There is No God: by Penn Jillette

February 5, 2009 at 11:49 am 83 comments

The taller, louder half of the magic and comedy act Penn and Teller, tells what the absence of God means in his life.  [The bits of emphasis are added by me at points I though particularly cool or poignant.]

_________________________________________________________

I believe that there is no God. 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. You can’t prove that there isn’t an elephant inside the trunk of my car. 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?

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. She needs to search for some objective evidence of a supernatural power. All the people I write e-mails to often are still stuck at this searching stage. The atheism part is easy.

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. So, I’m saying, “This I believe: I believe there is no God.” Having taken that step, it informs every moment of my life. I’m not greedy.

I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough. It has to be enough, but it’s everything in the world and everything in the world is plenty for me. It seems just rude to beg the invisible for more. Just the love of my family that raised me and the family I’m raising now is enough that I don’t need heaven. I won the huge genetic lottery and I get joy every day.

Believing there’s no God means I can’t really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That’s good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around.

Believing there’s no God stops me from being solipsistic. I can read ideas from all different people from all different cultures. Without God, we can agree on reality, and I can keep learning where I’m wrong. We can all keep adjusting, so we can really communicate. 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.” That’s just a long-winded religious way to say, “shut up,” or another two words that the FCC likes less. 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.” So, believing there is no God lets me be proven wrong and that’s always fun. It means I’m learning something.

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. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future.

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.

– LeoPardus

Entry filed under: LeoPardus. Tags: , , , , .

Finding home again after de-conversion Becoming free from the conditional love of Christian friendships

83 Comments Add your own

  • 1. orDover  |  February 5, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future.

    Exactly. God makes concepts like world peace or eradicating hunger impossible, because he is always going to be testing people’s faith (aka making terrible things happen to them), and because belief in him necessitates an us-vs-them attitude which continually divides humankind. . Until the Millennium, that is, when God has let things get so out of hand that he has to start from scratch.

    I’ll say it with Penn: I believer there is no God.

  • 2. hambydammit  |  February 5, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    “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.”

    Fuck yeah.*

    Penn has always been my hero, and this just solidifies my opinion of him even more. Religion is Bullshit.

    * Gratuitous obscenity added. Handle with care.

    http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/

  • 3. Lucian  |  February 5, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    There is No God: by Penn Jillette

    The taller, louder half of the magic and comedy act Penn and Teller, tells what the absence of God means in his life.

    Yeah … about that:

    youtube.com/watch?v=7JHS8adO3hM

  • 4. orDover  |  February 5, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    What are you trying to point out, Lucian? That Penn isn’t always loud and in-your-face?

  • 5. LeoPardus  |  February 5, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Nice guy Penn. He has no animosity toward religion. He acknowledges that people can inculcate their religion seriously to make themselves better people. He took the guy in his story as a good, decent, sincere, caring fellow and accepted his gift without rancor or anything.
    Sadly there are atheists with chips on their shoulders who would not be as gracious as Penn was in such a situation. (Just as there are theists who lack graciousness.)
    Thanks for calling out that little vignette Lucian.

  • 6. Rover  |  February 5, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    I’m not sure I agree with him on the Jell-O thing.

  • 7. Yurka  |  February 6, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Pen Jilette? You mean this guy?
    I use Gillette ball point pens, so I’m actually quite sympathetic, but I think you might consult actual scientists, mathematicians and philosophers on this most important question, instead of FREAKING COMEDIAN-MAGICIANS for goodness’ sake!

  • 8. Yurka  |  February 6, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Sorry: link is

  • 9. LeoPardus  |  February 6, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    I think you might consult actual scientists, mathematicians and philosophers on this most important question, instead of FREAKING COMEDIAN-MAGICIANS

    And you would fall into which category?

  • 10. Yurka  |  February 6, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Richard Swinburne, Alvin Plantinga, William Craig, Douglas Groothuis, Greg Koukl, Norman Geisler, Guillermo Gonzalez, Michael Behe and William Dembski for starters.

  • 11. orDover  |  February 6, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    So comedian-magicians aren’t allowed to have and express an opinion? And we are not allowed to agree with said opinion if we see fit?

  • 12. LeoPardus  |  February 6, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Re post #10: You are one of those people Yurka?!

  • 13. Stephen P  |  February 6, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    @Yurka: implying that you consider Guillermo Gonzalez, Michael Behe and William Dembski to be authorities to be taken seriously does not do a great deal for your credibility, to put it mildly. (I wasn’t at all impressed by what I’ve read of Plantinga either, but he is at least someone worth taking somewhat seriously.)

