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I trust most of us here have studied the Bible more thoroughly than those who profess belief; if you’re like me, that’s how you got to your state of disbelief in the first place. We all know the Bible is full of ridiculous bullshit at best and horrendous bigotry sexism and genocide fueling narratives at the worst. My question is: what is the most beautiful, complex truth you’ve ever found in the Bible?

It could just be that the mainstream interpretation of some legends entirely missed the point and there’s a deeper metaphorical meaning that does have merit, or it could just be our wishful thinking finding meaning in something that was initially designed to control people. Whether it’s inherently valuable or you made it so with your own interpretation, what are some lessons you think might be worth preserving?

Examples:
To me, the story/message of Jesus’ life was very Buddhist. I think his point, if he had one, was to serve as an example of the death of ones ego. He explicitly told others not to pedestalize him as a god but that the only way to peace/heaven was as he had done, to suffer the death of your own ego and wake up to ones inner divinity. That the connection and compassion we have with/for each other is the only god we need serve, and the message flew way over most sheeples heads.

I also had a rather psychedelic experience through yoga where I realized that the myth of the garden of eden may have a very significant meaning. I always asked why a loving god would put us in a garden, set up a temptation and then punish us for something he knew we’d do. I came to the conclusion that he didn’t. If the story has a moral, it’s about how we do it to ourselves. Our suffering in life is a cycle of shame and entitlement. By our nature we will always want the one thing we can’t have, even in paradise. We foster a sense of entitlement for that thing that we feel denied, and eventually we snap and just take it. Then we’re shamed for wanting the thing, further repressed (by adults in our childhood usually) and the cycle of shame and entitlement continues amplifying itself in a feedback loop. The first “sin” wasn’t disobedience to an arbitrary rule: it was also a rather Buddhist ideal of missing the mark by focusing on what you can’t have. When I realized the cycle of shame and entitlement that had been laid on me by parents pastors and so many religious teachers, I felt an incredible literal weight lift off my shoulders. I felt a tension in major muscle groups release for the first time in decades. I felt the peace that passeth understanding for the first time as an atheist, and finally truly knew what it felt like to be “saved.”

Sadly I don’t think most Christians ever feel that. I hope most of you have. What other potentially valuable lessons do you feel were lost to the sheep who took things too literally?

Wurlitzer 8 Apr 25
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36 comments

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1

"If 2 shall not lie together, how shall ye have heat ? People who sleep together stay warm. ...since there was no Jesua Nasoret there can be no worthwhile words from a non-existent alleged baby god. ....Song of Solomon has some luscious breasts and lips as sweet as pomegranate but not much Romance in a genocide misogyny manual

9

The most beautiful, complex truth I've found in the Bible is Matthew 5-7, the "Sermon on the Mount." My hypothesis is that it was written by some unknown author, attributed to the fictitious Jesus, and Christianized by adding religious things like god and prayer. The structural chiasmus reveals meanings that are hidden to the superficial reader. The "Sermon" is really a Treatise on Ethics, and the first lesson it teaches is that religion should not be followed on blind faith. I'm writing about it, and I hope to publish a full report by the end of this year.

8

I found the bible incredibly boring.

It is in many parts, and really fucked up enough to be quite interesting in others. I was made to study it throughout a decade of Christian school and church several times a week growing up, and I’m glad as an atheist that I’ve read more of the Bible than any Christians i know, on par with their pastors. But yeah as an adult I don’t think I’d voluntarily go out of my way to become an expert.

