December 11, 2011

Penn Jillette says reading the Bible made him an atheist

His story (of being part of a liberal Christian family and community and attending a church youth group with a minister who was modern and open to dialogue and questioning) is exactly like mine. The main difference is that I was not as smart and as well read in my teens as Jillette was and thus was not exposed to serious atheist thinkers. As a result, my own intellectual efforts at that time were directed towards finding ways to justify my belief in god, and this required me to gloss over all the problems in the Bible and rationalize its atrocities. My serious reading at that time consisted of the modern theologians who did not take the Bible literally (except for a few core elements) and instead focused their efforts on making belief in god intellectually respectable.

So my story is the same as Jillette's except for about a twenty-year gap in which I was seeking reasons to believe in a god before I reached his stage of understanding that the whole exercise was pointless

But better late than never, as they say.


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Just because 2 guys saw the light, through the Violence, Rage, Anger, Revenge etc., is not sufficient evidence atheism or otherwise. There are thousands of converts for whom a particular religion makes a lot of sense. Are the two of you in anyway superior than these persons. You are doing what you claim. You are athiests and hence anyone who is not an atheist is stupid. There arguments may be stupid, you and your arguments may seem stupid to them. according to you, a covert to Atheism is intelligent, is intellectual etc. The others stupid. If that's not a bloated ego and a superiority complex, I don't know what is. I am surprised. This blog is increasingly becoming more arrogant, abrasive and intolerant. A very unfortunate evolution from its earlier life. I don't see any empathy. A classic example was the blog about the prisoners. The comment on the blog was excellent.

Posted by Manik on December 12, 2011 02:18 AM

Shalom Manik,

Make that three.

I'm slower than either Mano or Penn, but I got there eventually. I've written elsewhere about my 15 years of wa(o)ndering that led me from Congregationalism to Judaism. My journey took a further 15 years before I finally realized I had deluded myself for too long and that it was time to start living a rational life.

No, I can't prove that there is no gawd, no one can, but until someone presents me with testable proof for a gawd or any instance of the supernatural, I find there to be no reason to further expend valuable brain and time resources on such delusions.



Posted by Jeff Hess on December 12, 2011 07:35 AM

There arguments may be stupid, you and your arguments may seem stupid to them.

Posted by dave on December 12, 2011 07:46 AM

I had a somewhat different experience. I was 18 years old, sitting in church, and don't quite remember what the priest was saying, but I do remember that I said to myself, this is nonsense, and walked right out. On that day, I rejected all my religious beliefs. I'm 65 today, and never regretted that decision. It was a gut reaction at the time, but my studies over the years only confirmed that religion is full of lies, distortions and delusion, relying heavily on the naivety and gullibility of the its believers.

Posted by Joseph Palazzo on December 12, 2011 09:15 AM

In response to Manik, except in off-the-cuff remarks, I don't think Mano, or most other atheists, say that believers are stupid. Some very brilliant people have been believers. But being intelligent doesn't insulate you from being foolish at least part of the time. I don't think believers are stupid, just fools.

Posted by Scott on December 12, 2011 09:37 AM

You can understand his arguments...the Bible is so fantastic in places that it's impossible to take it seriously! I'm agnostic...but if you don't think the bible is ridiculous in places..then that is ridiculous in itself!

Posted by BSB on December 12, 2011 01:12 PM