Ricky Gervais Discusses Religion, Atheism, and The Invention of Lying

Ricky Gervais has been making the media rounds the past few weeks to talk about his new movie The Invention of Lying.

In the movie, lying leads to, among other things, the invention of religion.

So, Gervais has been talking about religion in many of the interviews he’s done:

When [Gervais' character] Mark Bellison learns to lie, he learns it can be used to comfort people, not just for personal gain. Something close to Gervais’s heart.

“I’ve been an atheist all my life,” he continues, “but I always knew that if my mum asked me when she was dying if there was a heaven I’d say yes. I’d lie. I think that’s how religion started – as a good lie. If you’re not an atheist you can watch this film without getting angry. I watch films about angels, love ’em. I don’t think you have to treat something that comes down on one side as propaganda.”

[Link]

Gervais insists he isn’t worried that his views about religion could ruin his career.

“I’ve never tiptoed around the subject, not even in America,” he said. “I say it on TV in America; I say it on radio in America. I nail it to the mast. I did Inside The Actors Studio and the students were taken aback.

[Link]

“I don’t see why we would ever get hate mail,” [Gervais] said at the movie’s press conference. “We decided that in this world, that’s how religion started. It’s an alternative world. It’s in no way atheist propaganda. I love films about angels and things like that and I wouldn’t go, ‘Oh, they’re coming down on one side here.’ Like ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ I don’t leave the cinema with my faith or lack of it challenged. I don’t think people should take this as anything other than an artistic choice.”

But as might be expected from a Gervais-led panel, every serious pronouncement about the film is countered with something funny. [Writer/director Matthew] Robinson adds, “I wrote this film to denounce one organized religion in particular and that’s Greek mythology. Because Zeus is not real. I don’t believe in him and I don’t think anyone else should.”

The ever-earnest [Jennifer] Garner embraces the prospect of controversy. “Isn’t it great if [the film] does start a conversation? Religion is something worth examining and your faith is something worth questioning. So I think if this movie asks that of people, that’s not a bad thing.”

Gervais prods Garner for her own belief system. “Yes, I do believe in God,” she confirms. “Thank you for making that clear.”

[Link]

Gervais’ appearance on Inside the Actors Studio can be seen here (with transcript).

(Thanks to Deanna for the link!)

  • Miko

    From the historical evidence, religion started as a means for the ruling class to dominate everyone else. Early conceptions of heaven tended to be along the line “the ruler gets good things after death; everyone else either gets nothing or bad things depending on how well they served the ruler.”

  • Pseudonym

    Miko, I’d like to see your historical evidence about how “religion started”. No rush.

    I like this concept for a movie. It neatly shows why small lies are important so that, as Terry Pratchett famously pointed out, we can believe in the really big lies, like “justice” and “democracy”.

  • Erp

    I have to point out (1) that historical evidence starts with writing which doesn’t exist until after a ruling class exists and (2) the lower class wasn’t doing the writing.

    The lower classes will sometimes subvert the ruling class religion. US slaves got the Bible (especially the bits about slaves obeying their masters) but then looked at the stories of the exodus of Hebrew slaves from Egypt to dream of their own freedom.

  • KeithLM

    Miko that seems like a pretty bold claim. As I’ve understood, and this seems fairly obvious to me, religion started as a way for primitive people to explain the world around them. Somehow I doubt that early nomadic tribes had a ruling class that could really benefit from religion.

  • Siamang

    I like this movie idea.

    Love Gervais. Great cast!

  • http://infophilia.blogspot.com Infophile

    The ever-earnest [Jennifer] Garner embraces the prospect of controversy. “Isn’t it great if [the film] does start a conversation? Religion is something worth examining and your faith is something worth questioning. So I think if this movie asks that of people, that’s not a bad thing.”

    Gervais prods Garner for her own belief system. “Yes, I do believe in God,” she confirms. “Thank you for making that clear.”

    If only more believers could be like her. I may not agree with her conclusion, but at least she doesn’t fall into the trap of refusing to ask any questions.