Yes, with everyone begatting everyone else, I begatting bored too 😉

7

Yes, I studied the shit out of it. I feared going to hell if I got it wrong so I researched the times prior to Christianity and even prayed for help in understanding. As a result of my studies I have concluded that the message of Christ was intentionally distorted by the religious leaders of the times. Paul/Saul worked for the Roman government so if he was enlightened on his way to Damascus the church leaders would have killed him before the New Testament ever became into existence. Christ is a title not a name. A lot of false claims have been made about him. A lot of fighting over which books should be included, which ones should be left out.
The bible is not the word of God. It was written to deceive people so they would not listen to the true message which is very much more Gnostic than Christian. I believe "Christ" traveled and studied philosophy with some of the greatest men of the times. He was killed because he was trying to tell us NOT to follow religion. The truth of who we are and what we are capable of resides within each of us and religion has always had total control of knowledge.
There is enough truth in the bible to convince some it is all real and enough falsehoods to convince others it is completely wrong but there is an awful lot of historical facts in it once God and religion are removed from the equation.
The flood did happen but it was Noah's belief that he was the only one saved that was wrong. Noah was only one of hundreds that believed their "God" saved them so that is how they wrote it.
There are amazing things in the bible and a good starting point for understanding human history. The preachers do not tell it like it is either. For example: they teach we are all descendants of Adam and Eve but in the very first chapter Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. He does not create "Adam" until chapter 2.
In Ezekiel there is a clear description of a spacecraft [biblegateway.com]
Hieroglyphs from ancient Egypt clearly show we have lost knowledge not gained it so yes, reading the bible has not only led me further back in history but it also helps me when I question the teachings. The best defense against the bible being "The divine word of God" is in the bible itself.
Deuteronomy 4:2 King James Version (KJV)
2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you. If one were to take the bible literally then changing it into English destroyed the "Word". If anything, studying the bible made it very clear that the elite have controlled the information we receive since the beginning of time.

Yeah I completely agree; the gnostic interpretations are pretty fascinating. I’ve stumbled into some of them on my own, but I do intend to research them further. I think my interpretation of the fall from paradise is rather gnostic in origin, although I stumbled into it through parallel thinking. Another thought I’ve had is: What if Satan was the one trying to deny them the fruit of knowledge, and god took the form of a serpent to let them know it was OK? Either way, I think their first sin wasn’t disobedience but accepting the shame that god/Satan put on them afterwards. “The fruit of the poisonous tree” is a law doctrine about evidence being inadmissible when it’s obtained in illegal ways. I think the whole concept of mans original sin was entrapment. It can and should be looked at as inadmissible evidence. That’s the other part of my realization that lead to “the peace that passeth understanding.”

@Wurlitzer Hmmm...I am going to do some research into the serpent. It is after all the medical symbol. (The Rod of Asclepius) so there is definitely something to it. I have speculated on it a bit but I think it is worthy of an all out research into the meaning. Thanks for the inspiration.

@Scoobs Awesome, thank you so much. I will check it out right now!

@Scoobs @CreativelyMe yeah that’s really interesting. Of course besides the metaphorical interpretation of these myths I think they also seem to literally describe the Neolithic revolution: the end of the hunter-gatherer age of plenty and the beginning of settling down, farming, property ownership and warring over land. That’s the real moment mankind in general left paradise. Westerners and colonists historically often ran off to “go native” when possible the past few hundred years, but native people almost never willingly ran off and joined western culture. I think we all cooperated better in the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Once you settle down and start farming/worrying about borders it’s a tough life.

@Wurlitzer Western culture is power based and competitive. We are literally taught that we have to be the best to even be acknowledged. Indigenous cultures not only worked together as a unit but considered how their actions would impact the next 7 generations. I like your idea on how boarders effected the divisions between people.

@CreativelyMe yeah not sure if it’s still there but there was a documentary about how beer changed the world on Netflix that suggested the shift to settling down and farming was first for wheat fields to make beer. So everything from agriculture, mathematics, the written language for record keeping, the measurement and claiming ownership of plots of land and basically the entire Neolithic revolution might be because of beer ? in which case, eh maybe worth it? ? I like the idea of the forbidden fruit being either beer or psychedelics though. The burning bush Moses spoke to was the acacia bush which is loaded with DMT. And some of the top agnostic bible scholars now think Christianity may have been an elaborate mushroom cult speaking in code to keep the romans from finding out they were tripping balls and opening their minds lol. Too many interesting theories to count, but I’ll guarantee booze and drugs played a part in recording some of the weirder incidents of the Bible.

6

Like all ancient literature there are numerous things of merit.
Few if any are factual, but rather expressive of the human experience.

Like all literature the reader brings as much to the work as the work itself presents.

5

The words of Jesus are compelling. Jesus was attempting to teach us how to live. He often spoke about compassion toward all (not those in your tribe or those that have the same skin color). The Sermon on the Mount is a good example. I do not believe in all the crap about the virgin birth, miracles, raising the dead, afterlife, rapture, etc., it is all magic and myth to me. The teachings are very Buddhist-like.

