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Those who have no theistic beliefs, what would your ideal "holy book" contain?

#1FlashOfLightPosted 9/15/2013 7:28:19 PM
For those who reject any and all beliefs in a deity, or deities, or even spiritual beings, as per the beliefs found throughout Native American tribes, what would your ideal, go-to book by the creator of the universe, or otherwise cosmic being - contain?

Atheists, for example, often put their critiques against the Bible, expressing how they find it to be scientifically, historically, or morally unreliable or inaccurate.

The world's main religions usually have an accepted collection of "divine" or "sacred" writings, the more well known, besides the Bible, are Islam's Quran, Hinduism's Vedas, Sikhism's Guru Granth Sahib, Taoism's Tao Te Ching, Buddhism's Tripitaka with its Sutras by Buddha, and Confucianism's Five Classics.

Some of the different religious writings share similar subject matter, such as origins, hymns, the particular religion's historical occurences of importance, practical advise for daily life (or if some wish, wisdom), and accounts of non-earthly events beyond human experience, such as what happens or happened in a primordial world or in the heavens.

The length of these different books varies, but in general, under normal type and conventional text, they can exceed anywhere from 400-2,000 plus pages.

So I would like to ask to non-believers who hold no faith, what would your ideal holy, or sacred book contain, and how long should it be? A short and to the point book of 60 pages? A regular sized novel book, between 400 and 800 pages? Or a vast and deep collection of books that span volumes as much as the classical encyclopedia? (Usually 26 separate books of around 200 pages each).

When I think about it, I suppose that atheists may favour a form of book that is not very much different than a standard dictionary, since a dictionary usually covers all the subjects that atheists feel sacred writings tend to lack, such as specific scientific definitions and information (the periodic table of elements, universal weights and measures, a map of the world, constellation chart, anatomical charts of the human body, types of rocks, evolution diagrams, explanations on grammar, biological classifications, mechanical diagrams, the electromagnetic spectrum, and natural phenomenon such as lightning, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc, to just name some of the things covered.)

As well, some dictionaries tend to have a section on history, and have short biographies on key figures.

So would that suffice? Or what would the ideal book be lacking, or be in need of covering in detail to erase doubts, and would the length not matter for the sake of convenience, or if it was a very lengthy volume, would it be welcomed despite its massive contents?

What should and should not the ideal sacred book contain?

Hymns
Science
History
Personal information about the reader's life or circumstances
Prophecies
Wisdom
Poetry
Knowledge about the unknown
Romantic dialogue
Assurance of one's worth and ultimate destiny
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#2Hustle KongPosted 9/15/2013 7:43:22 PM
I am not a theist, but the Zhuangzi is probably my favorite "sacred text", and a good example of what I'd like, even though it also is nontheistic. I am not joking, but the Book of the Subgenius would be another example.

I'm probably not the intended audience though, as I don't have the objections you list as common ones for other atheists.
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#3Hustle KongPosted 9/15/2013 7:46:38 PM
To clarify, I don't really have any objections to the bible. I will eventually get around to reading it (it's soon-ish on my book queue).
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Shooting Game never die.
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#4FlashOfLight(Topic Creator)Posted 9/15/2013 8:18:18 PM
Hustle Kong posted...
I am not a theist, but the Zhuangzi is probably my favorite "sacred text", and a good example of what I'd like, even though it also is nontheistic. I am not joking, but the Book of the Subgenius would be another example.

I'm probably not the intended audience though, as I don't have the objections you list as common ones for other atheists.


It's ok, I still like that you mentioned it anyway.

So would you recommend the Zhuangzi towards others who have no spiritual beliefs, or is it just a personal selection that you consider to be part of your interest in private leisure?

Another thing I wanted to add in the topic is that for many who read sacred writings, they often do so to find some form of peace, did either the Zhuangzi or the Book of the Subgenius add any peace you may not have had previously?
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"Ep-pe, pep-pe, kak-ke! Hil-lo, hol-lo, hel-lo! Ziz-zy, zuz-zy, zik!"
#5rick alveradoPosted 9/15/2013 8:25:43 PM
See, to answer your question, I'd first have to know what exactly a holy book is supposed to be. Is it supposed to about the how the universe works? Because then it would be science textbooks. Is it supposed to be about how to live your life? Because in my mind that boils down to one sentence: "Do whatever you want as long as you're not interfering with other people's ability to do the same."
#6JonWood007Posted 9/15/2013 8:40:20 PM
As an atheist, I kinda see the whole idea of a holy book to be problematic, quite frankly, to hold loyalty to the ideas held within a single book is just silly and dogmatic, and I think that a great tenet of free thought is that we don't subscribe to one book, but we will read them all and evaluate the ideas on a case by case basis.

