An Atheist Reads The Bible

The Bible is probably the most influential book on Western civilisation and is the foundation of the world’s largest and most powerful religion. It also has had a major influence on the laws, cultures and traditions of the West, even down to many names and sayings that come from the Bible. However, the Bible is one of those books that is frequently talked about but rarely read, even by religious people. This leads to a great deal of confusion about the nature of God, religion and society in general. The few who do read it are mostly Evangelical Christians and read it from a biased angle that cannot view God as anything less than perfect.

As an Atheist, I hope to offer a different and more critical view. Unlike most, I will not accept everything I read as true or justifiable, but instead examine whether or not the Bible can really be described as “The Good Book”. You might wonder why a non-believer would bother reading a book he doesn’t agree with, but even if I don’t believe it, other people do and their beliefs shape society. It is also a good lesson in life to read books from different points of view, otherwise your mind becomes soft and stagnant if you only read people you agree with (I also hope to read the Koran one day). Religion is a topic that many people take far too seriously and like all ideas, it should be open to criticism.

So I will read the Bible cover to cover and blog my thoughts as I go along. It will not be a line-by-line or even chapter-by-chapter account, as that would take years and everyone who tries to do that gets bored and stops halfway through Genesis. Instead I will blog about the important points, going slowly through the interesting parts and speeding through the dull and irrelevant parts. I should point out that I am not a Biblical scholar, or anything close, I’m just an ordinary lad giving my thoughts.

The Bible I will be using is the English Standard Version (ESV), mainly because I was able to get it for free on my kindle. Every Bible comes with its own issues regarding translations, which is far too messy for me to solve. I will check other interpretations and commentaries on the Bible online in case I miss something important, but this will mostly be a solo task. This is because I want to give my clear thoughts and not just repeat what other people say. Most people don’t form their own thoughts on religion; they just repeat what they are told to believe, so I want to combat this. Surely if God created the Universe and everything in it, he can create a book that can easily be read by itself?

So here I go. This task will probably take a few months and to be honest I’m not entirely sure what I’m getting myself in for. It’s probably not going to have too much structure, which means I can be flexible in my approach. I’ll update this page every time I do a new post, so this will be the hub for the project.

The Series So Far:

In The Beginning (Genesis 1 & 2)

The Plans Of Gods, Mice And Men (Genesis 2-11)

None Of This Makes Any Sense (Genesis 12-22)

A Small God For A Small People (Genesis 24-32)

Biblical Family Values (Genesis 34-50)

Is God A Freedom Fighter Or A Terrorist (Exodus 1-14)

A God Of Smoke And Fire (Exodus 15-24)

People Are Following The Wrong 10 Commandments (Exodus 25-40)

Unclean! Everything Is Unclean! (Leviticus 1-19)

All Men Must Die (Leviticus 20-27)

An Accountants’ Delight (Numbers 1-10, 18, 30-6)

Resistance Is Futile (Numbers 11-33)

Talking Out Its Ass (Numbers 22-25)

The Fear Of God (Deuteronomy 1-20)

Purge The Evil (Deuteronomy 21-34)

The Final Solution (Joshua 1-24)

God’s Glory If You Win, Your Sins If You Lose (Judges 1-10)

Rape, Massacre And Chaos (Judges 11-24)

The Least Biblical Book Of The Bible (Ruth 1-4)

How Do You Make A King? (1st Samuel 1-14)

The Fall Of Saul And The Rise Of David (1st Samuel 15-31)

The Bizarre Justice Of God (2nd Samuel 1-24)

God Doesn’t Know What He’s Doing (1st Kings 1-22)

The Miracles of Elijah and the Fall of Israel (2nd Kings 1-25)

The Most Unnecessary Book In The Bible (1st Chronicles 1-29, 2nd Chronicles 1-36)

The Importance Of Racial Purity (Ezra 1-10 & Nehemiah 1-13)

Treat Others As They Would Treat You (Esther 1-10)

Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People? (Job 1-31)

God Responds But Doesn’t Answer (Job 32-42)

40 thoughts on “An Atheist Reads The Bible”

        1. Whose Noel? I have seen some attempts before but they usually bite off more than they can chew and give up. That’s why I’m not going chapter by chapter, but instead focusing on the important parts and skipping the boring parts. For example, I’m pretty sure I could fit the Book of Numbers into one blog post as it’s mostly just irrelevant listings.

  1. I wrote a comment recently about a bible-thumper that quoted Leviticus that homosexuals were abominations. My response was: whoa, dude you don’t get to cherry pick. If you are in for Leviticus for a penny, you are in for a pound. You must endorse slavery. You must eschew shellfish. You must not eat anything that has blood on it and you have to take your underwear off and burn it (because clothing of mixed fibers are not allowed and most men’s underwear is a cotton-polyester blend).

    I think you will find the same in your interactions with biblical literalists. The bible is the word of god but I get to choose what parts I read.

    1. Oh believe me, if anything I’ll become more of an Atheist. I’ve finished Deuteronomy so far, and there’s nothing but random murder and cruelty by God for no particular reason.

  2. Robert, the Bible is a difficult book to understand when you first read it. I, like you, was an atheist before I read the Bible, and I really do think it took me at least a year (more probably, two or three) to have a more or less okay understanding of what the Bible says and in what context it was written. And I still probably don’t know enough. But I’ve learned a lot.

  3. Best of luck. I finished it when I was 12, and only got through some parts to be able to say that I had read it all (and that was as a devout Evangelical Christian). NT is a bit easier, probably read that 5-6 times in total.

    1. Yeah, there’s going to be a long slump in the middle where not much happens between the main books of OT and the start of NT. At least NT is pretty short and well known.

  4. From a linguistic POV the Bible having been translated into almost every known language is the parallel text par excellence. Also of course the source of much literature and literary references, so even us atheists can’t entirely ignore it.

    So this series should be fun. Hope you make it to Ecclesiastes 😉

    (NB. Traditional copies of the English ‘Authorised Version’ often have marginal notes giving the literal translation of certain words).

  5. Sweet. The New Testament is way less brutal than the Old Testament. Old testament is the personification of God while the New Testament is the story of Jesus and his disciples. And I look forward to reading your progress. Keep it up!

  6. Please read the quran! People in my country keep saying that it is more perfect than the bible and they also claim that the Jesus who is crucified in the bible is actually not the real Jesus, but an imposter.

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