Ricky Gervais Makes the Usual Atheist Mistakes
by Tom Gilson
Ricky Gervais is a British comedian who some consider more influential among atheists than the famed Richard Dawkins. I guess that means the time had to come when I would respond to him here.
He had a short conversation with Stephen Colbert recently about God. He probably thought he scored some points on Colbert, a devout Catholic. Maybe so for entertainment value, but not much else, I’m afraid. He makes the usual atheist mistakes. Let’s look at some of his main points.
“Not a Belief”
At 1:10 Colbert asks, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” Gervais ducks the question, calling it irrelevant. Not much there.
At 1:36 Colbert asks, “Is there a prime mover that started everything?” It’s a great question that’s motivated tons of discussion among thinkers down through the ages. Gervais ducks it, too, answering simply, “outside science and nature I don’t believe so.”
But he doesn’t explain why; he only goes on to tell what kind of atheist he is: “Atheism isn’t a belief system; it’s only rejecting the claim that there is a God.”
That’s an all-too-common answer among atheists. “Atheism isn’t a belief, it’s a lack of belief.” The problem is, though, that for the great majority of atheists in the Western world, their atheism includes a belief in a purely materialistic reality, which makes it a belief system after all. Among other things, it’s the belief that:
- Every religion is wrong.
- The universe exists without any morality or intelligence at its foundation. It is a happy accident
- There is no soul, so death is final; therefore there is no ultimate justice, no accountability beyond what we can see with our own eyes.
There’s a whole lot more I could add, but that gives you an idea of some of the kinds of beliefs most atheists hold but don’t want to admit to.
The Arithmetical Argument
At 2:20, Gervais says: “You believe in one God, I presume… But there are about 3,000 to choose from, so basically you deny one less God than I do. You don’t believe in 2,999 gods, I don’t believe in just one more.”
I’ve heard this one dozens of times, too. I’m going to call it what it is, okay? It’s silly. Let’s look at it two ways…
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