Multi-talented magician, comedian, author, actor and atheist Penn Jillette appeared on The Glenn Beck Program Tuesday to discuss religion, his new movie (featuring Beck himself), and what technology means for the future.
The two began with a conversation about Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon,” which many have found offensive but Jillette said is actually a “love letter to Mormons by an atheist.”
Jillette suggested Beck go see the show without warning and in disguise, saying nothing would be as unpleasant as being watched while watching it, and that he would like to speak to Beck afterwards.
“Because what I found … when Matt and Trey were working on it, they talked to me, and there’s no doubt about it, you came up a lot,” Jillette told Beck. “And I said one of the things that changed my mind about religion was Glenn Beck being able to disagree with me on all sorts of things, and actually being a nice guy to be around, and being fair.”
The two also discussed Jillette’s new movie, “Director’s Cut,” which both Glenn Beck and MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell have tentatively agreed to play roles in.
Jillette teased one scene he has already written for the unlikely co-stars. Both are playing police officers — Beck is “Lee Hamilton” and O’Donnell is “Francis Marx” — and the two get into an unexpected argument over who will play “good cop,” and who will play “bad cop.”
Jillette is still raising money for the movie, and Beck joked that he would contribute $100,000 to baptize the atheist.
The two laughed, and Jillette told the audience he has actually already asked both Beck and O’Donnell to read a number of lines to get a better feel for their characters.
Watch the result, below:
From there, the two discussed how technology is empowering the individual and what it means for the future. Interestingly, it partially grew out of a discussion of what Jillette is afraid of.
“Scared is hard,” Jillette began. “I don’t have the fear of death that religious people often think atheists would have. Because I feel the future, where I will not be involved, is the same as the past, where I was not involved. Doesn’t really scare me.”
“I’m a little afraid of the fact that my parents never met my children,” he concluded. “If you want to know what bothers me the most, that’s probably it.”
Beck then asked him to elaborate, saying he just became a grandfather and would love for his children to not only know their grandparents but their great-grandparents.
Jillette mused: “We keep changing the goalpost on time travel. When you watch time travel as a child, and [they'd] say, ‘You’re able to go back in time – you can see what’s happening, but you can’t change anything.’ …Well, with elaborate video, we kind of have that. There’s an awful lot of that. You are talking to your great-grandchildren right now.”
Beck then noted that some experts have said that by 2030 death will no longer exist the way we know it. Instead, people will simply be “downloaded.” Beck was concerned that such a development would “devalue” human life, but Jillette wasn’t convinced.
Jillette said, for instance, that just because he is able to call his children across the country – and they can hear his voice – doesn’t make his presence any less valuable.
“Just because something wonderful becomes plentiful, does not make it less valuable,” he asserted.
When Beck noted that human life has been devalued throughout history – and that’s without the futuristic changes to how man sees life – Jillette said that might be taking an overly “dystopian” view of the future.
“That’s a lot different than taking your grandmother’s life that means everything to you, and letting it be shared for more time with more people,” he remarked.
Watch the entire conversation, below:
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