Vegans have the comical habit of reminding you of their dietary habits whenever they get the chance. Atheists, however, have the comical habit of being sophists who use outdated and irrelevant arguments when reminding others of their alleged "lack of belief". Because atheism cannot be sustained well in academia, it's usually presented to us by celebrities and science popularizers. I suppose growing a beard, wearing thick rimmed glasses, and reading Nietzsche in a café isn't enough to sustain the ego of Starbucks hipsters; now they need to point to and worship the opinion of a mediocre comedian to justify their bland ideology.
Ricky Gervais, the mediocre comedian previously mentioned, was interviewed about his opinion on religion. The video, which boasts roughly a million views on Youtube, is a perfect example of the current state of atheism in this world. In short, the remnants of the failed "New Atheism" of the early 2000s (currently being overrun by feminist stupidity) has given us a shallow yet decorated worldview that can't seem to shake off its elementary fallacies and complete ignorance of something they claim to disbelieve in. Whether coming from ha-ha-men like Gervais or irrelevant hype-men like Neil deGrasse Tyson, a fallacy is still a fallacy.
The video begins with a few softball questions designed to puff up Gervais' ego even more than it already is: "Do you think religion should be sacrosanct or open to discussion?" His response:
"I think religions greatest trick wasn't convincing some people that there was a god who was all-powerful, it was convincing everyone else that you couldn't ridicule the idea."
Ignoring the fact that not all religions believe in an all-powerful god, Gervais seems to miss the cultural importance that religions serve to a community. No culture has an "idea of religion" in and of itself that is above mockery, but rather concepts that mold into various moral categories that atheists self-evidently lack. It shouldn't come as any shock to Gervais that hurling down insults on Jesus Christ is a big no-no for Christians. Christopher Hitchens once famously challenged Christians to name one moral action they could do that an atheist couldn't. The answer is elementary: The moral obligation to worship God. Hitchens may have not believed in God, but he could never prove it thereby making the aforementioned command a real possibility he could never fully rule out.
So Gervais is presented with another scholarly question: "Do people really believe in the myths they invent?"
"I think there would be more atheists and less faithful if you weren't allowed to teach anything, you weren't allowed to mention any gods, or any beliefs, or atheism, until they were 20... The human brain, when its young, is a sponge. It has to be. It has to take in all the information. It has to trust its parents, it's elders, to survive -- without question 'Don't touch the fire!',' Don't go near the wolf', 'Don't touch that spider (with the red dot)...... 'There is a God and if you're bad you go to hell.' "
The ha-ha man fails to demonstrate why this is the fault of religion rather than the natural byproduct of human upbringing. It's simply the case that indoctrination is unavoidable in the early stages of life and is necessary for human survival due to its yielding efficient behavior. As a naturalist, Gervais cannot separate belief in God from the natural order, whether it's true or false. In his worldview, belief in deities was developed over thousands of years for its survival benefit.
If we actually implemented his fascist solution to indoctrination, we'd see a severely deficient human population, for it would require the elders to not only control what they say but also limit the actions they can take in view of their children. Nothing would spark more curiosity in a child when they ask and fail to receive an answer to the inevitable question, "Where did we come from, and what created that process?" According to this comedian's recommendation, we'd have to hold our hands to our ears and act like we never heard the question. Such primitive fascism has no place in a free society.
"If you're born in India, then you're probably a Hindu. If you're born in America, then you're probably a Christian. If you're born in Pakistan, then you're probably a Muslim. That's a coincidence, isn't it? That your always born into the right god. Isn't that lucky? All those others are going to hell, but I was born into the right religion and I'm going to heaven."
Again, to fill in the massive void that is Gervais' ignorance, not all religions believe that failing to believe in the right god will condemn you to hell, especially considering the fact that not all religions teach anything remotely like hell. Interesting that "religion" appears to be a synonym for "Christianity" here. Perhaps he feels more of a threat from it? I digress.
I've always wondered why atheists pursue this line of reasoning. It's so patently fallacious, or at the very least irrelevant, to discussions about God and religion. Is he seriously suggesting that because there are Hindus and Muslims in parts of the world, that Christianity or any particular religion must be false? Gervais is an idiot, but I doubt he descends that deep into the abyss of stupidity. So what is he saying here, then? Really all one can derive from his sophomoric statement is that people have various opinions about gods and they think they possess truth. But so what? Why is this new or profound? This shouldn't be earth-shattering especially since Gervais just recognized the reality of indoctrination in human upbringing.
"It's strange that we hold onto these Medieval beliefs -- Where did the universe come from? 'God made it.' -- which doesn't solve the problem for me, because we say 'who made God?' If they say He has always been around then let's just say the universe always has and cut out the middle man. It saves time."
It might save time but it doesn't save our IQs from dropping into the red. This is just a rehash of Carl Sagan's line of reasoning, which was no better then than it is now. There are two reasons why the universe cannot be past eternal: (1) There is positive cosmological evidence that the universe had an absolute beginning, and (2) it is logically contradictory that the universe was past eternal. Atheists cannot wish away these facts on a whim when it suits their needs.
