“Thank you to God for making me an atheist.”


“It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God.  It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

Ricky Gervais hosted the Golden Globes Sunday night and totally killed it (or was super mean and uncalled for, if you have sand in your vagina).

He ended the show with a throwaway comment that I assumed was going to get lost in the sounds of remote controls clicking off.  But it didn’t.  And thank God for that.

In case that video gets taken down for any reason, the incomparable Ricky Gervais ended an American awards show with:

“And thank you to God, for making me an atheist.”

Brilliant.  Of course, Ricky comes from a country where Christianity (and religious belief in general) has been on a decline for awhile.  It’s no wonder that some of the most prominent atheists – Richard Dawkins, Stephen Fry, Gervais – are British.

Bringing that British humour to American shores always has risks (Americans can be a bit dense with their humor – I know that’s a blatantly baiting blanket statement, and I’m okay with it).  But then, to proudly declare one’s atheism on television (without being an attractive, genius, fictional miracle worker) is going to ruffle some feathers.

So, on cue, here come the whiners.  You can read the comments on the page (most of which seem to be pro-Ricky) or you cannot.  But let me just give you a sampling of some of the response.

Amy • January 16th, 2011 at 11:50 pm

Never heard of Rick before, but I certainly hope that I never see him again. I thought he was very obnoxious!
Also, what an uncalled for and cowardly remark to include in the last seconds of the show…….No wonder this world is the way it is!!!!!


Lindy • January 16th, 2011 at 11:57 pm

Just goes to show you that heavy drinking affects good judgment. Not surprising for an atheist!

 

Deb • January 17th, 2011 at 12:50 am

Very inappropriate. Comments he made about some of the stars were very inappropriate and last but not least, the comment he made about God making him an Atheist, was completely inappropriate. The show was to honor show business and the people involved, not to bash people’s religious beliefs. Won’t watch next year.

Such umbrage at Ricky’s declaration of atheism. The first two insult him for being an atheist (cos obviously his being an atheist makes him an unrepentant alcoholic who is ruining the world), and the last one complains of him “bashing” religious belief.

Um, huh? Where was the bashing? All Ricky did was say he was an atheist. How is declaring one’s lack of faith an attack on another person’s faith?

Before some Christians get their panties in a bunch, let me say that I understand these comments aren’t representative of all Christians. The fact that I have to say that everytime I write about atheism/Christianity should say something about the general level of sand in vaginas in this world, but I’ll let it go.

Those three comments are fairly representative of how people react to any public admittance of atheism (like those billboards). They either take offense or they accuse the person(s) of being what’s wrong with the world.

Yet they don’t bat an eye at someone saying “God bless you” or “I’ll pray for you.” These are just as innocuous statements as saying “I’m an atheist,” which is why I think anybody getting offended by either side should just step back and shut the hell up.

Atheists whining about religious statements being everywhere are annoying, too. Oh, boohoo, it says “In God We Trust” on money. Waaaah.

But, the fact is, there are far more Christians in this nation, and they are far more vocal about voicing their discontent the moment an Atheist steps out of the shadows.

Nothing Ricky said all night was in any way offensive towards Christianity.  And, believe me, if Ricky had wanted to be offensive on that subject, he could have been.

So, tell you what Christians.  Stop getting offended when someone says they don’t believe what you believe.  And maybe when someone actually does do something offensive to your religious sensibilities, we atheists might give a shit.

Probably not, though.

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12 thoughts on ““Thank you to God for making me an atheist.”

  1. It is true that Britain has a fair number of atheists, and as this is a free country no one seems in the least concerned. Re: Ricky Gervais, however, it is not his none religion that appears troublesome to some of us here, but his comedy that does not seem to make people smile. I can never last more than three minutes before switching programmes. I hope Americans forget about him.

    • “it is not his none religion that appears troublesome to some of us here, but his comedy that does not seem to make people smile.” (‘here’ being where? America?)

      Really? The creator of “The Office” doesn’t make people smile? One of the most famous and successful stand-up comedians, tv show creators (besides being behind the UK and US Office, he created “Extras” and “The Ricky Gervais Show”, both highly respected and beloved shows) and numerous movies. He may very well be the most financially successful comedian since Seinfeld.