  • 14. Brad Feaker  |  February 6, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Yurka,

    …I think you might consult actual scientists, mathematicians and philosophers on this most important question, instead of FREAKING COMEDIAN-MAGICIANS for goodness’ sake!

    OK…Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Paul Myers, Ken Miller, Albert Einstein, Victor Stengel…do I really need to continue???

  • 15. BigHouse  |  February 6, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    This little detour in “appeal to authority” territory isn’t going to take up many more posts, is it? :-)

  • 16. LeoPardus  |  February 6, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    I think we should appeal to, and then kneel to, a real authority… like an internet troll.

  • 17. SnugglyBuffalo  |  February 6, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    What I want to know, is what the hell does science have to do with someone telling what the absence of God in their life means to them?

    There was no question asked that we were consulting a comedian-magician on. This is a post relaying Penn’s thoughts on living a life without god-belief. This is not a matter of science or mathematics. There are other posts that deal with that side of things.

    Yurka, if you’re going to criticize, try making sure you actually know what the hell you’re talking about first.

  • 18. Lucian  |  February 6, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    I think the guys here think that since religion is nothing more than a mere illusion, who else would be more adequate to expose its claims as fake better than a real-life illusionist or magician? Now, since it is also believed that religion is ‘the opium of the people’, I expect the next installment on this series to be the musings of a drug-dealer on this subject … I anxiously await to seeing the next episode!

  • 19. LeoPardus  |  February 6, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Yurka, if you’re going to criticize, try making sure you actually know what the hell you’re talking about first.

    He’s never shown any inclination to do that yet. Why should he start now? :(

  • 20. LeoPardus  |  February 6, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    since religion is nothing more than a mere illusion, who else would be more adequate to expose its claims as fake better than a real-life illusionist or magician?

    Hey! Good point.

    But for the other, I think a drug user would be better than a dealer. But then I’m pretty sure we’ve already had that here. Some of the theist rambles sure sound like weed-induced free association.

  • 21. Brad Feaker  |  February 6, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    LeoPardus,

    weed-induced free association.

    OMFSM – that was funny :-)

  • 22. Lucian  |  February 6, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Hey! Good point.

    Quite so. (With that sort of amateurish atheist apologetics going on, giving a helping hand to those in need just seemed only so naturally like the right, Christian thing to do in this situation) …

    Some of the theist rambles sure sound like weed-induced free association.

    Oh, sorry; it’s just that I didn’t realize that Bob Marley was such a frequent commenter on this blog …

  • 23. freestyleroadtrip  |  February 6, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    Look at what you guys have done to me. Even I cringed as I read Yurka’s comment and then saw her list of scientists, mathemeticians, and philosophers. Although I agree with Stephen P that Alvin Plantiga is at least worth a read. I almost hurt as I saw those two comments and knew what was coming. Thanks for not treating me in similar fashion.

  • 24. Quester  |  February 6, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    FSRT,

    Thanks for not acting in a similar fashion. Most of us are not lashing out mindlessly at any touch of theism. Those few who do don’t tend to be regulars here. I hope that is apparent.

  • 25. Connie Nelson  |  February 6, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    I believe in GOD, but I still read ideas that are different than my own. Just like those who dont beleive in GOD might read ideas different than their own.. At some point in my life, faith in GOD entered and at some point in your life, it left or didnt appear. And what did we have to do with any of that? I think that is an interesting question… but if no one else does, just ignore it…

  • 26. paleale  |  February 7, 2009 at 11:28 am

    “And what did we have to do with any of that?”

    Connie when you say “we” are you referring to the corporate body of humanity in asking what you or I or anyone has to do with the dynamics of spirituality? That is what I think you are asking.

    For the sake of reading interest and space I’m just going to stick with my own personal story. Warning: verbosity

    As most of the people who frequent this forum I was a Christian, and not just a nominal church goer. I lived as a missionary overseas, traveled about the United States proselytizing, was a worship leader and a youth pastor at a local church and eventually landed in the Christian music industry in a pretty well known band with a moderately successful career.

    To the point, I don’t believe we have very much to do with acquiring faith. I believe it is entirely a by-product of the mixture of social influences with an individual’s psychology. Being brought up in a Christian home in the bible belt south, it was only natural that I would ‘hear the call of the Lord’ and respond.

    I was five.

