Ricky Gervais is an English comedian, actor, writer, producer, director, singer, and musician. He is also an outspoken atheist who regularly ridicules Christians. Recently a friend of mine (who happens to be a scientist and a Christian) shared that Gervais had posted a challenge on his Facebook wall. It read as follows:
“I don’t believe in any gods because I have no evidence of any. This is not being closed minded. Evidence would change my mind. Go for it.”
I surveyed many of the comments in the ensuing thread. Atheists making ignorant comments is expected. Really unfortunate, however, are misguided comments posted by Christians!
As a result, I decided to join the conversation:
Hi Ricky! First of all, let me say that I love your work and totally respect you. I think there is much evidence pointing to the probable existence of God. However, the vital question for you to answer before examining the data is this: What will you allow to count as evidence?
If God is the creator of all nature, by definition God would be something other than nature. By definition, then, the study of nature (commonly referred to as science) is the wrong tool for the job. So, if one will only accept scientific evidence for the existence of God, then one is ruling out God a priori based on their assumptions/presuppositions (aka, blind faith) that science is the only way to know reality.
The question is raised: Why can’t there be more to reality than what can be empirically verified via our five senses or scientifically verified? To assert, “just because,” is not a good answer. So, we must consider what kind of evidence we should expect to find if a creator of all nature exists, and what evidence we should expect to find if Jesus was raised from the dead. If that evidence exists — and it does — while it might not PROVE Christian theism with 100% certainty, it does provide a strong foundation for a rational trust (reasonable faith) to live one’s life according to the teachings of Jesus. His teachings can be summed up as “Everyone love everyone!” That sounds like a great world to live in! Perhaps Jesus was on to something. 😉
Sadly, not all so-called Christians act like Christ followers. However, their inconsistency does not invalidate the teachings of Jesus.
I digress. I think it is rational to believe in God as theism is the inference to the best explanation given ALL the data. There are strong arguments for the existence of God based on philosophy, logic, and metaphysics. Moreover, these disciplines demonstrate the worldview of naturalism is almost certainly false. On top of that, a strong case based on the historical method alone (without even touching the Gospels) can be made for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus.
With that said, although science is the wrong tool to PROVE or DISPROVE the existence of God, scientific data does support or strengthen premises in philosophical arguments reaching deductive and abductive conclusions with theistic and supernatural significance. In that sense, science *points* to (not proves) the existence of God.
If you are interested, here is a lecture I gave at Florida International University in Miami last year. I provide logical argumentation for God which is *supported* via scientific data. From that point, I explain why it is rational to move from deism to Christian theism. I do not argue for 100% proof of God’s existence, but I do demonstrate why it is quite rational to affirm Christian theism. Here it is:
I added the following comment and a link to an article I had previously written:
This response to Dr. Tyson might clarify a few things. Although I think Tyson is a brilliant scientist and the leading science popularizer in the world today, he is not a trained philosopher and makes many errors when he steps out of science.
Well, a few months have passed and Ricky Gervais has yet to respond, but I hope I put a “stone in his shoe” as Greg Koukl says, and gave him something to think about with every step he takes. Ricky’s big mistake is one often committed by legions of others. He assumes that scientific evidence is the only kind of evidence. The problem is that if the God of the Bible exists, science is the wrong tool for the job (at least to directly prove God’s existence). Be that as it may, as noted above, scientific data does point towards the existence of God.
It is vital to know what kind of evidence one should expect to find if something — or someone — does exist. If the God of the Bible exists, for example, we should not expect to find any kind of evidence for a “sky daddy” in the clouds as many internet atheists assume. On the other hand, we would expect to find scientific evidence for the beginning of the universe (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 148:1-5; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). We have that! We would expect to find scientific evidence of the fine-tuning of the initial conditions of the big bang so that intelligent life, and matter itself, could exist (Psalm 102:25-27; 139:14; Colossians 1:17). We have that! We would expect to have historical data demonstrating that a man known as Jesus of Nazareth was executed via the Roman government. We have that too!
Moreover, we would expect to be able to make a strong case via the historical method that Jesus actually rose from the dead. Historians have demonstrated that the resurrection of Jesus is the inference to the best explanation after examining all of the historical facts!
It is vital to see that the things we would expect to find if the God of the Bible exists, do exist! This does not PROVE with 100 percent certainty that Christianity is true; however, all of this data (and there is much more not mentioned here) and evidence does demonstrate that belief in the God revealed by Jesus is justified and reasonable.
I would love to have a conversation with Ricky on these matters. He seems like a nice guy and I am sure that even if we did not come to an agreement on this topic, we would have an enjoyable conversation with a few laughs!
Stay reasonable (Isaiah 1:18),