1. says

    Penn and Teller’s show Bullshit is hit and miss, but overall a great show for skeptics. The Bible episode is definitely one of the better ones. The Circumcision episode will never come out, no matter how much I wash.

  2. Sweettp2063 says

    Good video with Penn and Teller with some excellent points. Afterwards I spent over an hour watching and listening to various items.

    Thanks PZ the site is now on my “favorites” list.

  3. AWJ says

    Yeah, I never thought I’d see Pharyngula link to a blog that links to…

  4. AWJ says

    Near the bottom of the front page of TAJ’s blog is a charming joke equating Arabs to rats. This is accompanied by a link to’s “jokes” page, which consists of, not surprisingly, a whole lot more of the same.

  5. says

    The circumcision episode is available in parts

    Ha! Good one!

    Excuse me while I clap my knees tightly together.

  6. says

    AWJ, I was looking for that joke. It is a classic. I just did a Bronz Rat search on the internet. I’m not a Kahanist. I think the settlements were a mistake, but the larger ones are a fact now. I was all for the Gaza pullout. I have no sympathy left for the Palestinians though. The settlements issue is just a Red Herring. I lossed any hope for the Palestinians with the Hamas vote.

  7. craig says

    Just watched the circumcision episode. Not that I didn’t already know all of that, but still, it has me pissed off… thinking that instead of the mediocre sex I’m not getting, I could not be getting GREAT sex.

  8. Hexatron says

    But the bible is full of useful information you can’t find anywhere else.

    Suppose you hire a Philistine to sharpen your mattock. He might try to overcharge you, but the bible tells you exactly how much a Philistine charges to sharpen a mattock. In god’s own words.

    Now where else could you find a handy fact like that?

  9. says

    It took me a while to download it, but it was worth it. He made some good observations. Now, I’ve started downloading the podcasts of his daily radio show to see what else he has to say.

  10. brent says

    I agree that the show can be hit or miss. They are often pretty clearly being unfair to viewpoints which oppose their own. That being said, I did think they did a pretty good job on that episode. I have seen this particular one a few times and their arguments seems to hold up as pretty well constructed. Not that it makes much of a difference to the true believers.

  11. craig says

    You can also get his podcast without having to use itunes, from here:
    Gives you the rss feed.

    Listening to the latest one, he went off on Katie Couric for saying that there are no atheists in foxholes.

    I may have to subscribe to this.

  12. plunge says

    I dunno. I always think of P&T as skepticism lite. A lot of their arguments, even ones I agree with, don’t seem to be all that wlel informed. No bible believer is going to be convinced by their criticisms because they are comparatively shallow and simply don’t anticipate some very obvious counter-arguments.

    Unfortunately this approach is taken to all their other subjects too. When they the person they present as a “Voice of Reason” is some Cato-PR flack, I’m really not sure I can remain all that impressed.

    Still, they bring a lot of humor to some skeptical points that have to be made: especially their comparative social experiments. The problem is just when they go too far and get preachy about things they’ve only dealt with in a shallow, silly way (look, we’ve found some goofy proponents of this theory that say silly things, that means their views are stupid!). You could use the same lazy technique against ANY position.

  13. plunge says

    I should add that Bill Nye is far better on the “popularizing science and making it fun” side of things than P&T. He’s not afraid to call a spade a spade, but somehow despite being goofier, he doesn’t come across as glib and careless.

  14. craig says

    Hmmm.. at that link I gave, on yesterday’s show apparently they discussed Tiktaalik.

  15. DW says

    I agree that P@T are uneven.

    They once had a bit on one of their shows where they were casting scorn on the whole idea of addiction. Their argument against it was just that you can always say no. That is both trite and wrong.

  16. says

    On the other hand, the episode where three Feng Shui “practicioners” came in and redid the same room in three totally different ways was a hoot.

  17. says

    Bullshit! tends to take a “look at how stupid the people who believe this are” line rather than trying to provide solid arguments against the positions they attack. This obviously tends to make for entertaining television, but I agree with those who find it light fare, and of course one problem with this style of argument is that it can be used quite well against positions that actually aren’t stupid, which P&T seem to have done a few times.

