Labeling the Bible as fiction.

Was Costco wrong?

OK, for those who do not know the story, it seems that the Costco in Simi Valley, Calif. had labeled the Christian Bible as “Fiction.” Actually it was the distributor who placed the label on the books and they were placed on the shelf with other great fictional works. A minister saw the label and contacted the local Fox affiliate who ran the story. It did not take long to make national news.

Here’s the point. Costco, actually their distributor, may be right in their assessment of the Bible.


Fiction is a work that is original, based on imagination and not presented as factual. It is unfortunate that those who believe in the inerrant truth of the Bible cannot see its fictional nature. They will and do claim that because God in omniscient and all controlling of nature, the supernatural, like talking serpents and donkeys, is possible.

That it is possible to stop the Earth from rotating to give an advantage to one fighting force over another.   That it is possible to turn water into wine. That it is possible to cure the sick with a touch. That it is possible for a man to rise from the dead.

The fact that these stories are believed as “true” is a quandary. Why believe that the Jewish prophets and the Christian God, or son of God can do these things yet the gods of other faiths cannot? Why other faiths mere mythology, fiction, and the Christian faith is not?

If one were to read the Bible from cover to cover and not question the reality it describes, one is only blinded by their faith. When organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous tell us to surrender to God for salvation from our additions, we are no longer taking responsibility for our own actions or fate.

The Bible is only “factual” because it is the Bible, an inerrant document of the world centered in Jerusalem. It deals with only one small segment of man’s history, disregarding the rest of the planet. Even in the Epic of Gilgamesh, a story that pre-dates the Dead Sea Scrolls by about 500-years, there are conversations of men with great white beard, of yellow skin and of dark complexion.

The Bible makes no attempt to recognize others outside of its small and sheltered world of the Mediterranean and then only a few hundred miles inland from the shore. It makes no attempt to justify the violence in the Torah or the conflicts between the Apostils and their versions of, as Jefferson will later title, the Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.

Why can’t they understand that just because it is written does not make it factual? If that were so, we would have talking dogs, murderous cars and trucks, men who can fly faster than a speeding bullet. We would be traveling to distance stars in a matter of hours, not hundreds and thousands of light-years. We would believe in Leprechauns and ogres, giants and mermaids as fact, not the result of one’s vivid imagination.

Why aren’t the writing of the Mormons and the Church of Scientology considered factual. Joseph Smith’s continuation of the holy story is just as “real” as Moses parting of the Dead Sea. We only know each is “true” because we are told each is “true.”

We – atheists, secular Humanists, skeptics and alike – cannot take on the task of convincing the true believer that they should take a different view of their belief system. Partially due to the fear in discovering that the inner most faith maybe wrong. It is the same reasoning that prevents Christians from reading Jefferson’s Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth or my own book, A Christian Nation?

To discover that we have been misled, that the “truth” is only a story well told, would frighten the strongest among us, believer or non-believer. That the beliefs of our nation, our community, are fundamentally wrong would shatter our limited lines of reality.

To hear that the Holy Bible is a work of fiction does just that, threatens to destroy the “truth” the Christian has come to believe either through family, community or one’s own discovery.

I believe that Costco was right in labeling the Bible as fiction. I have read the scriptures from cover to cover and can say with no hesitation that the stories told are not of a factual nature.

Yet it is not Costco’s job to declare the Holy Bible as fiction, nor is it the job of a-theists to convert or convince those of faith that they are wrong. In fact, we should stop trying so hard to disprove the biblical stories and work harder to educate the fundamentals of critical thinking and listening. We need to stop taking the debate and leave the arguments of religion to the philosophers.

David is booking speaking engagements and interviews for 2014.

Contact him at

About David Rosman

David is the winner of the Missouri Press Foundation's "Best Columnist" in 2013 (First Place) and 2014 (Second Place), the 2016 Harold Riback Award for excellence in writing, and the winner of the 2007 Interactive Media Award for excellence in editing.
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