Aaron Boyd
3 min readApr 28, 2024


You ever use a Study Bible, like the Oxford Annotated?

I ask because I've been an atheist since I was 10, and for years my relationship with Christianity was intensely adversarial for many reasons too obvious to lay out here.

The turning point for me was an amazing "Bible as literature" course in community college taught by one of the best professors I ever had, an elderly queer who was active in his church choir, did tons of work in his community, and eventually became the mentor who got me my first and most important jobs.

The core theme of his class was "multiple tendention", the basic idea that everyone approaches the Bible from certain angles--spiritually, culturally, historically, ideologically, anthropologically, politically, aesthetically--in addition to the personal biases or perspectives of the reader themselves.

The Oxford Annotated Bible, the class text, was phenomenal. About half of every page is footnotes, providing unbiased context to almost every verse. Each book starts with an essay explaining its context within the Bible, as well as historical issues with authorship, age, and translation. It throw tons of information at you, as much as it can, so you are able to have an informed opinion.

He provided the best defense of Christianity I can accept, which is basically:

"I don't think about Heaven and I don't believe in Hell. I know God loves us and wants us to be happy, but God also understands human nature, so of course writing, compiling, and preserving Scripture in multiple languages for centuries is going to be a messy process.

I know this text is imperfect because it was written by men, and it would be impossible to perfectly translate God's actual message. That's why parables and metaphor as so powerful: They transcend language and contain wisdom anyone can understand.

I accept much of this is impossible, though I do believe God has directly intervened a few times, like the crucifixion. I think it's normal and healthy to reserve a part of your brain for wonder beyond our scope of knowledge. And I absolutely believe God works through us when we feel the urge to help one another."

Okay, I can handle that. I wrote a ten-page research paper tearing apart the sloppy storytelling and glaring contradictions in the Gospels. He gave me an A.

So to answer your question of "How do people get this dumb?" Simple.

They haven't read the Bible. Because they don't care about the Bible. They don't care about the content, it's just tribal identity to them. It's an arbitrary designator of "my team/your team", like shirts and skins in flag football.

You'll notice much of the stuff Fundies get wrong is really easy, basic stuff, much of which shows up early on. Sodom and Gammorah, for example, is about half a page long, shows up less than ten pages in, and never mentions gay people. At all.

There's a lot more stuff I could mention--God creating the Universe twice in a row on Page Fucking One; Lucifer/Satan being totally different characters; Christ amazing the crowd at his trial by simultaneously saying nothing in his defense (Matthew, Mark, Luke) and also giving a huge speech in his defense (John)--but the point is, they don't give a shit.

And because their only exposure to the Bible is from other people, authority figures whose job is to tell you what's in that super important book you'll never read, they miss the nuance and think the Bible is nothing but "Everyone's a piece of shit except us and the earth is 26 years old."

Meanwhile, if you actually read the Bible, you're like "Hey, the entire middle portion of the book is nothing but poems and songs and cryptic wisdom and parables. And then the most important character in the Bible, the guy these people are obsessed with, opens all his teachings with "DO NOT TAKE THIS LITERALLY, I'M TELLING A STORY SO YOU CAN DRAW YOUR OWN CONCLUSIONS."

But yeah, that acid trip at the end where you've got fuckin' dragons wearing crowns of stars and an evil lady rising from the ocean and this last-minute antagonist escaping from Hell just so he can get thrown back into Hell? Written by the guy with hallucinogenic plants grown right outside his cave? 100% literal.