News or Popular Topic Commentary


Atheist Against the Bible or Against God?

Posted by Tim Spiess on 01/07/2015

Article in the Huffington Post
Author, Steve Siebold, professing atheist
Title: “Don’t Just Question the 10 Commandments, Question the Entire Bible”

Steve’s article re-published here:

“Most people are familiar with the story of the 10 Commandments. The short version is that God called Moses to Mount Sinai where he gave him two tablets of stone that contained the 10 Commandments. These 10 Commandments, according to the story, summarized the absolutes of spiritual and moral living that God intended for his people. The Jewish Torah and Christian Bible both contain the story of the 10 Commandments, and it can be found in Exodus 20:1-17.

According to a number of studies though, religion is in trouble. A survey by the PEW Research Center in 2012 saw record numbers indicating a huge upswing in Atheism, with 20 percent of Americans now identifying as Agnostic, Atheist or "Unaffiliated" with a religion. This was the highest percentages ever of "nones" or those who are unaffiliated in Pew Research Center polling.

So with more people considering themselves atheist, what do they believe when it comes to the rules to live by? As part of the new book Atheist Mind, Humanist Heart: Rewriting the Ten Commandments for the Twenty-first Century, authors Lex Bayer and John Figdor held a contest in which atheists were asked to offer modern alternatives to the Ten Commandments. Here are the winners of the "Ten Non-Commandments:"

1. Be open-minded and be willing to alter your beliefs with new evidence.
2. Strive to understand what is most likely to be true, not to believe what you wish to be true.
3. The scientific method is the most reliable way of understanding the natural world.
4. Every person has the right to control of their body.
5. God is not necessary to be a good person or to live a full and meaningful life.
6. Be mindful of the consequences of all your actions and recognize that you must take responsibility for them.
7. Treat others as you would want them to treat you, and can reasonably expect them to want to be treated. Think about their perspective.
8. We have the responsibility to consider others, including future generations.
9. There is no one right way to live.
10. Leave the world a better place than you found it.

And there's your moral code. No need to carve it in stone or hand it down from a mountain. Did we ever really need a supernatural being or a book to tell us these things? I think we'll be just fine on our own. All we need to do is start thinking for ourselves.

In fact, why stop at the 10 Commandments? Isn't it time we questioned the entire Bible? The Bible is a book of symbolic literature. It's a fusion of stories, ideas, chronologies, and traditions woven together over at least 1,000 years. The authors, editors and the massive organization of people that followed set out to control the world through their view of morality under the threat of eternal damnation for noncompliance, and it worked. This wouldn't be surprising 2,000 or even 200 years ago, but in 2014 it's almost unbelievable.

Critical thinking says people don't believe in the Bible because it's believable; they believe it because they want to believe it. They need to believe it. The prospect of eternal death is too much for most people to bear. So instead of searching for truth, they cling to this book like a drowning man to a life preserver. The most intelligent and emotionally mature people in society know this, yet most allow the delusion to continue in order to avoid panic, depression, and hysteria among the masses. Ignorance is not only bliss, in this case it's the glue that holds civilization together. Brilliant thinkers like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and many other prominent Americans in our history recognized that the Bible wasn't the word of God, yet they purposely tried to appease people by attempting to find the good in a bad book.

American's won't put their Bibles in the fictional file in our lifetime, but it will happen eventually if the country survives long enough. All superstitions are eventually disproved by science and tucked away as remnants of past ignorance. The Bible will become an ancient relic of the past someday. Until then, we need to have the courage to question and probe every aspect of this book and the multibillion dollar mob that wields it as a weapon. It's time we start putting polite conversation behind and begin debating the Bible in mixed company.

It's time for Americans to begin engaging in serious discourse regarding the future of this country -- before it's too late.” End Quote

Tim Spiess’ Commentary:

When I first read the title, I was encouraged thinking that some good facts might come to light about some of the problems with the false belief offered by Paul that the bible’s contents are all inspired by God and thus all accurately represent God and His views on things. Unfortunately, my optimism was misplaced. I should have known better since the article was published by an organization called the Huffington Post. The Huffington Post claims to be another news type organization, and it does provide some news, but they diligently advocate the homosexual agenda and are thus badly biased against marriage being defined as between one man and one woman. They, along with Yahoo News, are two of the most biased, un-objective organizations who also serve up some news. In any case, the article is written by a professed atheist who makes some serious errors in the article. I will review his article, paragraph by paragraph.

