FaithWorld

“Religulous” — a film call to atheist arms

October 9, 2008

Maher and director Larry Charles pose during Toronto International Film Festival, 7 Sept 2008/Mark BlinchComedian and talk-show host Bill Maher has issued the latest “call to atheist arms” in his recently released documentary “Religulous.”

He wants his fellow non-believers and doubters to “come out of the closet” to counter what he views as religion’s dangerous influence on the world. To do so, he preaches to the converted in “Religulous”, a scathing documentary that skewers Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

The film is part of the “neo-atheist” backlash to the rising influence of religion in public life, following a path recently blazed by a trio of best-selling books by Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Dawkins, a renowned Oxford biologist, has also presented a documentary critical of religion called “Root of all Evil?” on British television.

The Maher film obviously aims to entertain — the audience at the viewing I attended in a suburb north of Dallas laughed almost non-stop through the whole show and a colleague of mine in Arizona reported the same at one he attended. You can see our report here.

But Maher clearly has a political purpose in mind just weeks ahead of the Nov. 4 presidential election between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain. The latter picked conservative Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin , a staunch conservative Christian, as his running mate to energize an evangelical base which Maher regards as scary.

Steeple toppled by Hurricane Wilma in Florida, 24 Oct 2005/Joe SkipperMaher notes that America’s religiously unaffiliated population is 16 percent, a number drawn from Pew surveys. He pointedly says this is a larger percentage of the population than several other influential lobby groups such as the National Rifle Association. Hence his call for doubters to “come out of the closet” — a call that other atheist groups and bloggers have been making in recent months.

For an example of this, see The Out Campaign.

America’s rates of religiosity are far higher than those found in most other developed countries. Some vocal non-believers believe peer and social pressure prevents others from expressing their doubt.

Maher sees this religiosity as a clear and present danger in a world bristling with nuclear and bio-chemical weapons. He doles out the blame all around, rapping the “End of Times” views of some conservative Christians but also radical Islam and militant Zionism.

What do you think? Is religion a “danger”? And will fellow non-believers heed Maher’s call and start emerging from the closet? Or is “disbelief” a difficult concept to rally around?

Comments
20 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

I haven’t seen the film, I’m an atheist already and haven’t a particular fondness for Bill Maher’s humour, so don’t see the point. What I do see the point of is actually having a reasoned debate with people of faith especially in the rise of Christian fundamentalists in the US and Europe and Islamic fundamentalists in the Middle East, whose refusal to accept that anyone can live a happy, loving, altruistic life by accepting reason and science (real science not dogma like ID)rather than non-provable faith make it impossible.

Ask yourself a question, would you vote for either of the two Presidential Candidates if they were atheists? No? In a world threatened by climate change, global terrorism, declining fossil fuel resources and financial crisis, what difference does it make where the candidate spends his Sunday morning? Surely a better answer would be to chose the candidate who understands the causes of these problems and can offer solutions based on that understanding, regardless of what faith (or lack there of) he chooses.

Instead you have debates about about Obama’s ties to a idiot racist christian priest (which you would think would stop people believing he’s a Muslim, but strangely not) or Palin’s ties to an idiot African ‘Witch Finder’!

Reasoned debate . . . I don’t think so.

That being said this film is not going to create reasonable debate either, but if viewed on the same level as say (picking a name at random) Pat Robertson’s unquestioning hatred of anybody not a Christian – it is an effective propaganda piece from which reasoned debate might happen.

Posted by Bob P | Report as abusive
 

I believe religion is a danger.

example 1: the current administration and its party share the belief that one day a man will fly down from the sky and make everything dandy. what effect does this have on decisions made about the future?

example 2: the very foundation of modern mathematics, science, literature, even civilization itself, lies in the middle east. once a great empire that expanded our knowledge and creativity, today a hotbed of violence and ignorance. what was the fateful ingredient that destroyed this region? so much so that even people of the same general faith and ethnicity are at violent odds?

religion in my opinion takes responsibility from human hands and puts it nowhere. this is not only dangerous, but a threat to modern mankind and any sane idea of progress.

Posted by Jeremy | Report as abusive
 

Craig Hazen, an evangelical comparative religion professor at Biola University reviews “religulous.”

“Maher is pitching this film as mavericky—telling the truth about religion that everyone else is afraid to address. But Religulous is nothing more than filthy, nudie, druggie, and obtusey. There is little to laugh at and nothing to learn (expect maybe that if you quit being religulous you get to act like Caligulous).”

http://www.biola.edu/news/articles/2008/ 081007_hazen.cfm

Posted by JF | Report as abusive
 

My Friend I dare you to read the Following Scriptures. I challenge you to Pray to God and ask him to prove Himself to You. Study them and Pray that God would reveal Himself to you.

