Last night, Glenn Beck sat down with Penn Jillete for a full hour to discuss tolerance and religious views. See why Penn Jillette hates the word "tolerance" and disagrees with trying to persuade someone to your own form of belief.
Rough Transcript Below:
Glenn Hello, America, and welcome to The Glenn Beck Program and to TheBlaze. This is the network that you are building. It’s odd to be a Christian, a Mormon, an atheist, in a Greek Orthodox church.
Penn We’ve got it all covered. This is what a church looks like on the inside?
Glenn This is what it looks like on the inside.
Penn High ceilings, good for juggling.
Glenn I know.
Penn They do a lot of juggling in here?
Glenn No juggling in here.
Penn What a waste of some nice ceilings.
Glenn We actually wanted to talk a little bit about everything, but I want to kind of start on tolerance, because I think we’re having a hard time understanding tolerance in America on all sides.
Penn I sure have a hard time with it. It’s a word that I really don’t like because it’s a word that often brings to mind condescension. There’s a way you do tolerance. And because we use that word in other context too, you know, I was tolerating him. We were out to dinner. There’s your wife’s friend, and I tolerate him. It’s got such a negative connotation. So often when you’re a group of people and someone starts saying nut stuff that everybody knows is nut stuff, you know, whenever that happens to be in that social group, I don’t even care what it is, but just for the social group it’s nut stuff, everybody smiles and nods and let’s that move on.
That kind of tolerance seems to me to be not good. It seems the tolerance that smiles and nods is really not good. I think you want a kind of tolerance that says I like you as a person, and you’re wrong. And that’s the hardest kind of tolerance to do. When you want to live together in a society, trying to find those rules—we pretty much have the rules for physical violence down. We know where that is. As Steve Allen said, my right to swing my arms stops with your face.
Penn I can do this, and no one has any trouble. I move three feet that way, all of a sudden we have trouble. With words and ideas, because ideas matter, and the only way you find out you’re wrong is to state your case very clearly.
Glenn I agree with you; however, we have to be able to allow people to say you’re wrong, where we’re not allowing people to say you’re wrong or I disagree with you. Once you have that conversation, then you have to go back to like you and I are. I think you’re wrong on things. You think I’m wrong on things. That’s cool.
Penn You also keep picking at that scab. That’s important to do.
Glenn What do you mean?
Penn You keep reiterating where your differences are because that’s where you learn. The best conversations are the ones you come away with having been beat up and realizing you’re wrong, and you always want to keep—conversations you have, you know, online and with people who just say you can’t change that person’s mind, give up, that breaks my heart. I don’t think you ever give up. It’s just finding that exact tightrope that you have to walk down of being able to live and exist with somebody and at the same time not give up your own principles. It’s a really difficult tight wire that I think we fall off all the time.
Glenn Isn’t that kind of an arrogant stance though to take there?
Penn What’s that? Don’t ever give up on changing their mind.
Penn No, you never try to change their mind. Don’t ever give up on stating what you believe. Whenever anyone comes in, there’s all these, and you’ve seen them, they’re on both sides, and they’re identical. I can show you Christian sites and I can show you atheist sites that say how to talk to your friend, how to talk to your atheist friend, how to talk to your Christian friend. And they have this whole way of well, first of all, don’t tell them they’re wrong, but tell them is there another explanation for what could be going on other than their faith, and try to be nice and don’t be this way. Telling people how to manipulate other people seems to be folly and morally wrong.
The way I should talk to you is as another human being. So, sometimes they’re just going to say, “No, you’re just wrong. Are you crazy?” And sometimes I’m going to go—but you have to do it from your heart. My goal sitting down with you must not be to say how can I get my friend, Glenn, to become an atheist and not a Mormon? That cannot be my goal. My goal has to be can I speak to this person from my heart on whatever happens to come up? And that subtle difference to me is the tightrope. I can’t be trying to manipulate you.
I can’t be saying in the car on the way over, “I’ve got the argument that will convince him.” I have to be saying, “I wonder what he’s going to say.” I’ve got to listen to him.
Glenn This is a problem that I have with many just Christians that are always trying to baptize people. They’re always trying to get you into the water and baptize you. It drives me out of my mind because it’s like why don’t you just love somebody? Just be their friend. Just love them.
Penn Tricking people into a philosophical position seems really wrong. First of all, if you’re secular, if you are looking for truth, then tricking someone into looking for truth is insane. On the other side, if you are Christian and if you believe, like many, many, many Christians—I guess I won’t say all—that God can see into your heart, then trying to get someone to kind of believe by a rhetorical trick is completely useless because God already knows you’re going to try that trick, at least in many faiths.
I can’t speak to this at all, but I’m just saying that it’s the problem with the why not bet that there’s a God because if there isn’t, you don’t lose anything, but if there is—it’s that argument that falls to pieces because oh, wait a minute, God can see in your heart, so running a scam on him is just not going to work.
By the way, if you’re ever in a confrontation with an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God, and you’re in a competition, there’s one game you can play and you can win, chicken, because he can see into your heart and knows you’re not going to turn the car. It’s the only theoretical game you can play, not that I think you’re going to be in a confrontation one-on-one with God.
Glenn Right. I don’t think I’m going to be heading my car towards His car.
Penn I don’t think so. I’m just saying if it does, wouldn’t that be great? My buddy, Penn, helped me out here.