Jan 032014

I’m a big fan of Twitter. I love it, and one reason is that you can connect with people you don’t know, including celebrities. One of them is Ricky Gervais ().

Ricky Gervais

An introduction to @rickygervais

Ricky (yeah, I’m going with first names) is a controversial guy. His comedy is controversial, and so are his tweets. (By the way, I’m a fan of his work – his latest show Derek is the only show ever that’s made me both laugh and cry most episodes.)

As a committed atheist, and a controversial comedian, it’s not surprising his tweets poke fun at people of faith. But that’s not what this post is about. Right or wrong, that’s how he engages with Twitter, and it’s not my place to tell non-Christians how to behave.

What this post is about is some of the ways some of his Christian followers respond to him. I see in these responses mistakes Christians often make when talking with atheists about faith. I take this seriously not just because they aren’t very good arguments, but because they seriously misrepresent Jesus’ character.

“Keep your atheism to yourself, Ricky!”

One common thing Ricky gets told is summed up in this tweet which he quotes (kindly – I think – omitting the name of the original tweeter):

Keep atheism to yourself

I see tweets like this directed at Ricky most weeks. It seems that there are plenty of Christians who regard Ricky being and speaking like an atheist as a direct assault on their freedom to be and speak like a Christian.

This worries me. Have we let Christianity get to the point that we desire not only to be allowed to express faith freely, but also never to have anyone challenge any part of that faith? If so, we’ve come a long way from the early church who had neither, and even further from our crucified messiah.

We can’t have our cake and eat it. If I as a Christian want the freedom to speak, blog and tweet about my faith without restriction, I must also champion the rights of people of other faiths and none to do exactly the same.

“You’re going to hell, Ricky!”

This is something else Ricky gets quite often. It goes like this. First, he tweets something controversial, like “Remember, if you don’t sin Jesus died for nothing.” Then, along with hundreds of retweets, favourites and intelligent responses he gets told he’s going to hell for his sin and unbelief. OFTEN ALL IN CAPS AND WITH TOO MANY EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!!!!!!!!!

Gervais hell santa

This has become so common, Ricky has an image (of one of his tweets from 2012) ready to deploy at a moment’s notice (picture on the right), pointing out how silly this is.

But more than being stupid, is this really the best version of the gospel we have to offer? Is this really what we’re going to lead with? Really?

It seems there is a two-step ‘evangelism’ method being practised far too often. Step 1: tell someone God is angry enough with them to send them to hell. Step 2: tell them God loves them enough to let them into heaven after all. It’s all about the destination, never about the deliverer. Whatever happened to starting by talking about Jesus?

“Don’t call me ridiculous, Ricky!”

Maybe it’s because we feel as though celebrities are our property because we’re always being sold them by the media. Whatever causes it, there are plenty of folks who feel they have a right to have Ricky respect all their beliefs. He does not, and he says so:


Ricky is an atheist. I am a Christian. He thinks I’m wrong. I think he’s wrong. Neither of us have bought into the postmodern idea that we can both be right at once. No. We believe different things are true. In order to be committed to the things I am committed to, I have to say he is wrong. And vice versa.

Ok, he can say I’m wrong, but he shouldn’t ridicule me – that’s just mean. Right? Well, maybe, but again I can’t expect him to adopt my moral framework – why should he? I don’t adopt his.

And for what it’s worth, my beliefs are ridiculous. I believe a man rose from the dead. I believe I am filled with the Spirit of God. I believe that because a man died and rose 2,000 years ago I will know eternity with a God I’ve never seen with my eyes. These are big claims. Even Paul says it sounds like foolishness and will be a stumbling block to people who don’t believe it.

These claims. They’re either true, or they’re nuts! I think they’re true. Ricky thinks they’re not true, so they must be nuts. Can I really begrudge him for saying so?

If Ricky read this post

I think it highly unlikely Ricky will read this, but if he did I hope he would see someone who – yes – he disagrees with about faith, but who also engages with him and his atheism in a way that is respectful, honest and humanising. Unlike some of what he’s used to.

What have you found are useful ways to engage, online or otherwise, with people who hold very different beliefs than you? Please leave a comment – I want to learn to get better at this.

Since writing this post, I have received hundreds of comments, and have posted blogs in response. These are the responses so far:

  1. When Ricky broke my blog, and what’s next
  2. People should challenge Christianity
  3. “You’re going to hell, but…” isn’t good news
  4. Why do I believe the ridiculous?


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  • Stephen Grange

    I am in the atheist camp..But I enjoyed your blog on this topic and I agree with your conclusions…BTW, In case you missed it, I came to your blog from a tweet by R Gervais..I suspect he agrees with you too…

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      Stephen, thanks for reading and commenting. Glad you enjoyed it. Proper dialogue is important. Yeah, I did see his tweet, he did like it. My servers couldn’t handle it for a while…

  • Bob

    I’m in Ricky’s camp, but it’s nice to see a Christian who respects the right for others to have a different view without being attacked, and presents it as a well reasoned argument! You’re right about Derek as well – probably one of the most thought provoking comedy drama ever written – funny and sad at the same time! Yours – @hctbn

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      Thanks Bob! I can’t wait for the next season of Derek – so excited! #KindnessIsMagic indeed.

  • Luna Lafisques

    Another Ricky Gervais fan and atheist here. It’s refreshing to see somebody talk about this rationally, regardless of their faith or lack thereof. Nice article with some interesting and well thought out points. If only everyone could be this reasonable, we might all get along! Looks like you might get quite a few thoughts on this, as Ricky Gervais himself has tweeted it.

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      I certainly have had quite a few thoughts, Luna! My server couldn’t handle them all for a while… Glad this has shown there can be proper dialogue between people of different beliefs and systems of belief. May that continue!

  • Andy Beckett

    Brilliant article. It’s nice to see a religious person acknowledge that to a non believer, faith in the unsubstantiated and fantastical must automatically be regarded as nuts. Sitting on the fence isn’t an option. Also, ‘nuts’ is the perfect word. Not to nice or nasty.

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      That was the section I had to work hardest on. Had to convey that I don’t believe what I believe is ridiculous. But I do see how it would seem so if it weren’t true! ‘Nuts’ did seem to sum it up, so that thanks for agreeing, Andy!

  • Chris Schryer

    Agree 100%. As a believer, I find too often I am dismissed by the previous actions of over-zealous “evangelists”. If a Christian values their right to belief, they should be the staunchest defender of that for all, not just other people who profess the same God.

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      Yes, Chris! I’m not always sure evangelism is actually the goal, just enjoying ‘being right’, which isn’t a useful way to engage with anyone ever!

  • BigDaveSB

    A nice post. As an atheist myself, the only thing that would engage me with coming towards Christianity (or any other faith for that matter) is evidence. If decent evidence were presented, I would have to change my mind. The Bible isn’t good evidence for the same reason that the Tao Te Ching is unlikely to turn you into a taoist. As you say, from my (and Ricky’s) point of view, your beliefs sound nuts, and consequently, without any evidence to back them up, they will remain so. However, it is great that you seem to be someone who can agree to disagree – all too rare on the Internet it seems!

    • Peter Skett

      “The Bible isn’t good evidence…”

      I think that is a sweeping statement. I would argue that at least SOME of the Bible is good evidence about some of the events which Christians hold as central to why they believe in their apparently ‘ridiculous’ notions. The gospels in particular provide evidence for the events surrounding the life of Jesus. Before people jump down my throat and say that’s ridiculous, you should be willing to examine the evidence supporting my statement such as this book:

      BTW, I agree with the majority view on here that the original blog was excellent and that Ricky Gervais is perfectly entitled to express his atheism in whatever way he likes, including humour and ridicule (especially if people give him such ammunition for ridicule as is often the case). Faith which is afraid to be challenged isn’t worth much.

      • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

        Thanks Peter. I agree that it’s easy to assume the Bible is historically unreliable and useless, and also agree that isn’t the case! I haven’t read that book though. Thanks for your comments and encouragement.

      • BigDaveSB

        Two things: Firstly, I failed to make my point clear. What I meant was that brining up a religious text (the Bible, Quran, Guru Granth Sahib etc) isn’t good evidence from my point of view, because they all make contradictory claims.

        My second point leads on from this – how can we assess the reliability of a text? I’ve not read the book you’ve directed me to (but thanks for the link), but this review of another book that argues that Jesus exists gives compelling reasons to doubt that Jesus actually existed http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/1026 (for what it’s worth, from what I’ve read on the subject it seems to me that Jesus is a King Arthur like figure – an amalgamation of a number of tales and myths from various sources that have coalesced into the jesus we know today. Indeed, Muhammed and Buddha have more historical evidence that they actually existed).

        The historical accuracy of the Bible is very much under question, both the New Testament, and the Old (see, for example, a documentary on the historicity of King David ).

        So, using a religious text as evidence for a religion doesn’t work, as many religions can do this. As for the Bible, I also doubt its validity because “nearly all the evidence for the historicity of Jesus, then, comes from either the Bible itself (a dubious source!) or people writing decades or centuries after the supposed crucifixion, and is thus based on hearsay.” (quoted from here http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/12/25/richard-carrier-takes-the-christ-out-of-christmas/)

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      Thanks for joining in Big Dave! Faith and reason is a really interesting and complicated subject. I would suggest that while my faith is not based on reason and evidence, it does not defy reason and evidence. In other words, I can’t prove my faith, but neither can you disprove my faith. If both Christians and non-Christians accepted that as a starting point, I believe the dialogue would be a lot more useful. Otherwise we just try to argue with each other, and also end up with grotesque caricatures of ‘what Christians/atheists’ are like.

      • BigDaveSB

        It’s true that I cannot disprove your faith. But then I cannot disprove the faith of other religions that are mutually contradictory to your own. They therefore can’t all be true. It seems to me that your faith does defy reason and evidence, for, if it didn’t, I would believe it. As it is, I’ve seen no good evidence that Christianity is true. Indeed, I’ve seen no good evidence that any religion is true – if I had, I would convert. Given that by some interpretations this reasoning is leading me to an eternity of torment, and that I am forgoing an eternity of bliss, this shows my sincerity. If you have any decent evidence, then I would love to hear it : )

        • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

          Dave, thanks again for continuing to join in the discussion. I don’t think I articulated myself very well. ‘Defy’ was probably the wrong word. What I meant is that there is no ‘evidence’ to disprove what I believe, which is a very different statement than saying what I believe is the product of evidence and reason. I will be writing a full post soon about the whole issue of faith, reason and evidence, so hopefully we can continue the discussion there.

  • Chris

    I am a Ricky Gervais fan and a Christian. I respect his or anyone else’s right to be a atheist, asfter all that is their belief and Cristianity is mine. As long as they do not ridicule my faith I have no problem, if we were all the same what a boring world it would be.

    • BigDaveSB

      You might have missed a point – it’s ok to ridicule somebody’s belief, so long as you don’t ridicule them. Granted, some people will identify their beliefs as being part of who they are, but even so, all ideas should be open to debate, and, mockery, satire and parody are methods of doing this. This may mean your beliefs get ridiculed – in fact, I would defend anybody’s right to ridicule anyone’s beliefs, including mine.

    • Colin

      Chris, atheism is not a belief. If I may be so bold as to quote Ricky Gervais, “Atheism is a belief system”,
      is like saying “not going skiing, is a hobby.”

      • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

        Guys, thanks for joining in, and thanks for doing so in a good way. My thoughts on my beliefs (can’t speak for anyone else’s): feel free to ridicule my beliefs if you think they’re ridiculous, but also be willing to listen to why I don’t think they are.

      • Mark Frumento

        Just to get into a little syntax…the definition of atheism is in itself not completely clear on whether its a belief or a lack of belief. But just by nature of the word belief atheism IS a belief (Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a conjecture or premise to be true).

        What I think Gervais is saying in his quote is more literal, that atheism is not a “system” of beliefs, meaning it doesn’t have rules. If he’s implying that atheism is simply the absence of belief then he’s into only one definition of atheism.

        I’m not atheist because I’m against the belief in God – in fact I rarely even think about that – I just believe that humans are responsible for what happens here on earth. I also believe that here is the only thing we have to work with. I believe that atheism allows me that belief. If I’m wrong then someone may strike me down. :)

  • Tom

    I’m an atheist and it is great to read such informed, progressive and measured thoughts on this subject. I’ve never liked religion because of the way it appears to bring out the worst blindness in people, giving them no ability to see their belief in the framework of a world outside of their own views, but you’ve managed to do this. I’m glad you have faith, and my choice not to have the same is my look out. Thanks for this post.

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      Thanks Tom! I completely agree that religion can bring about blindness in people. You may not care, but the only times the Bible records Jesus getting angry and having a go at people was with the ‘religious leaders’ of his day who were blind to what it all meant and were leading others into blindness. He shares your frustration!

  • http://www.faith-wideopen.blogspot.com/ Matthew Bryant

    Nice one mate. I’m so glad this is getting so much attention and such a positive response. At last the measured Christian approach is gets some airtime!

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      Mate, thanks! I know, how rare for something which isn’t trying to get attention by being ‘radical’ or ‘controversial’ to get some attention and get Christians and non-Christians talking in ways that are useful! Thanks buddy.

  • mattcantstop

    Very thoughtful post. As a former Christian who is now leans atheist it is great to hear a measured, reasonable response to Ricky Gervais from a Christian. My favorite quote in my believing times was this:

    “If we have the truth it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth it ought to be harmed.”
    – J. Reuben Clark

    I think you could replace “investigation” with “ridicule” and it would still work well. To me how concerned you are with ridicule says more about your beliefs than the person doing the ridicule. If someone ridiculed me for believing in gravity it wouldn’t bother me at all and I would believe they were harming themselves much more than me. Christians don’t view it that way. I think that says a lot. They think there is real harm. Also, I, like you, would think of Paul’s words where he said they were foolish beliefs and think “but I believe in them anyway! That is how powerful faith is!” I didn’t get offended, I could acknowledge they did seem foolish. Now I believe they are not true but I appreciate it when someone can understand how others find them foolish.

    Anyway, great post. Thanks for having a level head and enjoying the process of discovering truth.

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      Thanks Matt – I love that Clark quote, it’s brilliant. Thanks also for sharing some of your journey with faith and doubt. I’m sure there are more chapters in that story yet! Those words from Paul are some of my favourite in the Bible!

    • LifelongLearner

      Hi, Mattcantstop. I was thinking over what you said about ridicule and got an insight that may be helpful (or not.)

      Is it possible that some Christians may be more upset by ridicule of their beliefs than you would be by ridicule of your belief in gravity, because to them their belief involves a real, loving relationship–not just a belief in a fact or phenomenon? If so, it could be received along the same lines of having someone ridicule their relationship with their parents or spouse. People operate differently in regard to relationships than they do when talking about things like facts–it affects them at a much deeper level.

      Does this relate to what you were discussing or am I off-base with what I’m reading in your comments?

      Enjoying the discussion…it’s good to dialogue!

      • mattcantstop

        Lifelonglearner, I see what you are saying and I thought that when I was a religious person too. It just means so much to us, that is why we get so upset if someone ridicules it! But I don’t think that is the case any longer.

        It seems the principle you are saying is that ridiculing a person’s belief in God is offensive because it represents an actual relationship, like I have with my spouse. It hits a more personal note. Let me explain why I don’t think this is the case.

        If someone came up to me and ridiculed me in this way, “Matt, you are a such a fool, you think you have this really meaningful relationship with your wife but you don’t, she doesn’t even exist! You are wasting your life with a person who isn’t even there!” I would not be offended by this ridicule in ANY WAY. In fact, it would only make me think that the person ridiculing me was insane, not that I am a fool. The fact that it touched upon a personal relationship with my wife would not make it hurt more even though it is personal. The person would be discrediting themself by leveling this accusation of my insanity at me.

        I think what Ricky Gervais and other people who ridicule religious belief do bothers the religious not because it is personal, but because the element of truth in it makes them feel like they may be somewhat crazy. I think my example illustrates that well. If someone said my wife doesn’t exist it wouldn’t bother me at all and it would be them discrediting themselves. But the problem for religious folks is that when a person ridicules there belief they are being quite sane (maybe not in the tactic of ridicule, but certainly in their evaluation of the situation). The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit, neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned! Paul, and Dave, acknowledged that religious folk do believe in crazy things. It is crazy to believe that Jesus was resurrected, it has never happened in an observable way, ever. That does make a belief that it did happen (with the spotty evidence of Jesus being resurrected) somewhat crazy considering it hasn’t ever happened since then.