Very Buddhist indeed. The gospels need to be read as literature and not history. This then gives a totally different context. Take into account the Virgin birth, resurrection, the miracles were part and parcel of the culture of the time and were quite normal to consider. There were many Jewish Messianic cults waiting for their Messiah to free them from the Romans at the time so getting the best stories got you the most punters. Think of Steven King, Ray Bradbury and Michael Moorcock slugging it out for a booker prize.

5
I struggled with viewing the Bible as the Word of God.  So, I read it all through..  It was obvious that much of the Old Testament was the word of men.anything not understood was atributed to God.  The  primary proof  xomes from Jesus..  The two most Fundamental teaachings.  Love God, Love all people.  With that in mind much of what attributedd to God, must have been wrong.   I converted to Christianity  when I was 20.    I had been an atheist until I heard, Peace and Love . And the song What's Love got to do with it".

What is Love?  an emotion?    That set me in a search for theTruth about Love?  
the best I have found is in the Serrmon on the Mount and I Corinthians 13.  Even if not the word of God, they are beautiful words to live by.
wmou Level 4 May 3, 2018
4

At this point, I have absolutely no interest in the bible. What people miss,IMO, is that the bible was written by people, mostly men who were incredibly ignorant and biased. A third grader knows more about the how the world operates than Moses. Speaking of Moses. Here we have people prostrating themselves at his feet when he was a mass murderer and mass rapist and was probably on mushrooms or suffering a severe low blood sugar attack when he wrote his implausible stories of the burning bush and others.

The scholars in the area now think the burning bush was most likely an acacia bush, so Moses was technically smokin DMT haha. There are a lot of bible scholars that think Christianity was a coded mushroom cult to keep the romans from knowing what they were up to. That possibility of it being misinterpreted psychedelic experiences is pretty fascinating.

@Wurlitzer that's interesting. Do you know who those scholars might be?

4

Treat others the way which you want to be treated. To many times i see Christians quoting this passage but never live to that standard same thing with love thy neighbor which he defines as anyone in need regardless of nationality race gender, etc.

4

I'm with Buddha. Stop searching for reasons for life and and other big spiritual questions because basically does it matter we don't know? Do you really want to know?

It just is so enjoy it as you will.

4

I think you’re looking at it the right way. The only thing I might add is that maybe it’s not loss of ego itself but loss of identity with ego. We prolly need ego to continue basic functionality. Looks to me like the story of the crucifixion is the metaphor for that process of losing ego identity. The terror of the ordeal, the survival/resurrection on the other side, the ascension into heaven/expanded identity, etc.

skado Level 9 May 7, 2018
4

I really enjoyed the whole bit about hypocrisy - "let he with no sin cast the first stone."

elaw Level 4 Apr 26, 2018

My favorite alt theory on that one is, it was Jesus’ way of saying “me first!” ? but yeah let’s not let that spoil the sentiment, it is a good one.

4

There is a myth? rumor? urban legend? that the missing years in Jesus's life were missing because he went to the east and studying buddhism. I "think" I remember hearing that this could be seen in a transition of his ideology as a before and after in reading the bible, though I'm not sure.

Same. "Saint Issa", they called him.

3

No! never studied the bible, never had a god, and totally uninterested, which is why I come here.

3

In broad strokes I like that the 10 Commandments were implemented to undo the confusion caused by the hundreds of religious rules created by the priests but even this was too much for the knuckle dragging, bronze age primitives to understand so iron age Jesus is sent back with just 2 rules - love your brothers and sisters and also love god which we are all expressions of, so really just one rule - LOVE. Still fucking that one up in a big way.
The other general premise I like is that Lucifer is portrayed as the great evil and cause of suffering because he insisted that humankind have freewill, all the suffering of humanity is linked to this concept and god heaps pain and suffering on his creation because it has the audacity to want to be free. Makes a person wonder just where the evil truly lies, fortunately most believers let that one fly right over their little heads, bowed to the ground in fear and supplication.

3

My favorite verse, I think, is in IICorinthians. Question everything.

Any idea the chapter or a specific way it was phrased to google it? It’s not a long book, I’ll try re-reading it.

3

I look for common threads in a variety of scriptures (Buddhist, Hindu, etc.) and I think you may be onto something with this "ego death" thing.

I can't recall anything off hand, but I have encountered many Bible quotes unself-consciously referenced in interpretations of Eastern religions. Seen in this light, some of the parallels are simply astounding.

Also I think Alan Watts had something to say about Jesus' "I am God" realization that omits the "...and so are you; everyone is God " part--due to having been filtered through the spiritual paradigm of Jewish culture--that results in an utter fail.