    I was taught by my parents and by my Sunday school teachers and youth leaders and church pastors everything I needed to know about the faith and how to stay strong, much the same way that children in other cultures are taught the principles of the dominant faith of their own particular society.

    As far as the shedding of my faith goes, I believe I need a bit more distance from which to examine the process. At some point I started asking questions which had no good answers. Very instrumental in my journey is my 9 year old son who has severe autism. How many hours did I pray for a miracle healing? How many days did I fast? How much time did I spend reading whatever inspirational and theological material I could get my hands on to perhaps shed light on why my son (and consequently the rest of my family) was being refused a normal life? My church friends gave me answers ranging from “God’s ways are higher than ours” to “God gives special children to special parents” to “autism is a blessing”. I’m trying very hard to not go into a fire-breathing rant about those points of view. I’ll save it for another post. Anyway, you can see how this would start to poke holes in my idea of who God is and how he behaves towards his creation. I began to ask deeper questions and weed out the contradictions until I was left with nothing but the conclusion that my belief and trust had been misplaced. God does not exist.

    All that to say, for me the acquisition of faith was something that was imposed on me from the time that I was a small child. The shedding of that faith was a self-deconstruction brought about by adverse circumstances.

    I hope this gave you some insight, Connie. If nothing else, you gave me the opportunity to talk about something very personal which I have up to this point shared with very few people. Thank you, Connie.

  • 27. guitarstrummr  |  February 7, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    “How many hours did I pray for a miracle healing? How many days did I fast? How much time did I spend reading whatever inspirational and theological material I could get my hands on to perhaps shed light on why my son (and consequently the rest of my family) was being refused a normal life?”

    Oh my gosh. How so extremely sad. All that energy spent only to find out that God was saying “no” the entire time. I know exactly what this feels like, spending time in prayer over something – begging for an answer.

    Why doesn’t God save people the trouble of all that fasting, praying, etc. and just tell them “no” straight up? Then we could get on with our lives! Instead its a game, like we are never sure if God was saying “no” because He really meant it or if God was saying “no” because we were not sincere enough.

    How much fasting is enough? How much prayer? When can we stop and still be assured God heard us and that our motives were sincere? Are you there God? “Oh yes, he is there, but his ways are higher than are ways.” So high that our thoughts and voices apparently do not reach him.

    Thanks for your note paleale :) I’m sorry about your situation and wish you the absolute best. And I am thankful that you no longer are spending energy on prayer and fasting when you can be focused on your family in this short life. Best of luck!

  • 28. guitarstrummr  |  February 7, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    “weed-induced free association”

    rofl

  • 29. paleale  |  February 7, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Thanks guitarstrummr. i truly appreciate your kindness and well wishes. good luck to you too

  • 30. Lucian, the cold-hearted bastard  |  February 8, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Paleale, (and LeoPardus),

    I’m sorry… but how exactly did You arrive at the conclusion that the same God and Father who let His own Son die on the Cross and did not respond affirmative to His prayer in the Garden of Ghetsimane will spare Yours? Did Christ run away from the Cross? Did He at least get down from it when He had the chance to? Or maybe He called upon twelve legions of Angels to deliver Him from His captors and executioners? Did He redeem us by avoiding death and suffering, or by subsuming it and assuming it? The Christ that does not have a Cross is not Christ but the Anti-Christ (because he who does not have a body cannot be crucified either, let alone die, not to mention resurrect: 1 John 4:2-3; 2 John 1:7).

    Nuff celestial ethereal dogma, let’s talk some rough, cruel, unsufferable, down-to-earth praxis too: Your heart will be redeemed by caring for that with all You’ve got: You must love him more than life itself, even at the expanse of “being refused a normal life“: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). God’s job (if He has any) is not to give us a “normal life”, His job is to redeem us. And part of that redemption is love, long-suffering, self-giving, carring, and other such things `against which there is no law`. (Galatians 5:22-23). And our job here on this earth is not to “lead a normal life”, but to be tried as gold in furnance (Wisdom 3:6) so that we may be likened unto the Image of His Son (Romans 8:19, 29).

    Paleale,

    You were very direct and open and sincere to us, so I tried to have the same level of disclosure towards You also. Whereas I appreciate self-giving, long-suffering and martyrtdom, I NEVER EVER *expect* or *demand* them: I’m telling You this so that You may hopefully NOT misread my comment in any other way.

    Regarding miracles, whereas they DO happen, their purpose and meaning is not to appeal to them so as to avoid our Cross: that’s definitely not it. Christ Himself refused to do as such, by being “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross“. (Philippians 2:8). — I’m sorry if the society in which You were raised told You otherwise and promised You a magic-trick-performing Christ, without Cross and without Calvary, and whose way is NOT narrow and strait, but rather large, wide and broad (Matthew 7:13-14).

    The reason for death and suffering lies in the fact that we’re made from Nothingness, and thus subsequently we return to it by our very own nature, being also the sons of mortal men who flunked their chance at attaining immortality from their very beginning … and continue to systematically and programatically cut themselves off from the only Source of every Life and Existence that there is with every single passing generation — the reason I’m telling You this is so that You might not get the impression that everything’s rosie, or peachy-keen-fine-and-dandy with the world, and God’s the one arbitrarily giving us weird tasks: i.e., God’s not the source of evil, but He DOES have the power to turn things into our own advantage, such as it happened with Job: transforming and transfiguring evil back into good, notwithstanding the evil desires of our seen and unseen enemies or adversaries. And when I say this I do NOT mean magically escaping or ducking whatever comes Your way, but fighting it and defying it with Your every power until Your last breath:

    John 16:33  These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace: in the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer: for I have overcome the world.

  • 31. Ubi Dubium  |  February 8, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Lucian –
    Thanks for the reminder of how much better my life is without all that religious nonsense!

  • 32. Lucian  |  February 8, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Ubi Dubium,

    You’re welcome!

  • 33. Josh  |  February 8, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Oh man, Lucian, you don’t come across as a cold-hearted bastard. You just come across as someone completely unwilling to let your own beliefs come under the same critique that you give to theirs.

    There is something about the Golden Rule in there somewhere.

    If you want others to be wiling to admit they might be wrong, please do the same.

  • 34. Lucian  |  February 8, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Josh,

    going through a horrible trauma like the one our friend Paleale here described is enough in-and-off itself to make any man, even the strongest mentally or psychically, lose the last drop of faith, hope, and sanity one might still have left. — And with that, Josh, I have NO problem: were’ all only human, after all. But when I see “name it, claim it” theology put into the mouth of the One Who uttered the words: the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: and there shall no sign be given to them, but the sign of the prophet Jonah, then I DO have a problem. — BTW, how do such miscellaneous little paraphernalia like, uhm, say, Gethsemane and Golgotha, for instance, fit into these people’s theological conundrums?

  • 35. Josh  |  February 8, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Lucian –

    I respect your faith and deeply understand the frustration you would experience in light of name-it-claim-it theology. Even though I am not a Christian, I find it one of the more revolting theologies within the faith. It has been abused beyond belief.

    On the other hand, you brought up a wonderful passage Lucian. A question I had at one point while I was a Christian:

    Mark: “Why do those living today demand a sign? I tell you with certainty, no sign will be given to this generation.”

    In Mark, Jesus explicitly declares that no sign will be given that generation.

    Luke: “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the Sign of Jonah the prophet.”

    In Luke, Jesus gives one sign. [Not to mention that that passage in Jonah has nothing to do with the Messiah at all.]

    In John, however, we find that Jesus does his miracles as signs (“This was the first sign…”, “This was the second sign”… seven signs in total).

    Simple yes or no question: did Jesus give his generation a sign?

  • 36. Lucian  |  February 8, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    Simple yes or no question.

    Sorry, no can do: it’s against [my] religion. 8)

    The evil unfaithful generation He speaks of in the Gospels of both Matthew and Luke (which are the ones containing His genealogy, i.e. list of generations) is the one missing from Matthew: he says 3 times 14 generations, but one’s missing. And this generation is the Christian era, when the Light came into the world, but the world received it not, but rather prefered darkness to the light (John 1:9-11). Does He cast out demons? Well, what else did You expect, coming from one Who’s obviously workin’ hand-in-hand with the Prince of Darkness himself? Does He heal a man? Well, couldn’t He have just waited until the next day, for Christ’s sake?; I mean, why did He have to do it precisely on the Sabbath? Does He preach repentance to sinners just like the Prophets did (God Himself descended to Sodom and Gomorah, no more, no less; Jonah was sent to Niniveh) ? Well, but does He have to, like, actually sit down, eat and *talk* with them? Couldn’t He be more like, You know, John the Baptist, … whom we’ve rejected also, but that’s *completely* immaterial. What? He was raised from the dead!? Yeah, right! His Apostles stole His body (we know this from the soldiers who had their eyes open while they were supposedly sleeping: they said they were sleeping … on the job, no less … under severe Roman rule…but they were also able to positively identify those who stole His body while they were busy taking a nap…with their eyes closed). — You get the drill.

    As Christ Himself was fond of repeating: ‘he who has eyes to see and ears to hear’.

    Not to mention that that passage in Jonah has nothing to do with the Messiah at all

    The Messiah beggs to think otherwise — and not just about that one verse in particular, but about the entire Old Testament Scriptures. (John 5:39).

  • 37. Lucian  |  February 8, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    What I was trying to say, but forgot: the followers of the Law Moses did to Christ exactly what the Pharaoh did to Moses [I hope You here understand the irony of the whole situation]: just ignore Him: He’s no more special than one of our wizzards here! (casting out demons with the power of Beel-Zebub, etc. — just re-read [or re-member] the Exodus passage or chapters that relate how Pharaoh treated Moses and the wonders [the Ten Plagues] which he wrought upon them … and then compare them with the Gospel passages relating how those that “stood in the seat of Moses” (Matthew 23:2) treated Christ and His signs and miracles).

  • 38. writerdd  |  February 8, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    the followers of the Law Moses did to Christ exactly what the Pharaoh did to Moses

    Hmmmm, did you ever think that was a literary technique used to make the stories about Jesus familiar to Jewish readers/listeners?

  • 39. paleale  |  February 8, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Lucian, you’re assuming that I was under the influence of one of the more vapid sects of Christianity you refer to as ‘name it claim it’ or those who would look to scripture as a book of spells and prayers as magic chants guaranteed to illicit a positive response. Far from it!

    I was conservative among conservatives. A staunch traditionalist who abhorred modernity and it’s insurgency into what I had thought to have been the beautiful legacy of the historical Christian church.

    Neither was I ‘looking for a sign’ to confirm God’s existence. Even if I was, I remember that occasionally in scripture God granted signs to those who asked (Thomas, Gideon, not to mention the countless miracles which Jesus performed to those who asked for signs as Josh mentioned above). So which scripture would you rather me adhere to?

    You are also assuming that you are telling me something new. Again, far from it.

    I do appreciate you sharing your views and more so the freedom which this forum allows us all to do so. I believe that you are doing so out of good intentions. Even so, bear in mind that you and I can go toe to toe with scripture verse after scripture verse (Matthew 7:9,11 comes to mind) and neither you nor I will get anywhere. I will remain convinced that God is as mythological as Zeus and you will remain convinced that I have fallen away from the true path. So be it. You are free to think that if you wish.

  • 40. paleale  |  February 8, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    that was Matthew 7:9 through 11. not 9 and 11. I beg your pardon.

  • 41. paleale  |  February 8, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    and I always forget to close my italics! AGH!

  • 42. Lucian  |  February 9, 2009 at 8:26 am

    Paleale,

    I want to know more about You: to exactly what denomination did You belong, and what exactly did it taught (at least regarding the things which concern this topic).

    and I always forget to close my italics! AGH!

    Join the club! :-)

    Hmmmm, did you ever think that was a literary technique used to make the stories about Jesus familiar to Jewish readers/listeners?

    No, D.D., I doubt that.

  • 43. paleale  |  February 9, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Hmm… Well now I’m tempted to keep you guessing, Lucian! I belonged to the same church that I believe you come from. As evidenced by your reference to the book of Wisdom, you are Catholic, no?

  • 44. Lucian  |  February 9, 2009 at 9:36 am

    A Catholic! And a lapsed one at that! OK… that wasn’t expected… I guess that changes everything then… I like Catholics very much, … and the lapsed ones even more… :) Especially the ones going through personal Hell, angry at God, mad at their destiny, and alone against the world… it makes them so… idunno how to even say this… human? — You’re my personal Bruce Willis, man! :) God bless You! BTW, here are three other lapsed Catholics turned atheists: — feel free to do some “networking” with them:

    anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com
    celticchimp.blogspot.com
    mycaseagainstgod.blogspot.com

  • 45. Yurka  |  February 9, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    paleale, what comfort does your nihilism give you? How do you think Job felt?

  • 46. paleale  |  February 9, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Yurka, I don’t think you really understand the concept of nihilism. Just because someone is an atheist doesn’t mean that he or she is a nihilist.

    And as far as Job’s feelings go, it’s a bit like asking how Hercules or Paul Bunyan felt about something. It’s a legend with legendary behavior ascribed to the characters, hardly applicable to real life. Do you really believe that the devil went to heaven and made a bet with God? And that God accepted the bet?

