Ricky Gervais has criticised those who misconstrue atheism for arrogance during a discussion about religious beliefs.
The comedic actor and animal rights campaigner claimed believing that a god could be responsible for good things that happen even as tragedies continue to take place across the world is the ultimate form of arrogance during a Q&A session with the journalist Nicky Clark.
Listing some of the biggest misconceptions about atheism, he said: “From equating it with Satanism to subtle confusions like ‘atheism is the belief there is no God’ as opposed to ‘atheism is the lack of belief in a God.’
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“A particularly annoying one is that atheism is smug or arrogant. What can be more arrogant than believing that the same God who didn’t stop the holocaust will help you pass your driving test?”
He then gave his Twitter followers a brief lesson in theology by highlighting the difference between being an atheist and being agnostic.
We are all agnostic as technically no one KNOWS if any gods exist. But some people BELIEVE anyway (theist) & some require evidence (atheist)— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) November 21, 2015
Technically of course we are also all agnostic about fairies. But some people believe (fairyist) and some people don't (Afairyist)— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) November 21, 2015
An atheist doesn't necessarily believe that no god exists. They just don't believe that any god exists. That difference confuses some.— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) November 21, 2015
We all KNOW whether we BELIEVE in God or not. We just don't have any real knowledge of whether God actually exists or not.— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) November 21, 2015
Here endeth the first lesson in theological terminology. Bless you, whichever God you believe in or lack belief in.— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) November 21, 2015
I don't KNOW whether any gods exist. I am agnostic. I also don't BELIEVE that any of the gods on offer exist. I am therefore also an atheist— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) November 21, 2015
Gervais has defended his atheistic beliefs in the past against accusations of arrogance a number of times in the past. In a comment piece for The Wall Street Journal in 2010, he praised science for never discriminating or being influenced by bias, writing: “Science seeks the truth. And it does not discriminate. For better or worse it finds things out. Science is humble. It knows what it knows and it knows what it doesn’t know. It bases its conclusions and beliefs on hard evidence - evidence that is constantly updated and upgraded. It doesn’t get offended when new facts come along.”
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