Bad Reasoning (commentary)
Ricky Gervais – the famous English comedian – graduated from the University College London with a degree in Philosophy.
However, his philosophical training seems to have been of no use considering Gervais demonstrates a significantly bad case of reasoning with the above statement.
Just to clarify my religious position for the sake of the article, I am, too, like Gervais, an atheist; but I am also a philosopher and so it is important to lay out examples of bad reasoning and to point out the logical and cognitive errors.
Gervais’s argument is simply, there have been many claims of God, what makes you think that your God is more real than the claims of others that have gone before it.
Firstly, the argument doesn’t even hit its target as a devastating argument that God does not exist. It only shifts the burden of proof to the believers to suggest why their God exists and the others do not. Presumably believers would pick out the salient features of their God not shared by the other Gods.
Secondly, and the strongest rebuttal to his argument, is there is nothing logically inconsistent with the first 3000 attempts to name Gods as being factually false, whilst yours is factually true. Believers would argue that their God picks out features that the other Gods not have which makes their referent the correct one.
Thirdly, from the previous 3000 Gods that he references, it is not unreasonable to suggest that some of those Gods referenced the same God even if they referred to him under a different name but shared different attributes: “the same face under different masks”. It does not matter whether the believers notice this or not. This simply undercuts Gervais’s argument.
The central issue with Gervais’s argument is that it is barely an argument; it simply shifts the burden of proof to the believers to assert their case for God.