Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bill Maher May Be an Ass

I've heard bits about Bill Maher's Religulous on both NPR and The Daily Show this week. I have nothing against disbelief, given that I've not considered myself religious since high school, but I tend to be rubbed the wrong way by what I like to term evangelical atheists. The types who rail against religion and belief are really just the doppelgangers of types like Jerry Falwell. Both share a disdain for those who disagree with them that is impressive. Of course, Maher claims to be agnostic and to share my disdain for the type of atheists who go for converts with the fervor of a charismatic Christian preacher, but he ends up coming across much like McCain where he blames Obama for causing the financial market bailout to fail and with his next sentence says now is not the time to affix blame.

In interviews and the clips I've heard from the movie, Maher likes to focus on negatives like the more outlandish aspects of some religions and the horrible things that have been done in the name of god over the course of history and basically ignores the good that has also been done in god's name. No religion is perfect, but I have trouble seeing it as anything worse than having a neutral cumulative effect. That's better than many aspects of human culture can explain.


Mickey said...

I agree. I'm not a religious person, but I very much admire the good that comes out of various religious organizations. In my view, the main purpose of a church is to organize people in a way that can benefit the greater good, and few establishments are better at this than churches. The problems arise when that effort begins to infringe on the freedoms of others.

Religions are not exceptional in that last regard, however. People will infringe on each other's "rights" with or without the invocation of a god.

Jacob said...

Yeah, that's always been my point. If you didn't have religion, people would find other reasons to kill each other. I kind of like the Southpark where Cartman goes into the future and Dawkins (I think) had converted the world to atheism so the different brands of atheism were fighting each other.

Courtney said...

Agreed. People who try to impose their atheism on others are just as bad as Bible-beaters. The only difference that stands out in my mind is that a lot of religious people equate their religion with morality, while a lot of atheists realize you can be a good person regardless of your spirituality. Of course, there are also the atheists who think all religious people are idiots, and that's not fair either.

In my view, religion is a private matter between me and the big guy. I don't feel the need to explain my beliefs to others, nor do I expect them to explain theirs to me.

Julie said...

I agree with Courtney. I stopped going to church because even as a teenager I could not handle the holier-than-thous chastizing me for not being Christian enough when I knew exactly what they did at football games and parties.

Chris said...

I agree it's very unfair to categorize all religious people as idiots --- surprise surprise.

I wonder whether Maher's film is intended as a blatant response to Ben Stein's "Expelled", a defense of teaching intelligent design in public schools (which critics unanimously called an idiotic film).