View Full Version : Humanist Bible

10-05-2015, 11:05 PM
I was listening to NPR the other day and heard an interview with AC Grayling, the atheist/humanist chaplain at one of the Ivies. Apparently, he wrote a humanist Bible called _The Good Book_. I get a little twitchy around things that walk and talk like traditional Christianity, but the excerpt I read was kind of beautiful once I got over the cognitive dissonance of reading about Newton in biblical cadences.

Interview is here: Humanist Manifesto - A.C. Grayling | To the best of our KNOWLEDGE (http://www.ttbook.org/book/humanist-manifesto-ac-grayling)

10-24-2015, 11:40 AM
Did you know that Elizabeth Cady Stanton had female religious scholars help her write "The Woman's Bible"? I bought a copy a long time ago and it grew legs and ran away. I read about it in some works on Suffrage, and found that this was the major rift between Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

10-24-2015, 01:01 PM
I think theres a Ken Burns documentary on the suffrage ladies.

How would a humanist bible work? My thought is that Humanism believes we know the difference between right and wrong from an introspection, not from an external source?

10-24-2015, 01:24 PM
Yea, how does a Humanist bible read? I am curious as well. I am reading Slow Death by Rubber Duck which is about chemical pollution in personal care items and body burdens, so I am not in "bible" mode right now. :)

10-24-2015, 02:24 PM
Looks interesting actually, doesn't make me too twitchy :)

I was looking at it on Amazon, It had some good reviews, and comments. Interesting premise and must have been a lot of work to publish. Then I saw this post in the comments:
"Three stars. Too much really, I don't think I'll ever get around to reading it all"

Kind of sums up the actual bible, doesn't it??? Pretty funny :)

10-24-2015, 02:30 PM
Im still afraid. What does it have, why does it have?

Is making a secular / humanist bible legitimizing the concept that there is a *need* for a one-size-fits-all book of knowledge / wisdom / spirituality?

10-24-2015, 02:43 PM
Im still afraid. What does it have, why does it have?

Is making a secular / humanist bible legitimizing the concept that there is a *need* for a one-size-fits-all book of knowledge / wisdom / spirituality?

It wouldn't matter if someone claimed the need for a one size fits all type thing. There are certain universal motifs that appear in various religions and philosophies. But the funny thing is, the global stuff--what people pick and choose is like reading the results of a Meyer's-Briggs Test.

Personally as a non-Christian, you would lose me at the First Commandment. I prefer more basic concepts like compassion, mindfulness, etc., Sometimes the Bible can offer examples of that, but it also offers examples of a lot of things that are anything but compassionate or mindful.

But I found as I read other religious writings, that this is a common problem across the board. These pearls of wisdom, the genuine ones, are always dispersed in other pearls of other stuff (definitely not wisdom or even kindness).

Maybe you can get this version of the bible from interlibrary loan so you don't have to buy it and still get to thumb the pages and make up your own mind about the contents. Reading the bible won't make you a Christian, any more than standing in a garage will make you a car. Just ask Pat Robertson.

10-24-2015, 02:44 PM
I get what you're saying, but I think it is more of a....."see, we can do it too....you all aren't that special....nanny, nanny, boo boo" kind of thing?

Wouldn't spend my money on it, and seems a bit pointless, but I'd check it out for free from the library.....but yeah, unnecessary. :)


Drawn from the wealth of secular literature and philosophy in both Western and Eastern traditions, using the same techniques of editing, redaction, and adaptation that produced the holy books of the Judeo-Christian and Islamic religions, The Good Book consciously takes its design and presentation from the Bible. In its beauty of language and its arrangement into short chapters and verses for ease of reading and quotability, it offers the non-religious seeker all the wisdom, insight, solace, inspiration, and perspective of secular humanist traditions that are older, far richer, and more various than Christianity.

10-24-2015, 04:06 PM
Introspection isn't the only source of knowledge for secular humanists. The lives and utterances of people who've lived the examined life without reference to a god or other supernatural being are legitimate sources of knowledge, too; creating a secular "Bible" that collects some of these utterances is not on its face counter to secular humanism.

This particular book is a constructed text like the Bible in that it is a mix of a whole bunch of other texts, without all the mess of trying to pretend there are no internal contradictions. It's not like a Bible because there is a pretty rigorous thematic consistency in terms of the focus on the importance of right action and self-examination instead of reliance on a god.

I have made a game of picking out where a given chapter comes from since Grayling did not bother to include in-text citations. I was pretty stoked to come across my favorite Walter Pater quote: “To burn always with this hard, gemlike flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life". That's my life philosophy during my 20s right there in a nutshell.

Bummer, though, how his sources are mostly Western men. Good nightstand book; glad I bought it.

10-24-2015, 04:31 PM
Whats in it, SH?

Is it like thought of the day platitutudes? Is it paralelling jesus-bible stories?

The amazon page doesnt have sample pages to look at. :(

10-24-2015, 04:45 PM
It ain't for me, but I can see someone enjoying it. But I feel another UU discussion coming on.....uh oh. ;)

10-24-2015, 08:35 PM
It has books like the Bible: Genesis, Wisdom, Parables, Concord, Lamentations, Consolations, Sages, Songs, Histories, Proverbs, The Lawgiver, Acts, Epistles, and The Good.

The chapters in the books are big chunks from people like Seneca, Walter Pater, Sun Tzu, Darwin, Plato, Thoreau, and Whitman that relate to the theme of each book.

The chunks are pretty substantial, so it isn't like one of those thought of the day things.

10-25-2015, 12:02 PM
Sounds fascinating Soulhammer. Personally I liked Clarissa Pinoka Estes Women Who Run With the Wolves. Someone talked me into reading it and I was pleasantly shocked to discover I loved it. But I love a bit of paranormal mixed with my faerie tales, I won't lie. However that is no guarantee that I will worship anyone or anything. ;) I also loved The Sacred and the Profane by Mircea Eliade.

Speaking of personal saints--the Girls and I just picked up a 2016 Calendar of Frida Kahlo. It's beautiful, she looks like a dark Madonna, full of mysteries and creative energies. Gotta love her chutzpah. Like an Aztec Priestess of Central American Art!

I am totally intrigued by this Humanistic Bible. I think I shall get it and the girls and I shall do a comparison reading between that and the more traditional form.

10-26-2015, 10:27 AM
Women Who Run with Wolves...I like the sound of that and will definitely check it out. And Frida Kahlo!