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How Did You Lose Your Religion? - Comments

neander's Avatar Comment 1 by neander

"Invisible baby sitter" - lovely. On the phone and in it for the money!

Mon, 18 Jan 2010 23:16:00 UTC | #432825

Mitch Kahle's Avatar Comment 2 by Mitch Kahle

Ricky Gervais is the person I would most like to hang out with at a good pub.

Mon, 18 Jan 2010 23:31:00 UTC | #432833

bungoton's Avatar Comment 3 by bungoton



I hope someone sets Ricky straight on evolution happening by accident, unless his remark was intended as humour.

Mon, 18 Jan 2010 23:57:00 UTC | #432844

TheLordHumungus's Avatar Comment 4 by TheLordHumungus

This is such an interesting thing to know about our fellow atheists, I hope we get to see more videos seeing other well-knowns answer this same question.

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 00:16:00 UTC | #432854

beeline's Avatar Comment 5 by beeline

Bit of a mix-up here from Ricky. He doesn't mind people believing in God at all, but hates organised religion, especially religious fascism. Does he see no connection - i.e. that the former enables the latter to operate?

I loved the way he found out, though: through realising that there was something to hide; something that 'must not be talked about'. That's the real give-away with dogma.

I think his "...4 million species that have evolved by accident..." line is just another way of saying "nobody planned it or made it happen for any particular reason", rather than a misunderstanding of the non-random power of natural selection. In my experience, he understands most of science pretty well, even when he's deliberately making it simplistic for humour's sake (and a lot of comedians do that).

BTW, you might like to fix that first sentence:

Ricky Gervais: Well, I loved Jesus.

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 00:19:00 UTC | #432857

helena!'s Avatar Comment 6 by helena!

One of my favourite actors/comedian. He is brilliant. If only more had the guts to come out and speak up.

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 01:31:00 UTC | #432887

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 7 by SaintStephen

He is brilliant.

But Ricky Gervais needs to spend more time on Richard's website to get his debating points up to snuff.

Christian values? Man had them long before religion co-opted them for profit.

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 02:14:00 UTC | #432915

dawkinspitbull's Avatar Comment 8 by dawkinspitbull

Ricky is great, check out his other quotes at CelebAtheist: http://www.celebatheists.com/wiki/Ricky_Gervais

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 03:09:00 UTC | #432929

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 9 by Dhamma

I've been quite defensive about celebs outing their religious belief or lack thereof, but I've turned and think it's great that people that are being looked up to by so many out themselves. If Brad Pitt, who young girls have a crush in, out himself as an atheist/agnostic, it may actually get them to question their own belief, and I don't see anything wrong with that.

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 04:31:00 UTC | #432938

pyjamaslug's Avatar Comment 10 by pyjamaslug

I'm feeling ratty, so I'll carp.

He didn't say 'Mom'; he said "Mum".

A small point but the minutiae of cultural imperialism are always small, aren't they?

I might be in a more forgiving mood tomorrow.

Peter

PS: If anyone accuses me of inappropriate behaviour with Ratty, I'll laugh!

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 05:34:00 UTC | #432942

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 11 by mordacious1

3. Comment #451895 by bungoton

I think Ricky meant that life doesn't have a designer, wasn't planned...

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 06:46:00 UTC | #432946

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 12 by Jos Gibbons

I too find Gervais's description of evolution annoying. The possibility that "by accident" simply means "unintentionally" as opposed to "without nonrandom aspects leaning towards adaptation, such as natural selection" is encouraging, but is it viable? He typically tries to explain evolution to Karl Pilkington with reference to the infinite monkey theorem, which tells us that chance will get the result eventually. However, in Horizon episode The Blind Watchmaker (as well as the original book), Richard Dawkins illustrated how much slower genuine chance is than natural selection. That good mutations being out there, somewhere in genome space, allows them to be found does owe something to the issue Gervais highlights, but he'd do better to point out natural selection cuts down the time by not requiring the improvements to be simultaneous. All the same, I suspect that, deep down, he knows more than he sounds like he does.

Dara O'Briain's discussion of evolution is imperfect too, but I think it's for comic effect; with Gervais, it's probably for brevity, which helps comedy in the sense of skipping "boring" bits. O'Briain is "a bit of a nerd", so he is bound to know the details he seems to get wrong. With Gervais, I'm guessing he does, but I'm not so confident.

