“I’m offended when you say you are an atheist”

On CNN, Piers Morgan asks Ricky Gervais why he offended people at the Golden Globes award show by thanking god for making him an atheist. Gervais points out the absurdity of such an attitude.


  1. Steve LaBonne says

    If anybody wants to understand what the basic point of the so-called “New Atheism” is, it’s an essential response to this genuinely offensive claim that we atheists cannot even openly declare our existence without giving offense.

  2. SRA says

    I’m an atheist and I would not make a joke like that to a roomful of believers, though I have no problem stating my belief. It’s fine to say, “I won’t pray for you because I don’t believe in God, but you have my sympathy and you’ll be in my thoughts.”

    If I went somewhere where the majority of people believed in unicorns, I would tell them I didn’t believe in unicorns, but then I wouldn’t joke about unicorns just to make fun of them. It’s fine to state your position but it is not kind to make fun of other people’s beliefs.

    You might argue that the joke is not intended for believers, and I would say that it’s kind of not funny to make fun of people regardless of whom the joke is intended for. But maybe that’s just me -- I don’t like being mean to people.

  3. says

    Shalom Mano,

    The curtains are starting to come down and it has become harder and harder to simultaneously present yourself as an intelligent person and as a believer in a set assertions that cannot be supported in an intelligent manner.

    Since there is no defense from reason, the only appeal remaining is to emotion and that is far from satisfying over time.

    By being tolerant Atheists embrace the message that the other is welcome to their particular set of superstitions and ignorance, but that the other ought not expect intelligent people to consider them intelligent.

    I personally don’t see a way around that message.



  4. says


    While I agree with you that one should not gratuitously offend people, I think people should not use that to build a protective wall around religion. My rule of thumb is that if it does not cause offense if the word ‘atheism’ is replaced with another word, then atheism should not cause offense either.

    For example, what Gervais said was “I’d like to thank god for making me an atheist.” That oxymoronic sentiment had an obviously humorous intent but apart from that, if he had said “thank god for making me a Republican’ then surely non-Republicans would be considered silly for taking offense. What is the difference between that and atheism?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *