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Is there anyone here that values the teachings of the bible, but rejects it's supernatural elements?

I believe in objective ethics, and a lot of good ethics overlaps with biblical values. Reason tells me that religious communities have a lot of successful values we can adopt. But it's the dogma and reliance on faith that gets me sad about religious communities.

Wrain62 4 Oct 30

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There are certain values which are universal; the Bible is not the only authority for them. The prohibition on killing people, for instance. There are other values in the Bible which most people reject, and rightly so. Support for slavery and genocide, for instance. You really have to cherry pick which ones you support and which ones you reject.


You assume that there are "the teachings of the bible". But the book contradicts itself numerous times and then there are multiple interpretations. By ignoring the supernatural you are cherry picking and when you choose which part you like you add another layer of cherry picking. Sorry but this approach seems worthless to me. You already have a moral compass. You already know what you think is morally correct. In the bible you will find nothing new. There are a lot of better books to get inspired by that don't also condone murder, rape, genocide, slavery ect. ect.

Dietl Level 7 Oct 30, 2018

That about sums it up.

"You already have a moral compass."

One that is learned by cherry picking that which you choose to accept from the teachings of parents, community, society, or study. We don't "know" what is correct; we have to be taught. And as there is no perfect teacher of what is correct, then there should be no problem accepting the bible as another imperfect teacher and cherry picking it... as we do with all other aspects of our moral life.

@TheMiddleWay I'm a bit suspicious as to why you think the bible should be accepted as a moral guide. It's exceptionally full of appalling shit that has been used to justify utterly barbaric behaviours.

Why not find something else that hasn't got that history?

You don't seem to know what cherry picking is. Your examples of learned things are not necessarily cherry picking. It is about ignoring certain aspects of a thing in order to still believe in the value of that thing. In this case it is about remaining to see the bible as a moral authority only by ignoring certain parts.
It's a subtle difference, I know, but your comments misses the point of what I was trying to say. Choosing to pick what you like from the bible is not a bad thing but then you have to be aware what the source of your morality is. In this case it is you, not the bible.


I think you've got it backwards, good ethics existed long before the bible

So did bad ones. One need not claim or believe that the bible is THE only source of morality or even the BEST source of morality to find that it CAN be a source of morality and thus has value.

@TheMiddleWay i agree but your post addressed good ethics not bad. additionally your opening statement seemed to present the bible as the source of good ethics. if i misunderstood, i apologize.

@TheMiddleWay oops.....just realized you were not the original poster. replace "your post" with the OPs post and "your opening statement" with the OPs opening statement and i take back my apology 😉


That which is good in the bible is not original, and that which is original is most certainly not good.

So NO.

Well stated.


I don't value or respect the teachings of the Bible. It's necessary to cherry pick the bits that are ethically sound, which means we're already applying our own standards of morality to the text to distance ourselves from the teachings about killing disobedient children, adulterers, homosexuals, workers on the Sabbath, etc., the teachings that women could have no authority over men and shall not teach men, the tacit approval of slavery, the treatment of women as property, and on and on. But what about "turn the other cheek" and "let he who is without sin cast the first stone," I hear someone ask. Ah, that's where the cherry picking begins. Jesus says some peaceful things, but even within the Gospel there's a difference in tone and message depending on where you're reading. Jesus also says that he hasn't come to abolish the law but to fulfill it, that he has come bearing a sword rather than an olive branch, that he's here to turn parent against child, sibling against sibling, and neighbor against neighbor, that you should leave your family, sell your belongings, and give no thought to the future because the end times are upon us. You can read into Christian scripture almost anything, because it says almost everything. This is why liberals think of Jesus as a hippy who gives away free healthcare and cares about poor people and conservatives see him as a capitalist who says if you don't work you don't eat. It's the reason the KKK thinks Jesus supports them in their hate. As much as I dislike the Westboro Baptist Church, everything they stand for is in the Bible and can be fully justified by scripture; they're living their faith. And I haven't even gotten to the motivations of Paul and others who used the early Christian movement to their advantage, twisting it for social influence to bring about political change in ways that may or may not have been worthy at the time but have no bearing today. So, no, I don't value the teachings of the Bible. Whatever areas of overlap exist is irrelevant and when people identify with one passage that sounds reasonable they're more likely to accept the more questionable teachings of that anthology text. It's better, I think, to ignore the teachings of the Bible (but not be ignorant of them) and use secular ethics to guide our lives.

I doubt there is ANY moral or ethical text which we don't cherry pick.

When you say, for example, that you use "secular ethics" to guide you life, I have every confidence that you have cherry picked from all the secular sources in the world that which you accept and which you dismiss.

As I see it, as a pragmatist, the bible is no different: choose the parts that are useful to you, that you feel make you a better person, that you feel make for a better community and society... and dismiss the rest.

@TheMiddleWay There's a difference though: the bible is pushed by all 3 abrahamic religions (those bits that they push) as the ultimate truth and you can't argue with it. Now, they've all learned to update themselves a bit - and cherry pick. But what you are effectively saying is that there are bits you find useful. But those bits will be different for all of us.

That's cool and all, but then there's no distinguishing between the bible and Dr Seuss. And there's no intrinsic value in the bible. I'd go further and suggest that, given the bad historic precendents, it's better to find some other book

Thing is, there is no law that states that I have to take any book or person as the "ultimate truth" or argue with it/them. Thus, there is no law that states that I, as an agnostic or atheist or religious of a different religion, can't read the bible and "cherry pick" and argue with it's points.

And yes, I am saying that there are bits that will be useful and those bits will be different for all. This is a truth in any book one reads, movie one sees, or song one hears. The very nature of morality is such that there is no ONE truth (despite what the uber-religious would have you believe) and thus we have to find OUR truth and then test it against YOUR truth to find A truth that works for us both.

And you are right, there is no distinguishing between Seuss and the Bible... regardless of others taking either as fact or fiction, if either has a lesson to teach us, then I'm willing to listen to it and learn. Hence, they both have value, as the OP challenges us to consider.

@TheMiddleWay But Seuss doesn't have centuries of murder and torture associated with his moral teachings. So...

How many murders and torture have been committed by following Jesus's "turn the other cheek" morality of the new testament?

How many murders and torture have been committed by following the "thou shall not kill" morality of the old testament?

Seuss was no angel either, being sexist and racist... and, like I said, if you only look for morals from a perfect being or perfect book, you will never find any source to any morality as perfection does not exist.


"How many murders and torture have been committed by following Jesus's "turn the other cheek" morality of the new testament?

How many murders and torture have been committed by following the "thou shall not kill" morality of the old testament?"

That's a serious distraction. Some good stuff (I could argue with it - but we will go down another rabbit hole if I do) does not in anyway erase the Inquisition etc.

"like I said, if you only look for morals from a perfect being or perfect book, "

Yup. And it's still a red herring that I've addressed repeatedly. I'm really not looking for perfect. There is an important, even category difference between being imperfect and having been the instrument that facilitated the grotesque crimes over many centuries that weigh on the bible's account. You are still completely failing to address that point: your responses are a form of whataboutery.

I hope you don't mind: are you in fact a believer?


I have to come back on this. The 'thou shalt not kill' message in the OT is one of the most redundant texts ever written given that a) it is surrounded by immediate negation of it for all sorts of great reasons, like wearing the wrong clothes etc and b) has been nearly universally ignored with the very small exception of groups like the Quakers.

You can't be serious on this one? Most Christians are not pacificsts...and never have been. So - what is there about that text that in any way makes it relevant?


"The teachings of the Babble"... not so you mean sacrificing your only child? Pimping out your wife for grazing land? Sleeping with your daughters after your wife gets turned into a pillar of salt? How about offering your daughter to a raging mob? Worshipping a gawd who kills off your entire family, gives you dire physical problems, and reduces you to poverty...but then "replaces" all of it.
Or, on a bigger scale, burning & pillaging & raping/murdering entire countries because your gawd told you it was yours? (Oh, wait.........)

Don't forget dashing babies against rocks!

@Donotbelieve ta for the reminder!


If you can't tell the difference from right and wrong,
you don't lack religion, you lack empathy.

No need for an ancient book to tell you that.

Bang on

I want to write a book about empathy: it’s just so important and so undervalued. However it would be a short book: that’s about it!

"it's just so important and so undervalued."

