The best thing in the Bible: a story even nonbelievers can love

In my previous post I wrote about a New Testament passage in which Paul’s god displays breathtakingly diabolical inventiveness in addition to his usual jealous cruelty. I noted that skeptics make a sport of cataloging the Bible’s many atrocities and warped moral teachings.

But is it fair to dismiss the entire thing as worthless? Wouldn’t that demonstrate the same knee-jerk prejudice that many of the faithful show towards critics of religion?

Good ideas are where you find them, and recognizing one isn’t an endorsement of everything that surrounds it.

We’ve all heard of the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31). It is the Bible’s most profound moral statement, an idea that has appeared in numerous cultures and was stated both by religious and secular thinkers long before the time of the Jesus. The parable of the Good Samaritan is a working out of this ethic. It is a deeply radical story, one of the best teaching tales I know of from the ancient world. Continue reading