  18. says

    Penn & Teller are entertaining, and they can expose some really significant contradictions and stupdities in the logic of others.
    I don’t know why, whether it has to do with Showtime, their Las Vegas culturation, or their own personal beliefs, but I found it problematic that they featured scantily clad women in a typical patriarchal way. Maybe they don’t personally feel that women are objects, but I felt that they were condoning it.
    What is interesting is that I remember an episode having to do with animal rights, and they criticized a don’t-kill-animals person for wearing a belt that looked like leather – thus supporting the fashion trend that results in killing animals for their skins. So even if they don’t believe women are objects, they are still “sporting” that part of our culture. I just thought I would point out their own Bullshit.
    Another issue I have is that they often fall back on monetary gain as someone’s motivation, which can be useful in some cases, but can be a cheap shot. Someone who works to promote recycling is getting paid, yes, as is everyone else that has a job. Boiling everything down to money is more like something that Steven Milloy would do. (Don’t believe the stem cell scientist because they get paid to do research on stem cells.) It is an argument easily turned around.
    What I think is one of the chief strengths of Penn & Teller, besides the humor, is that they make almost any deep-set belief very assailable with facts and logic. I’m not sure who first said this, but I often echo the sentiment that everyone should have some cherished belief disproven at some point in their life. It builds character, and gets them to think more critically about what ideas they choose to propagate.
    Promoting critical thinking, is of course paramount, and although we may disagree with some of their conclusions and some of their logic, I think they do far more good than harm because of their emphasis on it.

  19. Pastor Maker says

    Too bad you linked to a right-wing pro-war bushite’s blog to get us to a great Penn and Teller show.

  20. says

    So P&T can exhume some lame, debunked skeptic canards, repackage them between liberal use of the f-word, and that makes them (and all of you, apparently) Bible scholars of, well, biblical proportions?

    So let’s see… Science can be used against theology, but not vice versa. You (Myers) won’t answer questions about physics because you’re a biologist, but you have no problem tackling theological issues even though you’re not a theologian. And now this.


  21. flame821 says

    P&T are a useful first step though. Anything that can get ppl thinking is a good first step. And don’t forget they are entertainers FIRST and foremost. It isn’t their job to provide deeply researched, bullet-proof arugements. It is their job to entertain, keep people tuned in and sponsor’s money flowing into the network.

    That being said, I enjoyed the 3 episodes I saw (bible, creationism and circumcision) sure you can poke holes in a lot of what was said, but hey, it gets a convo started and it might actually motivate a person here and there to take a deeper look into things. Inspiring a search for knowledge is never a bad thing.

  22. Matt T. says

    Is there a link of the specific “debunked skeptic canards” offered from a reputable source – meaning, not some fundie dingbat’s webpage or Gish-like snake-oil salesman – or is this so much hot air? I’d be very interested in reading such – for example, solid, undisputed archeological proof of the whole Exodus thing – if it existed. I mean, if these “canards” were so lame and easily debunked, why not use this space to do so or at least provide a link?

    And, no, theology can’t be used against science, because theology doesn’t fit into any sort of sane scientific framework. Science can’t be used against theology, for that matter. It can, however, be used to debunk goofballs who think their version of the Great Fish Story is the one, true reality and use bullshit of all stripes to “prove” it.

  23. says

    Hey Pastor Maker, you can be a Dhimmi. Right now the Far Left is more dangerous to the West than the retarded Fundies.
    Maybe you should watch some of videos on my site done by ex Terrorists, or Wafa Sultan, or even the Jew who turned Muslim Joseph Cohen.
    Radical Islam wants the West, and the Far Left have their head in the sand as bad as Fundies do when it comes to science.

  24. CBBB says

    Obviously you didn’t watch the episode JMcH.
    If you actually watched the P&T episode JMcH you’d know that Penn specifically said that if your religious views are based on faith “we can’t touch you”.
    What they were debunking is people who think that the Bible is literally the word of God AND claim that science (ie archeology) and historical evidence “proves” (or at least lends great credibility to) their position (such as AiG).
    The episode was about debunking the supposed “hard evidence” for biblical truth and expose how silly it is when people try to rationalize their religious beliefs and back them up with science and scholarship.

