Zingrone: Millennials and the Bible

William Zingrone Associate professor of psychology

A recent editorial in USA Today titled “Give Millennials good reasons to read the Bible” points out the fact that 70 percent of those 18-29 in America believe the Bible should not have more influence on society and that now 19 percent (and growing) of American adults, especially the young’uns, are skeptical of the Bible. The author, Henry G. Brinton, is a 54-year-old Presbyterian pastor who feels that: “If properly presented, the Bible can … offer messages that are relevant to people of any age – including young adults.”

Well, Sonny, (Henry), I got news for ya’. I’m a few years older than you but I think I got a better handle on why Millennials are among the most skeptical of your nasty little book and don’t want it to influence society any more than it already does, in fact may prefer it continues to wane in importance in the US. It is a nasty, contradictory, primitive and dangerous book. And many of them know it and for a very good reason. They have read it. All too well. And it isn’t relevant at all, in fact it is primitive in its views toward women and gays, barbaric and spiteful and provides fuel for any and every conservative commentator who wants to tell some segment of the population how to live or why they are sinful and condemned to the flames. It is so ridiculous, when you look at it through a modern lens. It does not speak to this generation or any other, really.

The Bible belongs on the shelf relabeled “Hebrew mythology” and should take its place next to Greek mythology, Roman mythology and be joined as soon as possible by its equally delusional and cruel Middle East partner: Arabic mythology (The Koran). Times have changed since Henry and I were kids in the 60s. The majority of Bible information available to us then was whatever the priest or minister told us was in the Book and that was about it. We believed what we were told and never did bother to read it on our own. In stark contrast to that, the Millennials now have immediate access to comparisons and analyses of the contradictions, atrocities and downright absurdities that are rampant throughout the book. There are hundreds of examples of direct contradictions littered across Old Testament and New, and hundreds more atrocities and downright primitive ideas that leave one cold.

Google “biblical contradictions” and you get 3,650,000 hits! OOPS. This is why Millennials are turning away from the book, Henry. It is a mess. And it is so easy to see that for one’s self nowadays. We don’t rely on the filtered view of some priest or minister for a perspective on the “Good Book,” we read it for ourselves and it is found wanting. Many non-believers repeat the mantra, having experienced it directly that: “The best way to become a non-believer is to actually READ the Bible.” Or checkout the 400+ contradictions graphically illustrated and annotated by the Reason Project at http://www.project-reason.org/gallery3/.

Xian apologists may try to wave them away with untenable pleadings like, “Oh they’re all explained by mistranslation or wrong interpretation” or some such ad hoc attempt. But they aren’t. They don’t magically disappear and are not the result of mistranslation and any Millennial can see that it for their self, and quite plainly. Google “biblical atrocities” and you get another half million hits. Double OOPS. The Bible is not inerrant, relevant or good. That is easy to see. In addition to the absurdities, irrelevancies and contradictions it further provides fuel for all manner of discrimination. The problem is, Henry, that for every passage you can interpret to make nice, you can find one that a conservative can use to support the exact opposite conclusion that is repressive and cruel and for every passage you can point to say, “See it is a Good Book” you can find just as many that show how ugly, primitive and barbaric it really is as well. All these facts lead Millennials away from the Bible as they can see easily how unpalatable and absurd it really is. Information kills religion, don’t doubt it.


Column by William Zingrone, Associate professor of psychology