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal Godhead, so that they are without excuse. Romans 1:20

Who will render to every man according to his deeds;
Romans 2:6

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus Christ, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Romans 10:9

If you can do this and He doesn’t answer you I fear the following:

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Romans 1:28

Please open your mind and heart and seek God while He is near. Don’t go too far!!!

Posted by Jeff | Report as abusive
 

The underlying concept that Bill was trying to infer was simply “we (or you) do not know what happens after death” simple, clear, and concise.

In Christianity, you seem to be able to party in heaven for eternity with no explicit schedule of activities or what goes on up there. In Islam if you die as a “martyr”, when you get to their pearly gates in another realm, you have 72 virgins waiting for you (So now I know why it’s in style to be a suicide bomber).

The point is not to convert the world to atheism, its just I dont know, you dont know, and because everyone around the world has different interpretations of thousand year old books (Quran, Bible, etc.), this has caused all the differences and the hatred in the world. Like Nike’s add “Just Do it”, I think the world’s new slogan should be “Just Be Rational”…

Are you really going to tell me Noah was 900 years old and put every species of animals on a wooden yacht and went on a booze cruise to safety?, and Adam listened to a talking snake in the garden of Eden and told him to eat a frickin apple? There must of been some pretty good mushrooms in that garden.

Re-Evaluate everything you take serious in your life and you will find some things that amaze you.

Posted by Mr. L | Report as abusive
 

If the trailer is anything to go by, it’s a yawnathon of sneering mockery, preaching to the liberal converted. Ho! Ho! Look at that wierd religious person!! Te! He! How can anyone intelligent believe in that? As if that kind of attitude is going to achieve anything other than broaden the divide. In the end, who is being more narrow minded?

 

See the movie then comment on what you think is narrow minded and causing the “divide” you speak of.

 

Religious nuts quoting scriptures and telling me to find God causes a divide.

Presidents who believe the End Times are coming, causes a divide.

Religious fanatics blowing themselves up in the name of Allah, causes a divide.

Watching a comedy, eating popcorn, and relaxing, does not cause a divide.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive
 

“People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along? Can we stop making it, making it horrible for the older people and the kids?…It’s just not right. It’s not right. It’s not, it’s not going to change anything. We’ll, we’ll get our justice….Please, we can get along here. We all can get along. I mean, we’re all stuck here for a while. Let’s try to work it out. Let’s try to beat it. Let’s try to beat it. Let’s try to work it out.” Rodney King

Sage advice folks, so screw the idea that only you have THE answer.

Posted by Strider | Report as abusive
 

Bill Maher–his church is the church of animal rights, (PETA) his high priestess is Ingrid Newkirk (have you seen what SHE DOES?) and the tenets aer basically anything is ok except being a chrsitain jew or muslim and eating meat. having an affair while you wife is struggling with breast cancer–fine! (EDWARDS was his candidate as I recall. anyway, the man ought to take a look at lenin and all he did for the world with his atheism and then be quiet.

 

A call to arms? Really? I haven’t seen this yet, but I’m surprised to hear that Maher made a movie that encourages atheists to take up weapons against the religious. In fact, I’m not quite sure I believe it.

 

hi dave ,the disciples asked LORD why do you speak in parables to the multitudes but not to us? but you have been given the knowledge to understand the mystries of GOD.was the reply.. from someone who was a member of the multitude like you dave.someday it might be given someday it might be too late. save us from the intelligents men.

 

There is a God so beware! We will be coming after Bill Maher. This is not a time of peace for christians. I have seen a young 12 year old girl possesed and 5 men couldn’t hold her down and she spoke with a deep demonic voice so satan is real. I have also seen people with broken legs stand up and walk out of a wheelchair so I know there is a God. I can’t make this stuff up. So it is your decision to believe in God or Satan. John 3:16
The Jews sent Christ to the cross and they paid with there life when Germany killed 6 million or more of them. Life is not a game there is good and evil. You must choose eternity or death with Satan.

Posted by Cameron | Report as abusive
 

I have a hard time listening to christians accusing atheists of not having an open mind. Most of us were raised in the church and have rejected it because we have seen its falseness. Some of these christian comments are plain scary. The idiot that saw people with broken bones walking? Jews were exterminated in Germany because they rejected christ? 12 year-old girl possessed by demons? I wonder if these mental giants truly believe this junk or if they’re serious. Anyway, with christianity, this is typical of the average devotee. They believe by spouting verses, most of which they don’t understand, is the same thing as rational thought. When I was a kid, I hated church and knew that I’d abandon it as soon as I could. I did and never looked back. I hate all religions, but chritianity is the one that deserves to be eliminated. Too many nonthinking christians are a dangerous thing. Screw christ and his followers.

