10 May 2015

Ricky Gervais Tweets Atheism

Religious 64 Comments

I realize it would be more scholarly to discuss Aquinas, but sometimes it’s fun to engage the popular culture. Consider this the theological analog of me critiquing the State of the Union address.

A bunch of my Facebook Friends thought this was hilarious and deep:

Moreover, the people sharing it insisted that it had nothing to do with whether God existed or not. Gervais had really put his finger on a silly debating technique by Christians, they insisted, regardless of whether Hell exists.

By the same token, I am sure my Facebook Friends would Share the following tweets:

“An Austrian telling a Keynesian that low interest rates are fueling an unsustainable boom is about as scary as a child telling a grownup they won’t get any presents from Santa.”

“An isolationist telling a neoconservative that bombing the Middle East will cause blowback is about as scary as a child telling a grownup they won’t get any presents from Santa.”

“An atheist telling a Christian that making analogies of atheist arguments will have no effect is about as scary as a child telling a grownup they won’t get any presents from Santa.”

* * *

Now try this one for size:

If you ponder that tweet for a few moments, you realize that Gervais just proved that we all must officially disavow any belief in any empirical proposition whatsoever. For example, you don’t KNOW for sure that the sun is bigger than the Earth. You must be agnostic on this point, by definition. And so because of this, you must not believe that the sun is bigger than the Earth.

(Granted, you might come back and say, “What do you mean, Bob? There are good arguments for the sun being bigger than the Earth.” But then I would reply that there are good arguments for the existence of God. Gervais’ tweet boils down to, “Atheists have considered the arguments for God and do not find them persuasive. That’s why they are atheists.” It’s not as deep when you put it like that.)

One last note of irony: Ricky Gervais is quite possibly the most confident man on Earth that he is a very good person and that the people he singles out for criticism are absolutely morally horrible and deserve to be condemned.

P.S. I think Gervais can be hilarious in stand-up, and this clip with Liam Neeson is brilliant.

64 Responses to “Ricky Gervais Tweets Atheism”

  1. anon says:

    “Once again, everyone by definition is agnostic as no one KNOWS.”

    Might be the best example of question begging possible in less than 140 characters.

    I’m going to get way out of that shaky limb and say that both St. John of the Cross and Mohammed felt comfortable saying that they KNOW God exists.

    • Keshav Srinivasan says:

      But Gervais is not saying that no one thinks they know that God exists. He’s saying that no one actually knows that God exists.

      • Tel says:

        How would you distinguish one person who knows some proposition is true from another similar person who just thinks the same proposition is true?

        • Keshav Srinivasan says:

          Gervais is saying that no one has any proof that God exists.

          • anon says:

            That’s not what he claimed. In his own words, “Once again, everyone by definition is agnostic as no one KNOWS.”

            Taking the mystics’ testimony of their experience at face value, they KNOW that God or the dao exists with even greater certainty than they know that you or I exist. Gervais is just engaging in juvenile epistemology.

            In the Internet era, no less!

            • Keshav Srinivasan says:

              Well, he subscribes to an epistemology in which mystical experiences don’t constitute sufficient grounds for knowledge. You may disagree with his epistemology, of course, but all he’s doing is stating his belief, which is that no one at all knows that God exists.

              • anon says:

                I can subscribe to the epistemology that Ricky Gervais doesn’t like hard candy because he can’t prove it via peer reviewed study, but that doesn’t make the epistemology reasonable.

                Though somehow I doubt that monomaterialist twitter warriors spend too much time worrying about the nature of their epistemologies or whether direct experience is a sufficient means of determining truth.

  2. Gil says:

    What’s wrong with his argument per se? Namely do Christians see God as an actual self-aware, sentient being or a personification of existence and the notion that good will triumph over evil (the way Aphrodite is the personification of love and Ares the personification of war)? When Jesus laid the ground rules of “do good and you’ll be for ever rewarded, do bad and you’ll be for ever punished” was he talking about actual future events or was he simply telling a noble lie to encourage good behaviour and discourage bad behaviour (e.g. masturbation will send you blind)?

