Yesterday, British comedian Ricky Gervais explained why he’s an atheist with a 1,600 word column in the Op/Ed section of the Wall Street Journal. Over 600 of those words were lifted from an article Gervais wrote almost three years ago.
Belief in God is a tricky issue. In fact it’s more like conversational dynamite. Unless you don’t enjoy making friends you tend to stay away from religious discussions. That’s why our society reserves the topic of religion for three types of people: priests, theologians, and comedians.
Gervais is an atheist, and he wants the whole world to know why. Because newspapers will do anything to attract readers, the Wall Street Journal granted him an open forum to explain why he is an atheist, and more specifically why there is no God. It’s roughly 1,600 words of Gervais explaining that there are no facts to support the theory that God exists.
My point being, I’m saying God doesn’t exist. I’m not saying faith doesn’t exist. I know faith exists. I see it all the time. But believing in something doesn’t make it true. Hoping that something is true doesn’t make it true. The existence of God is not subjective. He either exists or he doesn’t. It’s not a matter of opinion. You can have your own opinions. But you can’t have your own facts.
While reading Gervais’ essay I couldn’t help but think his argument sounded extremely familiar. Just last week I had read a 2008 article by Gervais from Best Life Magazine recalling the day he realized there was no God. Then I realized that he had simply cut and paste that entire article into the middle of his Wall Street Journal piece. Over one-third of Gervais’ WSJ essay is a lazy reprint.
His heart-felt essay loses a certain sincerity when you consider a large chunk of it was written nearly three years ago. Hell, all Gervais had to write was an extended intro with a couple metaphors and a short conclusion.
I like Ricky Gervais, I admire his honestly and care-free attitude. I think he’s a comedic genius, especially when it comes to crafting television shows like “The Office” and “Extras.” And his appearances on late-night talk shows are wonderfully irreverent.
I have no problem with atheists. However the essay seems to be nothing more than the Wall Street Journal’s attempt to create some controversy around the Christmas season, while giving Gervais a wider audience to preach to about his beliefs. And in that sense the article was very successful. On the WSJ website the article has received over 35,000 Facebook “likes” and nearly 2,000 comments.
But it doesn’t change the fact that it just feels kinda unnecessary.
Best Life Magazine April 2008 – My Argument with God
Wall Street Journal 12/19/10 – A Holiday Message from Ricky Gervais: Why I’m an Atheist