  25. Mooser says

    If there’s no G-d, then how do airplanes stay up? If there’s no G-d. then how do the pictures and sound come on your TV? If there’s no G-d why are there microwave ovens? (I mean really, have you ever been to the beach and seen a microscopic wave? If it was that small you couldn’t see it, so who’re you gonna know where to put the microscope
    And here’s one not even the Atheist Jew can answer: If there’s no G-d, how come does Israel exist? If Israel isn’t a miracle of G-d, a fulfillment of his prophecies, than how could every Jew in the world go there and be protected in case the anti-semetism should be it raised up to higher heights by a collusion of secular leftist and Islamophobicfascists?
    I ask you: How is it possible?

  26. steve s says

    Too bad it’s in Google Video, the crappiest piece of software ever made by anyone ever. There’s absolutely no reason a 240×320 video should be blurry and stuttery on a modern computer, while using 90% of my resources.

    I think the people who designed it designed the cookies here, which I have to delete in order to post this comment.

  27. craig says

    I think mooser is joking… but the sad thing is, it’s so damned hard to tell these days.

  28. TTT says

    P&T have also used their show to argue that global warming does not exist / will have no adverse effects, and likewise that there is no sound reason to oppose logging old-growth forests and anybody who cares about either of the above two issues is a socialist.

    They actually had the pseudointellectual gall to use the “It’s only 2.5 degrees–SO WHAT?!” nonargument.

    Moral: The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. See also Bill Maher’s kooky paranoia about vaccines.

  29. says

    Mooser, Israel is a self fulfilling prophecy. Nothing more, nothing less.
    I know you know, but this is for the other dillheads who took you seriously:)

  30. CBBB says

    I haven’t seen too many episodes of Bullshit but Penn and Teller seem like the kind of guys who I like to call “knee-jerk contrarians” – they always have to have a different opinion than everyone else just because.

    This can be annoying sometimes when your opinions end up not being based on sound facts but are based soley on the fact that they differ from the majority or the “elites” – the guys who make SouthPark are like this as well.

  31. c says

    Am I the only one who finds Penn overbearing?

    CBBB may be right that P&T hedged what they were doing, but if they’re only going after strict literalists, they’re (a)shooting fish in a barrel, and (b) not even going to reach the literalists, who will be put off by the heavy mockery. So the show is about sophisticated people laughing at dumb people.

    Neither P&T nor PZM are terribly careful about distinguishing between “fundamentalists” and Christians in general (note PZM’s heading is just “on the Bible”), and the result is a certain shrillness. Exodus for example is an immensely powerful story, which has resonated for numerous groups of people throughout history. Their treatment can’t acknowledge that. The David story, the Psalms, the Gospels, all have qualities that a lot of people have responded to. You can actually see Paul Meyer trying to suggest a more nuanced view, but the video can’t handle it.

    P&T are funny sometimes. But this kind of stuff is not going to encourage any dialogue.

  32. says

    No, I often find Penn overbearing, and there are many points of doctrine on which we disagree. For instance, he is an acolyte of the Way of Windows, and we followers of the One True Path of Mac OS X are planning to throw him on the pyre when the revolution comes.

  33. anonymous4this says

    Penn sometimes calls himself a libertarian, sometimes calls himself an “anarcho-capitalist,” mocks hippies and liberals to some degree, goes to strip clubs, etc… he’s definitely overbearing, and often offensive.
    He describes Bullshit! as not being serious skepticism, but rather cheerleading for skepticism…

    He has his ok points and his bad points.

  34. says

    Hmm, I have not yet seen the episodes about forests and global warming, but “it’s only 2.5 degrees” is just stupid. For melting ice, the temperature is not so much as issue as is the equilibrium between freezing and melting. Global warming will (and has) affect the poles the most, and it will simultaneously prevent less ice from accumulating and cause more to melt. Double-Whammy.

  35. CBBB says

    I don’t think they were going against just the literalists – it seems like they were going after two groups:

    a) those people who think that history, logic and science support much of the Bible


    b) those who demand that society follow “God’s Laws” as outlined in the Bible

    While the people who fall into these catagories tend to be literalists it’s not always the case. There are some people who might not say believe in Noah’s Ark or the Garden of Eden but think that history backs up much of the Exodus story for instance.

