Penn and the Bible

Wilhelm in her column I mentioned in the previous post, mentioned that Penn Jillette became an atheist after reading the Bible from cover to cover.

Which brings us back to Penn Jillette and his new book. To be fair, Jillette is an equal-opportunity religion basher — and don’t even get him started on agnostics. (Very short version: They’re cowards.) Christians like me, you’ll be pleased to know, are not the only peabrains/dangerous weirdos on the planet. But we do share a special place of dubious honor. According to God, No!, it was the cover-to-cover reading of our holy book that turned a young Jillette to the dark (or, as some prominent atheists would prefer, the “bright”) side.

Madalyn Murray O’Hair made a similar claim as have a number of other atheists. There are even websites showing the Bible to be ridiculous or evil. I have read the Bible all the way through a number of times and I do not find it to be either ridiculous or evil. I sometimes wonder if there are two editions of the Bible, the one that I have read and the one that these atheists read.

11 thoughts on “Penn and the Bible”

  1. “I sometimes wonder if there are two editions of the Bible, the one that I have read and the one that these atheists read.”

    Depends. Does yours include genocide and consider it a good thing?


    1. It includes the portion in which God commands the Israelites to destroy the Canaanites for their evil deeds, it that is what you are referring to. Have you read any other part of the Bible or tried to understand the historical contexts? I would guess no.


  2. Claims of genocide are farcical ones.

    Joshua 10:33 says that King Horam of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua struck him and his people, leaving him no survivors, Then Joshua 16:10 talks about ‘the Canaanites who lived in Gezer’.
    Joshua 10:36-37 reports that Joshua went up with all Israel to Hebron, took it and killed every person in it, leaving no one remaining, but Judges 1:10 claims that Judah went against the Canaanites who lived in Hebron.
    Joshua 10:38-39 reports the conquest of Debir, when they ‘utterly destroyed every person in it’ and left no one remaining, but Judges 1:11-13 reports that Debir was not even captured until after Joshua was dead.


    “The historical validity of this account of the conquest is highly dubious. Analysis of other biblical texts reveals many discrepancies. The Book of Judges recounts separate campaigns by individual tribes; and, although it places the events after Joshua’s death, they constitute in fact a different version of the story of the conquest. The Book of Joshua describes a well‑organized campaign of a people united by a common national goal, while the Book of Judges reports many separate battles against Canaanite peoples waged by individual tribes or by temporary alliances of several tribes, enlarging their territories at the expense of their neighbors.

    Furthermore, according to the Book of Joshua, the entire country was taken by the Israelites, while the Book of Judges reveals that one of the severe problems of the tribes was the constant struggle with Canaanite enclaves which successfully retained their independence.

    Finally, in the period covered by the Book of Judges, the tribes were headed by local commanders (the “judges”), and there was no single national leader. The editor of the Book of Judges regarded this as a sign of social disintegra­tion following the death of Joshua–divine punishment for lapses of idolatry. Modern scholars, however, believe that the state of anarchy reflected in the Book of Judges is closer to the true historical process of the colonization of Canaan.

    Finally, archeological research has found no traces of any sudden violent destruction of the major Canaanite towns. Jericho, for example, was clearly not destroyed in the time of Joshua. On the other hand, excavations reveal that many small settlements began emerging on the outskirts of the existing Canaanite towns, not in place of them. Dwelling structures and pottery typical of semi‑nomadic people indicate a long process of colonization rather than a short war of total conquest.”

    The conquering of the Holy Land was likely added later, an invented past much like Rome’s. In all likelihood, the Hebrews tried to live side-by-side with the Canaanites, but the Canaanites would have none of it and forced the Hebrews into war.


    1. John Weidner over at had a post about that about a month or so ago.
      Personally I believe that while the accounts in Joshua and Judges were idealized but that the conquest of Canaan was violent, given the times. This occurred, I believe, around 1200 BC at a time when the whole eastern Mediterranean was in a tumult from new peoples moving into the area. This was about when the Hittite empire fell and the probable time for whatever conflict that was later made into the Trojan War.


  3. Regarding Noah’s flood.
    1. I am not sure that that was an actual historic event, if it was it was almost certainly local and not global.

    2. If you reread Genesis, 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. God had reasons to do what He did

    3.God is the creator of the universe. he has every right to destroy any portion he pleases


    1. “1. I am not sure that that was an actual historic event, if it was it was almost certainly local and not global. ”

      I agree. But if it did happen, and your God is responsible, it is a horribly immoral act.

      “God had reasons to do what He did”

      Certainly. It was a good thing he drowned all those evil babies.

      “3.God is the creator of the universe. he has every right to destroy any portion he pleases”

      Which is a great reason that I am more moral than your deity.


  4. What part of the universe did you create? Being human, our awareness extends over only a brief instant of time on a small portion of a single planet. That does not place any of us in a position to act as judge over the almighty deity. It may well be, and I do believe, that His seemingly immoral actions have a deeper purpose of which we cannot know anything about. It may be that God knew that those babies would grow up to be as corrupt as their parents and so killing them while young was the kinder act. I am not presumptuous to believe that I know all of the answers.


      1. It saddens me when someone thinks he is better than God. I think this conversation has gone on long enough. Feel free to comment on any other of my posts.


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