Posted in Blog Archive

Posted by abeodbart August 18, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Chances are that you may already be familiar with Penn & Teller, but what you mayn’t have heard yet is that Penn, the looming, bombastic ‘talkier’ half of the legendary magic duo has just released a book: ‘God, No!’

In it he tackles, you guessed it, issues of Faith from the perspective of a confirmed Atheist.

He’s currently doing Press duties to promote the publication, even going so far as to sit across a table from the delightful Piers Morgan who, in Penn’s own words;

“Seems he hadn’t read the book, and I had no idea what he was trying in the interview. Odd.”

You can see a snippet of that odd interview here, read a short essay that Penn’s penned for CNN giving a flavour of the book here and, if you’re ready to go the whole hog, you can buy the book here.

Do let us know if you’re going to get it, or have got it already, and what you think of it in the comments below!

August 18, 2011 at 7:28 pm
Mark says:

Should be a good read and welcome Dupin!

August 18, 2011 at 7:34 pm
Arran Gilly says:

Piers blatantly just trying to suck up to his new American audience. No depth too low for that man

August 18, 2011 at 7:40 pm
Dan B says:

He’s right. It’s listed as a debate, but it allowed no room for debate. I would love to see the whole thing to see if Mr Morgan allowed Mr Jillette to complete a sentence.

In America, atheism is regarded as a step above paedophilia on the popularity scale, mostly because it offers no easy answers that people search for in times of ‘need’.

Having moved from America to Britain I do find that not only the ability to debate is more refined but also the tolerance is greater for those who have chosen their own path, whether it be religious or secular, so long as they/you don’t try to force it down their/your neighbours’ throats.

A book is not an argument or a debate. And neither was the clip I saw.

August 18, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Going to get it, recently read Marcus Brigstock’s God Collar and enjoyed so need one more to turn me pure atheist.

August 18, 2011 at 7:56 pm
miep says:

The good book? The BEST book! I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this. Sounds very interesting and probably very funny too.
Piers Morgan’s criticism of Penn ‘telling all the believers out there that they’re wrong and that he hasn’t any explanations’ (about what happens after we die) is so funny. Has Piers (or anyone else for that matter) ever heard good explanations about all the fables written in the ‘good book’?? No, thought so.

August 18, 2011 at 7:57 pm
Jean says:

Great another post!!, I follow this blog with RSS and its great!

August 18, 2011 at 7:58 pm
Oli says:

Watching that interview makes me hate Piers Morgan more than ever!

August 18, 2011 at 7:58 pm
simond says:

I’m going to have to save up for that one as I’m a Kindle user and that’s one hell of a price tag there! Love Penn to bits though and adore Teller even more!

August 18, 2011 at 8:07 pm
Nick says:

@James – read Christopher hitchens “god is not great”, that`ll do the job for sure .

Piers is just a twat, plain and simple, and if thats as good at debating as he can get then I think you can add
the word ignorant infront of twat.

The book looks like it should be an entertaining read though :)

August 18, 2011 at 8:33 pm
Annette M says:

Will deffo be acquiring a copy :) Hello Dupin!

August 18, 2011 at 9:48 pm
V. Profane says:

I suppose it’s a good thing that an entertainer like Penn is helping to make atheism more visible in the US, but I can’t help but think he’s not the best person to promote rational scepticism. Rather like Bill Maher, his critical faculties are conspicuously selective.

August 18, 2011 at 11:12 pm
SurrealistWhim says:

He doesn’t believe in God but God believes in him<3

August 18, 2011 at 11:49 pm
Dan says:

Will buy it, as love reading intelligent athiest views on religion. However, I find it exasperating and absolutely extraordinary that no matter how you express how ridiculous religion is ( watch Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchins, Stephen Fry, Jim Jeffries, Ricky Gervais, Eddie Izzard and of course Derren Brown taking it apart) the believers simply will not change their views, they won’t be swayed by facts. Faith has more credibility than fact it seems. Oh well…

August 19, 2011 at 12:44 am
Jesse says:

I bought book the same day the CNN interview aired. I really enjoyed the book. The book is “no holds barred” in much the same way as Penn’s show Bulls***t was. “God No!” has an honesty and a reverence for life that even an atheist has to stop and admire. After reading the book, Penn Jillette has significantly climbed my list of people who I which I could spend a day hanging out with. (No worries, Derren, you’re still numero uno)
While the scientific and philosophical collections Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris comprise the undisputed heavy firepower in my “arsenal of atheist arguments”, Jillette’s book has a down-to-earth, atheism for the common-man style that brings a much needed smile to the face of the faithless. Definitely recommended!

August 19, 2011 at 2:48 am
Gemma says:

The smug look on Penn’s face isn’t particularly inviting. I’m sure he has all the answers.

August 19, 2011 at 7:24 am
Russell Jones says:

I like Jillette. He’s a smart, affable, talented and morally courageous guy. But I can’t get on board with this “government is bad” stuff. Government is what happen when you need to get 3 or more people to work (more or less) in their common interest. Somebody has to define “common interest”. Somebody has to plan. Somebody has to prevent nutters and naysayers from forcing the “common interest” project off the rails.

If you have 3 people, that “someone” is the person with the strongest personality. If you have 300 million, that “someone” is government. Not everyone is gonna like it, but it’s the least-bad model we have.

