Open Letter #2 to Ricky Gervais on comparison of the Tony of AFTER LIFE to the Solomon of ECCLESIASTES, Kath: If death is just the end then what is the point?

Both Tony in AFTER LIFE and Solomon in ECCLESIASTES both agree with this statement below: “The fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. All go to the same place. All come from the dust and all return to the dust” (ECCLESIASTES 3:19–20)

April 19, 2020 
Ricky Gervais 
Dear Ricky, 
I wanted to comment on some of your episodes in season one of AFTER LIFE, and then I wanted to pass along some evidence that indicates the Bible is historically accurate. 

“A society grows great when old men plant trees the shade they know they will never sit in. Good people do things for other. That’s it the end.” Why does that have to be true when evil people can get away with evil things and not be punished for them? Why not the survival of the fittest?

Wouldn’t there be a difference between playing a friendly in soccer or playing in the actual World Cup finals. One game “the friendly” is considered a practice game and the other will go down in the record books for all time. Wouldn’t our lives be lived at a higher level if we knew our actions counted beyond this life? Haven’t Christians through the ages built hospitals, colleges and charities throughout the world?

When Kath, asks, “If your an atheist, and you don’t believe in heaven and hell and all that, how come you don’t go around raping and murdering as much as you want?” Tony’s answer is, “I do. I do go around raping and murdering as much as I want, which is not at all.”

Kath: If death is just the end then what is the point? 
Tony: What is the point in what? 
Kath: What is the point in living? Why don’t you just kill yourself?


Tony: So if you are watching a movie and you are really enjoying it. Maybe a movie with Kevin Hart in it. Then someone points out there is an end eventually. Do you just say “Forget it. What’s the point and you turn it off?” 
Kath: No because you can watch it again. 
Tony: Well, I think Life is precious because you can’t watch it again. I mean you can believe in an afterlife if it makes you feel better, but it doesn’t mean it is true. But once you realize you are not going to be around forever I think that is what makes it magical. One day you will eat your last meal, smell a flower, and hug your friend for the last time. You might not know it is the last time, but that is why you should do everything you love with passion. Treasure the few years you got because you know that is all there is.

On his Twitter Live broadcast of April 13, 2020 Ricky Gervais seemed to contradict his argument with Kath. He asserted, “Your favorite meal? What if it was your final meal? Couldn’t really enjoy that. Would they rush you as well. You don’t have time for pudding because you are being executed at 2 pm. Brings the whole meal [mood] down. I am not enjoying this. I am not enjoying this sticky toffee pudding. The priest is looking at his watch.”

In the article “This godless Netflix comedy from Ricky Gervais is full of muddled post-post-Christian thinking” James Cary notes:

This is the part where Gervais gets to other themes of the show that he wanted to write about, specifically the view that atheists can’t be moral without God. Again, Kath half-heartedly attempts to make this suggestion, which Tony flicks away with some well-crafted rhetoric, which sounds clever, but doesn’t actually offer anything satisfactory or coherent in response.The show concludes with various characters asserting things that sound true, and would probably make a good inspirational poster. They ultimately beg far more questions than they answer, but that’s what comedies and dramas do. A widow on a bench beautifully played by Penelope Wilton tells Tony: “Happiness is amazing. It’s so amazing it doesn’t matter if it’s yours or not.” Sounds great, but what does it mean? There’s no time to find out. “A society grows great when old men plant trees the shade of which they know they will never sit in.” Does it? Why is that greatness? Why do future generations matter? “Good people do things for other people. That’s it. The end.” Is that the end? I know what I think the end is. The chief end of man is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. But Gervais has other ideas.

The founding fathers believed that it benefitted the government for it’s leaders to believe in God and with that would come the view that evil will be punished and good will be rewarded in the afterlife. John Quincy Adams said: There are three points of doctrine the belief of which forms the foundation of all morality. The first is the existence of God; the second is the immortality of the human soul; and the third is a future state of rewards and punishments. Suppose it possible for a man to disbelieve either of these three articles of faith and that man will have no conscience,

This point of view is not held by many today. I noticed in Woody Allen’s film “Crimes and Misdemeanors” you can see how Allen’s agnostic worldview permits him to allow the lead character to have his mistress killed when she threatens to call the cops. Judah noted, “God is a luxery I can not afford.” Earlier in the film Judah is terrified when he thinks there is a living God that will punish him in an afterlife, but only after he convinces himself there is no God is he at peace with his decision to have this troublesome lady killed. Check out this movie on Netflix and you will see what I mean about this potential moral problem that atheists can not answer. (I have looked this question many times in my previous posts.)

David Barton is a Christian historian and he has quoted many of the founders concerning their views of the afterlife and how their views impact what is done while leading the nation:

James Iredell, a ratifier of the Constitution and a U. S. Supreme Court justice appointed by George Washington, also confirmed:

According to the modern definition [1788] of an oath, it is considered a “solemn appeal to the Supreme Being for the truth of what is said by a person who believes in the existence of a Supreme Being and in a future state of rewards and punishments according to that form which would bind his conscience most.” 9

 David Barton noted in his article, “Importance of Morality and Religion in Government,”:


I have friends who are atheists who are very moral people. I am not saying that atheists can’t be moral people. My good friend Dr. John George was one of the finest men I have ever known. 