@OwlInASack I agree. When you have the time, go to my profile and watch the 2nd video (The Art of Empathy). I think you'll like it.

But right and wrong is learned. We don't have a right and wrong gene and neither is it written in the stars. Every culture has a slightly different version of what is right and what is wrong and books, ancient and modern, are the way that we memorialize what each generation, culture, community, or society thinks is right or wrong.

@VictoriaNotes OK! On a train to the airport right now in an open carriage. But I will!

@VictoriaNotes ok


Why does it always have to be the bible. There are other early writings that can have just as much (or even more) positive teachings. For instance Greek writings as the Iliad and Odyssey.
Also the Bible(s) (there are more than one version) has gone through a lot of transformations over the Millennia and every age put it's own values on the book. Right now the whole idea of Christian dogma is being upended to "the ends justify the means." Not a good example of ethics.

See my comment here and link and statement refered to therein. Zackly.


I used to think that the Bible had a positive message but then I really started looking at what was in the Bible and it is mostly evil. People who haven't read the Bible but just listen to what others say about it can be easily fooled.


Studies show the communities that take heed to biblical teachings (conservative Christians) tend to be the most dysfunctional. This is evidenced in the Bible Belt.

“Consider, for instance, the latest special report just put out by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which lists the ten states with the worst/best quality of life. According to this multivariate analysis which takes into account a plethora of indicators of societal well-being, those states in America with the worst quality of life tend to be among the most God-loving/most religious (such as Mississippi and Alabama), while those states with the best quality of life tend to be among the least God-loving/least religious (such as Vermont and New Hampshire).

…the more secular tend to fare better than the more religious on a vast host of measures, including homicide and violent crime rates, poverty rates, obesity and diabetes rates, child abuse rates, educational attainment levels, income levels, unemployment rates, rates of sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy, etc.

On nearly every sociological measure of well-being, you’re most likely to find the more secular states with the lowest levels of faith in God and the lowest rates of church attendance faring the best and the most religious states with the highest levels of faith in God and rates of church attendance faring the worst.”


Are they dysfunctional because they are religious...
... or are they religious because they are dysfunctional?

Remember the warning: "correlation doesn't imply causation"...
... such that there is no reason to believe that these social indicators are poor because of religion nor that they would be equally poor in those areas even if religion were wiped off the face of the earth.

@TheMiddleWay Certainly it can be both. However, and I speak from experience, those who push their religious agenda tend to do so with the most vulnerable.

Published in the American Journal of Sociology, researchers found that conservatively religious communities in the U.S tend to have the highest divorce rates which were associated with biblical teachings. []

For example:

"It is better to marry than to burn." 1 Corinthians 7:9

"Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body." 1 Corinthians 6:18-20

"For this is the will of God, [even] your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:" 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4

The study you presented doesn't associate the divorce rate to biblical teachings though. So again, a unfortunate outcome correlation is not being tied into a religious causation.

Quote from the study: "The earlier family formation and lower levels of educational attainment and income in counties with a higher proportion of conservative Protestants can explain a substantial portion of this association. "

From a cursory glance at the science and statistics, it looks to me that religious adherence is a response to, rather than a cause of dysfunction, and that it actually helps in those situations, but only marginally. That is to say that religion has a slightly corrective effect on dysfunction, whereas a stable economy has a major corrective effect, and tends to reduce the dependence on religion.

@TheMiddleWay Well, yes it does. The conservatively religious are pressured to not have sex out of wedlock, therefore marrying young and starting families early. They also tend to devalue education (including sex education) and a woman's right to choose.

Explains Glass: “Restricting sexual activity to marriage and encouraging large families seem to make young people start families earlier in life, even though that may not be best for the long-term survival of those marriages.”

"Young people of every religious belief—or none—are influenced by cultural climate. Glass and Levchak believe that this comes from living in a cultural climate where most people expect to marry young and there is little support from schools or community institutions for young people to get more education and postpone marriage and children.

"Abstinence-only education, restrictions on the availability of birth control and abortion, support for marriage as the resolution of unexpected pregnancies, and distrust of secular education (especially higher education) among the populace in religiously conservative counties work to create an environment where young people of every religious belief – or none – tend not to pursue higher education or job training, and instead to engage in early marriage and child-bearing."


