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Why I'm an Atheist. By Ricky Gervais


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Ricky Gervais: Why I’m an Atheist

Why don’t you believe in God? I get that question all the time. I always try to give a sensitive, reasoned answer. This is usually awkward, time consuming and pointless. People who believe in God don’t need proof of his existence, and they certainly don’t want evidence to the contrary. They are happy with their belief. They even say things like “it’s true to me” and “it’s faith.” I still give my logical answer because I feel that not being honest would be patronizing and impolite. It is ironic therefore that “I don’t believe in God because there is absolutely no scientific evidence for his existence and from what I’ve heard the very definition is a logical impossibility in this known universe,” comes across as both patronizing and impolite.

Arrogance is another accusation. Which seems particularly unfair. Science seeks the truth. And it does not discriminate. For better or worse it finds things out. Science is humble. It knows what it knows and it knows what it doesn’t know. It bases its conclusions and beliefs on hard evidence -*- evidence that is constantly updated and upgraded. It doesn’t get offended when new facts come along. It embraces the body of knowledge. It doesn’t hold on to medieval practices because they are tradition. If it did, you wouldn’t get a shot of penicillin, you’d pop a leach down your trousers and pray. Whatever you “believe,” this is not as effective as medicine. Again you can say, “It works for me,” but so do placebos. My point being, I’m saying God doesn’t exist. I’m not saying faith doesn’t exist. I know faith exists. I see it all the time. But believing in something doesn’t make it true. Hoping that something is true doesn’t make it true. The existence of God is not subjective. He either exists or he doesn’t. It’s not a matter of opinion. You can have your own opinions. But you can’t have your own facts.

Why don’t I believe in God? No, no no, why do YOU believe in God? Surely the burden of proof is on the believer. You started all this. If I came up to you and said, “Why don’t you believe I can fly?” You’d say, “Why would I?” I’d reply, “Because it’s a matter of faith.” If I then said, “Prove I can’t fly. Prove I can’t fly see, see, you can’t prove it can you?” You’d probably either walk away, call security or throw me out of the window and shout, ‘’F—ing fly then you lunatic.”

This, is of course a spirituality issue, religion is a different matter. As an atheist, I see nothing “wrong” in believing in a god. I don’t think there is a god, but belief in him does no harm. If it helps you in any way, then that’s fine with me. It’s when belief starts infringing on other people’s rights when it worries me. I would never deny your right to believe in a god. I would just rather you didn’t kill people who believe in a different god, say. Or stone someone to death because your rulebook says their sexuality is immoral. It’s strange that anyone who believes that an all-powerful all-knowing, omniscient power responsible for everything that happens, would also want to judge and punish people for what they are. From what I can gather, pretty much the worst type of person you can be is an atheist. The first four commandments hammer this point home. There is a god, I’m him, no one else is, you’re not as good and don’t forget it. (Don’t murder anyone, doesn’t get a mention till number 6.)

When confronted with anyone who holds my lack of religious faith in such contempt, I say, “It’s the way God made me.”

But what are atheists really being accused of?

The dictionary definition of God is “a supernatural creator and overseer of the universe.” Included in this definition are all deities, goddesses and supernatural beings. Since the beginning of recorded history, which is defined by the invention of writing by the Sumerians around 6,000 years ago, historians have cataloged over 3700 supernatural beings, of which 2870 can be considered deities.

So next time someone tells me they believe in God, I’ll say “Oh which one? Zeus? Hades? Jupiter? Mars? Odin? Thor? Krishna? Vishnu? Ra?…” If they say “Just God. I only believe in the one God,” I’ll point out that they are nearly as atheistic as me. I don’t believe in 2,870 gods, and they don’t believe in 2,869.

I used to believe in God. The Christian one that is.

I loved Jesus. He was my hero. More than pop stars. More than footballers. More than God. God was by definition omnipotent and perfect. Jesus was a man. He had to work at it. He had temptation but defeated sin. He had integrity and courage. But He was my hero because He was kind. And He was kind to everyone. He didn’t bow to peer pressure or tyranny or cruelty. He didn’t care who you were. He loved you. What a guy. I wanted to be just like Him.

One day when I was about 8 years old, I was drawing the crucifixion as part of my Bible studies homework. I loved art too. And nature. I loved how God made all the animals. They were also perfect. Unconditionally beautiful. It was an amazing world.

I lived in a very poor, working-class estate in an urban sprawl called Reading, about 40 miles west of London. My father was a laborer and my mother was a housewife. I was never ashamed of poverty. It was almost noble. Also, everyone I knew was in the same situation, and I had everything I needed. School was free. My clothes were cheap and always clean and ironed. And mum was always cooking. She was cooking the day I was drawing on the cross.

