Penn Jillette's Atheist Celebration

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Penn Jillette, half of Penn & Teller, host of the podcast Penn's Sunday School, and author of Every Day is an Atheist Holiday!, gives his own highly personal account of all the benefits of being an Atheist.


Penn Jillette

Comments [32]


Ed from Larchmont: When I told the rabbi of the synagogue that my parents belonged to that I was an atheist, he told me there was an old saying:

"It's not so important as to whether or not you believe in God, as to whether or not God believes in you."

Nov. 14 2012 01:48 PM
mejimenez from manhattan

The word "God" is a noun, but all nouns do not behave in the same way. What is the relationship between the noun "God" (and its associated concept) with its putative
referent? Is it really the same as that between the noun "teacup" and
its referent? There are lots of nouns that don't behave like "teacup":
"whirlpool", "pi", "empathy", "universe", ... Just because we can construct sentences that are syntactically correct with those nouns does not mean that the sentences are semantically meaningful: "where does the whirlpool begin?"; "what is the location of pi?"; "how much does that empathy weigh?"; "what is outside
the universe?". How come the word "God" is subject to tests that lots of other words get a pass on?

This is just a manifestation of the Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness. The fallacy brings forth an imaginary playing field, where the atheists and believers take opposite sides and the agnostics refuse to decide where to stand.

When I would say "See you next week" to my mother's home care assistant, she would always reply: "God willing". What is the real meaning of that reply? Was her intent to assert and affirm the existence of a transcendent deity controlling all events on this mortal coil? Maybe, if I had pressed her, she would have defended that concept to the best of her ability. But we all know that's not what she meant. She was expressing her humility in the face of the unknown; "For All We
Know, We May Never Meet Again".

Nov. 14 2012 11:52 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Truth: I don't know of any person who have tried pot(that includes me,) who thinks it's not as intoxicating as alcohol.

Can you publicly drink alcohol in NY?

Your third point is just plain common sense.

Nov. 14 2012 11:41 AM
Leo from Queens

I Understand SHeldon - My problem is that he was IMPLYING. He should be very clear the that is the problem - that these laws are selectively enforced and are used to target certain people and he should have been clear since even on WNYC we do have a lot of ignorant people listening with their own preconceptions about others.

and Thank you for getting it

Nov. 14 2012 11:40 AM


Nov. 14 2012 11:38 AM

Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn~

Please get a clue.

DUI is DUI it doesn't matter what you're high on.


Nov. 14 2012 11:37 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Leo - Brian is making your point for you because he is correct - listen.

Yes, blacks and latinos who get disproportionally arrested for pot for the very reasons you stated and Brian was implying.

Nov. 14 2012 11:33 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

What bothers me about the whole legalization of marijuana business is two-fold:

1. Users tend to think that it is not as intoxicating as alcohol, so they feel it is perfectly okay to use it and then work or drive or operate machinery or any number of activities which, for drinkers, would be prohibited.

2. Marijuana smokers feel that it should be fine to smoke it in public, which is more dangerous than smoking cigarettes in public. The whole reason we ban cigarette/cigar/pipe/tobacco smoking in public is because it adversely affects others. Marijuana has the added effect of a contact high. And the mere smell of it is sickly sweet and nauseating.

So, if marijuana is to be legalized, it should have the same prohibitions and limitations as both alcohol and tobacco: not to be used in public or at work or when operating motor vehicles or machinery or any other activity which requires intact motor skills.

Nov. 14 2012 11:31 AM

Puttin' colored folk in jail is BIG $$$!!

Nov. 14 2012 11:30 AM

On another note, Penn, on video, declared his sympathy to Esperanto as a Second Language. Has he learned it?

Nov. 14 2012 11:30 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

It's easy to strip the anthropomorphic attributes that virtually all man-made religions place on "God", most people of average intelligence should do that by the time they are 18, that doesn't make someone an atheist.

To be an atheist, one must have faith that there is no higher being, something that goes against reason. Agnostic forever.

Nov. 14 2012 11:30 AM

Leo from Queens~ a point.

Nov. 14 2012 11:29 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Penn Jillette may define atheism for himself as not actively believing in God, but I've heard some atheists talk in a way that indicates they take the nonexistence of God as an article of faith & base a belief system on it. And these atheists can be as dogmatic as some of the adherents of any religion.

Nov. 14 2012 11:28 AM
Leo from Queens

We can pretend that Trump is not a racist.. But we can be sure and no one should deny that Trump says a lot of racist things and is advancing a racist agenda by questioning the qualifications, education and nationality of the president of the United States who happens to be bi-racial.

it doesn't matter if the motives are to get publicity or to make money. The effect to advance ignorance, hate and racism is still the same!

Nov. 14 2012 11:28 AM

Mr Jillette, I've always been interested to see if there are examples of a libertian government. I am a skeptic like you so I like to see examples and proof.

