Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion, & Morality

Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion & Morality
Forward by Martin Gardner

(Edited from the book jacket cover)

   In this book, Steve Allen focuses his talents and critical intelligence on the Bible. He points out that despite the significance of the Scriptures to Western culture, history, religion, and morality, the majority of Americans are almost completely ignorant of the actual contents of the Good Book.  Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion, and Morality is an attempt not only to inform the public but to stimulate critical inquiry into the history of the Bible and its role in the formation of religion and morality.

     In a work reminiscent of Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary, Allen presents his ideas as a series of alphabetically arranged essays on characters, events, and books of he Holy Scriptures, as well as on such controversial topics as abortion, anti-Semitism, capital punishment, death, evolution, flying saucers, and original sin.  He draws on the expertise of biblical scholars, theologians, and philosophers to demonstrate that fundamentalist assumptions about the reliability and authenticity of the Bible as a historical document or as the inviolable Word of God simply have no rational or factual basis.  Like Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason, this book highlights the errors, inconsistencies, self-contradictions, and morally repugnant episodes and characters in he Bible.  So much in Scriptures is at variance with our Western ideals of morality and common decency that an intelligent, objective reader cannot help but judge the Bible as a fascinating, important but very fallible, all-too-human book.  While not denying the value of many biblical passages, Mr. Allen argues that Americans can and should critique the Bible as they would any other historical document.  This by no means implies, however, that in so doing they must discard their faith.
     Steve Allen's interest in biblical scholarship began with the casual reading of the Gideon Bibles that are found in hotel rooms across the country.   In the course of his reading, so many questions were raised in his mind that he started recording his thoughts.  The practice turned into a 20-year habit and enough material to fill the present volume and many more.  Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion and Morality will stimulate readers to go back to their Bibles and consider a variety of thorny but ever-important issues.