Penn Jillette on Atheism and Islamaphobia | Best of ’16

Penn Jillette on Atheism and Islamaphobia | Best of ’16


About three years ago I came in to Big Think
and I talked very strongly and very passionately about atheism, how I did not believe in God. And over the past three years I opened my
heart to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit filled me. And all of a sudden I realized that everlasting
life is possible by following in the ways of Jesus Christ our Lord. I have since then dedicated my life to Jesus
Christ. I have joined the Church and I will live the
rest of my life and die as a Christian in service and in joy with Jesus Christ Our Lord. I’m just fucking with you. For a minute, just for a minute did I – just
for a second did I have you going? Just for a minute? Can you imagine how much money I would make
if I could just convert to re – I don’t have to convert. If I just pretend to convert. Can you imagine if I just took and threw away
my atheism, if I threw away my morality and said I was religious and went out and started
preaching? Can you imagine the amount of money I would
make. But what good if a man gained the whole world
but lose his soul. No. I’m still an atheist. I’m still doing fine. I just spoke at a Young Americans for Liberty
conference, you know, a lot of conservatives, a lot of people that are too young to be wearing
suits were wearing suits. I liked them. And afterwards a man came up to me probably
20 years old and he was slight in build, very dark complected and he said to me I wanted
to talk about this during your lecture but I was very, very frightened that there were
cameras there. And I said well there were cameras there so
at least you’re not frightened by UFOs. You’re frightened by spiders, something
that’s real. I can respect that. I made this kind of light of his wording there. And then he shut me up because then he said
my family is from Pakistan and everybody in my community is a devout Muslim. And my mom and dad are devout Muslims. And I’m an atheist. And if I said that while you were speaking,
if I raised my hand and said that with the cameras on, said that declared a statement
I’m an atheist. My mom and dad would not kill me but they
would disown me and they would never speak to me again. And I would be an apostate and it is not unlikely
that someone in my community would kill me. And he didn’t mean that figuratively. He didn’t mean that word kill like comedians
mean it. He meant they would take his life away. Now I know Ayaan Hirsi Ali so I know he wasn’t
bluffing. And then it got worse because then he said
and yet with my dark skin and my straight black hair
the other side considers me Muslim and wants to get me out of the country and treat me
badly. And I hear Trump giving his speeches against
people of my ancestry. And I realize that there’s nobody for me. Nobody. And he said I want to talk to you because
– and this is him saying this – he said some stuff about me being the only one who
would understand which is clearly not true. Everybody understands. Virtually everybody understands. But, you know, as an atheist Christopher Hitchins,
my friend, my hero, my mentor even though he isn’t much older than me but he’s so
much smarter. He used to say, you know Penn, if you dislike
Christianity you must dislike Islam much more. Now I want to be very careful about this. Islamaphobia is the wrong word. Islam is an idea. Muslims area people. You’re allowed to hate ideas. You’re allowed to disagree with ideas. You’re not allowed to hate people for their
ideas. It’s the wrong word. It’s just the wrong word. We have to be more careful. Islamaphobia is not racism. Saying anything against Muslims is. You can say Christianity is wrong and have
friends who are Christians. You can show full respect for Christians. You’re not Christianityaphobic, you know. You’re just saying no, I have a different
idea. That’s what America is. And I believe my feelings as an atheist change
somewhat when that man speaks to me because of my heart. Yes, Islam is wrong. Yes, Christianity is wrong. Yes, Judaism is wrong. I believe that like I believe I breathe. I don’t doubt that ever. But right now Muslims, those who believe in
Islam really need our help. There’s refugees who are suffering in a
way that history will not be kind to us for ignoring that. We must love them. We just embrace them. We must help them. Even if they believe things that we know are
wrong. The chances of a terrorist believing in Islam
are pretty good. The chances of someone who believes in Islam
being a terrorist are very, very bad. Very little chance of that. We took into Nevada – I live in Nevada. We took nine people from Syria in the entire