      3 minutes of what, may I ask? 3 minutes of his stand-up? 3 minutes of the Office (which he isn’t on in the US)? 3 minutes of the Golden Globes? It’s not like he’s regularly appearing on episodes of 2 and a Half Men, so I’m not sure where your exposure to him comes from. That is to say, despite being wildly successful, you still have to actively search him out to see his comedy here in the US, so if you know you don’t like him, why bother watching in the first place?

      Being offended by his remarks towards fellow celebrities (most of whom are in on the joke) is ridiculous. Not finding him funny is your right, but don’t be deluded: You are missing out on a joke, and taking offense to his comedy doesn’t prove your respectability or moral fortitude.

      EDIT: I assumed you were from the US, because this post had to do with an American Awards show and the offense taken by American Christians. If you are, in fact, from the UK, I realize your exposure to him may be much higher. But I’d still object to your assertion that he doesn’t make people smile. He’s one of the most popular comedians in the world right now.

  2. I like Gervais and I like Howard Stern for that matter. I think both are witty and have keen understanding of what is happening culturally. I have from time to time prayed to God that Howard would be converted and use his influence for Kingdom purposes. I guess I need to add Ricky to the prayer list also. Good post. Thought provoking.

    Best regards,

    Tony

    • Fair enough.

      This is just a genuine question, not trying to be snide or anything. If Stern or Gervais converted to Christianity, I would presume you would then believe that your prayers worked, that they had been answered. Does that mean if they never convert (and I think Gervais represents a particularly unlikely convert), does that mean your prayers don’t work? Does that mean prayer doesn’t work?

      (I know the answer to this question, I’m really just asking for the hell of it.)

      • I have kids and they ask me for stuff all the time. Sometime I give them what they ask for and sometimes I don’t depending on what I think is best for them. I see my relationship with God in the same way. Prior to conversion I was an enemy of God and an object of his justice and wrath, post-conversion I am an adopted son with access to a Father who listens to my petitions and responds to them according to His best judgment.

        Peace,

        Tony

        Peace,

        Tony

      • Yeah, I knew that’d be your response. It’s a very simple analogy, God as father, and it makes the whole punishment/giving and taking angle easier to explain.

        But, my question wasn’t why wouldn’t God give you a pony or a lot of money.

        My question was, what would you consider it if God didn’t answer this particular prayer: Salvation of the lost. I’m sure you’re a decent guy (not that it matters one way or the other), and you’re asking for a presumably decent thing (salvation from eternal damnation for the lost). There is nothing selfish about that request.

        It’s the equivalent of your kids coming to you and asking you not to run over a squirrel in the road. The kids aren’t asking anything for personal gain, they just don’t want you to be cruel.

        And yes, I know there is free will (or maybe there isn’t if you’re a Calvinist). But, in the Bible, God actively hardened hearts (Pharaoh) and took dramatic steps to change hearts (Saul into Paul), so why exactly wouldn’t God answer your prayer? What fatherly analogy exists for him denying the wish of one of his children to not see a person anguish in eternal torment?

        And, ultimately, if God will not intercede on behalf of a ‘sinner’ such as Ricky or Howard (or me) to change his heart, then why are you praying for them? What’s the point?

  3. For me my earthly Dad did a great variety of things that I didn’t understand. At day’s end I don’t really know what would sway God to act one way or another, I am just thankful that I have the opportunity to fellowship and commune with Him. Why was I saved from God wrath? I don’t know. Why would I pray for the lost even if it might be to no avail? What else can I do? God is the only one who can change these folks. Another good reason is that Jesus modeled this kind of relationship and discipline of prayer with the Father. Again not sure how it all works, but for me there is peace and contentment in trusting the Father.

    • Again, I will say, fair enough. Your peace and contentment is in something you admittedly don’t understand, founded in a being you cannot see who does things at a whim that you cannot control or really even influence (as far as you know).

      If that does bring you peace, that’s fine. I don’t have interest in questioning that aspect of it.

