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← The Invention of Lying: On the origins of specious trickery

The Invention of Lying: On the origins of specious trickery - Comments

dankuck's Avatar Comment 1 by dankuck

Oh, I get it. Since evolution and atheism are inextricably tied, the title involves a pun on the title of On the Origin of Species.

Just seems like a stretch if you ask me. I guess I'm being pedantic, but the movie has nothing to do with evolution (except in the assumption that genes are the most important quality in choosing a mate).

Edit: I liked the article and the movie. Just not the title of the article. ;)

Mon, 05 Oct 2009 17:11:00 UTC | #403635

ThePublicPolemic's Avatar Comment 2 by ThePublicPolemic

The article wasn't about evolution. Although it said that it was rooted in deep philosophical fallacy, the article was a very enjoyable read. There was some wit to it. Now I'm excited for the movie. Love the last line about the film:

"Much funnier than Martin Luther, and way more heretical."

Mon, 05 Oct 2009 17:15:00 UTC | #403636

Mango's Avatar Comment 3 by Mango

I saw the film and was glad that the "religion is a lie" plot device featured so heavily. Definitely subversive in its own way.

Mon, 05 Oct 2009 17:37:00 UTC | #403639

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 4 by Jos Gibbons

“The philosophical implications of this teleological prevarication are more unsettling than anything since Groundhog Day. In a world of absolute truth, Gervais is saying, the concept of God and the afterlife do not exist because they're false. (A believer might allow that if God did not exist it would be necessary to create Him; the film suggests this has already happened.)” Is Gervais being criticised just for not believing in gods? Tetchy!

He “finds himself making up concepts of sin, morality, divinity and hell on the fly.” Heaven forfend people think! What does this writer think Moses did? “God is similarly puzzling: He gave my sister cancer, someone asks, then took it away? "We have to stop that evil bastard before he kills us all!"” Notice how no explanation is given as to why this view of God is wrong. The “unsophisticated” views of God always have that quality in my experience.

Mon, 05 Oct 2009 17:41:00 UTC | #403641

dankuck's Avatar Comment 5 by dankuck

@Jos Gibbons

It seems like you're criticizing Knight for failing to ridicule religion. I didn't see any bias in the article. On the contrary, it's very reasonable, even irreverent at times.

I'm sure a lot of religious readers would be livid at it's lack of bias and call it biased.

Mon, 05 Oct 2009 18:23:00 UTC | #403650

Rodger T's Avatar Comment 6 by Rodger T

I have already seen one site bagging this movie for its blatant atheist view and encouraging christians to boycott it.

I will post a link when I remember where I saw it.

Here is one ;

Containing this little gem of unintended truth‚
We at the Catholic League prefer our bigotry straight-up."

Mon, 05 Oct 2009 19:08:00 UTC | #403660

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 7 by Jos Gibbons

Comment #421858 by dankuck

You've thoroughly misunderstood my point, although I won't blame you. I was criticising Knight for, as I saw it, having a gripe with the mere expression of atheism. It's possible that Knight meant nothing more than to state the contrast between opinions, but to me it came across as him disapproving of the expression of the view he considered "unsettling". We probably just read him differently. I don't know if I'd agree with your verdict of unbiased, but I appreciate Knight wasn't persistently easy to read.

Mon, 05 Oct 2009 19:38:00 UTC | #403662

dankuck's Avatar Comment 8 by dankuck

"Unsettling" was an odd word to use there, I agree.

Mon, 05 Oct 2009 19:44:00 UTC | #403666

prolibertas's Avatar Comment 9 by prolibertas

"We have to stop that evil bastard before he kills us all!"


I can't wait to see this. I'm sure we can trust the Christians to once again fail to learn from the past, raise a stink about the movie, and thereby make it even more popular.

Mon, 05 Oct 2009 20:45:00 UTC | #403679

belacaleb's Avatar Comment 10 by belacaleb

Cuing up for a ticket asap.

Mon, 05 Oct 2009 20:50:00 UTC | #403681

gurkuda's Avatar Comment 11 by gurkuda

I was just reading this movies board on I have to admit that it is a lot more entertaining than this thread. Here, we tend to agree with each other because we are all atheists. Check out some of the comments there, you might find them funnier than the actual film. There are tonnes of weepy idiots complaining about the film being anti-religious etc.

Mon, 05 Oct 2009 21:02:00 UTC | #403686

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 12 by Sally Luxmoore

Comment #421894 by gurkuda

I did as you suggested and looked at the comment threads on this film. So many people there were hung up on the same faulty logic that I just had to barge in and say my piece, as follows...


Religion is a lie.

How do you know?

How do you know it's not?

Oh. Wow. You got me.

I'm not the one who made a proclamation without backing it up. And I never said that it wasn't a lie. I only asked, "How do you know?"

It was a dumb question to even ask how do you know.

It's impossible to disprove just as much as it's possible to prove (which it isn't).
I could say the same thing as you, that I was only asking. Of course, I was just making a moot point, which you obviously didn't catch.

*sighs* for stupidity.

