I know these types of posts get written fairly regularly, but I think the message needs to keep getting repeated because I still get told to read the bible fairly regularly.
Telling an atheist to read the bible is not going to convince us that it is true. Many atheists, myself included, were raised in christian homes. We went to church, where the bible was read to us, we went to bible camps and bible study, where we were told what passages to read, and we read the bible because we were told to.
Many atheists even read the bible as atheists. Some do it to understand where the christians are coming form, others read it to better debate christians. I read it as part of a religious studies class. Reading the bible is not an unusual activity for atheists, so telling us to read the bible is not going to get you anywhere.
It may seem odd to you that an atheist might have read the bible and not been convinced, but it is fairly common. You can’t assume that what you find convincing is convincing for everyone. It’s not.
When I was in that aforementioned religious studies class, it felt like I as reading a completely different book than everybody else. We were all reading the same passages at the same time, but, where my classmates interpreted a passage as loving or good, I read it and thought “what is wrong with these people?” I do not think that what the bible says is good, loving, or convincing. To me, it reads like a fairy tale more gruesome than a Grimm fairy tale. We interpret it differently. I do not see the same things in the bible that christians see. So, if I do not interpret it the same way you do, how can you expect ‘read the bible” to convince me?
If you want to convince an atheist that you’re right, don’t just tell us to read a book and leave it at that. If you want to convince us, share a passage with us, tell us what it means to you, and then listen to us when we tell you why we disagree. After that, we can have a meaningful conversation where we are not merely talking over each others heads. You will probably not convince me, and I will probably not convince you, but at least we will have created a situation where we can better understand each other and create respect between us.