  • alias

    Damn, almost had my full fantasy fulfilled there. Jennifer Garner as an atheist… oh well…

  • Colin

    Gervais is a funny guy. I’d love to see the full “Inside the Actors Studio” he did. Maybe they’ll rerun it at some point.

  • http://twitter.com/dobledeuce Jason

    Most people are atheists. This can be confirmed, not by asking them, but by examining their behavio(u)r.

  • Lol Mahmood

    Jason is correct.

    Everyone is an atheist.

    Christians who don’t believe in Zeus, Ra, Odin, etc. are ‘atheistic’ about those gods. Those of us who don’t find the evidence for any gods persuasive just go one god further than the christians (or muslims, jews, hindus, etc.). If even committed believers in this or that religion are atheists about all other religions, then atheism is arguably the most popular of all possible ‘religious’ worldviews.

    I will readily concede that this is a slightly facile semantic argument, but I think it makes an interesting debating point.

  • Sean

    “Most people are atheists. This can be confirmed, not by asking them, but by examining their behavio(u)r.”

    Considering most are good/decent people, I agree.

  • Eugene Keech

    Question on “evolution:”

    With over 150 years since Darwin introduced his theory, evolutionists have had ample time to pin down specifics regarding translations from one animal species to another. OK?

    So, can you specifically identify two successive species in a direct translation over time? That is, tell me one species that is known and identifiable and the very next identifiable species that “evolved” from it. Then, tell me how many part-one-species/part-next-species hybrids have been found to confirm this specific translation. If this evolution took thousands or millions of years to occur, then there must have been many millions of hybrids of varying proportions generated over that time. So, where are they?

    No “haystacks” of generalities and obfuscations, please! I want to know a specific case of two successive species that have been positively proven that successively evolved from one to the next.

    If no one can provide this evidence, then I say “evolution” is an empty dream with no support whatsoever in fact. Science requires positive evidentiary proof. I am a retired engineer, and my work required proof, also.

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  • Mr Pinz

    Eugene, even if there were absolutely no fossils, (we are extremely lucky to have so many, look at how the whale evolved for an example)there would still be overwhemling evidence in many different fields that confirm the means of evolution by natural selection to be true.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    I want to know a specific case of two successive species that have been positively proven that successively evolved from one to the next

    What about something like the following:

    Consider the two species
    Homo sapiens and Ardipithecus ramidus.

    After a careful examination of the fosil record including mitochondrial DNA, it appears that the followng transisional species can be found between them (starting with Ardipithecus ramidus:

    Ardipithecus ramidus
    Australopithecus anamensis
    Australopithecus afarensis
    Australopithecus africanus
    Homo rudolfensis
    Homo ergaster
    Homo heidelbergensis
    Homo sapiens

    Of curse things are only absolutly proven in the mathematics. In science, one gathers evidence. The work continues to gather more and more evidence.

    I got the lineage above from this link.

  • Rob S

    Eugene,

    Complete misunderstanding of Evolution. Can you show me where any evolutionary scientist of repute (Dawkins, Coyne, Darwin, and many others)EVER says that evolution would look like what you describe?

    You are either misled, or willfully ignorant of the topic. Evolution of species occurs as populations drift, minor changes grow into major changes over hundreds of thousands of years, and eventually the members of one drifting group are no longer capable of mating with the other group. Voila, new species.

    Go read a credible book on Evolution, like Dawkins’ new “The Greatest Show on Earth” or Coyne’s “Why Evolution is True.”

  • weavehole

    So, can you specifically identify two successive species in a direct translation over time? That is, tell me one species that is known and identifiable and the very next identifiable species that “evolved” from it. Then, tell me how many part-one-species/part-next-species hybrids have been found to confirm this specific translation.

    Eugene, I second what Rob S says above but you may also be interested in reading up on Ring Species.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_species

    I hope that points you in the right direction.

  • Siamang

    Guys, Eugene Keech is using standard Creationist troll ploys here.

    Let’s check the scoreboard:

    Posting on a dead thread? Check!
    Posting off topic, which is about a COMEDY MOVIE STARRING RICKY GERVAIS. Check!
    Totally disproves 200 years of biology with a blog comment. Check!