Jillette is a good man if he does good things for the poor. But he’s a naive man if he thinks everyone is as good as him. Government mandates a certain amount of goodness (tax) so we don’t have to rely on people being selfless and responsible. Most people aren’t. Try getting a CT scanner designed, built and installed without an organising principle. That principle is government, like it or not.

August 19, 2011 at 10:08 am
Steve says:

Oh Piers you…………you…………you total moron. I was going to buy this book anyway, but now I know that this book pisses you off, I may even buy two.

August 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm
Jared says:

I can’t believe I didn’t know about this already. Ordering now.

August 19, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Who exactly is the audience for Jillette’s new book? I very much doubt that non-atheists will buy it and then be persuaded to become atheists. Instead, it seems designed to be “faith-affirming” to the unfaithful. One “sign you may already be an atheist” is that you’ve bought this book.

August 19, 2011 at 5:01 pm
Don says:

August 19, 2011 at 6:16 pm
Shaun Banks says:

Atheists – No God – Because you say so – Isn’t that just an alternative belief system – The “Praise me because I am different ” belief.

It now all boils down to a question of proof of which neither the believer nor the non believer can convincingly produce.

August 19, 2011 at 6:19 pm
Shaun Banks says:

Good old science always trying to remove any possibility of god or spirituality from the universe, yet all scientists are believers either consciously or not.

The laws of science are their scripture helping them make sense of the world around them, but as we have seen through history, many of sciences laws have been amended or proven to be wrong on occasion.

Their mathematics and theories are their faith, for example einstein’s theory of relativity still contains a number of flaws particularly when it comes to black holes and therefore requires a little faith. Mathematics is also littered with leaps of faith, take Pi for example, referred to in the mathematical world as an irrational number and even a transcendental number – in other words not a perfectly logical number. I could go on

August 19, 2011 at 8:25 pm
Matt says:

Kind of humorous version of The God Delusion, then.

August 19, 2011 at 10:10 pm
Chris Redmond says:

The problem with any ‘debate’ on this issue is that evolutionists and other non-religious proponents believe it is only they who understand science, and only they who are able to free themselves from the irrational, anti-intellectual blind faith of believing in an intelligent being.
Such individuals extol Dawkins’ “The God Dellusion” without actually taking a critical look at it, and it has almost become their own bible.
Keith Ward has written an excellent critique of Dawkins’ book which takes apart Dawkins’ arguments in a rational, objective (as is possible to be), scientific manner, and certainly can’t be dismissed as ‘god-botherer propoganda.
We can’t prove if there is or isn’t a god, but we can demonstrate that those who believe there is a god aren’t lacking the power of reason.

August 19, 2011 at 10:37 pm
unmevsworld says:

I commend all who are resisting the urge to feed the trolls!

August 19, 2011 at 11:47 pm
Don says:

It now all boils down to a question of proof of which neither the believer nor the non believer can convincingly produce.

Non-believers are not not making a truth-claim. They are just decining to accept yours.

many of sciences laws have been amended or proven to be wrong on occasion.

Yes. That’s how it works. It’s called the Scientific Method. It works. Which is why you are not currently weariing a toad to ward off scrofulla or throwing turnips at witches.

an irrational number

Are you sure you understand how the term ‘rational’ is used in maths?I

August 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm
Chris Redmond says:

@unmevsworld: apologies if this isn’t really a ‘forum’ but is actually only for athiests, where dissenting views are classed as trolling.
@Don: Remember how we used to have the wall chart showing an ape on the left, Homo-sapien on the right and all the intermediary stages in between to show the scientifically accepted, nay proven evolution of man?
Any ‘god-botherers’ who rejected this were in denial and unable to face facts – correct?
Subsequently this chart has been proven to be complete hogwash, because it wasn’t arrived at by ‘scientific method’ at all but was based on guesswork.
Religion vs Athiesm isn’t blind faith vs science, and certainly if a Christian was to use a creationist book written by a stage magician to further his cause, I’m sure he would be ridiculed. :0)

August 21, 2011 at 3:10 pm
Don says:


Of course I remember those charts. They were based on a crude, early and mstaken understanding of Darwin, who from almost the earliet beginings of his theory saw that evolution was through a series of branchings and not a purposeful progression. They hung around long after heir sell-by date because of lazy text-book editors and uninformed teachers’ Much like Haekel’s embryos.

And, as you say, it has finally been discarded. But it was science which showed it to be balderdash. What else could?

Any ‘god-botherers’ who rejected this were in denial and unable to face facts – correct?

No. Nobody actually working in the field took that representation seriously from the early twentieth century onwards. (Limit reached).

August 21, 2011 at 10:20 pm
Berber Anna says:

Chris: Where’d you get the idea that this is a forum? It’s a blog…
Also, I don’t see what Penn being a magician has to do with his ability to write about atheism. He’s just writing from his own experience. Are magicians only allowed to write about magic? Houdini, for instance, was a famous debunker of ‘psychic’ nonsense, using his experience as a magician in his research into the subject.

August 21, 2011 at 11:07 pm
Stacy Smith says:

@Chris Redmond
If you think using the term ‘stage magician’ as a diminutive insult here is a good idea, you really are out of your depth.

