Every now and then I receive an email from a devout Christian who tells me that no one (including, well, me) is able to interpret the Bible correctly without guidance of the Holy Spirit.  I take this view seriously, but I’ve never found it convincing.

Well, OK, I did when I was a student at Moody Bible Institute in the mid 70s; but not for much longer than that afterward.  Today, of course, I don’t believe the Holy Spirit can guide one in reading the Bible since, as an agnostic,  I don’t believe in the Holy Spirit at all (since I don’t believe in God).  But even when I did believe in the Holy Spirit (after Moody), I came to think that it made no sense to claim that a person needed divine guidance through the Spirit to interpret the Bible correctly.  This was for two main reasons, both of which — when they occurred to me — struck me as virtually irrefutable.

The first is this: if it is true that 

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