  36. Dick Durata says

    Not only can’t he spell his name properly, there’s only one of him, and lots of youse.

  37. Kagehi says

    So let’s see… Science can be used against theology, but not vice versa. You (Myers) won’t answer questions about physics because you’re a biologist, but you have no problem tackling theological issues even though you’re not a theologian. And now this.

    For years there was no evidence for microburst phenomena, such as produces “White Squalls”. However, someone doesn’t have to be an oceanographer, climatoligist or expert on Burmuda Triangle phenomena to have one slam into them and have “personal” experience with just how clueless the “experts” in every category where about the phenomena being real. All a theologian really amounts to is someone so versed in the mythology and excuses for the worlds oldest fantasy novel, that they can’t correctly describe why the #$@$# sky is blue, never mind come up with a reasonable argument against science. However, unlike theologians, scientists include a huge number of people that have direct experience with the mythology, some that used to be neck deep in the most delusional forms of it until they found out how wrong they where about the world and probably even a few that where studying to “be” theologians before they realized how self deluding it all is. The only thing “theologian” means is, “I have locked myself in the basement for years, while someone even more deluded than I am finally decided I had read enough appologetic books on the subject to qualify as a “true” believer.

    Well, I am sure that some are not “quite” that bad, but all of them, when you back them into a corner, can say only, “I believe because I believe and not believing scares me too much to try it.” All you have to do is watch a few discussions between supposed “experts” in theology, when they try to argue with any one with even basic knowledge in science. While one can “find” answers to argue their side forever, the theologian invariably collapses into three arguements:

    1. It is true because I believe it.
    2. It must be true because a lot of other fools have/do believe it.
    3. It is just true “period”.

    No other defense survives and no more substantial defense is ever given.

    As for P&T’s bias.. To paraphrase his own words, “We are as biased as all hell, but at least we admit it. These other people will tell you they are not, even as they try to convince you that disaster will strike you if you don’t agree with them.”

  38. Pastor Maker says

    Atheist Jew,

    Let’s face facts. If the Israeli state couldn’t continue to suck at the U.S economic teat while its spies steal U.S classified material, you wouldn’t give two fucks about the west.

    Thank Dawkins most Jews aren’t bigoted turds like you.

  39. says

    Pastor Dickhead, I care about the West more than I care about Israel, but I consider Israel to be part of the West. If you didn’t have a Muslim concubine to bang, you would care about mankinds future.
    And I’m all for the US to cut off financial aid to Palestinians. They should have done so long ago. The money basically keeps the Palestinians alive. And by voting for Al Qae…I mean Hamas, they proved they aren’t worthy of any consideration.

  40. poke says

    I thought P&T were extremely, even annoyingly, careful about saying they’re only criticising people who read the Bible literally or try to abuse science to prove it. I’m not a big fan of Bullshit! though; half the shows are libertarian nonsense.

  41. Eric says

    Sigh, this Atheist Jew character has the unfortunate distinction of reminding me that not all atheists are rational.

  42. chuko says

    Err, what the heck?

    “Right now the Far Left is more dangerous to the West than the retarded Fundies… Radical Islam wants the West, and the Far Left have their head in the sand as bad as Fundies do when it comes to science.”

    You haven’t been reading these pages if you think the academic left is composed mostly of lit-crit postmodernists. Pharyngula is a clearing house for the largely-left/largely-atheist world of scientists. Welcome!

    You know, considering it’s ‘retarded Fundies’ who are crashing planes into buildings, blowing themselves up in markets, invading countries on false pretenses, distorting and denying science, attempting to make the state overtly religious, and on and on; I think it’s pretty clear where the problem lies.

  43. says

    There is a difference between the left and the far left.
    The far left makes excuses for why Islamics do what they do.
    I’m left on most issues. Gsy rights, abortions, etc.
    But you give a Fundamental Islamic a nuke, he will use it.
    There is no rationale, no excuses for those who strap bombs on themselves and blow up innocents or crash planes in buildings.
    But it is the Far Left that goes to bat for these terrorists.
    Eric, what is your solution for Islam? Just curious. I want to see how rational you are.
    Generations will look back on the Iraq war and call it the turning point in the reformation of Islam. Or else there won’t be anyone here generations from now.