state of Nevada. That’s how many we welcomed. Nine. The number of fingers Jerry Garcia had – nine. Nine – actually if it’s going to be Jerry
Garcia I think it’s nine. Nine? No it’s this hand – nine. Jerry Garcia is not important in this discussion
Penn. Get on with it. Nine? No is it nine. Jerry Garcia – nine. Nine. Not nine families. Nine people. Nevada. It’s a state, you know. We’ve got to help those people. Now how do I as an atheist say to Muslims
your religion is wrong, your terrorists are crazy, this is dangerous, get over it and
then say I love you and you’re welcome. Really, really hard. I’ve got to tell you I know there’s no
God and because there’s no God we have to reach out to Muslims. We have to do God’s work because God’s
not going to. And that love and that compassion is not going
to come from Allah and it’s not going to come from Yet Wah. It’s not going to come from Jesus Christ. That love and compassion is going to come
from us. Is it dangerous to embrace Muslims because
some of them will be terrorists? Yeah, it’s really dangerous. Do we have to protect ourselves? Yeah, we really do. There’s hard problems here. Really hard problems. And I don’t have any of the answers to it. But I’ll tell you what the answer isn’t. The answer isn’t standing up with hair that
looks like cotton candy made of piss and saying, you know, we’ve got to keep these people
out of here. We’ve got to keep these people out of here. I cannot find any way that preaching hate
helps that situation. And I defy you no matter how afraid you are
of terrorists to look at that man. I’m so glad I don’t remember his name. I’m so glad I don’t remember where he’s
from because in the incident that I talk about him because I’m such an idiot I spill everything
that’s going through my head. I might actually jeopardize his life but I
don’t know who he is so we’re safe. I don’t know where he’s from so we’re
safe, except for Pakistan. No, he was born in the USA. Born in the – it doesn’t matter. How do we do that? How do we help people that have a religion
that’s wrong but that aren’t going to kill us to be able to be part of us without,
you know. We see it in France. We see it in Belgium. We see it in these places and these communities
that stay insular, you know. This man says to me that my community would
kill me, these insular communities. We’ve got to get back to the idea of an
America that was a melting pot. We have to be able to have that guy that talked
to me after my lecture. We’ve got to be able to have him just, you
know, be another guy. That all of this, this long winded passionate
craziness that I’m spewing out with no answers just comes down to we’ve got to stop judging
people by the color of their skin and where they’re from. I mean didn’t we learn that with the Irish? Didn’t we learn that with the Polish? Didn’t we learn that with the Africans? Didn’t we learn that with every single group
of people that we’ve spit on and not welcomed? I mean John Lennon said in a song called New
York City with the Elephant’s Memory Band if the man wants to shove us out, we’re
going to jump and shout. The Statue of Liberty said come. New York City such a fucking badass city. Yeah, you know. The United States of America is a fucking
badass country. And we are strong and we are brave and we
are loving and we’ve got to stop acting like cowards. We’ve got to stop acting like in every single
cupboard is a Muslim terrorist. Yes, terrorism is a problem. Yes, we have to protect our families. Yes, the nightmare of these deaths is unforgiveable
and unthinkable. But we have to remember that people are good. If you look at the seven billion people on
this planet just about seven billion of them are really good. We can really trust them. Can we please learn something from Las Vegas. Learn something about gambling, right. We know how the odds work. We know the house always wins. In this case the odds are always on someone
being good. If someone walks up to you with dark skin
and straight hair looking like they’re from Pakistan or Egypt or even Iraq, even Afghanistan
and they’re walking towards you the chances are overwhelming that that person will be
good. You’re not trying to fill an inside straight. Your chances are way – in your advantage
they’re good people. So how did my atheism change? Well there’s no God and there’s never
a doubt about that ever. But we have to make sure that when we’re
screaming that there’s no God we don’t scream it so loud that we can’t hear someone
who is religious crying for help and know that we have to help them.