August 22, 2011 at 2:24 pm
Chris Redmond says:

The point I’m making is that this mistaken representation wasn’t presented as being the best guess based on incomplete evidence, it was presented as demonstrating how we evolved from apes.
We don’t have evidence to show this even now, but of course, we ‘must’ have evolved from apes….. :0)
Penn can write about what he wants, when he wants, but when he says “If I don’t know, I don’t believe” to explain why he’s an Athiest, I’d ask him what he actually knew about evolution.
All he says is we have pieces of the jigsaw and we’ll get more, which is the opinion I pretty much had as a teenager before actually studying the evidence.
I’d suggest he doesn’t know, yet does believe.
Not an insult at all as I’m sure anyone who isn’t trying to provoke a reaction will appreciate.

August 22, 2011 at 3:28 pm
Alice says:

You can find more of the interview here:
Also links to part 2.

How can such morally redundant people call themselves Christians?
If I had a faith, I’d try to live up to the best of it. So many jerks seem to use faith as an excuse to be dicks.

August 22, 2011 at 5:54 pm
Shaun Banks says:

Well that worked then

Perhaps we should look for god at the sub atomic level then. Quark, strangeness and charm.

“an irrational number’ let’s just say it slightly irritates mathematicians and they constantly make excuses for it’s imperfection.

I am looking forward to when the scientists have finishing answering all the questions and can present to us all the very complicated and sophisticated model of the universe and everything in it like some amazing time piece – that will be truly amazing – yet one question will remain – who or what made it?

God sits between the sense and nonsense of our minds – he is the doubt within all of us. Atheism is simply over confidence.

There is a hell of a lot of faith holding science together but thank god someone set down some laws of science.

August 22, 2011 at 6:32 pm
Shaun Banks says:

Perhaps eventually scientists will realise that by the time they have finished splitting the sub atomic particles and releasing even more bizarre sub particles, that actually they are just exploring their own imaginationS and that everything is just an atomic manifestation of light representing a universal vision created when our consciousness was awaken at the moment of the big bang, and that it is all in a constant state of decay as the light dims and our imagination fades.

Perhaps we are all part of God but we just doubt it .

I am off to the pub now to look for the absence of god – I know he won’t be there as he playing darts down the Rose & Crown

August 22, 2011 at 11:35 pm
wayne says:

I am truly in awe of the church for the power it possesses. When I go into these places I feel a sense of humility and wonder, often I get a sense of being watched and I get the ‘goosebump’ feeling.

Do I have ‘Faith’?

No because I think it is just a ruse from a traditionally power hungry cult of people who have kept Christianity alive for way too long. Evidence shows us how Christianity has been ‘cut and pasted’ to remove the non popular aspects of it and to include things i.e. very well known Pagan, Roman, or Greek mythology and even wonderfully spiritual holidays like 25th December – when Jesus was born – well not really. What a load of old bull.

I get the emotional feeling from the churches I visit because of the way all your senses are stimulated and the way your mentality has been

August 23, 2011 at 1:37 pm
spiderabc1 says:

Hello Dupin.

I am learning not to judge but it is difficult. I really shouldn’t have a go at people who have a faith in god/s. It could have been me.

August 23, 2011 at 2:31 pm
Chris Redmond says:

Piers makes some good points, but plenty of pretty silly ones too and I speak as a Christian.
“Where do we go when we die?” is a totally irrelevent question as if Penn had replied “the fifth dimension” or something as far fetched, how could Piers have argued this was any less informed than Heaven.
Piers also suggests many Christians will be upset at Penn’s book, but why on earth should they be?
If I tell a Buddhist I’m a Christian, should they be upset because I’m proclaiming that I don’t believe what they believe?
I think what get’s the back up of those ‘with faith’ is when they are smugly accused of being irrational and of ignoring science, and what gets the back up of Athiests are religious individuals who treat them like they have no moral values.

August 23, 2011 at 11:01 pm

If we need proof there is no god, then surely the existence of Piers Morgan is sufficient?

August 24, 2011 at 8:16 am
Shaun Banks says:

“Non-believers are not not making a truth-claim. They are just decining to accept yours.”

So Atheists have an opinion on Gods then? Would that opinion be a subjective belief?

August 24, 2011 at 9:13 am
Berber Anna says:

Shaun: If god is doubt, then why do people seem so sure of his/her/its gender, form and message? When in doubt, insert deity? I’d rather admit to a gap in my knowledge than fill that gap with an imagined higher power.

August 24, 2011 at 10:32 am
harry tuttle says:

@Shaun Banks

that is kinda pretty-awesome

August 24, 2011 at 8:31 pm
alan says:

Signs I may be an atheist! God I hope not. But seriously. Wouldn’t knowing for certain that there wasn’t a god require possession of absolute knowledge? And the only entity blessed with that gift is god. Therefore, wouldn’t anyone expressing a belief based on that premise have to actually be that which they were claiming did not exist? Did you see what I did there Penn?

August 24, 2011 at 10:08 pm
Berber Anna says:

alan: Wouldn’t knowing for certain that there IS a god require the same? Would those who claim there is a god (and that it’s the god endorsed by their specific religion) have to be on par with this god they claim to worship? Isn’t that hubris?