I was sitting at the kitchen table when my brother came home. He was 11 years older than me, so he would have been 19. He was as smart as anyone I knew, but he was too cheeky. He would answer back and get into trouble. I was a good boy. I went to church and believed in God -– what a relief for a working-class mother. You see, growing up where I did, mums didn’t hope as high as their kids growing up to be doctors; they just hoped their kids didn’t go to jail. So bring them up believing in God and they’ll be good and law abiding. It’s a perfect system. Well, nearly. 75 percent of Americans are God-*‐fearing Christians; 75 percent of prisoners are God-*‐fearing Christians. 10 percent of Americans are atheists; 0.2 percent of prisoners are atheists.

But anyway, there I was happily drawing my hero when my big brother Bob asked, “Why do you believe in God?” Just a simple question. But my mum panicked. “Bob,” she said in a tone that I knew meant, “Shut up.” Why was that a bad thing to ask? If there was a God and my faith was strong it didn’t matter what people said.

Oh…hang on. There is no God. He knows it, and she knows it deep down. It was as simple as that. I started thinking about it and asking more questions, and within an hour, I was an atheist.

Wow. No God. If mum had lied to me about God, had she also lied to me about Santa? Yes, of course, but who cares? The gifts kept coming. And so did the gifts of my new found atheism. The gifts of truth, science, nature. The real beauty of this world. I learned of evolution -– a theory so simple that only England’s greatest genius could have come up with it. Evolution of plants, animals and us –- with imagination, free will, love, humor. I no longer needed a reason for my existence, just a reason to live. And imagination, free will, love, humor, fun, music, sports, beer and pizza are all good enough reasons for living.

But living an honest life -– for that you need the truth. That’s the other thing I learned that day, that the truth, however shocking or uncomfortable, in the end leads to liberation and dignity.

So what does the question “Why don’t you believe in God?” really mean. I think when someone asks that they are really questioning their own belief. In a way they are asking “what makes you so special? “How come you weren’t brainwashed with the rest of us?” “How dare you say I’m a fool and I’m not going to heaven, f— you!” Let’s be honest, if one person believed in God he would be considered pretty strange. But because it’s a very popular view it’s accepted. And why is it such a popular view? That’s obvious. It’s an attractive proposition. Believe in me and live forever. Again if it was just a case of spirituality this would be fine.

“Do unto others…” is a good rule of thumb. I live by that. Forgiveness is probably the greatest virtue there is. But that’s exactly what it is -*‐ a virtue. Not just a Christian virtue. No one owns being good. I’m good. I just don’t believe I’ll be rewarded for it in heaven. My reward is here and now. It’s knowing that I try to do the right thing. That I lived a good life. And that’s where spirituality really lost its way. When it became a stick to beat people with. “Do this or you’ll burn in hell.”

You won’t burn in hell. But be nice anyway.

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Good one.

Personally, I considered myself an agnostic until I read The God Delusion. I consider myself an atheist now. Once you choose to go with reason, you have to go where it takes you. It is, indeed, almost certain that God does not exist.

I do have a healthy respect for spirituality, rituals, customs, and so on. There is plenty of evidence that praying and faith work, for example... but not because of a kind and loving God.

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I considered myself an agnostic until I read The God Delusion. I consider myself an atheist now. Once you choose to go with reason, you have to go where it takes you. It is, indeed, almost certain that God does not exist.

After this debate with Professor John Lennox: http://fixed-point.org/index.php/video/35-full-length/164-the-dawkins-lennox-debate , Richard Dawkins opens up the next debate with his Oxford colleague stating that, "A serious case could be made for a deistic God." Likewise, I would say that a serious case can be made for atheism. With as little as I understand in these debates, neither the theist nor the atheist seem to be more or less reasonable than the other.

Frankly, I found John Lennox to be more convincing than Dawkins but they are both far more equipped to discuss the matter than I am to understand their discussion so I'm surely filling in gaps with my own bias. I image there are only one or two regulars in the tailgate equipped to listen to the debate with integrity.

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After this debate: http://fixed-point.org/index.php/video/35-full-length/164-the-dawkins-lennox-debate ,

Richard Dawkins opens up his next debate with Professor John Lennox stating that, "A serious case could be made for a deistic God." Likewise, a reasonable theist would have to agree that a serious case can be made for atheism.

Frankly, I found John Lennox to be more convincing than Dawkins but they are both far more equipped to discuss the matter than I am to understand their discussion so I am filling in the gaps with my own bias. I image there are only one or two regulars in the tailgate equipped to listen to the debate with integrity.

Techboy and Mass skins fan?

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I believe in god and I wholly endorse this article. Atheist have been horribly mistreated/misunderstood for a long time. Instead of people trying to understand, they go out of their way to belittle and ostracize them.