    • Z says:

      The question is whether the quote itself is deep or somehow perceptive. It is not. The arguments behind it may or may not be. Bob is just saying that the quote itself is just clever, not necessarily deep.

  3. Joseph Fetz says:

    My response to this is: what is the relevancy of this to my life.

    I mean that seriously. It is not as if either side of this debate has an actual answer to the question. So yeah, what is the relevancy of this to *my* life?

    I’m pretty happy in not knowing and not caring. This, of course, puts me at odds with both sides (those who think that they have the answer). I’m fairly content with not knowing, and even more, that I will never know.

    I hate to be realistic, but I am.

    • skylien says:

      I actually think those things ARE VERY relevant to my life despite being agnostic… I am not happy not knowing..

      But I just can’t help it, that I just don’t fraking know, so what I am supposed to do? Pretend that I believe or not believe?

    • Tel says:

      Atheism is not a statement of belief, it’s a statement of efficiency. If I can do all the things that I would otherwise have done, and still not believe in God, then the belief in God therefore is superfluous to requirements and consumes effort where none is required.

      That is to say, the default position should be to believe in as few things as possible, before believing in one less thing will cause you material hardship.

      • skylien says:


        I don’t think that god actually would demand of me to go to church once per week, pray once per day and what not. I guess I should just live a good life, and that’s it.

        I guess the only thing why people are told to pray and go to church etc, is that the more you pray the less time you have to sin..


    • Bob Murphy says:

      Joe, you don’t think it would affect your life if it turns out there is an omnipotent Being who created you, loves you, and is waiting to spend eternity with you in paradise?

      • Keshav Srinivasan says:

        I think he’s saying tha neither side can actually resolve the debate, so the debate is pointless.

      • Gil says:

        And what if God exists and He found there was a being more powerful than Him? For example, God rules the Universe but another greater being rules the Multiverse?

  4. Keshav Srinivasan says:

    Bob, I’m not an atheist, but I think both of Gervais’ tweets make sense. In the first tweet, Gervais isn’t saying “Christian predictions of punishment in the afterlife don’t scare atheists, because atheists don’t agree that those predictions are correct.” He’s saying “Christian predictions of punishment in the afterlife don’t scare atheists, because atheists don’t even believe in the existence of the place Christians are talking about.” That’s why he makes an analogy to Santa; the point is not that adults have a different opinion of whether Santa will give them presents, it’s that talking about what Santa will do has no effect on someone who doesn’t believe in Santa.

    As far as his second tweet goes, he’s not saying that if you don’t know something for sure, then you shouldn’t believe it. All he’s saying is that that religious people should stop feeling superior to agnostics, because they don’t know that God exists either. He’s saying that theists think they’re in possession of knowledge, but really they’ve just chosen to believe something despite not knowing it for sure. So if a religious person were to tell him, “I don’t know for sure whether God exists, but I choose to believe in him anyway”, Gervais wouldn’t apply this criticism to them.

  5. The Pen is Mightier says:

    Well Gervais, like all actors, is more clown than intellectual.

    No surprise here for me personally.

  6. Lee Waaks says:

    “Atheists have considered the arguments for God and do not find them persuasive. That’s why they are atheists”

    Yes, that is the case for me. I also do not think that Christians believe in God in the same way they believe the M&M they dropped while eating on the couch still exists even though they cannot see it because it is likely lost in the seat cushions (i.e. it’s reasonable to assume it did not just vanish into thin air). Their God hypothesis strikes me as wishful thinking and they appear to live their lives as atheists when it comes to negotiating reality. Verbalizing a belief in God (or whatever) does not mean you truly believe what you have never seen is really there. For example, no one would sin if he truly thought God were watching because he can’t be certain of God’s nature. It would be like robbing a bank surrounded by cops.

    • Harold says:

      First up, do Christians tell Atheists about hell in order to scare them into believing? I think there is certainly a track record of preaching hellfire to the agnostic as a way of tipping the odds in pascal’s wager. Is this an argument that is used interdenominationally? (That would be an ecumenical matter, as Fr. Jack might say.) Would a protestant try to convert an Orthodox Christian on the grounds that the protestant hell is much worse than the Orthodox one?

