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…


Ricky Gervais Makes the Usual Atheist Mistakes – Thinking Christian