carbon and hydrogen that has been recycled for billions of years and has hopefully felt the connection of family and friendship. They should also be smart enough to know that words have more than one definition, and people argue about what the definition is, but that is a separate conversation.

That goes for you too Norma. As for a glow on Moses' face, I clearly state that I am referring to a story. Bibles are available at your local book store and amazon.com, look it up.
Norma wrote:What you left out, for whatever your reasons, is that religion demands that you surrender your reasoning power to the idea that the story is not only true but connotes, imparts, some immutable moral lesson, by which men can live improved lives.
I left it out because that is not a definition, that is analysis of what the thing called religion has become, how it has been used. I make no judgment, because I am having this discussion in a context of teaching. If you Norma, were to teach, I imagine you would say, "Here is a horrible terrible thing that has wrought evil upon the world for millenia, but make up your own mind. Think for yourself, but if you disagree with me, you're are an idiot and will burn in hell, if there was a hell"
A sermon helper that doesn't tell you what to believe: http://www.milepost100.com