    Bonus points: ENGINEER!!! Salem Hypothesis!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salem_hypothesis

    Folks, call these people out, and don’t spend too long engaging them. They post on old posts on purpose…. so nobody will call them on their bullshit.

    Oh, and standard creationist M.O. says he’ll never respond to this thread. That’s one thing that is everpresent with creationists. They always bail after you’ve taken the time to be patient and try and walk them though things thoughtfully and respectfully.

  • hhkdharmon

    Well, A Christian said it, so it must be true! This is a full scale assault on Christianity.

    http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/stkarnick/2009/10/02/invention-of-lying-anti-christian/

  • Jonn Mero

    Eugene Keech:

    Eugene, there is a saying that any idiot can ask questions that ten wise men can’t answer. You are one of those IDiots!

    And who would really be bothered trying to get anything into your thick, goddidit skull?

  • Siamang

    Awesome link hhkdharmon!

    Hemant, you should run this article.

    I thought that the film had some ribbing in it about religion. But that link from hhkdharmon is awesome! It makes this film sound like it’s the anti-christ!

    He keeps railing about “blashphemy!” That’s AWESOME. A guy can’t make a film about a universe in which God doesn’t exist so a man invents religion!

    I think Gervais is right, I don’t get all upset when people make a film like “It’s a Beautiful Life” or “Damn Yankees” or “Angels in the Outfield”.

    This is HIL-arious.

  • Siamang

    Plus Jenifer Garner is in this movie. That means it will now be Hemant’s favorite movie of all time.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Plus Jenifer Garner is in this movie. That means it will now be Hemant’s favorite movie of all time.

    You know me well, sir :)

  • Cinderey

    I think people will get very upset.
    ‘Believers’ feel very threatened when their world religous view gets questioned. that’s why they ‘spread the word’ with such enthusiasm. I can’t wait to watch the film. I hope it’s not Ofiice’esq cringey!
    Let’s not get upset with Eugene. Atheists all know the illogic of Creationists.

  • Cepheus

    Well I saw the movie last night and I thought it was very clever and quite amusing. However, I was bothered by the way its agenda was hidden until you are well into the movie and by its obvious attempts to offend believers and belittle them. I am a believer and I don’t mind atheism expressing their views, I do however take issue with the tone and tactics that is often used to do so. This movie being a good example. It seems to me that atheists tend to resort to mocking believers in their efforts to express their views. I don’t dismiss science or people who believe in evolution as morons, I just don’t believe they hold the complete picture. I believe science is a study of God every bit as much as religion is. Atheists may not believe in God, but to mock those that do is not acceptable behavior. We are not all brainwashed simpletons believe it or not. Many of us freely develop our own thoughts and beliefs without being told what they are by some guy on a throne in Italy or Utah

  • Cepheus

    Oh and I love a good debate. Especially if anyone can do so by some other means than referencing flying spaghetti monsters…

  • Tim

    As a child, I used to think we all lived in separate universes – Venn diagrams, if you will, with intersection sets. That was the only way I could reconcile that there was no God in my universe but there was one in my friends’.

    Of course, the best way to test a ‘true believer’ vs. the whole CS Lewis ‘hard won belief’ thing is to use the phrase ‘Christian myth’. Now, myths are stories designed to explain the world, and that certainly describes the Bible. But my friend in university (I still don’t know why he didn’t get rocks and start smiting me) who believed dinosaurs were planted by god to test our faith, that abortion was always to be illegal even if mother and child would both die and the mother might conceivably have a healthy child later and that even one second of doubt meant an eternity in hell (behold, you are neither hot nor cold, so I spit you from my mouth…well, it’s a possible take), got livid at this turn of phrase and said the bible and christianity were truth, not myth (note: it’s not as though I think any religion is truth for me). And, of course, his argument for the Bible being true was that he and it both said it was.

  • Mark

    Well Cepheus,

    There are many ways to debunk god, but references to the FSM raises a good, key point.

    Of course it’s easy to illustrate without FSM – one could use fairies, a celetial teapot, invisible pink unicorn, or the easter bunny.

    I posit that the Easter Bunny exists (and the one true Easter Bunny.) When our parents told us He was not real, it was merely a test of our faith.