  44. pastmybedtime says

    But you give a Fundamental Islamic a nuke, he will use it.

    give a christian fundamentalist a nuke, he’ll probably use it too. Look at the bullshit Iran crap going on – some are hinting that Bush has considered nuking Iran.

    Some conservative christians have advocated use of nuclear weapons… and for that matter, some jewish “neocons” have also.

    And of course, there’s only one country that has ever used nukes on another so far – so at least statistically, the “west” is more dangerous in that respect.

    Bottom line is, religious fundamentalists are dangerous, and it doesn’t really make a difference if they are islamic, christian, jewish or whatever. Siding with one bunch of them against another bunch of them is stupid.

  45. Pastor Maker says

    So far only one person who supports terrorism is posting to this thread, and that’s Atheist Jew. No doubt he’ll pull out his “anti-semite” labelmaker soon too. He’s the sickest kind of bigoted asshole. When he’s not recounting “amusing” jokes equating arabs with rats (hmm, where before have we seen propagandists equate humans with rats?) , he’s dancing with joy when Israeli bulldozers drive over American peace activists.

    I feel dirty for even trading posts with him. Eeew…I need a shower.

  46. Torbjörn Larsson says

    That was funny. My second reaction was “But the wavelength for 2.45 GHz microwaves in air must be about 10 cm… Oh, duh!”, so I even had a double laugh out of that.

    I needed that after Bush admin tactical nuclear ideas made the news here yesterday.

  47. 386sx says

    They had a good episode on creationism, too.

    One of the (non) religious ID design creationists speaking about evolution said that “Darwin considered it a theory.” Just thought I would let you guys know that because it looks like the game’s up and they’re on to you very nice evolutionary science folks. Fair warning!

  48. Torbjörn Larsson says

    I had to get back to inform about the funny and tragic “Plush Plagues Bag” from , that sells in an inadvertent P&T way.

    As CV I especially like “the black cube of darkness” that the egyptians were (not) hit with. It’s a cute and certainly age 3 apropriate plague. Religious people has the nicest take on reality and how to handle it, evar. Why can’t other people accept that?

  49. says

    Pastor Maker: I don’t normally read the Pharyngula comments, but most forums I’ve been to it’s usual to back up assertions like that with actual references.

  50. says

    Pastor Dickhead, I just think you are a retard. And a very big retard. Keep supporting and making excuses for those who want you dead.

    pastmybedtime, has any Western Fundy used a nuke yet? Western Fundies don’t strap on bombs and blow up innocent people. And the culture doesn’t go around high fiving each other when innocent people die.
    If you want the USA to wait for Iran to build nukes, you aren’t thinking ahead too well, or you have no idea about the Islamic mindset.

    Like I said, the Far Left are just are just as irrational when it comes to Islam as the Christian right is when it comes to evolution. Sad.

  51. Caledonian says

    I see that “supports terrorism” is quickly becoming a label of equal power as “hates Jews” or “doesn’t believe in God” — say it about someone and everyone is supposed to rush to attack them.

    To all the people out there who took offense at the idea that 90% of the world’s population needed to die: can you provide an argument showing that even 10% of humanity deserves to live? Take a close look at this species. Take a *very* close look.

  52. says

    It is almost Easter and there have been several news stories on whether and how Jesus was crucified, that Jesus walked on ice and Judas was told by Jesus himself to betray him. The apocalypse must be coming.

