I think Ricky Gervais’s television shows are hilarious, but he really should leave theology to other people. He said in a recent article, A Holiday Message From Ricky Gervais: Why I’m an Atheist:
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.
This statement, and several other things about his article, dismayed me. However, his article was also instructive for those who want to look beyond its text. I’ll get to that in a moment.
But first, why did Mr. Gervais and the media choose to release this article right before Christmas? Nice timing. Very respectful. Why is it that Joy Behar storms off her own show because Bill O’Reilly makes a statement about Muslims and everyone cheers her, yet nobody has a problem with Mr. Gervais insulting Christians? Mind you, it doesn’t bother me that his statement bothers people. In fact, those who believe in God (regardless of religious affiliation) should welcome such a challenge. It’s the timing that is disrespectful.
Second, there’s an arrogance that oozes throughout the piece. Mr. Gervais is so insistent that he is right – a trait often exuded by those on the Left — that he subsequently relies on faulty logic and a few bad childhood experiences to bolster his case.
Third, this is just more of the same from Hollywood: the constant denigration of those who believe in God. Don’t believe me? Name ten films out of the thousands produced since 1980 that presented a positive theme about faith in God — not faith in general, or a feel-good spirituality, but the G-word. Now name ten films in which a person who believed in God was cast as a villain. Then take it to television. It’s even worse there.
This is done despite the fact that on any given Sunday morning, you will find over 100 million Christians in the same type of building — a church. The vast majority of people in this country identify themselves as Christian. Yet Hollywood does not seem interested in making more money and generating higher ratings by actually delivering content that reflects the values of the majority of this country.
There’s one more item regarding Mr. Gervais’s article that is instructive for all of us. He’s just wrong. God’s existence cannot be proven or disproved via objective means. Therefore, His existence (or lack thereof) is a strictly subjective determination.
To decide whether I was right or Mr. Gervais is right, I took our statements to a friend from college who happens to be a Christian scholar. I handed him both statements without attribution. Here is his reply:
There are very few matters that are truly “objective”. The only ones would be mathematical truths, but everything else is evidential in nature. For instance, how do we know that George Washington was the first president? This cannot be determined “objectively” because we have to depend on written documents handed down to us from many sources. There is ample good evidence that he was first president, so I believe it wholeheartedly, but it cannot be proved in a theoretical, absolute sense, only evidentially. Indeed, this is how our court system works.
We don’t have to have 100% certitude to have knowledge.
So, what is the evidence for God? What evidences for or against God do you find compelling? Some say an absolute good being cannot exist because there is evil in the world. There is archeological evidence surrounding the Old Testament and Jesus Christ, so how does one interpret all of that? We should each go through all the evidence and make a judgment. Many will not do it because they find it too threatening to their way of life, because let’s face it, if God exists, it has enormous implications for this life and the next.
We must make a judgment. In other words, God’s existence is indeed a strictly subjective determination. Argument resolved.
This is what irritated me about Mr. Gervais’s statement. We can have knowledge but not 100% certitude about something. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t test our knowledge, however, to see how certain we are about something.
A lot of people tromp around all day making illogical statements, having built a subjective reality based upon “knowledge” that has not been tested. In my experience, Conservatives, more often than not, do their best to test their knowledge with logic prior to forming an opinion. Liberals are fueled by emotion, resulting in more questionable knowledge from which they form their opinions.
Ironic, isn’t it, that they are the ones who rely more on faith in their knowledge?
Happy New Year, and remember, a closed mouth catches no flies.