@skado "From a cursory glance at the science and statistics, it looks to me that religious adherence is a response to, rather than a cause of dysfunction"

Speaking from experience, I know that my life would not have experienced dysfunction had it not been for the heavy influence of a conservatively religious community. In fact, my late husband would still be alive, my daughter would have been raised with a father, and had I not been vulnerable at the time of his death, I wouldn't have been the target of religiously conservative people.

@VictoriaNotes I would quote Christopher Hitchens on this.

Good people will always find ways to do good and bad people will always find ways to be bad. But to get a good person to do something evil? Well that takes religion!

I have nothing but the greatest of sympathies for your experiences and those of all the other statistical outliers, but if it is science and an accurate view of objective reality that we prefer over superstition and emotional reaction, we must not dismiss the majority who have had different experiences.

Corruption and perverse use of religion, government, business, or any other social institution is equally vile, and must be continually resisted in the most vigorous way, but not to the extent that we deprive the majority of what good there is in those establishments.

@skado I understand. My point was not about denying what good there is in those establishments, but about understanding how conservative Christianity (as an example) tends to have a negative impact on communities -- often due to fear and a resistence to change.

I feel the same way you do about people who cloak their ignorance and hatred in religious veneers, and the corrupt religious establishments that encourage and protect them. It is deadly dangerous.

..thanks for
the update;a pity the
human conscience is out to lunch

@VictoriaNotes ...thanks
again~saw similar studies


What a colossal waste of time..... What's the value in trying to find meaning in obscure and cryptic passages of a specific place and time completely out of our own context?

I don't think moral or ethical lessons or advice are ever out of context. One need not believe that "the golden rule" was created by god or that jesus was the first to promote it. But if all I have or read is one book and that one book has "the golden rule" is in there, then surely that one book has value despite all the other content.

@TheMiddleWay Well, I did post my comment as an open question without even thinking that will invite for answers. Totally my bad. That wasn't the intention. One last comment though. Anyone is free to use their time as they see fit and they can find meaning on anything of their choosing. I am just saying I wouldn't spend my time on any bible reading at all.


I particularly like the part where it's okay to beat your slave as long as that slave doesn't die, but the part where the greatest of Israel's kings orders a soldier to his death in order to bang his wife is interesting too.

There are so many good morality lessons....

JimG Level 8 Oct 30, 2018

I could reject Harry Potter's supernatural elements and still get more from the series than I could from the Bible


I agree with u that the Bible's does have many great values but at the same time it has many horrible vales as well. The Bible was constructed in a way that everyone can make it mean anything they want it to mean. If u disregard what u don't like it is a great book and that is why it keeps power over people. Simple religions evolved over time until the Bible was perfected in a way to control populations. Same goes with all the other major religions of the world. I would guess they will evolve once again because of the technology boom of the last century and a better structured version will come along.

jorj Level 8 Oct 30, 2018

Only the kind teachings of the Bible. mostly seen in the New Testament. I am all for the don't hit people in the head with a big stick, forgiveness, judge not lest you be judged, charity, love the sinner, hate the sin and love thy neighbor. These are things one can learn from parents. However, the Bible was the most violent book I have ever read. I read it for Western Civilization when I was in getting my undergrad.


Certainly! Most, if not all fundamental religious handbooks are also easily described as "handbooks for having a peaceful society". It was the misuse of these teaching for control by leaders and zealots that bastardized the underlying good life lesson therein. Now the mumbo-jumbo parts...that's just pinache and artistic license.


Thou shall not kill, Thou shall not commit adultery. To me, these are common sense. God made these laws and he himself broke them, so "F" the bible

Thank you.


Very little of the ethics in there are compatible with modern thinking, if you have to cherry pick it to find bits you agree with, you really need to read more books...


The best principles (obviously my opinion) apply universally and aren't differentiated by whether one is male or female. The 'Ten Commandments' for example, embody some valid moral principles, all of which are instinctual and self-regulating anyway. Commandments are directed at men and as though men are natural human monitors.

I believe that all of our 'social ills' are directly or indirectly rooted in the advent of male domination and exclusivity in leadership about 6,000 years ago. The supernatural elements of Biblical 'teachings' are less damaging than the rules of conduct for males and societies propagated by patriarch's claiming supernatural bases.


