A few years ago, computer science whiz Chris Harrison created a beautiful visualization linking up every cross reference in the Bible. So, for example, if a verse in the New Testament referred back to a verse in the Old Testament, there was an arc drawn between the two chapters they were in (the vertical lines at the bottom represent the number of verses in that chapter):
Amazing! Turns out there are 63,779 cross references in the Bible (and that many arcs in the image)! If it’s any indication of how complex this image is, the high-resolution version is more than 100MB large.
In 2009, graphic designer Andy Marlow used Harrison’s work as his inspiration to created a similar visual for Sam Harris‘ Reason Project. This time, though, he only included arcs representing contradictions in the Bible:
Helpfully, this visual also included text explaining what the contradictions were and where they could be found:
Also amazing! But very bulky and not very user-friendly. I don’t know that you could really print out a poster that large and, even if you could, the arcs are still a blur.
Now, computer programmer Daniel G. Taylor has taken all that data and turned it into a visual masterpiece.
His website, BibViz (Bible Visualization), gives you the same linking arcs as before, but when you hover over one of them, it lights up and tells you in the upper right-hand corner of the screen which verses are being linked together. Click on an arc and it takes you directly to those verses as compiled in the Skeptics Annotated Bible:
(***Update*** 12/16/20: The BibViz site is down and the URL redirects to adult material, so I have removed the link.)
That’s not all. The visual also shows you where in the Bible you’ll find the passages featuring Cruelty/Violence, Discrimination against Homosexuals, Scientific Absurdities/Historical Inaccuracies, or (below) Misogyny/Violence/Discrimination against Women:
See the long bar on the far left side? That means the Book of Genesis has more anti-women verses than any other book in the Bible. And all those bars are clickable and lead you to the specific passages in the Skeptics Annotated Bible.
When I asked Daniel what inspired him to create this, he said (via email):
Some of my family is extremely religious, and after quite a few discussions with them and some friends I was inspired to look up the Reason Project’s contradictions poster again as a reference, but thought it might be nice to have something like that without the duplicated entries, with the ability to click individual links, and something that could be regenerated easily should errors be found.
The whole site is seriously an incredible resource. Go there and just play around with it. Then show your fundamentalist religious friends and watch them squirm. There’s just no plausible way anyone can take the Bible literally after spending time on this site… unless they’re closing their eyes, sticking their fingers in their ears, and refusing to think about any of the errors in their worldview.
(Thanks to Ed for the link!)