As the Doomsday Clock inches to midnight, there’s never been a better time to sort out your theological beliefs, to really assess what matters to you. That’s what Ricky Gervais and Stephen Colbert did last night on the Late Show, as the pair cordially debated the existence of God.
Colbert, of course, is a practising Catholic and a former alter boy. Gervais is a noted agnostic atheist, an idea which he has discussed at length in his stand-up and scripted shows.
“Why is there something instead of nothing?” Colbert demands of his guest. “Why does the universe exist at all?”
“‘Why’ is irrelevant,” Gervais replies.
“You deny one less god than I do,” Gervais goes on to say. “You deny 2,999 gods. And I just don’t believe in one more.”
Colbert then explains his own experience with faith, saying “I have a strong desire to direct [my] gratitude toward something or someone — and that thing is God.”
Colbert, the gracious host, lets his guest get the last word in. As the conversation turns to the Big Bang Theory, he tells Gervais: “You’re just believing Stephen Hawking and that’s a matter of faith in his abilities. You don’t know that yourself.”
“But science is constantly proved all the time,” Gervais replies. “If we take any fiction, or any holy book, and destroyed it, okay, in 1,000 years time that wouldn’t come back just as it was. But if you took every science book and every fact and destroyed them all, in 1,000 years they’d all be back — because all the same tests would be the same results.”
“That’s really good,” Colbert admits.
It’s a pretty civil debate, a lesson, perhaps, for family dinners everywhere.