35 Replies to “Bill Maher — Dawkins for the Unwashed Masses

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Off Topic:

    The Cambrian Explosion – Darwin’s Worst Nightmare

    http://www.godtube.com/view_vi.....6e095e9cad

  2. 2
    Gods iPod says:

    Awesome. Films like this just open doors for us to share a little REALITY on faith. I am sure this will escalate sales of Mere Christianity.

  3. 3
    Kliska says:

    Thanks for that…the trailer is so full of rhetoric and sarcasm as to warrant someone that doesn’t know better calling “Poe’s law” on Maher. On the plus side, I guess I could use some of the footage to teach rhetorical devices to my logic students…

    In a blog post earlier this month, I pointed out how some parts of the internet seem to be function as a church for the “New Atheists” and that Universities often act as their seminaries.

    http://christianscribbler.word.....-atheists/

    I forgot to include a description of Hollywood and it’s function…bummer. Ah, well, future fodder I suppose.

  4. 4
    TomG says:

    It is exceedingly easy to make religion look ridiculous. Anyone could do it, just by cherry-picking the right examples. It is so easy, in fact, that it hadn’t ought to be worth bothering with. It certainly doesn’t prove anything about religion.

    Anyone could do it, I say, yet only Bill Maher can do it in Bill Maher’s unique way. Just as Dawkins is good in print, Maher is good on screen. And just as in a different sense Dawkins is very weak in print, Maher is also weak, probably even weaker than Dawkins, if that is possible in matters of religion. Maher is well-suited for comedy, but his comedic demeanor is such that you know he could pick any subject at random and make it look silly. The silliness is much more about Maher than it is about his subject. Taking that approach in this film may feed into puerile, adolescent anti-religionism, but it subtracts seriously from his persuasiveness.

    So what we have here is a double exercise in meaninglessness: Maher shows that religion can be made to look ridiculous. It can be made to look that way just by smirking at it, which he does better than anyone else. But that demonstrates nothing. It can also be made to look that way by featuring ridiculous extremes, which also demonstrates nothing.

    It’ll probably sell tickets anyway. There’s an audience for this kind of thing. Puerile, adolescent…

  5. 5
    F2XL says:

    I think it’ll suck. If I really cared I could just head to any random humanist convention and get the same stuff for free!

  6. 6
    toc says:

    Maher is a verbal glut who mines his repugnant sarcasm at others’ expense. Those who plan to attend the film deserve every regurgetated morsel they pay to see. They will also consider it a feast.

  7. 7
    StephenB says:

    When a man makes fun of religion, it is almost always a sign that he has surrendered his reason to his passions. Ruled by his glands, he strikes out at any belief system that asks him to deny himself, make sacrifices, or exercise self control in any way. He simply can’t accept or even conceive of the proposition that he must die to a lower order of existence in order to live in a higher order of existence.

    Like a mouse chewing away at the inside of a piano, he can’t understand why a musician would spoil all the fun and use the piano to play Mozart. Can listening to a beautifully -designed and skillfully- executed piece of music possibly be any more edifying that eating wood? Not in the mind of a mouse. Can worshipping God and growing in virtue possibly be any more edifying than hanging out in a strip club. Not in the mind of a secularist. He will lampoon religious believers for the same reason he would desecrate a Eucharist. His unbearable conscience is eating him alive.

  8. 8
    C_G_K says:

    If you strip away the fluff, it is his arguments that are ridiculous. Here are a few he seems to be making.

    Santa Claus doesn’t exist, therefore God doesn’t exist

    Evil exists and God is not bringing it to an immediate stop, therefore God can’t exist.

    Rednecks exist, therefore God doesn’t exist.

    The world would be a better place if we just got rid of religion and faith (the 60,000,000+ people that were murdered by the communists in the Soviet Union come to mind, oh yeah, and there was also communist China, and Cambodia, and…).

    This kind of movie is pure propaganda.

  9. 9
    crandaddy says:

    Like a mouse chewing away at the inside of a piano, he can’t understand why a musician would spoil all the fun and use the piano to play Mozart.

    Very well said, Stephen!

    Although I could say much to criticize certain religious traditions, by and large, the faithful exude a reverence for something greater than themselves which is, in itself, an object of immense beauty. Of course, folks like Maher don’t want to focus on that. They prefer to focus on awkwardnesses and flaws, presumably with the intent to show people that religion as a whole is something stupid and evil that no sane and moral person with normal intelligence could give heed to. Ironically, they succeed in demonstrating their own incompetence and moral perversion.

  10. 10

    He said it….”I’m wrong about everything.”

