Penn Jillette's Latest Point... [Kill Em With Kindness]

bayjohn
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Penn Jillette's Latest Point... [Kill Em With Kindness]

I have a question:

Penn Jillette, the famous Hollywood entertainer, recently posted a video blog on YouTube where he wonders how much a theist has to "hate" someone in order not to witness to that person.  Mr Jillette, being a hardcore atheist himself, equates a lack of evangelical enthusiam within Christianity with hating someone because they choose not to share their faith and message regarding the eternal destiny described within the Bible.

True, the Bible states that all Christians are to go and make disciples (or students) of all people (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:15, etc) in the world; this is a duty of true Christians.

However, and here is my question, at what point is a Christian wasting his efforts?  Perhaps the person did not know that Mr Jillette was an atheist, or maybe that person did, but chose to share the Gospel message with him anyway.  Mr Jillette stated that he was quite touched by the effort of the evangelical person.

"Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces."  (Matthew 7:6)  Is Jesus telling His followers not to waste their efforts where it is not appreciated?  "And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet." (Matthew 10:14)

The theist knows this is not a contradiction in instruction to believers; but does the atheist understand the reason for the two verses listed above?  I won't give the theist answer for this because I want to know what an atheist opinion is regarding the issue of wasted efforts.  Is it a waste of effort to witness to an atheist or agnostic?  If so, at what point is the effort considered wasteful?  Is there a chance that their beliefs may change or is that beyond the duty of the evangelical?

I would really like to hear back some good analytical thought from the atheists and agnostics in the squad.  Thank you for your time and I appreciate all feedback.

bayjohn


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bayjohn wrote:However, and

bayjohn wrote:

However, and here is my question, at what point is a Christian wasting his efforts? 

I don't think that's the point.  A Christian may be wasting his efforts on someone like Penn Jillette or myself.  However if they truly understood and believed in the bible literally you would expect for any loving person to witness to someone like Penn or myself until the day they die.  The fact that it's a waste of time is simply a portion of the humor Penn likely found in the catch-22 that a good Christian would be put in.  Would you prefer to waste time that God gave you and please God?  Or would you prefer to displease God and spend the time more... shall I say... wisely?e

This of course if a Christian believes in the notion that it is their job to save souls.  I personally believe that a Christian doesn't truly believe unless they shun or kill non-believers.

 

How should nonbelievers be treated?

Kill them.

If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you ... Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die. -- Deuteronomy 13:6-10

Shun them.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? ... Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord. -- 2 Corinthians 6:14-17

Love and be kind to them.

Love thy neighbor as thyself. -- Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27, Romans 13:9-10, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8
Love your enemies. -- Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27
Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them. -- Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31

 

- Brian Sapient


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I'm personally glad that

I'm personally glad that theists don't believe so strongly as they once did. I mean, atheists and theists alike look back on the Inquisition as an example of one of the worst skeletons in human history's closet. And yet, if we are willing to go there, we can put ourselves in the mindset of an inquisitor, can't we?

"You see, I'm just going to take this iron pot here, fill it with rats, turn it upside down on this chap's tummy, and then heat it up until the rats are forced to escape by any means necessary. It's a grand thing, really. Sure, this man is going to suffer greatly for the short while he remains chained in his mortal flesh, but he will suffer with the knowledge that what he will experience here today is but a small fraction of the torments of Hell. And he will surely say to himself, 'I don't wish to do this for the rest of eternity. I have a decision to make.' And so it is really up to him: would he like to continue this torment after his body dies? Or would he like to sensibly exchange pain for paradise? And sure, he could have made this decision on his own with no help from us inquisitors, but our doing things this way guarantees that a greater number of souls enter heaven rather than Hell, just as God would want it. Any rational person can grasp that we inquisitors are good people, sending thousands of souls off to heaven. And yet our life is a hard one, because we ourselves must watch these others go there, while remaining ourselves here on earth. But God will reward usin the end."

