I must say, Penn Jillette’s book,God No!, was an enjoyable read. The book is subtitled, Signs You May Already Be An Atheist And Other Magical Tales, but this is not a book about how to become an atheist. This is simply an entertaining read by a man who happens to be an atheist.
In fact, the last few chapters don’t really deal with atheism at all. If you like hearing true stories about the life of a famous entertainer, you should pick up a copy. Jillette is a great writer and his tales are both outrageous and unbelievably amusing. Clearly, there are parts of the book which may seem offensive to theists, but I think the behind-the-scenes look into Jillette’s life is worth giving this book a chance. (Just be warned; you may actually begin to lose faith in your religion!)
Penn Jillette opens the book by asking a very simple question, which explains his proclamation, “You may already be an atheist!” He asks, “If god (however you perceive him/her/it) told you to kill your child—would you do it? If your answer is no, in my booklet you’re an atheist. There is doubt in your mind. Love and morality are more important to you than your faith. If your answer is yes, please reconsider.”
There is a major problem with this scenario; he removes the possibility of there being no “god” by stating that it is “god” who is doing the asking. If a person refuses to obey, they are not an atheist; they are simply being disobedient. The individual clearly believes in “god” even though they have decided to go against his wishes.
The book did not change my way of thinking; I didn’t become a more militant atheist. I enjoyed Jillette’s stories, but we have some differences of opinion. He calls himself a hardcore atheist due to the fact that he doesn’t believe anyone truly believes in “god.” Jillette feels that people have doubt but are too afraid to admit it to others. I agree that everyone has doubts; even the Pope, but I don’t think the doubt means that people don’t believe in “god.” Faith is nonsensical in my estimation, but I do believe there are real believers out there.
Jillette also feels that atheist should not raise their children to believe in the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, or any religious figures. I completely disagree with him. Teaching children about these mythical heroes is a great way to build their moral character. I would have no problem teaching my child about the tooth fairy or Santa Claus, but the religious teachings would have to come from my family members, my spouse, or a catholic elementary school. (Religion should be treated with the same respect as the Greco-Roman Olympian gods! Students should read the Bible as an assignment, and then write ten page papers on their own interpretations.)
***I have a day dream: One day, the world will be void of believers!***
I have no problem with filling children’s heads with nonsense. As long as the truth is revealed, once logic sets in and they begin to question the ridiculous tales. It is my belief that these types of mythical stories were designed for children, but some adults never became aware of the truth. (For an enjoyable read, take a look at a previous post: Why I Laugh!)
Jillette doesn’t believe that people should be agnostic, and I agree with him. It almost seems like agnostics are atheists who are too scared to commit to the truth. It’s time to draw a line in the sand and pick sides; there will be no more half-assing it. You’re either a believer or you’re an atheist.
In my previous post, The Laws, there is a revised Ten Commandments. Jillette also created his own list, which he calls, “One Atheist’s Ten Suggestions.”
Here they are:
- The highest ideals are human intelligence, creativity, and love. Respect these above all.
- Do not put things or even ideas above other human beings.
- Say what you mean, even when talking to yourself.
- Put aside some time to rest and think.
- Be there for your family. Love your parents, your partner, and your children.
- Respect and protect all human life.
- Keep your promises
- Don’t steal.
- Don’t lie.
- Don’t waste too much time wishing, hoping, and being envious; it’ll make you bugnutty.
I think these suggestions are better than the Ten Commandments. One can argue that atheists are going to Hell for our disbelief, but one must admit that atheist can be moral people.
Many thanks to Jessica for recommending Jillette’s book; it was a great read and a wonderful way to spend a flight to Los Angeles. Honestly, what can be more defiant than being an atheist, reading a book about atheism, which was written by an atheist, while sitting on a plane? If there is a “god,” don’t you think Mr. Jealousy would have caused some technical difficulties? (I’m officially an atheist bad ass!)
“Atheism is the only real hope against terrorism: There is no ‘god’ (but Allah…The enemy is faith. Love and respect all people; hate and destroy all faith.”—Penn Jillette