        When I was religious I acknowledged this but then I would say “but I still believe in it, even though it is somewhat crazy!” This made me feel good because I thought moving forward with faith was a virtue. People are amazed at Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac because EVERYTHING should have been telling him not to do it. But he had so much faith he was even willing to do that. I have the opposite approach now, faith in this sense is not a virtue, it is a vice. Now I don’t think a loving God would want me to believe in things that there are not good reasons to believe in. He would expect me to be skeptical if he really is a “jealous God.” Else I am bounced about by the waves of the sea and every whim of doctrine by cunning men! If he is there, he would have a higher bar for me than accepting things on faith.

        I think the reason why the ridicule hurts is because the message (not the rhetorical tactic of ridicule) is so reasonable. The less reasonable the ridicule, the less the ridicule hurts (as demonstrated with my example of saying someone’s spouse doesn’t exist).

        Those are my thoughts, what do you think? I think a good way to test a principle is to throw an example at it. The more likely ridicule is to be true, the more likely it will hurt. Is that not your observations now that you approach it from that perspective?

  • Kate

    I totally agree. I am a Christian and watch these people tweet Ricky as if he will suddenly be converted. A very measured and well thought out argument.

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      Indeed, Kate (you’re not the Kate I know, are you?). Thank you for your encouragement, and it’s up to people like you to model a different way of engaging, so go for it!

  • blabla

    like you said, your beliefs are ridiculous, so be ready to be ridiculed.

    the fact you actually admit they are ridiculous but then can’t make the next step and through that shit out the window baffels me, you’re being intellectually dishonest with yourself.

    let us know when you are ready to let go of your security blanket.

    • JeanM

      If you’re going to be snotty to someone on his own blog, please have the courtesy to proofread your snark. And use initial caps.

    • Thad Martin


    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      Thanks for commenting. I don’t believe I am being intellectually dishonest. I don’t believe reason is the only thing at play here. Faith is also important. The relationship between the two is an interesting thing.

      I would suggest that while my faith is not based on reason, it does not defy reason. In other words, I can’t prove my faith, but neither can you disprove my faith. If both Christians and non-Christians accepted that as a starting point, I believe the dialogue would be a lot more useful.

      Also, for what it’s worth, I believe anyone who ridicules anything also has the responsibility to be open to honest investigation of what they’re ridiculing. So I hope you’d be willing to exercise the same intellectual honesty by hearing out those who disagree with you.

      • Michael Miller

        I don’t think saying you cannot prove/disprove god is a logical starting step. You could pick any intangible opinion and do the same – it leads nowhere. Atheists, especially, have an opinion due to the complete lack of evidence which is the stronger position I think.

        • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

          I think this is a matter of perspective. One perspective sees faith and religion as a human-made idea. Another perspective sees them as given to us by God. If the first is true, then you’re right it’s arbitrary that I pick this one belief out of many.

          However, if the latter is true, and faith/religion is a matter of God having revealed something, then that is a very strong place to start. This is really where I start my thinking.

          I take the latter perspective and you take the former (I presume). This is probably why the issue of ‘evidence’ isn’t a great place for us to start a conversation, as we have very different perspectives on what that evidence could/should be. I will be writing further about this soon.

          • Michael Miller

            You have faith in a god because god gave you faith? That is circular reasoning at its best! 😉

      • Marcus

        Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

    • http://www.faith-wideopen.blogspot.com/ Matthew Bryant

      Did that make you feel superior for a while? It’s a shame that there always has to be one person that responds with disrespect even when the prevailing mood is so encouraging.

      • Robin S

        Where do you even see that slant in blablas comment? You, Matt, draw what you want from that comment and you are making a negative out of a balanced, confrontational statement. You are lashing out because you are threatened by what he said . That is what you should examine.

        • http://www.faith-wideopen.blogspot.com/ Matthew Bryant

          Thank you for you 3 replies @robin_solis:disqus – they have definitely made me think about my own comment. I am extremely sorry if it did anger you as much as you say. I have reread it a thought about deleting it, but it was the likening of Dave’s beliefs to a security blanket that will be discarded with maturity that I thought to be a little snotty.

          You’re right that Dave told people to feel free to ridicule him, but I suppose sometimes people who know him find it difficult to see this happen. If I did lash out in an unhelpful manner it was not because I felt threatened, but because I saw someone picking on my friend.

          Would it have helped if I explained why religion shouldn’t be likened to a security blanket or was it the ‘superior’ comment that was too much? That comment was meant to be antagonistic I admit and so you’re probably right that it wasn’t helpful. Maybe I will delete it…

      • Robin S

        In fact, your statement made me leave this conversation. Nice going, bro.

      • Robin S

        Dave Criddle Mod Colin

        • 16 hours ago

        Guys, thanks for joining in, and thanks for doing so in a good way. My thoughts on my beliefs (can’t speak for anyone else’s): feel free to ridicule my beliefs if you think they’re ridiculous, but also be willing to listen to why I don’t think they are.

    • Robin S

      It’s F.E.A.R. – false evidence appearing real. And in this case a mass hysteria from a thousand years ago that you would be slaughtered unless you joined the Christian faith. These beliefs are just running out it’s course in mankind’s history.

      • Graham Criddle

        It is true that there are real and shocking examples in history where the church acted badly to those who were outside, but in many ways that it was the original blog article was speaking against. It was much worse then of course.

        The fact that people have behaved terribly in the name of Jesus doesn’t invalidate or deny the things which Jesus did or detract from who he is.

        It does call on those who choose to follow him to live in a particular way and today, as throughout history, we sometimes fall far short.

  • Paul Barker

    Excellent article Dave. I was agreeing all the way through. Your point about our needing to start by talking about Jesus is especially true I think.

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      Yes! Jesus is at the heart of the whole faith (clue’s in the name), so any discussion of the Christian faith must be a discussion of Jesus.

      • Robin S

        A bunch of men wrote the bible as a way of controlling people to their side rather than the widely practiced paganism. They used it to wage war to kill to control people. Get a grip friend. That’s why the faiths are losing their base numbers, now. People are finally starting to wise up enough to lose their fear — the thing that keeps people in line.

  • Pat

    This is why lukewarm porrage is best. Sometimes we want excitement and poke the bear.

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      Hi Pat. I don’t quite understand your comment. I may be being silly. Could you explain?

      • Robin S

        he means-wishy washy most of the time but seeking taboo beliefs sometimes

  • Thad Martin

    What? A reasonable group of people discussing religion and atheism in a reasonable way? I think I’ve bumped my head. Well…except for that one guy.

    Also, Ricky Gervais directed me here, too.

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      I know, Thad! It is sadly quite a rare thing these days… Hopefully this shows the vast majority of people are actually keen on proper dialogue.

      He directed most people here. My server couldn’t cope for a while!

  • Jaazen

    I totally agree with you. People say the stupidest (and meanest things) to him as if they’re going to change his mind. Compassion, kindness & patience are the key Christian attributes. I don’t agree with his atheist beliefs but I respect his kindness to those less fortunate & to animals. As acerbic as he may be sometimes he encourages responsibility for ones actions in making the world a better place.

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      Thanks Jaazan. I also respect Ricky, and wish more people who lay claim to Jesus acted more like him. But I’m also aware how easy it is to point fingers when I’m not perfect either. My resolve is to get my own house in order when it comes to loving, kind dialogue with people who don’t share my beliefs.

  • Andrew C Livingston

    Great article with great insight. Thank you.

    One thing I wish to add though: one can be a Christian without believing in God and the supernatural. I’ve always said, take the insanity out of Christianity, and I’ll be a Christian. Christ’s own message, however, is simply not part of organised Christianity today. Way too many Christians love quoting the Old Testament when it suits their bigotry and way too many Christians use their “belief” as a way of being better than others. And anyone can claim to be a Christian, especially when there is monetary gain to be had.

    • BigDaveSB

      To be fair, Jesus does explicitly endorse all of the Old Testament laws http://furtherthoughtsfortheday.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/over-at-nick-baines-blog-i-was-alerted.html?m=1

      • Andrew C Livingston

        Thanks for replying, Dave, and for the link, interesting article that.

        I was aware of that, but this is one of my main issues with Christianity. What did the new covenant signify then? We can’t have it both ways, considering that Old Testament laws are so often at odds with New Testament laws. Otherwise we’re left with a pretty schizophrenic worldview, one which quite blatantly belies the various time periods it was formed in.

        • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

          This is an interesting conversation, and thanks for having it here and in a way that models the spirit of my original post – good work!

          Andrew, I would suggest belief in God is pretty central to Christianity. Jesus certainly didn’t just promote a ‘lifestyle’. The wider discussion you’re having about organised religion, Jesus and the OT laws is a big conversation, possibly too big for a comments section. But given how big this post has become, I plan to deal with some of the questions raised by commenters in future posts, so stay tuned!

