Friday, July 9, 2010

Penn Jillette: Reading the Bible (Or the Koran, Or the Torah) Will Make You an Atheist

Posted July 8, 2010 on Big Think
Question: Why would reading the Bible make you an atheist?

Penn Jillette: I think because what we get told about the Bible is a lot of picking and choosing, when you see, you know, Lot's daughter gang raped and beaten, and the Lord being okay with that; when you actually read about Abraham being willing to kill his son, when you actually read that; when you read the insanity of the talking snake; when you read the hostility towards homosexuals, towards women, the celebration of slavery; when you read in context, that "thou shalt not kill" means only in your own tribe—I mean, there's no hint that it means humanity in general; that there's no sense of a shared humanity, it's all tribal; when you see a God that is jealous and insecure; when you see that there's contradictions that show that it was clearly written hundreds of years after the supposed fact and full of contradictions. I think that anybody... you know, it's like reading The Constitution of the United States of America. It's been... it's in English. You know, you don't need someone to hold your hand. Just pick it up and read it. Just read what the First Amendment says and then read what the Bible says. Going back to the source material is always the best.
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  1. It's just too bad that Jillette is so anti-science when it comes to anything which conflicts with his Ayn Rand-fueled "libertarianism". He did a whole show rejecting the well-established science identifying the risks of second-hand smoke, and he did this using without critical thought the spin coming out of tobacco industry think tanks. 

    He's a great illusionist, but a poor advocate for the Atheist position.

  2. Not sure, but I think they have said that the argument in that particular episode is wrong.

  3. <span><span>You people kill me. It's like you sit in your parent's basement all day long anxiously waiting for any mention of Penn Jillette on the internet so you can be the first commenter to inform us all that 'ZOMG did u noe he is a Libertarian and thinks teh second hand smoke is good to blow in baby's faces??!'. Jesus, he's only been recanting that SH smoke thing from Bullshit for like the past 5 YEARS. And yeah, it looks like he's a totally dogmatic Randroid that takes whatever the latest party line on Objectivist Libertarian thinking is at face value without ever critically considering it. Not.</span></span>

    And what the hell are you talking about "a bad advocate for the atheist position"? Do you know what the "atheist position" even is? There is no god. That's it, that's the entirety of the "atheist position" right there. Nothing more, nothing less and every time I've seen him talk about such things, he does a damn good job explaining why it's the most rational position for a skeptic to hold. Just because someone doesn't share your personally held, dearly coveted political convictions doesn't make them a "bad atheist", it makes them a person who has different opinions on phenomenally complex subjects with no clear certainties. THAT'S ALL.

  4. <span>DR, </span>
    <span>Are you saying the only good advocates for the Atheist position are left-wingers? That sentiment is very bad for Atheists because it plays into the hands of the fundies who try to link Atheism and Communism.</span>
    <span>I don't like Richard Dawkins' politics, but I still think he's a great advocate for Atheism.</span>

  5. " <span>I don't like Richard Dawkins' politics,  "</span>
    <span>Are there any ?</span>

  6. <span>"Are you saying the only good advocates for the Atheist position are left-wingers? "</span>

    I don't think he was stating that, he meant that good advocates for atheists are for science. In the episode of Penn and Teller's Bullshit about "being green" (S6E06) Penn quotes Time Magazine, where Time was arguing that we are facing global cooling. Penn then says that "scientists" thought we'd face global cooling in the 70s, even though it was Time, which is not scientific literature. He also has a weatherman talk about why global warming isn't true, which is irrelevant, since he's a meteorologist, not a climatologist. At the end he does say that "we don't know enough [to say that global warming is bullshit]".

    Either way, their show kicks ass.

    Back to your point Andrew, I agree about the left-wingers thing. I'm more right wing than left. I'm all for civil right and gay rights, but I want my guns and my wars. It's silly how everyone assumes not believing in God makes you a crazy communist. My right wing friends call me a "faggot liberal" for not believing in God. One day, people will realize that Atheists come in all shapes and sizes.

  7. lots daughters werent gang raped. lot offered them up to be gang raped in place of the 2 angels that the mob wanted to gang rape, but they turned down his skanks who were lot thought were virgins.  later though after god firestormed sodom and turned lots wife into a pillar of salt, his 2 dumb daughters thought they were the only ones left on earth.  god, they were dumb.  so they got their dad drunk and took turns double teaming him and got preggers.  obvious virgin behavior.

  8. Lot let them have his maid after the crowd rejected his daughters. Jilette is wrong about who got offered up to the mob.

  9. Communism is pretty much completely's a bit amazing how they try to mix those two.

  10. <span>Stan,

    You'd be surprised how many Atheists automatically expect other Atheists to be left-wing. I'm definitely on the right, but support same-sex marriage and have nothing against legalized marijuana and prostitution.

    There are legitimate criticisms you can make about Penn and Teller, but being anti-science is not one of them. Someone legitimately anti-science is Bill Maher who doesn't believe in the Germ Theory of Disease.</span>

  11. He's pretty far left, I thought everyone knew that.

  12. <span>"Lot let them have his maid after the crowd rejected his daughters. Jilette is wrong about who got offered up to the mob."</span>

    Oh, well that's ok then. =-X

    Kidding, but you are right about the maid, not Lot's daughters. It's still an example of repugnant morality in the Bible.

  13. I think he does believe in the germ theory but he probably more than anything thinks that big pharma is trying to make a bit buck out of it all.

  14. I can't watch the video but if Penn says Lot offered his daughters, he's right.

    Just to add to Tim's Wikipedia link: The offered "maid" is the Levite's concubine in Judges 19.

  15. Right you are:

    He still hedged a bit, but did acknowledge the mistake.

  16. ...I thought everyone knew that...
    Well, you were wrong... I didn't.

    R.D. is a commie... R.D. is a commie...Tralalalala... R.D. is a commie...

    How did I miss that ?

    Oh, fuck...

  17. Penn actually said the Bible is in English;  just pick it up and read it?!  Incredible!  Greenfield, MA has GOT to be a suburb of Boston (where God only speaks English).  Going back to the source material IS always best--in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, that is.  Translations say whatever the translators want them to--King James had his OWN VERSION written to support the Divine Right of Kings, after all.

  18. I didn't say he is a commie, I said he is far left.
    And I also said, <span> "I still think he's a great advocate for Atheism."</span>

  19. But if we read the Old Testament in its original Hebrew that might lead to anti semitism when people say, "This is what the Jews believe?  F**k them."

  20. it this cunt a jew?

  21. is this bitch a jew?