Randal Rauser: What It’s Like to Read a Study Bible for Atheists

The online community of activist atheists tends to speak of their rational superiority to religious people. But the fact is that rarely have I seen such egregious, unchecked bias as I have among this group. And in this article, I would like to consider an interesting example. It is an endorsement for the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible (SAB). We’ll get to that endorsement below. But first a word on the SAB itself.

The SAB is a KJV version of the Bible. As you may know, the KJV is a four-hundred-year-old translation based on inferior manuscripts and wrought in high falutin’ Elizabethan English. While the King James was a very good translation for its day and it has retained its literary quality, for accuracy and ease of use, it has been surpassed by many contemporary translations. Nonetheless, that is the translation selected for the Skeptic’s Study Bible and it also includes short commentary on the biblical text by a fellow named Steve Wells. You can visit the SAB online here.

So let’s take a quick look, beginning with the question of credentials. That is, what academic training does Wells have to undertake this project and provide reliable analysis of the biblical text? In the section on “Frequently Asked Questions,” he addresses the matter of academic training directly. Here Wells admits that he has no formal training in any fields relating to biblical studies. Surely that is disqualifying, no? However, he then adds that he does have training in other fields:

“I have a B.S. in Botany and a more than 50 semester hours of graduate credit in Chemistry and Mathematics, with 20 years of experience as an industrial statistician. And although I am not a Bible scholar, I have spent many years studying the Bible, and I rely on and cite the work of scholars, updating the SAB with the most recent and best information available.” (source)

An obvious question: does Wells really think that a degree in biology and some work in chemistry, math, and statistics, equips him to provide a reliable set of readers notes for the Bible?

We can put the problem this way. Imagine that you’re looking to hire an architect to build your dream home. Jones submits a proposal to become the architect and so you query Jones on his formal academic training in the field. He admits that he lacks any formal education in engineering or architecture. However, he adds, he does have a B.A. in English literature and he has also taken some courses in history and psychology. Moreover, he also notes that he has 20 years of experience as a high school teacher. And although he is not an architect, he assures you that has spent many years studying architecture on his own and relies on the work of “scholars.”

Simple question: would you trust this man to build your house? Needless to say, the question answers itself: clearly, Wells is not off to an auspicious beginning.

And that leads us straight into the question of why Wells chose an extremely dated Bible translation like the KJV as the basis for the SAB. His three replies to this question are not inspiring. He says:

“There are no copyright restrictions on the KJV.

“It is still the most familiar version and some Christians consider it to be the only “authentic” version.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Christian Post, Randal Rauser