About a month ago, comedian Ricky Gervais got very upset over the following photo, which appears on the blog of celebrity hunter, Rebecca Francis.
Gervais then posted on Twitter:
I know we are all different & I don’t expect Trophy Hunters to change their ways, but I will always speak up for animals because I can 🙂
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) April 16, 2015
The West African Black Rhino has been officially declared extinct. It was hunted for its horn. Shame on our species. pic.twitter.com/hAljGZmRTT
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) April 14, 2015
This series of tweets by Gervais struck me as supremely strange. Gervais has always been very public about his atheism, at times even “thanking” God for making him an atheist.
So why should Gervais care in the least whether Rebecca Francis kills a giraffe or whether the West African Black Rhino is extinct? After all, isn’t that the way it goes? If there is no God, then there is no point to life other than the propagation of the strong and the extinction of the weak. The actions of Rebecca Francis were simply evolution in action. Why does Gervais care if she blows out the brains of a giraffe? Why does he care if poachers obliterate the black rhino? We live in a grind it out, mechanistic, dog eat giraffe, world. If anything, I would think that Gervais should be celebrating the triumph of the strong humans over the weak animals.
This, then, is one of the strange contradictions of atheism. Gervais clearly sees the beauty and majesty of the rhino and the giraffe, and his heart responds to that beauty. He wants to stick up for the animals – to defend them from being senselessly destroyed. He feels the truth that something is wrong with barbarically executing animals. And yet to do anything requires him to also stand against the evolutionary process. He must, in a sense, deny the very thing he believes in the most.
Ricky believes that crap happens, but he also doesn’t like it when that crap happens.
The Bible speaks very clearly to this issue. God has created us to be his vice-regents in the world. In other words, we are to extend the good, kind, loving rule of God throughout the entire world. We are to carefully steward the world, protecting the resources God has given us. As Christians, we can stand against poachers because we know that God created the beautiful black rhino.
Ricky, I don’t expect that you’ll read this, but if you do, I would love to talk to you more, and understand your side of things.