    Once you prove the Easter Bunny is NOT real, I will use those arguments to prove God is not real…

    Or you could take the logically correct route, and demand I prove the Easter Bunny exists as it is I who carries the burden of proof.

    Ditto for God. If you’re convinced with the evidence that currently exists you need to raise your standards.

  • John from Canada

    Religion can be a good thing, but…

    I’m an atheist in the classic sense: I don’t believe in any supernatural beings.
    In my first sentence I’m saying that religion does provide some good things for people. The common person who goes to church and prays and feels good. Or the sick churchgoer who gets a fundraiser for an operation, etc.

    But I say that we would be much better off without it and this is why. Look at the state of the world now. We had George Dubya with his hands on the most powerful military force on the planet saying things like he’s on a mission from Dog to save the world and free the middle east. And you have the other side saying that Allah (peanut-butter sandwiches?) tells them women are property and must be stoned to death if they get out of line.

    Well ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know about you but I want to live and I want my kids and neighbors to go on living too. The last thing I want is some nut-job like Bush pressing the button because in his mind some imaginary cloud-hopper told him to do it.

    Although the other side of the coin is that its an atheist pushing the button, but generally its the people with a disposition towards believing in religion that end up causing the most harm in the world. You want proof? Look at Scandinavia Religion in Scandinavia one of the most peaceful parts of the world today.

    Anyway… I think I’m right… just like the rest of you.

  • Cepheus

    I will certainly be the first to agree with you John. Many atrocities have been committed in the name of God and Christianity, but that does not say anything of his existence one way or the other, nor does it say that if He exists He endorsed any of these men’s crimes in His name.

    Mark I’m afraid I don’t have much of a response to you. Just rehashing the FSM argument with a substitute creature is still the same thing. If there was direct proof that God existed there wouldn’t be many atheists around, nor forums such as this. I can neither prove, nor disprove string theory. Can you? How much more could I prove the power responsible for the creation of the strings in the first place? In order for science to prove the existence of God would require following science all the way to its logical conclusion i.e. knowing all there is to know about our universe or perhaps all universes, whatever the case may be. Remember science said the universe was eternal until they discovered the Big Bang and then all of a sudden the universe had a creation after all!

    Tim people that are right because they say they are bug me no matter which side of the God debate they come down on. People such as that do little for their respective views and if anything tend to push people further the other direction.

  • John from Canada

    Well said Cepheus.

    To counter then if we don’t know what ‘He’ thinks is right or wrong based on our personal interpretations then how could anyone follow any organized religion? What if the interprers (church) got it wrong?

    Why are there so many different Christian denominations and so many religions? They can’t all be right. Doesn’t mean that they are all wrong. But the fact that other gods have come and gone throughout history signals to me that this god is just another phase in human evolution that will eventually mutate into oblivion since there is no real benefit to survival.

  • Philip K. Dickensian

    I stumbled across this thread looking for any discussion of the religious commentary in “The Invention of Lying,” which I greatly enjoyed. I thought it was imaginative and thought-provoking. It kind of petered out in the last part, but most of the time I laughed my head off.

    And, yeah, I’m a devout Christian.

    I’m a convert. I was an atheist once. I don’t judge. I have nothing against atheists, atheism, or the separation between Church and state. I understand atheism’s principled rejection of metaphysics and its equally principled embrace of moral living for its own sake. Atheists are some of the best and most generous people I know.

    I believe in evolution; I believe in a Big Bang; the difference between my understanding and an atheist’s is that, yes, I believe that God authored the very miracles behind evolution and the Big Bang. But I am not anti-science.

    I don’t understanding suffering, evil or the long history of oppression and outrage in the name of our loving God and Christ. Anyone who reads the Gospels and really tries to live their Word should be appalled by the behavior of so many Christians in history. Should God be blamed for the errors of humans? Jesus explained pretty clearly how we’re supposed to live: love one another, give to the poor, don’t judge, have faith. But we continue to ignore that message and screw things up.

