God, No! by Penn Jillette


I recently finished the book God, No! by Penn Jillette.  Jillette is the large guy who talks in the Penn & Teller magic duo.  I also saw him speak in the Indianapolis area last week. 

The book has a framework of the “Ten Suggestions,” which is an atheist response to the Ten Commandments of the Bible.  There are many anecdotes to illustrate the suggestions and they also give us a lot of insight into Jillette’s life.  Except for the infamous “cock in the hairdryer” incident, it has been a remarkably happy life but definitely not dull.

God, No! doesn’t have any new insights into atheism and it’s not great literature, but it is compelling and at times hilarious.  If you’re religious, I think you will look more kindly on atheists after reading it.  Or perhaps you’ll think atheists are all crazy.  If you’re already an atheist (and Jillette’s premise is that almost everyone already is), you’ll enjoy a fun, fast-paced read that will give you some food for thought.

Jillette differs from the average atheist in that he is a Libertarian.  I think he’s wrong, but I respect his convictions while thinking they are a bit naive.  I also disagree with his position on proselytizing, though I do understand his point.  He says that if you truly believe someone is going to burn in hell for eternity, your moral obligation is to do what you can to prevent that.  I still don’t want to hear it over and over again.  But maybe I’ll be a little more patient the next time someone tries to “save” me.  Nah, probably not.  I think Jillette is kinder and more patient than I am.

If you ever have a chance to see him speak or perform, go.  He knows how to connect with an audience and how to entertain, even when he’s speaking on serious subjects.  If you’re looking for a book that’s amusing, thought-provoking and more than a little bizarre, read God, No!

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