I have enjoyed developing relationships with skeptics and humanists over the years. Back in 1996 I took my two sons who were 8  and 10 yrs old back then to New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Delaware, and New Jersey and we had dinner one night with Herbert A. Tonne, who was one of the signers of the Humanist Manifesto II. The Late Professor John George who has written books for Prometheus Press was my good friend during the last 10 years of his life. (I still miss him today.) We often ate together and were constantly talking on the phone and writing letters to one another.

It is a funny story how I met Dr. George. As an evangelical Christian and a member of the Christian Coalition, I felt obliged to expose a misquote of John Adams’ I found in an article entitled “America’s Unchristian Beginnings” by the self-avowed atheist Dr. Steven Morris. However, what happened next changed my focus to the use of misquotes, unconfirmed quotes, and misleading attributions by the religious right.

In the process of attempting to correct Morris, I was guilty of using several misquotes myself. Professor John George of the University of Central Oklahoma political science department and coauthor (withPaul Boller Jr.) of the book THEY NEVER SAID IT! set me straight. George pointed out that George Washington never said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible. I had cited page 18 of the 1927 edition of HALLEY’S BIBLE HANDBOOK. This quote was probably generated by a similar statement that appears in A LIFE OF WASHINGTON by James Paulding. Sadly, no one has been able to verify any of the quotes in Paulding’s book since no footnotes were offered.

Paul F. Boller Jr.: 1916–2014

After reading THEY NEVER SAID IT! I had a better understanding of how widespread the problem of misquotes is. Furthermore, I discovered that many of these had been used by the leaders of the religious right. I decided to confront some individuals concerning their misquotes. WallBuilders, the publisher of David Barton’s THE MYTH OF SEPARATION, responded by providing me with their “unconfirmed  quote” list which contained a dozen quotes widely used by the religious right.

Sadly some of the top leaders of my own religious right have failed to take my encouragement to stop using these quotesand they have either claimed that their critics were biased skeptics who find the truth offensive or they defended their own method of research and claimed the secondary sources were adequate.

William Lane Craig in his article “The  Absurdity of Life without God,” wrote: 

NO ULTIMATE PURPOSE WITHOUT GOD AND IMMORTALITY

If death stands with open arms at the end of life’s trail, then what is the goal of life? To what end has life been lived? Is it all for nothing? Is there no reason for life? And what of the universe? Is it utterly pointless? If its destiny is a cold grave in the recesses of outer space, the answer must be yes—it is pointless. There is no goal, no purpose, for the universe. The litter of a dead universe will just go on expanding and expanding—forever…

What is true of mankind as a whole is true of each of us individually: we are here to no purpose. If there is no God, then our life is not fundamentally different from that of a dog. I know that’s harsh, but it’s true. As the ancient writer of Ecclesiastes put it: “The fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. All go to the same place. All come from the dust and all return to the dust” (Eccles. 3:19–20 AT). In this book, which reads more like a piece of modern existentialist literature than a book of the Bible, the writer shows the futility of pleasure, wealth, education, political fame, and honor in a life doomed to end in death. His verdict? “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity” (1:2 ESV). If life ends at the grave, then we have no ultimate purpose for living.

But more than that: even if it did not end in death, without God life would still be without purpose. For man and the universe would then be simple accidents of chance, thrust into existence for no reason. Without God the universe is the result of a cosmic accident, a chance explosion. There is no reason for which it exists. As for man, he is a freak of nature—a blind product of matter plus time plus chance. Man is just a lump of slime that evolved rationality. There is no more purpose in life for the human race than for a species of insect; for both are the result of the blind interaction of chance and necessity. As one philosopher has put it: “Human life is mounted upon a subhuman pedestal and must shift for itself alone in the heart of a silent and mindless universe.”13

What is true of the universe and of the human race is also true of us as individuals. Insofar as we are individual human beings, we are the result of certain combinations of heredity and environment. We are victims of a kind of genetic and environmental roulette. Biologists like Richard Dawkins regard man as an electro-chemical machine controlled by its mindless genes. If God does not exist, then you are just a miscarriage of nature, thrust into a purposeless universe to live a purposeless life.

So if God does not exist, that means that man and the universe exist to no purpose—since the end of everything is death—and that they came to be for no purpose, since they are only blind products of chance. In short, life is utterly without reason.

Do you understand the gravity of the alternatives before us? For if God exists, then there is hope for man. But if God does not exist, then all we are left with is despair. Do you understand why the question of God’s existence is so vital to man? As Francis Schaeffer aptly put it, “If God is dead, then man is dead, too.”

