Penn Jillette’s Atheism Challenged by Christian Believer Curtis Smale
Penn: I believe that there is no God.
Curtis: Okay. At least you acknowledge that your position is one held by an unprovable and unscientific faith.
Penn: I’m beyond atheism. Atheism is not believing in God. Not believing in God is easy — you can’t prove a negative, so there’s no work to do.
Curtis: How are you “beyond atheism”? You believe that “there is no God.” That is precisely atheism: no more, no less.
Penn: You can’t prove that there isn’t an elephant inside the trunk of my car.
Curtis: We’re not talking about elephants in your trunk, here, Penn. We’re talking about the Creator of the visible creation. I know you are a magician, but please limit the *misdirection* in this conversation! :)
Penn: You sure? How about now? Maybe he was just hiding before. Check again. Did I mention that my personal heartfelt definition of the word “elephant” includes mystery, order, goodness, love and a spare tire?
Curtis: Are you saying that you do not believe that mystery, order, goodness, and love exist?
Penn: So, anyone with a love for truth outside of herself has to start with no belief in God and then look for evidence of God.
Curtis: If there is no God, why are you so confident that there is such a thing as “truth”? Why would anyone have to “start with no belief in God”? How is that position more logical than starting with a belief in God because of the evidence of the endless stars in the overwhelming night sky, beautiful clouds, majestic mountains, giraffes, whales, orchids, Blue butterflies, people, consciousness, conscience–and mystery, order, beauty, truth, goodness and love?
Curtis: “Truth” is defined as that which is in accordance with the facts outside of your mind.
Penn: She needs to search for some objective evidence of a supernatural power.
Curtis: If creation doesn’t do it for you, what would, pray tell?
Penn: All the people I write e-mails to often are still stuck at this searching stage. The atheism part is easy.
Penn: But, this “This I Believe” thing seems to demand something more personal, some leap of faith that helps one see life’s big picture, some rules to live by.
Curtis: Who made those “rules”?
Penn: So, I’m saying, “This I believe: I believe there is no God.”
Curtis: Okay. But how do you *know* that to be true? Where is your *proof* of this assertion? Or should we all submit *blindly* to your positive faith assertion?
Penn: Having taken that step, it informs every moment of my life. I’m not greedy.
Curtis: I believe you when you say that taking this step informs every moment of your life. If there is no God, as you say, why would it be a problem if you were “greedy”?
Penn: I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough.
Curtis: Where did love, truth and beauty come from?
Penn: It has to be enough,
Curtis: But I sense from your words that it is NOT enough.
Penn: but it’s everything in the world and everything in the world is plenty for me.
Curtis: So you are content with life having no ultimate meaning?
Penn: It seems just rude to beg the invisible for more.
Curtis: So God is there, but you don’t want to be “rude”? You just want to ignore Him?
Penn: Just the love of my family that raised me and the family I’m raising now is enough that I don’t need heaven.
Penn: I won the huge genetic lottery and I get joy every day.
Curtis: So life is a meaningless lottery? Where’s the “joy” in that? What if you had NOT won the “genetic lottery”?
Penn: Believing there’s no God means I can’t really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories.
Curtis: If you cover your eyes with your hands, do you believe that you disappear, too?
Curtis: It sounds like what you are really looking to do is get rid of accountability to the God you have a sneaking suspicion is really there.
Curtis: Does “kindness” forgive sins? Is there no justice in your view of things?
Penn: That’s good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful.
Curtis: How do you know what “good” is? And what about the sins you’ve ~already~ committed?
Penn: I have to try to treat people right the first time around.
Curtis: Where did you get your sense of “right”? Are you implying that believers in God do not try to treat people right?
Penn: Believing there’s no God stops me from being solipsistic.
Curtis: Bless you!
Actually, it doesn’t. You believe what you believe for your own circular reasons.
Penn: I can read ideas from all different people from all different cultures.
Curtis: Are you implying that believers in God cannot do this? I am reading your words right now…
Penn: Without God, we can agree on reality, and I can keep learning where I’m wrong.
Curtis: The benefits of your atheism seem very few. Who is the “we” in this sentence that is “agree(ing) on reality”?
Penn: We can all keep adjusting, so we can really communicate.
Curtis: Don’t we all do this anyway?
Penn: I don’t travel in circles where people say, “I have faith, I believe this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith.”
Curtis: So does this mean that you are a closed-minded man who is not open to the opinions of people who absolutely disagree with your position?
Penn: That’s just a long-winded religious way to say, “shut up,” or another two words that the FCC likes less.
Curtis: You believe what you believe in your heart, so you said. Is there anything I can say that will shake your faith?
Penn: But all obscenity is less insulting than, “How I was brought up and my imaginary friend means more to me than anything you can ever say or do.”
Curtis : Do your beliefs held by faith mean more to you than anything I can say?
Penn: So, believing there is no God lets me be proven wrong and that’s always fun.
Curtis: So do you want to have some fun and let me prove to you that you are wrong and that God is?
Curtis: Do you think that there is no learning path involved for those who believe in God?
Penn: It means I’m learning something.
Curtis: Are you implying that believers in God cannot learn anything?
Penn: Believing there is no God means the suffering I’ve seen in my family, and indeed all the suffering in the world, isn’t caused by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn’t bothered to help or is just testing us, but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future.
Curtis: What believer in God that you have met believes that “all the suffering in the world” is *caused* by God?
Curtis: Are you saying that all of the hospitals named “St. Luke’s” and other Christian names are not helping people and alleviating suffering?
Penn: No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future.
Curtis: How is that a logical statement? Where is the substantiation for this statement?
Penn: Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-O and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.
Curtis: Penn, do you have “room” for only so many beliefs? If so, how is advanced learning possible for you?
Curtis: Can you prove “love” exists?
Curtis: Can you prove “truth” exists?
Curtis: Can you prove “beauty” exists?
Curtis: Well, Penn: Neil Peart,
Julia Sweeney, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins didn’t make any sense with their Atheistic faith, either… :)
Curtis: God bless you! :)
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