Penn Jillette: Religious folk SHOULD proseletyze?!?!

It really strikes me how deeply touched Penn seems to be here.

And what of his point? IF a religious person believes that someone’s afterlife happiness is at risk, either by eternal Hell or temporal punishment or not being resurrected or bad reincarnations, is there not an obligation to share the warning & the solution?

Now, I don’t at all defend the way a lot of my co-religionists do that, but is the very act of doing it an undesirable offense?

And if it should be done, how can it be done better?

Interesting to hear him say that (and say that he’s always said that) - I’m pretty sure I’ve heard him say almost the opposite one some show or other.

Ever try to explain to someone who <insert bad habit here> why they shouldn’t <insert bad habit here>? Chances are people are already aware of many of the professed consequences of their actions. You telling them isn’t going to make one iota of difference and will likely only annoy them and make you look like a busybody.

Don’t try to teach a pig to sing and all that.

I can’t watch the video, but what about the old chestnut about the missionary and the native? To paraphrase whoever I’m ripping off, the missionary tells the native guy all about God and heaven and the things he has to do to get there as well as the things he has to do to avoid hell. The native guy asks the missionary what would have happened if he’d never come to his village to teach him about his religion. Would everyone have automatically have been sent to hell? The missionary replies, oh no, of course not, a loving God would never punish ignorance.
Right. So why did you come?

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” - Matthew 28:19-20

Personally, I’ve always been somewhat suprised by people who say that they are Christians but that they wouldn’t try to convert someone. Jesus is pretty explicit about what he wants his followers to do.

Obviously, I think there’s a right way and a poorly planned way to go about it and I also feel that Jesus teaches that there’s a point where you should stop because you’ve done your part and you’ll only encourage conflict by pushing it. But the act of proseletyzing is an integral part of Christianity. Nice that Mr. Jillette recognizes that and doesn’t take immediate offense to it.

Yes, i’d say so.

By doing it effectively, I suppose. At times that might mean not proselytizing. I’ve certainly been annoyed at it at times, but I do try and remember that it can very well be goodly motivated. Certainly it’s possible it can come from a bad place, but quite often it’s genuinely motivated by a desire to help.

So yeah, if anyone particularly wants to proselytize to me, and out of a good interest, I can’t promise i’ll be particularly helpful to the process, but I’d say thanks for the thought behind it.

I can’t imagine how Fundamentalist Christians manage to bear the psychological burden of believing that most humans are going to suffer eternally in hell. Just going shopping at a supermarket and looking at all those doomed souls would be a serious downer for anyone who has any empathy at all.

From Terry Pratchett’s “Carpe Jugulum”, from Granny Weatherwax, who does not believe, to Reverend Oats, a minister of the new, kindler gentler version of the old religion Omnianism:

Religious folk should only preach to each other.

Let the Jews and the Christians sort out whether Jesus is the Son of God before they inflict themselves on the rest of us. :smack:

So, if you’re supposed to go bother people because you’re worried their “happiness is at risk”, do you also target smokers and go to their homes and tell them about the health risks and admonish them to stop before it’s too late? If not, why not? Because it would be fucking annoying, that’s why. Unless they’re infants, they’re already aware of your data, and would be more likely to get verbally abusive than invite you in for a cup of tea.

Yes it would be annoying, and unwelcome.
I tend to leave people alone and I mind my own business, and I expect the ame from others. There are too many people who “know what’s best for you” and they really don’t. Besides, which religion is the right one? One man’s saint is another man’s heretic.

I haven’t watched the video (though I’ve probably seen it before), but I would be fairly certain that Penn is pointing out that people don’t follow nor really believe their religion if you look at what they would logically be doing based on the teachings of the religion.

If people really believe that everyone who isn’t Christian is going to hell and that Jesus would want them to forsake money and worldly pleasures beyond those needed for basic survival and spend all that free time dedicated to the task of saving the rest of humanity–which is pretty much what Jesus would hold up as the ideal–then that’s what they should be doing if they actually believe in God and Jesus and the Bible. Frankly, it’s most likely that most Christians are at least 90% atheist and just don’t admit it, if you take ten seconds to look at their daily lives.