 Adrian Rogers noted the Bible is affirmed through historical accuracy. Do you remember the story about the handwriting on the wall that is found in the fifth chapter of Daniel? Belshazzar hosted a feast with a thousand of his lords and ladies. Suddenly, a gruesome hand appeared out of nowhere and began to write on a wall. The king was disturbed and asked for someone to interpret the writing. Daniel was found and gave the interpretation. After the interpretation, “Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.” (Daniel 5:29). 
Basing their opinion on Babylonian records, the historians claim this never happened. According to the records, the last king of Babylon was not Belshazzar, but a man named Nabonidas. And so, they said, the Bible is in error. There wasn’t a record of a king named Belshazzar. Well, the spades of archeologists continued to do their work. In 1853, an inscription was found on a cornerstone of a temple built by Nabonidas, to the god Ur, which read: “May I, Nabonidas, king of Babylon, not sin against thee. And may reverence for thee dwell in the heart of Belshazzar, my first-born favorite son.” 
From other inscriptions, it was learned that Belshazzar and Nabonidas were co-regents. Nabonidas traveled while Belshazzar stayed home to run the kingdom. Now that we know that Belshazzar and Nabonidas were co-regents, it makes sense that Belshazzar would say that Daniel would be the third ruler. What a marvelous nugget of truth tucked away in the Word of God!


Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher, everettehatcher@gmail.comhttp://www.thedailyhatch.org, cell ph 501-920-5733, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002

On Saturday April 18, 2020 at 6pm in London and noon in Arkansas, I had a chance to ask Ricky Gervais a question on his Twitter Live broadcast which was  “Is Tony a Nihilist?” At the 20:51 mark Ricky answers my question. Below is the video:

Part 1 “Why have integrity in Godless Darwinian Universe where Might makes Right?”

Part 2 “My April 14, 2016 Letter to Ricky mentioned Book of Ecclesiastes and the Meaninglessness of Life”

Part 3 Letter about Brandon Burlsworth concerning suffering and pain and evil in the world.  “Why didn’t Jesus save her [from cancer]?” (Tony’s 10 year old nephew George in episode 2)

Part 4 Letter on Solomon on Death Tony in episode one, “It should be everyone’s moral duty to kill themselves.”

Part 5 Letter on subject of Learning in Ecclesiastes “I don’t read books of fiction but mainly science and philosophy”

Part 6 Letter on Luxuries in Ecclesiastes Part 6, The Music of AFTERLIFE (Part A)

Part 7 Letter on Labor in Ecclesiastes My Letter to Ricky on Easter in 2017 concerning Book of Ecclesiastes and the legacy of a person’s life work

Part 8 Letter on Liquor in Ecclesiastes Tony’s late wife Lisa told him, “Don’t get drunk all the time alright? It will only make you feel worse in the log run!”

Part 9 Letter on Laughter in Ecclesiastes , I said of laughter, “It is foolishness;” and of mirth, “What does it accomplish?” Ecclesiastes 2:2

Part 10 Final letter to Ricky on Ladies in Ecclesiastes “I gathered a chorus of singers to entertain me with song, and—most exquisite of all pleasures— voluptuous maidens for my bed…behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun” Ecclesiastes 2:8-11.

Part 11 Letter about Daniel Stanhope and optimistic humanism  “If man has been kicked up out of that which is only impersonal by chance , then those things that make him man-hope of purpose and significance, love, motions of morality and rationality, beauty and verbal communication-are ultimately unfulfillable and thus meaningless.” (Francis Schaeffer)

Part 12 Letter on how pursuit of God is only way to get Satisfaction Dan Jarrell “[In Ecclesiastes] if one seeks satisfaction they will never find it. In fact, every pleasure will be fleeting and can not be sustained, BUT IF ONE SEEKS GOD THEN ONE FINDS SATISFACTION”

Part 13 Letter to Stephen Hawking on Solomon realizing he will die just as a dog will die “For men and animals both breathe the same air, and both die. So mankind has no real advantage over the beasts; what an absurdity!” Ecclesiastes

Part 14 Letter to Stephen Hawking on 3 conclusions of humanism and Bertrand Russell destruction of optimistic humanism. “That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms—no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.”(Bertrand Russell, Free Man’s Worship)

Part 15 Letter to Stephen Hawking on Leonardo da Vinci and Solomon and Meaningless of life “I hate life. As far as I can see, what happens on earth is a bad business. It’s smoke—and spitting into the wind” Ecclesiastes Book of Ecclesiastes Part 15 “I hate life. As far as I can see, what happens on earth is a bad business. It’s smoke—and spitting into the wind” Ecclesiastes 2:17

Part 16 Letter to Stephen Hawking on Solomon’s longing for death but still fear of death and 5 conclusions of humanism on life UNDER THE SUN. Francis Schaeffer “Life is just a series of continual and unending cycles and man is stuck in the middle of the cycle. Youth, old age, Death. Does Solomon at this point embrace nihilism? Yes!!! He exclaims that the hates life (Ecclesiastes 2:17), he longs for death (4:2-3) Yet he stills has a fear of death (2:14-16)”

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: