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God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales Paperback – June 5, 2012
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Teller is an American magician, illusionist, comedian, writer, and is the smaller, quieter half of the comedy magic duo Penn & Teller, along with Penn Jillette.
Teller: I presume your new book is all about me, right?
Penn Jillette: We've done three magic books together and I wrote two novels without you. I wanted to put something out there that was all me, my ideas and beliefs and take on things that would be thought-provoking and funny. I do a lot of op-ed stuff and TV pundit stuff. I'm always the nut on those panels that they go to for a joke, but end up being the guy the host says "Hey, Penn’s a whack job, but he’s right." Oh, and I guess I talk about you, too.
Teller: I'm going to pretend to ask you about the book, as if I haven't read it yet. So Penn, what's your book about?
Penn: It's a pretty funny look my life and all the goofy things that are important to me: skepticism, truth, atheism, our show, my family and friends, libertarianism. I share funny stories about those things and talk about my beliefs and even tell one about the skin falling of my scrotum. Oh, and I guess I talk about you, too.
Teller: I love the Siegfried & Roy story in the book.
Penn: I think it's my favorite and it really captures the essence of the book. It's funny, nutty and from my heart.
Teller: Do you have to be an atheist to read this book?
Penn: God No! (get it?). I’m very respectful of Christians in the book. And it's not all about being an atheist. It's a funny, humorous book about a lot of stuff that goes on in the life and head of a nutty Vegas magician. There are lots of heavy books out there about religion and Atheism. But this one might be the feel good one. Too bad Oprah’s Book Club has shut down.
Teller: Why should I buy this book if you’ve already given me a free copy?
Penn: Well, you owe me $24.99.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"There are few people in the country who question more boldly, brashly and bravely than my friend Penn Jillette. This book is funny, provocative and profane. But is it right? God, no!" --"Glenn Beck"
"This planet has yielded exactly one mutual friend for Glenn Beck and me and that friend has written a brilliant book called "God, No!. "Penn reveals 'the big secret of magic, ' tells you why tattoos are perfect expressions of atheism and exactly what to eat when you know you're going to vomit later." --"Lawrence O' Donnell"
"Jillette has made a career as a provocateur, and it is tempting to dismiss this book as another piece of carny shtick, but there is a forceful intelligence at work here that demands to be taken seriously. He has shaped his argument with care." --"Daniel Stashower, " Washington Post Book World
"People who say that libertarians have no heart or atheists have no soul need to read this book. Because Penn Jillette has a lot of both." "--Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of "South Park "and award-winning Broadway musical" The Book of Mormon
Top Customer Reviews
Penn tells us that he is an atheist, not an agnostic, because anyone who doesn't know whether there is a god necessarily doesn't believe in one and must therefore be an atheist. It seems to me Penn defines agnosticism out of existence. Most people I know who call themselves atheists deny the possibility of a deity while those who argue that the existence or nonexistence of a supreme being is unknowable tend to call themselves agnostics. Penn understands the distinction but rejects it; in his words, "If you're not willing to pretend that matters of god can be certain, you're an atheist." I suppose Penn can define his terms any way he wants, but he didn't persuade me that "Do you believe in god?" is a question "that needs to be answered yes or no." I think it's a question that can legitimately be answered however an individual wants to answer it (including "I have no belief either way"), even if Penn thinks that any answer more nuanced than "yes" or "no" is "a cheesy grade school dodge."
Definitions aside, there is something to be said for Penn's larger point: It is possible to live an ethical life based on rules derived from shared experiences that are not dependent on biblical commandments. This book, Penn tells us, is a response to Glen Beck's challenge "to entertain the idea of an atheist Ten Commandments.Read more ›
All of it.
And not in any organized format, either, but as it occurs to Penn. And you know what? That's actually pretty cool. I found the book very hard to put down, precisely because of its conversational nature. The one thing I could live without--something Penn also employed in his novel "Sock"--is the more-or-less random use of song titles and quotes.
Sometimes I found myself wishing he were a little less obscene because there are plenty of people I would love to share "God, No!" with, but a sizeable percentage of them would be put off by some of the language. But in truth, that's Penn's style, and even saying one wished things were different sounds like wishing "Lady Gaga would put some damned clothes on." Absurd on its face.
So take Penn as Penn, and prepare to meet an interesting cast of characters from all strata of society, punctuated by a fresh take on the "Ten Commandments" that is unbelievably sane and erudite. But the heart of "God, No!" relates to friendship and family. The "baptism" of former Hassidic Jews into a sort of sacrament of bacon, for example.Read more ›
So, first the bad news: The trouble I had is a similar problem I have had with some books of late written by entertainers in which they attempt to tread, at times, on more serious matters with a license borrowed from their celebrity. It is a danger that a big microphone has on many..... they think because the big microphone keeps showing up (because they are funny, sing well, act well, entertain) their view on politics, family psychology, science, etc are equally sharp, informed and worth listening too. This is often just not true (though there are exceptional cases). His libertarian snippets for example...... he falls into the same childish, simplistic view of the world that most unstudied libertarians do. Once you spend any time actually trying to manage anything bigger than a 2-man show or a small business, you quickly learn that the Randian bumper stickers sound great but are for dorm rooms and chat rooms - not serious contributions to actually governing much and just serve to add to the clatter of uninformed opinion.
Similarly with climate change - though Jillette confesses he doesn't know much about it and recounts his overstatements in the past, he does so with the "insult first, then say it was a joke" approach. "I don't know" is indeed an honest position if he had just left it there. But while proclaiming to do that, he plays that "maybe" game that just comes off as manipulative.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Totally hilarious. Refreshing. Thoughtful. Penn isn't just funny, he's great at sharing personal stuff and making it tie into bigger themes. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Fanny Brown Rice
very fun read, did no expect to be some kind of biography... fun, interesting and some mind blowing momentsPublished 8 days ago by J. Cañedo
Imagine that an angry life has devoured a person - " God, No!" is its burp.Published 1 month ago by ratty
If you are looking or expecting a scholarly dissertation of the non-existence of God--look elsewhere. Read morePublished 1 month ago by M. V. Kolar
Compulsively completed the book--not what I expected-some parts too graphic and totally off topic!Published 1 month ago by carmela
I really like Penn Jillette as a performer and public speaker, but as a writer, he leaves a lot to be desired. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Atomboy