  • 47. paleale  |  February 9, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    And Lucian, I’m awkwardly proud to be your Bruce Willis… I think.

    Thanks for the links! Although now I’m more confused about your character and purpose in this forum. Hmm…

  • 48. Lucian  |  February 10, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Well, Paleale, to quote yet another Catholic, Sir Thomas More: I trust I make myself obscure. :-)

  • 49. Lucian  |  February 10, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    And here’s my little contribution to the topic of this post, regarding the non-existence of God… :-|

  • 50. Josh  |  February 11, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Lucian, you are a genius at masking your thoughts in sarcasm :)

    Too good, no?

  • 51. paleale  |  February 12, 2009 at 12:23 am

    totally. i’m quite impressed.

  • 52. Josh  |  February 12, 2009 at 1:10 am

    I confess that I have those days when I enjoy poking sarcastic remarks at someone else – even if they do not realize I am doing it and I am the only one laughing.

    Maybe this is one of those days. Time will tell!

  • 53. Whiteboy  |  February 12, 2009 at 1:32 am

    I’d give anything to meet you. This is very similar to most of my thoughts and beliefs. Stay true to yourself & don’t allow for others “truths” to rub off on you… Great Work

  • 54. Lucian  |  February 12, 2009 at 1:32 am

    Oh, come on, guys! Don’t start givin’ me that whole “this blog’s waaay too serious for your childish comments” routine! :( Otherwise I’ll start tellin’ people atheism’s just NO fun.. 8) — Yes, that’s a threat.

  • 55. Yurka  |  February 12, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    paleale #46: Just because someone is an atheist doesn’t mean that he or she is a nihilist.

    I’d agree. But I think they’re being inconsistent. Ultimately, it does not matter what you do because in the end you will be annihilated. To comfort yourself about shabby things you might be inclined to do to others, you can reflect that eventually they and all of their descendants will be annihilated as well. Your actions are meaningless, since whatever they are, the eventual outcome will be the same. There can be no human tragedy, since humans are merely advanced apes, biological machines. You can’t even take your own indignation seriously on that level. I’d call that nihilistic. Have you ever considered these things?

  • 56. orDover  |  February 12, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Ultimately, it does not matter what you do because in the end you will be annihilated

    Right. Because our actions on earth have no repercussions, especially after we are dead. I mean, what Hitler did while alive really didn’t matter because he just died and rotted in the ground.

    To comfort yourself about shabby things you might be inclined to do to others, you can reflect that eventually they and all of their descendants will be annihilated as well. Your actions are meaningless, since whatever they are, the eventual outcome will be the same

    Maybe in the scope of millions of years, but that isn’t what most atheists are concerned about. We are concerned about how our actions TODAY affect the people around us today and tomorrow and one hundred years down the line. My personal actions might not matter in the scope of the lifespan of the earth, but they’ll matter for a while. They’ll affect the people I know, the people they know, all of their children, maybe even all of their grandchildren. Who knows how long the ripple of my actions could reverberate? One of the major differences between religious people and atheists is that the religious are always looking toward the distant future, to the hereafter, while atheists concern themselves with the here and now, how we can make life on earth better for all of us living folks and those who will come after us.

    There can be no human tragedy, since humans are merely advanced apes, biological machines.

    Right. Because biological machines couldn’t have possibly developed brains with complicated emotional systems, and we couldn’t have developed the capacity to care about each other, and more importantly, emphasize with each other.

  • 57. SnugglyBuffalo  |  February 12, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Seems like Yurka’s the only nihilistic one here.

    Yurka, given that we have, in fact, considered these things without becoming nihilists, isn’t it possible that your view of atheism and its resultant nihilism is flawed?

  • 58. LeoPardus  |  February 12, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    orDover:

    Remember that Yurka, like so may believers, must say what he said in order to keep convincing himself that he, and other believers are superior/on the right track/have the only truth/have hope where we don’t/etc.

    It’s like a mantra to quiesce the soul and mind.

  • 59. LeoPardus  |  February 12, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Yurka, given that we have, in fact, considered these things without becoming nihilists, isn’t it possible that your view of atheism and its resultant nihilism is flawed?

    Of course not. Don’t be silly. He has the “mind of Christ” which is the mind of God, which knows everything. Hence Yurka, like most believers, thinks he’s omniscient and infallible; in short that he’s God.

