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April 11th, 2011
11:21 AM ET

Leading atheist publishes secular Bible

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

The question arose early in British academic A.C. Grayling’s career: What if those ancient compilers who’d made Bibles, the collected religious texts that were translated, edited, arranged and published en masse, had focused instead on assembling the non-religious teachings of civilization’s greatest thinkers?

What if the book that billions have turned to for ethical guidance wasn’t tied to commandments from God or any one particular tradition but instead included the writings of Aristotle, the reflections of Confucius, the poetry of Baudelaire? What would that book look like, and what would it mean?

Decades after he started asking such questions, what Grayling calls “a lifetime’s work” has hit bookshelves. “The Good Book: A Humanist Bible,” subtitled “A Secular Bible” in the United Kingdom, was published this month. Grayling crafted it by using more than a thousand texts representing several hundred authors, collections and traditions.

The Bible would have been “a very different book and may have produced a very different history for mankind,” had it drawn on the work of philosophers and writers as opposed to prophets and apostles, says Grayling, a philosopher and professor at Birkbeck College, University of London, who is an atheist.

“Humanist ethics didn’t claim to be derived from a deity," he says. "(They) tended to start from a sympathetic understanding of human nature and accept that there’s a responsibility that each individual has to work out the values they live by and especially to recognize that the best of our good lives revolve around having good relationships with people.” 

Humanists rely on human reason as an alternative to religion or belief in God in attempting to find meaning and purpose in life.

Determined to make his material accessible, Grayling arranged his nearly 600-page "Good Book" much like the Bible, with double columns, chapters (the first is even called Genesis) and short verses. And much like the best-selling King James Bible, which is celebrating its 400th year, his book is written in a type of English that transcends time.

Like the Bible, "The Good Book," opens with a garden scene. But instead of Adam and Eve, Grayling's Genesis invokes Isaac Newton, the British scientist who pioneered the study of gravity.

"It was from the fall of fruit from such a tree that new inspiration came for inquiry into the nature of things," reads a verse from "The Good Book's" first chapter.

"When Newton sat in his garden, and saw what no one had seen before: that an apple draws the earth to itself, and the earth the apple," the verse continues, "Through a mutual force of nature that holds all things, from the planets to the stars, in unifying embrace."

The book's final chapter features a secular humanist version of the Ten Commandments: "Love well, seek the good in all things, harm no others, think for yourself, take responsibility, respect nature, do your utmost, be informed, be kind, be courageous: at least, sincerely try."

Grayling, reached Friday at a New York hotel just as he began his U.S. book tour, has been dubbed by some a “velvet atheist” or an “acceptable face of atheism,” he says, in contrast to more stridently anti-religious writers like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, both of whom he counts as friends.

In other contexts, Grayling - who will soon take over as president of the British Humanist Association - admits he’s written critically about religion. But not in "The Good Book."

“It’s not part of a quarrel,” he says of his latest work. “It’s a modest offering… another contribution to the conversation that mankind must have with itself,” and one he says he wrote for everyone, Bible lovers included.

Given where society is today, inviting that conversation is all the more important, he says.

More than 16% of Americans say they are unaffiliated religiously, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Even so, Grayling says the hunger for a spiritual connection continues. That yearning, he argues , can be satisfied for many by taking a walk in the country, curling up with a beautiful book of poetry or even in falling in love.

“In all different ways, we can celebrate the good in the world,” he says.

While many intellectual traditions – religious and otherwise – teach that there’s “one right way to live,” Grayling says he hopes “The Good Book” will encourage people to “go beyond your teachers, your text” to understand that “we have to respect and relate to one another.”

Early sales indicate that people are open to what this new "Bible" teaches. On Monday, Grayling’s book was number 41 on Amazon’s UK bestseller list and number 1 in the philosophy and spirituality categories.

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Atheism • Bible • Books • Culture & Science • Ethics

soundoff (3,021 Responses)
  1. Lynn

    I read a lot of comments that people write about articles and about this and that and the one thing that I always find so intriguing is the fact that people believe that Christians are contagious. I am very proud of the fact that I live a Christian life but I never try to force my beliefs on anyone. If someone chooses not accept Jesus Christ as their lord and their savior that's their loss. At the same time don't try to push your non-belief on me it goes both ways and usually the people screaming the loudest are the ones that don't believe. God is a gentleman he doesn't force himself on anyone that's a lesson we could all learn.

    April 15, 2011 at 9:42 am |
  2. Noley

    Religion, while it has benefits in terms of offering comfort and support for those who need it, is one of the most evil and divisive forces on earth. It has always, and will continue driving people further and further apart. In general, humanity would be far better off without it. It doesn't really matter which religion one chooses, most (especially Christianity and Islam) consider every one else to be wrong. Their writings preach tolerance, but the reality is distrust and even outright hatred of other beliefs. All this from a supposedly all powerful and loving god. Give me a break.