    No, I can’t cough up “hard” evidence that God or an afterlife exists. But I know they do. I’ve witnessed too many gifts and mysteries in my life not to believe that we are all eternal beings — no matter what mistakes we make and how stupidly we behave while we’re alive. There are many earthly windows into the Divine: the grip of a baby’s hand, the beauty of Bach, the inexplicable sense of love and eternity that can overtake the darkest grief. I can’t measure it in a beaker. But yes, I know it’s there.

    Life is a struggle. Faith is a struggle. I agree with Jennifer Garner’s sentiments. We should always be open to new ideas. We should always ask questions about our faith and be willing to answer them honestly.

    Anyway, life’s too short not to laugh at a Ricky Gervais movie.

  • Cepheus

    Bravo Phillip. You expressed exactly the things I wanted to, I just never found the right words to get it across :)

  • ANTZILLA from Australia

    No one has ever had evidence of God or the “devine” just because you don’t understand the workings of nature doesn’t make it supernatural or the work of a creator. It just means you don’t understand an your brain just finds it easier to have a God than to think about it more. No I can’t prove something never existed, I just know it didn’t and still doesn’t. It’s not a Gods fault for the actions of humans, because there is none, it’s the belief in God that is the cause.Q) How do you know you follow the “right” God? A) It has the same beliefs you do. LOL

  • ANTZILLA from Australia

    On further thought on Phillip. K says, Windows to the devine WTF? What about the endless suffering caused by nature aka “acts of god” the poor person trapped untill death in rubble or the daughter held kidnapped and raped her whole life where is the devine for that person. The millions of people throughout history that have starved to death??? where was YOUR god then? Anwser NOWHERE!!!! DOESN’T, AND WON’T EVER EXSIST!

  • Becca P

    I’m 19 & I thought the movie was brilliant and very thought provoking! There really is no point to sit here and argue about whether there is truly a God or not because everyone is entitled to their own opinion and at the end of the day no minds are going to be changed because of a blog. I personally believe in God because I believe in Satan. Evil could not exist without good and vice versa. Believeing in a Heaven & Hell has kept me from committing suicide on a few occassions but if I die & nothing happens, at least I will have lived my life without cutting myself short. Religion is socially structured anyway; generally, people are going to believe in whatever they were raised to believe. So I say if you believe in Allah, Buddha, Zeus, Nothing, or the big fuzzy pink man, then I’m all for it! We’ll all find out the truth when we die.

    I commend Atheists becasue thay HAVE to be some of the most emotionally & mentally strongest people in the world! Many of us would not be able to handle the thought of there not being something to look forward to after death. If there was no heaven, what would we live for?

  • ANTZILLA from Australia

    Becca,
    Anything that has helped you stop harming yourself has to be thanked. However never having been conditioned into any “belief” structor myself other than that of evolved moralitiy (that we are born with) has given me the insight to enjoy LIFE now while alive, tolerating the bad things in life hoping that it will go away/no happen in death would be a waste of your life. As for Atheist having to to be strong people is may true in your extremly religous solical struture however to most the belief in a god/creator is harder to comprehend. That is why i liked the movie as it showed you would have to be completly gulable to believe such things LOL. LIVE ON AND LOVE.

  • Siamang

    If there was no heaven, what would we live for?

    Um… life?

  • http://angryatheist.net ANGRYATHEIST

    Great movie, just watched it!

  • Matthew

    It is great to hear everybodies theory about how religion started, when nobody has an actual clue. Those who chose to not believe, want to live there life with no consiquences and nobody to hold them accountable for there wrong doings. The day will come where you will have to answer for your sins,and I would hate for god to look me in the eyes and say I never knew you. I wish all you non-believers who have there own made up therioes on religion all the best of luck. Try to measure eternity, that is not something I’m willing to play russian roulette with. To think this magnificent world was created through evolution or two metors colliding are pulling at straws. Because you did not meet the creator does not mean it does exist. We have all seen a beautiful painting or a magnificent watch, however we never question weather or not there was a creator behind that painting or watch, just because you did not meet the creator does not mean it does not exist. There is one book that is correct. It is called the bible. Try picking one up join a bible study group and start reading and understanding.There is a heaven and it awaits god loving Christians who turn there life over to Jesus and live the way god intended us to live. If you have ever read the bible and studied the bible you would understand that prophecies like the death of Jesus Christ is predicted to the day. There are many events that are predicted. You simply can not guess that good. And to think we are on this earth for no reason just because of evolution is the most closed minded theory one could think of. Darwin guessed wrong most of the time, and yes it is a guess. If you don’t get your house right with god, god help you and your family.

