Jesus Was My Invisible Babysitter
Ricky Gervais is an English comedian, author, actor, director, producer, screenwriter and former pop musician. He achieved mainstream fame with his television series The Office and the subsequent series Extras, both of which he co-wrote and co-directed with friend and collaborator, Stephen Merchant. Besides writing and directing the shows, Gervais also played the lead roles of David Brent in The Office and Andy Millman in Extras. Gervais has also appeared in several Hollywood films, including For Your Consideration, Stardust, Night at the Museum and Ghost Town.
Question: How did you lose your religion?Gervais: Well, I love… I love Jesus. You know, I believed in God. I think, my mom wanted me to. I think, for a working class woman, who’s rushed off her feet, you know, the most she can hope for is the… their son don’t… so they don’t get killed in a bar room fight. And Jesus, I suppose, is an invisible, free babysitter, you know. If I can’t see you, someone’s watching you. Which is obviously misplace. Very sweet, you know, but misplaced. And I was about 8 and I was… I was doing something from the Bible and my brother came in, he was older than me, his name is Bob, still is, and he was about 19, and he said, “What are you doing?” I said, “I’m doing this for Jesus, God.” He said, “Why do you believe in God?” And my mom went, “Bob,” and I knew you. I knew then that she was hiding something from me and he was… he was telling the truth. And I thought about it. And I was a bit of a scientist even then. You know, I could read really well by the time I was 3. I suppose I was a bit of an experiment ‘cause I was the youngest by 11 years, you know. And I was into science and nature and I suppose I was a logical person. And I thought… Yeah. But I learn it through body language. I learn it through that human [interplay] between this two people. The one was worried about what the other one was going to tell me so I assume that my brother had something big to tell me and my mom, protecting me, didn’t want me to hear it. So I just made the conclusion that he was right.
Question: Do your beliefs affect your comedy? Gervais: No, I’m just being honest, you know. I mean, I… I can’t see that there could be a God, you know. I mean, spiritually and religion is two different things, don’t forget, you know. I can’t make myself believe something I don’t believe. I wish there was a God, you know. And I wish he was all the things people said he was, all powerful and kind and… and all that. By definition, the impossibility is overwhelming, to me. And then, there’s… Then, there’s religion, which use that truth for the… for their own personal gain. And that’s something else. And that’s [barren] and disgusting. Religious fascism is the only thing, apart from animal quarry, that gets my blood boiling. But people who believe in God doesn’t worry at all. You know, I live by… I live by Christian values, I suppose. You know, I live by… or any religious values that preaches forgiveness and, you know, do as you would be done by and… you know. I just do it for different reasons. I do it because I think this is my only time on Earth and I should… I should enjoy it and be part of it and celebrate it and be nice to everyone ‘cause we’re… we’re animals, we need to be loved and lead a decent life. So, yeah. If you believe in God and that gets you through and it makes you a nicer person, then… then so be it. But I just… I just… I don’t believe. And I feel sometimes that atheists, and I’m an atheist, not agnostic, one of the few things I’m sure of in life, I think they get a bad [press] that we take the art out of beauty in the world, which is not true. The fact the, you know, the Earth is 4.6 billion years old and, you know, the 4 million species of animal and… and they’ve evolved by accident is, I think, more beautiful than any intelligent design [that could claim].
In this personal narrative of the evolution of his faith, Ricky Gervais describes how and why he became an atheist.
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