  • 60. Yurka  |  February 12, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    From a recent interview with Woody Allen:

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/151533

    So why go on? “I can’t really come up with a good argument to choose life over death,” he says. “Except that I’m too scared.” Making films offers no reward beyond distracting him from his plight. He claims the payoff is in the process—”I need to be focused on something so I don’t see the big picture”

    Allen is of course a life long atheist. He has always known atheism implies nihilism.

  • 61. orDover  |  February 12, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Ah well, you’ve seen through our farce by deferring to our king and leader. Now Leo, Snuggly and I must defer in part to his higher authority and repeat The Atheist Mantra: “So says Woody Allen, so say we all.”

  • 62. SnugglyBuffalo  |  February 12, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Man, all I can think about after reading that last phrase is Battlestar Galactica. Can’t wait for the next episode…

    Yurka, you’ve found someone who was an atheist and a nihilist. You have not shown even a correlation between atheism and nihilism, much less a causative relationship between them. Gonna have to do better than that.

    I can do it to, watch: many of my friends are life-long atheists. All of them are leading happy, meaningful lives. They have always known that atheism does not imply nihilism.

    So far, these anecdotes prove nothing except that some atheists are nihilists and some are not. I’m pretty sure the same is true of any group.

  • 63. LeoPardus  |  February 12, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    And while we’re at it, can we cherry-pick examples of Christians with horrible views, attitudes, body odor, grade point averages, etc and say that Yurka must be just like them? Yes let’s.

  • 64. Josh  |  February 12, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Haha, I don’t know any atheists who are nihilists (except, apparently, Woody Allen now).

    On the other hand, I could see some forms of Christian theology approaching nihilism :)

  • 65. orDover  |  February 12, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    I could see some forms of Christian theology approaching nihilism

    Exactly. What isn’t nihilistic about believing that all you have to do to be saved is believe in Jesus. The rest of your actions don’t matter. Even more explicitly, your actions don’t matter because the world is evil and is going to be destroyed soon anyway.

  • 66. SnugglyBuffalo  |  February 12, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Ah, but Christians who subscribe to a nihilistic theology aren’t true Christians.

  • 67. paleale  |  February 12, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Man. I’d at least like to think that referring to Woody Allen would have at least told Yurka that atheists a great sense of dry, witty, sarcastic humor. Alas, he has merely discovered my dark secret: that I have no reason to keep from doing shabby things to strangers, and no reason to live. I think I’ll go rob a liquor store and then walk around in some heavy traffic.

  • 68. paleale  |  February 12, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    that’s “have a great sense of…”

  • 69. paleale  |  February 12, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    by the way, THANKS FOR THE BATTLESTAR REFERENCE!!!

    geez, that show is getting tense.

  • 70. Yurka  |  February 12, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    paleale, I do appreciate Allen’s humor, except it comes across to me more as gallows humor. It speaks of absurdity and despair more than sarcasm.
    And speaking of alcohol, why do you need pale ale in the first place?
    Is it to numb out the pain caused by your worldview?
    Also Dawkins says things with a nihilistic flavor (‘we are nothing but machines for propagating DNA’) and is merely inconsistent when he denies being a nihilist.

  • 71. Jeffrey  |  February 12, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    If a finite existence is meaningless, then I am happy to be spared the experience of heaven. It would consist of an infinite sequence of meaningless existences.

  • 72. Quester  |  February 12, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Yurka, you seem to be personally offended that atheists are not one-dimensional charicatures. There are more schools of philosophy that do not include theist than simply nihilism.

  • 73. Yurka  |  February 12, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    That is the composition fallacy. It is precisely because they are a part of an eternity that the finite moments are not meaningless.

  • 74. Jeffrey  |  February 12, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    So, basically what you are saying is that if you get to heaven and God tells you it only lasts a million years, you’ll spend your time moping around contemplating the meaninglessness of existence.

    Then let’s say at the end of the million years, God tells you that you get another million years. You wouldn’t be happy to hear this – it would only mean more meaninglessness.

  • 75. SnugglyBuffalo  |  February 12, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Huh, I would think the opposite: that being a part of a finite life-span makes each finite moment much more meaningful than it might be if it were part of an eternity.

  • 76. Josh  |  February 12, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    Yeah, I agree with SnugglyBuffalo. The more rare something is, the more valuable it is. Your life only happens once and is the only one of its kind in the perceivable universe and is therefore priceless.

  • 77. paleale  |  February 13, 2009 at 1:29 am

    It is precisely because they are a part of an eternity that the finite moments are not meaningless.