  7. Elliott says:

    I think you really hit the nail right on the head with this post — here Pascal’s wager seems relevant — provided that one considers hedging a legitimate foundation from which to build entry into paradise. I personally hold the “atheist” or “agnostic” who cares less about arguing the “unknowable” but rather holds a more rounded and consistent position (I’m not convinced in the existence of God but let’s say I’m wrong — it wouldn’t make a difference in my refusal to accept Jesus Christ as my lord and savior since I would rather suffer in Hell than kneel before any King including the King of Kings ) in higher regard. The position while shocking is definitely tighter because in both scenarios the individual “knowingly” accepts his exclusion from Heaven based on a consistent principal rather than ramifications — here Hell or molecular redistribution does not affect his decision even though he is aware of both possibilities. It’s Milton’s Satan’s that people should be on the lookout for not Twittering comics.

  8. knoxharrington says:

    “If you ponder that tweet for a few moments, you realize that Gervais just proved that we all must officially disavow any belief in any empirical proposition whatsoever.”

    This would seem to indicate that the existence of god is an empirical proposition. Please provide evidence that this being exists with that evidence being separate and distinct from the claims made in any “holy” text. In other words, “god said it and it is recorded right there in Genesis” doesn’t count.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Knoxharrington, I am officially not going to bother responding to your comments on religious posts anymore. Back in November (for example) I linked to an essay talking about the case for the resurrection of Christ, which did not rely on the statements in the Bible per se as the evidence. You read the post, because you argued about it in the comments.

      I recognize that you (and Gervais) don’t think theists have offered compelling evidence for the existence of God. But this constant farce where you ask us, “Please just give us something instead of your book of fairy tales!!” gets old.

      • Bob Murphy says:

        And for anyone curious, here’s an argument for an Intelligent Designer of the physical universe (which by itself doesn’t prove the Bible is true, of course).

        • Voluntarist says:

          Bob, all empirically observed qualities being congruent with DNA is not even a particle of empirical data for speculative “Deities”; speculatively asserting a quality is Engineered/”Fine-Tuned”/etc. is not empirical.

          When any “Deity” is empirically observed just like Electrical Charges/Molecules/etc., then it will be what it is not now: Empirical.

        • rob says:

          If we live in a universe so large and that exists for a unlimited period of time, that any possible scenario is likely to repeated an infinite number of times.

          In one of those scenarios you and Daniel Kuhn may play out the scenario you describe in your linked to post.

          Why is god needed when all you need is lots of time and space ?

          • Andrew Keen says:

            But like where did all that time and space come from man? And how did we end up in this specific one (out of infinity)? And isn’t one divided by infinity equal to zero?

            • rob says:

              it just is

              • Andrew Keen says:

                That sounds like something God would say.

      • knoxharrington says:

        That’s fine, Bob. You never really responded to any direct questions anyway. I asked you repeatedly for extra-Biblical accounts for the miracle stories and you never responded. I gave you an impossible task so I’m not surprised. You can keep burying your head wherever it is you bury it and continue to believe in fairy tales (as you called them).

        You claim that god is an empirically provable proposition and yet you won’t provide the evidence. I would encourage you to stop making religious posts – you don’t answer questions, don’t provide evidence and continually engage in “my pastor put an interesting spin on this in church today” which is silly. You make assertions without evidence and when asked to provide some you refuse to do it. What are you afraid of?

    • R. George says:

      Knoxharrington: please provide proof that George Washington existed without using the holy texts of our nation. In other words historical records. It seems a bit silly to think that even the wisest man could produce that kind of evidence in the limited space given here. Proof through personal experience is a nightmare to try to quantify, at best, and even worse when the other party has no reference. If you know God, then you know He’s real.

      • knoxharrington says:

        “Holy texts of our nation.” What are those? We have multiple, independent, contemporaneous, non-interested accounts that attest to George Washington versus the Bible which has NONE of those. The plural of anecdote is not data. If you believe in a delusion then the delusion is real. That reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where George informs Jerry “that it isn’t a lie if you believe it.” Lastly, the Bible is not an historical record and if you believe that it is you are just plain wrong. It’s that simple.


