Thursday, September 22, 2011

Reason TV interviews Penn Jillette

Penn Jillette discusses his book and views

OK, I know I have called Penn Jillette a cowardly atheist in the past.  This does not mean I do not have some level of admiration for him.  After watching this video, I have few observations:

  • At one point Penn mentions that having doubt means you are an atheist.  This is kind of a broad definition as it does not describe doubt for how long or what kind of doubt.  I myself have had doubts about the existence of God but there have been things I have witnessed that cannot be explained.
  • Penn Jillette is a Naturalist and it shows.  Naturalism is the belief that science is the ultimate tool to observe and experience reality as we know it.  Unfortunately, many Naturalists tend to expand their definitions of science in order to fit their worldview.  In Penn’s case, he twittered about how some gamers cracked a biology code in three weeks that had eluded scientists for decades.  But that was not science that cracked it, it was video gamers.  There is a difference.
  • His views on helping others is perfectly in line with mine.  If you want to help someone, do it yourself, don’t make the government do it at the expense of the productive citizenry.  Why do you think there are so many people who are on welfare these days?  While economics is part of it, there would not be constant poverty or generational poverty if there was no welfare state.  Well, at least there would be very little.
  • It can be argued that atheism or non-belief has been a part of Socialism from the beginning since its founder, Robert Owen, was an atheist as far as I can tell.
  • Not considering that God even exists is a declaration of certainty.  So to claim that you do not know and in the same breath to claim there is no God or gods is two-faced and hypocritical.  He does indicate that he is open to being converted, should the evidence present itself, so at least that is an admission that is less narrow than other atheists I have observed.  At least he did not state the possibility of an alien creating man like Richard Dawkins has in the past.
  • Reading the Bible is very difficult and it is clear that if more people like Penn took up the task, there probably would be more non-believers.  I state this because it is a hard thing to read and accept as God openly and without apparent remorse kills off several people while telling us to not murder.  While I am not going to delve into that now, it is definitely a stumbling block.
  • Taking away God from the Religious Right would effectively make them become the Tea Party.  The Religious Right, however, has been marginalized as of late as social issues are no longer the larger issues.  Who gives a flip about gay marriage when the Federal government is bankrupt.  Well, bankrupt if it did not have all that weaponry.
  • Penn Jillette does not seem to know that terrorism is not solely based on religious teachings.  He forgets about the kamikazes and Tamil Tigers.
  • If someone was ordered by God to kill his family, he would never get into court or would be acquitted on purely legal grounds.  However, I think God has withheld His wrath for now.  I could be wrong though.

All in all, I am actually quite impressed with Penn Jillette.  In contrast to my pessimism, I think his optimism is a bit refreshing.  Sure things are not perfect, but only the Utopian strives to make the world perfect.  The rest of us just strive to life our lives and I believe that this is the true heart of libertarian thought.