Penn is Wrong

Their is an interesting and heated discussion going on in the Medicare vs. Religion thread about the arrogance of a religious person praying for someone else.  Commenter Enshoku says it’s like a slap in the face to non-religious people. In this vblog that is becoming viral (at least on atheist and christian websites) Penn Jillette (from Penn & Teller) discusses his views on being proselytized to by an audience member at one of his shows.  

Penn is an outspoken atheist but he feels that if you believe in heaven and hell, you must really have to hate someone not to proselytize to them. Basically, he thinks that all religious people should share their views with everyone all of the time even if it’s socially awkward.  I whole heartedly disagree.  I understand the logic of Penn’s argument and his video is very convincing by the way he tells the story of the “good man” at his show. The good man’s tactics, however  are commonly used by many a faithful in order to convert and convince the less educated in society.  Penn is a strong atheist, so these tactics would not influence him. He makes that clear in his video when he says, “I know their is no God!” Proselytizers are perpetuating a lie, even if they think it’s the truth.  They use their charisma and charm to convince anyone who will listen, especially children. This behavior should not be encouraged, especially by a high profile atheist. Jim Jones, one of the most effective proselytizers in American history, was highly respected in California and was appointed to Chairman of the Housing Authority in San Francisco in 1975. Lot’s of people thought he was a “good man” too.

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5 Responses to “Penn is Wrong”

  1. Not really much of a heated discussion, just a simple point really. By subjecting someone to religious ritualism that they don’t wish to be, you can seem arrogant by subtly stating “I’m right and I know whats best for you”.

    Penn Juillete’s point would only stand true if that were the most effective method of proselytizing. It isn’t, and the Spanish inquisition is proof of it.

  2. for a bit of a different take on it, I also blogged about Penn, as a Christian here is my ‘two cents’. proselytize is not a word that I would ever use. Yet I share my faith and here’s how. I live my life in a way that pleases God (according to the guidelines of the Bible) I do this not because I will be struck if I don’t but because I have just a glimpse of how much God loves me. I don’t ‘do’ witnessing. I am a witness. It is my hope that the people that know me will look at my life and want what I have. The good news is that when they ask me about my life (and they do) then I share with them that they can have a relationship with God that is personal. Penn caused me to rethink my connection with people. Am I missing opportunities to help people because frankly everyone is pretty busy? Jesus set the example for me in that He was willing to be inconvenienced.
    As for the less educated – that is a pretty unfair statement. Lots of educated people love God.

  3. phillipnathan Says:

    Our recent discussions stand heated only in the fact that the “F” bomb was dropped several times on mybehalf, when actually I would only use it after other methods of “proselytising” are shown ineffective. There is a big differance in effective and affective means of communicating religous thought. An effective witness is one that shows love and the character of ones belief as compared to affective which is the mehod of injecting ones beliefs on another. The Spanish Inquisition if proof only of an set group of religous zealots that could only get persons to convert through utter fear of death or destruction. The most effective way to share ones belief, albeit this is my opinion, is to plant the seed. If you watch the vidio of Penn, he is so effected by the witness of the man, that he later still calls the man a “good man”. All it takes to be effective is just to get people to think, even if you don’t make that person to be, act or become like you. The God I know is of love and compassion. Didn’t Penn recognize the compassion of the man that he even stated how, even though he still doesnt believe, he looks at that man as compassionate to reach out and tell him of his beieif. For the record, I never stated that I inject my belief upon unwilling participants. Those that I have ever talked to about religion or matters relating thereto, it has been of mutual understanding that regardless of religous affiliation, or non at all, there is a common thread that I still relate to people on.

  4. I actually agree with Penn. If one believes in hell, it’s only logical that they try to reach others. All one has to do is reject or challenge them when approached.

  5. Thanks for checking in LorMarie. My main objection to Penn is that proselytizers use some dirty tactics in order to persuade people. And often it’s the most suggestible among us, like children. Telling a kid that if they don’t do something, they are going to burn forever and ever is tantamount to psychological abuse.

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