Biblical Living?

The other weekend I read The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs. On the surface, it seems like this would be an odd choice for a Pagan, but I found it very interesting. Maybe that was because I am fascinated by all religious practises, or maybe because A.J. Jacobs is a very funny writer.

The book deals with Mr. Jacobs attempt to live by all, as in 700 some odd, rules in the Bible for a year. Some of them he tackles only once, like living in a hut in his living room, and others he tries to follow all year, like attaching tassels to his clothing and not trimming his facial hair or side locks.

As part of his project, Mr. Jacob also visits with people who take the Bible literally, to varying degrees. He visits an Amish bed-and-breakfast, an orthodox Jew in Israel (his ex-uncle, Gil), a group of Red-Letter Christians, snake handler Jimmy Morrow, a Falwell mega-church, and the Creation Museum.

While the Creation Museum was still under construction when he visited it, Mr. Jacobs managed to give a fairly good impression of what its creators believed–creation happened literally as described in the Bible. Dinosaurs, they say, walked the Earth with man, which is demonstrated by a display of a young cave girl playing next to a (vegetarian) raptor. If you are interested in learning more about the Creation Museum (from a sceptic’s point of view), I found this blog entry: Your Creation Museum Report and accompanying Flick photo set. Be sure to note that signs that state that venom only became harmful after “Adam’s Sin”. Also, thorns are given as proof that dinosaurs lived along with humans, because thorns appeared only after “Adam’s Sin” and they have been found in the fossil record next to dinosaurs. (Also notice that Eve doesn’t even rate high enough to be considered as part of the “Sin”…)

I did get more out of this book then a few laughs at the expense of Creationists. I gained an understanding of some of the Biblical rules that many people in our society follow, often unknowingly; chief among these include the passages people use to condemn homosexuality. I also gained a better understanding of Judaism and Christianity as a whole. But like Mr. Jacobs, a confirmed atheist, my religious stance has not been changed. Rather, I think I am now more committed to following the rules of my own faith more carefully, because I am now more aware of what they mean and why they exists.