    That being said, this might actually be an entertaining film.

  11. 11
    reluctantfundie says:

    Looks typical.

    Sure you can make religion look stupid by asking a few awkward questions but you can also make evolution look stupid by asking something like…say…oh I don’t know…how do explain the Cambrian Explosion?

    Difference is, they’re allowed to say we don’t know but science will find out but when theist’s say they don’t know why there’s suffering…

    I’ll not waste my time or money =)

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    Dr. Dembski,
    You might be interested in translating these following German Videos with English sub-titles since (I guess) they feature Dr. Zeilinger and his ground breaking work in quantum teleportation which establishes information as its own completely separate “physical” entity from matter and energy. Indeed Dr. Zeilinger has demonstrated the do^min^ion of information over matter and energy, Thus since information is of primary importance to your work I thought these videos would be of interest to you to have translated.

    Quantensprung (1)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRjgDtrIN4w

    Quantensprung (2)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M133w0XFGGU

    Quantensprung (3)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9rFkI_xy-0

    The videos look very interesting with things “magically” appearing out of nowhere. So this could be VERY Theistic friendly.

  13. 13
    Borne says:

    StephenB : great remarks

  14. 14
    JDH says:

    I really like his argument that it is ridiculous that God could listen to and respond to all our prayers at once.

    After all who could ever imagine an entity, which for sake of discussion we will call “server”, that could possibly have enough memory and information throughput that many smaller less powerful entities, who for sake of discussion we will call “clients”, could carry on what seems like ( to the clients ) simultaneous conversations.

    What a ludicrous concept.

  15. 15
    WinglesS says:

    I assume that God cannot listen to all prayers at once is normally a conclusion based on the assumption that God is an entity bound by time, and thus has to go along with it.

    I don’t think that’s really a good assumption when considering the concept of God.

  16. 16

    “I really like his argument that it is ridiculous that God could listen to and respond to all our prayers at once.”

    Well, that is an interesting *theological* viewpoint.

  17. 17
    jjcassidy says:

    Wingless:

    I assume that God cannot listen to all prayers at once is normally a conclusion based on the assumption that God is an entity bound by time, and thus has to go along with it.

    I don’t think that’s really a good assumption when considering the concept of God.

    Because were he bound by time, he’d still need to fit in his not lifting rocks.

  18. 18
    StephenB says:

    Good grief, where is Bill Maher’s imagination? For an omnipotent God, handling a billion daily prayers is child’s play. What about the really big problems that require not only heavy quantitative lifting but also infinitely precise qualitative formulations and value judgments that cannot tolerate even the smallest margin of error.

    Imagine the challenge of doing prophecy or deciding whether a given soul is to be saved or damned. Unless God understands and factors in all of our thoughts, words, deeds, and intentions in conjunction with everyone else’s thoughts, words, deeds, and intentions; unless he considers all mitigating factors, including biological, psychodynamic, environmental, and habitual influences; unless he can calculate the individual’s impact on the world and the world’s impact on the individual at every sociological level; and unless can tie it all together with a full awareness of all possible combinations and permutations, he could neither predict the future nor pass final judgment on even one soul. If God can miscalculate the severity of even one temptation or slightly overestimate an individual’s capacity to overcome it, he is liable to send some poor slob to hell by mistake.

    As it turns out, God has already passed a test that is of a similar texture. The Old Testament offers some 459 prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah, all of which were fulfilled in time/space/history. All were independent events, including, among other things, forecasts about his place of birth, specific events in his life, and the conditions under which he would die. That requires a great deal more intellectual firepower that simply absorbing a few billion prayers. Bill Maher needs to raise the bar much higher.

  19. 19
    Barb says:

    StephenB @ 7 –

    Excellent post.

    And what are the odds that people will compare this film’s grosses with those of “Expelled”?

  20. 20
    StephenB says:

    Crandaddy, Borne, Barb:

    Thanks for the kind words.

  21. 21
    wnelson says:

    Ladies and Gents, Maher is no Voltaire — just a very clever guy who caters to a philosophically challenged audience. He needs to take his best Dan Brownian shot; but like Brown, he will make astounding claims that, upon investigation, will lead seekers in best direction possible.

    The more scrutiny brought to bear on Christianity, the better. People forget that A-holes have been trying to tear it apart in every conceivable way for 2000 years.

    The “assault” of a stand-up comic is probably not something worth noting.

  22. 22
    wnelson says:

    P.S.

    Let’s not forget the Chesterton quote:

    Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.

  23. 23
    crandaddy says:

    Though I’ve not read the book it was taken from, I understand the quote actually says,

    The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.