 

I kind of agree with Penn and I kind of don't. When a Christian friend or co-worker finds an opportunity to witness to me, especially when they say cute things like, "As a Christian, I feel like I should ask you why you feel the way you do. It would be great if you believed in God." I get these strange mixed feelings. Part of me is flattered. This person cares about me enough that they're trying to save me from (albeit imaginary) hellfire. But at the same time, I've heard it all before, and so it's hard not to groan.

 

But in the end, I'm glad religious brainwashing is losing its potency. If people once again started believing this stuff with enough  gusto that they felt guilty for not witnessing to every person they met, then we would probably also start seeing sentiments not unlike our friendly inquisitors as well.

 

 

 

A place common to all will be maintained by none. A religion common to all is perhaps not much different.


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bayjohn wrote:However, and

bayjohn wrote:

However, and here is my question, at what point is a Christian wasting his efforts?  Perhaps the person did not know that Mr Jillette was an atheist, or maybe that person did, but chose to share the Gospel message with him anyway.  Mr Jillette stated that he was quite touched by the effort of the evangelical person.

Of course, anyone would be touched by someone going out of their way to help you. In this case, however, the evangelical was wasting his time from the get-go. Mr Jillette is as firm an atheist as I am. Evangelical speeches sound a little like nonsense to me.

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bayjohn wrote:I have a

bayjohn wrote:
I have a question:

 

However, and here is my question, at what point is a Christian wasting his efforts? Perhaps the person did not know that Mr Jillette was an atheist, or maybe that person did, but chose to share the Gospel message with him anyway. Mr Jillette stated that he was quite touched by the effort of the evangelical person.

 

bayjohn

 

I would not frame this as when is the effort wasted. If you sincerely believe what you say, then your choice to stop would be a huge problem in an of itself. If you are really serious about what you say, then it is quite lazy of you to dismiss me as not worth the trouble.

 

And pardon me but if you really believe what you say, if you decide to stop wasting your efforts on me, then by default you have made the decision that I shall go to hell. What a wonderful way to prove the point about your god being a loving god and the final decider of where I am going to go. Thank you very much for your willful usurpation of god's authority. Now I am going to go to hell and it is all your fault because if you had just tried one more time, you might have convinced me.

 

OK, I doubt that you will ever convince me but if you stop, you do so because you hate me and your loving god gave you the golden rule. Oh well. I guess that I will just have to save a seat for you so that we can hang out together when we are both roasting.

 

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

 

Another point to be made would be that of efficiency. By any chance, do you hand out those little booklets to random people on the street corner?

 

I really hope that you are aware that about 70% of the people you target are already playing on your own team and another 15% are actively playing on another teams (jew/buddhists/moslem/etc.) and the rest are the atheists? That hardly strikes me as a model of efficiency.

 

If you don't want to waste your time, then you need to get your self a special set of “fence sitter identifying goggles”. Either that or just admit that what you do is a colossal waste of time all around.

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In his/her mind, a

In his/her mind, a Christian doesn't waste his/her efforts, silly rabbit.  He/she is wasting God's effort!  He/she enjoys doing God's will and obviously if Jesus was preaching good will, love thy neighbor, etc., etc., and a Christian does the opposite, a God would be most displeased at their heinous bullshit.  Of course, the Bible is subject to many other obviously disgusting acts that anyone with common sense could see, but the root of Christian teachings isn't mainly fire and brimstone; it's wish-washy crap that men of those times believed should be right and people of today don't bother filtering out and revamping. 

 

That being said, do they honestly and whole-heartedly believe that they'd be admitted into any heaven for ridiculing His will and essentially mocking his only son's teachings?  They'd sizzle in hell faster than a frozen turkey in a deep fry vat.

 

 

"When the majority believes in what is false, the truth becomes a quest." - Me


bayjohn
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Wow! Great responses!

I appreciate the responses!  And I especially appreciate the candor and maturity in which everyone responded.  Kudos to you all.

