January 21st, 2011
10:18 AM ET

Ricky Gervais says atheism shouldn't offend

Ricky Gervais tells CNN's Piers Morgan why he's an atheist, and why his jokes about God shouldn't offend believers.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • TV

soundoff (486 Responses)
  1. Carole

    Tyler V, may"I" beg to differ? As an educated former Christian who has had many discussions (both as a Christian and Former Christian) I can tell you that I didn't have any deep understanding of Christianity. What I had was rote learning, recitation, guesswork, tradition, rituals, supposition, hope, wishes and all things as tanglible as smoke and mirrors. It was FAITH and faith alone, which is necessarily and by definition, lacking in depth. If the atheist has an understanding 2 inches deep, that's 2 inches more than the believer has.

    January 22, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  2. Tyler V

    Don, I beg to differ. As an educated Christian who gets in many discussions, I can tell you that most atheists dont really understand religious faith. They often have an understanding that is 5 miles wide but 2 inches deep, or is highly colored by their own skepticism (the same way many theists have a poor grasp of atheism that is colored by their own theism). They often do not wait to fully comprehend the other position prior to evaluating it.

    January 22, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Don

      And I know that you're wrong, Tyler. It is you theists who don't understand faith. You think it's something precious and wonderful. It's not. It's the destruction of knowledge. It is wishful thinking at the most extreme. And it never can lead to the truth save by accident.

      January 22, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  3. Tyler V

    Eric, what is your fact and reason that all beliefs must be based on fact and reason? I'm not saying that you are wrong (since I agree) but merely that we often dont realize that everytime we criticize people for presupposing beliefs, we ourselves often dont realize our positions are often presupposed.

    January 22, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Tyler V

      Hey Tyler... It's been awhile, yes...?

      You 'may' want to go back and re-read -Eric G's post again... slowly, and take a moment to let it settle in, as I think you 'may' have missed his point/s...and...made some presuppositions yourself about he and his postings that may or may not be accurate.

      Just some thoughts...


      January 23, 2011 at 1:42 am |
    • Eric G.

      @peace: Very well put. As always, your civil tone commands respect.

      January 23, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Eric G.

      Thank You, -Eric...


      January 23, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  4. Tyler V

    All these posts ever really show is that most atheists have almost no understanding of religious faith and most theists have almost no understanding of why people lack belief or ar angry at organized religion. These tend to be rants of presuppositions but ignorants on both sides rather than any real constructive dialogue.

    January 22, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Don

      Except that most atheists do have an understanding of religious faith, which is precisely why they reject it.

      January 22, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  5. gerald

    I'm not offended by atheists. God loves them too.

    January 22, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      Gerald..from what i see of gods love I sincerely hope that is not true....

      January 23, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  6. gerald

    Atheists seem to feel a need to strip others of any faith they have.

    January 22, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Eric G.

      Not true. All I ask is that if your beliefs shape your actions, then your beliefs should be based in as much verified fact as possible. I consider this to be a reasonable request. Your actions have an effect on us all. If your actions are not based in fact and reason, they are at best irrelevant, and at worst very dangerous.

      January 22, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • John

      Hey, gerald, if it's as easy as saying "I don't believe" to shake a theist's belief, then they have serious doubts already and their grip on faith is extremely fragile and tenuous.

      January 22, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
  7. Muneef

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    January 22, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  8. The Tomtompiper

    LoL the old there are no Atheists in foxholes chestnut, patently untrue but oft used. What is true is that there are no Theists in Hospital waiting rooms.

    January 22, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  9. Evolved DNA

    Great interview and comments from Rick. Have a question for those who believe all the answers are in the bible. What age are you when you get to heaven and meet all those that went before? if you lived to say 90, and a family member went at 20, are you always going to be 90...or do you revert back to an age when you were not so wrinkled? or magically, do people see you at the age you were when you were separated?

    January 22, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      That question would go to what one would believe Heaven would be like. There are those that believe that it will be a wondrous place but often conflict or disagreement would come because everyones definition of "wondrous" is different.

      There are those that believe we will be given white robes and angel wings and we will spend an eternatiy on marble steps to the chair in which God sits. There are others that just see Heaven as a eternal walk down a beach with Jesus. We can even touch on the 70 or so virgins some claim.

      I remember one of the worst spiritual arguments/fight I have ever witnessed was not here or on any web message board. It was when one Christian girl told another that pets, that had passed on, would not be waiting for them in heaven. I have never seen such impacts as the words these two flung at each other.

      The answer Evolved ... or more like my answer is that my belief is that it is Heaven so maybe there is a choice, maybe it can fluctuate... No idea but I know it will be a great time.

      Try this one, this was a question that I have seen on a few spiritual message-boards...

      Will you be male or female?

      Peace dude.

      January 22, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Evolved DNA,
      We become as beautiful as the Angels and are 'perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect'...which is sinless and thus most beautiful.

      January 23, 2011 at 8:24 am |
  10. Erin

    This topic shouldn't be taboo. I applaud Ricky Gervais for being forthcoming on atheism. An individual who is secure with his or her views and beliefs has no reason to be defensive on the topic. Unfortunately, the comments following this video are brimming with defensive tactics.