          • Andrew C Livingston

            Belief in gods was at one time central to many religions before monotheism took root. I agree with you, though. I also believe that it will be the religion’s undoing, as more and more people are educated and exposed to other ways/modes of thinking. If Christianity will survive, it will have to jettison God. If mankind can distill many gods into one God, it can distill the idea of one God into allegory.

            Now, if we’re talking about believing in something greater than one’s self, that does not take a God or gods to do. I am an atheist, but I surely believe in something greater than myself: I believe in life and in love. The notion of a God or gods simply distracts from the essence of the various philosophies: do no harm.

            I’ll look forward to reading you further.

          • Graham Criddle

            I think that perspectives are important here.

            If religions are humanity’s invention to help answer some of the “big” questions of life and to try and make sense of what is going on around us, or if they are designed by people to help define a set of moral codes by which a community should live then we can pretty much do with them as we wish.

            If, instead, there is a God who has created everything, who desires to engage with humanity and who sent his son into the world to live as one of us then this is very different. And if his son is Jesus who calls us to follow him – and that this is what Christianity is about – then God and Jesus have to remain central to Christianity and the challenge for us who choose to follow him is to work out what that means in our lives and individual contexts.

            (Not denying that there are other perspectives but these two are probably enough for now)

            And, for clarity, I subscribe to the second perspective!

          • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

            Andrew, I agree it is a matter of perspective. I agree with everything Graham (my Dad!) has said.

          • Luke

            This idea between supernatural and natural belief (‘real’ Christianity vs. Einsteinian Christianity) is ever so well explained in the book ‘The God Delusion’ by Richard Dawkins. I know it sounds like a “I hate Christians they hold no intellectual standing” but at the very start of the book he states how he is not looking to offend people but wishes to challenge their problems which religion holds.

  • Rose Nooteboom

    “Have we let Christianity get to the point that we desire not only to be allowed to express faith freely, but also never to have anyone challenge any part of that faith? ”
    Christianity has ‘been there, done that” Between the early persectued church and today there has been a Christian dominant culture which was accustomed to being the voice of God and did feel entitled to silence voices which were deemed heretical. I wonder if the problem is that Christianity is just no used to being in a conversation, let alone a dialogue.. it is accustomed to having a monologue.

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      Rose, I think you might have hit the nail on the head. From the time Emperor Constantine declared Christianity to be the official religion of the Roman Empire, Christianity has been tied up with the power structures of the day. For what it’s worth, I don’t think this is right. The church is not meant to be a power structure, and functions much better speaking into society, not ruling society. I don’t think there’s such a thing as ‘Christian nation’.

      What that all means is that the church and Christians are now having to learn what should have been just second-nature: how to properly engage with people who don’t share our beliefs. The church has failed this in the past. We must repent and start to act differently. I believe the internet is a hugely powerful tool to use to do just that!

      Thank you for joining in the discussion.

  • Sophie

    He baits people. It seems there is nothing he enjoys more than being controversial in order to ‘out smart’ someone who becomes offended by his comments. It is his closed mind that offends me the most. He doesn’t believe in God, I do but he has made it quite clear that it’s not just his opinion but scientific fact that deems me to be an idiot for doing so. His attitude is not live and let live which makes it so much harder to love him. Jimmy Carr is another one who goes out of his way to ridicule Christianity in particular but when you look at where he’s come from there are wounds that run deep. It is so refreshing when you hear someone like Milton Jones speak so intelligently about faith or David Mitchell who would like to believe in something bigger than ourselves but cannot understand those who so quickly dismiss the notion out of hand. I think comedians in particular for the most are so intelligent and their job is to analyse everything to find humour that it brings a feeling of cynicism over everything. How ironic that those who make us laugh can make us feel incredibly sad as well.

    • craigvn

      Most atheists are very open minded. In fact if you could come up with some evidence to support *insert religion here* they would follow it in a second. There has just been no evidence yet.

      • Sophie

        I think that’s why I find Ricky Gervais difficult because when it comes to religion he is not open minded. He is right everyone else is wrong. Of course I believe that in being a Christian I am right but I am happy to accept I could be wrong, I don’t know everything about everything. Ricky gives his opinion as fact with no room for error. It comes across as arrogant and I think that’s why people feel the need to defend their beliefs. I don’t agree with the way they go about it. I also have a feeling Ricky does it in part to get a rise from people. No point arguing for arguments sake its just exhausting.

        • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

          Hello! Thank you all for joining in this discussion. I’m glad to have sparked something, and really pleased that people are engaging in such a healthy way.

          I obviously can’t claim to know Ricky Gervais. But from what I’ve seen he is reasonable with people who treat him reasonably. He was very kind to me in the way he engaged with me when he read this post. The people he pokes fun at seem to be people who are very aggressive with him in the first place, arguably baiting him. But as I state above, my purpose in this is not to talk about his attitude, but the attitudes of my fellow Christians in the way we engage with him and others who don’t share our beliefs.

        • Marcus

          Sign the “Butthurt” form and fuck off.

    • Julian Tysoe

      He only “baits” people who choose to follow him, or choose to follow people who retweet him. If people really don’t want to read what he has to say, there is a block button.
      On the other hand, I didn’t choose to have two people knock on my door this morning while I was trying to make the kids’ breakfast, fill the dishwasher and make coffee, just to tell me about the gospel.

      • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

        Thanks Julian for joining in! I also wonder sometimes why people don’t click the big ‘Unfollow’ button more often!

    • Robin S

      Ricky is a master baiter! He’s the best!

    • http://magnius159.tumblr.com/ magnius159

      Encouraging people to open a dialogue of controversial topics can be called a baiter. Or better yet, a teacher. Because honestly, I think a lot of people has learned from his tweets and links about atheism and Christianity. They’ve learned to look at themselves. Some have looked and seen themselves. Some cannot accept what they see — their abhorrent actions and change, and others lash out, leading to some pretty funny interactions on Twitter. Some people just refused to learn.

  • Matt Wettone

    Great work mate, really good article. For me it comes down to how Christ would want us to respond or indeed how he would have responded himself. Whilst he may have gone with some form of ‘verbal attack’ I suspect it wouldn’t have been in the same manner as some of those who berate Ricky. I suspect He would have used a more measured approach with his ‘verbal attack’ much in the same way this article does. Keep up the good work. Be blessed. M :)

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      Absolutely mate! Thanks for sharing and supporting. Been a while, hope you’re well!

  • stef

    Amazing piece of writing and totally buzzing Ricky retweeted.

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      Not buzzing half as much as I am! Thanks Stef.

  • John

    Nice article. You’d make a great atheist my friend.

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      I think I’d make an horrendous atheist, what with my believing Jesus to be the Son of God and all. At their heart, Christianity and atheism are systems of belief, so you can’t detach the belief from the person so easily! But I know you were only joking…! Thanks for joining the discussion John!

      • Tg

        This is a common misconception – atheism is not a system of belief. It is a simple “no” (or more commonly, “I don’t see enough evidence for”) in answer to a single question: “does God exist?” No more, no less. There are no dogmae, no policies, nor even any secondary beliefs that necessarily follow from that answer; it certainly not a system.

        Put another way – when you, as a Christian, answer the question “do you believe there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his Prophet” with a “no” – does your belief system arise from that negative response? I doubt you would claim that it does, but if you do, does that mean you have another belief system predicated on your lack of belief in Zeus, and another based on your lack of belief in the teachings of the Buddha?

        I do not mean to mock, but this is an important distinction; most theists of any stripe assume that because we do not believe in their system, we define ourselves purely in opposition to your religion, which is untrue, and more than a little patronizing. Some atheists find meaning in puzzling out the mechanisms of the cosmos; others find it in nature, and still others see it in a shared human condition.

        This is a wonderful post, but I would encourage you to take the next step – do not dismiss atheists as a monolith of Not You. Instead, talk to us, ignoring the frankly uninteresting question of what we don’t believe and find out what we do believe.

        This is a talk order – because there is no Church or dogma of atheism, you are likely to get different answers from just about everybody you meet. You could spend a lifetime learning about others, never coming to a definitive answer, but learning and growing with each encounter.

        Which, now that I think about it, seems pretty darn meaningful to me.

        • Robin S

          Excuse me friend, but your opening sentence is describing an AGNOSTIC. Better get the two clear in your head.

