Valerie Tarico, psychologist and writer who runs a gimmicky ethics blog, and her editors at Salon decided that it would be clever and smart to launch a frontal attack on the Bible, and by extension most devout Christians, by arguing that because the book is full of, according to her, “mixed messages, repetition, bad fact-checking, awkward constructions, inconsistent voice, weak character development, boring tangents, contradictions, passages where nobody can tell what the heck the writer meant to convey,” it isn’t authentic:
“Millions of evangelicals and other Christian fundamentalists believe that the Bible was dictated by God to men who acted essentially as human transcriptionists. If that were the case, one would have to conclude that God is a terrible writer. Many passages in the Bible would get kicked back by any competent editor or writing professor, kicked back with a lot of red ink—often more red than black…This doesn’t sound like a book that was dictated by a deity.”
The obvious intent of the Tarico and Salon was to mock the Bible, not engage in a serious examination of its origins, and ridicule Christians who revere it. There is no benign justification for this mission; it is just gratuitously nasty, disrespectful, and anti-Christian. Ethics Alarms no longer has a vocal, militant atheist among its regular commenters—Where have you gone, tgt? The blog turns its lonely eyes to you!-–but I suspect even he would find this essay irresponsible. It is especially so since the essay begins with an ignorant proposition which so many commenters flagged that Salon pulled down the post. Nobody claims that God dictated the Bible. Then there are the related matters of multiple translations, translations of translations, and the undisputed fact that different authors (including, many scholars believe, William Shakespeare) from different periods wrote separate parts of the book in their own words.
The comments in the Instapudit report on Salon’s fiasco contain some gems, like…
- “The Bible is just like the U.S. tax code. It was written by dozens of authors over hundreds of years in archaic language no one today can understand, except specialists employed for that purpose. But, if you don’t abide by it the results are pure Hell.”\
- “What part of….You should love the Lord your God with all your strength, mind and spirit. And you should love your neighbor as yourself.….is so ‘badly written’? I understand it. Why can’t you people at Salon?”
- “Salon labors under many delusions. In this case, it’s the delusion that Bible is intended to be some sort of literary masterpiece. Believe or don’t, but it purports to be an account of actual people, events, and ideas and not some made up stuff. For that reason, it has a sort of Joe Friday “just the facts, Ma’am” quality to it, unlike, say, Homer in whose prolix you could drown. Some of the Hebrew is quite nicely written, and Anthony Flew, before his death, credited Paul with being a first rate philosopher (on the basis of his carefully built argument in Romans) and Jesus with being a first rate ethicist on the basis of the Sermon on the Mount. Literary considerations in any of this are tertiary at best…”
My favorite, though, was “Now do the Koran.”
Luckily, the article is still online here.