The first paragraph does a good job at summarizing where the 10 commandments come from, so Mr. Siebold gets off to a good start. It’s good to see atheists having a proper understanding of something relating to God-stuff! His second paragraph then jumps to making a statement about how “religion is in trouble”. Being a student of the person who perhaps has the best perspective on religion and is against it, I am in whole hearted agreement - religion has always been bad for people. Unfortunately, what Steve really means is that the belief that God exists is in trouble, since atheists have a very hard time distinguishing between beliefs about God's existence, and mankind’s religion!

He then introduces the main idea of his article, that human’s don’t need God in order to have a good moral code to live by, and he uses a collective atheistic list of an alternative to the Mosaic ten commandments to try and prove that point. Here they are, with my commentary:

1. Be open-minded and be willing to alter your beliefs with new evidence.

I would agree, except that atheists like to define an “open minded” person as one who denies any metaphysical existence and who uses scientific method alone to determine “truth”. Thus, they are not open minded, as there is reams of evidence that point to metaphysical realities like the human soul. There is also reams of evidence from the intelligent design thinkers which proves that it is unreasonable for machines – whether mechanical or biological - that have inter-related and dependent sub systems to exist without a designer. An atheist looks at a complicated machine and says, ‘oh, random probability put that together’, while most non-atheists look at the same machine  and say, ‘oh, a mind was required to design that’.

This first principle is merely an attempt to define the 'playing field' in a way that favors atheistic beliefs and here are his rules: no metaphysical beliefs allowed; all evidence must come from the scientific method and be physical in nature; deductive reasoning can only be used when operating from the first two rules. In contrast, the truly free thinker – a properly open-minded person - will alter their beliefs based on all evidence, not just the evidence they want to hear.

2. Strive to understand what is most likely to be true, not to believe what you wish to be true.

This is a good premise that I have no argument with.

3. The scientific method is the most reliable way of understanding the natural world.

This statement uses a term that needs clarification - “natural”. If the world “physical” was used, I would have no problem with the statement. Empirical science deals in the realm of the physical world, using present time observations and deduction to draw conclusions. It is equally important to note that the physical world and the physical sciences do not comprehensively address human nature or human existence. Nor does empirical science address historical events, for that is best handled by the method of eye witness testimony.

4. Every person has the right to control of their body.

It appears this principle was misstated-stated - I assume they meant to say, “Every person has the right to the control of their body”. I again would agree with this, however, it appears to try and address the practice of abortion. Of course the "fetus" is merely a newly developing human that happens to be developing inside another person’s body. It is no more a part of the mother than the astronaut is part of the space capsule which provides his life support. Therefore, I have no problem with the statement as long as it is acknowledged that a "fetus" is another person’s young and developing body. And thus, while under-developed humans (also called fetus’) cannot speak for themselves due to their immaturity, they still should be afforded the same protections as any human along the development continuum. After all, as non-command 7 says, treat the immature and those unable to communicate the same way you would want to be treated if you were in their position.  It is good and right that a woman be able to control their body, but not someone else's, including a new person developing in her life-support system.  And, of course, that new person got their through the woman's choice to engage in a behavior that would likely result in a new person.  For a fuller treatment of why abortion is killing a developing human being see the article on Abortion.

5. God is not necessary to be a good person or to live a full and meaningful life.

There are two distinct things claimed here. One, God is not necessary to be a good person. Second, God is not required to live a “full and meaningful life”. However, one must first identify what is the standard to define what a “good person” is or what a “full and meaningful life” is? Perhaps the Creator of human beings would be in the best position to define those things? So, the atheist would have to acknowledge that a pedophile who defined a full and meaningful life as regularly and ‘successfully’ seducing young boys, would in fact have a full and meaningful life. This is a fundamental flaw with atheism or its sister belief, relativism. Who picks the moral rules that people live by? With no higher standard or authority, it is unreasonable to say any standard someone chooses is right or wrong. Thus the non-contradictory atheist has no basis to complain about a 50 year old neighbor who, for example, lusts after his 12 year old daughter.

6. Be mindful of the consequences of all your actions and recognize that you must take responsibility for them.

This is a good principle, but what exactly is the motivation for examining the consequences of my actions or the motivation for my desire to be accountable? The goodness of my heart? My deep concern for others? It should occur to the objective observer that perhaps human beings are not doing so well with this, whether religious or atheists.  It is also interesting that this principle seems to not apply to a woman's choice to have unprotected sexual intercourse and the consequence of a new person being conceived!

7. Treat others as you would want them to treat you, and can reasonably expect them to want to be treated. Think about their perspective.