But seriously, the fact that you can’t prove a negative does not mean that you then need to assume the positive. I can’t prove with 100% certainty that my house is not infested with invisible, intangible, unmeasurable gnomes that like to spy on me, but the unlikelihood of this being the case is so great that I walk around in my undies with no concerns about diminutive voyeurs.

Atheism is simply the assumption that there is no god, unless and until one has been proven to exist. Seems like a rational position to take on any issue.

August 24, 2011 at 11:10 pm
Don says:

‘So Atheists have an opinion on Gods then? ‘

Which god?

Until I know that how could I have an opinion?

August 24, 2011 at 11:13 pm
Don says:


I haven’t read the book. Does Penn claim to know for certain that there is no god, however defined?

I’ve never heard anyone claim that.

August 25, 2011 at 12:03 am

I wonder how much of this will be stuff covered in his HBO series? I’m hoping it’s mostly new stuff, although the series he had was brilliant…

August 25, 2011 at 12:29 pm
Shaun Banks says:

“If god is doubt, then why do people seem so sure of his/her/its gender, form and message?

Children have comforters in various forms including dolls, teddy bears and even invisible friends and often these comforters tell the children many things..

When in doubt, insert deity? I’d rather admit to a gap in my knowledge than fill that gap with an imagined higher power.”

I suppose it all depends on what you think god is. The god I imagine is the force within us all that has the ability to make sense of the nonsense.

To make something out of nothing, nothing must be observed, otherwise how could anything and everything happen. Collectively we all observe and we all make sense of the nonsense. Surley god could not get more complex than this.

August 25, 2011 at 12:30 pm
Shaun Banks says:

Something Out of Nothing

Close your eyes and empty your mind. There is not one single thought in your mind and your consciousness is in a state of complete rest. You are in total darkness and you have lost track of time and you can hear nothing. The silent darkness of your mind is now simply a void free of all the elements of your known universe. It is here where it all begins.

Your consciousness awakes in the void and is aware of nothing which is something more than there was before. Now you know that nothing is something and that something is nothing and that before something happened nothing happened. You knew nothing about nothing until something happened and now nothing will ever be the same again.

Once something happens, anything can happen and then everything is possible.

August 25, 2011 at 2:46 pm
Merijn says:

Glad that I’ve been brought up as an atheist, humanist, skeptic. I would probably have been too lazy to invest the enormous effort required to leave that path. Good luck to all my fellow humans trying to grasp the real world as it is, including the doubt, the frustrations of things turning out *very* unfortunate of outright unfair without being able to blame-but-praise a deity.

August 25, 2011 at 9:12 pm
Shaun Banks says:

Declining to accept the truth of any god surely demonstrates an opinion on gods per se and therefore a subjective belief

August 25, 2011 at 9:56 pm
Shaun Banks says:

My references regarding Something Out of Nothing are intended to demonstrate both the birth of consciousness and how reality may have been formed, based on various principles of physics, and how it must be observed by some entity consciously for it to happen and for it to continue to happen.

The continued observation of reality by a collective consciousness, like the human race, gives reality the solidity our individual conscious requires to perceive the reality as true.

I am probably just bonkers and as such I thought I had better add this comment to hopefully help you understand some of my bonkers thinking

August 26, 2011 at 4:17 pm
Chris Redmond says:

@ Berber: “Wouldn’t knowing for certain that there IS a god require the same?”
Well, I’d suggest that anyone who professes to ‘know’ for certain there is a god is a liar.
Nobody ‘knows’ with any certainty. All we can do is look at the the evidence, weigh the possibilities against the probabilities and reach what is basically a best guess opinion.
if everyone could just accept and respect this diversity there would be no problem.
Now, if Penn wanted to write a book declaring his belief in evolution that would be fine, but on the cover he mocks religion with his quasi religious robe and stained glass window backdrop whilst posing in prayer.
Disingenuous then for him to tell Piers Morgan that he didn’t intend to offend Christians, who shouldn’t really take him seriously anyway.

August 26, 2011 at 8:59 pm
Berber Anna says:

Chris: Quasi religious? It has the atheism symbol on it. I think it’s a nice symbol of what he professes, that many people who call themselves religious actually have a lot of atheist views. Also, the juxtaposition of religious and atheist symbolism on it is funny. I don’t see the hideous insult to religion, really.

And while Penn ‘believes’ in evolution (I wouldn’t consider it a belief so much as a theory that best fits the facts, similar to how I don’t say I believe in gravity, I just accept gravity as the best explanation for things falling towards the earth), that’s not what the book seems to be about. It’s about atheism. Not everyone who accepts evolution is an atheist (see the intelligent design movement), though the majority of atheists do obviously accept the theory of evolution.

August 26, 2011 at 9:24 pm
Shaun Banks says:

Berber Anna: I think anyone who thinks evolution eradicates god/gods totally is taking a short sighted view. The forces that drive evolution and all the other forces at play in the universe should surely be examined for the existence of god/gods as it would seem that it is these forces the form our universe and our reality. From a religious fundamental point of view I can see the power that evolution has in eradicating a god, but in the wider picture of the origins of everything, evolution plays only a small part in perhaps explaining the development of life on this specific planet which exists in a vast universe containing millions of other planets.

