In the collection of Paine’s writings I own, Biblical Blasphemy was separated from other works,
though it appears to have originally been a part of “Part III” of
The Age Of Reason, as well as being part of
Paine’s Examination Of The Prophecies.
By itself, this essay is very short — even for a pamphlet. Microsoft Word tells
me it has 499 words (including the title).
In it, Paine makes the case that the Bible itself is blasphemy against what he considers
to be the truth of God — Deism. Referring to the Old and New Testaments, Paine says
“those books... teach us not only false but blasphemous ideas of Him.”
He goes on to quote the several scriptures from the Bible that say God is deceptive, including
Ezekiel 14:9, in which YHWH himself
“And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that
prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people
What I Liked Least About It
While making astute and worthwhile notes about the odd things the Bible says about God, Paine
asserts that “Deism teaches us that God is a God of truth and justice”, but offers
no explanation for how Deism arrives at such a conclusion if it rejects the Bible as the
inspired word of god.
Elsewhere, in earlier sections of The Age Of Reason, Paine tries to
make the case that creation proves his God, including God’s attributes, though his arguments
seemed to me as weak as any argument that the Bible is infallible. Certainly nothing he said of
creation (a theist word meaning “universe”) shows that “God is a God of truth
What I Liked Most About It
The strength of this essay is its brevity. Paine simply presents two contradictory claims and
tries to determine which is false. Claim one is that of the Church, that the Bible is divine
revelation and “without this revelation we could not have true ideas of God.” Claim two
(from Deism) is that the books are not divine revelation.
Paine’s proof, however, fails, since he nowhere makes the case that the Bible is not
divine revelation. Instead, the scriptures he quotes only show that the God described in the Bible
is not the same as the God described by the Church, nor the same as the God described by Deism.
It’s a worthwhile point, perhaps, but
the fact that the Bible describes a deceiving, unjust God doesn’t mean it’s not true.
For my money, Paine made a much better case in Part II of The Age Of Reason for why the Bible
could not be true.
While Paine’s reasoning falls short in this pamphlet, the work itself is exceedingly short
and painless to read. It’s also free to
read online, for anyone who has two