Sunday, 7 December 2008

Bill Maher - Religulous

You may have heard of Bill Maher and his movie, Religulous. I have not seen the movie -- I'll wait until it comes to free TV. It may sound like a silly principle, but I'll not give Bill my ten bucks, at least not for this piece of work. There is what I suppose is a fairly balanced and honest review of the movie Here...

That having been said, I really like Bill Maher. I wouldn't necessarily recommend him to others because of the language and content of some of his material, but I consider him a clever and highly intelligent comedian.

I have seen clips of the movie, and what I saw was him putting people of faith, mainly Christian, on the spot by trying to defend what he would paint as the "caricatures" of religion, such as the story of Noah's ark. Frankly, if he had asked me about this particular story, my reply would have been, "It doesn't matter." What I mean is this; Christians can be drawn into trying to defend their faith in areas in which the questioner has no desire at all to hear a reasonable answer. Their entire motivation is to make the Christian look silly, or so they think. And too often, I think, they succeed, in the eyes of the world.

So what I would say to him is that it doesn't matter. He is beginning with secondary things, when he should be starting with first things. I would say to him, "Ask me if I believe the first verse in the Bible, 'In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," And if he asked me that, I would reply, "Good question, Bill. Glad you asked it. Yes I do believe it." Because it makes sense that all we see came from somewhere, and that it came from God makes just as much sense, to a thinking person, as that it just appeared from nowhere. In fact, the more one does think, the more sense it does make.

I saw Maher on Larry King Live, where he is a not infrequent guest, and this point came up. Bill admitted that stuff had to come from somewhere, but he questioned whether the God of religion had to be the source. I remember him saying, "I don't know where it came from, maybe my belly button lint created it all." Now to this I would have to say, "Bill, I've given this a lot of thought, and I really don't think your belly button lint created the heavens and the earth. Because your belly button lint is stuff, and whatever brought the first "stuff" into existence had to be some kind of non-stuff, or else what it created wouldn't have been the first stuff, would it?" Then I'd say, "But don't take this personally, Bill, because I don't believe mine did either."

Then I'd go off on a tangent by posing another of life's great questions, rivalling, in my opinion, the mystery of the origin of the universe itself. It is this: why, no matter what colour of clothes you wear, belly button lint is always the same colour? You can wear the purest white shirt, shorts and pants, but your belly button lint will always be the same dark colour. Why is that? I expect the answer to the origin of the cosmos will be answered before this one.

But again, what Bill meant as humour in his answer to Larry King, illustrates the inevitable failure of atheists to Ask the next question ... and ultimately the failure of atheism to answer it.

Take Care


Canadian Pragmatist said...

"Because it makes sense that all we see came from somewhere, and that it came from God makes just as much sense, to a thinking person, as that it just appeared from nowhere."

It doesn't make sense at all. To think that we could comprehend the beginning of the universe (whether it had a beginning, etc...) is beyond our comprehension, and beyond question. That's a mystery that we shall never know, just like 'do we have free will'.

God is just one a many explanations that could make sense. Belly-button lint aside, a plurality of worlds, etc... these are all rival explanations, and I see no reason why god is any better.

The problem with the god hypothesis is that even if god created the earth (heaven is not real), the question is still left, how? and what is god (what does non-contingency, immatteriality mean)? If that can't be answered than you might as well put in place of the god explanation... "nothing" because that's what we get out of the god explanation anyways.

Also, what about free will. Kant rightly pointed out that this is the theists biggest problem. With a god that knows everything (e.g. your actions past present and future) how could people possibly have a free will?

Your faith is just as unreasonable as any one elses and stop trying to hide that fact.

Anonymous said...

And how about all the numerous pretellings of the story of Jesus under different names, e.g. Horus, Dionysus, Mithra, Zarathustra, etc... that render his story completely unoriginal?

Canadian Pragmatist said...

How did Moses find out about the creation account? What years were the Jews in Egypt (there’s no archaeological evidence there were ever millions of Hebrew slaves there)? Who wrote most of the books of the Bible (inconclusive)? Why do Paul’s books keep changing narrative voice?