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.