Heck, if you’re Christian, you should be out stoning homos to death, not sitting about fearing the declining interest rates.

From their point of view, I can see why they’d do that.

From my point of view, I have as little respect for the practice as if they were Flat Earthers trying to convince people not to sail to their dooms.

Maybe you should watch the video, because that is not the point Penn is making. The point is that he encountered what he recognized to be a genuinely decent religious man doing what he felt he should do, and that Penn was obviously moved by that gesture.

And I think the incident with the Adulteress indicated Christ doesn’t want His people executing non-violent sexual sinners (tho I still think it’s open season on violent criminals).

Now, I do not hold that all unbelievers go to Hell. I do however hold that we all go to a fair & kind dealing, and that even the best of us have areas of our lives that need a good scrubbin’, and that scrubbin’ might just be intensely painful. Christ Himself compared that time to burnings, beatings & amputations. And while I am no longer oppressed & obsessed with the obligation to warn people of a horrible eternity, Penn’s words actually do convict me that I should be doing more to warn people of at least a profound purging which can only be mitigated through trusting & submitting to God/Jesus- and that to the extent I also am not in line with Him, that lesson will be applied to my own hide.

Ahah, I haven’t seen the video (I’m not at work now.)

And yes, I was wrong.

But I would say that Penn is neither advocating proselytization, nor that he is saying anything whatsoever about people being doomed to hell and what that should mean to people.

He met a nice guy who cared about somebody else and made a polite, non-confrontational, and moreover not declaring rightness on his side, attempt to aid someone. Neither Penn nor I nor anyone of a different religion has any reason to fault someone for that, and that’s a good point to make.

But saying, “this is acceptable behavior”, isn’t saying that you should proselytize and try to save people from hell. It’s just saying that if you were kind enough to do so in a way that’s caring and non-confrontational and not claiming that you’re in the right or above other beliefs, then even if someone doesn’t agree with you, they’ll still at least accept that you’re doing your best to care about other people.

Feel free to care for people. If that means proselytizing, go ahead, but don’t be an ass.

The not being an ass part is the thing that gets proselytizers in trouble 99.9% of the time. But if they want to do it using acceptable behavior, then that would be a nice thing, most people would agree.

Most people would agree, yes- but I remember in college, certain students who would complain vociferously when a colleague would happen to mention being religious, that they took the mere mention as being aggressive & disrespectful proselytizing, while most everyone else was “What’s up with that?”

shrugs Commenting that atheists shouldn’t be asses still isn’t saying that religious people should proselytize. Show that you care, don’t be an ass, and get on your way and it’s all good. Rational people will understand that your misguided attempt is still just showing that you care, which is a good thing. Irrational people (e.g. irrational atheists) should of course get rational.

And I would note that since Penn is probably giving his video log for the sake of his atheist, skeptic fans, being a rational atheist is much more his point than that proselytizers shouldn’t be asses.

You’re working under the misconception that Jews care what Christians believe. We don’t. Let them think that a giant rutabaga pie was the Son of God, for all we care, so long as they leave us alone.

“You should evangelise always. Occaisionally you may need to use words”.

If you have to tell people you’re a member of a particular faith, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Eternal happiness or punishment is infinitely more important than anything that could possibly happen in life. Smoker gets cancer - it sucks, but it’s not even a drop in the ocean of the potential of heaven and hell.

I’ve often had this thought myself. My dad is a very religious guy - he’s polite about it and not pushy, but he obviously would push me into becoming religious if I seemed willing. So I wonder - if he sincerely believes I’ll be punished eternally - a suffering far greater than the entire combined suffering of all of humanity since the beginning of time - why isn’t he calling me several times every day to try to convert me? What could possibly have more importance than helping me, and anyone else he can, avoid hell? Nothing.

So on one hand, I get annoyed to be prosetylzed, and yet, the lack of it not becoming the singular goal of every true believer shows a great indifference to unconceivable suffering.