It is my opinion that the greatest impediment to the intelligibility of the Christian faith is, in fact, its foundational set of documents. Far from being an asset, the Bible is the
Want to blow molinistic excuses for the problem of evil out of the water? Calvinists have already done the work. Want to undercut Sola Scriptura? Catholics have that covered. Want to illustrate the absurdity of the Trinity? Ask those Jehovah's Witnesses that come to your door next Saturday. Want to show how evolutionary theory isn't compatible with Christianity? Look no further than Answers in Genesis. What do all of these groups have in common? They all use the Bible to knock down each other's theological systems. Not all of the arguments are that great, mind you, but my point still stands. They all show that the Bible can be an effective weapon against nearly every form of Christianity.
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Will reading the Bible always do the trick in making a Christian rethink his belief? Of course not. I read the Bible all the way through myself on multiple occasions and managed to navigate the cognitive dissonance quite well. That doesn't mean everyone will. I suspect that for many, simply encountering passages like Numbers 31 might be enough to rattle them out of notions they may have had about the god of the Bible being a swell dude. For the more thoroughly shielded and indoctrinated, it's going to take a bit more than the divinely-ordered slaughter of little boys and enslavement/rape of little girls to push them over the edge.
For many it will never happen. There typically exists some sort of rationalization that can be appealed to in nearly any circumstance. Christianity has had almost 2,000 years to hone these excuses. Even so, it's simply an impossible task to try to make complete sense of a collection of that many truth propositions when so many are either contradictory or empirically falsifiable. However, if a person always begins by assuming there absolutely must be a solution for any problem a skeptic poses, she will eventually discover one to her liking. She often only needs one, as the standard for demonstrating error is usually insurmountably high. The proposed solution only need be possible, not merely likely. Any solution, regardless of how improbable, is still more likely to the believer than the alternative.
When it comes to this stuff, greater intelligence often seems to merely guarantee that the process of seeing these problems for what they really are will take longer and require more nuance. Indeed, the person may never find their way out as they move deeper and deeper into self-deception with each "solution." Their minds will begin to just assume that since they've been able to address every objection in the past, they will have no problem deflecting subsequent criticism. Thus we have the "properly read" qualifier in Asmiov's quote above.
To me, "properly read" means studying the texts critically while seriously entertaining the notion that they may, in fact, be solely the product of human beings and at least some parts may lack any sort of divine origin whatsoever. It means setting aside straw-grasping at the excuse of "metaphor" while looking for some deeper, spiritual meaning for a passage and instead positing that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. It means not simply shifting one's hermeneutic approach every time something doesn't fit the usual method of interpretation. It means taking the time to seriously consider the points made by critics without presupposing that those critics are instruments of Satan out to lead people astray. It means being open to the idea that an apparent error in the so-called "inerrant" Bible is exactly what it appears to be: an actual error. It means at least momentarily suppressing whatever go-to backstop one has for continuing to cling to one's current core belief system, whether it's Pascal's Wager or the Sunk Costs Fallacy or peer pressure or just the desire to avoid that sinking feeling that's experienced when exploring these topics. It means letting one's desire to know what's really real override one's desire to remain comfortable, at ease and certain of oneself.
Even now you might be reading this and thinking to yourself that the reason people like me don't see the Bible the way you do is because we don't have the Holy Spirit. Like Paul said, these things are foolish to us because they are spiritually discerned and we just don't have the spirit within us. You may as well tell me that because Dumbledore hasn't cast an interpreting spell on me I can't understand his magic book. How conveniently unfalsifiable and how capricious and arbitrary of your god. That sounds to me like another one of those backstops I was referring to.
Often something has to trigger a willingness to move past those things, however. Some glitch in the Matrix or a brief glimpse behind the curtain that a believer chooses not to ignore and suppress. That, and a desire to see the thing through to a satisfactory end is going to be necessary. And it's probably going to take more than one or two discrepancies. It will be different for different people. Everyone's mileage varies. Additionally, the more one chooses to stay in their echo-chamber and run to the soothing reassurances that come from just knowing that some kind of a response exists on some apologetics website somewhere on the Internet or in some commentary, regardless of how weak that response is, the less likely one will be able to emerge from that protective little cocoon of belief.
Will rejecting the Bible as the inerrant, infallible word of God necessarily lead to atheism? Obviously not. People can and do stop short quite frequently. Many will still cling to the idea that the Bible is somehow divinely inspired in parts with a mixture of error and they will rely on either their own notions or those of some ecclesiastical authority to decide which parts. Others will see the Bible as thoroughly the product of human beings on par with other works of religious literature, but still hold to some form of theism or spirituality. Many will not stop short, however, and I tend to think that the more elevated one's view of the Bible was at the outset, the further one falls once the Bible is seen for what it really is. That's one reason why I don't think Asimov was necessarily being hyperbolic in proclaiming the Bible to be the most potent force for atheism ever conceived. Perhaps I'm biased, though. Studying the Bible is largely what disabused me of my faith and I'm glad it did.
I feel fortunate to have been indoctrinated into a version of Christianity that placed so much emphasis on the importance of that particular collection of ancient documents contained in the Protestant Bible. Had I been raised in a version of Christianity that taught the Bible was full of errors, wasn't at all reliable from the standpoint of Science, History and even morality and shouldn't be regarded as the cornerstone of the Christian faith, why, I might still be a Christian. However, I'd probably be the kind of Christian that most unbelievers like me don't really have a problem with. Of course, according to most of the Christians I've known, those kinds of Christians aren't Real Christians™ anyway.