August 26, 2011 at 10:22 pm
Chris Redmond says:

@Berber: It has the Atheism symbol on what looks like a ceremonial robe, in front of stained glass windows with Penn ‘praying’. I’m sure even you can see the implication?
What you call funny as an atheist may be insulting to those with religious beliefs; not to me as I don’t take Penn seriously, but to others maybe.
As for the bigger picture, like yourself I tend to base my opinion on the theory that best fits the facts, only we differ on which theory this is.
Intelligent design is something I’ve studied, and seems to be made up of those who believe in natural selection and adaption, but not evolution as used to explain the origin of species.
Advocates of Intelligent Design do get mocked by Atheists and Christians in equal measure however, and are the whipping boys of both. :0)

August 26, 2011 at 10:44 pm
Don says:

‘Declining to accept the truth of any god surely demonstrates an opinion on gods per se and therefore subjective belief’

Not really. just waiting for the evidence.

August 27, 2011 at 1:35 pm
unmevsworld says:

Chris Redmond
I apologize. I have some how become a grumpy, condescending atheist, and I wanted to avoid that. I’ll try to keep it in check.

August 27, 2011 at 11:13 pm
Shaun Banks says:

I personally believe that everything in our reality is the product of the imagination of a collective consciousness of which we all belong.

I believe that if a concept is constructed from the deepest levels of understanding and is beyond reason it becomes an undeniable truth, perceivable by any of the senses and as such capable of being seen, heard, ,tasted, smelt, and touched, dependent on the properties of the concept.

Our reality is constructed with these concepts that we all simply accept as being unquestionable, the truth, real.

Evolution in this context may simply be the process of our collective consciousness trying to find the most affective physical form to maxmise interaction with the reality we are creating and to maximise our brain capacity to expand the reality further.

August 27, 2011 at 11:29 pm
Shaun Banks says:

Love is the answer

Love transcends everything and is the undeniable truth that needs no reasoning or belief as it cannot be anything else other than what it is.

Love is the happy hum of a beautiful universe.

You will all be pleased to know that this will be the last of my rantings on this subject.

I wish you all well and as Mr Spock would say “Live long and prosper”

August 28, 2011 at 6:49 pm
Christine says:

Sounds like a good read. And that interview! I don’t like how Piers was supposed to be interviewing Penn, but then just kept interrupting him with his own opinions. It wasn’t like an interview at all.
And I think what Penn said about death is entirely correct. I didn’t exist before I was born, so I was technically dead then. It didn’t scare me. I won’t exist when I die, but that doesn’t scare me either.

August 31, 2011 at 3:08 pm
alan says:

alan: Wouldn’t knowing for certain that there IS a god require the same?

Berber Anna: Well spotted B. And possibly a clue as to why some kind someone went to the trouble of devising the term “ agnostic”.

“Atheism is simply the assumption”
that one belief system “I’m not aware of something, therefore it does not exist”, trumps another belief system. “I believe that something exists, but am not currently in a position to prove it”?
The only thing that I’m reasonably certain of, is that we’re not nearly as smart as we might like to think we are.
If an erroneous belief aids survival, it has served a purpose.

September 2, 2011 at 6:34 pm
Shaun Banks says:

Whoever is moderating these comments please do not activate my 3 comments above if you feel that I am talking crap.

I am happy with my views on the world and the universe and I don’t need to justify them to Atheists. I choose to dream and believe in so much more than a cold logical and tangible world. I dare to love from the deepest part of my soul, a love that I cannot prove in any tangible or scientific way, but a love that I and the people I love know is true. Love the universal belief system?

I find it difficult to believe that people can believe that the universe lacks purpose and simply exists just because it can. All those people who have experienced love in some form or another should know that there is so much more than what we can explain.

September 3, 2011 at 5:52 pm
Shaun Banks says:

Don: Don’t bother waiting for the evidence, look for something more instead – Like love – Do you believe in Love? Because Love is the best thing you can ever give, receive and have. The only problem is though there is absolutely no evidence of its existence.

Surely unless we can prove the existence of love it does not exist.

Love transcends everything and is the undeniable truth that needs no reasoning or belief, as it cannot be anything else other than what it is. Love can make sense of the nonsense and create something out of nothing – That is pretty powerful man – Far Out!

Don’t bother trying to tell me that love is a resultant property of very complex neural network in our brains otherwise I am going to assume that your are made of alloy metals and silicon chips

September 3, 2011 at 9:46 pm
Don says:

“Atheism is simply the assumption that one belief system “I’m not aware of something, therefore it does not exist”, trumps another belief system. “I believe that something exists, but am not currently in a position to prove it”?

I don’t think that is the case. To me atheism means “I’m not aware of something, therefore I would like to ask for some form of evidence before I accept it as true. And the more unlikely it seems the mor evidence I would ask. Until then, I don’t buy it.’

Whereas religion is more “I believe that something exists, so I don’t need to prove it. Respect me.’

September 3, 2011 at 9:58 pm
Berber Anna says:

Shaun: I find that a bit insulting. I may be an atheist, but that does not make me cold or incapable of love. I love my parents, my family, my friends, my pets, and I love them all fully. My body is just as capable of releasing oxytocin and serotonin as the bodies of theists.