  • Matthew

    God is a loving and caring God, but in no way is he going to show mercy on those who decide to live there lives the way they feel is the best for them, so for those of you who feel there is no God because bad things happen in this world it is because we allow them to happen through our made up beliefs, the only evolution that is going on in this world is that we are evolving into a horribly evil world, god is coming back and God help you Evolutionists when you spend eternity in hell thinking about your upside down theory of evolution. This world is full of self righteous, self centered, all about my self, and my needs individuals and that is why this world is in the toilet. Has anybody noticed the more we take god out of governement, out of school, out of mind, have you noticed how horrible this world has become. Think about all the bad in this world, and think about how it comes from those who want to better themselves, and there governments for there own good. I will not judge you as there is only one who will can do that. There is nothing your internet learned theories could ever tell me that would ever prove your point when there is a bible that predicts all. Good Luck and make sure to pack sunscreen I hear it is HOT!!!!

  • Siamang

    Hey, that’s awesome, representative of the God of Love ™, to come and threaten us with everlasting torture.

    Truly you are morally bankrupt. I guess if your argument can’t stand up to reason, logic or evidence then threats are all you have left.

    Sad, really. Sorry, I’m not afraid of your imaginary nightmares. You shouldn’t be, either.

    Anyway, your little posts say far far more about you than they do about us.

  • http://none.com snoop DOG

    nobody cares.. go cry your self to sleep because you have to argue all night to feel better..?

  • ANTZILLA from Australia

    Lol just because you haven’t met a flying spagetti monster doesn’t meen it doesn’t exist.

    Matthew, i hope you and your type don’t come near my house with your pitch forks and flaming torches. How many people throughout history have been killed because of creationist lies. The sooner all traces of GOD/s are removed the better and REAL morals can be used.

    Where is your God in Haiti? One of the most Christain societys on earth, just got fucked by your imagainary friend.

    You and your kind are the real EVIL using ingnorence to justify your actions.

    The reason for the decline in society is because no one takes reponciblity for there own actions, this come from the belief in stupid shit like “devils/God”

    Take responciblity for your own actions and stop playing with little boys bumbums you sick creationist fuckers.

  • Siamang

    Antzilla,

    It would help your case if, when you accuse someone of ignorance, you SPELL THE FUCKING WORD correctly.

    Seriously, take a remedial English class. You come off as a complete idiot.

    Or a comment poster on Youtube.

  • ANTZILLA from Australia

    Siamang
    Don’t really have time to proof read every thing I write. You’ve never made a spelling mistake? Thanks all the same.

  • Siamang

    Not as many as you did in one post!

    There’s irony in misspelling the word ignorance, when calling someone else ignorant.

    Granted, Matthew is a complete raving lunatic, though.

    Cheers.

  • ANTZILLA

    Having now looked through that post your right it is a bit of a joke. Spelling has never been my forte. I can see how mistakes like that can damage valid points. I guess my over enthusiasm to sick it to Matthew got in the way.

    LOL @ youtube comment well done.

  • Jay J

    Nice to see a place where logic has it’s say. I work with people from all over the country, who mostly have college educations, and who are mostly blindly religious. I’ve noticed one common trait. When the conversation comes to “unbelievable things” like evolution or global warming I will ask what fraction of knowledge they have about the subject compared to a scientist. The usual range is 25-50 percent. I try to explain that one tenth of one percent would be a lot closer. It is like the engineer above who obviously knows nothing about scientific method, or biology. It’s similar to the Mark Twain comment that the problem is not so much what people do not know, but all the things they know which aint so. Part of the problem obviously stems from the main job of religion, which is to keep people ignorant. I wish I had a solution, mostly as I near 60 years I am losing my optmism.