An actual infinite series in nature is an impossibility. You cannot traverse an infinite series because there is no non arbitrary starting point. To designate a location on the line as "1" is to turn a blind eye to the infinite units before it. By the very nature of the case, because I am here observing the world, I know that the universe had a point of origin otherwise it would never have reached me in the timeline now. This is because the universe is in constant flux, down to the smallest particle. If there is change then there is time; if time then minds observing.
God, on the contrary, possesses properties that have always aligned with His eternal nature and do not contradict the laws of logic. He is not composed of parts and His necessary attributes, even His decision to create the universe, existed before the universe in a (to us) fixed state. He is necessarily eternal even if he can contingently be relational with time. The mistake is viewing God's thoughts as sequential, taking 'time' to think. Because metaphysical 'nothing' never existed, and something now exists, it follows there must be an eternal Absolute of reality, which is the creator of what we see now. This explanation may not 'save time', but at least it isn't a whiny and unhelpful mess like Gervais' cheap answer.
"Do [you] think a deep understanding of science necessarily leads to disbelief in God?"
"We are all born atheists and then that gets changed or enhanced. There shouldn't even be a word for atheism-- it shouldn't exist, shouldn't need it. There's not a word for 'not believing in fairies.' If people didn't keep inventing these weird, impossible, deities then we wouldn't have to go around denying them."
So much for answering the question, but what he says is very typical and very misled. No, we aren't all born atheists-- we are born agnostic at the very least. Yes, agnostics and atheists both don't believe in gods, but they arrive at that disbelief in different ways. The former doesn't believe in some deity because he lacks the knowledge to affirm or deny the proposition (infants most definitely fall under this category), whereas the latter possesses some knowledge about reality in order to make an affirmation. The comedian will touch on this later so there's no sense in spoiling the fun now, but briefly addressing his fairy bit will set that up.
There isn't a word for not believing in fairies because we don't define ourselves by what we aren't but rather by what we are. In short, you can't define yourself in the negative. If I say that I am a Christian, then there is a high probability that I don't believe in fairies unless I had very deep appreciation for Celtic culture, but even then I would know fairies are just literary devices in folklore. If I say I am a naturalist, then you can be almost certain that I do not believe in fairies. On and on I could go.
As I will mention later in detail, atheism is a byproduct of some higher order worldview, almost always a form of naturalism. In that case, atheism isn't the most helpful word to use in discussions. I'm much more interested in the worldview that leads that person to atheism. The reason why atheists aren't always eager to divulge that information is because it means they enter the discussion with some burden of proof.
"As for saying 'I don't know' -- well if you're agnostic about God, in all His glory, in all His impossibility, then you have to be agnostic about Santa Claus. I want to say to an agnostic, 'What's your best guess then?' I don't ask agnostics 'Is there a god?', I say 'Do you believe in God?' No, you can't say 'I don't know' to that question, because if you do say that then you're an idiot."
"I had this discussion on Twitter [with somebody]. He said, 'I can ask you if I'm wearing a red jumper and you have no way of informing your guess' -- and that's true but now ask me if you're wearing a red jumper that created the universe. Now I can have a little guess: No, you are not. It's mental."
Building off what I said before, one can be an agnostic with regard to any proposition. In terms of philosophical thought, admitting your ignorance is a virtue. But it's true that agnostics (with regard to God's existence) must admit that they do not believe in God. However, it may very well be the case that they don't believe in naturalism (atheism's go-to worldview) either, in which case they join theists.
Gervais, yet again, is hopelessly ignorant when he claims that if you're agnostic about God then you must be agnostic about Santa Claus. For some unknown reason, atheists desperately want to group God with Santa Claus, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Thor, and Leprechauns. However, if you were to list the properties of all these beings along side of God, then you'd see that they share almost nothing in common. Santa Claus, for example, is a superhuman with origins in both German folklore and early Christian history, is created, must be sustained with food and water, has weight, dimensions, and other physical characteristics essential for his being. Contained within that description is all the evidence we should expect to find in order to say whether such a being exists, and scientific inquiry definitely takes the lead here. God on the contrary, is the absolute anchor of reality, nonphysical, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent mind who created the universe; and depending on your revelatory background, wholly good and loving.
Atheists aren't expected to believe in God in their rebuttals, but it's elementary logic that asks us to represent our opponent's ideas accurately, and not add or subtract qualities when it helps their case. This is known as erecting a strawman and, if done frequently, a sign that you are a sophist. So of course the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a pile of conceptual garbage that only succeeds in revealing an atheist's insincerity and ignorance of a topic they want to lecture theists on.
This, sadly, is the pattern in modern atheism. The lesson is this: Humor is no substitute for sound reasoning, whether coming from a professional comedian or a science popularizer like Neil deGrasse Tyson.