Can Literature Make Us Worse?: Religious Scripture as Literature.

Daniel Lehewych, M.A
13 min readOct 23, 2019

Often times, what a work of art means is profoundly obscure. Literature, however, is the form of art that most clearly illustrates the thoughts of the artist. When we’re speaking honestly, we can refer religious texts as works of fiction that depict age-old stories. These are texts that, on the whole, have made humanity worse off morally and intellectually. That is because, throughout history, these texts have not just been interpreted as ‘mere’ literature but as guides to morality and reality itself. However, aside from its non-literary implications, as a work of literature, it presents a worldview that has in more ways than not made humanity worse off. The dark ages, the inquisition, and the crusades, for instance, would have been irrational without the existence of the bible. This is clearly a controversial claim, but the truth supersedes the polarizing taboo of criticizing religious texts. Religious scripture is literature that makes us worse ethically and diminishes the human spirit, at the level of individual identity. This is not a call for censorship, however. Plato was wrong in this regard. If we censor them, that eliminates the possibility of criticizing these works of literature as the inducers of moral abhorrence. The fact that such literature can make us worse, implies that there exists literature that makes us better. Literature that makes us better, must be coherent in its presentation of a palatable worldview. The stories which make us better, do so without explicitly attempting to make philosophical claims. They must do so in a manner that represents a semblance of reality -i.e. Not trying to make any claims as to the actuality of reality, as religious texts do. These can range from archetypal hero myths to psychological fiction. Hence, Oscar Wilde was wrong when he wrote: “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.” On the contrary, “Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, then the word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.”

Firstly, it must be noted that religious texts are literature, but throughout history have not been seen as such. They have been seen…

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