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Penn Gillette: There Is No God (NPR)

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Penn Gillette: There Is No God (NPR)

Old 11-21-05, 07:56 PM
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Penn Gillette: There Is No God (NPR)

I heard this essay on NPR today, and I thought it was really thought-provoking -- atheism as a positive affirmation. Read below or give it a listen and tell me what you think.

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.
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Old 11-21-05, 08:00 PM
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Maybe he should read a little something called THE BIBLE!
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Old 11-21-05, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Penn Gillette
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."
Once again Penn takes the easy way out. What does he do, force Teller to believe in God?
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Old 11-21-05, 08:07 PM
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He sounds like a dark-sider!
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Old 11-21-05, 08:16 PM
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"I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough."
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Old 11-21-05, 08:17 PM
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Well yeah. He ate God.
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Old 11-21-05, 08:22 PM
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Jillette

Eh ... Believing in a non-specific higher power? Makes sense to me. Certainly possible. Not believing in a higher power? Seems logical. Not much proof. Believing in a higher power/afterlife and trying to help others get there? I can see that, with many limits. Frequent belittling evangelical non-belief? Not a fan. After a while, it's just obnoxious.

I still love Penn, though.

das
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Old 11-21-05, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by darkessenz
Maybe he should read a little something called THE BIBLE!

Or read The Fellowship of the Ring if he doesn't believe in hobbits! Both are works of fiction.
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Old 11-21-05, 08:37 PM
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Couldn't agree more with him.
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Old 11-21-05, 09:07 PM
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Many times the argument seems to be that agnostics and atheists are by definiton amoral -- that without the guiding paths of faith and religion, our society would collapse into sinful degradation. I like this argument -- that not believing in God means that your only forgiveness comes from the other people in your life.
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Old 11-21-05, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Silt
Or read The Fellowship of the Ring if he doesn't believe in hobbits! Both are works of fiction.
than why do archeologists and historians use The Bible as a base in their research?
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Old 11-21-05, 09:24 PM
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Penn's lucky that God has a sense of humor...
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Old 11-21-05, 09:27 PM
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Good for him.
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Old 11-21-05, 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by al_bundy
than why do archeologists and historians use The Bible as a base in their research?
Because there is both fact and fiction. It's a collection of stories passed down through many hundreds of generations. There's bound to be some truth, but on the whole it's pretty hard to back up most of what's in there.
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Old 11-21-05, 09:59 PM
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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 then says:

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.
What's the dif Mr. Penn.
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Old 11-21-05, 10:17 PM
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"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."

Well, if there's anything that Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and most other religions have agreed on it's that spiritual growth does not result from focusing on these things. But I guess if you don't believe man has a spiritual side, then there's no need to bother respecting or familiarizing yourself with the traditions that brilliant, sincere people have devoted lifetimes to throughout the world and down through the centuries---you can just casually dismiss them all.
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Old 11-21-05, 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Deftones
Because there is both fact and fiction. It's a collection of stories passed down through many hundreds of generations. There's bound to be some truth, but on the whole it's pretty hard to back up most of what's in there.
Wow, this paragraph has SO many inaccuracies in it, I don't know where to begin... but fortunately, I doubt anyone's looking to you for guidance.


Interesting post, Mojo. I don't agree with much of it, but it is pretty bold of him.

Edited to add, I'm laughing at the way Deftones's opinions are stated, not the opinions of the OP. Deftones, if you look into apologetics, you'll find that there's a lot more "back up" out there... doesn't mean you have to believe, but it's far from the "stories 'round the campfire" that you've made it sound like.