    I think I see your point, Yurka. Since our actions determine how and where we inhabit eternity then a great amount of significance can be given to each action or ‘moment’. As Maximus Decimus Meridius said, “what we do here on earth… echoes in eternity”. :-) The catch is, however, what if there is no eternity in which to echo?

    You seem to display a trend of drawing extreme conclusions from small amounts of data; atheists are all nihilists (especially Woody Allen), all atheists are unhappy and I am a miserable sot, drowning my sorrows in meaninglessness and beer.

    There was a logic exercise that we did in elementary school that went something like this. Maybe you did this too.

    Suzy is unhappy
    Suzy is a ballerina
    Conclusion: All ballerinas are unhappy
    True or False?

    This exercise can be applied to any group. Basketball players, lefties, astronauts, kittens, Buddhists, Lithuanians, Christians and yes… even atheists. Suzy may be clinically depressed. Or an abuse victim. Or her cat may have died. There’s simply insufficient data. I don’t mean to sound patronizing here but dude you have to stop making these ludicrous insinuations. It’s insulting and it makes you look foolish.

    I like to believe the best about people. And I want to believe the best about you. I believe that you are an intelligent person. But this seems to be simply a monologue of sorts on your part without a reasonable willingness to consider alternate points of view. We here in this forum are where we are because we have been willing to consider things apart from dogma. I would hope that we could engage in a sensible dialogue, setting the dogma aside, and just talk.

    sincerely,
    Paleale

  • 78. Luke  |  February 13, 2009 at 2:13 am

    i can’t say i agree with him, but it is extremely well written. reminds me of a book in the Bible.. actually… just omit the God parts and you got yourselves Penn.. only without the Jello

    Ecclesiastes 9 (The Message)

    Seize life! Eat bread with gusto,
    Drink wine with a robust heart.
    Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure!
    Dress festively every morning.
    Don’t skimp on colors and scarves.
    Relish life with the spouse you love
    Each and every day of your precarious life.
    Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange
    For the hard work of staying alive.
    Make the most of each one!
    Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!
    This is your last and only chance at it,
    For there’s neither work to do nor thoughts to think
    In the company of the dead, where you’re most certainly headed.

    11 I took another walk around the neighborhood and realized that on this earth as it is—

    The race is not always to the swift,
    Nor the battle to the strong,
    Nor satisfaction to the wise,
    Nor riches to the smart,
    Nor grace to the learned.
    Sooner or later bad luck hits us all.

    12 No one can predict misfortune.
    Like fish caught in a cruel net or birds in a trap,
    So men and women are caught
    By accidents evil and sudden.

  • 79. Josh  |  February 13, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Ahhh yes, good ole Ecclesiastes. With all the “vanities” flying about, one could probably conclude that Solomon was himself was a nihilist of sorts.

  • 80. LeoPardus  |  February 13, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    That is the composition fallacy.

    Please, Yurka. STOP trying to do formal logic. You can’t.

  • 81. Lucian  |  February 13, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    what if there is no eternity in which to echo?

    It’s true that it’s very important how we build or construct our own character, soul, heart, and mind. And it begins here and now, and we reap at least some of the fruits here and now: we can share in love, goodness, kindness, selflessness, joy, purity, freedom from passions and ease from burdains in this life … if we truly want and try to. The Apostles beheld Christ’s glory while still on earth, at the mount of Transfiguration, and so the words of the Word were fulfilled, when He said to them: “some of you will not taste of death until they’ll see the Kingdom of God coming with power“. Truly happy and blessed and at ease is the man whose heart shares and delights in these things (Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34).

  • 82. Lucian  |  February 13, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    I liked the atheist slogan that said “be good for goodness’ sake” very, very much. What they probably did not understand (and neither did their opponents, who do believe in the eternal reward in the afterlife) is that the reward is not an exterior imposed thing; it’s an interior and achieved thing. And so is the eternal torment. And that the good is truly good, and that goodness and kindness and love and purity are their own reward, whose sweetness will be better tasted from in the next life than it already is in this one. And so will it be with the evils: their fruit of despair, bitterness and disgust will be felt much more poignantly in the afterlife than they are already felt in this one. As a proverb goes, one reaps what one sows; or: one sleeps as well as one has made one’s bed.

  • 83. Quester  |  February 13, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Lucien,

    How do you know what you claim about “the” reward, eternal torment, goodness and afterlife? From what sources do you get your information?

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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