My favourite Gervais quotation on religion is "Everyone's entitled to their opinion, and if you believe in God - you're wrong." Like so many "aggressive" (i.e. impolite to the sensitive) comments against religion it has to be understood in its context; he was discussing how outright people are with the opinions to which they are entitled, however little you may want that, if you happen to be famous. He was, in particular, responding to a critic of his stand-up that was biased by the whole religion thing. Actually, maybe my real favourite is his response to the accusation that his deconstructing the bible is lazy as it's too easy. He points out it shouldn't be if it's sincere doctrine: "You can't do that with a maths book. ... "The shortest distance between two points is a straight line." What c*** wrote that?"

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 07:12:00 UTC | #432951

Adrian Bartholomew's Avatar Comment 13 by Adrian Bartholomew

12. Comment #452023 by Jos Gibbons on January 19, 2010 at 7:12 am
I too find Gervais's description of evolution annoying. The possibility that "by accident" simply means "unintentionally" as opposed to "without nonrandom aspects leaning towards adaptation, such as natural selection" is encouraging, but is it viable? He typically tries to explain evolution to Karl Pilkington with reference to the infinite monkey theorem, which tells us that chance will get the result eventually. However, in Horizon episode The Blind Watchmaker (as well as the original book), Richard Dawkins illustrated how much slower genuine chance is than natural selection.
At the risk of committing the sin of a “me too” post I have to say I agree. This is why I never want to meet him because I’d want to be cool in that situation but I know the very first thing I’d say would be “Natural selection is NOT accident!” Which I suspect is about as far from “cool” as you could get. :-)

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 10:15:00 UTC | #432979

ColdFusionLazarus's Avatar Comment 14 by ColdFusionLazarus

Ricky Gervais - you bleedin' accomodationist!

I thought this was very good from Ricky. I enjoyed what he had to say. Very good ambassador (albeit not explicitly - I'm sure he doesn't think he's an ambassador) to encourage others to question what they believe.

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 10:27:00 UTC | #432980

friendlypig's Avatar Comment 15 by friendlypig

Nice to see the 'celebs' come out into the open but, am I the only one who doesn't find Ricky Gervais funny?

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 14:03:00 UTC | #433026

Sharrow's Avatar Comment 16 by Sharrow

When he mentioned the 3m species evolving by accident, it didn't sound like he was being ironic!

But he is a comedian not a biologist and I am sure we can forgive him this! It doesn't change the message.

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 15:42:00 UTC | #433045

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 17 by the great teapot

Let us say the accident of an asteroid hitting the planet didn't happen.
The millions of species here today wouldn't be.
Jesus wept you sanctimonious bunch of...
Have a word with yourselves.

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 20:40:00 UTC | #433146

sara g's Avatar Comment 18 by sara g

He seems kind of sad that he can't believe. That makes me a little sad. There can be great joy in atheism, as described so eloquently by Stephen Fry. Leaving religion behind, I felt like I'd gained so much, not like I'd lost something precious.

Wed, 20 Jan 2010 00:20:00 UTC | #433222

RossLex's Avatar Comment 19 by RossLex

If you look up the word "accident", one of the definitions is: "any event that happens unexpectedly, without a deliberate plan or cause."

Seems to me like evolution fits that description quite well. Maybe not the "unexpectedly" part anymore, but I think we can all agree that there wasn't anyone around to expect anything when it all got started!

Wed, 20 Jan 2010 05:03:00 UTC | #433271

rogerdr's Avatar Comment 20 by rogerdr

Wow, good ones, Clear. Strawmen galore, with a fat load of appeals to ignorance. I'm totally converted. Praise Wodan!

Wed, 20 Jan 2010 10:56:00 UTC | #433352

Steven Mading's Avatar Comment 21 by Steven Mading

I don't understand the implication that "accident" means "random". No. It doesn't. It just means "not deliberate". Take, for example, the concept which is so synonymous with "accident" that it actually uses the word "accident" to describe it: Two automobiles crashing into each other. That's not random. There are deterministic causes of the event. It's just that none of them were on purpose - neither driver meant for it to happen.

