Contradictions in the bible and other sacred texts are well-known, yet believers believe anyway. I have been looking for a sort of Rosetta stone solution to this problem because discussing, say the bible with a christian is a tricky business. It seems that each individual christian believes in a slightly different way with little or no commonality between them.

The Forer effect is widely know among skeptics for how it showed how things like horoscopes work.

This is also called the Barnum effect after P.T. Barnum's observation "We have something for everyone." If you didn't like the clowns, there were elephants. If you didn't like the elephants, there were acrobats. People would like the entire circus even though they only liked a couple things in it, yet they projected their entire enjoyment on the whole show.

I think a similar thing is going on regarding believers and their sacred texts. Cherry picking is a well-known occurrence among believers, but it is often seen as believers are consciously picking and choosing which passages to believe and which to come up with weak excuses like "it's a metaphor" or "you're taking it out of context."

But this may not be the case. It is possible, if not likely that the secret to the bible's success is that it does contain so many contradictions and thus "has something for everyone." Believers respond to the passages they like and disregard the parts they don't, but apply their opinion of their favored parts to the entirety of the bible.

This is just conjecture on my part, but it seems reasonable. It does explain the many ways to interpret the bible and the various truths believers claim to hold as well as the way they regard their holy book despite any errors and inconsistencies in the text.

Tags: Barnum, Forer, cherry, effect, everyone, for, have, picking, something, we

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I think you're spot on.

Except 'cherry picking' can also be imposed onto prospective believers: before I turned 10, I asked my parents a bible so I could understand what all that fuss about Jesus was about. They in turn asked the local priest for advice, and came back with a 200-pages illustrated bible for children. I wasn't long to realize there was a lot missing, because of the verses numbering. So I immediatly asked for a unexpurgated bible. The priest grew wary, warnings my parents that I was still much too young for that. Yet I insisted and I eventually got what I asked for - a complete version of the Holy Scripture. As it turned out, the priest had reasons to be wary: it took me more than a year to the end of the 'Acts of the Apostles' (I didn't read further until much later in my life), but I had turned agnostic/atheist way before I finished the Pentateuch.

In a sense I'm still a Christian - but the only cherry I pick is the 'Song of Songs'.

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