In 2009, the outspoken atheist Penn Jillette effusively praised a Christian businessman for giving him a Bible and proclaiming that salvation comes only through faith in Jesus Christ.
While Jillette, known for his magic act as half of the team Penn & Teller, didn’t accept the invitation to become a Christian, his assessment of religious believers who don’t “proselytize” caught the attention of Christian filmmaker Ray Comfort.
After all these years, Comfort now knows the identity of the businessman, and he reveals it in his upcoming film, “The Fool: Never Fear Looking Foolish Again.”
Jillette, an actor, TV personality, activist and author of the New York Times bestseller “God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales,” said in 2009 the businessman was “really kind and nice and sane and looked me in the eyes and talked to me and then gave me this Bible.”
“And I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all,” Jillette said at the time. “If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward.”
Jillette asked: “How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”
In contrast, he said, the businessman “cared enough about me to proselytize and give me a Bible.”
“I’ll tell you, he was a very, very, very good man, and that’s really important … that was a really good man who gave me that book,” Jillette said.
Comfort said he was so moved by Jillette’s words that he “longed to speak with him and thank him for making that clip. ”
Years later, Comfort said, “through a number of unusual circumstances, God worked it out that I got my heart’s desire.”
Comfort told WND that Jillette’s “insight just blew me away, and then to meet him personally and to thank him personally was just wonderful.”
The encounter with Jillette is not included in the movie because Comfort wanted to honor the famous atheist’s request for privacy.
But the movie does reveal the identity of the businessman who prompted Jillette’s remarks about Christians.
“The inside story of his encounter with Penn, and what he actually gave him, was so compelling,” Comfort explained, “that we immediately filmed the man sharing the incredible story and included it in our new movie – which ‘coincidentally’’ already mentioned that encounter. It’s amazing how God put all the pieces together.”
The filmmaker said the “heartfelt statements of an atheist have motivated countless Christians to share their faith.”
That theme, he said – of God using atheists to help spread the Gospel – is at the heart of his new movie, “The Fool: Never Fear Looking Foolish Again.”
Comfort said the movie is available to churches months before its public release later this year. About 100 churches already have responded. Information is available at the movie’s website.
“We’re very excited. It’s a wonderful, faith-building movie,” he said.
Something from nothing
Comfort told WND that in his conversation with Jillette, which was not included in the film at Jillette’s request, he presents his argument that the existence of God can be proven.
Comfort uses the same argument with people on the street in his movie “The Atheist Delusion.”
He asks, “Could a book with color pictures bind itself and make its own artwork from nothing?”
The typical answer is that such a thing is absurd and impossible.
Comfort then turns to the DNA in humans, which scientists call the “book of life,” a set of coherent information that instructs how to make such features as eyes, bones, skin, flesh and personality.
“So what would you say,” he then asks, “about someone who contends DNA could create itself from nothing?”
See the trailer for Comfort’s upcoming movie “The Fool: Never Fear Looking Foolish Again”: