Whenever comedian Ricky Gervais appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, you can bet religion is going to be a topic of discussion.
Last year, Gervais told Colbert, a Catholic, “You don’t believe in 2,999 gods. And I don’t believe in just one more.” He also hilariously deconstructed a tweet from a Christian troll. They’ve also debated Hell and talked about whether God-belief becomes more tempting as Gervais gets older.
So you knew last night wasn’t going to be an exception.
This time, Colbert asked Gervais continued their conversation about death: How did Gervais prepare for it and did it frighten him? Gervais gave the kind of humanistic answers we’ve come to expect from him… but only after poking fun at the whole concept of dying.
COLBERT: You don’t care about dying?
GERVAIS: Well, I don’t care about being dead! Because I won’t know about it. That is the best thing about being dead. You don’t know about it. It’s like being stupid; it’s only painful for others.
GERVAIS:… I think people on Twitter, they know I’m an atheist, and they say things like, “Oh, what’s it like after you die?” And I go, “What was it like for 13.5 billion years before you were born?” It’s probably like that. I think we’re like tourists, right? We didn’t exist for 13.5 billion years, then we’ve got, like, 80-90 years, if we’re lucky, and then we go back to never existing again. So you gotta make the most of it. It’s amazing, life. It’s brilliant. There’s so much to live for!…
COLBERT: … So you say you’re an atheist. Still an atheist? Has that softened in any way, your atheism?
GERVAIS: [Smiles] I only believe in 3 or 4 gods now.
COLBERT: But I mean, as you approach your final boards, as they say, you don’t think, like, “Maybe I’ll hedge my bets and light a candle” or something like that? Just in case! You know about Pascal’s Wager!
GERVAIS: People say that to me… “Why don’t you pray just in case there’s a God?” And I say, “Why don’t you hang garlic over your door just in case there’s a Dracula?”
COLBERT: If you had to pick a God, who would you pick?
COLBERT: Why Thor?
GERVAIS: Big hammer.
While Colbert didn’t shy away from saying he was religious, he wasn’t exactly debating Gervais on any of his points. Part of that may just be a talk show host giving his guest the spotlight, but I would love to see Colbert push back more on why he thinks Pascal’s Wager makes sense, or where he thinks Gervais gets it wrong. That would be a more interesting conversation.
That said, outside of Bill Maher, you don’t hear a lot of atheists making a straightforward case for godlessness on a popular show, so more power to Gervais for always going on Colbert to plug a project only to spend the entire segment discussing the problems with religion.