          • tg

            Atheism and agnosticism measure different things. Theism/Atheism is one’s position on the “does God exist” question, whereas gnosticism/agnosticism reflects if a position is truly knowable, or, if it is simpler to think of it this way, in one’s certainty of one’s position. One could be a gnostic theist (God exists, and I’m sure), an agnostic theist (I believe God exists, but it ultimately cannot be proven), and agnostic atheist (I do not believe God exists, but ultimately it cannot be proven) or a gnostic theist (God does not exist, and I’m sure.) My sentence asserted that agnostic atheists are far more common than the gnostic types, but that is in my experience; I would not presume to speak for others.

            And apologies if you did not mean it this way, but your comment smacked of the type of condescension I was alluding to. Rather than address the points in the discussion, you dismissed it by *telling* me what I believe, rather than listen to what has been said, or indeed engaging in any part of the conversation. That is precisely the sort of wholly unproductive monologue I was encouraging Mr Criddle to avoid if, as it benefits neither theists nor atheists.

  • Danny C

    The problem I have with a lot of the people who call themselves Christians is that they’re so busy making absolutely sure they get to church on Sunday, they’ve lost sight of what being a Christian is – they’ll happily walk past somebody in need to make sure they’re at church on time, rather than stopping to help. Or, in the most banal example, they’ll happily park their car across somebody’s drive in order to get to church on time.
    As an atheist, I would argue I live a more Christian life than a lot of so-called Christians.

    • Graham Criddle

      One of the implications I see here Is that being a Christian means living a certain way – which is often associated with being kind, caring and considerate.

      I would suggest that these things should be some of the demonstrations of “being a Christian” but that first and foremost being a Christian is about having a life-changing relationship with Jesus – and that this leads on to “Christian” ways of living.

      Someone may do the things which are expected of Christians without having that relationship. Those with that relationship may not do those things which are expected of Christians. It is a mixed-up world – but it is also worth asking whether some of the expectations are valid!

      But it has to start with a relationship with Jesus – and this should change the way we live.

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      Thanks for joining the discussion Danny. I’m so pleased with all the positive conversation this has generated.

      I agree with what Graham (my Dad!) says below. Separating ‘being Christian’ from the beliefs at the heart of faith and a relationship with Jesus just isn’t possible.

    • Bev O’Day

      Danny, claimers are not Called Christians, huge difference.

  • Anne Carlin

    I’m an Australian and our current Prime Minister and a his Senior Ministers are professed Christians who are undertaking some of the most inhumane actions against asylum seekers who come to our country by boat. I’m not exaggerating when I say asylum seekers are living in concentration camps on Christmas and Manus Island and Narau. When Christians behave this way people flee from those beliefs. Christian hypocrites dont bring people to the faith. They repel them.

    • Graham Criddle

      I don’t know the specifics of what you are describing in Australia but I grieve when I see demonstrations of the way in which people can act inhumanly towards others.

      And your point about Christian hypocrites repelling people from faith is absolutely true and, as a Christian, something which troubles me deeply.

      My plea is that people are able to look beyond the failings in those who follow Jesus and see something of who Jesus is himself – the one who said that he came to bring good news and freedom and recovery and release from oppression.

      At the same time I pray for those who follow Jesus to live in a way which helps people see him better.

      • Andreas Andy Persson Fondell

        Prayer is a pseudo-solution. It doesn’t help anything except your own conscience. It’s only there to make yourself feel good about doing absolutely nothing.

        • Graham Criddle

          Noting your comment above about true Christians living according to the entire Bible and acknowledging that I try and do this let me refer to some words in that Bible which state that “The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16).

          The Bible is clear throughout its story that prayer does make a difference and that it enables me to speak to the God who I believe created the universe.
          So I will continue to pray as well as seeking to make the other contributions I can

          • Marcus

            So when you pray for little children to stop getting raped by priests your almighty “God” does nothing? What a prick.

    • Andreas Andy Persson Fondell

      Only about 2% of all immigrants to Australia are asylum seekers.

      (Source: Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection.)

      The word “asylum” is used by politically correct assholes who think that they can use that term to make these actions seem more terrible than they really are. Being good and doing good is relative. It’s not black and white. I bet you all the money I have that these people still have it better where they are now than where they used to be IF they fled war zones, starvation and disease.

      Oh, and faith and religion repel people away from faith and religion. More and more people start to see the bullshit that’s going on within religious faiths and in just 250 years the developed western world has gone from being 100% christian to being 85% atheist. Sweden, where I live, used to be a christian nation not 200 years ago. Now we have less than 5% christians.

      Personally, I’d rather help people on Sundays than go to church or donate money to charity instead of the church. If that makes me a bad person then so be it.

      • Rob E

        well that’s the whole problem isn’t it people living by the whole bible. Why do you find people who don’t live by the whole bible “ hypocritical” when most atheist mostly find that people living by the whole bible literally, the biggest problem? . Hardly “logical”.

        • Elizabeth Berry

          If people actually “lived” wholly by the Bible, this world would be a very nasty place.

        • Andreas Andy Persson Fondell

          Living according to the entire bible essentially means that you are a bad person which to me, logically, is bad. However, religious hypocrites are equally as bad. This gives us the conclusion that religion in all of its forms is bad and that if you feel that you as a religious person have to compromise in order to live according to you religion you should really just top being religious altogether because then you’re not really religious enough anyway.

        • Andreas Andy Persson Fondell

          And who are these people who live according to the entire bible? Because I sure haven’t met any of them.

  • michael.d

    Who made god…and so on and so on?

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      Thanks for the question Michael. That’s a big question, but if I’m going to answer simply: No-one. You either have to believe something came out of nothing, or that something came from God who himself came from nothing. They aren’t that different.

      Also, I don’t want to assume anything, but often the science/faith debate assumes Christians don’t believe in modern science like evolution. For the record, I do!

    • Titanoboa

      A general belief among believers is that God is eternal – no beginning and no end – we humans cannot grasp eternity, so unless you’re superhuman, don’t even bother 😉
      A general belief among atheists is that we humans made (up) God.

  • con fuzsays


  • Actual

    I would simply like to say Thank You for displaying the pleasant, calm, and reasonable attitude too rarely seen in all walks of life, and so sorely needed! If anyone is in the mood to be learning from examples, yours as shown here would be a sterling place to start for the day.

    It’s always a tragedy when someone’s need to support their ‘side’ overrides their better judgment and prevents them from being who they really are, and always a delight when someone resists the atavistic and avoids that mistake. You’ve cheered me up :)

    (For the purposes of this very general comment, I don’t see that my position on religion matters at all).

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      Thank you ‘Actual’ (is that your actual name? See what I did there?) I love the way you’ve engaged here!

      I also think it’s a shame, and I’m glad I’ve helped cheer you up!

      • Actual

        :) I do see what you did there! I’m Actual when I’m virtual. So I’m virtually Actual. When actually virtual. So I’m not actually Actual… You see what’s happening here.. It’s such a delightfully stackable and easily-overused word, which is why I used to overuse it to a fault, and that overuse inspired my screenname.

        (You asked! It was always a risk :) )

        Addressing the question in your main post, regarding communicating with people who have taken a different standpoint to me on a given issue, I’ve found I have had the best results from adopting one technique in particular, when listening to or reading what another has to say, and that technique is this:

        I imagine myself switching on a retro-futuristic* machine which translates what people are saying to me, into a language I can understand, only instead of literally translating from one language to another, it simply strips from the message implied insult, hyperbole, explicit insult, tangents, digressions, and irrelevancies. Then it couches the actual (uh-oh) point at the core of the message in a far more friendly and reasonable tone of voice, corrects the grammar, and reads it back to me. If there were multiple points being made in one rambling sentence or rant, as is so often the case, this wonderful translator unjumbles them and ranks them in order, in order that I may address them separately.

        Essentially, I find that if you respond to what someone is saying #as though# they had said it in a nice and a clear way, you can respond in a more measured and level-headed way, take the heat out of the argument, zoom in on the relevant points more neatly, sidestep confusion, avoid drifting from the key point under discussion, and actually** stand a chance of reaching a conclusion.

        Yes, I literally pretend they said something other than exactly what they said, but without losing the essential elements. It’s a very good way to sharpen the critical faculties and, perhaps counterintuitively, to ensure that you really do pay full attention to what the other person is saying rather than focusing on just one part of it which suits you.

        This is a great way to reduce the chances that you will be made angry by incredibly obnoxious people. Essential on the internet and rarely more so than when discussing religion! How you are coping with this influx of arguing commentators on your post without grinding your teeth is a remarkable thing!

