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Skepticism goes mainstream
#993300">New PBS series exposes Old Testament fairy tales
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Bill Maher, on HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher," frequently refers to the Old Testament of the Bible as the Book of Jewish Fairy Tales. The description might anger the pious and the fundamentalists, but guess what? Maher's close to the truth.
A visually stunning two-hour special edition of "Nova" examines decades of archaeological studies that contradict much of what is in the Bible. The entire Exodus story is debunked, as is the idea that the Israelites were monotheistic following the contract made between God and Abraham. It turns out idol worship was common through the reign of King David and right up to the Babylonian exile.
Is the Bible the word of God? Only if God dictated it to dozens, maybe hundreds, of different writers, each of whom wrote and modified stories using different patterns of language over a period of centuries.
To be sure, writer-producer-director Gary Glassman does not dismiss the Old Testament as a collection of fairy tales. He asserts that the stories, though provably false in many cases, were intended to give identity to the Israelites, a group likely made up of former Canaanites, nomads and runaway slaves. Also, the Bible provided the Israelites with a moral framework.
The special, narrated by Liev Schreiber, is not likely to sit well with those who believe that the Bible, despite its internal inconsistencies, should be interpreted literally. Then again, science and religion have had a long history of conflict until, ultimately, the former prevails.