Mr Sapient:  You say that you believe that a Christian doesn't truly believe unless a Christian "shuns" or "kills" unbelievers.  But you list several quotes from the New Testament (New Covenant) in which that belief should be nullified.  True, the OT books were harsh with the laws of their day because of "the hardness of their hearts" (remember that quote?).  The NT teachings were meant to emphasize love for one another without being judgmental.  I don't think that being a Christian calls for someone to kill or shun a non-believer... perhaps a prayer for the non-believer would seem more rational.

Also, you say that a believer would continue to witness to a non-believer until the day they die because the believer, of course, would not want you to go to Hell for eternity.  However, it is not for the believer to know who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell.  The Christian must understand that only the individual and God know who is truly sincere and who is not.  Remember my original question about efforts...  Christians are to witness twice, then if they are not accepted they are to depart and shake the dust from their feet as a testimony against the non-believers (Matthew 10:14).  I hardly see that as "shunning" or "killing" someone.

Christians cannot "save" anyone; the Christian knows that only God can save a lost soul.  The Christian's responsibility is only to preach or teach the message, which many people think carries far more responsibility than it actually does.  Guilt should not be a part of a Christian's efforts in witnessing in my opinion, but I'm no expert.

I've always heard that the witnessing person only plants the seed; the rest is up to the recipient.  If we have eternal souls and we die without repentance and faith in Christ, we certainly have a very long time for regret.  Looking into the doorway of physical death certainly brings this issue to mind for a lot of people, especially the uncertain.  I believe that some people would rather not think about death at all and just let it sneak up on them in order to avoid the concept of responsibility or accountability for our actions.  Are we truly held accountable?

Thank you for your time on this discussion.

Have a great day and enjoy the January sales.


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bayjohn wrote:Also, you

bayjohn wrote:
Also, you say that a believer would continue to witness to a non-believer until the day they die because the believer, of course, would not want you to go to Hell for eternity.

 

That would be the internal logic of Christianity. However, you seem to have a variant that is not actually supported by the bible.

 

bayjohn wrote:
However, it is not for the believer to know who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell.

 

Yah, that is pretty much what I said. Except that if you should stop witnessing, then you have made a conscious choice not to impart the words of your holy book to me. Granted, god gets the final say but still, he must be guided by what he sees (so is god really omnipotent? You seem to be confused on that matter) and what he will see in me might apparently be a stain that might not have been there if you had not decided as you did.

 

So yah, should you ever stop witnessing to anybody at all, then you have taken part of the power of god upon yourself and cast a judgment on me. Which by the way flies in the face of Matthew 7:1-2 and Luke 6:37-38.

 

bayjohn wrote:
The Christian must understand that only the individual and God know who is truly sincere and who is not. Remember my original question about efforts... Christians are to witness twice, then if they are not accepted they are to depart and shake the dust from their feet as a testimony against the non-believers (Matthew 10:14). I hardly see that as "shunning" or "killing" someone.

 

Hold on a second! If you are going to quote scripture around here, you really ought to know that a great many of us have rejected religion not because we have never known it but because we did. As such, many of us know what is in the bible.

 

I consulted the KJV, NKJV, NIV and YLT versions of the bible and the passage that you reference simply does not say what you are saying. It does state that if you fail to convince someone it is acceptable to walk away. However, it does not say anything at all about how many times you should try to convince someone.

 

So yes, when you realize that your words are doomed to failure, then you can walk away. What you cannot do is stop trying because some magical line has been drawn out for you. You simply must continue until you come to understand that you fail to be convincing.

 

bayjohn wrote:
Have a great day and enjoy the January sales.

 

OK, will do. Thanks for the tip!

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bayjohn
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Excellent Points...

Thanks Answers:

You are correct:  the verse I quoted in Mattew does not reference the amount of times one is to witness.  One thing is for certain: I am not a Bible scholar.  Now that I think about it, I don't remember exactly where I heard the statement about witnessing twice.  Glad you corrected me on that one!  I do appreciate good criticism.