        *(you know what I mean, the sort of thing that people in the 50s imagined would be available in the future, (which is now (hurray for nested parentheses!))).

        ** I know

  • adam

    I really enjoyed your post and the conversations that followed. It’s nice to see discussion rather than argument for a change.
    But it left me wondering, what is the point? I don’t mean to offend here, but if Christians and atheists have opposing views and most atheists are reasonably well versed on the faith, what benefit do you see coming out of any discussion on the topic? It is always fun to debate but do you have a goal associated with your desire for this discussion?

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      Thanks Adam for your contribution – glad you’ve enjoyed it all!

      My initial interest here wasn’t in debating Christianity and atheism. My reason for posting (as I explained in the post) was in the way some Christians have been engaging. Not out of desire to win an argument, but because I see them misrepresenting Christian faith and the God who I follow. That’s a big issue for me.

      • guest

        “…. but because I see them misrepresenting Christian faith and the God who I follow. That’s a big issue for me.”

        Did God tell you they were “misrepresenting” or is this something you yourself have determined? Why would God choose you, an innocent third party, and not them to advise of these particular concerns? Who are you to decide who, if anyone, “misrepresents” Christian faith?

        • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

          Hi. To answer your question whether God told me these people are misrepresenting Jesus: not directly, no. I can’t claim a special revelation of God or command to write this post. I would suggest that is rarely how God works.

          But I am a Christian, and so are these other people. I see something that concerns me and I am voicing it. I believe I am entitled to do so, as is anyone else. I do not claim to be the ultimate authority on anything, but a blog is a space to express convictions and beliefs. If I thought only my opinion matters, I would have turned off comments. I blog to give my thoughts, and love it when others share theirs. I am sorry if you thought I was being arrogant in writing this post.

    • Bev O’Day

      Yes Adam, what would the goal be behind it all. Win friends, for you, or to tell people how to be saved? The bible says, some come thru compassion, some thru the fire. The only one, telling someone they are going to hell, if they dont believe in Jesus Christ, and his work alone, thats wrong, is the Unrepented sinner, who is still lost himself. They have no right to tell anyone anything, for they themself are still lost. Jesus didnt deal with all people the same. I talk with atheist, Im not their enemy, but, they know where I stand, I do not treat them all the same, I test the Spirit. SOME one can have a conversation with, others, do need to be told, that unsaved sinners go to hell, and IN a HARSH manner. Like, I said, the only one I have a problem with doing that, is the False convert.

  • Fran

    I would say to Ricky that when I die if I am right in believing that the Bible is true and Jesus is my Lord and He is alive. I have reached my eternal home. If Ricky is right and there is nothing I have lost nothing. If I am right Ricky you have lost everything except a life with the Devil for eternity.

    • Tg

      This is again leading with a threat instead of a message, except you are couching it in the thoroughly unconvincing Pascal’s Wager.

    • Elizabeth Berry


    • Robin S

      That is not a belief, then. It is a hedging your bets thing,

    • Titanoboa

      Wow, Fran. Really? I suspect you posted this comment for one of four reasons:
      a) You didn’t read the post at all, only the headline, in which case you shouldn’t post.
      b) You did read the post but didn’t understand any of it, in which case you shouldn’t post (unless the comment’s purpose is to ask for clarification, which it wasn’t).
      c) You did read the post but disagreed with the message it is trying to convey, and decided to go against it. You could have done so in a better, more thought-out manner.
      d) You’re a bad troll, in which case you shouldn’t post.

      You’re making yourself look stupid and, unfortunately, you’re representing christianity while doing so.

      Good job proving the author right, though.

      • Bev O’Day

        fran do not be moved by the lukewarm.

    • michael d

      If your god is real fran,he/she/it is surely going to say”!well done Ricky/atheists for having a brain to think for yourselves and deliberate my existence,and not just ignorantly go through life blinkered and sheeplike…the devil?? ..nah he aint gonna get ya for thinking…..(although in my opinion no such thing too-devil-)fran its christian hypocracy like yours that just proves to me how deluded some people are… One of the truly bad effects of religion/faith is that it teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.

    • FormerFundy

      Fran – What if you’re both wrong? What if Muslims have it right? What if some other religion has it right? That would mean Ricky is going to hell for not believing period and you are going to hell for believing in God the Christian way instead of the Muslim way. Your argument is fundamentally flawed.

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      Fran, thank you for commenting, but I can’t say I agree here. I don’t believe Christian faith to be simple hedging your bets. As others have commented, this is known as Pascal’s Wager, and simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. For one, it assumes there are only two choices. Again, as others have said, it is possible for both Ricky and me (us) to be wrong. At that point, the wager is meaningless.

      My own faith is not merely a hope that I one day get proved right. I have a deep believe in the God of the Bible, and a relationship with Jesus now, not just a ‘get-out-of-hell-free’ card.

  • Jeremy

    I enjoyed this post as it partly is the reason I am no longer a believer. I did the whole thing, church every Sunday, religious schooling, altar boy etc however when you see the way people in the same group as you act you either agree with it or have to step away. My lack of belief system has nothing to do with Science or proof however I find those arguments interesting (it’s why I clicked the link from RG)
    I simply think that living in the spirit of the 10 Commandments or even more simply “treat others as you wish to be treated” is the way I would like to live and it’s working so far…
    I describe myself as an Atheist because we live in a world that craves labels however I simply choose to listen and engage with my conscience, without an imaginary friend behind me to absolve me of any mistakes or absorb any blame. I choose to take responsibility for my life good or bad (great so far!!)
    I do however have great respect for all belief systems as they mostly follow the same path I am on albeit with different details. Extremists in any walk of life worry me, it’s as if their beliefs aren’t enough for themselves, they need others to be with them or it devalues them? This creates a mob mentality that never works out.
    The world would be a better place with more happy people. If we didn’t label and restrict others and more importantly just minded our own business I think we could achieve this.
    Thanks for the discussion and the lively conversation, I have had a fun morning reading

    • PudelMom

      You just said it all – exactly my experience!! Thanks!

    • Bev O’Day

      no such thing as I was once a believer, u mean u did the religious gig.

      • Augustus Gustavius Salvatore C

        I believed and no I no longer believe. Just like Jeremy. Please do not say there is no such thing …

  • m

    congrats :)

  • Jason

    He sends out one tweet and probably gets 1000+ responses on each one. Hardly seems fair that he gets so much abuse. People choose to follow him and if you cant accept someones opinion, hit that ‘Unfollow’ button. His views are hardly a secret and he isnt shy with his views. Just because someone doesnt believe what you do, doesnt mean they cant have an opinion.

  • http://www.amlr.co.uk/ Shortnwide

    Respect to you sir. Whilst i am an atheist myself, i have always enjoyed Theological debates with Christian friends (I may be an atheist, but i’m happy to admit i might be wrong).
    They always fell into 2 camps – those that would have a debate, and those that just told me to repent repeatedly!
    I agree with everything you’ve written – you shouldn’t just say “you’re wrong, so follow my beliefs to correct this”; you should have a sensible debate.

    • http://magnius159.tumblr.com/ magnius159

      the issue here is that the christians who engage in the dialogue ricky is exposed to are not in the mind to go into a debate. rather they’re there to criticize ricky.

      i’m a christian. i was exposed to their teachings. from it, i was led to believe that in order to be a good christian, i’d have to constantly speak up about god and the bible. whenever the opportunity arose. brainwashing (rather than teaching) is what i would call it now.

      • Bev O’Day

        no that would be called Bible.

        • http://magnius159.tumblr.com/ magnius159

          I don’t even know what you’re even trying to say.

  • Scott

    Nice article. It’s not a person’s beliefs that define them; their actions do. If you’re kind, you can believe whatever you want as far as I’m concerned.

    • Bev O’Day


  • LisaB51

    I admire those who have faith as I do not, but I don’t like those who try to convince me why I’m wrong. I don’t challenge others belief out of respect and I expect the same. I love this piece and the thoughts expressed are what I think Christianity is supposed to be about. Well done.

  • Elizabeth Berry

    Who cares what belief you have. We are all human. Be a good person, take care of your fellow being, and let others have their belief or non-belief.

  • Buddah Dave

    He has read it. The post he shared on Facebook is how I got to read it..