So, Mr. Siebold steals the basic human ethic from Jesus of Nazareth, the one who claimed in no uncertain terms that God the Creator exists and that people ought to listen to his Messenger or Son, Jesus of Nazareth as the standard for humanity. It would be up to Mr. Siebold to prove that the saying or ethic existed prior to Jesus of Nazareth. Until then, it is quite ironic that the atheists quote Jesus of Nazareth for their foundational ethic, which ethic contradicts their principle 9 below.

8. We have the responsibility to consider others, including future generations.

This is a good principle, but it is not significantly different than the one laid down by Jesus of Nazareth. In other words, the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth cited would include this principle, for our children are included in principle 7.  And don't forget about that future generation developing in the woman's womb!

9. There is no one right way to live.

But didn’t principle 7 say, “Treat others the way you want to be treated”, and isn’t that a "right" principle for living? Doesn’t how I want to be treated involve right and wrong behavior? In other words, if I don’t want to be lied to then I should not lie to others. Therefore, isn’t telling the truth to people who are not trying to harm others a right way to live? In like manner, I would like not to be harmed. Therefore, isn’t refraining from hurting others a right way to live? If you identify all morally associated behavior – that is behavior that affects other people - will you not end up with a right way to live versus a wrong way to live? Isn’t that the purpose of these atheistic 10 non-commandments…to put forth principles that we ought to live by?

I suspect this principle was included - even though it contradicts the other principles and the premise of the exercise itself – since it does express the desired ethic of atheists. This principle could be easily used to avoid being held accountable for my behavior, since I could live any way that I please. At best it is a poorly stated principle which contradicts or nullifies the implications of the prior two principles. At worst, it is an excuse to live a selfish life without regard to its impact on others. It also is a principle that is consistent with many atheists who are also relativists. Since there is no supreme being or higher-than-human standard which can help us know how humans ought to live, any moral standard for living the human life is arbitrary and capricious based upon human opinion or popularity at any given place or time.  And again, I ask the reader to review history to see how well this method works.  Even religious moral standards are better than no standard which results in selfish chaos or rule of the strongest tyrant.

10. Leave the world a better place than you found it.

This seems like a good principle, but again, what is the motivation for this, and how do I accomplish it? By working to get people to give up their beliefs about God? Will this leave the world a better place? I would agree that the world would be a better place without religion, defining religion as the beliefs and practices about God-stuff which have no basis or justification in the Creator’s Messenger’s - Jesus of Nazareth - teachings. What exactly makes the world a better place? I would suggest love, peace, harmony, unity among people would make the world a better place – the very things that the Creator's Messenger Jesus of Nazareth teaches. We followers of the Light work to bring that to pass and we have a superior and unchanging standard; a superior leader; and superior means and resources to do so.

Then Mr. Siebold says this:

“Did we ever really need a supernatural being or a book to tell us these things? I think we'll be just fine on our own. All we need to do is start thinking for ourselves.”

So, he expands well past saying the bible is a book that has nothing good contained in it, to saying that human’s don’t need their Creator, and that we will do fine on our own, and that thinking for ourselves is the solution. Well, I would encourage Mr. Siebold to look at history to determine how well we are doing thinking on our own. Of course Mr. Siebold will blame most evil on religion, but that is irrational. As but one example of thousands, world war two was not a religiously motivated war. In fact, while religion is sometimes the
 and is oftentimes used to justify aggression, human’s don’t seem to need more than the desire to take some material thing from another – like land – or to have power over others, as the base motivation for using or harming other human beings. So, I would ask Mr. Siebold if, for example, the people involved in world war two were not able to think for themselves? Or if all the adults involved in human sex slave trafficking, for example, can’t ‘think for themselves’.

Atheists - if also physicalists - simply cannot understand the fact that the root problems with humanity are not a problem of intellect, but rather a problem of the soul. Atheists who are also physicalists are blind to the root causes of human conflict since their unreasonable world view is based on a merely physical understanding of human existence. Therefore, atheism's ideas cannot solve mankind’s problems, no matter how much intellect is brought to bear.  Neither can religion solve mankind's problems.  Only a Perfect Leader and people willing to listen to him can solve mankind's problems.

Let’s take another look at the next paragraph of Mr. Seibolds, and I’ll comment among his statements:

Quote, “Critical thinking says people don't believe in the Bible because it's believable; they believe it because they want to believe it. They need to believe it. The prospect of eternal death is too much for most people to bear. So instead of searching for truth, they cling to this book like a drowning man to a life preserver.” Unquote

Mr. Siebold does a poor job with his language here. I think what he meant to say was that critical thinking people don’t believe the bible is what most religious people claim it is, the word of God to mankind...I would agree with that statement.

