I love this quote from Penn Jillette and a wonderful interview.
The question I get asked by religious people all the time is, without God, what’s to stop me from raping all I want? And my answer is: I do rape all I want. And the amount I want is zero. And I do murder all I want, and the amount I want is zero. The fact that these people think that if they didn’t have this person watching over them that they would go on killing, raping rampages is the most self-damning thing I can imagine. I don't want to do that. Right now, without any god, I don't want to jump across this table and strangle you. I have no desire to strangle you. I have no desire to flip you over and rape you. You know what I mean?
Ron Bennington: Now what do you say to people though that say, whether or not there’s an afterlife, it’s still important to have this because it keeps us morally based, it keeps us family based and even at the end of this life, if nothing happens, it’s still good to have these set of rules.
Penn Jillette: Well, you know, God told Abraham to kill his son, and his proof of Abraham’s devotion was his willingness to kill his son. Jesus says very clearly, “abandon your father and mother, abandon your children and come with me.” There’s nothing pro-family about Christianity. That is all layered on. That is all-American. The American Christian church has a great deal of family values, but those aren’t found in the Bible, those aren’t in the root material. We have a lot of evidence, [Christopher] Hitchens, a good friend of mine, we miss him all the time, but Hitchens had a standing offer for a religious person to name a moral thing that was done in the name of religion that had not been done by an atheist. All of your self-sacrifice, all of the help for communities, have all been done by religious people and by atheists. But I’ll tell one story that I just love, I brought a date once, because this is the kind of guy I am, to hear an atheist speaker. We’re sitting there in a college-type atmosphere, probably about 150 people in the audience, and I even forgot who it was speaking because there were a lot of people that day, it might have been [Michael] Shermer, and he speaks and he finished and he opens the floor up to questions. The person on the other side of my date stands up and says, “Well if there’s no God, what’s to stop me from raping and killing everyone around me?” And my date raised her hand and said, “May I change my seat?” [Laughter]
Ron Bennington: But maybe it’s because we distrust each other, we’re so afraid of other humans, that we have that, you know?
Penn Jillette: It’s amazing, and I always bring this up, that religion is for people who kind of at some level don’t like people. And I love people. And I think if you take the 7 billion people on the planet and you round it off, about 7 billion of them are good. To find bad people is really difficult. Not people doing bad things, but really bad people who get up in the morning and say, How can I fuck people up? That’s a really rare thing. Misguided, you know, mistaken, but I just can’t understand how this view of humanity that all we want to do is horrible things to each other and it’s just this belief in something else that stops us. And that that is what you see over and over again through the Bible. There’s reward and punishment but there’s no – I mean, nothing feels better than helping someone out. I mean, there’s nothing better, nothing better in the world than someone whose life was fucked up and you do a little something and now their life isn’t. I mean, you can talk about the joy of sex, hedonistic joys of food, and you can talk about the joy with your children, but man, someone is going through a hard time and you help them out, man you feel good for months.
Read the rest here.
The fact that these people think that if they didn’t have this person watching over them that they would go on killing, raping rampages is the most self-damning thing I can imagine.
That's actually true. I'm not held to an imposed theistic morality, but I think I treat the people around me, better than christians around me have treated me. Some of them have no conscience. Of course, they can do whatever they want because their god loves and forgives them.
This is not to claim that atheists are all moral upstanding citizens either. there are good and bad, just as there are for theists.
Here is a gallery of "religious leaders" whose belief didn't stop them from committing crimes. The actual list is endless. I used to get google alerts on ministers arrested and convicted for crimes, but had to stop because it was flooding my inbasket.
The longtime United Methodist pastor asserts that Jewel - his wife of more than 30 years - fell down the basement stairs while vacuuming. He said he found her with the cord of a Shop-Vac wrapped around her ankle.
Like Betty Schirmer, the prosecutor told jurors in his closing argument, Jewel Schirmer suffered "forceful, hard blows to the back of the head. It was murder, and it was going to happen again."
I guess belief in his god didn't stop him.
Good one Penn!
And then you have people like Constantine, who was told that when he would become a Christian, all of his sins would be forgivin. Since he had a few days intil the forgiveness, he decided to rack up a lot of points by raping and pillaging. After all, if you are going to be forgiven anyhow, why not do it?!
Which is really the reverse side of the argument: if you believe that you will be forgiven for your sins, why don't you sin? ;)
E Gross, excellent point. I've known christians who were exactly like that. Arrogant in their state of forgiveness, lying cheating opportunist back stabbing. But no problem, Jesus loves them. Of course, reading the bible, god doesn't exactly set an example for living as an ethical, moral being either.
Back in the good old days, if you were a Hebrew and you had a betrothed Hebrew female slave (her father needed the cash), and you got the urge to take her, well, you know thats a fine of a Ram. But man, she is cute. "Aw, heck, I got lots of Rams!"
So you were forgiven by killing a male sheep. In Christianity, you get forgiven by an intermediary intervention (depending on your sect), so if you cheated your neighbor, no big deal, tell Father O'mally, then say 2 "Our Father's" ans 3 "Hail Mary's" and your good!
So in either case, since there is forgiveness at the other end, why not do it? The answer is we have evolved beyond that. In the former case, no Jews todays would even consider selling their daughter for a few years for some money, because it is barbaric.
We don't do bad things because we have evolved beyond that.
What's to stop atheists from all kinds of (mis)behavior?
Penn didn't say, nor did anyone else; the sheriff hasn't resigned and surrendered the jailhouse keys.
I love Penn Jillette~! My Mom had a lady once say to her "You mean you're such a nice person and you don't even believe in "god""? Ummmmm, yeah!
I've been guilty of saying the same thing when I was younger. The irony of it was I wasn't even xian at the time; I was pagan... but I just assumed someone who was so wholesome and good had to be christian. ...That's what we fight against, even when we're coming out of the fog, those presuppositions take awhile to break and fall away for some of us.