Also, I see your point regarding "walking away" once you realize that persuasion is not attainable.  It is always good to hear another opinion to see how other people relate and view these points of view.

I have read Thomas Paine and Richard Dawkins (along with a few others) regarding their theories (absolutes? truths?) about the "proof" of the Holy Bible.  And I have also read Ravi Zacharias and Charles Spurgeon regarding the concept of faith and the Holy Bible.  Both sides have strong arguments: it is ultimately up to the reader to decide.

Speaking of which, if anyone is interested in a good book regarding science, cosmology, and how Christian apologetics fits into the whole scheme of things, Ravi Zacharias has a new book called "Beyond Opinion" which is really a good read.  I have to admit, though, that some of that stuff really went over my head and I had to read some paragraphs twice to make sure I knew what the writer was describing (I still have no idea what the second law of thermodynamics is).  I had not read much material regarding apologetics and found it to be quite fascinating.  I remember reading Dawkins in a college psychology course, something to do with emotions and nerve synapsis (again, I think some of that went over my head).

Take care and have a safe week.  I'll try to study the Scriptures a little more so I don't make the mistake of a misquote.  I think I misquoted my response to Sapient when I told him that the whole "shun" and "kill" thing was from the New Testament (duh!)... I meant the Old Testament.  Apparently the Hebrews were pretty hard-at-heart folks who needed some stiff laws to keep thing running smoothly.  Oh well, forgive me.  I'm getting old, my hair is falling out (with my brain cells), and I need more education.

"I search within me to find the answer and it eludes me.  I search in prayer for the answer and I found out that sometimes I don't need an answer, only faith."


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I often wonder a very

I often wonder a very similar question - at what point am I wasting my own time debating theology (or, more honestly, evolution and cosmology, since I will admit I am very poorly acquainted with direct theological argument beyond that which I can think up for myself) with the believer?

As you say, Christians have their commandment to proselytise in the bible, and Muslims seem to have a similar command. I don't know about others, I've never had anyone try to convert me to Judaism or Hinduism... although someone once tried to convert me to vegetarianism (they failed).
We Atheists have no such command, but we do still preach our lack of religion, although I think it's more out of cultural habit and a need to respond to what, sometimes, to me, feel like attacks upon our freedom of mind. I know that there are times when I am conversing with a believer and I start to think there is no point, that what I am saying is going in one ear (or eye) and out the other, but there's always that thought that if I can just get one thought to lodge in their head, then maybe I can help save them from wasting their lives.

I would assume that the same would be true of the believers, especially since they think there's something important after life, and I doubt that even Penn Jillette is entirely impenetrable in his lack of faith. I can say with conviction that there is nothing that I can conceive of that would convert me to religion, but that's not to say there is nothing, I'm not closed minded and I seriously doubt that any other honest atheist is either.

 

I suppose the point where you're wasting your efforts is when the atheist is walking away from, rather than interacting with you - no matter how much you may consider the average atheist stubborn or closed minded, we're a lot more convertible than someone who isn't even listening.

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Very Insightful...

Thanks, Athywren:

I see your point(s) in regards to utilizing time when it comes to the issue of evangelism or rationalizingism (something like that).  A lot of bad things have been done in the name of religion, as well as in the name of secular humanism.  So I can see how someone could easily be turned off from considering any form of religion, or for a religious person to turn away from religion.  Also, I can see how a person of faith can absolutely be astounded at someone who does not give any thought to an afterlife or pending judgment.  I am fascinated by these type of opinions and love the feedback.

I heard an interesting analogy (is that the right word?) the other day:  if you had a plane load of atheists and the plane began to spiral out of control straight towards the ground, what would they all be thinking?  (Or yelling, for that matter...)  I think the point being made was IF the atheist's opinion of life/death is altered at the "moment of truth", which is the point where physical death is imminent.  What do you think?  Is there a point at which a personal conviction of an atheist can be broken in this lifetime?  The "what if" scenario revisited...

