An Agnostic Puts in a Good Word for the Bible

I’m an agnostic, but I still love the Bible. 

The Bible, for all of its faults, grapples with the ontological mystery (the mystery of being) in an often brutal and non-reductionist way. Many of its books are not reductionist, and do not close down thought, but keep the ontological mystery alive.

I’m thinking especially of books like Job and Ecclesiastes, but also a number of the stories in Genesis (such as where Jacob wrestles the angel and Abraham dares to negotiate with God over the fate of the inhabitants of Sodom). These latter two stories are Shakespearean in their agonistic struggles with the divine.

And there are other places in the Bible where Shakespearean Hamlet-like moments occur, where biblical characters struggle, like good agnostics, with confusion and doubt.

Jesus, for example, sweats blood in the garden, and on the cross (in the gospel of Mark) he wonders whether God has forsaken him. 

I also love the book of Jonah. It is profoundly discomfitting, and is slyly humorous, and teaches compassion for foreigners, and even animals.

A book (like Jonah) whose last line has God tell a fiery prophet that he should mellow out in his “city destruction rap” because Ninevah has “many, many animals” can’t be all bad.

Vegetarian agnostics everywhere can only smile at that.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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1 Response to An Agnostic Puts in a Good Word for the Bible

  1. maryrestaino says:

    The Bible is a remarkable piece of literature, whether you are a believer or not. Thanks for the post.

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