Ep 99: Why should atheists read the Bible? | Bigger questions

Ep 99: Why should atheists read the Bible?

Hear from an atheist of why atheists should read the Bible.
Alex McCullie
Bible reference(s): 
John 1:1
Sun 6 May 2018
Bible discussion material
bible reading material
Word one to one

Alex McCullie spent over two years reading the Gospel of John with Bigger Questions host Rob Martin - now they talk about that experience. it was profound and unexpected. Alex thoroughly enjoyed these sessions and they became a highlight of his week.

What could an atheist gain? A must listen to conversation for all atheists and non-religious people.

We ask Alex McCullie some Bigger Questions about the Bible.

Alex and Rob used a resource called Word 1-2-1 to read the Bible. If you would like to read the Bible with someone, please contact us.

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Bigger questions asked in the conversation

Smaller Questions

How much do you know about the Bible?


So Alex, you know the Bible a bit better than most atheists. But you’ve also had a bit of experience in dealing with the Bible. In fact you once gave a presentation at the Atheist Society of Melbourne about the Bible. What happened?

So you identify as an atheist?

But what makes you interested in the Bible?

The invitation and the experience of reading the Bible 1-1

So a few years back, after our dialogue, around three years ago, we caught up for a coffee, just to catch up and say hello. At that meeting I mentioned that I had these notes to the Gospel of John, the Word 1-2-1, and I was wondering if you’d be interested in reading them with me. I was a bit nervous - but how did you react when I asked you?

Now how long did you think we’d meet and read for?

Did you think we’d get through the whole Gospel of John?

So we read through the whole Gospel of John generally meeting once a fortnight - it took us some 2.5 years. Were you happy with that pace? Did that work for you?

Did you like the Bible reading resource we were using, the Word 1-2-1? It had the Bible split into smaller sections and some notes attached?

So what did you gain in reading through the Gospel of John?

How did other atheists react when you mentioned to them that you were regularly reading the Bible?

Reflecting on the Bible

We reflect on the part of the Bible that Alex and I encountered almost three years ago. The very first words of the Gospel of John, John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

So Alex, how do you react when you hear those words?

The prologue of John sets up themes and ideas in the rest of the Gospel, much like how an overture functions in a musical or opera. Did you appreciate the recurrence and development of these themes throughout the Gospel, like the light/dark imagery, discussion of where Jesus was from and what it means to be born of God?

What particular things struck you as we read through the Gospel of John?

Reactions and impact of reading the Bible

Did you find appeal in Jesus?

Atheist and author Sam Harris in the End of Faith, claims that the Bible contains ‘mountains of life-destroying gibberish.‘ Was that your experience of reading through the Gospel of John?

We’ve finished the Gospel of John, now we’re reading the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, how are you finding that?

Big Question

So Alex, as an atheist, why should atheists read the Bible?

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