The Problems With Ricky Gervais’ Problems With God
by Wesley L. Huff
I just watched a video on the “trending” section of Youtube. The clip was titled “Ricky Gervais and Stephen Go Head-to-Head on Religion”. The video is linked here.
In this conversation between Gervais, a popular atheist, and Stephen Colbert, a known Roman Catholic, Gervais posits three objections to God’s existence. Each of these objections is very common, ideas you may very well have heard atheists posit against Christians before. I’d like to look at each of these three arguments and explain why although the balloon looks quite large, it’s actually just full of hot air.
OBJECTION #1: “ATHEISM ISN’T A BELIEF SYSTEM”
This specific objection is addressed perfectly by my friend Andy Bannister, in his book The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist: Or the Dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments in a chapter entitled “The Scandinavian Skeptic.” For the sake of time, I’ll let Andy himself answer the problems with that objection which you can find by clicking HERE.
OBJECTION #2: “HAVE YOU INVESTIGATED ALL RELIGIONS?”
This is a common talking-point that I encounter in discussions with atheists. In fact, in one particular conversation I was hit with this: “Sure you’re a Christian, but how do you know that Christianity is true? Have you looked into Islam and read the Qur’an?” Unfortunately that happened to be bad timing on my friend’s part as I had just finished reading the Qur’an cover-to-cover for my third time. So not only could I claim to have read it, but likewise, to have studied Islam in significant depth.
But what about the objection that the criteria does not only apply to Islam but rather, to every religion in comparable detail. Does my lack of knowledge regarding every religion that has ever existed force me to a conclusion that Christianity cannot then be true? Of course not. By the very nature of concluding that the propositional claims of Christianity are true, one is in reality excluding other possibilities. If, for example, after investigating the evidence thoroughly, someone comes to the conclusion based on the evidence that Jesus really claimed to be God one has excluded as an option all religions such as Islam, that insist that Jesus did not claim to be God. Likewise, if one concludes based on the evidence that the universe had a definite beginning in the finite past, one has excluded as an option pantheistic religions that assert that the universe is eternal and has no beginning or end.
It is rather curious that such reasoning is employed in discussions about religious questions when we rarely utilize the same criteria in any other case. A homicide detective does not need to investigate every single individual in the city before he can conclude that a particular suspect committed the crime…
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