Comedian Ricky Gervais recently appeared on Inside the Actors Studio with host James Lipton.
He discussed the origins of his atheism in the way only he can (The relevant portion begins at the 4:33 mark.)
Here’s a rough transcript of the exchange:
Lipton: What are the lessons that you learned [from your family]?
Gervais: That the truth doesn’t hurt. Whatever it is, it doesn’t hurt. It’s better to know the truth.
I remember… My mom only lied to me about one thing… she said there was a God. And… but that’s because when you’re a working class mom, Jesus is like an unpaid babysitter. Do you know what I mean?
It’s just sorta like she wants you to be good… where I grew up, she wasn’t hoping I would be a doctor or lawyer; she hoped I wouldn’t be stabbed to death in a bar room fight.
You know, so the best thing to do is, if he’s God fearing, then he’d be good.
Good rule of thumb, because… I went to Sunday school, from about the age of four to eight — just great teachings of Jesus. I loved Jesus. He was my superhero. He really was. God was magic, right? But Jesus was just a man, and what I loved about Jesus was he was kind, and he was brave, and I thought, he was amazing… absolutely.. brilliant guy, you know…
So I was about 8, and my brother must have been 19. He came in once, and I was doing something from the Bible, and he said, “What are you doing?” And I said, “Drawing Jesus.” And he went, “Um, who is Jesus?” And I said, “Well, he was the Son of God” And he went, “Why do you believe in God?” And my mom went, “Bob… shut up.”
And I knew she had something to hide… and he was telling the truth.
And I knew, I knew from body language and I worked it out and I was an atheist in an hour.
Lipton: In an hour?
Gervais: It’s true. I wish there was a God. I wish there was. It would be great. From what I’ve heard, he’s brilliant, you know.
But… You can’t believe in something you don’t.
Also, if there is a god, why did he make me an atheist?
That was his first mistake.
Well, the talking snake was his first mistake…
(Thanks to Deanna for the link!)