100 thoughts on “Penn Jillette on Atheism and Islamaphobia | Best of ’16

  1. I believe it is far more likely for a group of Christians express the love that Penn is talking about than a group of atheists. …probably just hit a hornets nest with that comment.

  2. Great practical recommendations to save the refugees. We could apply the same towards the majority of folks that voted Trump. But they are now using Bible to hurt women, hurt gay folks, but can sleep with Trump … I agree, its complicated indeed. They seem to also think they are doing God's work because God will not. If only the religious people ever listened to God.

  3. I dropped my glass of water in total shock when the video began thinking, "I've either gone insane, or the apocalypse is near, and there is a new world order coming to engulf western culture." Penn don't frighten me so viscerally again, please.

  4. Penn Jillette is a bit of a crazy libertarian and gun-nut, so take what he says with a grain of salt…he really isn't that rational.

  5. It's a good point. I don't believe in supreme beings on the basis that I'm yet to see actual proof for people's claims that they exist. The question of God or gods no longer interests me, however Belief, along with its myriad functions in the anthropomorphic sphere, is fascinating in the extreme. Belief is, and has been, an undeniable part of humanity's progression. Any atheist who automatically looks down on belief systems is missing a few. important intellectual tools in my opinion.

    Far better if atheists choose to identify themselves with the title of Humanist. Far easier to find common ground from that standpoint.

  6. Islam is not the problem. No single religion or ideology is. The problem is fundamentalism and, in particular, the idea that ideologies are right by definition. Josef Stalin, Dylan Roof and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi will all be remembered as some of the most disgusting parts of humanity not because they shared a specific set of beliefs, but because they held fundamentalism and tribalism as more important than being decent human beings.

  7. Does anyone even look at what is happening in Europe? Anybody? If doing what Europe has done results in a Richard Spencer being a political powerhouse rather than just a bigwig troll then we have to consider that in the "we need to help them" mantra. The threat of terrorism or the cancer of Islamic influence aside there is also the unprecedented ultra-nationalist backlash and if that doesn't take then we get creeping Islamization and the erosion of western liberal values. There are no wins in introducing Islam into your country. Protect apostates, protect secularists, reformers, women fleeing persecution and any others who seek refuge from Islam, but no others.

  8. This video has reminded me why I have such respect for Penn. Reaching out to the people behind the faces of their faith is critical. The only way we are going to be able to live and flourish in a multicultural/multi-faith world is to focus on commonality.

  9. oh my God you actually got me. thank you comment section for saving me I was seriously about to be very sad for a long time Penn jillette is one of our greats we can't lose him over to nonsense

  10. Mr. Jillette, that was a strange and also wonderful video. I appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable and to acknowledge the complexity of our country's moral challenges. Thank you for saying it passionately that atheists must follow the higher path of compassionately loving people, especially muslims (who are so easily scapegoated). As an atheist myself, I wish that more atheists would talk freely and openly about the counter-productive (and boring) strategy of "shouting loudly that God is dead." Why are so many public atheists arrogant one-note canaries? Why are so few actively modeling the really difficult (and truly admirable) character traits of compassion, humility, loving-kindness, justice and moral imagination? We so need these virtues as individuals and as a community.

  11. "Big think"? how about "big lets get huggy with all the mad people killing others for not belivinging in our skydaddy"? Fuck Muslims, fuck christians and fuck anyony who belives in a skydaddy.

  12. I love Penn, but he is wrong on Islamophobia. German Jews were deemed a separate race and then targeted because of it. That would be racism and so the same thing in many ways is happening to Muslims

  13. You ARE allowed to hate people for their ideas. It's called freedom! Especially when their ideas are an attack on freedom. For someone that prides himself on being so anti-pc you're spewing some serious pc bullshit.

  14. Being a good person is relative and highly subjective to the person judging. 7 billion good people, yeah i say maybe 7 million.
    Farting numbers out my butt

  15. dammit, I paused the video before he said it was a joke and went to make a pj sandwich pondering about my life… son of a…

  16. as a person raised with the fear of an eternal hell aka Islam, I feel u talking to me here Penn. Respect. I'm a man in the dark looking for the light of souls that will accept me as I accept them.

  17. I get what you're saying and I agree for the most part. I think we (as the west (European guy speaking here)) should do everything in our power to help people, but only in a certain way. People who are good, which is based on norms for the most part I consider more valuable and therefore they are first.

    But the muslims, who have other ideas of life and norms are still humans and thus still to be helped. We should be involved in bettering their lifes, but I think the best way to do that is by leaving them alone, to figure out their own way. When we let them in our country both sides suffer from it in the end. Cultures are there to be separate, and we help everybody by letting the cultures be separared (of course people who integrate very well are still welcome since they now have the same western culture as us)

  18. Penn, don't forget that, such as the islam and muslims there is an important difference between skin colour and culture. Where you are from doesn't matter at all, your culture matters, because skin colours don't "collide", but cultures do

  19. Maybe if America hadn't to arm the terrorist/"rebels" in Syria and then drop bombs all over it, there wouldn't be a refugee crisis.

  20. Beautiful argument and I love you to bits, but here in Europe time is running/ran out. We have cities that are so far gone to islamisation that love, pacifism, tolerance and acceptance are irrelevant. The walls have been built. Our hand of friendship isn't welcome – unless we submit to their will and not ours.

    Maybe in the USA there is a chance to turn things around, but here in the U.K., too late.

    We have been swamped. Check out any baby ward in a UK city even remotely similar to a city such as mine and you would be astounded by how fast the indigenous populous are being simply outbred.

    I can hand out all the love hearts I want but why bother ? The dam is long broken and the Muslim majority quite frankly don't give a shit about what I think of ex-muslims . I'm irrelevant.