    April 15, 2011 at 9:03 am |
  3. Logan

    Christianity — The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree...

    Christianity is IMMORAL

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYaQpRZJl18&w=640&h=360]

    April 14, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
  4. George Bush Senior

    All religions are a fine way of controlling peoples thinking remotely. You dont have to supervise them as they will supervise themselves out of fear of an afterlife punishment. Ancient mind controll 101. All religions will become museum pieces one day like dinsaurs. My boys will rule the world!!! Heil Adolf Bush

    April 14, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  5. RTN

    The concept of a humanist bible is very contradictory. The bible was compiled and published as such before the 5th Century CE (AD). Humanism wasn't born until the Renaissance period, a whole 1000 years later. Humanism came about because the Renaissance thinkers started started looking at the world in a way that was different than the previous feudal system and began to realize that people are essentially the same. This led them to the belief that a man can control his destiny and that he has more to worry about in this life than in the next. This is the catalyst that produced Humanism. In essence, Humanism could not have existed without early Christianity. Had Humanism predated Christianity or existed concurrently, it would have eventually evolved into a religion in the same way that Islam and Christianity did. This would have produced the paradox of Atheists having their own set of beliefs, rituals, and holy writ, and would mean that these Atheists could no longer label themselves as such.

    April 14, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  6. mike

    54Brav

    Our God offers free will because he wants’ you to make the choice to believe or not. If he made it for you then it would be worthless and there would be no need for faith. (” Belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof”) I am not a religious expert but to me God is not about a religion,God is about loving and following his word bay choice not force. Choosing God over a “false God” or religion is not like picking what beverage you want off of a menu. And although some my say otherwise it is not about rewards. It is a choice that is between you and God alone. If you are a true none believer then what difference would it makes to you what other people believe. As for me, I can tell you I know that I know God exist and I am not willing to bet my eternal life on a random selection or what man says is popular today. You can’t see air put anyone will tell you that they know for a “fact” that Air exists. I know they have scientific proof that it does. Well if you want scientific proof God exists Look around at all the societies were they think he does not. That is proof enough for me. All those who worship false Gods or those who claim God but live in the world will have to what to see how it all ends. Good luck

    April 14, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  7. FatherGoose

    To those on both sides of this discussion: What happens to us after we die?

    April 14, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  8. hamMurabi

    i have just this to ask each one of you:
    do you want to live your life thinking that there is heaven and finding out later that there is none, OR
    do you want to live your life thinking that there is no heaven and finding out later that there is...

    April 14, 2011 at 10:28 am |
  9. Paul

    Twill be another colossal flop from the silly atheists who try to imagine away the logical reality of God.

    April 13, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
  10. Jesus Saves

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgFU5Ak88-k&w=640&h=360]

    April 13, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
    • Tom

      So let me see if I understand this, humans should just do good deeds and follow the laws of man simply to spread happiness because they know its the right thing to do? Well I have news for you philosophers and professors, NOT EVERYONE IS LIKE YOU! You think because you have multiple degrees that you understand the way the world works but you don't. You all live in little shells preaching down to people that think differently than you do and YOU call yourselves open minded. It is all a joke.

      Oh and I have some news for you philosophers that want nothing more than no governments or religions in the world- if your dream ever came true and it was just every man, woman and child for themselves walking the earth to do good for humans (or whatever you believe will happen) – you scholars will be the first the be killed and all of your property will be stolen. Your secular, government-less utopia is nothing but an unrealistic dream that proves nothing but your own ignorance. But that's ok, go out and get yourself another degree and tell more people what to do!

      April 14, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Tim

      To Tom:

      So let me see if I understand this, humans should just do good deeds and follow the LAWS WRITTEN BY MEN WHO HEARD VOICES IN THEIR HEAD (BIBLE) simply to spread happiness because they were told by their LEADERS OF CURRENT SOCIETY its the right thing to do? Well I have news for you RELIGIOUS NUTJOBS, NOT EVERYONE IS LIKE YOU! You think because you have READ THE BIBLE THAT YOU HAVE A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH "GOD" AND JESUS, and understand the way the world works but you don't. You all live in little shells preaching down to people that think differently than you do and YOU call yourselves ENLIGHTENED. It is all a joke.

