Penn is famous for his personal views as well as his professional acumen. He advocates for Libertarian politics, including free-market capitalism and a repeal of laws against "victimless crimes".
Penn is also an atheist. This is the topic of his most recent book "G-d, no!"
[He doesn't use the hyphen in his book title. It is our policy not to write the Creator's name, in any language, in this forum, because of a prohibition to casually use Hebrew names for G-d]
I have great respect for Mr. Jillette. He does not attack religious people, and in fact encourages them to continue dialogue with the rest of the world. He has said things like (not an exact quote), "Please, pray for me, if you think it will help!"
It is only because Mr. Jillette seems to be sincere in his quest for knowledge, (including religious knowledge), that I care to respond to the opening of his book. He starts out by asking:
"If G-d... ...told you to kill your child, would you do it? If your answer is no, in my booklet you're an atheist"
First I will answer Penn's question. Then I will challenge his assertion, according to a basic tenet of Judaism.
If G-d told me to kill someone, first I would check existing Jewish law and see what it says.
Jewish law says that I must kill someone if he/she is an immediate threat to my own life or the life of another. It also has provisions for war. The Bible mentions capital punishment for certain deeds, but capital cases can only be judged by a specific type of Jewish court that does not currently exist.
So if G-d told me to kill someone, but Jewish law says I can't, I wouldn't do it.
This certainly does NOT make me an atheist. Here's why.
G-d revealed His Law to our people, the Israelites, on Mount Sinai. We received the Written Law (The Scriptures, what Christians call the Old Testament), and the Oral Law, (later codified as the Mishnah, expounded upon in the Talmud, and clarified in volumes upon volumes of rabbinic discourse)
Before the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, if a person received some kind of Heavenly communication, the proper response was to listen. If that dream or vision included a command from On High, then one was supposed to follow that command.
Once the Law was given, it takes precedence over all other sources of information. In fact, G-d even warned us about this, after we received the Law.
"If a prophet arises in your midst, or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, and then he speaks to you, saying: 'Let us go after other gods, which you have not known, and let us serve them' - you shall not listen to the words of that prophet, or to that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your G-d is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul.(Deuteronomy 13:2-4)
It is easy to love G-d and follow the Law when you're standing at Mount Sinai, witnessing the greatest event in human history.
When the excitement fades, and you're back to normal, everyday living, and then someone comes along with an amazing "sign" or "wonder"; then what are you going to do? Will you stick to the Law that you know came from G-d, or will you be lead astray?
This is THE ultimate test of life. Every moral dilemma that we face comes down to this: Follow G-d, or follow something else.
So you see, Mr. Jillette, I strive everyday to develop a deep, close, personal relationship with my Creator. Understanding G-d's Infinity means realizing that, unlike us mortals, G-d has no need for the backspace button. The all-powerful, all-knowing King of the Universe never makes a mistake, and certainly doesn't need to appear to me in a dream, or a vision, and tell me to violate the Law.
Please comment below - I would love to get a conversation going here.