  • Patty Pater

    I’m a faithfull unbeliever… I do believe in power around us and inside us, and find religion more harmfull than helpfull, but good to see people like you, respectfull and opened. I’m sorry to say that religion destroys people’s souls instead of repairing them, but as you’ve already admitted, being proud and christian is not always the same, it’s a loud shout and rarely mature discussion.
    What can I say, less religion, more faith, more love and more caring and respect peeps! Cheero!

  • Carole Chapple

    Well I know who has knocked on my door and dragged me out of the shower of a weekend or school holiday morning to expound to me about their views on religion and it’s NEVER been an atheist. I do live my life by moral values to include “treat others as you would wish to be treated” and I’m kind to animals (I’m a veggie/vegan) and people, I volunteer my time for others, and I try to lead a good life. Thanks to technology Ricky CAN give us his views on atheism, animal rights etc…if you don’t like his views don’t follow him.

  • Leslie Jones

    I have to say this is one of the best thing i have ever read. thank you for finally saying out loud what many christians think. Joyce Meyers says it so well that there are some christians who make us look ridiculous with the religious ways. God is not mad with anyone and is not the least bit surprise by what we do or say. It makes me so mad when people put him in that light. I think God would laugh at some of the things ricky says cause it doesn’t make or break who he is to many people. I love God with all my soul and i don’t like when people use him for hate. Rem Jesus hung with the tax collectors and the poor the people who needed him.

    So it was so refreshing to read that i was right in not reacting so seriousl or arguing with people who don’t believe. What did Jesus tell the disciples if someone rejects you dust yourself off and keep it moving. I believe in an relationship with God i don’t practice religion. It so Funny when people say to me Im an Atheist don’t believe in God, I just laugh and say well I don’t believe in atheists. You are suppose to shine with his light so bright that people want to know whats going on with you, thats how i think you can show how much you love and believe in God. Not yelling Gods gonna get you or he will send you to hell. its ridiculous. Thanks for this article.

    • Bev O’Day

      Joyce Meyer said, Jesus went to hell to be born again. Is that who u sit under and admire?

  • Bev O’Day

    Where do unsaved people go again? Purgatory? John The Baptist screamed OUT Repent or perish. Gee John, u were a little rough dont ya think. Paul said, those coming with false gospels were to be accursed or damned. He also said, it would be better, if they were castrated, OUCH PAUL, ease up. This water down junk, isnt the Gospel. I Love all people, but not enough to help them go to hell. Respect is not something, one deserves, all sinners deserved was hell. ITS earned. Do< I love the atheist, murderer , homosexual etc etc, YES< DO I respect them NO. I dont respect anyone who is a sinner. Watered down love gospels, make false converts, not real ones. U dont tell a blind man, about to run off a cliff, hey PSST, u may want to slow down, u are about to go off a cliff, NO U scream LIKE there is no tomorrow, IF of course U love him and want to keep him safe. WE dont save people, that is not our JOB< we are only the messenger. What a Atheist or any other unsaved person, does with the Gospel, is between them and GOD. IF they repent, and trust in Jesus Christ work alone, they will be saved, if NOT< they chose to stay in rebellion and a enemy of GOD. THERE are many claiming to be Atheist who are only Burnt by all this fake religious stuff out there, That, have better hearts then those claiming to be saved. But, bottom line is , WITHOUT being saved, they will earn hell. THATS a fact, and I dont care how u think one should deliver it.

    • Alan Lawson

      Hi Bev, have you ever read the following?

      1Pet. 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…

    • ArtOfLife

      Think of it less like “a blind man, about to run off a cliff” and more like a horse, that might be a little skittish, who you want to approach so that you can lead them to food. If you approach a horse screaming like there is no tomorrow, you are likely to get kicked and then the horse will run away.

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      Bev. I’ve read the comments you’ve left on this site, and I don’t believe you are entering into discussion in the spirit in which this post was intended. The motive behind my post was to elevate the discussion beyond aggressive comments, and unfortunately that’s what I see in your comments here. My hope was to demonstrate that Christians are able to engage in a better way, one that doesn’t misrepresent Jesus to the world. Sadly, I think this is what you are doing.

      Since this is my site, and I am hosting this discussion, I feel it appropriate to ask you either to adjust your tone or step out of the conversation. I would love to engage with you and I’m sure others would if it can be done in a helpful way. If not, I have to ask you to stop, and will block you from further commenting.

      I resolve to make this a good arena for communication. I hope you understand.

    • Guest

      Funny how your god never yells for the blind man to stop.

  • Luke

    This idea between supernatural and natural belief (‘real’ Christianity vs. Einsteinian Christianity) is ever so well explained in the book ‘The God Delusion’ by Richard Dawkins. I know it sounds like a “I hate Christians they hold no intellectual standing” but at the very start of the book he states how he is not looking to offend people but wishes to challenge their problems which religion holds.

  • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

    Hello everyone! First, thank you so so much for the way you’ve been getting involved. This has been really exciting for me to see, and by and large the tone of this thread has been brilliant! It is great to see the conversation being elevated like this, rising above threats and petulance. Thank you.

    Thank you also for sharing this post so widely. It has surprised and thrilled me to see how it’s been seen and appreciated by so many.

    It’s my aim to reply to comments and engage with them, but it’s also a pretty busy couple of days for me, so it may take some time. Thank you for your patience!

  • http://www.tanyamarlow.com/ Tanya Marlow

    Great post – as a Christian I just wanted to say I wholeheartedly endorse this approach. Thanks for expressing it with such clarity and grace.

  • http://markmeynell.wordpress.com Mark Meynell

    well said, that man

  • pl coats

    i am an atheist, and i think you made your point very nicely. we can disagree about the biggest unanswered question ever…”what made us us?” and still all be okay with each other. religious or not, we’re all humans and should respect each other. i don’t need a bible to tell me that, and i don’t need a comedian to tell me that…:) peace, brother.

    • Ethel Arauz

      That question has been answered. Evolution made us. We are all made up of elements, elements that are in our universe.” We are made of the same elements that stars are made of. Beyond that, the elements themselves (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, etc.) were synthesized, cooked up as it were, in the nuclear furnaces that are the deep interior of stars. These elements are then released at the end of a star’s lifetime when it explodes, and subsequently incorporated into a new generation of stars — and into the planets that form around the stars, and the lifeforms that originate on the planets.” Evolution doesn’t just apply to Earth. The universe itself evolved. Atheist such as myself dont believe a divine being created the universe. Christians don’t like the idea that the universe simply exist without a driver at the wheel. It is a scary thought, the universe just sprang into existence without someone lighting the fire? The universe itself is the spark and it doesn’t require a god. It really doesn’t. We are a combination of elements that have had multiple results. Same ingredients different recipes. We share 60% of our genes with a banana plant. Ancient genes, which only solidifies that we are a result of a mixture of elements that produced life and gene mutation thereafter is what we humans are.


    HAHAHHAH! People take twitter way serious.

  • Heny Pendergrass

    Very well said. Thank you!

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  • Angela

    I would prefer to live my life believing that there is no god, but then find out there is, than the other way around. I grew up as a catholic, now detest the whole organisation. I do my best for everyone around me while I’m alive.

  • Raoul

    I am an atheist and saw this post as it was retweeted by Ricky, I completely agree with this and I think you’ve made your point quite nicely :)

  • Katri

    I am an atheist very involved in the Christian culture and beliefs as I come from a Finnish home and go to a Christian school. It’s the school that is interesting in this conversation as of the fact that it touches the acts of a christian more than an atheists. (I
    Do not find my family religious at all) However all of my class mates do believe in God and many are very fond in their religion. However only one of them have disqusdiscussed wether I have propelled to walk the path of god or not. To which I answered “No”. It took three years until this conversation was provoked. This fact tells me that either I got very lucky or most christians actually finds your acts as a person and individual more important than wether you are a member of their group. Next to none have shown any interest in this and have either decided to ignore this discussion completely or just assumed that I share their religious beliefs. However it appears to not lay much interest in an individuals beliefs but also show much respect to all beliefs which I am greatful for as startingthere really made me anxious of bbecoming a object of bullying for being different (which is why I have not brought the subject up myself as it really isn’t intresting to me either)

  • John Elwood

    Very Well put Dave. As a former born again Christian who is now an atheist I agree with your assertions. I like debating Christians now but always try to be respectful and open minded.

  • Tyson Gifford

    As an atheist, it is nice to see that some thoughtful Christians still exist

  • annagduncan

    Dave this is great! :)

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      Thank you Anna!

  • Notorious_bob

    I gotta admit, the christians who would not allow their voices be stifled are the first to seem to want to stifle the atheists.

