“This I believe: I believe there is no God”

Those of you who regularly listen to NPR’s Morning Edition know that they are running a series called “This I Believe” where various people talk about the important beliefs in their lives. I have been listening on occasion and most contributors have expressed beliefs in motherhood-and-apple-pie kind of things. But Monday’s contribution by Penn Jillette (who describes himself as “the taller, louder half of the magic and comedy act Penn and Teller”) was striking in the way that he so closely echoed my own beliefs. You can read the transcript and listen to the audio here, but here are the passages that particularly resonated with me:

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.

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.

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 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.

I thought it was rather nicely put.

POST SCRIPT: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

I saw the latest Harry Potter film and it deserved all the praise that it is getting. It has been awhile since I saw a film so soon after reading the book on which it is based and I must say that I was impressed with the judicious selection of material from the book to go into the film. I also liked the way the screenwriter and director transferred Rowling’s vision onto the screen. Sometimes such transitions don’t work well but this was almost perfect. There was nothing at all jarring. The film was at once both faithful to the book and self-contained as a film, quite an achievement.


  1. says

    Another thought inspiring post. I think I hesistantly agree with the no-god position. It does seem to make some sense.

    And I too (along with 2 million others) saw Harry Potter this past weekend. Although I hadn’t read the book, so I can’t speak to it’s adaptation, but I do agree with you that it deserves praise. MUCH better than I expected, and I went in a bit jaded. The dark imagry in the film really piqued my curiosity.

  2. Katie says

    I loved the new Harry Potter movie too. The acting, special effects, and everything else have improved so much as the series proceeds. Can’t wait for that seventh book!

  3. Josh says

    Its funny, but when I stumbled on this piece while driving to work. I had a reaction I wasn’t expecting. I felt the piece was more religious than it let on. This message had as much place in a Church as it did outside of one.

    With out sounding too churchy, I grew up in a community that taught that the regligion is not meant to be a crutch for us to lean on, but instead a model for living that we should reach for.

    Penn is echoing this sentiment coming from the opposite direction, which I think makes it an even more powerful delivery method.

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