      Oh and I have some news for you RELIGIOUS NUTJOBS that want nothing more than EVERYONE TO WORSHIP AN INVISIBLE MAN IN THE SKY WHO'S KEEPING SCORE- if your dream ever came true – HUMAN SOCIETY WOULD SET ITSELF BACKWARDS IN ITS OWN PROGRESS . Your FAIRY TALE utopia is nothing but an unrealistic dream that proves nothing but your own ignorance. But that's ok, go out and get yourself another BIBLE and tell more people what to do!

      April 14, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  11. Muneef

    The holy books are all one thing while such secular book could serve as morals and rules of conduct for Globalization of Nation...

    Any way the Story as told by the Quran about the Holy Scriptures;
    The message of God to Abraham that Abraham named as 'Submission' being the Religion God wanted for us to hold to as per guidance of the scriptures inspired and revealed amongst their best of men (Prophets&Messengers of God)...kindly read the verses that explains it all and as a guidance as how it should the brotherhood between the people of the book as all be considered believers to what these verses come with;
    Honoring Previous Scripture
    [5:44] We have sent down the Torah, containing guidance and light. Ruling in accordance with it were the Jewish prophets, as well as the rabbis and the priests, as dictated to them in GOD's scripture, and as witnessed by them. Therefore, do not reverence human beings; you shall reverence Me instead. And do not trade away My revelations for a cheap price. Those who do not rule in accordance with GOD's revelations are the disbelievers.

    The Law of Equivalence
    [5:45] And we decreed for them in it that: the life for the life, the eye for the eye, the nose for the nose, the ear for the ear, the tooth for the tooth, and an equivalent injury for any injury. If one forfeits what is due to him as a charity, it will atone for his sins. Those who do not rule in accordance with GOD's revelations are the unjust.

    ____________________________________________________________
    *5:44 The Torah is a collection of all the scriptures revealed through all the prophets of Israel prior to Jesus Christ, i.e., today's Old Testament. Nowhere in the Quran do we find that the Torah was given to Moses.

    The Gospel of Jesus: Guidance and Light
    [5:46] Subsequent to them, we sent Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the previous scripture, the Torah. We gave him the Gospel, containing guidance and light, and confirming the previous scriptures, the Torah, and augmenting its guidance and light, and to enlighten the righteous.

    [5:47] The people of the Gospel shall rule in accordance with GOD's revelations therein. Those who do not rule in accordance with GOD's revelations are the wicked.

    Quran: The Ultimate Reference
    [5:48] Then we revealed to you this scripture, truthfully, confirming previous scriptures, and superseding them. You shall rule among them in accordance with GOD's revelations, and do not follow their wishes if they differ from the truth that came to you. For each of you, we have decreed laws and different rites. Had GOD willed, He could have made you one congregation. But He thus puts you to the test through the revelations He has given each of you. You shall compete in righteousness. To GOD is your final destiny – all of you – then He will inform you of everything you had disputed.

    [5:49] You shall rule among them in accordance with GOD's revelations to you. Do not follow their wishes, and beware lest they divert you from some of GOD's revelations to you. If they turn away, then know that GOD wills to punish them for some of their sins. Indeed, many people are wicked.

    [5:50] Is it the law of the days of ignorance that they seek to uphold? Whose law is better than GOD's for those who have attained certainty?

    April 13, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • Muneef

      This meaning if the people of the book of the faith of Abraham who believed as a monotheist in God only not assigning sons or partners to him and would consider the Quran as scripture confirming previous scriptures that came before it..
      Believing in that even if each remained as with different prophets,laws&rites remaining within the truth of the revelations....
      All that has to be needed is to cross out any belief of a begotten son or trinity that has over turned the Table over the Abrahamic Faith to become scattered as it is between them and among them into many branches...   

      Seems this is the only way to untangle the mess that we reached in to... This is my Religious Advice to overcome all complications....! I think this is a better way than giving up the whole Holy Religion and Belief in Exchange for a Secular Bible that meant to take them all over with time,while the rest fight in dispute among them selves??

      April 13, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • Muneef

      Distorting the Word of God
      [2:75] Do you expect them to believe as you do, when some of them used to hear the word of GOD, then distort it, with full understanding thereof, and deliberately?

      Concealing the Word of God
      [2:76] And when they meet the believers, they say, "We believe," but when they get together with each other, they say, "Do not inform (the believers)of the information given to you by GOD, lest you provide them with support for their argument concerning your Lord. Do you not understand?"

      [2:77] Do they not know that GOD knows everything they conceal, and everything they declare?

      [2:78] Among them are gentiles who do not know the scripture, except through hearsay, then assume that they know it.

      [2:79] Therefore, woe to those who distort the scripture with their own hands, then say, "This is what GOD has revealed," seeking a cheap material gain. Woe to them for such distortion, and woe to them for their illicit gains.
      __________________________________________________
      The Quran: God's Message to the Jews and Christians
      [5:15] O people of the scripture, our messenger has come to you to proclaim for you many things you have concealed in the scripture, and to pardon many other transgressions you have committed. A beacon has come to you from GOD, and a profound scripture.

