Last night, I was a guest lecturer at a community college sociology class. The subject was atheism and secular humanism. I started out talking about the beginnings of religion and at one point outlined how the Old Testament came together. One fundamentalist Christian in the class questioned my account and well she should have because it is pretty damning to her fundamentalist beliefs and because I think it is important to question everything.
I think that it should be noted however that the account of how the Old Testament came together is not something that comes from within atheists circles; it is a historical account from religious scholars. This is a pretty important point because if it came from atheists circles, then it could be written off by believers regardless of whether it were true or not.
The fact is that religious scholars agree with secular scholars about how the Bible was put together. This information might have been restricted to ivory tower of religious scholarship in the past, but with growing access to the internet it is information that everyone can learn about. Even if a religious believer just wants to learn the basics, there are websites that make this information easy to find, like Wikipedea.
Google is also our friend. All a fundamentalist Christian has to do is Google, “Old Testament Sources” and they can learn all about JED&P. Then they can move on to the New Testament and learn what pretty much every religious scholar should know, that the Gospels were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. We don’t know who wrote them, but it wasn’t those guys. Again, this isn’t something that only atheists are asserting; this comes from the ivory towers of Christianity.
Admittedly, I can understand why many fundamentalists might not accept the fact that there is no contemporary evidence for a historical Jesus. This is scholarship done mostly by atheist historians and the ivory tower of Christianity hasn’t accepted this fact yet. So for a fundamentalist it can seem like “atheist propaganda.”
The historicity of Jesus is still an issue of much debate. But JED&P as the source for the Old Testament and the view that the Gospels were not written by the names assigned to them are not in debate. That doesn’t come from atheists and at this point fundamentalists really need to realize that their inerrant holy books are really just books.
- The Path to Atheism is Paved with Hell (skepticink.com)
- Bigotry Toward Gays Because of The Bible (skepticink.com)
- The Hard Truth About Religion (skepticink.com)
- Religion Is Comfortable With Science… Only To A Point (skepticink.com)
- History Channel: Where televangelism comes alive (examiner.com)