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Teller

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Teller is the non-speaking half of Penn & Teller. They perform their irreverent magic act regularly in Las Vegas and major venues around the world.

Both guys are very outspoken about being atheists and skeptics. They use it as part of the act.

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Teller was interviewed for the Summer 1998 issue of the New England Skeptics Society newsletter. Here's an excerpt:

NEJS - [Chris Carter, creator of the X-Files] said something in this article I'd like you to respond to: "I asked [Penn & Teller] if they believed in God, and they said no. And I asked: Do any scientists believe in God? And they said: 'None of the important ones.' I just found that somehow, I don't know, very disturbing. I think that the need to believe is, in fact, even with the most hardened atheist. I think that there must be at some point in their lives a need to at least search for some kind of personal answers for existence itself." I thought that was very interesting -- as if atheists aren't looking for some kind of personal answers for existence itself.

Teller - Atheists do look for answers to existence itself. They just don't make them up.

NEJS - Well, what do you think about that comment -- the need to believe being with even the most hardened atheist?

Teller - I think he's wrong. I might qualify as the most hardened atheist, and I have not the slightest need to believe in stuff that is not in some way verifiable. I believe in art, mind you. I don't believe that art is supernatural. I think that beauty and humor are wonderful things, and quite important to us -- in fact, one of the major distinguishing features between us and some of the lesser species. My mother, who is 89 now, says "Oh, you know, I see these old people going to church, and I really envy them. It must be so consoling for them to be able to believe in that stuff." (Laughs) I think she genuinely envies people who are suckers in the sense that there are some things that might be a little easier to confront. It's not going to change her point of view, because it doesn't make any sense to her. It seems like nonsense. And it is! (Laughs)[1]

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Penn recounts a 1998 appearance on Donny and Marie Osmond's syndicated talkshow: We were asked to do autographs for Donny and Marie. I wrote, "There is no god," and Teller wrote, "He's right."

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P&T have an extensive home on the web at http://www.pennandteller.com.