    January 22, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  11. Nathan

    Why is it that man wrote the bible and yet we have not added to it? Simply because if anyone claimed to have talked to god and wanted their story added to the bible you wouldn't believe him. You would beg him to leave it alone because that would open the bible up to new additions. And though you may not say it aloud, the reason you're really angry at the man adding his own modern stories to the bible would be because you think he is wrong, or crazy, and believe he would tarnish your faith. The story of man hasn't ended, so why has the story of god been allowed to? Because you would sound crazy and none of your christain brothers would support a new bible especially because it could contain laws or facts from gods mouth that you dont agree with.

    January 22, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Maybe


      "...if anyone claimed to have talked to god and wanted their story added to the bible you wouldn't believe him."

      It would seem so, but some have gotten away with it: Mohammad, Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard and a few others. It's all about PR and marketing... as Paul of Tarsus knew so well.

      January 22, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  12. Reno


    > Everyone has a free will and a choice to make

    If you believe in the bible you cannot believe in free will. It's impossible. Perhaps you should think about what the bible says about God.

    When Jesus said to Peter "You will deny me three times before the rooster crows". Peter was unable to choose differently
    Not true Bob.
    Just because Jesus knew what would be said, does not mean Peter had no choice to change his mind. But since he knew he wouldn't, he spoke those words.
    God would not meddle and cause Peter not to do something he was gone to do. That would be interferring in Peters free choice. Just like he won't meddle in your life and change your beliefs.
    He does not preprogram people, lest we would all be obeying like puppets. Thus, your free will would not be free.

    January 22, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Know What


      "Just because Jesus knew what would be said, does not mean Peter had no choice to change his mind. But since he knew he wouldn't, he spoke those words."

      If Peter had not denied 3 times as Jesus said, then Jesus would have been wrong. According to your scenario, Jesus ("God") could not be wrong. If Jesus saw it as a future fact, it was a done deal.

      January 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Know What

      p.s. Peter was pretty dang stupid if he couldn't count to 3. Wouldn't he say, "Ah, there's #1. Oops, #2, I must be vewwy, vewwy careful now..."

      Either that, or he was trying to prove Jesus to be a soothsayer.

      Or, more probably, the whole story was made up.

      January 22, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  13. Reno

    There was no REPLY button on those I posted, so I addressed them in one post

    January 22, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  14. Reno

    Reno (POst by me way up in the upper part of this thread) For Clarification

    Your body is alive, but your soul is dead. Guess you all don't get it,huh?
    Fear not the death of the body, but your soul!
    Now, for all who proclaim to be so smart here, (athiest) can you digest that?


    I'm sure it's just coincidental that all the atheists in these comments use better grammar and spelling than the Christians... right?


    @ Josh,

    I won't stoop to your tactic...of "my writting is better than yours".....oh your going to make me cry.....what's next...don't like my font either....Please.
    My comment was aimed at the post above, and backing up CW on some of his comments.

    Dialogue between:

    CW, you really need to try a different tack. The "you're going to he-ll" rant is only effective if your target audience believes he-ll exists on the first place.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |

    Oh, Hell, that place you guys have created for those who don't believe the same things you do?

    It's good to know that I could live my life as a good person, without doing harm to anybody and bringing as much positivity as possible into the world, and I'll go to hell. But if a mass murderer accepts Jesus just before they plunge the needle in, your belief system says he gets into your harp-laden eternal paradise. Of all the illogic in your dogma, this is perhaps the most egregious.

    Thus...MY COMMENT

    Mr.Skia....That is only because our God (who is also YOUR God) loves you so much that if you are on your death bed, and suddenly are REALLY sorry for all your sinful ways, he is just and loving enuff to let you come home, to Heaven.

    Don't be fooled...no one who THINKS he can pull that and NOT MEAN IT..will still get thier just reward...Hell.

    God is no respector of persons. He said to all...Come as you are. Unfortunately, some people will only realize as they lay dying, that they have forsaken the one true and loving God, Jesus Christ.

    I was trying to show that we did NOT create Hell, its in the bible, and trying to show that some people can and do, come do God when they are near death. If they are sincere, it is accepted, as in from the heart.
    If not, no one can just use it as bailout.

    Now, Bob says..
    in response to my post

    > That is only because our God (who is also YOUR God) loves you so much that if you are on your death bed, and suddenly are REALLY sorry for all your sinful ways, he is just and loving enuff to let you come home, to Heaven.

    Is that also the same God that will grant heaven to a monster murdered little girls if he recants on his deathbed but will punish someone who has lived a good life, helping the poor and downtrodden who did not accept writings as "absolute fact" with eternal suffereing.

    Yeah, he must really love us.

    Bob. I did not write the bible, nor did I make the rules. Thing that most people don't understand, is that God said regarding the 10 commandments, if you broke one of them, you broke them all. That means you are guilty of breaking the whole law.
    I guess thats why all sin is sin.