  • Philip K. Dickensian

    Matthew, man, you’re not helping my case. God loves all and shows mercy in ways we can’t divine (no pun intended, but it fits). The New Testament is awfully clear on a few points. We’re instructed to: 1) love; 2) have faith; 3)forgive; 4) give to the poor; and 5) NOT JUDGE.

    Antzilla: Yes, there are windows to the divine. And yes, in my life I’ve witnessed evidence of God’s love. I could itemize them here — answered prayers, moments of healing calm, brushes with the inexplicable while witnessing the death of a loved one — but I doubt any of them would persuade you.

    No, scratch that — I’ll tell you one. On my father’s death bed, he saw and spoke with my recently dead sister. The catch: He didn’t know she had died. We didn’t tell him. He had Alzheimer’s — fully verbal, personality intact, but no short-term memory whatsoever. If we had told him, he would have grieved and then forgotten it until we told him again.

    I heard my father’s end of the conversation when he saw my sister, spoke to her and learned she had died *from her*. There was no mistaking this. He repeated it aloud. I was flabbergasted.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am not “anti-science.” I stand in awe of Nature — as I did BEFORE I began to believe. I started out as an atheist, and I would never assume that I know more about the natural world (be it global warming or astrophysics) than the scientists who study it. And again, I also believe in evolution — I just happen to believe God was behind it. The story of Darwinian evolution is, if you ask me, one miracle after another. It’s astonishing we’re here at all, taking part in this dialogue.

    I cannot prove to any of you that God exists, or that you’ll move on to another world after you exit this one.

    But I’d ask you to consider this analogy.

    What if I didn’t believe in oxygen? You’d tell me: But of course there’s oxygen. We breathe it every day. It keeps us alive. It carries us through the day. We’d be dead without it.

    Then I’d say: But it’s invisible. How do we know it exists?

    You’d say: Just because it’s too small to see doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. You’d explain the periodic table. You’d tell me about atoms, and molecules, and the entire busy world that exists beyond our pathetic ability to see it.

    And I’d say (being rather thick): But how can we truly know something that we can’t see?

    And you’d say: Listen, bub, you could see it with a microscope.

    And I’d say: But I’m blind.

    And you’d say: Sorry to hear that, but plenty of other people have seen it through a microscope.

    And I’d say: So?

    And you’d say: Wow, you’re a piece of work. I’m telling you oxygen exists. Air exists. Your existence is proof of its existence. It gives you life.

    And I’d say: I don’t believe it. I don’t believe in oxygen. I refuse to believe in what I can’t see.

    And you’d say: Well, it makes no difference whether you believe in it, because it’s there, and it’s the reason you’re alive.

    And so on.

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  • Philip K. Dickensian

    I didn’t make anything up, kind sir or madam. That’s a true story. I probably shouldn’t have told it here, but what the hey. Life is short: that we can agree on.

  • Philip K. Dickensian

    I should have clarified: the story about my father’s experience was true. I witnessed it.

    The story about the blind person not believing in oxygen — if that’s what you mean, yeah, I obviously made that up. No argument there.

  • ANTZILLA

    Philip,

    You seem to think that this god is answering your prayers, but this same god doesn’t give a shit about people with REAL pain and REAL needs. The people of Kenya are highly Christian, but they are starving to death and losing their animals, which are their livelihood. There are children trapped in dungeons made by pedophiles, and those children are probably praying pretty hard for their god to come help them, but it’s not happening. Christian American soldiers are praying for their lives and for their comrades, but are still coming back in body bags. An earthquake has trashed one of the most Christian countries on Earth, and the Christian god doesn’t seem to care. Thousands were slaughtered while praying in churches during the Rwandan genocide. But what did you ask for? What was so important, and what is so spceial about you, that this god ignored poverty, murder, rape, child abuse, starvation, disease, etc., but helped you?