In that sense, "accident" is exactly the right word to describe evolution. It doesn't mean it's random, in exactly the same way that a car accident isn't random, or a heart attack isn't random. "Has a deterministic cause" does not mean "is disqualified from being called an accident".

In fact, the vast majority of the things we call "accidents" are in fact non-random and do have deterministic causes.

When someone complains loudly that "Evolution isn't an accident, dammit" that does not show that they understand evolution so much as it shows that they DON'T understand the word "accident". "Accidental" is the antonym of "deliberate", not the antonym of "deterministic".

Wed, 20 Jan 2010 19:36:00 UTC | #433502

Adrian Bartholomew's Avatar Comment 22 by Adrian Bartholomew

21. Comment #452675 by Steven Mading on January 20, 2010 at 7:36 pm
When someone complains loudly that "Evolution isn't an accident, dammit" that does not show that they understand evolution so much as it shows that they DON'T understand the word "accident". "Accidental" is the antonym of "deliberate", not the antonym of "deterministic".
I can pretty much guarantee any theist that disbelieves Evolution that hears an atheist saying we got here by “accident” WILL interpret that as being random chance. Lets look at The Free Dictionary definition:

1.
a. An unexpected and undesirable event, especially one resulting in damage or harm: car accidents on icy roads.
b. An unforeseen incident: A series of happy accidents led to his promotion.
c. An instance of involuntary urination or defecation in one's clothing.
2. Lack of intention; chance: ran into an old friend by accident.
3. Logic A circumstance or attribute that is not essential to the nature of something.
In my opinion accident in the context of evolution appears to fit 1b and maybe 1a if you remove “undesirable” (and remove the “especially one resulting in damage or harm: car accidents on icy roads.” Part too).

Of course the free dictionary isn’t the be all and end all: Dictionary.com

1. an undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and usually results in harm, injury, damage, or loss; casualty; mishap: automobile accidents.
2. Law. such a happening resulting in injury that is in no way the fault of the injured person for which compensation or indemnity is legally sought.
3. any event that happens unexpectedly, without a deliberate plan or cause.
4. chance; fortune; luck: I was there by accident.
5. a fortuitous circumstance, quality, or characteristic: an accident of birth.
6. Philosophy. any entity or event contingent upon the existence of something else.
7. Geology. a surface irregularity, usually on a small scale, the reason for which is not apparent.
3 fits and maybe 5 but then there is 4 sitting there too. OK I don’t think there is any need for me to quote other dictionaries. The problem is that although you, and probably Ricky too if I’m generous, maybe using the word accident in the sense of “3. any event that happens unexpectedly, without a deliberate plan or cause” you can’t ignore the fact that “4. chance; fortune; luck” is in common usage too (if not more so).

PS. I'm not going to get into the Thesaurus for it hehe.

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 15:17:00 UTC | #433809

GOTT MIT UNS's Avatar Comment 23 by GOTT MIT UNS

@SaintStephen on January 19, 2010 at 2:14 am
avatarHe is brilliant.

"But Ricky Gervais needs to spend more time on Richard's website to get his debating points up to snuff.

Christian values? Man had them long before religion co-opted them for profit."


Morality does not need any religious/denominational adjectives. Full stop.

Sat, 23 Jan 2010 22:36:00 UTC | #434629

LP222's Avatar Comment 24 by LP222

I've heard him talk of natural selection in other videos where he discusses evolution. He's well versed in it. I think people are over-thinking this simple conversation.

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 06:52:00 UTC | #458310

nickwilliams74's Avatar Comment 25 by nickwilliams74

Am I wrong in thinking that atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive? Doesn't atheism refer to belief and agnosticism refers to knowledge?
So I might not believe in a god but I can't know whether or not there is a god. By the way this is not rhetorical.

Mon, 03 May 2010 18:38:00 UTC | #465396

Quine's Avatar Comment 26 by Quine

Comment #486197 by nickwilliams74:

By the way this is not rhetorical.
Unfortunately, it pretty much is rhetorical because it depends on what people feel like calling themselves. For me, anyone who is not a person-of-faith is an Atheist, even if that person thinks that he or she is an Agnostic because he/she doesn't know it. That is the camp that puts the line at lack of belief, whereas others will require active disbelief. Not resolvable; move along.

Mon, 03 May 2010 19:09:00 UTC | #465415