Anyway, if we were going to go in holy book format, as in, what I would expect from a book that is actually written by a divine being:

1) In depth knowledge of the history of the universe, how it works, or at least have these facts consistent with reality.

2) Have prophecies of what will happen in the future in a clear, unmistakable form. There must be proof that they were written before the events themselves, to avoid retroactive prophecy.

3) The morality within must have intrinsic value.....it must be so obvious, so noteworthy, that only a fool could possibly argue against it. And I don't mean OW style circular arguments either, I mean that there must actually be standalone wisdom in its words.

4) Ultimately, the book must withstand the harshest criticism.

As for size....while you could do the 1000-2000 page book, I think that would be awfully condensed....I think you'd need volumes you cover everything, because you'd need to address a lot of opposing ideas and explain why your ideas are superior.

These are just some indications. As I said, I honestly see the idea of a holy book to be rather silly as an atheist.....why should we dogmatically hold to one book, when a major tenet of the free thought so many of us cherish is the fact that we are always open to new ideas, that we try to avoid dogmatism, and that we question and test everything...for a holy book to really hold water, it would really need to be immune to criticism...not based on the fact of "who" wrote it (which is where christians go oh so terribly wrong logically), but based on its merits....the book's knowledge must literally be so obvious, so good, that to argue against it would be like arguing the world is round. I actually think this would be very difficult, if not impossible to accomplish, but if some sort of data were provided....
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#7FlashOfLight(Topic Creator)Posted 9/15/2013 9:13:27 PM
rick alverado posted...
See, to answer your question, I'd first have to know what exactly a holy book is supposed to be. Is it supposed to about the how the universe works? Because then it would be science textbooks. Is it supposed to be about how to live your life? Because in my mind that boils down to one sentence: "Do whatever you want as long as you're not interfering with other people's ability to do the same."


That is the question in itself for the reader, what is a holy book (to you)? Except that, usually, in the search for the divine, one does seem to expect something beyond themselves, that transcends their own knowledge, power, or abilities, or insight thereto, so in short what can be called holy to the non-religious could be as simple as something that they are not otherwise able to gain by themselves, and obviously not something such as money, or other material things, though ultimately religions do seek towards filling in that gap via by whatever method of reach into the divine they offer.

Or, in some other way, let's say that something holy can also be something that is so important, that it would be an immediate disaster to no longer have it around.

So, if it were a science textbook, about how the universe works, if it were no longer around and available, would your own mind and life be severely and negatively affected by it?
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"Ep-pe, pep-pe, kak-ke! Hil-lo, hol-lo, hel-lo! Ziz-zy, zuz-zy, zik!"
#8PerthboyPosted 9/15/2013 9:46:55 PM
The Silmarillion
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#9rick alveradoPosted 9/16/2013 3:53:32 AM
FlashOfLight posted...
rick alverado posted...
See, to answer your question, I'd first have to know what exactly a holy book is supposed to be. Is it supposed to about the how the universe works? Because then it would be science textbooks. Is it supposed to be about how to live your life? Because in my mind that boils down to one sentence: "Do whatever you want as long as you're not interfering with other people's ability to do the same."


That is the question in itself for the reader, what is a holy book (to you)? Except that, usually, in the search for the divine, one does seem to expect something beyond themselves, that transcends their own knowledge, power, or abilities, or insight thereto, so in short what can be called holy to the non-religious could be as simple as something that they are not otherwise able to gain by themselves, and obviously not something such as money, or other material things, though ultimately religions do seek towards filling in that gap via by whatever method of reach into the divine they offer.

Or, in some other way, let's say that something holy can also be something that is so important, that it would be an immediate disaster to no longer have it around.

So, if it were a science textbook, about how the universe works, if it were no longer around and available, would your own mind and life be severely and negatively affected by it?


I don't really see how there would be a book like that, that not having it would be a disaster. Certainly certain things would be worse without certain scientific knowledge, but knowledge can always be regained through research.

As for what a holy book is to me, the only one I'm that familiar with is the Bible, which as far as I'm concerned is just a mixture of fiction with some history, much like any other piece of mythology.
#10gamesrgreatPosted 9/16/2013 10:01:46 AM
I hate to be that guy but I think you meant encyclopedia and not dictionary

It really depends on the goal of the religion. For a religion with a god yeah I would like some proof. I've tried reading the Quran, I've read most of the Bible, I've read the Tao Teh Ching/ Dao De Jing, tried some Sutras and books on Buddhism, etc. It really depends on the religion. For a religion like Christianity I would like it to have something to back it up or at least not have things that I feel are immoral/unscientific. For religions like Buddhism/Daoism, I'm pretty satisfied with the core texts since they are more philosophical in nature.

I will now have to read the Zhuangzi, especially since the historical record is by Sima Qian, who I've read stuff from before for my research.
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