      I will say, though, that it is quite condescending to say that you will pray for someone to find God, as it implies that you a) know more about life then they do, based on nothing but faith and b) have greater happiness than them, even though you don’t know them personally.

      Just as a related question, don’t you want your children to grow up? I’m sure they were adorable as little rugrats. And I’m sure there is great satisfaction in seeing their unquestioning love in their eyes for you. But, as a father, wouldn’t you be pretty sad if your children never developed thoughts of their own, never developed a will and a willingness to challenge you? Shouldn’t children develop reason and the facility for independent thought?

      It just seems strange to me that God would be more impressed with your willingness to accept all outcomes as his will (without question) then with someone like Gervais’s willingness to question and use his reason to explore the world.

      I don’t doubt you are an intelligent, well-reasoned person, but nothing in what you just said in your previous comment displays those characteristics.

  4. I don’t see it as a condescension by praying for someone to have a relationship with God. I would be remiss not too, my faith is predicated on the idea that there a great many people unreconciled to the creator the universe and that outside of a relationship with God humanity is lost. Would it not be most selfish to have no concern for others who do not have faith in God?

    All I want for my kids is to be reconciled to God through Jesus. That is my prayer for them.

    Is faith unreasoned or illogical? Sure. Faith calls us into relationship with a being we are unable to fully know and subjects us to His power and will. Faith suggests that God is perfect and unchanging. Human logic and reasoning is volatile, constantly evolving as we encounter new scenarios, situations, or examine things empirically. We don’t think or reason the same way we did 100 years ago. Humans are limited and those limits ebb and flow as humanity pushes itself to new levels. To me its a conflict to think that an evolving humanity would be able to fully comprehend or grasp the entirety of God to authoritatively understand and affirm or deny Him.

    Something happened to me. A light switched on that I can’t turn off and I have tried. It is what it is. I don’t really know that I am happier than anyone, but like I said it would be odd to not pray for others to have the same experience I have. It would be selfish and ungrateful on my part.

    • “Human logic and reasoning is volatile, constantly evolving as we encounter new scenarios, situations, or examine things empirically. We don’t think or reason the same way we did 100 years ago.”

      Not true. Reason doesn’t change, it always demands the same thing: Evidence. We don’t believe the same things we believed 100 years ago, but our ability to reason hasn’t changed.

      There is a difference between rigidity (which is what defines faith) and fortitude (which is reason). A person of reason admits a lack of knowledge and will change their views as the evidence suggests, but that doesn’t imply a lack of cohesion or mean that reason is not constant.

      If you’re a juror in a trial and you go in with a verdict in mind, regardless of the evidence presented, you aren’t the type of person we want in our justice system. Yet this is exactly what faith expects: You have an answer, and no matter what evidence confronts and subverts that answer, you’re going to stick with it.

      You have your conclusions, the evidence be damned.

      I suppose, for you, that’s a reassuring way to live, but I found no peace in such a life and having read Gervais’s account of his own atheism, I know he feels the same.

      That’s a promise you don’t need faith to believe in.

      P.S. From a grammatical point of view, this sentence is gibberish:
      “To me its a conflict to think that an evolving humanity would be able to fully comprehend or grasp the entirety of God to authoritatively understand and affirm or deny Him.”

  5. I appreciate the dialog and the critique. Maybe someday I will be able to sort it all out. Best wishes on your 10 city adventure.

    Tony

  6. I love Ricky Gervais. Why should Christians be allowed free speech, but athiests have to keep their mouths shut. The truth is that Religion more than anything is a billion dollar business playing on the beliefs of others. The difference with atheism is that there is no “big” guy at the top making billions of dollars living in a mansion, sitting by his pool drinking sangrias, while other people worship him and his so called “discovery of the “truth””.

    Atheists don’t have that kind of money based on playing on the beliefs of others by trying to get followers. Religion vs Atheism is like money vs people just living. If I were a good business man, I would create a religion and tell people what they want to hear and how God spoke to me and sell this idea and let all the God believers pay my mortgage, my education and I would be living high preying on poor “God believers”.

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