The Bible says, "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:31) 


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bayjohn wrote:Also, I can

bayjohn wrote:

Also, I can see how a person of faith can absolutely be astounded at someone who does not give any thought to an afterlife or pending judgment.  I am fascinated by these type of opinions and love the feedback.

I once felt that way.  I could not comprehend how someone could want to go on living if he had concluded there was no god or afterlife:  if life is meaningless, why go on living?  I eventually moved beyond that way of thinking.  This life may be all there is, but it's good enough.

bayjohn wrote:

I heard an interesting analogy (is that the right word?) the other day:  if you had a plane load of atheists and the plane began to spiral out of control straight towards the ground, what would they all be thinking?  (Or yelling, for that matter...)  I think the point being made was IF the atheist's opinion of life/death is altered at the "moment of truth", which is the point where physical death is imminent.  What do you think?  Is there a point at which a personal conviction of an atheist can be broken in this lifetime?  The "what if" scenario revisited...

The Bible says, "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:31) 

Since I am yet to find myself in a life-threatening situation, I cannot say for certain, but I'm pretty sure I would hope that the pilot of the plane was competent and well-trained for handling such situations.  We know scientifically what will happen when a plane spirals out of control, and we know scientifically what conditions are necessary for the passengers to survive.  I do not imagine I would find myself begging the mercy of a god -- either the one I was raised to believe in and absconded, or some god to be named later, provided I survive the crash.  As the statistics show, believing in god has done little to prevent plane-crash casualties.   At any rate, do not expect that I would spend my final moments cataloging whatever actions I had committed over the course of my now sharply abbreviated life, and then beg some last-minute forgiveness from this improvised deity, lest it start torturing my soul as soon as it flits up from the fiery wreckage.

 

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bayjohn wrote:if you had a

bayjohn wrote:

if you had a plane load of atheists and the plane began to spiral out of control straight towards the ground, what would they all be thinking?  (Or yelling, for that matter...)  I think the point being made was IF the atheist's opinion of life/death is altered at the "moment of truth", which is the point where physical death is imminent.  What do you think?

If you don't mind me cutting in, I think you'd have a plane full of scared people. People who are frightened or threatened will have fairly predictable responses, including bargaining, anger, denial, etc. Personally, having been fairly close to death at one point, I know that my reaction was emotional rather than thoughts of gods. I was sad and scared, and that's it. There was no praying to an invisible friend.

Are you considering that you might want to convert to Hinduism at the last moment? Your reaction to that question is probably like my reaction to the idea that I might take up a god in my final hours.

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Don't mind at all...

Hey:  I don't mind anyone  cutting in; the more opinions I get, the more material I have to work with.  Feel free to interject at any time.

Here's a thought, HisWillness, (and I don't claim this rebuttal to be my original thought at all, but I cannot remember exactly who originally argued this...Ravi Zacharias maybe?) in regards to the plane crash:

The plane is crashing (beyond regaining control by the pilot) and there is a lot of "scared" people on board.  Is the fear they are experiencing a fear of physical death?  Are they afraid of the impact and whether or not death will be instantaneous?  (No one wants to die in a big ball of flames.)  Or, is the fear rooted in something else?  Does that little notion in the back of their minds (the "what if" scenario again) come to haunt them?  Am I about to meet my maker?  Or, is the fear rooted in fear of the basic unknown?  What lies ahead?  Is this THE end?

You seem convincing in your assessment that there is not any god or gods, so I doubt that you would revert to a belief system (no matter how brief) if you were on that plane.  But what about the others?  I don't know, but there might be one guy who may pray for a second chance (Hindu = reincarnation).  Just curious.  I must say that it is hard to find a true atheist in person, at least around my town.  Most will not stick to their convictions when pressured; most will give the "oh well, I guess I'll go to Hell then" when you give them the impending death scenario.  To which I usually reply, "So you believe in Hell?" and they seem to get irritated rather quickly.

If you don't mind me asking, what would be the one question that would offend you the most if asked by a Christian?

Thanks for the feedback.

"A lazy man does not roast his prey"