I think the prospect of eternal death (I assume he means torment) is too much for most people, perhaps even for Mr. Seibold, to truly contemplate…the question is, is that a real prospect?  The Messenger of the Creator says it is not.

Finally, is it bad to cling onto a life preserver if you are drowning?  Just because the life preserver used by the religious people is ineffective and wrong does and will not prevent you from drowning not mean an effective and right life preserver does not exist!

Quote, “The most intelligent and emotionally mature people in society know this, yet most allow the delusion to continue in order to avoid panic, depression, and hysteria among the masses."

So, Mr. Siebold states that intelligent and emotionally mature people are marked by quote, “not believing in the bible”. There is no objective reason to make this claim, merely Mr. Siebold’s bias against all people who quote “believe the bible”. I would ask Mr. Siebold if there is anything true in the bible, and if so and I only believe the true things, does that make me non-intelligent, emotionally immature and deluded?

Mr. Siebold continues, quote, “Ignorance is not only bliss, in this case it's the glue that holds civilization together. Brilliant thinkers like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and many other prominent Americans in our history recognized that the Bible wasn't the word of God, yet they purposely tried to appease people by attempting to find the good in a bad book.”

So, Mr. Siebold states his belief that ignorance about the bible and God – 'the truth' that ignorance hides is that the bible is an evil thing and that God does not exist - is the glue that holds civilization together. I would counter that love for money, material things and gaining material security are what civilization is based on – and along with the metaphysical conscience that men are given by their Creator – are thus what hold it together, but not so well!

Mr. Siebold makes an accurate observation that certain esteemed people of the past did not believe the religious doctrine that the bible is the word of God, and I would commend those historical figures for using their minds to arrive at that correct conclusion. The other comments about appeasement I will not address, as I don’t study their writings to know such things. However, I would note that labeling the bible as a “bad book” smacks of the same ignorance that ban’s certain books from libraries. The bible contains both truth and falsehoods like many other books. The problem is not the bible, so much as it is certain people making the book into something that it is not. The bible itself never claims to be the “word of God” to mankind…that label was invented by religious leaders who gain from being perceived as the only ones who can ‘properly interpret the word of god’…the same leaders who gain much power from holding hell over people’s souls.  My recommendation is that people don’t listen to the religious leaders, but rather listen to the Creator’s Messenger instead. If people did that, things would be MUCH better as truth and love would abound!

Mr. Siebold closes with these statements:

Quote, “American's won't put their Bibles in the fictional file in our lifetime, but it will happen eventually if the country survives long enough. All superstitions are eventually disproved by science and tucked away as remnants of past ignorance. The Bible will become an ancient relic of the past someday. Until then, we need to have the courage to question and probe every aspect of this book and the multibillion dollar mob that wields it as a weapon. It's time we start putting polite conversation behind and begin debating the Bible in mixed company.”

It is too bad that Mr. Siebold cannot distinguish between a fictional book that contains some truth (the religious people's view of the bible being "God's Word"), and a non-fictional book that contains wrong understandings of God-stuff but some good stuff as well (the actual bible).  It is unfortunate that he cannot acknowledge that a book that contains statements that support the existence of a God does not make all its contents false.  Rather, it is people who are good or bad, and it is people who use religion to justify evil or promote false ideas like the bible is "God's Word" to mankind.

Communication between people with different beliefs about human existence will never improve as long as we don’t understand each other. Mr. Siebold perpetuates the negative communication by supporting inaccurate stereotypes and erroneous religious beliefs in this article and thus he continues the fight against the strawman. I support Mr. Siebold’s attempt to get people to question the bible’s contents…to question whether the bible – excluding the life and teachings about Jesus of Nazareth buried in a small portion of the book – accurately represents the Creator of mankind.

I for one do not believe most of the bible’s author’s beliefs about God, and I certainly do not believe it is “God’s Word” to mankind. Yet to deny it contains some accurate historical events, or that it contains some excellent principles for human living, is to make the error of throwing the baby (something true and valuable) out with the bathwater (something false and worthless). The bible is a book that contains both truth things (the documentation of the life and teachings of Joshua of Nazareth) as well as false things (many of the author's opinions about the Creator).  Mr. Siebold is certainly not alone in being unable to make this important distinction.  In fact, it is MUCH more reasonable for Mr. Siebold to be unable to make this distinction than it is for the religious people who should know better!  However, reasoning assuming false religious beliefs are true will only serve to perpetuate animosity and lack of clear communication between atheists and people of faith (as opposed to people of religion). Thus, the polite conversation he claims to wish for will not likely happen as long as he continues to use language poorly, propagate false stereotypes, or fight against straw men.