      [5:16] With it, GOD guides those who seek His approval. He guides them to the paths of peace, leads them out of darkness into the light by His leave, and guides them in a straight path.
      __________________________________________________
      You Shall Not Make Any Distinction Among God's Messengers
      [4:150] Those who disbelieve in GOD and His messengers, and seek to make distinction among GOD and His messengers, and say, "We believe in some and reject some," and wish to follow a path in between;

      [4:151] these are the real disbelievers. We have prepared for the disbelievers a shameful retribution.

      [4:152] As for those who believe in GOD and His messengers, and make no distinction among them, He will grant them their recompense. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
      __________________________________________________
           

      April 14, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  12. Josh Kutchinsky

    In the most unlikely event that there is a God and it is good. I can well imagine, it would want the world to be a better place and so might inspire A.C. Grayling to make this book. I haven't read it yet but I will and, if it is as rich as it sounds, I will be the better for it.

    April 13, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  13. Kourtney

    And for those who say prayer is meaningless..
    1: Tell that to the ones who actually know what it is
    2: Praying for your leg back obviously won't happen but IF that person believed, they'd use it as bringing glory to God in knowing that the "american beauty" isn't realistic. They want people to be thinner, and get plastic surgery to become their idea of normal. People would not necessarily pray to have their leg back because they accept the will of God and know he always does what's best.
    People say "Explain Hitler and rapists and child killers then"
    Those were because of sin. Jesus was kind to the children and I personally believe babies go to heaven, I am not universalistic but I do believe even when David sinned with Bathsheba and said he would see it again.. why would a baby who was conceived in sin die and be in heaven? Unless all babies are under the grace of God is over them.
    I do see different points like God also could see how that baby would have grown to be and there are elect but that is not what I personally believe.
    We are all under judgement and you ask why things like that happen. Well I say why not? We deserve way worse than that, we all deserve hell but some were rescued out by faith in Christ alone. Some may not see my point because I know it was a hideous act period. My point is, we can't ever understand things like that. We are too finite.
    3: Praying isn't selfish. Praying isn't for us to get what we want. Praying isn't for those who don't believe. Prayer is not always answered the way we asked because God isn't a genie in a bottle.. He will either answer yes or no and what He answers is perfect and the best thing for us because He sees our past and future, so He knows the outcome of everything.

    April 13, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  14. Kourtney

    There are many who claim to Christianity, and many who claim to atheism, the point is.. I would never go by what people say. Actions speak louder than words and God knows the hearts of all, Christ rules over even the unbelievers. The Pope had a fear of death and I know many who say that is why they don't believe. There are few true believers, but many who say they are. Religion isn't believing, someone can be religious and still not be a chosen child of God. The Pharisees for example claimed to know God and everyone looked to them as religious leaders and yet Jesus said He never knew them.
    Doubt is something that shouldn't come from a genuine follower. The fact that we know God exists and created us for His purpose gives us no fear of death because we are only here for so long.
    Darwin's wife was said to be a believer and yet most of Darwin's studies were experiments. He had a sink in his laboratory from being ill, most say it was because he knew how twisted it was, some say it was mere sickness, the point is, even Darwin contradicted himself and people still chose to follow out of arrogance.
    The Bible is one of the rare forms of History that has been proven true. Many are working to solve the questions, "Is Jesus real?, Is the Bible true?". The sad part is, it's not whether or not it's true because we know it is, it's simply faith.

    Jesus never promised lives to be easier or wealth to come once you put your trust in Him, He promised He would never leave us, hardships, and trials. You don't have to beg because God isn't looking for actions or works. Our relationship with Christ is formed and with that the Spirit comes and our lives are supposed to look completely different than they did before.
    Once we get to heaven we will be judged by what we did here on earth but nonetheless, forgiven. Unbelievers are judged on not believing, and will spend all eternity in Hell. We are heartbroken for those who do not know but know that God is sovereign and completely just.
    God is not all love nor all just, He is perfect.
    Take a judge for instance.. if there was a murderer who walked into the courtroom and was proven guilty and the judge said "You are free to go" that shows all love, wrong love. If the judge had someone come in who was accused of murder but found innocent and said "Life sentence" that shows all justice, wrong judgement. If God didn't send some to Hell, He would a: not be God because of imperfection and b: the Bible would be false.

