Penn Jillette Interviewed in Vanity Fair

After a liberal-toned intro that kinda made me cringe, Eric Spitznagel brings us the interview:

Like when South Park did an episode portraying Muhammad in a bear costume and Comedy Central said “Whoa, Nellie?”

I think that said more about the Islamic group that made death threats against Trey and Matt than it does about Comedy Central. I believe very much that the most damning thing you can say about Muslims is that you’re afraid to say anything because they’ll hurt you.

As opposed to other religions?

I will forever stick up for Catholics and Christians in general. With a small number of very horrible exceptions, they do play by the rules.

That’s a curious sentiment from somebody who’s gone out of his way to make fun of religion.

I do believe that a belief in god is crazy, but that doesn’t mean that the people who believe in it are crazy. Those are two different things. Ideas can be stupid and crazy and the people who hold those ideas are not necessarily stupid and crazy.

Penn & Teller, as you may have guessed, are heroes of mine. Both for their skepticism and libertarianism.

The whole interview was good, but this was by far my favorite part:

You’ve said that you’re beyond atheism. What does that mean?

I have trouble believing that other people believe. (Laughs.)

You think they’re lying?

I’m sure they’re not lying. Their belief may be genuine. But it’s like arguing that fairies are coming out of my toaster in the middle of the night. You can’t prove to me that there aren’t fairies in my toaster, but that doesn’t mean you should take me seriously. What I have a problem with is not so much religion or god, but faith. When you say you believe something in your heart and therefore you can act on it, you have completely justified the 9/11 bombers. You have justified Charlie Manson. If it’s true for you, why isn’t it true for them? Why are you different? If you say “I believe there’s an all-powerful force of love in the universe that connects us all, and I have no evidence of that but I believe it in my heart,” then it’s perfectly okay to believe in your heart that Sharon Tate deserves to die. It’s perfectly okay to believe in your heart that you need to fly planes into buildings for Allah.

By the way, if you haven’t checked out Penn & Teller: Bullshit yet, get off your ass. The show (currently in its eighth season) is on Showtime on Thursdays at 10 pm.

While you’re at it, check out Penn Point, a video podcast featuring Penn himself.

(via Friendly Atheist)

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