    Here’s a quote from The Everlasting Man you might find interesting:

    ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.’ The civilisation of antiquity was the whole world: and men no more dreamed of its ending than of the ending of daylight. They could not imagine another order unless it were in another world. The civilisation of the world has passed away and those words have not passed away. In the long night of the Dark Ages feudalism was so familiar a thing that no man could imagine himself without a lord: and religion was so woven into that network that no man would have believed they could be torn asunder. Feudalism itself was torn to rags and rotted away in the popular life of the true Middle Ages; and the first and freshest power in that new freedom was the old religion. Feudalism had passed away, and the words did not pass away. The whole medieval order, in many ways so complete and almost cosmic a home for man, wore out gradually in its turn and here at least it was thought that the words would die. They went forth across the radiant abyss of the Renaissance and in fifty years were using all its light and learning for new religious foundations, new apologetics, new saints. It was supposed to have been withered up at last in the dry light of the Age of Reason; it was supposed to have disappeared ultimately in the earthquake of the Age of Revolution. Science explained it away; and it was still there. History disinterred it in the past; and it appeared suddenly in the future. To-day it stands once more in our path; and even as we watch it, it grows.

  24. 24
    pvoce says:

    Somehow, a theological dissertation from Bill Maher feels like receiving marital advice from Elizabeth Taylor.

  25. 25
    tragicmishap says:

    I think this film will be quite entertaining. In exactly the same way that Fahrenheit 9/11 was. I laughed throughout that entire movie. It was actually quite funny. I especially remember the cowboy music they played every time they showed a clip of W. Good stuff.

  26. 26
    johnny says:

    “the trailer is so full of rhetoric and sarcasm”

    “It is exceedingly easy to make religion look ridiculous. Anyone could do it, just by cherry-picking the right examples. It is so easy, in fact, that it hadn’t ought to be worth bothering with. It certainly doesn’t prove anything about religion.”

    “It’ll probably sell tickets anyway. There’s an audience for this kind of thing. Puerile, adolescent…”

    “If you strip away the fluff, it is his arguments that are ridiculous.”

    “Maher is a verbal glut who mines his repugnant sarcasm at others’ expense.”

    “When a man makes fun of religion, it is almost always a sign that he has surrendered his reason to his passions.”

    Quite interesting to compare your responses to this film’s trailer to your responses to expelled — which was in so many ways similar. You guys are a riot.

  27. 27
    steveO says:

    “People forget that A-holes have been trying to tear it apart in every conceivable way for 2000 years.”

    I was browsing through a book by Peter Brown the other day. It contained a photograph a graffiti drawing.

    The graffiti depicted a crucified figure with a donkey’s head and above the figure was scribbled some obscenity.

    It was excavated in Rome and is believed to be approx 1,800 years old.

    Look how they’ve progressed from wall scratchings! They’ve now got hate-blogs, the flying-spaghetti-monster argument and Bill Maher!

  28. 28
    Kliska says:

    Johnny, you seem to lack an understanding of what rhetoric is, and how it is used. Rhetoric is often used in place of actual premises, or evidence, in order to try to get people to believe a certain conclusion. To really present a logical argument there needs to be a conclusion (stated or implied) and at least one actual premise (stated or implied), rhetoric (including sarcasm, or an appeal to ridicule) doesn’t count.

    The makers of Expelled actually offered some actual premises to support their conclusion. As far as the trailer goes, there doesn’t seem to be any actual premises to back up Maher’s ideas; only rhetoric thus far, and I’m not holding my breath for actual premises in the movie either.

    Kliska
    TheChristianScribbler.com

  29. 29
    Daniel King says:

    The graffiti depicted a crucified figure with a donkey’s head and above the figure was scribbled some obscenity.

    It was excavated in Rome and is believed to be approx 1,800 years old.

    The crucified figure is not (necessarily) Jesus of Nazareth.

    Crucifictions were a dime a dozen in old Rome.

  30. 30
    wnelson says:

    crandaddy: Thank you. Good correction, and a great quote.

    Another thought on Maher: at a time when even psychology is acknowledging spirituality in healing and recovery, his reaction seems as extreme and unbalanced as Myers’ “attempt” to desecrate the Eucharist.

    “Religion” is player in the game, and anyone who has spent any time studying philosophy will say the same — they may call “Religion” false, but it is as valid a choice as any other well thought out system of thought.

    The Maher and Myers types give away their insecurities by protesting too much. The forced, jejune jeering comes across as a full-blown Existential threat for them when it shouldn’t be

  31. 31
    steveO says:

    “The crucified figure is not (necessarily) Jesus of Nazareth..Crucifictions were a dime a dozen in old Rome.”

    Yes but one of them transformed the world. In fact, the evolution of man that resulted – that I have no trouble believing 😉

    On the graffiti from antiquity, I was attempting to recall a moment of browsing through pages in a bookshop from my memory – which Google has just shown me is far from perfect.

    found:
    http://www.ntresources.com/alex_graffito.htm

  32. 32
    F2XL says:

    Quite interesting to compare your responses to this film’s trailer to your responses to expelled — which was in so many ways similar. You guys are a riot.

    Does UncommonDescent have rules about flamewars? If not then I can’t possibly let this one pass…

  33. 33
    kairosfocus says:

    DK:

    Point of correction, re 28 [pardon, moderators, but this builds up tot he point in the next . . .):

    The crucified figure is not (necessarily) Jesus of Nazareth. Crucifictions were a dime a dozen in old Rome.

    First — given the notorious scandal of the cross, an offence to the pagans and a curse to the jews — just how many crucified figures were worshipped, i.e. viewed as God incarnate and Saviour?

    In short, you are indulging selective hyperskepticism, I am afraid.

    Here is a remark from Catholic Enc:

    A very important monument belonging to the beginning of the third century shows the Crucifixion openly . . . it should be remembered that this is the work of pagan, and not of Christian, hands (cf. De Rossi, Bull, d’arch, crist., 1863, 72, and 1867, 75), and therefore it has no real value as a proof among purely Christian works. On a beam in the Pædagogioum on the Palatine there was discovered a graffito on the plaster, showing a man with an ass’s head, and clad in a perizoma (or short loin-cloth) and fastened to a crux immissa (regular Latin cross). Near by there is another man in an attitude of prayer with the legend Alexamenos sebetai theon, i.e., “Alexamenos adores God.” This graffito is now to be seen in the Kircherian Museum in Rome, and is but an impious caricature in mockery of the Christian Alexamenos, drawn by one of his pagan comrades of the Pædagogioum. (See the article entitled Ass.) In fact Tertullian tells us that in his day, i.e. precisely at the time when this caricature was made, Christians were accused of adoring an ass’s head, “Somniatis caput asininum esse Deum nostrum” (Apol., xvi; Ad Nat., I, ii). And Minucius Felix confirms this (Octav., ix). The Palatine graffito is also important as showing that the Christians used the crucifix in their private devotions at least as early as the third century. It would not have been possible for Alexamenos’ companion to trace the graffito of a crucified person clad in the perizoma (which was contrary to Roman usage) if he had not seen some such figure made use of by the Christians.

    I understand that nearby (in the next room, accor to Wiki), there is an apparent reply: “Alex is faithful,” in effect.

    The cross has become so sanitised and sanctified in our culture that we forget what a horror it — for excellent reason — was in the eyes of those who lived in a society where it was the ultimately degrading form of lingering, intensely painful, publicly naked, whipped, shameful, bleeding and suffering execution under colour of “law.”

    (What demonic madness ever prevailed upon a society to so horrendously degrade even the most vile criminal? ANS: These were societies in which the Rom 1 process had far progressed, so there was no premise for respecting the dignity of one’s fellow man. Let us heed this sad lesson of history . . .)

    GEM of TKI

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    Moreover:

    I also observe Johnny at 25, aptly rebuked by Kliska at 27.

    Perhaps, Johnny needs to recall the basic point of Expelled, before he draws so dismissive an immoral equivalency. Namely, that on abundant and convincing evidence people ARE being “expelled” for academic heresy under conditions of the grossest injustice and in a blatant academic witch-hunt atmosphere. All for the sin of daring to question the “word” according to Darwin et al.

    Worse, yet, all too many are trying to excuse or even justify — or even yet worse, boast about — the shame!

    Maher, by contrast, has no soundness, just mockery and dismissals. Indeed, he is thereby contributing to the climate of hostility that is now poisoning civil and academic discourse in our civilisation.

    That is, we see the Rom 1 process at work again: once men turn their back on God and the dignity of men made in God’s image, they have no morally binding basis for respecting those they disagree with, and so find it ever easier to degrade, humiliate and harm.

    So, let us take another, sobering, look at the Alaxamenos graffiti, and understand where such a process can end up.

    GEM of TKI

  35. 35
    JPCollado says:

    StephenB:
    “Bill Maher needs to raise the bar much higher.”

    It would be difficult for Maher to do so for in his little mind he gives no room to accepting the fact of fulfilled prophecy to begin with.

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