By Penn Gillette
Edition, November 21, 2005
I believe that there
is no God. I'm beyond Atheism. Atheism is not believing
in God. Not believing in God is easy -- you can't prove
a negative, so there's no work to do. You can't prove
that there isn't an elephant inside the trunk of my car.
You sure? How about now? Maybe he was just hiding before.
Check again. Did I mention that my personal heartfelt
definition of the word "elephant" includes
mystery, order, goodness, love and a spare tire?
So, anyone with a love for truth outside of herself has
to start with no belief in God and then look for evidence
of God. She needs to search for some objective evidence
of a supernatural power. All the people I write e-mails
to often are still stuck at this searching stage. The
Atheism part is easy.
But, this "This I Believe" thing seems to demand
something more personal, some leap of faith that helps
one see life's big picture, some rules to live by. So,
I'm saying, "This I believe: I believe there is
Having taken that step, it informs every moment of my
life. I'm not greedy. I have love, blue skies, rainbows
and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough. It has
to be enough, but it's everything in the world and everything
in the world is plenty for me. It seems just rude to
beg the invisible for more. Just the love of my family
that raised me and the family I'm raising now is enough
that I don't need heaven. I won the huge genetic lottery
and I get joy every day.
Believing there's no God means I can't really be forgiven
except by kindness and faulty memories. That's good;
it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try
to treat people right the first time around.
Believing there's no God stops me from being solipsistic.
I can read ideas from all different people from all different
cultures. Without God, we can agree on reality, and I
can keep learning where I'm wrong. We can all keep adjusting,
so we can really communicate. I don't travel in circles
where people say, "I have faith, I believe this
in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my
faith." That's just a long-winded religious way
to say, "shut up," or another two words that
the FCC likes less. But all obscenity is less insulting
than, "How I was brought up and my imaginary friend
means more to me than anything you can ever say or do." So,
believing there is no God lets me be proven wrong and
that's always fun. It means I'm learning something.
Believing there is no God means the suffering I've seen
in my family, and indeed all the suffering in the world,
isn't caused by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent
force that isn't bothered to help or is just testing
us, but rather something we all may be able to help others
with in the future. No God means the possibility of less
suffering in the future.
Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief
in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-o and
all the other things I can prove and that make this life
the best life I will ever have.