Atheism, Ricky Gervais, The Office, and Christmas

Ricky Gervais is the creator of The Office.  It ran for a few seasons in the UK before being converted into the massively popular US T.V. show.  Ricky Gervais just wrote the following article for the Christmas season.  It is called: A Holiday Message From Ricky Gervais:  Why I Am An Atheist.  http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2010/12/19/a-holiday-message-from-ricky-gervais-why-im-an-atheist/ It saddened me profoundly on a number of levels.

  1. The arguments he makes are old and have been refuted by Christians for centuries on levels that he is obviously unaware of.
  2. Christians in Britain are largely unable to defend their faith because it is blind and shallow.
  3. Atheists assume that they are smart because of an ironically blind faith in science.
  4. Religion is presented as something one grows out of and that is acceptable as long as you keep it private.
  5. I like Ricky Gervais.  I wish he had thought beyond the faith of his childhood.
  6. I want to stop the world from walking away from God with a sense of academic superiority.  I need to accept that I do not have control over such things.
  7. If I have faith, I need to live by it and trust that somewhere people will be reading books by Christian intellectuals that push back against the New Atheism that is becoming increasingly popular.

At this time of year it is good to remember some of the evidence that Christians do have.  The Gospel of Luke was compiled by someone who gathered eye witness accounts.  If the accounts in the gospels were not so remarkable they would not be so controversial.  They are evidence or proofs in the historical sense of an event that happened 2,000 years ago.  However, because of their remarkable testimony they have been rejected by skeptics since their beginnings.  Atheism is not something new.  There are those who are willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads.  Those who have faith in God follow a path to life and light.  It is in the Christmas season that we remember the Truth, or The Proof, of God coming to us. 

Luke 2:1-21

 1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
   and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

 21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

Questions

  1. Which historical figures are present in the narrative?
  2. What do the angels announce?
  3. What do people assume that makes them discount the story as myth?
  4. Is there a spiritual reality?
  5. How can you have a soul if you do not have a spiritual/metaphysical reality?
  6. How can you have free will if you have no soul?
  7. How can Ricky Gervais trust his thoughts as true if all that he is is a collection of hydro-carbons?  How can matter have moral processing or any standards at which to aim?  Surely matter just ‘is’!
  8. If you believe there is more to this life than matter, science is insufficient.  If there is more to life than science …

Okay, I’ll stop.

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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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