Comedian Ricky Gervais has joked about religion in his standup specials, made “controversial” comments about God when hosting the Golden Globes, and is often interviewed specifically about his atheism.
In a recent interview with Robin Ince in New Statesman, though, Gervais says he’s not really that big on promoting atheism. He just happens to get noticed for it more than others:
[Ince:] You seem to have been more vocally atheist this year.
[Gervais:] I say that’s not true. My atheism might be higher-profile than other people’s atheism, but it’s not high on my agenda. But it’s the thing they always pick out. I can do 30 tweets of my cat, a bath pic, a Karl [Pilkington] quote, plugging. The one tweet that’s… I mean, I don’t even know what an atheist tweet is. Sometimes they’re scientific tweets that oppose some of the “facts” in the Bible. And I get: “Why do you keep going on about atheism?” One of [the questions] is “Why are you obsessed with God if you don’t believe in him?”, and I want to say: “I’m not obsessed with God, I’m obsessed with people who want to do things in his name.”
Another one is: “Why are you obsessed with only the Christian God?” How many times have I stated that I don’t believe in any God? There are possibly 3,000 so-called deities. If we’re talking about monotheistic gods, I believe in one less god than you. When they say, “Why don’t you believe in God?”, I often say, “Which one?”
Gervais may be right that he doesn’t obsess with atheism like some may claim, but the fact that he talks about it at all is why he’s endeared himself to so many atheists. It’s great to see a celebrity so comfortable with not believing in God that he can joke about it and talk about it with ease. He never shies away from questions about his beliefs and that alone will expose those ideas to an audience that may not read books by the New Atheists (or learn about atheism in some other way).
(via John Sargeant, who has more of the interview)