    I am far from the wisest person, but I do know and agree that so called "Christians" can be hypocritical. Your mistake is looking at them instead of Christ, sure you may not believe but we know Christ is the perfect example. We are all sinners and even our thoughts, depending on what they are, are sin. The point where we humble ourselves and admit we have no reason to be saved and we did nothing to deserve it along with believing Christ is who He is and Believing that He died for the elect and rose again is when Christ works in our lives but its not praying a prayer that gets us to have eternal life.
    It's when we live our lives according to the will of God and He takes the empty sinful heart and desires and replaces it with a joy and satisfaction for Him.
    You may think the way you live is great, but ALL have searched or are still searching for something to satisfy them. You get the newest technology, live in the largest house, have the most amount of cars, have expensive everything but you will always be looking for something new and the new things will only satisfy you for so long until you fall short of true reasons for why we're here. A life worth living is one for Christ. It was nothing we could ever give or offer that made Him say "wow that's a good person I'll save them", it was not Him begging us to come and be with Him, and it was not us saying we believe and never showing "spiritual fruit", it was when a complete 180% Turn happened. We aren't supposed to just pray and be done with it. It's a desire to constantly be in the Word and praying that comes with believing.

    April 13, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • Bo

      Amen! Thank you for writing the truth. I appreciate it and will be praying that this can help some that read it to want to know more about God, and find a personal relationship with Him through His Word. Thanks again.

      April 14, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Jesse

      Amen. Most people that claim to know what being a believer in CHRIST JESUS is all about, have never really read and studied the Bible. The Bible is about LOVE. Sure there are parts that have violence but most of the violence is brought on by humans. GOD gave us free will. What we choose to do with it is up to us. GOD bless and much love to you all....believers and nonbelievers,

      April 14, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Spencer

      As-sumption (1): God exists.
      As-sumption (1a): God is all-knowing.
      As-sumption (1b): God is all-powerful.
      As-sumption (1c): God is perfectly loving.
      As-sumption (1d): Any being that did not possess all three of the above properties would not be God.
      Premise (2): Evil exists.
      Premise (3): An all-knowing being would be aware of the existence of evil.
      Premise (4): An all-powerful being would be able to eliminate evil.
      Premise (5): A perfectly loving being would desire to eliminate evil.
      Conclusion (6): Evil does not exist. (from (1),(3),(4),(5))
      Contradiction: But evil does exist. (from (2))
      Conclusion (7): There is no being that is all-knowing, all-powerful, and perfectly loving. (from (2),(3),(4),(5))
      Conclusion (8): God does not exist. (from (7),(1d))

      April 14, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Lycidas

      There are a few flaws in your elementary argument:

      (1) You are assuming that good and evil exists. You offer no scientific method to prove the existence of good or evil. Not did you even try to define it. Sloppy.

      (2) In the OT, God created good and evil. They are subject to him and not the other way around.

      Another flaw is in your inability to understand infinite love, wisdom, mercy and so many other attributes of God. You want to try and take your finite position and apply it to the infinite. Rather a foolish premiss don't you think?

      April 14, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @spencer- but don't feel bad...just go and recheck your copypasting over at: wps.ablongman.com/long_longman_pc_1/41/...cw/index.html
      encyclopedia.kids.net.au/page/th/The_problem_of_evil
      http://www.debate.org/debates/Evil-proves-God-does-not-exist/2

      April 14, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Snit

      Spencer,

      Lets first define evil. Is it murder? stealing? adultery? lying? I would say yes its all of those things. But what about our evil thoughts? W all have evil thoughts, even if its just a thought about lying, even if we don't actually do it. God can wipe out evil if we wanted to but where do you draw the line? Does he just wipe out the murderers? The liars? If God was to wipe out evil, He can't just pick and choose. He'd have to wipe out all evil. That means you and I'd be elimanated too. Thats where the love of God comes in. He won't wipe us out, but rather is waiting for all of us to come to know Him, and his son, Jesus Christ. And to have a relationship with Him. Check out 2nd Peter 3:9

      April 14, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Ted

      I totally agree with you Kourtney and as part of the Kingdom of God I know I am saved and that gift of grace is irrevocable. I know this because it's God's promise for those who love him and believe in Him. I am sure that in the afterlife I will meet you as my sister in Christ.

      I studied Psychology in college and read the works of famous existentialist writers but most of them deal with
      flimsy theories. I have read self-help books and they too don't provide anything substantial.We are in a society where families are more dysfunctional, where people are more hateful and self centered, where society look upon your achievements and idolizes false heroes.It's only reading the Bible, which for me is the inafallible word of God, that really makes sense.

      The more people attack and lose their belief in the Bible, then the truth comes out more because this is what Jesus
      exactly said and warned believers about; that more and more will fall out of faith. But the word of God is written in the hearts of believers, so no matter what or who oppose it, it will not be destroyed.