    • William

      But that’s the thing ANTZILLA! God cannot interfere with our lives! The terrible things that happen to these good innocent people are really not His fault, they’re the faults of the evil murderers and rapists and all the evils that WE have created! Natural disasters are mere coincidences! Our lives are tests of our faith. Those who have faith will be rewarded in the afterlife! And you say God doesn’t care? Of course he cares! He loves mankind with all His being. We are His creation, His children! So, all I can say to you ANTZILLA is, if you think that God only cares about the people who are successful, then what a sad life you must lead, you ignorant simpleton. God may love you, but I do not.

      And P.S., Do you realize that the christian God is the same as the Islamic God and the Hebrew God? All Monotheistic religions believe in the exact same GOD!

      • Bnvr

        I think it’s cool how japanese scientists have created human functioning livers from stem stells just this month. And how there’s people that don’t die from electricity. How music affects us, how certain frequency’s make unsettling songs because the sound dates back to millions of years ago when it meant danger. How we have a sense of humour, how who we are is affected by our ancestors thousands of years ago. How nano technology will someday change everything only one of which is depression. How cutting gluten out of your diet if you have celiacs disease means you won’t have a belly that is so bloated you looked pregnant. Nothing is more important than humans to me and if something makes someone justify persecuting others, gain positions of power, supports old ways that are senseless , treating anyone lesser, then it needs to die out. Like religion is never infront of me, I don’t talk about it with my friends. There’s a lot of people that are quiet about their faith, don’t mention it to people they don’t know, it’s not an enormous part of their life. But the majority make decisions that are wrong based on their faith. And people telling me I can’t do something when I should be able just because a few people came up with the rules a long time ago extremely pisses me off. It’s like some people will never be listened to by a crowd because there’s a donald trump in the room.

  • Philip K. Dickensian

    Antzilla, I don’t deny evil or suffering in the world. I don’t pretend to understand it. And I don’t pretend to have answers for you.

    Nothing makes me “so special.” I’m not. I would never suggest that God functions on a “quid pro quo” basis wherein only Christians or monotheists are protected from pain and anguish. If I implied such a thing, I’d be insane.

    All I’m saying is this: there is a God, there is another plane of existence beyond this one, and I’ve seen evidence (I don’t use the word lightly) of both in my life. I also believe this God is the source of all love in the world — and, as such, bestows it universally and indiscriminately on everyone, be they Christian or Jew or Muslim or atheist. You needn’t be a person of faith to feel the warmth of the sun. It shines on all of us.

    Why this same, loving God allows pedophilia and earthquakes and Hitlers I have no idea, none. All I know is we are each individually called upon (or “called,” in the religious sense) to choose good over evil, to choose love over hate, to choose peace over war. You could call this “free will,” if you were so inclined.

    If all of us, all of the time, successfully employed our free will to choose good and love over evil and hate, would there be pedophilia in the world? Would there have been a Holocaust? I don’t know.

    Of course free will can never explain a natural catastrophe. Again, I have no explanation for you at all. I can’t wrap my brain around any kind of suffering.

    I have no idea why some people (like my extraordinary sister) suffer for years with disease and then die at a young age, when other dumb lumps (like me) go on to rewarding lives. You needn’t lecture me about pain.

    And yet I believe in a merciful and loving God. I accept that my brain is too small to understand everything, but that someday, perhaps, I’ll escape the bounds of human existence and comprehend the incomprehensible.

  • ANTZILLA

    Philip,
    Thankyou for your honesty, we’ll have to agree to disagree on the existance of god.

  • Philip K. Dickensian

    Antzilla, thank you as well.

  • myk

    wow, @philip K dickensian, have u ever thought about running for office, lol. I have been an athiest for over 10 yrs, and for the first time in my life, honestly I actually now have a feeling there may be more out there……vey well said my friend. First time i ever saw someone that was agnostic with such a different appoach other than the normal, ur gonna burn, style.
    bravo.

  • Philip K. Dickensian

    Thanks, myk.

    Unfortunately, the ur-gonna-burn folks tend to shout the loudest!

  • Ruby

    BTW I was never taught the nine planets of the solar system as a theory in grade school. So, why is it that something so ever-changing (science) can teach its findings as fact (again with the human arrogance), but we consider something as constant as the Bible to be an incredible, theoretical fairytale. We can’t be that much in denial…lol…Have we not evolved?


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