  21. Never been to America, but love it; think it's the greatest society in the world, because of people like Penn Jillette. But I think he's wrong in this case, and wrong about President Elect Donald Trump: help the refugees, but help them to remain in safe zones in thier own countries. Some who have been fully vetted could be resettled; but an uncontrolled influx is asking for trouble.

  22. As a Christian, to me you sound a lot more like Christian than some preachers. Except for the whole "there is no God" thing, what you have said is essentially very Christian.

  23. "we must love them, we must help them, we must embrace them. Even if we know they are wrong" . Please cut the atheist tag. We know what was the purpose of religions. Admit that christianity values are the basis of any high form civilisation or community. Or at least dont use word by word Christ messages

  24. 1:16 "But what good if a man gains the whole world but loses his soul?" 5:18 "You're allowed to hate ideas. You're not allowed to hate people for their ideas."

  25. "these refugees" you mean all the men leaving their country instead of fighting for it, and pretending to be children to bypass immigration laws.

    Yeah I don't feel bad for them. I feel bad for the atheists who can't admit it due to being ex-muslim if they can't communicate with others outside that community. But if someone won't communicate with atheists by choice because he thinks we think he's a terrorist, that's his fault.

  26. I am an agnostic and I believe that religion is totally fine and good UNTIL the point that is becomes hateful, defensive, and persecuting.
    Please, no matter what you think- no matter what god or lack of you trust in, remember this one rule…
    The vast majority of people are just trying to be happy and do what is best for others.

    And if god exists, and it is just, it loves all of its children.
    Otherwise, why worship it?

  27. I disagree with him intensely on his atheism. And I agree with him just as intensely on almost everything else. And that's refreshing, that a theist and an atheist can, because we're both rational persons, come to the same conclusions.

  28. The problem with Islam and terrorism is that we do not currently have a way to tell the difference between a regular ole Muslim and a radical Muslim. That is precisely what Trump stated he wants to find a way to do. If you listen to the entire speech regarding Muslims and keeping them out of the country, Trump states that he wants to put a temporary ban until we can find a way to tell the difference. I fully agree with that sentiment.
    I also agree that we need to return to the melting pot that America was intended to be. People need to come to the US not to hold onto their culture with a clenched fist, but to assimilate to the culture of the US. We need to all speak one language and quit bending over backwards to respect every culture but out own. If you come to the US it should be because you want to be an American.
    I can assure that Pakistani man who spoke to Penn that he would be welcomed with open arms by any atheist. I know that I have great respect for a Muslim who is capable of questioning their faith even when it comes with a potentially heavy price tag.

  29. I agree with much of what Penn says but some things bother me. One is that he makes fun of someone's appearance(namely Trump) as an argument. Another problem is that he makes what is called a "straw man" argument. He says that Trump wants us to keep Muslims out of America. I don't think that is what he said.

  30. So effin true!!! You could be that token former-atheist who could fit the role of the token black-guy is used iin the conservative evangelist community! lol. Like that "Hey now – i cant be racist! After all i have allowed one black guy into my house once upon a time" lol!

    yeah – pkay that was a bit over the tiop there – but not by all that much! more realisticaly speakig – it'd be instead something more along the lines of: "I have a black friend and therefore i cannot be racist nor have subconscious/conscious prejudices what so ever!" All you would need to be used in a similar manor would be if you were to remove the "racism" part with instead "converted-atheist" – and now they could say: 'i can't be intolerant to other religious faiths or those who have none (as in atheists) – and that i can't then be bigoted in any sorta way toward nonbelievers! After all i have a converted former-atheist as a friend!" lol

  31. We can not prove whether there is a god or not it, but it is obvious and requires no new evidence that no one listens to the prayers of believers, but themselves.

  32. … I'm confused. Muslims are a people? Islam is a religion, and Muslims follow that religion? I agree with everything he said except that. Maybe the words he was looking for was Arabians are a people? Islam knows, no race/ethnicity. Right?
    I'm not trying to have a go here. I love Penn Jillette. Can someone help me out?

  33. To be honest, he can't one hundred percent know for certain that there is no God just as I, as a Native American Christian, can't pragmatically know that there is. I've had times I've doubted, why can't atheists? Think about it.

  34. 7:03 "The chances of a terrorist believing in Islam are pretty good. The chances of someone believing in Island of being a terrorist are very very bad, very little chance of that." He makes a very good point there.

  35. Globally, according to this graph, you're 588 times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than from terrorism:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_causes_of_death_by_rate#/media/File:Leading_cause_of_death_world.png

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