2014-01-28

Review: God, No!

God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical TalesGod, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales by Penn Jillette

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales was an entertaining read, to say the least. It was easy to see that Penn Jillette had written this book with the same bluntness of intention and voice as he has with most things he does.

I could almost hear his vocal inflections in my mind as I read his words insisting on the importance of being honest by saying "I don't know" when one just doesn't know. I imagined the strain in his voice as he emphasized the anguish of an incident with a hairdryer.

That was the thing about this book, like its author Penn, it was direct, abrupt, utterly honest, and without any sugar-coating added at all. Some of the stories were a bit off topic (sometimes even tangential), but -- like any good performer -- Penn ropes you back in to the discussion and keeps pushing ahead. You don't have to agree with Penn's politics or his decisive desire for evidence-based fact to appreciate his open-minded and socratic approach.

In fact, I can see more than a few parallels between Socrates and Penn. Socrates had ideas that many people disagreed with. Socrates was unforgiving in his search for fact and truth. Not all of Socrates ideas were correct, not all were well-delivered.

I may not agree with everything Penn has to say, but I'd like to think that giving his ideas a voice invites discussion and critical thinking. I'm sure there are quite a few people in the world that would like to have Penn drink hemlock; I'm not one of those people.

In my blog on "Silly Superstition", I said,
Finding humor is a good way to positively influence society to see the silliness of superstition, but critical thinking (asking "Why?") is the best way to stop superstitions before they start.
Through this book, Penn brings comedy to a heavy discussion and critical thinking to taboo discussion. In the end, I think it's worthwhile because the book invites the reader to ask "Why?" and sometimes simply answer "I don't know".



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