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Penn Jillette is Bullshit

Penn Jillette on God and religionI saw this picture posted on Facebook the other night and made a comment about how this statement is kinda dumb. This then turned into arguing with someone on the internet until 4 AM…

While I have liked what little I have seen of Penn & Teller, I haven’t really watched anything of his regarding religion. If this quote is any example, I’m kinda glad I’ve missed out on it.

There is no god, and that’s the simple truth.

Actually, we don’t know if that is the truth. You have decided that it’s the truth due to what you see as a lack of evidence. From what I have seen, I’m pretty sure that you would still believe there is no god even if you were presented with evidence of the existence of one. I think that Neil deGrasse Tyson said it best:

Penn is the embodiment of all the baggage that Neil said goes along with being an Atheist.

If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense.

For all that he believes in science, he then give us an unprovable statement. This isn’t an experiment that we can perform, so there is no way we would actually know what would happen if we tried it. Even if it is true, it proves exactly nothing.

Let’s try changing it a little:

If every trace of any single Government were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense.

So, if we woke up tomorrow, and everybody had selective amnesia, forgetting everything that happened in North America between 1776 and 2013. Does this mean that the United States of America never existed? Does it make our constitution a lie? Should we just throw it out then? Of course not, it would be a ridiculous thing to suggest.

Even if the argument weren’t a terrible one, it does not disprove the existence of any gods. God and religion could exist independently of one and other. Just as a religion could start with out their god actually existing, so to could a god exist without creating a religion. Disproving a religion only means that specific view isn’t accurate.

If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.

This is a true statement, but it shows how Penn misunderstands the difference between religion and science. With science, it’s the end result that matters, it doesn’t matter who is saying what, so long as the numbers still add up. Pythagoras probably didn’t even come up with his most famous of theorem himself.

Religion is different, religion includes not just the rules, but also the history. The people who make up the religious stories are just as important as what they say.

Taking Christianity, and the Bible (and for the sake of this argument, presenting its contents as fact), for example. The Bible has one book that is almost entirely made up of rules (Leviticus), while the rest of the Bible is about people and history, with a few rules thrown in by important leaders. This history is just as important as the rules because with religion, it’s not just what was said, but who said it, and why. Anybody from Stephen Hawking to Nicola Tesla could have come up with E=MC², but only Jesus could say, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

This argument also forgets the one thing that is responsible for Christianity (again, for this argument, taking the Bible as fact), Divine Intervention.

Like this, except usually featuring more fire and plagues

Like this, except usually featuring more fire and plagues

Religion isn’t a mathematical constant. Christianity didn’t come about because Moses figured out the circumference of a circle, he had a bush burst into flames and start carving out stone tablets. The Bible may show the line from Adam to Joseph, but he just raised Jesus, it was God who made Mary pregnant with his son. If we were to remove all traces of a religion, then yes, it would take God returning to give it to us again.

This of course, brings us back to the fact that we have known way to test whether or not a burning bush would re-appear, and even if it didn’t come back, it would not prove that it wasn’t there the first time, just that he didn’t return.

I would like to add that even science itself has room for a god, several rooms actually…

There are scientists out there right now, trying to determine if we exist in a simulation. They want to know if there is some giant super computer out there running a program called Universe.exe with all of us inside it. If that were the case, would not the developers of this program be our god? Sure, in their own world, the may not be all-powerful, but in ours? They could do what ever they wanted here.

Many gods are listed as creating the Earth, meaning that they come from somewhere other than the planet Earth. Wouldn’t this make god an extra terrestrial? There are some who think that life was seeded from space, maybe it was a coincidence that a stray comet laden with some essential amino acids hit us, then again, maybe they were dropped by the reptilians. Arthur C. Clarke has said that, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” We can now explain away many of the Plagues of Egypt with science, even though Moses wouldn’t have attributed everything to Miracles. Lot watched two angles turn his city gay, then blind all the citizens, following which they dropped a mountain on it. We’d have a hard time explaining how they did most of that even today, yet it’s still possible that out there exists some alien race with such technology. Wouldn’t that make them our god?

OK, terrible example...

OK, terrible example…

There are many theories on multiple universes:

Some believe that every time there is a choice made, or any time there are multiple possible outcomes, all outcomes happen, creating a new universe for each one. This means that not only is there a universe where you decided not to eat that last slice of pizza, but also a universe where the Earth never formed, or where a star a million light years away waited collapsed into a neutron star instead of a black hole, or even one where anti matter won over matter during the big bang.

Some believe that not only does our universe exist within a black hole, but that every black hole contains another universe.

String Theory dictates that there are more than the four dimensions of space-time that we humans tend to experience, and that the other dimensions may make up different branes that in effect, and different universes. As our brane vibrates and moves, at times it collides with these other branes.

The Ultimate Ensemble Theory, states that we exist as math. Everything is math. That said, anything that we can express with math can be real in another universe. This means that there are other universes where the speed of light, the gravitational constant, and the plank constant, are all different. The same is true for any variables used in physics. This means that thee is a universe where light is twice as fast, and another where it is half as fast.

The list goes on, but generally it is believed that there could be an infinite amount of other universes out there, containing all possibilities. This means that out there, in other universes, there could very well be Heaven and Hell, as well as a being that is, essentially, God.