If You Have All Three… June 17, 2011

If You Have All Three…

I don’t know if it’s an original idea, but I love the way Blonde Nonbeliever phrases this:

If you have a Bible on your bookshelf, you may be a Christian.

If you have a Koran on your bookshelf, you may be a Muslim.

If you have a Torah on your bookshelf, you may be Jewish.

If you have all three, you are probably an atheist.

Her message is spot-on: Only when you step outside your religion do you realize how alike all religions really are.

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  • Trina

    Good one! Thanks for sharing it.

  • Gibbon

    Or you could be a member of any one of those three religions, and have an interest in the other two. Both the Torah and the Bible are recognised in Islam as containing the word of Allah. And let’s not forget that all three scriptures are supposed to be from the same god.

  • I’m an atheist, but I only have a Bible.

  • Ruh-roh! Nailed me on that one! Also: The Tibetan Book of the Dead, The Upanishads, The Bhagavad-Gita, Tao Te Ching, Analects of Confucius, Rig Veda, Dhammapada … and a whole box just of bibles (in German and English).

  • Erin

    Yep. I’ve got a whole shelf full of books on religion. For academic purposes, of course.

  • VorlonGuyverOss

    I have these and more on my bookshelf. I out of room and have to build more shelves.

    My wife suggested that I go to a Collectors Anonymous meeting or get help for hoarding the books that I have or will read.

    What’s wrong with a library?

  • I think the message is spot-on. It reminds me of the fact that atheists know more about the bible than most Christians do.

  • Florian

    I have a Bible, Koran and Book of Mormon. Does that count?

    -Florian

  • Otto

    I have several Bibles, a gold-monogrammed copy of the green LBW (if you know it, you know it, if you don’t, never mind), a copy of the Book of Mormon, and the Bhagavad-Gita.

    (Also like 1400 other books, because I have a serious book problem.)

    I have four years of university-level theology courses under my belt, because I went to a small, religious university. I have a BA in philosophy. I know CRAZY amounts of stuff about the Bible and theology and theological history. I’ve sort of always justified this on a few grounds (a) Dad is a minister (who loves me even though we disagree); (b) philosophy is so frequently intertwined with theology that it’s necessary to understand the differences and relationship between the two; (c) Just because people are wrong, it doesn’t mean they’re stupid, so their ideas should be explored; (d) I teach English literature, which owes so very much to so many theological systems that I would legitimately be a terrible instructor if I didn’t learn them. Just like my students are terrible when they see a reference to Job and don’t bother to look up and see who that is. (Seriously, if your instructor is making you read a novel called Absolom! Absolom!, you need to look that shit up, because otherwise you are being a moron.)

    So, yes, I’ll weigh in on being a highly-theologically trained atheist. I collect Chick tracts and own most of the ones available in print. I have numerous books about theological history, and more that are thelogical myths/fiction. (Think Screwtape Letters, that sort of thing.)

    At what point does “knowing religion” stop being a responsibility and become a hobbyhorse? I have a duty to understand Christian theology, because I’d be a terrible lit instructor without it. Is there a point at which I simply become a rabid anti-theological foamer? How many holy texts do I have to read for that to happen? How many theological counterarguments do I have to master? Are atheists CREEPY because they learn systems largely to debunk them?

  • Kim

    I have all 3, plus a Book of Mormon, an Ethiopian Orthodox Bible, a Bhagavad Gita, Tao Te Ching, a Holy Piby, a Kebra Nagast, a Book of Shadows, etc. I have found that most atheist are better able to recite the Bible than Christians.

  • Kahomono

    Spot-on, only say “T’nach” instead of “Torah”….

    And yes, we have all those, a Bhagavad-Gita, Tao-te-ching… etc. Not to mention the odds and ends of atheist lit: Dawkins, Hitchens, Stenger, Randi and some dude who sold his soul on eBay. WTF?

    🙂

  • Anonymous

    And there’s always the online resource Skeptics Annotated Bible/Qur’an/Book of Mormon.