        • guest says:

          From the description:

          “All 4 canonical gospels are written by anonymous Greek-speaking Christians living 40-75 years after the death of Jesus, not by eye-witnesses …”

          Is the New Testament Text Reliable?

          “The first assumption is that the transmission is more or less linear, as in the telephone example–one person communicating to a second who communicates with a third, etc. In a linear paradigm people are left with one message and many generations between it and the original. Second, the telephone game example depends on oral transmission which is more easily distorted and misconstrued than something written.

          “Neither assumption applies to the written text of the New Testament. First, the transmission was not linear but geometric–e.g., one letter birthed five copies which became 25 which became 200 and so on. Secondly, the transmission in question was done in writing, and written manuscripts can be tested in a way that oral communications cannot be. …”

          “To get an idea of the significance of the New Testament manuscript evidence, note for a moment the record for non-biblical texts. …”

          “The important First Century document The Jewish War, by Jewish aristocrat and historian Josephus, survives in only nine complete manuscripts dating from the 5th Century–four centuries after they were written.[3]

          “Tacitus’ Annals of Imperial Rome is one of the chief historical sources for the Roman world of New Testament times, yet, surprisingly, it survives in partial form in only two manuscripts dating from the Middle Ages.[4]

          “Thucydides’ History survives in eight copies.

          “There are 10 copies of Caesar’s Gallic Wars, eight copies of Herodotus’ History, and seven copies of Plato, all dated over a millennium from the original.

          “Homer’s Iliad has the most impressive manuscript evidence for any secular work with 647 existing copies.[5] …”

          “By comparison with secular texts, the manuscript evidence for the New Testament is stunning.”

          “Uncial manuscripts provide virtually complete codices (multiple books of the New Testament bound together into one volume) back to the 4th Century, though some are a bit younger.

          “Codex Sinaiticus, purchased by the British government from the Soviet government at Christmas, 1933, for £100,000,[9] is dated c. 340.[10]

          “The nearly complete Codex Vaticanus is the oldest uncial, dated c. 325-350.[11]

          “Codex Alexandrinus contains the whole Old Testament and a nearly complete New Testament and dates from the late 4th Century to the early 5th Century.

          “The most fascinating evidence comes from the fragments (as opposed to the codices).

          “The Chester Beatty Papyri contains most of the New Testament and is dated mid-3rd Century.[12]

          “The Bodmer Papyri II collection, whose discovery was announced in 1956, includes the first fourteen chapters of the Gospel of John and much of the last seven chapters. It dates from A.D. 200 or earlier.[13]”

          • knoxharrington says:

            “First, the transmission was not linear but geometric–e.g., one letter birthed five copies which became 25 which became 200 and so on.”

            Repeated falsehood = Truth.

        • R. George says:

          Knoxharrington: I’m a bit confused-someome uneducated in sources of independent secular corroboration of biblical texts might get the impression that you speak with the weight of knowledge behind your statements. This, however, is apparently not the case. As even most armature historians will tell you, there are, in fact, independent accounts of biblical events. You seem to be set in your faith, but if you care you can research the writings of Josephis (Jewish historian from the first century), also Tacitus (a Roman historian historian from around the same time). The general historicity of the bible has been put to bad a while ago, and is usually only drug back out by people with a clear self-interest.
          While I found your YouTube link very entertaining and insightful into the effort you, personally, dedicate to the pursuit of information. Please forgive me if I give preference to more scholarly sources, then the website I visit to find funny cat videos.

          • knoxharrington says:

            You are confused. Very confused. Josephus and Tacitus were not writing contemporaneously and do not attest to any specific miracles as eyewitnesses. As you may know, and if you don’t I will inform you, Matthew and Luke were rewritten versions of Mark with additions made by whomever the authors and editors were of those works. In that instance, we could safely say we have one source and not three. Restating someone else’s account is not the same thing as witnessing the account. Mark dates to sometime around 70 – based on the reference to the destruction of the temple at that time. That would mean that the author of Mark was writing 40-50 years after Jesus alleged death. Hardly eyewitness testimony.