  53. says

    Um, Atheist Jew, learn to count:

    Paramilitary Attacks on Western Targets resulting in deaths, September 2001 to November 2003:

    Numbers killed
    Numbers injured

    September 2001
    3 US locations
    World Trade Center, Pentagon

    March 2002
    Islamabad, Pakistan
    Worshippers at church in diplomatic compound

    April 2002
    Djerba, Tunisia

    May 2002
    Karachi, Pakistaan
    French naval technicians

    June 2002
    Karachi, Pakistan
    US Consulate

    October 2002
    US special forces soldier

    October 2002
    Limburg oil tanker

    October 2002
    Amman, Jordan
    US diplomat

    October 2002
    Bali, Indonesia
    Sari Nightclub

    November 2002
    Kikambala, Kenya
    Paradise Hotel

    May 2003
    Casablanca, Morroco

    May 2003
    Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
    Western residential compounds

    August 2003
    Djakarta, Indonesia
    Marriott Hotel

    November 2003
    Istanbul, Turkey
    2 synagogues

    November 2003
    Istanbul, Turkey
    HSBC Bank, British Consulate

    Total deaths and injuries (9-11 injuries not included):
    Deaths: 3375
    Injuries: 1596

    Compare these numbers to the number of civilian casualties just in Iraq since the U.S. invaded: between 34,000 and 38,000.

    “Western Fundies” are approximately ten times as dangerous as Islamists.

  54. says

    P&T were wrong in at least one minor point — he claimed that the plagues and the killing of the first-born egyptians do not appear in children’s bible stories. On the contrary, the Passover Seder includes a ritual of remeberance for this (the plagues are recited and a drop of wine is spilled for each one), and children are certainly made aware of it. Leads to some interesting discussions.

  55. Torbjörn Larsson says

    Duh, I should have made that connection from the plush bag thingie. Glad somebody did.

  56. pastmybedtime says

    “has any Western Fundy used a nuke yet?”

    Has any eastern fundie used a nuke yet?

    Westerners HAVE used nukes, twice. And they weren’t even the fundie-types, they were middle of the road xtians. The fundies must be even worse, no?

    “Those people are so murderously insane, they would use NUKES!! We’d better NUKE them!!”


  57. Pastor Maker says

    Well, there you have it!

    Atheist Jew thinks it’s okay to consider arabs as “untermensch” because Iran might be developing a uranium enrichment process. Amazing how he ignores the facts that 90% of Iranians aren’t arabs, and the only country in the Middle East with actual nuclear weapons is Israel!

    He of course also assumes that I’m somehow in support of Iran’s nuclear ambitions! If I’m not in support of Israel’s actual nuclear weapons, why would I be in support of Iran’s hypothetical nuclear weapons ambitions?

    Atheist Jew= pathetic shill for Israel. He’d sell your mom if it meant one more bomb in the Israeli arsenal (so long as your mom wasn’t Israeli).

  58. Terrible says

    I’m not sure I understand why atheist jew is calling bush a Fundamental Islamic with a nuke. But he doesn’t sound very atheist to me. But I guess supporting millions of dollars in free money to Isreal while decrying thousands of dollars in money to pay for stolen land to Palestine do support his claim to be Jewish.

  59. John M. Price says

    Blue sky, by our favorite kook:

    I think the sky is blue because it’s a shift from black through purple to blue, and it has to do with where the light is. You know, the farther we get into darkness, and there’s a shifting of color of light into the blueness, and I think as you go farther and farther away from the reflected light we have from the sun or the light that’s bouncing off this earth, uh, the darker it gets … I think if you look at the color scale, you start at black, move it through purple, move it on out, it’s the shifting of color. We mentioned before about the stars singing, and that’s one of the effects of the shifting of colors.
    – Pat Robertson, The 700 Club

  60. says

    P&T’s show is best when taking on topics like fung shei(sic) and psychics. They don’t do especially well with political topics. In general it is a worthwhile show though. The one on recycling changed my daily habits considerably and their take on the war on drugs was very thought provoking. It is hard to get too deep into a subject in 30 minutes. I’m sure they would like to be more in depth on subjects. I was most dissapointed by the one on second hand smoking. There stance was it is harmless, which I agree with, except when it comes to children and more importantly infants. They did not mention once the increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome in babies exposed to second hand smoke. SIDS is the number one cause of death in children under a year of age. I wrote to them about this but got no reply.

  61. says

    TAJ, thanks for shitting on centuries of Jewish ethics and learning all the wrong lessons from the holocaust. You make me ever so proud of being Jewish… Not! Stop embarrassing yourself and others with your crap.