    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/

    Put your money where your mouth is, educated heathens!

    http://www.ffrf.org/legacy/quiz/

  • ThereIsNoSpoon

    “Or you could be a member of any one of those three religions, and have an interest in the other two.”

    You mean “atheists in training”?

  • Ubi Dubium

    Let’s see…bible (KJV), bible (good news) Bhagavad-Gita, Jefferson Bible, Not the Bible, Gospel of the FSM, Nag Hammadi Library, Loose Canon, Egyptian Book of the Dead, and a Hare Krishna cookbook. Yep, atheist.

  • Nolan

    I have a whole library of superstition material. Bible commentary, devotion junk and the like. Mainly because I was in seminary when I became an atheist. Secondly because they are books and I love books, even the ones about superstition.

  • Noah

    I only personally own a Bible, but my family collectively has all three. There’s also a copy of The Satanic Verses around here somewhere, but I haven’t seen it in a while. (That has to do with Islam, not Satanism, for the uninformed.)

  • Michelle

    @Noah, I am uninformed about the Satanic verses thing, but interested. Thanks for the tip.

  • Anonymous

    Michelle, the whole Satanic Verses thing was a shock for those who took intellectual freedom for granted, and completely unforgettable for those of us who watched it unfold.

    Here’s a snippet of a doc on the subject:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AoDsjhYOdU

    and there are many many Youtube videos of Christopher Hitchens defending his friend Rushdie, and defending free speech.

  • That made me smile. Mostly because I lost my religion through educating myself. It seems the more religious text you have under your belt the more likely you are to be atheist. (Not to generalize or anything) 😉

  • Lets see, off the top of my head… a few versions of the bible, that Mormon ditty, Screwtape Letters, Dante’s Inferno, Paradise Lost, and some book about being Left Behind.

    Then other stuff like Treatise on the Gods (Mencken), World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors, Letters from the Earth (Twain), and a bunch of recent books that everybody knows about from the 4 horsemen and other authors…

  • Debra Burnsworth

    Here’s all three… right at your fingertips: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/index.htm

  • Ash

    “Only when you step outside your religion do you realize how alike all religions really are.”

    And once you step outside organised atheism you realise that it suffers from all the same damn faults as organised religion.

    The only group with any true objectivity are agnostics. Once you hold any belief, you’re biased.

  • Beauzeaux

    Oh, yeah. Those and the Book of Mormon.

    ALways good for a laugh.

  • Vivian

    Not all atheist are well-versed in scripture. And I don’t think one has to be to be an atheist.

    That being said, if you’re going to acquire bibles for educational purposes, be sure to catch all the different versions. The Catholic bible has 7 more books. I believe it came from a different translation. And of course, one needs the Catechism, as it goes hand in hand with Catholic teachings. Also, it helps to have the Book of Mormon. It is worth noting that a good portion of it is lifted from the King James version.

    Well-educated religious folks are equipped with verse and certain science facts, so don’t think just any atheist can outwit anyone else. You have to know the books and quite a bit of science. The end.

  • Fundie Troll

    @ Otto

    Is there a point at which I simply become a rabid anti-theological foamer? How many holy texts do I have to read for that to happen? How many theological counterarguments do I have to master? Are atheists CREEPY because they learn systems largely to debunk them?

    Don’t you think it’s ironic that many atheist obsess over something they claim doesn’t even exist?

  • I have a section of my library that I term my “occult” section. It has everything from bibles to witchcraft to UFOs to free energy books on it, among others.

    I have a huge selection of Adventures Unlimited Press books. I have a copy (my parent’s) of “Reach Out – The Living New Testament Illustrated”, which I swear is the funkiest bible I own. I have three of Richard Bandler’s (et al) NLP books, “frogs into PRINCES”, “TRANCE-formations”, and “Using Your Brain For A Change” – all have these weird colorful covers that look like someone was on LSD when they designed them.

