Davies: Biblical Ethics not the Basis of our Civilization

The renowned biblical scholar agrees with the New Atheists, at least in part.

In a post that is drawing fire from Christian biblical scholars, Philip Davies argues that biblical ethics have little to do with our western values. See Philip Davies’ post

Davies' conclusions are not really that different from my argument that the Bible is largely irrelevant to modern society in terms of its ethical values (The End of Biblical Studies [2007]). But I would add that the appeals to biblical authority are still causing a lot of ethical problems in modern society.

I particularly appreciated Davies’ criticisms of those who see the prophets as paradigms of ethics. To me, many of these prophets are simply promoters of Yahwistic imperialism. In addition, many Christian readers uncritically assume that the prophets’ critiques of their society were accurate. This would be like assuming that Glenn Beck’s tirades against President Obama are always correct or ethical. Actually, it may be the kings labeled as “evil” who are being imitated in our society (at least in some very limited areas such as a more liberal religious pluralism for which the prophets often attacked them).

In any case, to read what other biblical scholars are saying, see Responses to Davies

I have covered a lot of the issues mentioned by these responses in Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence (2005) and in The End of Biblical Studies (2007).

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