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Comedian Ricky Gervais recently appeared on Inside the Actors Studio with host James Lipton.

He discussed the origins of his atheism in the way only he can 🙂 (The relevant portion begins at the 4:33 mark.)

Here’s a rough transcript of the exchange:

Lipton: What are the lessons that you learned [from your family]?

Gervais: That the truth doesn’t hurt. Whatever it is, it doesn’t hurt. It’s better to know the truth.

I remember… My mom only lied to me about one thing… she said there was a God. And… but that’s because when you’re a working class mom, Jesus is like an unpaid babysitter. Do you know what I mean?

It’s just sorta like she wants you to be good… where I grew up, she wasn’t hoping I would be a doctor or lawyer; she hoped I wouldn’t be stabbed to death in a bar room fight.

You know, so the best thing to do is, if he’s God fearing, then he’d be good.

Good rule of thumb, because… I went to Sunday school, from about the age of four to eight — just great teachings of Jesus. I loved Jesus. He was my superhero. He really was. God was magic, right? But Jesus was just a man, and what I loved about Jesus was he was kind, and he was brave, and I thought, he was amazing… absolutely.. brilliant guy, you know…

So I was about 8, and my brother must have been 19. He came in once, and I was doing something from the Bible, and he said, “What are you doing?” And I said, “Drawing Jesus.” And he went, “Um, who is Jesus?” And I said, “Well, he was the Son of God” And he went, “Why do you believe in God?” And my mom went, “Bob… shut up.”

And I knew she had something to hide… and he was telling the truth.

And I knew, I knew from body language and I worked it out and I was an atheist in an hour.

Lipton: In an hour?

Gervais: It’s true. I wish there was a God. I wish there was. It would be great. From what I’ve heard, he’s brilliant, you know.

But… You can’t believe in something you don’t.

Also, if there is a god, why did he make me an atheist?

That was his first mistake.

Well, the talking snake was his first mistake…

(Thanks to Deanna for the link!)