The Bible In 410 Words

Since I’m enjoying the role of officious editor of long documents, here’s my take on the Bible, reduced to its essential elements and leaving in all the “good stuff”:

In the beginning, the universe was created, the earth was formed, and humans and all the other animals and all the plants came to exist. Then, humans formed societies and found they have to live together. This proved more difficult than it seems, so here are the basic rules to follow:

Above all, be good to each other. This includes not murdering one another, avoiding war when possible, not stealing, not breaking promises, and not lying, or engaging in other activities which you know or should know will cause unnecessary pain to others especially when those activities involve sex. Do not buy, sell, or own slaves; one human being cannot own another like property and to act otherwise is an abomination. Parents, be particularly good to your children and this includes taking good care of the earth, because they will have to live in it when you are gone. Children, be particularly good to your parents and this includes taking care of them when they are very old, because they took care of you when you were very young. Envy is the source of much unhappiness, so make a good faith effort to be content with what you have and to acquire wealth only through honest means. Mind your own business and do not be overly concerned with what others do if it does not cause you harm.

You will need to make more rules than these with your fellow humans, and those other rules should be consistent with these ideas.

Bad things are going to happen to you in life, and life is not fair. It may not be obvious all the time, but everyone suffers at least some time. Nevertheless, life is worth living and you should take joy from the love offered by your friends and your family. There are no guarantees, but if you get an education, act in harmony with the basic rules of ethics outlined above, and work hard, you are much more likely to grow prosperous than if you do not do these things.

The purpose of your existence is to live a good life, and living a good life includes both behaving morally as well as enjoying pleasure. You have intelligence; use it. No matter what your station in life, if you devote the effort needed to make the world around you a better place, this will bring you a powerful measure of happiness. Go now into the world, and be happy.

Notice the absence of anything relating to the supernatural; no gods or prophets, no fake history, no attempts to freeze society into antiquated culture, no zombies or zombie-worship, no hallucinatory visions, no demons or bogeymen or cosmic protection rackets. What gets left behind when you trim out all the nonsense is a relatively short, sensible, and worthwhile code of ethics.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

One Comment

  1. As I feared with content moderation, I hit the wrong button by mistake. Commenter Hortensio writes:I encourage you to create shortened versions of many important texts. I am lazy and enjoy the thought of you doing my intellectual work for me. =PMore critically, I'm not quite sure that the Bible comes down as heavily anti-slavery as you give the impression, but I suppose if you're editing the Bible then editing away the immoral bits would be all for the best. — My apologies to Hortensio for accidentally deleting a worthwhile comment. And he's right when he says "…if you're editing the Bible then editing away the immoral bits would be all for the best", those were my thoughts exactly when I did it.

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