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The Kind of Atheism Catholics Can Appreciate

God does not waste talent, whether you are Bl. Mother Teresa or even the most skeptic atheist. Even if you do not will it, your work has the potential to further God’s kingdom. A talent can only be wasted if it is not used. If you want to see some talent in action, take a look at this pretty cool video featuring Piers Morgan and Penn Jillette.

Penn Jillette, like some atheists in my friends circle, seems to have a pretty good understanding of Catholicism and what some of her teachings entail. He also happens to be a pretty decent speaker, thinker, and performer who did more for Catholicism in the few minutes above than self-professed Catholic Piers Morgan. God certainly has not allowed his talents to go to waste.

To be honest, I have no idea what Piers Morgan is like in real life and how devout he may be in his private life. I can, however, hope that he experiences the same conversion I did a few years ago...since I speak as one who once held a lot of the views expressed in the video above. I still thank God for helping me to not only see the errors of my understanding, but helping me correct them. I may address Morgan's criticism of the Church point-by-point in the future because he brings up a lot of the arguments that I used to have regarding the Church's stance on quite a few things ranging from condom use to marriage following divorce. However, I want to focus on Penn Jillette here.

Penn Jillette is famous because he put the talents he was born with to use...and he was born with quite a few talents. He is a dynamic performer, a critic who is unafraid to speak his mind, and a pretty decent sleuth. You can see the fruits of his talents in the short video above. Penn may be atheist, but his hunger for truth and his ability to dig for truth has allowed him to spend more time reading up on the Pope, Church doctrine, etc than quite a few self-professed Catholics. It has also allowed him to explore the topic from a well-informed and rational standpoint. As a result, he approaches the heated debate with a far more reasonable and understanding stance than self-professed Catholic Piers Morgan. While the world may think it strange that an atheist would defend the Pope and Church teachings, I completely understand where Penn is coming from. We may be on different sides of the theism/atheism fence, but I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that kind of atheism as opposed to the brand of militant "let's hijack science" atheism that raises more biased fools than it does rational thinkers....please reference meme below for a good example of the sort of atheists I am talking about.

Right on target Catholic Memes
I get Penn Jillette's brand of skeptic atheism and find it refreshing in an anti-religious world that would sooner see an eradication of all religion rather than a harmonious co-existence between religious folk and atheists. You see, I am one of those Catholics that actually APPRECIATE the efforts of Jehovah's Witnesses and the  public transportation preachers that seem to get on other peoples' nerves. You see, according to their beliefs, these people are doing everything in their power to HELP someone else. I may not need the life preserver they are throwing me (because I already have my own), but still appreciate their offer. This is why I can can usually leave a debate with the same blood pressure I had when I first entered it. Whether you are a nutty WBC member or the most vitriolic atheist, I understand that deep down on the inside, you only want what's best for me (or at least, I would like to believe as such).

Penn gets this. I get this. However, I can assure you that Penn will have an easier time making it on television and reaching millions of people than I ever will.  His stint on Piers Morgan's show probably reached more Americans than any of my blog posts ever will, Catholic or otherwise. Like I said before, God doesn't waste talent. As a result of his appearance, and in spite of the interruptions by Morgan, I am sure that Penn introduced a new facet of Catholicism to viewers that would not have given people like me the time of day.

Even though I would use similar arguments as Penn to defend the Pope and Church teachings, the fact that I am Catholic makes me lose some level of credibility in a world that tends to judge books by their covers. Let's face it, the world doesn't look too kindly on people like me. Regardless of how much I've read or learned about Catholicism, my science degrees tend to speak louder than my theological understanding when it comes to talking about things like transubstantiation. Likewise, the fact that I am a woman gives me more credibility on the subject of women as priests than my theological understandings. For the record, I completely agree with JPII on the matter of women clergy, know it's never going to happen, understand why it's never going to happen, and just hope the "progressive catholics" can either just get over it...or join the protestant church of their choosing. Let's face it, we live in the world where certain militant atheists are deemed more credible for (mis)quoting the bible to prove a point than a Christian who does the same thing to prove a point. As a result, we need more skeptics like Penn even if we don't always agree with their beliefs. His talents have gotten him to a place in his career where his words can reach many. Sure, he may not necessarily be the next Saint Paul. However, he can certainly end up planting seeds that ultimately lead to a few more Saint Augustines.

From my understanding, Penn was disillusioned (no pun intended) by illusionist acts that treated magic as a supernatural force. He sought and found a style of illusionism that embraced the idea of advertising deception rather than paranormal powers. Though Penn and I are on different spectrums as far as religious beliefs (or lack thereof) go, I cannot help but appreciate the hunger he has shown for pursuing truth and his acceptance of the religious beliefs of others (apparently he carries around a pocket bible that a Christian fan once sent him...out of appreciation for the fan's concern regarding his salvation). While I know that he has done some pretty controversial things before, I wish we had more atheists like him. Why? Well, at the very most, it may actually get more people thinking and willing to explore more about the religion they may hate but know little about. At the very least, future discussions will be a lot more intellectually stimulating. Seriously, God help me if I have to participate in another "discussion" with another atheist/cafeteria catholic/etc that resorts to slogans such as "sell the Vatican feed the world" when confronted with a reasonable argument.

Pax Vobiscum

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