Thomas Paine on the Bible

Though he wrote hundreds of years ago, the influence of Thomas Paine remains with us, much more so than we may expect.

Over the 12+ years this ministry has been active as of this writing, I have seen that the very same tactics and attitudes fostered by Paine persist even to this day, in the efforts of many Skeptics, who evidently have Paine as their inspiration and source. Even Skeptical scholars, such as Gerd Ludemann, defer to Paine for their views.

I am not saying of course that age is the key to truth or falsity. But it is an important consideration when so much has been done to advance Biblical scholarship since Paine and his ideological partners wrote their material. That many Skeptics automatically trust Paine as a reliable (and up to date) source is telling.

Paine can hardly be blamed for not being up to the knowledge level of the 21st century. Modern Skeptics, however, can be blamed for thinking and/or writing as though Paine is a reliable source whose arguments have not been soundly refuted time and time again -- even in his own day, as it happens, when he was regarded with far less respect.

A word about Paine personally. He was not, despite what you may have heard, an atheist; he was a deist. One suspects that if he had had Darwin at his disposal, that might have been different; nevertheless, it is a charge that should not be levied against him.

And with that, we proceed to some particulars gleaned from the pages of The Age of Reason, which may be offered as a preface to a more in-depth critique linked below. The following are simply examples I chose for their clarity and ability to be explained easily, and in some cases because they reflect modern Skeptical efforts which were to some extent derived from Paine.

What can be said in conclusion? Paine is truly a father of modern skepticism. His tactics and his arguments, though proven without meir many times over, are still in use today. Celsus is not alone in his legacy.

We do a more in-depth, point by point review here.



  1. Pain.AR - Paine, Thomas. The Age of Reason. New York: Gramercy Books, 1993.