Last edited by shoppingbear; 11-21-05 at 10:53 PM.
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Old 11-21-05, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by NCMojo
Many times the argument seems to be that agnostics and atheists are by definiton amoral -- that without the guiding paths of faith and religion, our society would collapse into sinful degradation. I like this argument -- that not believing in God means that your only forgiveness comes from the other people in your life.
He has certainly taken a different spin on it. I would maintain that you don't have to be religious to have morals, however, with no religion, no God, etc., ones idea of morality is subjective and relative. If that is true, why do I care if I get forgiveness from others if I disagree with their morals?
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Old 11-21-05, 11:36 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
He has certainly taken a different spin on it. I would maintain that you don't have to be religious to have morals, however, with no religion, no God, etc., ones idea of morality is subjective and relative...
Not necessarily. I admit many atheists believe the idea of "moral absolutes" is wrong. They may think that morality is culturally based and what some cultures consider wrong is OK in other cultures which do not hold the same beliefs. I do not subscribe to any of that.

The "freedom principle" (which is my basis for morality) that people have the right to live as they want as long as they do not interfere with the identical right of others to live as they want is neither subjective nor relative. I believe it is an objective standard because it is the only one under which the rights of all people are the same. Thus I believe that initiating force or fraud or the threat of force against others is objectively wrong and it is wrong regardless of the time period or culture.

Mine may not be the same absolute morality as Christians or other theists but it is an absolute morality.
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Old 11-21-05, 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by shoppingbear
Wow, this paragraph has SO many inaccuracies in it, I don't know where to begin... but fortunately, I doubt anyone's looking to you for guidance.

Edited to add, I'm laughing at the way Deftones's opinions are stated, not the opinions of the OP. Deftones, if you look into apologetics, you'll find that there's a lot more "back up" out there... doesn't mean you have to believe, but it's far from the "stories 'round the campfire" that you've made it sound like.
Where consistency and logic lose ground in the Bible (or any Holy Book), faith most assuredly makes up for it, don't it.
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Old 11-21-05, 11:48 PM
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Originally Posted by movielib
Not necessarily. I admit many atheists believe the idea of "moral absolutes" is wrong. They may think that morality is culturally based and what some cultures consider wrong is OK in other cultures which do not hold the same beliefs. I do not subscribe to any of that.

The "freedom principle" (which is my basis for morality) that people have the right to live as they want as long as they do not interfere with the identical right of others to live as they want is neither subjective nor relative. I believe it is an objective standard because it is the only one under which the rights of all people are the same. Thus I believe that initiating force or fraud or the threat of force against others is objectively wrong and it is wrong regardless of the time period or culture.

Mine may not be the same absolute morality as Christians or other theists but it is an absolute morality.
So do unto others as you would have them do unto you?
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Old 11-21-05, 11:49 PM
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Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
Where consistency and logic lose ground in the Bible (or any Holy Book), faith most assuredly makes up for it, don't it.
DVD P, I respectfully disagree. Consistency and logic are present in the Bible, and I would argue that everyone has faith: some just have it in their ownselves, considering their own reasoning higher than anything else. There is no proof that I could offer that would satisfy that kind of "faith".

Besides, that's not really the purpose of threads around here, is it? It's too hard to have a continuous, linear, logical discussion about ANYthing!
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Old 11-22-05, 12:03 AM
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Let's all play "Imagine" in the background.

Whereas I agree with the principle - i.e. 'believing in no God' can make me a better person because I'll live each day as it comes as best I can, it's still a simple way out from trying to figure out how the universe works (or doesn't, given one's belief.)
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Old 11-22-05, 12:08 AM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
So do unto others as you would have them do unto you?
No, I think the freedom principle goes way beyond that. The "Golden Rule" is based on each person's (subjective) idea of how he or she wants to be treated. I think the negative form of the Golden Rule (attributed to both Confucius and Rabbi Hillel): "Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you" is, I think superior, the Platinum Rule if you will. But I think the freedom principle is better than both because it takes personal preferences and desires completely out of it and is truly objective. We could call it the Diamond Rule. Simpler because it is "just" Carbon but stronger, like the hardest substance known.

Last edited by movielib; 11-22-05 at 12:11 AM.
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Old 11-22-05, 12:29 AM
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I disagree with his belief, but he's still cool in my book.
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