I find the universe to be much more beautiful as a system that exists purely as a balance of the laws of nature, than it would be as someone’s creation. The randomness makes it all the more special. I remember being on a mountain in Germany 8 years ago, at a festival, and looking up to see the Milky Way in the sky. The thought of Earth being just a tiny random chunk of matter in a vast universe, with bits of carbon randomly walking around on it and me being one of them, made me feel so lucky and special to be alive.

September 3, 2011 at 11:27 pm
Shaun Banks says:

Don: I have been drinking wine tonight so please don’t take my pervious comment seriously, I was just trying to make a point that there are many aspects of our lives that require belief and in fact go far beyond it like Love and Boris Johnson as London Mayor – How can a this man run London when he can’t even control his own hair – I think his hair is that way for the purpose of misdirection – very cunning – I like old Boris though.

September 4, 2011 at 7:14 pm
Chris Redmond says:

Dawkins reasons that although the chances of our solar system existing as it does are billions to one, this is no proof of an intelligent entity as there are probably billions of universes, possibly stretching to an infinite number, so eventually there will be one where a planet is in the perfect orbit around a sun, the perfect distance away, containing the ideal atmosphere and minerals for life to start etc…
There will be billions of alternate Earths, with alternate versions of myself and everyone on this blog.
By the same logic, there will also be a universe which was constructed by an intelligent entity, and there will be one which evolved of it’s own accord.
Which one we inhabit is impossible to know of course. :0)

September 5, 2011 at 9:52 pm
Shaun Banks says:

Berber Anna: It was not intended as an insult and if I did then I apologise. Unfortunately many the Atheists opinions I have encountered can seem to border on nihilism / existential nihilism.

Atheism, for me, is a philosophical cul-de-sac, as it makes a huge offensive statement to nearly all religions from a position it does not defend. (I am not religious by the way) . Those Atheists that do try to defend their position often refer to science which also still requires a great deal of faith to believe.

I think it very vain, almost god like, that science thinks it can explain everything (literally) yet it as spent less than a moment in the history of the universe hypothesising it.

I think that when we do find the answer it will take both science and spirituality to realise the answer.

September 5, 2011 at 10:51 pm
Shaun Banks says:

Berber Anna: Atheism for many religious people can be offensive as it is like asking people to prove they are capable of loving.

God for may people is the compartmentalisation of the fear, doubt, loneliness and the unknown within and therefore when Atheists dismiss their god they feel threatened and vulnerable. Scientist are just the same, but instead of god they see knowledge and when the gaping holes in their theories are pointed out or the contradictions between different scientific fields exist, as they do, they feel threatened and vulnerable. Imagine been told that you have wasted years of your life believing in some pointless belief or that all that you have learnt is nonsense or insignificant

We all preach to the same god really – ? – Uncertainty

September 7, 2011 at 3:30 pm
alan says:

“Dawkins reasons that although the chances of our solar system existing as it does are billions to one”
If he’d known that at the outset, he’d have put a sizable bet on.
I’m afraid Richard’s understanding is just as questionable as anyone else’s. Which hat did he pull those odds out of? Aren’t science and religion merely aids to human survival? After all, when we aren’t around anymore. How well are they going to do on their own?

September 7, 2011 at 4:44 pm
Berber Anna says:

Shaun: I was never raised in any kind of religion, so I never had a crisis of faith like you describe. I tried several religions (including ones I made up) on for size as a child and adolescent, but they never seemed to fit the facts, they felt like pleasant fantasies at best. I don’t feel threatened or vulnerable by the unknown, I just don’t make assumptions about it. That’s why I say there isn’t a god until (if ever) I know there is one. Saying ‘it’s up in the air’ is pointless, because that’s entertaining a hypothesis (the existence of a god) that’s not been proven. Assuming the negative until the positive is proven makes it unnecessary to entertain all random hypotheses people come up with.

Oh, and I did waste a good five years of my life on new age/psionics stuff. Glad I quit that.

September 7, 2011 at 6:57 pm
Don says:


I think it very vain, almost god like, that science thinks it can explain everything (literally)

Who claims that? Science is a method which so far has been shown to work. Everything which we can explain has been through the method. I am fairly confident that everything we will explain will be through the method. But at some point our human brains will not be up to the ask of understanding that explanation. My own brain has already reached that point as far as the freakier aspects of quantum physics are concerned.

From your comments I gather you have love in your life and I am happy for you. So do I. My love for my child is not diminished by understanding how love evolved, any more than the beauty I see around me is diminished by knowing how my eyes evolved.

September 7, 2011 at 7:03 pm
Don says:


Scientist are just the same, but instead of god they see knowledge and when the gaping holes in their theories are pointed out or the contradictions between different scientific fields exist, as they do, they feel threatened and vulnerable

No. That’s part of the method. Obviously people have egos, but a good scientist would thank you for pointing out flaws, gaps and contradictions. That’s how science works. It actively seeks out the flaws, gaps and contradictions. And funding.

September 7, 2011 at 7:09 pm
Don says:


Do you believe that an intelligent entity capable of designing a universe = god?

Or just a very smart and highly evolved entity?

Could we evolve into beings capable of designing a universe?

Would we be gods? Or does the idea of ‘god’ mean something more than a highly developed entity?

