Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book Review - When God Speaks for Himself

When God Speaks for Himself, by Mark Tier and George Forrai, is a compilation of passages from the bible that contradict one another, or don't make sense, or are plain disgusting and immoral, and yet are the word and commands of God. The idea behind the book is a good one. Many adherents of Christianity haven't read the bible at all, and those who have have often read only portions or been read portions of the bible by their reverend or priest or pastor. Often, too often, these chosen passages from the bible are the nice ones, the ones that fit into the 'God is just a really nice, laid back guy' idea that most people start off with. Obviously any god they follow, being decent people themselves, would also have to worthy of their admiration. So this book aims to remind people of all the horrific, crazy and, dare I say, evil, parts of the bible that show God for what he really is, someone who makes any human dictator or mass murderer look like a kid messing around at playtime.

Unfortunately, there were several things that made the book slightly harder to read. One was the way the text has been formatted. The fonts and sizes used to differentiate the side-notes or addenda as well as quotes and excerpts from the bible from the main text are confusing. Often, I would lose track of when I was supposed to be reading a passage from the bible and when I was back reading what the authors had to say.

Which brings me to one of the other problems I had. The terms of phrase and wording used by the authors are fairly colloquial and everything written is thick with the authors' opinions. There is nothing wrong with this on the whole, obviously, I have purchased their book and therefore it is their opinion I want to read, but there are occasions in the book where it feels like the authors are stretching to interpret several bible quotes in a negative fashion. This, combined with the fact that in those cases, little extra context, whether historical or current theological opinion or any other basis for more objectively and concretely showing that said passages mean what the authors are telling us they mean, impacts on how objective I perceived the authors as being, and therefore how trustworthy the rest of the information was. The book ended up coming across in parts as more of an opinion piece rather than the reference material I had hoped it would be.

And this is a shame, because the vast majority of the information is obviously correct and those passages in the bible do exist and they are as vile or wacky as the authors are pointing out (after all, you can check the passages are in the bible yourself).

At the end of the book, I found myself hoping that the authors would create a second edition of the book, improving on the formatting and various other small issues, so that the book could be the absolute reference to shocking bible quotes that it deserves to be.



  1. Happy place Charles... What happened to your happy place?

    So the book is basically a Skeptics Annotated Bile in print?

  2. Sort of, but the intention of the book isn't to debunk the bible so much as it is to bring the more vile, questionable and contradictory passages to the attention of the reader.

  3. Pretty much. (But in non-internet form, I guess.)