Friday, January 29, 2010

Penn Jillette’s Take on Proselytizing Christians

Following up on a recent post on attitudes towards proselytizing (in the context of the fallout over Brit Hume’s comments), I thought Penn Jillette’s comments on proselytizing Christians were interesting.

By way of background, Penn Jillette is probably best known as the speaking half of the Penn & Teller illusionist duo. He has also guest starred on sitcoms, co-directed a documentary, and was the primary announcer for Comedy Central for a period. Some will know him from his stint on “Dancing with the Stars.” Apparently, he was booted off pretty quickly.

Penn is something of a renaissance man, and has pursued a number of interests beyond entertainment. He has written a column for a computing magazine. He has invented and patented a hot tub that is specially designed to provide women with sexual pleasure.

Penn has also become known as a man of very strong convictions. He is a libertarian, and a fellow of the Cato Institute. He is also a devout atheist. He is very confident there is no god. He has stated that his atheistic beliefs are central to who he is, and inform all aspects of his life. Nonetheless, he does think Christians should proselytize. In the clip below, he explains his thinking on the matter and describes how moved he was by the genuine concern expressed by a Christ follower after one of Penn & Teller’s Las Vegas shows.

John 13:34 (New American Standard Bible)

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

1 comment:

  1. If you're going to claim 'scholarship' with respect to religion, it would be useful for you to know that there is no such thing as a 'devout atheist', and there is no such thing as 'atheistic beliefs'. Each of those is an oxymoron.

    Here's the thing. There are people who run around regurgitating 'God-stories', and attempting to get other people to 'believe' (in this context, the ILLUSION of knowledge) that these God-stories... depending from the myths, superstitions, fairy-tales, fables and fantastical delusions of an ignorant gaggle of Bronze Age fishermen and peripatetic, militant, marauding, murdering, genocidal goat-herders... are 'true'.

    Got that? OK... good. Now... there's a distressingly small percentage of humanity that IS NOT so stupid, gullible and/or cowardly that they can be bullied, cajoled, threatened, deceived, coerced, frightened, tricked, manipulated or bamboozled to the point of being made to 'believe' that these outrageously ridiculous God-stories are 'true'. That ABSENCE of stupidity and gullibility earns them a label: 'atheist'. That is IT... that is ALL... that is the ONLY thing that defines an 'atheist'. 'God-stories' make their bullshit alarms go-off. 'Not being persuaded' is NOT a 'belief', and the idea of being 'devoutly not-persuaded' is patently ridiculous.