      Also, people will always search for something to satisfy their empty lives, mostly in material things or maybe knowledge, but one of the richest and wisest king whoever lived summed it up in when he said that "everything is useless without God". Yet Jesus said the least in God's Kingdom is greater than John the Baptist, because God revealed Himself and his love for us in the Bible and John the Baptist didn't get to see this.

      Lastly, the Bible will be the book where everyone will be judged upon, so those who doens't know the law is not excuse from the law. (John 12:47-50)

      47 “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

      April 15, 2011 at 4:54 am |
  15. Dave

    several things ...

    first, Mr. Grayling is correct that:

    "The Bible would have been “a very different book and may have produced a very different history for mankind,” had it drawn on the work of philosophers and writers as opposed to prophets and apostles ..."

    ... unfortunately he forgets that the Bible was not written by man, rather God used divinely inspired persons to record a cogent and coherent truth ... is he perhaps suggesting he was inspired by God???

    second, Mr. Grayling should consider that the phrase:

    " ... each individual has to work out the values they live by ..."

    would commonly be called anarchy ...

    April 13, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  16. brad

    The church has been accused of dishonestly sifting through the super abundance of early writing to present the Jesus the wishful-thinking church wanted. Non-believers grasp at this idea to support their disbelief.
    The same non-believers will accept Grayling's compilation unquestioningly. How will non-believers know whether or not Grayling has been biased and selective in his work? Critics of the Bible should apply the same critical methods to "The Good Book" as they do to the Bible.

    April 13, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Dennis

      Yet another demonstration of the incredible ignorance of believers.

      Where does one begin?

      April 14, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Jason

      Dennis, by all means prove someone wrong instead of making remarks abut ignorant someone is. I dont think you can. You're a troll and incapable of any debating.

      April 14, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Ezra

      Brandt. The reason that atheists argue so well about the Bible is because they actually read it. I suggest that you read Grayling's book. It's not about not questioning, its about reading and then forming your own opinion. It is intellectually dishonest to have an opinion about anything without researching the subject. Why do you think people laugh at politicians who want the ten commandments to be placed in the schools, but when asked to name the commandments can only come up with a couple of them.

      April 14, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  17. Brandt

    Hey guys. Interesting book. I just hope that I am not, in the spirit of 1984, one day forced to replace my bible with this. That would be really Orwellian and creepy and to me, a world run by atheists / liberals is already Orwellian and creepy enough. The sad thing is probably only about 50% of peeps in here know what I mean by the term "Orwellian". Relationship with Christ + education about the world you live in = awake. Read your Bible. Stay informed. Read the news to stay informed, followed by whatever else makes a positive impact on your mind.

    April 13, 2011 at 6:30 am |
    • cdgfla

      I would hope that any thinking christian (yes, there seem to be a few left that haven't joined the Tea Party), would be willing to read both the traditional Bible and this book. Intellectual curiosity is a rarity amongst the Pew bound, but hopefully there are a few left that are enlightened enough and willing to consider alternative explanations instead of drinking the 2000 year old Kool aid in its entirety.

      April 13, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • Jonathan

      @cdgfla

      You do realize that you are guilty of the same thing that you accuse religious followers of, right? Your response has the same intolerance and immovable belief that you accuse religious individuals of. Atheism is a religion of its own, guilty of the same biases and prejudices that any other is guilty of. This isn't a religious phenomena, it's a human one, evident in any situation where you have opposing groups. Whether it be religion, politics, sports, or which smartphone you prefer, the situation is the same – we support those who share the same common element, and deride those that don't.

      April 13, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Dennis

      Hey Brandt!

      You are an ignorant fool! It would be fun to debate you and demonstrate this, but you wouldn't have the nerve.

      April 14, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • Nonimus

      @Brandt,
      Your post was plusgood, but I would have to say that Grayling is not attempting to replace the Christian Bible but offer a(n) Humanist alternative. As for the Orwellian aspects of today's society, it seems to me that the religious / conservatives are more concerned about controlling individuals lives than other groups, for example, anti-choice laws, banning gay marriage, religious beliefs in science class, etc.
      In fact the attacks on the Theory of Evolution and science in general, while enjoying the benefits thereof, are the most doubleplusungood doublethink I've heard of.

      Big Brother is watching (or at least Google anyway)

      April 14, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Brandt

      Brandt. 1984 was a book about orthodoxy, which Orwell's name is now synonymous with (btw-he wrote Animal Farm, Down and Out in Paris among other great books). Ultimately, Grayling's purpose is to enlighten, not to replace. He is complementing the way the Bible is structured, and has copied the format by arranging the redacted texts from great secular thinkers into more of a reference book. Unlike the NIV, there are no footnotes. Unlike the Bible, it is not a book that advocates violence against others, against gays, against women, against children. It has no messiah, no supernatural occurrences, no miracles, no persecutions. Just commentary and philosophy of Humanity from great Freethinkers, including his own words buried anonymously within the book.