Thechboy, If you quote me 20 times I will not even bother to respond. Please keep it brief. I have to work today!

:D

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Techboy and Mass skins fan?

I had Peter in mind. :)

edit: The primary debate is taking place across various scientific disciplines, a world I am woefully under informed and I have grown to trust Peter's information and perspective..not to say I completely agree with Peter's every conclusion, but when I disagree, my first thought is that I must be wrong.

Though the debate was between scientists, there were occasions that Dawkins/Lennox focused on more purely theological concepts that I better understood. In those instances I was not impressed with Dawkin's willingness to be so imprecise with his language. HIs arguments related the the roll of faith, for instance, were sloppy and Lennox was right to highlight it.

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His claim is, “I don’t believe in God because there is absolutely no scientific evidence for his existence and from what I’ve heard the very definition is a logical impossibility in this known universe,”

How does the sun stay exactly the right distance from us, without getting too close or too far away? How does the moon circle us perfectly so as to reflect the sun at night? The water come to us as we need it, the foods that we need to nourish us exist all over, etc. Something as complicated as our circulatory system clearly has a design. If there is a design, there must be a designer.

That is not to say an atheist isn't allowed to believe what he wants. I personally think the evidence weighs heavily in the believer's favor, though. I love Ricky Gervais, and God loves Ricky Gervais whether he believes it or not.

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the foods that we need to nourish us exist all over

Not for millions and millions of people.

It is very difficult to believe in a loving God in light of hardships and horrors suffered by humans and done to each other throughout history, blind natural disasters that kill thousands, and so on.

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It is very difficult to believe in a loving God in light of hardships and horrors suffered by humans and done to each other throughout history, blind natural disasters that kill thousands, and so on.

I thought this was the most interesting part of the Dawkins/Lennox debate. For some people, it is hard to disbelieve in a loving God in light of a beautiful, awe inspiring, life nurturing universe. For other people it is difficult to believe in a loving God in light of hardships and horrors suffered by humans.

Obviously, both observations have more to do with the perspective of observers than the universe they are observing.

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His claim is, “I don’t believe in God because there is absolutely no scientific evidence for his existence and from what I’ve heard the very definition is a logical impossibility in this known universe,”

How does the sun stay exactly the right distance from us, without getting too close or too far away? How does the moon circle us perfectly so as to reflect the sun at night? The water come to us as we need it, the foods that we need to nourish us exist all over, etc. Something as complicated as our circulatory system clearly has a design. If there is a design, there must be a designer.

Ever thought that it might be because - if all those things didn't happen, or never came to be (as a result of a number of coincidences that can only be explained by the almost infinite nature of the universe) that we, or the conditions that allow us to be - wouldn't be here in the first place?

That they did are the reasons we're here to have this conversation and why around Alpha or Proxima Centauri there are species that aren't.

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It's interesting. I do believe in a God, a creator, but I don't always believe in an active one. Part of me thinks that the world and universe was created and then more or less left to its own devices as God went off to create other universes and worlds. It doesn't always make sense to me that God should have stopped after us nor does it make sense that we're so important that we would be all consuming to someone who could do what God does. I don't know how that fits into the puzzle.

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Not for millions and millions of people.

It is very difficult to believe in a loving God in light of hardships and horrors suffered by humans and done to each other throughout history, blind natural disasters that kill thousands, and so on.

Why? We see some of our greatest examples of God in the generosity and diligence of man throughout these hardships. Rewards are in the afterlife.

As a believer, I do not feel threatened by atheists or agnostics. Nor am I a converter. I have loved Gervais' humor for years, all the while knowing of his atheism. And yet, when a guy like Tim Tebow professes his faith, he is a lightning rod.

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Part of me thinks that the world and universe was created and then more or less left to its own devices as God went off to create other universes and worlds. It doesn't always make sense to me that God should have stopped after us nor does it make sense that we're so important that we would be all consuming to someone who could do what God does.

I don't see why God would need to leave one universe to create another one. That seems like an arbitrary limitation.

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I don't see why God would need to leave one universe to create another one.

It's because Ive watched and read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, I suppose :)

but yeah, he could be off creating worlds on the other side of the Universe or life next door... there's just a part of me that doesn't see God as our landlord or our parole officer whose duty is to constantly keep tabs on us. (awkwardly written. No offense intended)

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[quote name=alexey;8116572 I consider myself an atheist now. Once you choose to go with reason' date=' you have to go where it takes you. It is, indeed, almost certain that God does not exist.

I do have a healthy respect for spirituality[/quote]

My feelings exactly

you read The God Delusion that changed your mind where i actually read the Bible and that changed my mind.

Spirituality and religion are two separate things There are many religious people who are Spirituality dead ie: Westboro baptist

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