Yeah I’ve followed a similar path; Alan Watts taught me a lot about the eastern cosmologies and the common threads that you can find with abrahamic religions. My reply below to fanburger mentions another fascinating detail I believe I learned first from Watts. The omission of the definite article “the” in the Hebrew implies the use of the indefinite article “a.” So he claimed to be “A son of god” or “a son of man” (referencing prophecy) but I don’t believe he claimed any power or divinity that others don’t have the potential for. What would be the point in asking others to follow in his path if he thought we couldn’t? I’m thinkin about a trip to India myself; I gotta learn that water into wine trick.

3

Take away the epistles from the new testament and a completely different morality emerges based on being kind to others

3

I think my favourite is the story of the good Samaritan: someone of a faith the wasn't accepted by most people, who did a good deed when others walked by and Jesus said he was a brother. Seems to be a story that's universal and still relevant today, forget the differences and help others when we can.

Yeah that’s a beautiful sentiment; if we can revert back to our heathen ways and make fun of it for a second though, this always cracks me up:


“Some of my best friends are Samaritans” ?

@Wurlitzer nice one 🙂

3

I agree! Very well said.

2

Yes, I did my time. My immediate family wasn't terribly religious and any early religious time I got was through going with my great grandmother. I spent the few years around my preteens as a missionette through the First Church of God. I spent a lot of years trying to forget but it seems past numbers (always sucked at remembering numbers) and the order of things (not the best with names and/or titles either) I can't seem to shake a lot of it. I decided since the majority seem to have some connection to it and try to live by it especially here down south, I might as well at least keep some regular understanding going, even if I just can't bring myself to believe any of it. At least I know what the heck people are talking about if they bring something from the books up.

I don't think I really have anything really useful that I got out of it though I do find the relationship between Jesus and Mary M. to be beautiful if one is to dig into it a bit farther.

AmyLF Level 7 May 19, 2018
2

I think it might not
be buddhistic, though I think Jesus is the best part of the bible. Jesus performs a sort of archetype that I think is powerful and beatiful and resonates with me. You accept suffering voluntarily and you bear your cross and you help
each other.

2

Even a blind nut finds a squirrel!!!
I. Like the beatitudes-as far as I remember, yet not well enough I’d. .. read it as poetry or run look it up. Seems I liked Ecclesiastes too.

Ecclesiastes is a cracking read, especially the gloom of Ch4.1-3 about better never being born. The whole chapter resolves with the idiocy that we see with the charismatics today. They could do worse than read their own book rather than cherry picking!

2

Besides the golden rule to treat others how u want to be treated. Otherwise revelations would be one crazy trip. Hope that never happens to me.

2

Both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures are built on the backs of earlier religions and their myths. When the Preacher saith that "there is nothing new under the sun," he was right.

But yeah, both books have pearls of wisdom: we should take care of widows and orphans; we should be slow to anger; we should learn to hold our tongues when appropriate; people who live by the sword do die by the sword; and to everything, there is a season.

All of the lessons, though, are contradicted by other "pearls" of idiocy and meanness:

"Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashes them against the rocks!"

“If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor's wife." If he rapes her in the country, they have to get married. (The rationale for the latter is that her reputation is ruined and she will never find another husband.)

"Slaves, you must obey your earthly masters. Show them great respect and be as loyal to them as you are to Christ."

"Wives, obey your husbands as you obey the Lord."

"Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you."

I won't go on.

2

I've read the whole damned thing from cover to cover and the New Testament twice about thirty five years ago. I also studied a bit of Koine Greek to better understand it.
A hard slog but at least I'm in a position to truly criticise it.
I think that Ecclesiastes is my favourite book.
I don't see any reason to believe that any of the main characters existed. Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus are as real to me as Batman and the Joker.

Athos Level 5 Apr 25, 2018

@Sealybobo most of the hardcore fundamentalists who love fire n brimstone talk are going off the KJV, the most inaccurate translation of the Bible. I think hell is mentioned 55 times or so, compared to 12-15 in the more academically correct translations. The preacher is likely skipping around and giving every description of death, Hell, the grave, and unrelated literal torments he can find to scare people into coming to the altar or whip up a frenzy. There’s an interesting argument to be made that hell isnt truly in the Bible at all though, when you look deeper into the translation and context. [brazenchurch.com]

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