      April 14, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Ezra

      I'm sorry Brandt. I meant to put my name for my response. Here it is again.

      Brandt. 1984 was a book about orthodoxy, which Orwell's name is now synonymous with (btw-he wrote Animal Farm, Down and Out in Paris among other great books). Ultimately, Grayling's purpose is to enlighten, not to replace. He is complementing the way the Bible is structured, and has copied the format by arranging the redacted texts from great secular thinkers into more of a reference book. Unlike the NIV, there are no footnotes. Unlike the Bible, it is not a book that advocates violence against others, against gays, against women, against children. It has no messiah, no supernatural occurrences, no miracles, no persecutions. Just commentary and philosophy of Humanity from great Freethinkers, including his own words buried anonymously within the book.

      April 14, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • jrship

      No one is forcing you to read anything. On the other hand, even in public schools students are forced to repeat a pledge of allegiance written by a statist with the intent of increasing nationalist sentiment and amended by theocrats to include a religious invocation. Orwell would surely have noted the blend reflects well the rightwing's Christian Nationalism. Maybe as an antidote we should introduce Thomas Paine's "The Age of Reason" into the curriculum.

      April 14, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Peter Marreck

      @Brandt: Stop talking from your fears. Nobody is "out to get" anyone else. Nobody is "replacing" anything you hold dear. You should not fear the ideas of others. You should engage them instead... otherwise you actually have zero confidence in your own beliefs and ideas.

      Here's my idea. I have issues with atheists, but if this creative product has 1/10 the contradictions that the Bible has, it has made its mark successfully. Search for "Quiz Show (Bible Contradictions)" on YouTube. I dare you to watch the truth and swallow it, and then come back and contend that the Bible is an infallible work of God, instead of a book cobbled together from disparate writings by well-meaning humans. I mean, heck, even the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament differ enormously and obviously. Which one is the real God? Under whose authority is it to say? Who gave those people that authority? Why are some passages in the Bible emphasized ("onanism," gay-hatred) but others completely glossed-over (women having to stay outdoors during their periods)? THINK! That is all these atheists want you to do. Use that God-given brain of yours. And this is nothing to fear... You might even discover you have a unique opinion!

      April 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  18. Roger

    Hitler was not a true atheist. Atheism is the absence of a perceived authority in the structure of moral code. Hitler did indeed give his allegiance to a perceived authority, and that perceived authority was the idealization of the white "gentile" race. That is, he was unable to define his ideals without putting them into the context of race. Such a belief structure contradicts atheism in the sense that atheism places no such constraints on moral reasoning. In other words, white "gentiles" were Hitler's "God."

    Furthermore, it wasn't Hitler himself who murdered six million jews. He enlisted the help of the entire German population for the most part. Surely they didn't all harbor anti-Christian sentiment as Hitler purportedly did.

    April 13, 2011 at 3:32 am |
    • Hitler was a Christian

      He created "New" Chritianity. He proclaimed on numerous occasions in public and in private that he was Christian. He repeatedly stated in in Mein Kempf. The ONLY time there was ever anything that contradicted that he was Christian was a book called Table Talk. Hitler was interviewed by a well known anti-religion writer. There was only one transcript of this conversation ever made. Only three people heard the interview, Hitler, the writer, and the transcriber. After the book was printed and the SS asked for a copy of the transcription, the writer burned the only copy.

      This does not eliminate the possibility that HItler was lying and he actually wasn't a Christian, but since this is the only source and there was some mystery around it, it should be looked at with skeptcism. His actions and words repeatedly showed he believed himself to be a Christian and since there is no way at all to indicate is someone is a Christian or not, that isn't based on subjectiveness, he was Christian.

      Oh and in case that doesn't prove that he most certainly wasn't an atheist. His exact words, "We have stamped out the plague of atheism..."

      Dealing with the article, calling ANYONE a "leading" atheist is completely false. You either are an atheist or not. You can't be more atheirer than anyone else.

      April 14, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  19. Roger

    Whether or not one believes Hitler to be a Christian or at least someone who believed in god, it's hard to overlook the fact that the holocaust was just another form of religious persecution in the sense that people were targeted on the basis of their religious beliefs. Had the majority of the population not identified with a specific religion other than the Jewish religion, the holocaust would have been much more difficult for the nazi regime to carry out.

