God, No! It’s Penn Jillette’s New Book!

August 26, 2011

Penn Jillette's views on atheism are not hard to find.

He's had the TV shows and stage events, and the interviews and postcasts, and every other sort of internet-age media invented so far.

But not the personal book -- until now. Go get your copy of God, No! Signs You may already be an Atheist and other Magical Tales. You will laugh, you will cry, you will renounce God and all His works. 

This isn't a book review here. No one could do justice to the funny and touching stories he tells in every chapter. There are so many stories from his childhood down to the present day, quite personal and revealing stories. And just repeating a sample of startling one-liners -- like where he says (p.55) that "big fake tits are a celebration of technology and humanity" -- don't make much sense when torn out of their context. 

So I'll stick to the philosophy in this book. And there is a philosophy, right out there with the hilarious narratives. Basically, there are some things that atheists don't know, but there are plenty of things that atheists do believe.

Atheists don't know that there's a God, so they refrain from believing. And not just atheists are in this situation of not knowing about God -- everyone is in that ignorant condition. Nope, no one really knows, but some people remain in a befogged state of denial, a superficial sort of certainty about God that they don't deserve, but they put to evil use. "The enemy is faith," Penn declares.

Atheists don't know some things and admit that they don't know them. All the same, atheists do have beliefs, important beliefs. Beliefs about what it takes to be sane and rational, about why it's smart to believe science first, and about what common morality requires. Especially about basic morality. Christians have their commandments. Penn offer his own "suggestions," one through ten, to replace each of the Old Testament commmandments. Again, just a sampling can't do his writing justice, but I confess that I really like his second suggestion -- "do not put things or even ideas above other people" -- and also his fourth -- "put aside some time to rest and think". The rest of his suggestions are nice, too.

Penn has been nailing great points about atheism and religion lately, in other interviews and podcasts this year -- see his NPR interview and his vidcast on "Agnostics Suck". We've got more than a great magician, skeptic, and storyteller here -- Penn can clearly explain his atheist philosophy, too. And it's a philosophy worth sharing.


#1 SocraticGadfly (Guest) on Saturday August 27, 2011 at 12:20am

That’s not the definition of atheist that I would use:

>>Atheists don’t know that there’s a God, so they refrain from believing.<<

Now, it’s a very good definition of agnosticism, but not atheism.

#2 L. Long (Guest) on Saturday August 27, 2011 at 4:40pm

Actually atheist means ‘without god’.
So I live my life in atheism or without god.
Belief has little to do with it.
The universe works as though there is no g0d as in the yawWay type. So g0d is irrelevant and I neither believe nor disbelieve.  What ever is ‘beyond here’ will take care of itself & we will all find out in the end.
But the word ‘atheist’ has become to mean a strong disbelief in g0d, & it is not worth the effort.
My point of view on this also has a side benefit in that I can honestly say ‘I don’t disbelieve’ when asked by one who has power over some part of my life as in ‘the boss’.

#3 Alexander (Guest) on Monday August 29, 2011 at 12:49am

Also check out his Authors@Google appearance (youtube video AUV3QRJm8XY) where he talks about his book and lots more. Good stuff!

#4 L.Long (Guest) on Monday August 29, 2011 at 10:30am

I like him and his BillShit series and have collected as many as I can.  I plan on getting his book soon as I a hoping that it is as good or better.

#5 rosekcmr (Guest) on Monday August 29, 2011 at 7:38pm

I am currently reading this book and so far, I am really enjoying it.  The only thing that boggles me about Penn is his libertarian-ism; I mean, how can someone with such a strong handle on atheism have such a primitive understanding of socio-political systems?

#6 SocraticGadfly (Guest) on Monday August 29, 2011 at 10:23pm

@Rosekcmr ... he’s not alone by any means. Look at Michael Shermer. Worse, yet, look at the racialists Frank Miele and Vince Sarich that Shermer keeps on Skeptic’s masthead.

Being an atheist is no guarantee of higher-than-average standing in either morality or rationality.

#7 SocraticGadfly (Guest) on Thursday September 01, 2011 at 12:58am

Oh, and this is the same Penn Jillette who falsely claims that the atheist population is seeing explosive growth and may be as much as 20 percent of Americans.

Respected polls show that “nones” or “irreligious,” who definitely are NOT the same as “atheists,” are at best 15 percent of the population.

This is why I said atheism is no guarantor of superior critical reasoning skills.

#8 SocraticGadfly (Guest) on Thursday September 01, 2011 at 1:03am

More on this issue here:


#9 twinbeech on Friday September 16, 2011 at 7:27am

The profanity in the book was a trun-off (and I can cuss with the best of them) but he did share some deep philosophical thoughts. Look forward to the show Monday night in Noblesville, IN and hope he tones it down a little because there will be youngsters in attendance.

#10 rosekcmr (Guest) on Friday September 16, 2011 at 5:34pm

Hey, I finished the book and I have to say may favorite part of the book was the Afterword.  This section seemed to be the most on-target to make an atheist like me smile.  The rest of the book had some good points and he did touch on some deep philosophical thoughts but it wasn’t very satisfying.  I thought the alternate 10 commandments scheme was awkward and didn’t really work.  But overall, I enjoyed it!

#11 twinbeech on Friday September 16, 2011 at 5:52pm

Spiritual Snake Oil is a good little book and the introduction by Marie Alena Castle was superb. Woth the price of the book just for the introduction.

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