Nov. 14 2012 11:27 AM
Frank from Lindenhurst

It's a shame Penn doesn't celebrate religious holidays with his children. With my Catholic parents I observed Easter and Christmas ended up a perfectly legitimate atheist anyway.

Nov. 14 2012 11:27 AM
Leo from Queens

Brian, your comment that it's mostly black youths who would end up in jail for smoking pot or 'doing blow' is misleading. It continues to promote the racist misconception that minority young man are the ones that mostly consume pot and 'blow'.. IN fact the opposite is true!> You should have phrased it differently in that these laws are used to target young men of color primarily even though white youths and young men are the primary consumers of pot and coke. THe problem is that many racist police departments and politicians target minorities in order to feed the prison industrial complex and to deny men of color the opportunity to advance in society. . A conviction or small jail time for drug possession means that they are disqualified from holding most jobs and are disqualified from getting any financial help for education. It's an easy way for the powers that be (NYPD and Kelly anyone) to just block a large segment of the population from getting ahead. Since whites are not targeted they can get away with consuming pot on a regular basis without any repercussions that prevent them from getting a job or getting an education.

Nov. 14 2012 11:26 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Not sure that he's right that Obama wants to arrest users. Doesn't O advocate for user treatment and prosecution for dealers only?

And Penn's absolute certainty that Trump is not a racist is wrong.

Nov. 14 2012 11:25 AM
Eli Friedmann from astoria

wow....the way penn just summed up his (libertarian) priorities re war/crime-punishment was probably the most appealing sounding version of libertarianism i have ever heard (not being a libertarian myself). well done penn.

Nov. 14 2012 11:25 AM
John A.

Look at the bright side Ed, he has none of the arrogance of Dawkins, here, at least, anyway. I like this respect shown.

Nov. 14 2012 11:24 AM

Hey, Ed!


Nov. 14 2012 11:24 AM
Hiward Stevens from NYC

Mr. Gillette seems to lack a robust imagination and is woefully ignorant about religion and religious culture, rejecting "an omniscent and omnipotent God" which is NOT necessarily the kind of God that many people actually believe in.

Most religion is performance based, requiring no committment to a particular theology, or any theology. So lighten up, expand you mind, enjoy a warm community, interesting history, moral questions - and lots of good food!

Nov. 14 2012 11:21 AM

BO is contradictory/hypocritical on weed because there is a HUGE industrial private prison lobby $$ that the pres CANNOT/REFUSES to ignore.

Nov. 14 2012 11:21 AM

For many people belief in God is synonymous with being a member of a community. Rejecting belief in God would result in ostracism. Atheism is a luxury most people in the world cannot afford.

Nov. 14 2012 11:19 AM
Amy from Manhattan

So for Mr. Jillette as an atheist, this is a wonderful time of the year, just not the *most* wonderful time of the year?

And to me, the phrase "God is good" is a characterization, not a definition.

Nov. 14 2012 11:18 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

So why isn't Penn an agnostic? To be an atheist - you must have belief.

Nov. 14 2012 11:17 AM
Matt Hutchinson from Nantucket

I heard from another magician the Penn has a half secret side career as a jazz bass player and that he sometimes plays at his own shows. As a jazz musician myself, I was wondering if that is true?? Maybe you could ask him. Is so that is fantastic...

Nov. 14 2012 11:16 AM
Robert from NYC

Well, what makes people with religion kill and rape the people they want because they do kill and rape people!! LOL LMAO

Nov. 14 2012 11:14 AM
Robert from NYC

Did he take a shower after being in the presence of Donald Trump? That's the only question I have for him.

Nov. 14 2012 11:13 AM
Paul from Boston, MA

So, Ed from Larchmont, what I hear you saying is that when an atheist returns a lost wallet or helps a neighbor whose house has flooded, that's actually god working THROUGH the atheist without the atheist's knowledge or volition. If god hadn't decided to work his mysterious, divine interventions in these cases, the atheist would have been powerless to act on his own.

Do you realize how patronizing that is?

(It's also completely wrong.)

Nov. 14 2012 09:24 AM
Ed from Larchmont

There are two tasks to do, one is to love God, the other is to do good to other people through virtue. Atheists kind of miss out on the first one, I would suggest they concentrate on the second one then.

Nov. 14 2012 07:58 AM
Ed from Larchmont

I'm glad Mr. Jillette has found some benefits to atheism. He should hear about the benefits of friendship with God. Unfortunately, atheism isn't true. On the other hand Mr. Jillette seems like a decent man.

(When one says 'without God, one can do nothing', it doesn't mean atheists can't be good people. It means that if someone does good and lives a good life, they are doing so with the help of God's grace, whether or not he or she acknowledges it.)

Nov. 14 2012 05:55 AM

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