            The Bible is certainly correct about some things but that doesn’t mean it’s correct about all things. There was a Jerusalem but there was never a census at the time alleged in Luke, for example. It would be like saying that because New York exists so does Spider-Man. I could go on and talk about no evidence for Genesis and Exodus and so on but the point should be made. The Bible is not nearly accurate enough to be considered even remotely reliable. Citing sources 400-500 years after the events that attempt to attest the miracles, for example, should be seen for what they are – apologetics and theology but not history or science.

            Please cite the independent, CONTEMPORANEOUS, non-interested accounts for the miracles.

            • R. George says:

              I’m sertain that this is in vain, but I’ll give it one more shot. First century scholars are about as contemporaneous as you’re going to get. As you must know, nailing down a times line during that portion of history, to the exact year or even a decade is problematic.
              Secondly, I stated in my post that the historicity of the bible was resonably verified. The Spider-Man analogy, while humorous, is obfuscating. As I, and the other guest, have already pointed out: the existence of Jesus has been reasonably corroborated. A more accurate analogy would be: just because you’ve proved Rudy Giuliani was a New Yorker doesn’t prove he was the mayor.

              I would also point out; that your assertion that since I don’t have the equivalent of a copy of The Times reporting a miracle preformed by Jesus, means that the bible is totally discredited, is fallacious. It relys on a variation of the logical fallacy known as Argumentum ex Silentio; and I’m inclined to discard it for its lack of logic. The other guest has a more thorough list you can review, if you wish.

              Lastly, if you stated that you acknowledged all this, but still weren’t comfortable enough with Christianity to adopt the faith, in its entirety. I could respect that. But your argument is the rhetorical equivalent of covering your eyes and stating that since you can’t see me, I’m not real. That is, in my opinion, insipidly sycophantic.
              At the very least, the Bible holds significant historical weight; and it is logically untenable and intellectually irresponsible to exert otherwise.

              • knoxharrington says:

                “First century scholars are about as contemporaneous as you’re going to get. As you must know, nailing down a times line during that portion of history, to the exact year or even a decade is problematic.”

                We don’t have first century scholarship. If you wanted to cite Josephus, which I wouldn’t, that is second century. You are correct that it is problematic – problematic for the Christian – that is one of my main points. There are no contemporaneous (records, letters, documents) accounts of the miracles. The zombies that roamed the streets after the resurrection as told in Matthew is my favorite. Surely some literate scribe would make a notation concerning the walking dead?

                “Secondly, I stated in my post that the historicity of the bible was resonably verified. The Spider-Man analogy, while humorous, is obfuscating. As I, and the other guest, have already pointed out: the existence of Jesus has been reasonably corroborated. A more accurate analogy would be: just because you’ve proved Rudy Giuliani was a New Yorker doesn’t prove he was the mayor.”

                Reasonably verified? What does that even mean? Verification would mean truth. I would agree that the Bible is reasonably verified – place names being one instance but extrapolating from “they got the place names right therefore the miracles are true” is just simply ridiculous. The Spider-man example is perfectly analogous. Jerusalem exists and its mentioned in the Bible therefore Jesus drove the money-lenders from the Temple. Not so fast.

                The Bible is discredited for a multitude of reasons and just one instance is the complete lack of reporting of the miracles outside of the gospels.

                “But your argument is the rhetorical equivalent of covering your eyes and stating that since you can’t see me, I’m not real.”

                Your argument is the rhetorical equivalent of covering your eyes, turning off your critical mind and stating that since you can’t see god he must be there.

                I don’t think you know what sycophantic means.

                The Bible holds significant cultural weight but not historical weight. I doubt any ancient historian cites the Bible as a source in a scholarly journal unless the Bible itself is the subject of criticism. In other words, no ancient historian would cite the Bible as an assertion for the legitimacy or truthfulness of a statement or proposition. It is intellectually and logically untenable to assert that miracles, which are by definition the least likely occurrence of an event, is the most plausible explanation for an account. Is it more likely that the gospels were written to convert followers or as accurate renditions of historical events? The answer is obvious to anyone with a critical mind and the ability to think. The Bible is literature, not history. I’m just sorry that more Christians can’t admit what is so obviously the truth.

              • guest says:

                “There was a Jerusalem but there was never a census at the time alleged in Luke, for example.”