    In fact, the nazi atrocities of WII were not fundamentally different from what so-called "god-fearing" europeans carried out against native Americans. Were native Americans not seen as godless heathens? They were rounded up just as the Jews were rounded up, and on many occasions they were slaughtered en masse as were the Jews. The nazis only did it more efficiently because of technological advancements. That is, while europeans used disease-infested blankets in the 19th century, the more modernized nazis used gas chambers, with both methods being derived from similar intentions.

    What makes people dangerous is the belief that their morals can only be defined by an external source. It is that rationale which leads to the intolerance that is the basis of all forms of persecution. That is, while one religion instructs its believers to "Not Kill," those believers eventually come to the conclusion that the preservation of and respect for life can only exist within the context of their chosen religion. A clear example of this erroneous line of thinking is General Westmoreland's quote regarding the Vietnamese: "We value life and human dignity. They don't care about life and human dignity."

    Clearly such a statement is indicative of an ability to process one's own emotions outside the context of an external source such as a specific religious text. But, this tendency to attach a sense of empricism to something as subjective as religious philosophy is not unique to dictators and Generals. It is a trait that we all possess.

    Consider the Milgram experiment, wherein randomly selected subjects were unknowingly placed into a situation which measured their ability to implement moral reasoning in defiance of a perceived authority. The majority of those participants failed, and yet this occurred in a society that is predominantly religious. It supported Milgram's notion all along that the holocaust is an unfortunate result of human tendencies that transcends all religions and cultures. Therefore, the argument that Hitler murdered millions of Jews because he was an atheist and lacked a faith in God is null and void as far as I'm concerned.

    April 13, 2011 at 1:39 am |
    • Searcher

      You conclude correctly that the evils humanity exhibit are inherent to their nature. It isn't athiesm that causes brutality. We do find it among people of all persuasions. That evidence couldn't be any more clear. We have extremely strong evidence of another thing concerning that brutality, it finds its most open expression in societies that rely most strongly on a central human authority. It's why socialist nations wound up murdering more than 170 million of their own citizens in just the last century. It's why theocracies are warlike and repressive. The only way to reduce that tendency found to date is a society with diffuse power , meaning maximum individual rights. One more thing though. There is an almost completely direct correlation between the number of Christians in a country and how desirable the nation is as a place to live.

      April 13, 2011 at 7:59 am |
    • Dana

      Roger, Interesting comments....well said.

      April 15, 2011 at 8:16 am |
  20. sammy

    There have been many prominent atheists that had great skepticism, C.S. Lewis, Marvin Olasky,Bernard Nathanson,George R. Price, Francis Collins, and Simon Greenleaf are just a few. Many who place the same arguments and even more vocal in their unbelief came to a belief in their search that is was undeniable. This search and journey is as individual as the next. I can't tell you skeptics if any of you will believe that Jesus will be your Lord and Savior but this world is full deception, hate, murder, lust, and deceit just as the Bible contends. Man has not had any control of any of that even with best intensions.

    April 13, 2011 at 1:18 am |
    • Lisa

      C.S. Lewis was not an atheist. Read "Mere Christianity" "The Screwtape Letters" or any of the Chronicles of Narnia and you will see. Also, look up his biography...he was definitely a Christian and wrote a lot of fundamental Christian books!

      April 14, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • John

      CS Lewis an atheist? The man who wrote 'The Screwtape Letters" and "Mere Christianity"? Really? I recommend you read the works of people before you claim to know their beliefs....but then again, humanists rarely care to justify their positions with trivialities like accountability.

      April 14, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Jenn

      Well said!

      April 14, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Jenn

      And Lisa and John, I think you guys need to do some fact-checking. C.S. Lewis was a strong atheist before he became a Christian. Sammy's point is that his search for truth led him to a firm belief in God and Christ (even though he was looking for truth against faith). Clearly the facts were so strong in God's favor that he became the well-known apologist that he was. Imagine what it took to turn such an atheist into such a believer!

      April 14, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Chris

      CS Lewis WAS-keyword here is WAS-an atheist in his early life. Upon close examination of the scriptures and other historical and secular texts he became a Christian.

      Sammy is exactly right.

      April 14, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • RODNEY

      C S LEWIS WAS NOT AN ATHEIST YOU DUMB FOOL....

      April 14, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
    • Mike

      How ironic that the people giving him crap For "not being informed with what he wites about" themselves didn't read what he said! It is true that CS Lewis WAS atheist. He became Christian. Especialy dumb was the guy who said "you humanists blah blah blah." Clearly the poster here is a Christian and was sayying that Lewis converted. I can't believe the amount of people who misinterpreted this straight forward post. Usually one idiot comes out of the woodworks but you guys came out in droves. YOU ALL Need to learn comprehension.

      April 15, 2011 at 3:34 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.