Who Says to Avoid Religion, Politics?

A debate between a Christian historian and an atheist drew hundreds to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse campus Sunday night and dozens and dozens of comments from readers the next day at www.lacrossetribune.com.

Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, argued the Bible is riddled with errors and contradictions. Couldn’t see that charge coming, could we? Mark Chavalas, a UW-L history professor and expert in ancient languages, took a more nuanced approach, arguing the authors of the Bible “wrote theological impressions about history.”

Here’s part of the discussion the two set off on our Web site:

ChristianMom wrote: “Cool! I beat Big Spender to the comments! God actually wrote the Bible. He is Awesome! And just because humans don’t fully comprehend their Creator doesn’t mean He didn’t make us in His image. … Thanks to Mark Chavalas for standing up for TRUTH.”

BrianGSmith wrote: “Dear ChristianMom’ … Have you ever read the Bible in its entirety? Word for word? If not, please do so. If so, how do you account for all of the hypocrisies, false prophecies, absurdities and downright ungodly actions allegedly carried out by god’?”

Big Spender wrote: “There are hundreds of religions, all of which claim exclusive truth: If you’ve got 1,000 religions in a pile, 999 of them must logically be wrong, even to religionists. Why not go all the way by calling them all wrong?”

Teiresias wrote: “Of course none of the debate matters. By definition the religious are acting on faith’ and no number of facts’ will sway their interpretation of reality.’”

Michael Welch wrote: “The Bible is like very many religious books there are frequent exemplary exhortations to do good,’ be merciful, bring justice to the poor, the abused, the prisoner, the immigrant (aka the stranger’), and of course the social and political life of a nation with so many actual believers would be enhanced IF those believers actually tried (REALLY tried!) to put into practice the tenets of the religion(s) they purport comes from God.’ … One could easily become an atheist when one sees the fervent disconnect between what the Bible OUGHT to stand for and the religio-political tripe it is now made’ to endorse by some.”

HOME GIRL wrote: “Explain something to me. If the Bible is just a book of stories and inaccurate, then why have people all through time tried so hard to destroy it? And failed, may I add. … Maybe there really is something more to this book than just a book?”

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