If you’ve read Penn Jillette’s new book God, No! and want to ask him something about it – or if you just have a general question you’ve been dying to ask him – then this is your lucky day!
My soon-to-be blog home, Big Think, is having Penn back for an interview on Friday, and they’re soliciting reader questions. Presumably, he’ll answer some of them. If you’ve got a question for him, post it in the comments on Big Think (or post it here – I’ll send them in to the overlords).
This one is mine:
Glad to see you’re doing this. I’ve followed you with interest for a long time – I met you after your show in Vegas a few years ago, though I’m sure you don’t remember. (I still have a picture of me and you, though!)
I just finished reading God, No!, and I was hoping you’d address a conflict I find in your thinking. From the book and from watching shows like Bullshit!, I know you’re an atheist who values skepticism and critical thinking. But in that book, you’ve also made it clear that you’re a libertarian who values a minimal state and considers it immoral to tax people for any other reason, even if the goal is something good like education or medical research.
From the work of sociologists like Gregory S. Paul, we know that religion and other kinds of harmful superstition flourish best in poverty-stricken, unstable, uneducated, grossly unequal societies. If we as a society don’t commit to educating people, to teaching them how to think, and to providing them some measure of peace and prosperity in this world, they’ll always be fearful, ignorant, and hungry for miracles – easy prey for any religious huckster or demagogue who comes along. And you know as well as I do how this threatens the well-being of the rest of us. Do you think that a true libertarian state could ever effectively address this problem?