    • http://limpingintotruth.blogspot.co.uk/ Dave Criddle

      I couldn’t agree more Bob.

  • Lisa

    I never try to convince anyone to believe anything that I believe, unless it’s based on proven facts. However, sometimes even then I have found that I should’ve just kept it to myself. As long as I believe in something then I don’t need reassurance from anyone else, nor will I let anyone else deter me from my own beliefs, whatever those beliefs may be.

  • Brandemonium21

    Religion, or lack thereof is just another target on a persons back, including politics and sexual orientation.. I see it as, if you don’t want to be judged for something, just don’t say anything. You don’t walk up to someone you just met and go “Hello.. Oh by the way, I’m a gay democratic Jahova’s Witness”. Mr.Jervais know what will happen if he says that. But why should people shout things at him. He isn’t targeting any single person. So if you don’t want to hear what he has to say about religion, don’t listen. Don’t follow him, don’t watch his stand up, don’t tune in for his shows. It’s obviously not for you

  • Jesus

  • Melanie

    It is not about whether you can prove it or not. I’m a convinced vegetarian and it is scientifically proven that the meat industry is bad for the environment and mostly cruel to the animals. But therefore I can not force people into becoming a vegetarian. Even respectful interaction with openminded people might not convert them. You can only make them understand, but if they are not willing to open their eyes to your cause (whether it is vegetarianism, atheism or any sort of religious idealism) it is all for naught. Just be repectful about other peoples’ ideas if you want yours to be respected. Accept that not everyone will share your ideas just as you will not embrace every theory. The Dutch word for society is samenleving (living together) and this is how ideas should be represented in society, WE just need to make it work!

    • mattcantstop

      I don’t think the focus should be respectful to ideas. I think that is a very, very bad approach. I think we should be respectful to people, but not to ideas. The idea is not the person, neither is the person the idea!

      I am also a vegetarian. If someone came up to me and said “being a vegetarian is stupid” I would not be offended. Because they are not saying I am stupid, they are saying the principle of vegetarianism is stupid. One aspect of a person does not make them stupid in entirety. People can ridicule being a vegetarian all day and that won’t offend me, vegetarianism isn’t “me.”

      Ideas need to be fair game, because that is the best way to move our ideas forward. No ideas, not matter how closely held, should be off limits to ridicule and scorn (although I don’t think ridicule is the best rhetorical tactic). When a topic is removed from the public forum of debate/discussion you see progress around the truth of that idea diminish. A great example of this is in Islamic spaces where certain things cannot be discussed in ANY negative light. Growth and progression is arrested as a result of these decisions.

      Also, I am not sure why people would let themselves be offended by others words. It seems to me that by letting others offend us we give others too much control over our feelings. I don’t base my well being on other’s opinions of me.

      Don’t be respective of other people’s ideas, be respective of the people! To say “vegetarianism is dumb” is not addressing me as a person, because I am not vegetarianism! I am Matt. Vegetarianism is something I simply feel is more consistent morally to my ideals and makes me healthier. I am not only okay with people picking that apart, I would encourage them to. The same thing goes for religious beliefs. People cannot only try to harm them, I would encourage it!

      “If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation (or ridicule). If we have not the truth it ought to be harmed!” – J. Reuben Clark

      What are your thoughts on this response Melanie? I would like to know if/how I am wrong.

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  • OvidAmongtheGoths

    Intellectually you know that the entire Christian belief system is patently ridiculous, but the emotional shock of facing your own mortality is too powerful, and overrules your rational side. People like Ricky see this folly as a tragedy of the highest order, primarily because it is self-inflicted, and because it amounts to the renouncing of that which makes us most divine — the ability to reason.

    • Graham Criddle

      One of the fascinating things about this discussion is that I see things almost diametrically opposite to the view which you express here and suggest that Christians hold.

      Intellectually I find that my Christian beliefs – in a God who created the universe and mankind in his image, a humanity which failed and damaged its relationship with God and each other, in God who chose to work with humanity to restore them, in God who sent his son to be one of us as the central agent of his work of restoration, in a future when this work will be completed – are the things which make most sense of the world as I see it and understand it.

      I like the idea of reason being “that which makes us most divine” – I would probably add the ability to make moral decisions to this. But again I find this is something God initiated as opposed to something that we have developed for ourselves.

  • Sue Ward

    As a Christian I believe that God gave us all free will to make our own choices and my choice is to believe what the Bible teaches us and, rather obviously, others choose not to believe in it and that is what is so fantastic about this life!! We could bring the Marmite situation into this, some people love and some people hate it and again it’s personal choice. Lets be honest, life would be very boring if we were all the same!!

  • Natasha Heffernan

    I stand with Ricky on this, and completely share his beliefs. Coming from a catholic family, I have read and understand the bible, and chose that Christianity is simply not for me. It says that God gave us free will, but then punishes us for doing something he considers “wrong”. It doesn’t make sense to me, if you have another view please share it with me because I would really like to understand how that makes sense and isn’t hypocritical so agree with Ricky when he says that telling your child that if they’re gay they will burn in hell is child abuse (I know not all Christians say this or believe it). Being gay is not a choice, and no one should be punished for it. I may have a slight bias on this subject, as I myself am gay. But that also means I know what it’s like. Since I discovered my sexuality, I have not changed. I am still me. Love is love, no matter what gender you are. It’s uncontrollable, so why should we be punished?

    • Charis

      I’m a christian, I don’t think God punishes us for doing something wrong. People punish each other and bad things happen because we live in a fallen world. But God doesn’t punish us, Jesus took the punishment on behalf of us, he offered to stand in our place. No one’s perfect, good and bad things happen to good and bad people. Jesus came to save us not to condemn us. John 3:17

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  • steve



    Acts 2:41 So then, those who received his word were baptized; and there were added about three thousand souls. Acts 2:47….And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

    All three thousand believed the apostle Peter’s message and were baptized in water. Then they were added to the Lord’s church by the Lord Himself. The Lord did not add the unsaved to His church. They had to believe and be baptized in water prior to being added to the body of Christ.

    1. Acts 2:22 Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—

    All three thousand believed Jesus was a miracle worker.

    2. Acts 2:31-32 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. 32 This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.

    All three thousand believed in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    3. Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”

    All three thousand believed that Jesus was Lord and Christ.

    4. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    All three thousand repented in order to have sins forgiven. (repentance meant that they made the commitment to turn from their unbelief and sinful lifestyle and turn toward God).

    All three thousand were baptized in water in order to have their sins forgiven.

    All three thousand received the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit after they believed, repented, and were baptized in water.

    5. Acts 2:40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, “Be saved from this perverse generation!”

    All three thousand were saved after they believed Peter’s message: They believed, repented, confessed, and were baptized in water. (Mark 16:16, John 3:16, Acts 3:19, Acts 2:38, Romans 10:9-10, Acts 8:35-38) THEN THEY WERE ADDED TO THE LORD’S CHURCH! (Acts 2:47)


    1.Peter did not preach that men were saved by grace alone.

    2.Peter did not preach that men were saved by faith only

    3.Peter did not preach that God had selected a few to be saved and that all others would go to hell.

    4. Peter did not preach that water baptism was not essential to salvation.

    5. Peter did not preach that Jesus was just one of many Saviors.

    6. Peter did not preach that once you were saved, that you could continue in a sinful lifestyle and still be saved.

    7. Peter did not preach that God did not have the power to give us an inerrant translation of the Scriptures.

    8. Peter did not preach that God would provide hundreds or thousands of different Christian denominations, and that they would teach different ways of being saved.

    9. Peter did NOT preach that you had to speak in tongues as evidence that you were saved.

    AS BELIEVERS IN CHRIST, MEN SHOULD USE THE BIBLE AS THEIR GUIDE FOR SALVATION. Looking to man-made creed books, Bible commentaries, denominational statements of faith, and church catechisms, is looking in all the wrong places for the absolute truth!

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

  • Sandy

    Excellent respectful post. Thank you! I was raised Catholic and at as a preteen I had questions that just couldn’t be answered to my satisfaction. When I began practicing Buddhism, the answers became clearer for me. The key words are “for me”. It is not what is right for everyone. I have friends of various religions and we show each other respect even though our beliefs are different. My greatest teacher was my aunt who was a Catholic nun. She travelled to over 50 countries while she was alive, saw many cultures and religions. She saw good and bad in all cultures, all beliefs. The conclusion was be good, be kind no matter what you believe. This is all that really matters.