Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ricky Gervais on God etc.

5 minute interview with Ricky Gervais here, connected to his film 'The Invention of Lying'. The film is about a society where no-one can lie (like Liar Liar in negative), and Gervais's character tells the first lie. He goes on to invent a Man in the Sky - the film is an atheist polemic as well as a comedy. Hoping to catch it next week - anyone seen it?

Interesting what he says about God, heaven etc. - "I wish there was a God" "Do you think there is a possibility that there is a God" "No." ....."I think there's a logical, a biological explanation for everything."


  1. I've got this theory.

    Musicians who aren't as popular as they used to be would suddenly discover God. Sam Fox, the Proclaimers (may be a bit unfair here), Beltane Fire (whoever they were - but I watched them support Marillion once and next thing I knew they were at Greenbelt).
    Comedians who aren't as funny as they used to be (or never were in the first place) - discover atheism.
    I suspect this may be Ricky's professional death-rattle. I hope not, because I loved The Office and liked Extras, but maybe the "chubby, loveable, sadly not as PC as he thinks" persona has now been played out. Even Wossy can't keep you going forever.

  2. I don't think the Proclaimers should be on your list. Both 'Sunshine on Leith' and 'Hit the Highway' are full of references to God and faith, it seems to be very much part of who they are and what they sing about all the way through. "While the Chief/Puts sunshine on Leith/I'll thank Him for His work/For your birth and my birth." etc.

    Not sure about this - Marcus Brigstocke was very funny last night, and isn't a 'new atheist', more like someone who wants to think about whether God is there or not in public. And Jimmy Carr and Eddie Izzard have always been atheists, from what I can gather.

  3. I'm wondering, what's "new" about "new atheism"? This term "new atheism" is banded around a lot and I suppose any publicity is good publicity etc. but I'm fascinated to understand what it is that people think is different about "new atheist" ideas verses say Bertrand Russell or similar, looks identical to me.

    I've met Marcus Brigstocke in the flesh so to speak, and my perception from talking to him would be that he's almost entirely aligned with the views of the so called "new atheists", or at least he agrees with most of the views since there isn't really a distinct "movement" that has a single shared dogma etc. I haven't seen this show, I must try to do that, one of my buddies saw it recently and said it was good too.

    It seems that every stand-up comedian you look at these days is an "atheist", I'm sure a lot of this is simply cashing in on the Zeitgeist of the audiences in a similar way that most comedians seem to be more left leaning than right (politically) etc. I guess because that aligns better with the younger audience?

    ...or is this a secret "new atheist" plot to corrupt the youth :)

  4. Steve - I suspect you're right, I guess to me 'new atheism' is shorthand for evangelistic (if that's the right word!!!) atheism. Perhaps it's just about more people having more confidence to say 'no I don't believe in God, and here's why.' It's also perhaps a post 9/11 thing, an event which provides a stark picture of religion at its worst.

    Brigstocke didn't strike me as someone who was out to present the atheist case, more as someone who wanted to think in public about God and faith. We seem to be becoming a society where you're only given 1-2 hours of people's attention to develop a line of thought if you can pepper it with jokes. I'm encouraged by the amount of thoughtful stand-up there is (Brigstocke, Stewart Lee) which assumes the audience might enjoy thinking, rather than just pepper them with sex gags.

  5. David

    Firstly, my humble apologies to the Proclaimers. As I said, I thought I was being unfair. But I basically didn't like their music so I hadn't noticed them until they suddenly turned up at what I presume was probably Greenbelt one year.
    People like Lee, Brigstocke, Izzard I have a lot of time for. They're funny, thought-provoking and play with ideas. That's what you want in a stand-up.

  6. David, I agree, exploring, learning, debating, arguing, laughing and having a pint afterwards is what I enjoy about this topic.

    I think I know what you mean about "evangelistic", my own perception is that "outspoken" might be more precise since it's quite hard to put a positive spin on a "lack" of belief :)

    I don't think people (religious or otherwise) in times gone by were as outspoken as they are in this internet age (courage in anonymity probably), although in some parts of the world (probably most) persecution is unfortunately still the norm.

    I love the proclaimers, I'm gonna be and letter to America feature in my iTunes "top rated" play-list :) I hadn't actually thought about their theology I assumed they were just love songs, you learn something new every day!