It was Penn Jillette who said, “Believing there’s no God [emphasis added] stops me from being solipsistic.”
A solipsistic person is an extreme skeptic – F.H. Bradley explained the solipsistic view when he said, “I cannot transcend experience, and experience is my experience. From this it follows that nothing beyond myself exists.”
So according to Mr. Jillette, atheism has stopped him from being closed-minded – like a person who believes the sun exists is closed-minded to the thought that it doesn’t exist.
But Penn Jillette goes farther than the average atheist, beyond being just a solipsistic skeptic. He has chosen to believe there is no God.
He said, “I believe that there is no God. I’m beyond atheism. Atheism is not believing in God. Not believing in God is easy – you can’t prove a negative, so there’s no work to do. You can’t prove that there isn’t an elephant inside the trunk of my car.”
It is true that you can’t prove a negative. However, the existence of God is provable in the same way a building is positive proof that there was a builder.
But the atheist is quick to respond that “the building therefore a builder” analogy doesn’t work, because a building is inanimate. It doesn’t have life, therefore it needed a builder. Nature – animals, insects, plants, fish, human beings, etc., are organic. They have life, can reproduce, and therefore they don’t necessitate a Creator.
There is a small problem with that belief.
You have to forget about mountains, the oceans, the clouds, the sun, the stars and the entire non-organic planet on which we and all those animals live. What do atheists think those things are made of? All of them are non-organic.
The elephant of which Jillette spoke isn’t inside the trunk. It’s sitting on his knee, and he doesn’t see him because of a solipsistic worldview, subtly disguised as open-mindedness.
Mr. Jillette continued, “So, anyone with a love for truth outside of herself has to start with no belief in God and then look for evidence of God. She needs to search for some objective evidence of a supernatural power. All the people I write e-mails to often are still stuck at this searching stage. The atheism part is easy.”
With due respect, atheism is not easy in the slightest. It takes a huge amount of faith to be an atheist.
Most atheists bristle at the thought that atheism has anything to do with faith, but not Penn Jillette.
Look at his faith: “But, this ‘This I Believe’ thing seems to demand something more personal, some leap of faith that helps one see life’s big picture, some rules to live by. So, I’m saying, ‘This I believe: I believe there is no God.'”
And then from there he builds his entire life’s philosophy: “Having taken that step, it informs every moment of my life. I’m not greedy. I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough. It has to be enough, but it’s everything in the world and everything in the world is plenty for me. It seems just rude to beg the invisible for more. Just the love of my family that raised me and the family I’m raising now is enough that I don’t need heaven. I won the huge genetic lottery, and I get joy every day.”
This is why atheism is difficult. He believes that the entire universe – with its vast planets with their own orbits, suns and moons, the earth, spinning through space, with its oceans and daily tides, the yearly seasons, all the succulent fruits, the amazing animals – with male and female, the beautiful flowers, the marvels of the fearfully and wonderfully made human body, also with male and female, reproducing after its own kind, as well as millions of other marvels of nature all happened because nothing created it. Such a belief takes huge faith. It denies all logic, reason and common sense.
It would be far easier to believe that there was nothing, and that that nothing for no reason exploded into a fully loaded and flying jumbo jet, with passengers, pilots and crew. If I could believe that for a moment, I would be a “fool.” That’s the word the Bible uses to describe the atheist (see Psalm 14:1), and it says, “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words” (Proverbs 23:9).