September 7, 2011 at 9:05 pm
Shaun Banks says:

Berber Anna: The unknown excites me and fuels my imagination. As we can see in the cosmos the universe is dynamic forever changing and evolving. We have no idea at all of what stage of evolution the human race is in and therefore we cannot be certain that we have reached our maximum potential with regards to our perceptive abilities. We may only be seeing a very small part of the picture at present and our minds may not even be capable of conceiving what everything is about and as such everything is “up in the air”

Science as achieved some amazing things but when it comes to explaining the origins of everything it offers little more than an opinion, a vision, a hypothesis or even a belief.

September 7, 2011 at 9:06 pm
Shaun Banks says:

Berber Anna: For me it is simple common sense that it all goes beyond matter, atoms and particles and that the origins of the universe are intangible. The fact that matter, atoms and particles all exist within the 3 Dimensions (more including Space &Time) that we perceive means that these elements will only ever provide an answer to the physical structure of everything and not the origins of the physical. The forces that create the dimensions that we perceive offer greater potential for explaining the origins of everything. Until we fully understand what the forces are that shape the universe and the reality that we observe and every physical thing in it, we are merely fumbling in the dark.

September 7, 2011 at 9:06 pm
Shaun Banks says:

Berber Anna: Particle Physics is a very exciting science pushing the imagination to the limits and even possibly into new dimensions.

You clearly have a powerful imagination and Assuming the negative until the positive is proven is only stifling it and limiting your view. Random hypotheses that people come up with can be very exciting. No one has a monopoly on knowledge not even science. The greatest minds are the ones that dare to imagine and believe.

September 8, 2011 at 11:38 am
Shaun Banks says:

Don: I assume that Richard Dawkins is pushing Atheism as part of his scientific method and not part of his PR machine. Atheism is very rock & roll in the science world and I think Mr Dawkins likes to take the role of Jim Morrison. I may as well say The Big Bang theory is nonsense until you show me one that results in a universe the same as ours. There may have been no Big Bang at all, perhaps all the elements of our universe originated from a black hole sucking matter from another universe and spewing it into ours.

As far as scientific method is concerned I agree with you, unfortunately too many scientists like to push the science fiction to draw interest and cash. Science likes to crush gods with Atheism yet we are expected to believe in sciences fairy tales like Supersymmetry for one.

September 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm
Shaun Banks says:


I think it very vain, almost god like, that science thinks it can explain everything (literally)

Who claims that? Well Einstein gave it his best shot and scientists playing with their particle collider are giving it a go.

Not until science realised another problem with their scientific methods and theories did they realise this was a bit beyond them ie.discovering that general relativity and quantum mechanics are hard to unify.

Scientists are often fumbling in the dark but they like to tell people that it is all part of the scientific method – “The universe began this way and there are no gods”- turns out they were wrong – “Yes we were wrong, but being wrong is part of the scientific method and we are gald you pointed that out – because science can now continue to advance.

September 8, 2011 at 12:15 pm
Shaun Banks says:


My point regarding Love is that there is no proof for it’s existence yet universally we are all believers. Should we dimiss love as nonsense like Atheism does Gods.

I would not like to think that people are using a philisophical cul-de-sac like Atheism just to incite a reaction from people who believe in something they cannot prove, otherwise we may as well do the same for all people that experience love – soppy gits?

I have always had love in my life either for the people closest to me or for the world we live in, even when things have been dire – without love what would be the purpose of anything other than the practical.

September 8, 2011 at 12:33 pm
Berber Anna says:

Shaun: Oh, I like imagining things. I like to imagine winning the lottery, but that doesn’t mean I’ll go on a spending spree as soon as I buy the ticket. See, I haven’t seen proof that it’s the winning one yet, so I am assuming I won’t win until I see proof that I have.

Random hypotheses can be interesting and entertaining, but there’s a difference between being excited by an idea and acting as though that idea is actually (maybe) true. The latter is foolish and a waste of time, until you have proof that it might really be true.

If anything anyone comes up with should be seen as possibly true, you’ll have a lot of conflicting possible truths and a morass of ideas to wade through every time you want to discuss a subject. That’s counterproductive. Form a hypothesis, then TEST IT. Simple.

September 8, 2011 at 1:58 pm
Chris Redmond says:

Don, “a good scientist would thank you for pointing out flaws, gaps and contradictions. That’s how science works. It actively seeks out the flaws, gaps and contradictions.”
Really? You answer my question yourself – scientists need funding! I have numerous books which clearly highlight thousands of contradictions, and have been ‘buried’ as a result.
These are contradictions judged exactly under the same scrutiny as accepted evidence.
Check out ‘Forbidden Archeology’ for instance, and if you don’t trust the authors judge the evidence itself which is presented in minute detail.
Could be evolve into beings capable of creating a universe?
In theory yes. In practice the average IQ is now decreasing so I doubt we’ll become the Mekon-like, enlarged brained species of Sci-fi comic books.

September 8, 2011 at 2:10 pm
Chris Redmond says:

To make perfect sense there must be a linear progression of tool use for instance, so we can see how man evolved from apes, or ape like like creatures (from which apes and homo sapiens evolved), so if we find evidence of tools which contradict this timeline there are two options; accept the timeline is incorrect, or simply do not accept the evidence on the grounds that it is not conclusive, whilst accepting evidence which is even less conclusive because it fits in with the theory.
Evidence is therefore prejudged to be acceptable or unacceptable based on if it supports what is the current thinking.
The problem I have is that the current thinking is ‘always’ deemed to be fact, until it is disproved. This isn’t an evolution of fact, it’s an adaption to best fit our current knowledge.