The general teachings of the bible dealing with basic human behavior in terms of ethics and some of the morals are things that all peoples of the world have known and to one extent or another have adhered to from sometime before we left the African savanna. There is nothing particularly unique about what is spelled out in the bible and what was delineated in the Code of Hammurabi. Even the 'Golden Rule' is not original. So, it makes no difference where one picks up their generally accepted values/morals/ethics as long as they are picked up and implemented. There is equally no reason whatsoever to refer to them as biblical. They are human and they have been developed over the entire time we have been evolving. Something else to consider: We continue to evolve and our values/morals/ethics are subject to change as we do so.

This is true. But the question the OP presents is "does the bible have value?" and if we judge value based on originality, then 99% of all our written works lack value because they are un-original.

If on the other hand we view value as taking an un-original idea but presenting it in a way that speaks to a people, that updates old ideas into a new paradigm, that makes sense to you in a way other writings do not, then clearly the bible has value... the same way that the 14th edition of a book has value despite it being an unoriginal reprint of editions 1 through 13 or the same way that a book in french makes more sense to you than in english because french is your first language even though the french version is unoriginal and may, in fact, miss some of the nuance of the english original.

@TheMiddleWay -- I didn't say the bible has no value. Hell, I didn't even allude to it. I also did not say anything at all about the requisite for being valuable was originality. I said that it makes no difference where one gets their 'generally accepted' morals, values, ethics, etc. as long as they have them and put them into practice. There is nothing unique about them. They are human values established through deep time, and they are fluid, subject to continued change and refinement.

I once reduced the bible to its actually applicable philosophies of life and wound up with 3 pages of double-spaced, typewritten material and I'm sure I could have trimmed it down even further. I know this is cliche, but this sentence actually sums it up: Don't be a dick.


Yes, it's all in the interpretation. As a U.U we believe there is much to learn from the Bible. I definitely don't believe it is infallible, but it is a very interesting piece of literature that can be interpreted in a very Progressive Way.


There’s nothing original in that book ?

Nardi Level 7 Oct 30, 2018

There is nothing original in any book since Beowulf and Homer... and even then!
So does this mean that all books have no value?

@TheMiddleWay It's actually ridiculous to say that however if a book claims to be the truth and is then found out to be a fraud then yes its worthless or worse still..dangerous.


There is one all important teaching you can get from the bible, if not find in the bible, and that is.
Don't base your whole life on just one book, if you do read more than one book make sure they are not all derived from one book, and if you can only read one book try to find a better one.

...yes- drinking the coolAID
does get folks dead⚠️

@BBJong Wow thanks! You just taught me an Americanism (British) I did not know. Coolaid: I will remember that one.


Similar to Confucius and his anelects, the old testament likely codified certain practices in ancient society that were widespread in acceptance(for whatever reason)and contributed to societal stabilization.
The new testament, was an attempt to reconcile a modern day teacher(Jesus) to these Torah stories, in the process to establish a new church.
Today we live in a post-christian world. While our laws and mores are based on Christian values, very few actually believe the underpinning beliefs.

...well put


I've read much of the bible, and although I reject the supernatural aspects, I've found some of the teachings of Jesus to be reasonable and actually supportive of the Humanist philosophy...boils down to "Don't be an ass." I helped my daughter through a suicidal time with it - she was raised Catholic thanks to my ex, and thought god hated her because she's lesbian. I talked to her using Jesus as the base...e.g. if he was around today, he'd support the LGBT community, as he always sought out those marginalized by mainstream society.


There are universal ethics that have squat to do with the bible. No indiscriminate killing, etc. The other nitpicky crap in the bible is mostly used for evil. The lessons of the bible include being pro-rape, pro-slavery, pro-genocide, and generally just a reflection of some of the worst ideas floating around the mediterranean a few thousand years ago.

...I.agree,some of the "good examples"were
of their time and needed constant updating..
The church states INFALLIBILITY in all
Bible text.(Catholic).
Yet principles that benefit humanity
need independent/consistent support and
updating- I found the churches+tRump
(All religions zealots) going backward
for years===to humanities determent...

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