My reply:

You two appear to have got stuck at this point - but this is not the end of the argument. Just because you each have opposing viewpoints does not mean that each viewpoint is equally likely. The person who is proposing an idea without evidence (eg the existence of a deity) is the one who has to prove it, not the person who is opposing the idea. It's a matter of who has the burden of proof.
If this seems illogical to you, there are 4 examples, each from totally different people or groups, which illustrate the point.
1. Bertrand Russell: He suggested that there was a china teapot in orbit around Mars, too small to be detected by a telescope. Just because it is undetectable, does that mean that the teapot is just as likely to exist as it is not to exist?
2. Carl Sagan: He suggested that there was a dragon living in his garage that only he could see. Does that make it likely?
3. The Flying Spaghetti Monster: No evidence, other than the beliefs of those that say his noodliness made the world. Oh, and there's also a holy book. (Sounds familiar?) Is the existence of a pasta monster with meatballs therefore likely?
4. Camp Quest: They claim to the children that there is in the camp a pink unicorn that cannot be seen, smelt, touched or heard. The challenge is to the children to decide whether it's really there or not. What do you think - and why?
These all involve the same argument as yours above - but by now it should be obvious which side is being more reasonable. The existence of any deity is just as overwhelmingly improbable as all of the above, and also tooth fairies, leprechauns, Thor with his hammer, Allah, Poseidon, Superman (sorry, yes, him too) etc etc.
So - I think it IS reasonable (by at least the standards of a court of law) to say, that "religion is a lie".
Or, to misquote the bus campaign There is almost certainly no god, so stop worrying (about hell etc) and enjoy your life (because you are lucky to have it and it is the only one you will ever have).

That should put the cat among the pigeons.

Mon, 05 Oct 2009 22:41:00 UTC | #403713

Mr0Joshua's Avatar Comment 13 by Mr0Joshua

"Garner, alas, comes off as something of a simpleton - she's far smarter than this role requires her to be."

I find this statement even less believable than the existence of God. lol

Mon, 05 Oct 2009 23:46:00 UTC | #403727

Alternative Carpark's Avatar Comment 14 by Alternative Carpark

Ricky Gervais is well known as an atheist and his views on religion have often surfaced in is comedy.

Tue, 06 Oct 2009 02:13:00 UTC | #403754

Southpaw's Avatar Comment 15 by Southpaw

Atheism or no atheism, the film is pretty poor anyway. Apparently the lack of being able to tell a lie also means you are unable to keep the truth to yourself, so most of the film is taken up with bizarre non sequiturs, for example a waiter bringing a drink and declaring "I've had a sip of that."

I thought the most pertinent part of the religious aspect of the film was - SPOILER ALERT HERE - that he 'invented' religion in response to his mother's fear of her extremely imminent death. Easy to imagine it happening way back when.

Tue, 06 Oct 2009 10:34:00 UTC | #403804

benjamin28's Avatar Comment 16 by benjamin28

Why are this womans articles posted on this site?

She may have a point with this article but usually her writings are:

- Racist
- Sexist
- Too political
- Full of pointless waffle

I dont think her articles deserve to be published on such a site as

Tue, 06 Oct 2009 11:00:00 UTC | #403808

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 17 by phil rimmer

Comment #422018 by benjamin28

Why are this womans articles posted on this site?


She may have a point with this article

Tue, 06 Oct 2009 11:42:00 UTC | #403816

Rob Schneider's Avatar Comment 18 by Rob Schneider

Yeah, not the best movie ever... but pretty good. I love the bit after he becomes a prophet where various newspapers spin on-screen... "Man in the Sky Still Giving Babies AIDS!"

Also love the stained glass window depicting Ricky delivering his maxims on pizza boxes. Great stuff.

I heard gasps in the theater when the crowd in the movie, angry at "The Man in the Sky's" fickle willingness to both provide joy AND cause pain, shouted "We've got to stop that evil bastard before he kills us all!"

For a brief moment I realized Ricky had subtly walked the crowd up to the back-door of atheism without their knowing it. He then flung open the door and pushed them through.

Not so subtle...
[edit] punctuation

Tue, 06 Oct 2009 20:00:00 UTC | #403912

ghuckin's Avatar Comment 19 by ghuckin

The day after I saw this movie, I made arrangements for my body to be donated to the Faculty of Medecine at my local university, UBC in Vancouver. Why? Well, it has been something lingering in the back of my mind for a long time - something I would eventually get around to doing. But the scene in the movie where Gervais' character is lying to his mum about there being an afterlife simply brought home to me the absolute ridiculousness of such belief, and that when my body gives out, somebody real can have it. The bad news is that my wife has booked me in for next Thursday.

Wed, 07 Oct 2009 03:25:00 UTC | #403962

Gemmabeta's Avatar Comment 20 by Gemmabeta

Just to satisfy my inner nitpicker...
I'm willing to accept the premise that there could be a world where lying did not evolve. But I don't see how that would mean that people therefore automatically believe everything anyone says. People could be honestly mistaken, or have ambiguous facts, or does everyone walk around with a mental online fact checker all the time?

I'll go now.

Wed, 07 Oct 2009 18:24:00 UTC | #404140

Steven Mading's Avatar Comment 21 by Steven Mading

re #20 - yeah I found that odd too. Like the first lie of the movie, about the bank account balance. Why didn't the teller consider the possibility of Ricky's character simply having made a clerical error himself? It seems odd that the bank teller assumed that when the human and the computer disagree, and neither one is capable of being deceptive and instead it must be an honest mistake, that it must be the computer and not the human that made the mistake.

The idea of a world where everyone is honest is a fantasy that's hard to believe, but it's not nearly as hard to believe as a world where human beings have perfect brains that never come to an incorrect conclusion, which it seems like was the case in this movie, with the way people were reacting.

Wed, 07 Oct 2009 21:07:00 UTC | #404185

Eager non-theist's Avatar Comment 22 by Eager non-theist

For lying to have never evolved is an impossibility,you seem to have missed the fact that the world presented in the movie is a fairytale land intended for comical effect and to bring out a message to it's viewers.

Sat, 10 Oct 2009 00:13:00 UTC | #404575