    I own this one book, that I picked up at a used book sale, titled “The Odyssey of the Future” by Thomas Lombardo – almost 700 pages of pure, unadulterated photocopied self-published woo.

    Many were acquired during my own “woo-filled” days as a younger individual struggling with my own beliefs. Others were things that I obtained much later, after I had come to the conclusion of atheism. Why I still own any of them, I am not sure.

    I am not a great master of theology, and I certainly don’t know the bible well enough to quote it. I think I keep these books around to simply “round out” the rest of my library (which mostly contains books on computers, robotics, virtual reality, other science and technology related subject, software development, and a bunch of science fiction and some fantasy (I have two “secret” loves – cyberpunk novels, and Dirk Pitt adventures).

  • Anonymous

    Here’s a snippet of a doc on the subject [The Satanic Verses Affair]

    If you have a Veoh player you can watch the whole thing; it’s totally absorbing.

  • Sarah

    I have the Bible, but it is on the bottom shelf in my closet. What does that make me? 🙂

  • AxeGrrl

    Ash wrote:

    And once you step outside organised atheism you realise that it suffers from all the same damn faults as organised religion.

    The only group with any true objectivity are agnostics. Once you hold any belief, you’re biased.

    Except that you’ve made a rather fundamental mistake there ~ you’ve suggested that an atheist ‘holds a belief’, which isn’t necessarily true.

    An atheist can be one who simply lacks belief in deities (and most atheists i know fall into this category).

    Not to mention the bigger fact that people aren’t atheist ‘or’ agnostic ~ they pertain to different things. A/theism pertains to belief and a/gnosticism pertains to knowledge.

    Your comment completely ignores the overwhelming number of agnostic atheists out there…..and most atheists i know fall into that category.

  • Tom Bourque

    I have many bibles. I used to have a Tanakh, but I don’t know where it is (I suspect it may have gotten thrown away). I used to have a Book of Mormon, but that got destroyed. I have a Wicca book, a book on Celtic religion and a book called “The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future”.

  • Funnily enough I don’t have a Koran but I do have a Bhagavad-Gita, Tao Te Ching, The Devil’s Notebook by Anton LaVey (what? I was fourteen), Dianetics, Predictions of Nostradamus, Grimm Tales, several books on Norse and Greek mythology and Monster Manuals I to V (3.5e).

    Atheist. Definitely.

  • it’s interesting to me how many of us have libraries, and big ones at that, from the sound of these comments. i have an academic library which includes all sorts of religious texts. lots and lots of (boring to me now, but fascinating when i was in school) theology, philosophy, criticism, gloss… the historical stuff still holds my interest, and i’ve got a mess of that as well. obviously the base mythological texts, including those three and many more.

  • Chris aka “Happy Cat”

    Guilty, and then some:

    1. NIV Study Bible (Fundy notes throughout)
    2. Oxford Study Bible (NRSV w/ scholary notes)
    3. Harper-Collins Study Bible (NRSV w/scholarly notes)
    4. King James translation Bible
    5. New King James translation
    6. Jewish Tanach, study edition (mostly scholarly notes)
    7. Book of Mormon
    8. A large bin full of Buddhist sutras and commentaries too numerous to list.

    I need to have a garage sale.

  • Chris aka “Happy Cat”

    I forgot to add my copy of the Quran. Yes, that too.

  • Lol – add me to the list of people with more books than shelves to put them on. 🙂

    I have one bookshelf in the kitchen that faces my front door. It currently has cookbooks, but I’ve been tempted to line up my Bibles/Qurans/Tanakh/Witches’ Bible/Bhagavad Gita/Ramayana/Three Pillars of Zen there just to mess with the Jehovah’s Witnesses that stop by sometimes. If I wasn’t worried about them getting food-stained, I’d do it.

  • Gibbon

    Only when you step outside your religion do you realize how alike all religions really are.

    Actually that is dead wrong. While a number of differences may be apparent from inside any given religion, outside of them any person with an objective eye, particularly one for detail, will realise how they are in fact incredibly different from one another.