                From the “Answering-Christianity” link in the description of the Ehrman video:

                “There was no Roman census! …”

                “According to both Luke and Matthew it was also during the reign of king Herod “the Great.”(10) The problem is that Herod died in 4 B.C.E., and this was fully ten years before Quirinius’ census.”

                “Lastly, the existence of a census throughout the whole empire is contrary to the practice of the Romans …”

                “Worse yet, Luke has been forced to contrive a universal dislocation for a simple tax registration: who could imagine the efficient Romans requiring millions in the empire to journey scores of hundreds of miles to the villages of millennium-old ancestors merely to sign a tax from!”

                The New Testament is Archaeologically Verifiable

                “Was There a Census and Was Quirinius Governor? …”

                “But archeological findings have now revealed that the Romans regularly recorded the enrollment of taxpayers and that they held censuses every 14 years (beginning with Augustus Caesar). In addition to this, An inscription found in Antioch tells of Quirinius being governor of Syria around 7 B.C. (evidently he was governor twice!) And a papyrus found in Egypt says the following concerning the administration of a census (confirming the tradition recorded in the Bible):

                “Because of the approaching census it is necessary that all those residing for any cause away from their home should at once prepare to return to their own governments in order that they may complete the family registration of the enrollment…””

              • knoxharrington says:

                “The passage describes how Jesus’ parents, Joseph and Mary, travel from their home in Nazareth, in Galilee, to Bethlehem, where Jesus is born; this explains how Jesus, a Galilean, could have been born in Bethlehem in Judea, the city of King David.

                This passage has long been considered problematic by Biblical scholars, since it places the birth of Jesus around the time of the census, whereas elsewhere the Gospel indicates a birth during the reign of Herod the Great, who died ten years earlier, in 4 BCE. [17] The account given in the Gospel of Matthew, which makes no mention of the census, also describes the birth as taking place during the reign of Herod.[18]

                Traditionally, Biblical scholars suggested ways to reconcile the two accounts which involve assumptions such as that Luke or Josephus was wrong, or the text had been corrupted or misunderstood. Their suggestions included:

                The census was actually conducted by one of the governors of Herod’s time, such as Gaius Sentius Saturninus or Publius Quinctilius Varus.[19][20]
                There were two different events, either a decree followed by a census ten years later, or a census followed by an imposition of tax ten years later.[21][22]
                The words of Luke could be interpreted to mean that the census had been carried out before Quirinius was governor.[23][24]
                Quirinius had carried out two censuses, and for the earlier census he was either governor or in a subordinate role.[25][26][27][28]
                No source outside Luke Gospel mentions a census of the Roman world covering the entire population (the phrase “all the world” is generally taken to mean the Roman world): the censuses of Augustus covered Roman citizens only.[29] Nor was it the practice in Roman censuses to require people to return to their ancestral homes.[30][31][32][33][34][35] Ben Witherington suggests that a census carried out by Herod the Great might have followed a different approach.[36]

                In 1886, the theologian Emil Schürer, in his study, Geschichte des judischen Volks im Zeitalter Jesu Christi (A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ), closely criticised the traditional view. He noted five points which showed, he argued, that the Luke account could not be historically accurate:

                Nothing is known in history of a general census by Augustus;
                In a Roman census Joseph would not have had to travel to Bethlehem, and Mary would not have had to travel at all;
                No Roman census would have been made in Judea during the reign of Herod;
                Josephus records no such census and it would have been a notable innovation;
                Quirinius was not governor of Syria until long after the reign of Herod.[37]
                The suggested alternative translations have been described as “implausible” [38] and “almost impossible”.[39]

                Most modern scholars explain the disparity as an error on the part of the author of the Gospel,[40][41] concluding that he was more concerned with creating a symbolic narrative than a historical account,[42] and was either unaware of, or indifferent to,[43] the chronological difficulty. In The Birth of the Messiah (1977), a detailed study of the infancy narratives of Jesus, the American scholar Raymond E. Brown concluded that “this information is dubious on almost every score, despite the elaborate attempts by scholars to defend Lucan accuracy.”[44] W. D. Davies and E. P. Sanders ascribe this to simple error: “on many points, especially about Jesus’ early life, the evangelists were ignorant … they simply did not know, and, guided by rumour, hope or supposition, did the best they could”.[45] Fergus Millar suggests that Luke’s narrative was a construct designed to connect Jesus with the house of David.[46]”

                This is from the Wikipedia entry on the Census of Quirinius. The link you cited to is an apologist axe-grinder and not a scholar. Luke is just wrong on the census account and he is wrong because he needed to create a device to get Mary to Bethlehem. It is a purely fictional account – just like everything else in the gospels.