September 9, 2011 at 8:05 am
Shaun Banks says:

Chris Redmond: If we can eventually understand the universe then we should be able to create one in a test tube. Surely ccience would create one during the process of scientific method otherwise science would be telling tall tales again.

September 9, 2011 at 8:27 am
Shaun Banks says:

Berber Anna:

“Random hypotheses can be interesting and entertaining, but there’s a difference between being excited by an idea and acting as though that idea is actually (maybe) true. The latter is foolish and a waste of time, until you have proof that it might really be true.”

It is just as well the great philosophers did not think this way otherwise the understanding of our world and our universe would be hundreds of years behind. The most important knowledge we have is based on conceptual beliefs like Love, Morality, Philosophy and who we are as a person.

The lottery is a tax on dreams. Although you have as much chance of winning it as anyone else so long as you buy a ticket. You also have as much chance of not winning it as anyone else – it all depends on how you look at it.

September 9, 2011 at 10:22 am
Shaun Banks says:


“Dawkins reasons that although the chances of our solar system existing as it does are billions to one”

Considering the size of the universe (The size of which we don’t know so consider it as really big) a billion to one is really good odds, which probably results in millions of solar systems like ours existing.

Now if he had said a Google to one then solar systems like ours would have sounded a little more rare.

September 9, 2011 at 1:22 pm
Shaun Banks says:

alan: i meant googol to one not a Google

September 9, 2011 at 2:01 pm
Rab says:

I just read most of the comments here, and for those trying to proclaim their imaginary friend is real I suggest you look up Russell’s Teapot.

September 9, 2011 at 3:53 pm
Don says:


I was vaguely familiar with ‘Forbidden Archaeology’ and refreshed my memory.

It’s been an interesting exchange, but I don’t see us reaching an agreement on this issue. Perhaps I am closed minded on some matters.

September 9, 2011 at 8:56 pm
Don says:


You might find this interesting.

It’s speculative of course.

September 10, 2011 at 3:31 am

No one can succeed without any hard work. Karl Max was successful, because he spent more than 30 years writing the book “Communist Manifesto”; Tomas Edison succeeded, because he had experimented thousands of times to find the best material for lights. Every success calls for hard work. If you want to suc-ceed, work hard first.

September 10, 2011 at 6:23 pm
mike says:

no real evidence for god, no real evidence against god, therefore it is 50/50.
If there is a god, then the evidence of ‘it’s’ workings can be found in nature, which is all we have.
The christian religion (the only one I know something about) denies and creates rules against the laws of nature, thus proving that the bible is the work of the devil.
ps. the world will end when I die, Make the most of it cos my time is running out.

September 11, 2011 at 5:35 pm
alan says:

Isn’t science merely a working hypothesis? Only if and when everything is known, will we discover which bits we had right.
If love isn’t actual, then what is caring more about someone/something else than you do for yourself?
If we all tested our understandings, every single set would fall flat on its face. Because they’re all different. The possibilities are then, that only one of us truly knows what they are talking about. Or else none of us really do.
As for Russell’s teapot. I’m given to understand that it’s made of dark matter and propelled by dark force. Oh, and I think the universe may be god’s prototype perpetual motion machine. Although according to us, they don’t exist.

September 14, 2011 at 9:40 am
Shaun Banks says:

Don: Interesting video, That scientist looked like he had just been filming an episode of Columbo or Fantasy Island.Those kinds of equations make me smile, as there are so many variables taken into consideration when doing the math.

There could be a small colony of habitable planets with advanced civilisations just round the corner.

Lets face it nobody has a clue how many other life bearing planets could possibly exist. I think if you demonstrate some random equation in a very confident manner you can almost convince anybody of anything.

What if space is so vast that there were thousands of big bangs? Science still deals with big numbers from the 60’s like billions which these days are quite small. We lend banks billions and the Gov wastes lots of billions – billion is a small number.

September 14, 2011 at 12:44 pm
Shaun Banks says:


“If love isn’t actual, then what is caring more about someone/something else than you do for yourself?”

It is one the greatest expression any human being can make. Although there is no thing I care about more than myself.

September 14, 2011 at 7:21 pm
Don says:

That scientist looked like he had just been filming an episode of Columbo or Fantasy Island.

Hadn’t noticed that, but then Sagan is a bit of a hero of mine as one of the great communicators of stuff that matters. Along with Bronowski, Fenynman and Attenborough.

The Drake equation is hardly random, but as you rightly point out, we can’t as yet give even approximate values to most of the steps. We are probably getting close to estimating the number of Goldilocks planets/sattelites in that part of the universe we can observe. But the probability of life emerging on even a theoretically suitable planet is beyond us as we are currently stuck with a sample of one.

The equation just clarifies the questions we need to be asking if we hope to answer the key question.

October 15, 2011 at 5:30 pm
Thomas Leyland Torr says:

Why does CNN, or any American Broadcasting station, always support the Christian agenda?

October 16, 2011 at 12:37 pm
Sapphire says:

@ Thomas Leyland Torr
This might help explain it.


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