First Lines: De schrift betwist

The first time I read Maarten ’t Hart’s De schrift betwist (a bundling of Wie God verlaat heeft niets te vrezen and De bril van God, two earlier bundles of critical essays on the bible, first published as a monthly column in Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad) was in 2006, before I started doing these First Lines things. It was also before my I read Dawkins and Hitchens, and before my active interest in atheism came and ebbed away.

Now, upon rereading, it was interesting to see how ’t Hart differs from the New Atheism movement. He doesn’t seem to be that interested in the evils of religion, but rather in its being, well, wrong. As such, he deals mostly with the bible’s many inconsistencies and inaccuracies, its nonsensical rules and regulations, and how orthodox Calvinists (used to) apply those rules. He isn’t the most refined critic of the bible—sometimes he tends to simplify a bit too much—but he knows his way around the supposed good book and how to tell a tale, and combined with his religious background, this leads to a compelling read.

Even though De schrift betwist is quite a different beast compared to, say, The God Delusion and God is Not Great, in the end, their message is the same: religion is false, and there is nothing wrong with walking away from it.

Book read
Maarten ’t Hart — De schrift betwist
First line
In 1962 deed de religieleraar van onze hbs-B-klas, Dominee Krijger, een opzienbarende mededeling.