Opinion

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Colbert Debate the Existence of God

Ricky Gervais is a comedian. He’s also an atheist. God thinks some things are funny. He believes atheists are funny. I bet He thinks Gervais is funny when he claims God does not exist. There’s even a Bible verse about God laughing at things that strike Him as amusing. He’s not averse to humor:

He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them (Ps. 2:4).

The wicked plots against the righteous
And gnashes at him with his teeth.
The Lord laughs at him,
For He sees his day is coming (Ps. 37:12-13).

In another place, God describes the atheist as a “fool” (Ps. 14:1; 10:4; 53:1). A puny “worm” (Job 25:6) with an infinitesimal lifespan when compared to the portals of eternity with only a speck of significance residing on a small blue dot of a planet barely registering in the vastness of the cosmos (Ps. 19:1) claims to know that there is no one greater than his evolved self.

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Gervais was debating Stephen Colbert on the existence of God. Here’s one of the arguments that Gervais used:

So you believe in one god, I assume…. But there are 3,000 to choose from … so basically, you believe in — you deny one less god than I do. You don’t believe in 2,999 gods. And I don’t believe in just one more.

The fact that people believe in different gods is not much different from governments creating different currencies. Money used to be gold and silver because it could not be counterfeited, although people tried. Nearly every government tries to mimic the look of gold and silver with metals that aren’t gold and silver. Governments are legal counterfeiters.

The many-gods argument does not affect the claim that there is only one true God. People only make counterfeits of things that have value. Works of art and money are counterfeited because they are valued. The same is true of such things as clothing, handbags, shoes, pharmaceuticals, aviation and automobile parts, watches, electronics (both parts and finished products), software, toys, movies, and drugs. People don’t counterfeit products that aren’t in demand.

These counterfeits don’t nullify the existence of the authentic product.

Gervais is a religionist. He believes there is no God. He has faith in science and scientists. Science is his religion; scientists are his priests, and scientific proclamations are his version of a holy book.

Gervais said this in response to a salient point Colbert made that Gervais’s explanation that the universe came from a tiny atom apart from God was based on Gervais’s faith in physicists like Stephen Hawking and was not something he could prove himself. Gervais seemed to sense he was in trouble, so he pivoted to the explanation that science has a built-in corrective mechanism and so it will eventually be able to prove itself true, whereas religion can do no such thing. (Trent Horn)

Where did that “tiny atom” that Gervais says once contained the entire cosmos come from? How rational is to believe that the cosmos once was a tiny atom? In what way is this science? I know, because scientists say so. Where did the organized information that serves as a blueprint for all lifeforms come from? How does the materialist account for logic, reason, rationality, love, mercy, compassion, and many other non-physical attributes like morality?

Can atheists account for morality? What if a pure materialist was consistent with his materialistic beliefs. John Gray, auathor of Seven Types of Atheism asserts “that humans are no different from other creatures. Christianity’s ‘cardinal error’ is to say that they are. Yet dispensing with the teachings of monotheism leaves no coherent concept of humanity, nor of human dignity. Mr Gray uses this observation as a launch-pad to criticise ‘New Atheists’ such as Richard Dawkins, and to point out that most modern atheists do not follow their reasoning to its logical conclusion. They may have rejected monotheist beliefs, but they have not shaken off a monotheistic way of thinking, and ‘regurgitate some secular version of Christian morality’. Mr Gray has a much bleaker view of atheism’s implications: ‘A truly naturalistic view of the world leaves no room for secular hope.’” (Economist)

Being a consistent atheist is hard work since it requires a complete rejection of anything that distinguishes humans from animals. Accounting for what makes humans human is impossible given the operating assumptions of consistent atheism. It can be done unless an atheist is willing to dismiss the atrocities of the 20th century.

What Hitler did not believe and what Stalin did not believe and what Mao did not believe and what the SS did not believe and what the Gestapo did not believe and what the NKVD did not believe and what the commissars, functionaries, swaggering executioners, Nazi doctors, Communist Party theoreticians, intellectuals, Brown Shirts, Black Shirts, gauleiters, and a thousand party hacks did not believe was that God was watching what they were doing. And as far as we can tell, very few of those carrying out the horrors of the twentieth century worried overmuch that God was watching what they were doing either. That is, after all, the meaning of a secular society.1

The following is from “The Great Debate: Does God Exist?” between Christian apologist Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen (1948-1995) and atheist Dr. Gordon Stein (1941-1996) that was held at the University of California, Irvine, February 11, 1985:

Bahnsen: I heard you use “logical binds” and “logical self-contradiction” in your speech. You did say that?

Stein: I used that phrase, yes.

Bahnsen: Do you believe there are laws of logic then?

Stein: Absolutely.

Bahnsen: Are they universal?

Stein: They are agreed upon by human beings not realizing it is just out in nature.

Bahnsen: Are they simply conventions then?

Stein: They are conventions that are self-verifying.

Bahnsen: Are they sociological laws or laws of thought?

Stein: They are laws of thought which are interpreted by man.

Bahnsen: Are they material in nature?

Stein: How could a law be material?

Bahnsen: That’s the question I’m going to ask you.

Stein: I would say no.

Stein: Dr. Bahnsen, would you call God material or immaterial?

Bahnsen: Immaterial.

Stein: What is something that’s immaterial?

Bahnsen: Something not extended in space.

Stein: Can you give me any other example, other than God, that’s immaterial?

Bahnsen: The laws of logic.

Nothing can’t give rise to something and the material can’t give rise to the immaterial. Every scientist knows that spontaneous generation is not science, and yet atheists must ascent to the belief that spontaneous generation brought us into being as well as the non-material mind and morality (something atheists can’t account for).

Claiming that someday science will be able to prove the unprovable is a hypothesis contrary to fact. Anyone can claim that time answers all fundamental questions. What if the operating assumptions formulated by an evolved brain are wrong? How can an evolved brain be trusted to ask the right questions and know what’s the right answer?

David Berlinski has a Ph.D. from Princeton University and has taught mathematics and philosophy at universities in the United States and in France. Berlinski was a research assistant in molecular biology at Columbia University and was a research fellow at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria and the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques (IHES) in France. Berlinski describes himself as a secular Jew.

Berlinski “asserts that some skeptical arguments against religious belief based on scientific evidence misrepresent what the science is actually saying, that an objective morality requires a religious foundation, that mathematical theories attempting to bring together quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity amount to pseudoscience because of their lack of empirical verifiability, and he expresses doubt towards Darwinian evolutionary theory.”

These doubts have not made Berlinski a theist. The following is from Berlinski’s book The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions (2008).

Has anyone provided a proof of God’s inexistence?

Not even close.

Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here?

Not even close.

Have the sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life?

Not even close.

Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought?

Close enough.

Has rationalism in moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral?

Not close enough.

Has secularism in the terrible twentieth century been a force for good?

Not even close to being close.

Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy of thought and opinion within the sciences?

Close enough.

Does anything in the sciences or in their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational?

Not even ballpark.

Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt?

Dead on.

Berlinski has described Darwinism as an “alchemical explanation for biology,” a “secular myth,” a thoroughly vacuous one, not a “scientific theory” but more like a “collection of anecdotes.”

God is still laughing at Ricky Gervais’s comedy routine where he claims nothing became something and the material resulted in the immaterial.

  1. David Berlinski, The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism & Its Scientific Pretensions (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2009), 26-27. []
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