  62. J. J. Ramsey says

    Shermer, who is interviewed on P&T’s BS, apparently gets Apollonius of Tyana wrong, unfortunately. He claims that Apollonius was crucified, but this is not in Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius, and judging from what I’ve read in, it’s not in the other sources about Apollonius either:

    Also, referring to Apollonius of Tyana as a messiah is a bit lazy at best. “Messiah” is a Jewish concept, not a pagan one.

  63. Torbjörn Larsson says

    “I was most dissapointed by the one on second hand smoking. There stance was it is harmless”

    There are no reasons to believe this since there is no measured lower limit where tobacco smoke is harmless, and indeed there are studies that shows harmful effects also in adults, the latest was a link to diabetes. See for example .

  64. says

    In the Bible episode, Penn missed a good point when he talked about Josephus, whose history supposedly mentions Jesus. Scholars today generally agree that this passage was inserted by a later, excessively pious Christian copyist. Not that it matters too much, just a little thing the BS people should have said but didn’t. . . .

  65. J. J. Ramsey says

    Blake Stacey: “In the Bible episode, Penn missed a good point when he talked about Josephus, whose history supposedly mentions Jesus. Scholars today generally agree that this passage was inserted by a later, excessively pious Christian copyist. Not that it matters too much, just a little thing the BS people should have said but didn’t”

    There are two passages in extant copies of Josephus’ Antiquities that refer to Jesus. One is the infamous Testimonium Flavianum. Contrary to what you wrote, scholars don’t “generally agree that this passage was inserted by a later, excessively pious Christian copyist.” Rather, the majority believe the passage was tampered with but not entirely fabricated, with a respectable minority believing that it was forged altogether. The other passage is a brief, offhand reference to the “brother of Jesus called Christ, whose name was James.” The scholarly consensus is that it is authentic.

  66. says

    There was something in the papers last year about archaelogical evidence showing that the writers of the old testament were nomads who settled down about 1500 – 1200 B.C. and likely wrote the story of conquering the land to improve their claim.

    If I might quote from “The Bible Unearthed” by Silberman and Finkelstein

    The biblical stories should thus be regarded as a national mythology with no more historical basis than the Homeric saga of Odysseus’s travels of Virgil’s saga of Aeneas’s founding of Rome (36–Searching for the Patriarchs).

    We know that through archaeological research that camels were not domesticated as beasts of burden earlier than the late second millennium and were not widely used in that capacity in the ancient Near East until well after 1000 BCE. And an even more telling detail–the camel caravan carrying “gum, balm, and myrrh.” In the Joseph story–reveals an obvious familiarity with the main products of the lucrative Arabian trade that flourished under the supervision of the Assyrian empire in the eighth-seventh centuries BCE (id. 37).

    Then there is the issue of the Philistines. We hear of them in connection with Isaac’s encounter with “Abimelech, king of the Philistines,” at the city of Gerar (Genesis 26:1). The Philistines, a group of migrants from the Aegean or eastern Mediterranean, had not established their settlements along the coastal plain of Canaan until sometime after 1200 BCE. Their cities prospered in the eleventh and tenth centuries and continued to dominate the area well into the Assyrian period {quite different than the Biblical account} (id. 37).

    All the clues point to a time of composition many centuries after the time in which the Bible reports the lives of the patriarchs took place. These and other anachronisms suggest an intensive period of writing the patriarchal narratives in the eighth or seventh centuries (id. 38).

  67. says

    Here’s another bit from

    The issue of reasonable conclusions on archaeology evidence has been so muddled by faith based conclusions, that only an expert in that field without faith would be required to set that record straight. In particluarly how strong is the evidence for the identification of places named in the bible? Those of faith assume that the ruins are named in the bible, and then name the mounds using biblical names.

  68. wamba says

    P&T were wrong in at least one minor point — he claimed that the plagues and the killing of the first-born egyptians do not appear in children’s bible stories. On the contrary, the Passover Seder includes a ritual of remeberance for this (the plagues are recited and a drop of wine is spilled for each one), and children are certainly made aware of it. Leads to some interesting discussions.

    Check out Illustrated Stories from the Bible by Paul Farrell, illustrated by Kathy Demchuck. ISBN: 1578849225.