    I understand what you are saying, and on its face it sounds awful. But remember God is just and fair, and that is why as sinners we are all seen as alike. I do not know who personally is going to Heavn or Hell, thats not for me to judge.
    I was just stating that the love of Christ, is always with you.

    If a person like Hitler, does not repent,yes, he will see Hell. (The just reward for his sin) I am glad I am not God, as I would be probably unfair and send him there with no chance to repent, just based on what he did. Thats how we view things in our human condition.

    While I am at it, Eric asked someone if his child was autistic, and could not comprehend the things that Jesus said we need to do to be worthy of Heaven, would he go to Hell? I can say no. God is just and would not hold a person who can not understand to Hell. That person would be given a pass to Heaven, just as little babies are.
    It is only when we can understand, we are held accountable.

    NOw..SealChan..You said:

    Good point Bob. As a Christian I know that God is not so fickle as to best love those who "say the magic words" no matter how sincerely will get anything. The words also mean something and that meaning is an act and the act can be performed without words.

    Reno, what happens if you tell someone that they are about to fall off of a cliff but you use a language that they do not understand willfully knowing that they will not understand it? The man you try to warn looks at you with confusion or frustration or, eventually, will dismiss you entirely and proceeds to fall off of the cliff anyway. You might as well have pushed him off of the cliff.

    Why then do you not see that you waste your time? Because there is something that you do not see within yourself that causes you to, out of lack of faith, persecute others.

    Reno, what happens if you tell someone that they are about to fall off of a cliff but you use a language that they do not understand willfully knowing that they will not understand it?

    First, what language did I use that you are referring to here? and what do you mean they "don't understand it"? "willfully" knowing they don't understand it?

    SealChan, in all due respects, unless a person has some issue mentally, or has some affliction which would cause them not to "understand", what are you talking about? Presenting the teachings of Christ, or his offer of Salvation, is pretty easy to understand. If you are a Christian, and love people, do you not share with them, what you know? Or just keep quiet and let them alone for fear you will offend?
    I do not know what you mean by "willfully". I willfully try to spread the gospel message of Salvation, if thats what you mean. Sorry. People will choose thier own way, but we are told to preach the gospel of Christ to all. I am not, understand, NOT judging anyone, that is NOT my job.

    If ones falls off the cliff anyway, as you say, then I cannot be responsible for pushing him off the cliff, (an absurd analogy.Sorry) as by your words, he went off the Cliff "anyway". If trying to save someone from leaving this life, because I am sharing the gospel, is pushing them over the cliff, mayby YOU need to take a better look at your belief system, which you say is "Christian"

    Do not judge, SealChan.
    The rest of your post:
    Why then do you not see that you waste your time? Because there is something that you do not see within yourself that causes you to, out of lack of faith, persecute others.

    Waste my time?? Why, because I am trying to help my fellowman?? Something I do not see within myself?/ HUH? What a babble of words!
    Something I do not see within myself, that causes me to, out of lack of faith, persecute others????
    I have no clue what you are talking about, but can a–ssure you, I have no lack of faith and am not, have not, nor would ever, persecute anyone.
    Your ideas are ridicolous, and your armchair evaluation of me, is as well. Go read and pray, SealChan. Do not give up your role as a "christian" for a PH.d

    Read and think and pray, before you post .It may help your "wisdom" to be more well balanced and worth reading

    January 22, 2011 at 10:10 am |
  15. Carlos

    Jokes about god should not offend beleivers. God, after all, does not exist.

    January 22, 2011 at 1:32 am |
  16. Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

    I'm very happy as an atheist, and all these Christian threats of hell don't bother me at all. I personally don't want to go to any "heaven" where people who in life were good and decent and giving are excluded from heaven and punished eternally purely because they did not believe in god, or the right god.

    God as the religions describe him (they don't let god be a her) always seems to be a very unpleasant being. If you put the Christian god's attributes on, say, your boss, the results are pretty nasty. What would you think of a boss who demands that you worship him constantly, who took all the credit for the good things but said you were responsible for all the bad things, who only rewards those who worship him regardless of how badly they behave but who will horrifically punish those who do good but who do not worship him?

    I cannot imagine that an ominscient, loving god would be such a shallow, needy, vindictive jerk.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I concur.

      January 22, 2011 at 12:23 am |
  17. tallulah13

    Mr. Gervais put it quite nicely. Now I kind of wish I'd watched the Golden Globes, despite the fact that I really, really dislike award shows.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
  18. t party

    great points about religion meaning good and doing good for man kind....Religion perpetuates division,hatred,judgement,separation of man. I am agnostic do not need a book to comprehend kil-ling,stealing,lying,cheating are bad things

    January 21, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
  19. Mark from Middle River

    "... And could be only one or more of those sub branches are making all the trouble in the world towards which seems all Muslims have to suffer...?!"

    Muneef – Can you go and inform those Muslims the same thing about Americans? Or are all Americans called to suffer?

    January 21, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
    • Muneef

      No one should suffer but not known who plays this game to make all suffer...

      January 22, 2011 at 7:42 am |
  20. Lary Nine

    No Christian is exempted from being human by believing in God. Conversely, no non-believer is ever banished from the human family for atheism either.

    January 21, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
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