    You mean “atheists in training”?

    ThereIsNoSpoon, that’s specious.

  • TWalker

    I think we (spousal unit and I) have every book mentioned so far except Book of Mormon, Tanach, and any Dianetics books.

    For those who have stated that you might have “too many” books: Its not a case of too many books. Its a question of a bookshelf shortage.

  • ACN

    Don’t you think it’s ironic that many atheist obsess over something they claim doesn’t even exist?

    Omg you’re right, the fact that I look to understand your supernatural claims OBVIOUSLY means that I actually believe your god exists. It’s all so clear to me now.

  • atoswald

    @ Ash

    Organized atheism?? There is no such creature, and even if there was, I seriously doubt it would suffer from the “same damn faults” as organized religion.

    Just a bit of clarity here … atheism is not a belief, it is a lack thereof. Don’t forget, there are many, many people, myself included, who would consider themselves agnostic atheist. Where does that leave them in your slanted opinion of “true objectivity”?

  • fiddler

    Ash does not apparently understand the terms agnostic or atheist.

  • Thank you, Hemant! I just returned home from your fair city of Chicago to this nice surprise. You rock! As I said in my recent post about your link to my blog, “I will eat a Chicago-style hot dog, with the hot pepper, in your name!” Cheers!

  • Nitpick: The Jew is more likely to have a Tanach on the shelf rather than a Torah. And when the five books of the Torah are together as a book it is generally called a Chumash.

    But aside from the details the general point is a good one and the phrasing is nice and pithy. I like it and will probably use it in the future.

  • Richard Wade

    Yep, me too. I have thousands of books, even after losing hundreds of them in the 1994 earthquake. Not that I’ve read them all, I just love books. King James Bible, I Ching, several books on Zen, Tibetan Buddhism, Bhagavad Gita, Koran, Greco-Roman mythology, the Iliad, Celtic and Norse myths, Sorcerer’s Handbook, History of Demonology, Science of Mind, ancient Egyptian mythology, Urantia. (filed in the science fiction section)

    I ought to get a Torah or Chumash, a Tanach, and Book of Mormon just to round out the collection.

  • GentleGiant

    hoverfrog wrote:

    Monster Manuals I to V (3.5e).

    You (still) play?
    If you haven’t jumped on the 4e bandwagon, I can recommend Pathfinder (3.75e if you will) by Paizo Publishing. 😀

    Oh, to stay on topic, I have two different bibles, the Koran, Kama Sutra (what? 😉 ), a couple books on various mythologies (Greek, Norse), Encyclopedia Cthulhiana. Access to Dianetics and a couple of the other Scientology books (via my mother) if I should so desire.
    Oh also lots of roleplaying books covering various mythologies (from the bigger ones to Inuit and various African ones).

  • TychaBrahe

    Don’t you think it’s ironic that many atheist obsess over something they claim doesn’t even exist?

    I am reminded of a scene in Heartbreak Ridge where Gunny Highway (Clint Eastwood) fires on his platoon. As the men reappear from cover saying things like, “What the heck?” Highway replies, “This is the AK-47 assault rifle, the preferred weapon of your enemy; and it makes a distinctive sound when fired at you, so remember it.”

    Short answer: know your enemy.

  • ACN

    You (still) play?
    If you haven’t jumped on the 4e bandwagon, I can recommend Pathfinder (3.75e if you will) by Paizo Publishing.

    I do as well! And I agree with your assessment of Pathfinder:)

  • Saltyestelle

    Bookshelf shortage is the bain of my household.

  • Saltyestelle

    Bane! oops…

  • Edith Hamilton’s “Mythology” is an excellent addition to that bookshelf.

  • Salvadough

    Or you may be a believer that God gives his message to many people, in fact to all people. The Religions seem so similar because they are written by the same Author. Watch your tongues my friends, not for my sake or Gods sake, but for your own.