I disagree with the claim that all atheists consider the bible a work of fiction. I am annoyed by that for two reasons. I didn’t like that someone else speaks for me about what I think or believe. Second, in my opinion, even for an atheist to make such a claim is as much folly as declaring all scripture fact.
Is the Bible a book of fiction? If you consider it either fact or fiction, perhaps it is. My dictionary says fiction is “something invented by the imagination or feigned.” Fiction is intentionally so.
Good story tellers of truth or fiction are rare and endangered artists. I humorously refer to the stories I write as lies or fibs (terms literalists might struggle with). Frequently enough, people ask if my story is true. Nothing I write is 100% fact, including this essay. Nor is anything I write total fiction.
It may be my best accurate memory. Factual journalism is challenging even for the best writers. If you’re as hung up on this as I am, try reading Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, by David Shields. Is exaggeration either fact or fiction?
I tell stories with beginnings, middles, and (the most difficult part) ends. My dreams are often related to a reality of my past. They’re not stories because they have only the middle: no backstory or once upon a time concept.
My dreams lack beginnings and transitions. They never end. I wake up or move on to another. There is no natural, spontaneous, or contrived ending. There is no moral lesson. Now, about the bible.
The point of the bible is that God inspired humans to write it. However, I am unconvinced of the biblical cannons being inspired since I believe there is nothing to do the inspiring.
For the sake of agreement, we all pretty much think the books of the bible are real and were written by people. They were also re-written, translated and retranslated, interpreted by and added-to by people other than the original, allegedly divinely inspired, authors. It all continues to happen even to this day. Yet, with all this effort, there is not even one original biblical document to read in any language.
So, which is it? Facts inspired by the divine or a bunch of nonsense and lies. While for many the answer is moot, I have never cared much. Did someone kill others with a jawbone? Did it rain for a long time causing floods? Were there wars and sieges? Did people cut off male foreskins? Were people crucified or decapitated? Was stuff copied from older stuff? Was there nothing and then six days later, everything? Did a bunch of slaves say fuck it and just leave followed by a bunch of morons who drowned? Maybe so. So what? Shit happens.
Even when I was a practicing Christian and teacher of the bible, it’s fact or fiction never mattered to me. I failed as a thumper. For me, the bible has always been a book of books about (and of) religion. But they are far from the only books of religion handed down through history.
So are these: The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys (Bahá’i); The Tipitaka (Buddhism); The Vedas and the Upanishads (Hinduism); The Quaran and the Hadiths (Islam); The Agamas (Jainism); The Tanakh and the Talmud (Judaism); The Kojiki (Shintoism); The Dao De Jing (Taoism); The Book Of Shadows (Wicca); and The Avesta (Zoroastrianism).
Omar Khayyam wrote, A hair divides what is false and true. People can call it whatever they wish. I speak for myself. For me, along with the Bible, all the above are books of religion. Each carry equal weight but have more meaning to that religious group, fact or fiction.
No god, master, translation, interpretation, inspiration, or conflagration required.