              • guest says:

                “The link you cited to is an apologist axe-grinder and not a scholar.”


                A different critique takes issue with the location of the census papyrus appearing in Egupt, while another notes that there were no footnotes used.

                Good volley, for now.

              • R. George says:

                Okay, I’ll let the archeologists and historians, that use canonical texts to varify events and locations,know that the stuff they found isn’t real, because someone needs it not to be for their atheist faith.
                I’m well aware of what a sycophant is– someone who panders to serve their own interests or ideals. Which, if you’re as smart as you seem to think you are, is exactly what your doing. If your not your probably an idiot how have spent to much time on the Internet finding apologists to your faith so you can continue to wallow in you ignorance. Either way, I don’t think evidence will shake you in your beliefs.

              • knoxharrington says:

                “I’m well aware of what a sycophant is– someone who panders to serve their own interests or ideals.”

                Um, no.

                “Sycophant: a person who acts obsequiously toward someone important in order to gain advantage.”

                Again, just because the Bible mentions Jerusalem or some other place doesn’t mean that the story mentioning that place is true. That is the whole point of the Spider-Man/New York analogy. I’m not wedded to a faith. Atheism is a lack of belief in a god not the positive assertion that there is no god. There is no evidence to believe there is a god but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one. That is your job – at which you aren’t very good. This is the problem with you, Bob and other people who make grandiose claims with regard to a god. Prove it. When your argument and claims get shot down you move to another position or try to shift the burden of proof on to the critic. Seriously, you believe that god exists and you based that belief on something. What is it? Your personal experience? Evidence? You were raised that way?

                I’m not wallowing in ignorance – I’m just attempting to point out that you should be a little less sure in your faith because it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. That is willful ignorance on your part.

  9. Voluntarist says:

    Star and Planet Distance/Size Qualities are Empirical; “Deities” are Speculative/Unempirical.

    Empiric (Greek “empeiros”) = Experience: when “Deities” are empirically observed just like Electrical Charges, Magnetic Fields, Molecules/Compounds, Atoms/Elements, and so on, then they will be Empirical; until then they are Speculative/Unempirical.

  10. Harold says:

    There are levels of agnosticism. While I remain agnostic about the sun being bigger than the Earth, the weight of evidence seems very much in favor of the proposition. So if I must act based on this information I will act with the evidence I am aware of, and assume the sun is bigger. With God, I know of little evidence that supports any particular view of God. What evidence there is seems just as supportive of different views of God. Therefore, if I must act I will do so based on the evidence, and assume that any particular view of God is wrong.

    But yeah, Mr Gervais’ comment is not as clever as he possibly thinks it is.

  11. Innocent says:

    Bah, what is knowledge but a belief that our own ability to comprehend that which is around us is sufficient to rationalize.

  12. anon says:

    Hard to tell from Gervais’ last post, but agnostic doesn’t mean you’re unsure as to the existence of God. From my high-school atheist days, the agnostic position derived from Kant and Spencer and such is that matters of ultimate reality are unknowable to the human faculty of reason. Mssrs. Kant and Spencer went in different directions from there, as I recall,

    In the post-Darwin age where human reason is fundamentally understood to be the workings of a hypercharged chimp brain, the appeal of mysterian agnosticism in any number of fields seems particularly strong. The idea that human beings should as a consequence of our intellect be able to answer all of the questions we pose (consciousness and the weirdness of qualia being the ones that get a lot of attention today), much less the questions that we can’t pose because they don’t occur to us, strikes me as odd. The human capacity to derive truth from reason is hardly infinite, even among our geniuses.

  13. Yancey Ward says:

    Gevais’ second tweet is wrong in the last part. Both believers and atheists both believe as they do despite the first assertion- an assertion I happen to agree with. He would also have been on good ground to say both believe as they do because of the assertion, but trying to make one side’s belief seem more “reasonable” is a logical error.

  14. Tel says:

    An Austrian telling a Keynesian that low interest rates are fueling an unsustainable boom is about as scary as both houses of Congress telling Obama they’te gonna haul in his purse strings.

  15. Major.Freedom says:

    There is no empirical evidence for the existence of GOD.

    Anecdotes do not count

    Thoughts and voices in one’s head do not count.

    Extra-biblical documents of the stories of Jesus’ life do not count.

    There is empirical evidence that the Sun is greater in size than the Earth. To use the Sun and Earth as an analogy would imply we can all see GOD’s form in space, visible with telescopes or other electromagnetic sensors.

    • guest says:

      Until I can see, with my own eyes, whoever it is that’s making me type, I refuse to believe that I exist.

      • Major.Freedom says:

        Who or what is this “I” you refer to?

        • guest says:

          That’s what I’m getting at (or, It is that to which I am getting).

          You believe there’s a you that controls your body, but you can’t see it.

          Which shows that you believe in non-empirical evidence – except when it comes to God.

          • Harold says:

            I am sure there is an “I”. Not sure about the body thing.

    • anon says:

      “Thoughts and voices in one’s head do not count.”

      So the direct experience of God that Aquinas testified to doesn’t count, nevermind his arguments? TA’s subjective experience may not count much to you or me, but dismissing the idea of the sacred entirely on positivist grounds strikes me as an odd way for an Austrian to do business.

  16. Ken P says:

    “Once again, everyone by definition is agnostic as no one KNOWS. Believers believe despite this, atheists don’t believe because of this.”

    If someone thinks they can’t know, why would they see that as a reason to be an atheist. That sounds like a reason to be agnostic.

    • Andrew Keen says:

      You are correct. He should have said, “. . . atheists don’t believe despite this,” but his bias towards atheism clouded his reasoning.

  17. rob says:


    “Thoughts and voices in one’s head do not count.”

    I am an agnostic who has never seen any evidence that comes close to proving the existence of good, but…

    What is the difference (in an objective sense) between “Thoughts and voices in one’s head” and what we tend to think of as “experience of the real world” that would allow us to conclusively distinguish between one and the other ?

    • rob says:

      god , not good – I have seen that 🙂

    • Major.Freedom says:

      That which the thoughts refer.

    • Harold says:

      “What is the difference (in an objective sense) between “Thoughts and voices in one’s head” and what we tend to think of as “experience of the real world” that would allow us to conclusively distinguish between one and the other ?”

      Evidence is stronger if it has verification. Any voice you hear is either a hallucination or it has an external origin. If others also hear the voice, it provides strong support for the voice having an external origin. This allows us to distinguish in the vast majority of cases.

      Of course, the other people supporting the evidence may themselves be hallucinations, so we can never *conclusively* distinguish between them. If everyone else is an hallucination the whole argument is moot anyway, as I am only talking to myself.

      If the message the voice communicates contains verifiable information that could not have been arrived at via a hallucination, then we have some evidence that the voice was not a hallucination. Information that is not verifiable provides no extra evidence. Someone telling you after an event that they knew that was going to happen is very weak evidence. Someone telling you before an event what is going to happen is much stronger evidence.

      • Andrew Keen says:

        This made me laugh. If you would allow me to reword your comment for the sake of humor, you basically said, “I only listen to the voices in my head that can accurately predict the future.”

        I’m not sure why you expect the voices in your head to have precognition. Professor Xavier couldn’t tell you the future. (Unless of course he’s talking to his past self through a time travelling Wolverine medium.)

        • Harold says:

          Your paraphrase is wrong, because I did not say I only listen to the voices in my head that accurately predict the future. I said more like IF the voices in my head accurately predicted the future then I would listen to them.

  18. rob says:

    And how do you know to what the thoughts might refer ?

    How would you distinguish between a hallucination that “proves” the existence of a god , and a real experience that appeared to did so ?

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