Posted by Den104 | Report as abusive
 

To Den104– miracles happen in hospitals all the time–people go in for a cancer operation and the x-rays confirmed that the tumor was still there the day before, and then–opps! they open the person up and the cancer tumore is gone—and that person and others had asked God for a healing. The surgeons scratch their heads and declare–”sponatneous remission”. ‘Spontaneous remissions’ are Gods miracles cloaked in scientific jargon in an attempt to take God out of the event. In any event, these things happen and all the person who you criticize was speaking of was miraculous healings–a mans broken legs were healed and he stood up.These things happen all the time and have been witnessed by believers and unbelievers alike.

Posted by nancy | Report as abusive
 

yes nancy your right i had a major knee injury paying tennis i endured it about 6 months in total denile hopeing it would gradualty improve .i had developed a limp which was noticable eventually i went for treatment i had an MRI, while i was waiting for the results the men at our small church prayed and the pain went away so i thought it must have been a minor problem .then my health providers imformed me of an oppointment to see the head of a hospital othapedic department.when i walked in to his office he asked if i was the person whos MRI x rays he was reading .he said he was looking at a shattered knee and he was debating whether he could rebuild it.he was totally confused.this is in my medical charts.i have witnessed more wondereful healing but the skepics believe what they want to believe. keep trusting nancy

 

I think most people are forgetting his real message that people just need to have doubt. He made a perfect example of showing how the Bible is no more then a fairy tale that millions of people actually believe. I recommend religious people going through some of these scriptures and asking your self do i really believe that.

Posted by Tyler | Report as abusive
 

oh my fellow brothers and sisters. So ignorent and pridefull we have all become over time. Just two of the few things our Lord askes us to be rid of to see the true light of God. Impossible for some, and easier for others. So quick to not believe than too open your faith and believe. What would it take? Proof. By all means were human aren’t we? We must have proof of everything. That there is a start and end to everything.
Well let me ask you a few questions. Where does the wind start? Have you ever seen the wind? How do you know its wind? Is it in what you have been told. That our scientists have said its wind, so you believed it. Or is it because you can feel something on your skin. That you can see objects moving from something we call wind. I have felt the power of the bible and i have seen people moved in life because of it. How about that Planet we used to call Pluto. Didn’t our wonderfull scientist say that was a planet. Intern you believed right? I’ve never seen Pluto in real life. Pictures yes, but now our fellow friends are saying its not a planet. Weird?
Im not here to get into pointless arguments. For our Lord askes us to do just the opposite. I am here to ask you open your eyes. What have you got to lose? So quick to deny and not to try.
Just a few more questions. Do you believe in Ghosts? How about aliens? My point is, is these our things we have never seen. Yet, some, most believe in them to be real. So why is it then God cannot be? He has given us all the proof we need. The bible. Along with many other thing to take into perspective. Earths perfect distance from the sun. The moons perfect distance from earth. Man and its biological make up. The power of water, and its lifeline for life. Just look around you. Their is so many other phenomenal things in this world that is taken for granted. The fact that everything holds an energy, I mean everything.
Listen we are all sinners. An we will always be. It is in our blood, and Our Lord God new this. After all he created us. So he made it to have his only son die for our faults. It was the only way for us to be saved. We are not perfect, we never will be. We must strive to try and be. Remember my friends, over thousands of years we have changed. Religion has changed to better soot mans needs, wants ect. Keeping us farther from him and his will for us. I just ask that you all reason with yourselfs. To look and seek something far greater then yourself. To ask the Lord to come into your life. You will be happier after doing so. I love you all, and i will pray for you.
“Paradise is at the end of the road the lord has set for us, stumbling is the action taken trying to get there without him”

Posted by David Gansen | Report as abusive
 

To the medical miracles above….Medicine is managed by people, people make mistakes. I’m a nurse and I’ve seen it. X-rays done or entered on wrong patients, wrong labels on lab work. Costly mistakes. X-ray films show a tumor one day, gone the next? I think not. Instead some poor Shmoe drops dead from a tumor that suddenly sprung up overnight, and another ladies is miraculously cured. Common sense and reason people. I can’t believe how gulible and crazy some people are.

Posted by Sarah | Report as abusive
 

I am a complete atheist and agnostic intellectual person but I have to react against this fake documentary that is Religulous. It is a pity that with such an interesting subject, Bill Maher is only talking about himself. I never watched such an arrogant and egocentric interviewer. Never listening to the interviewed, making fun of weak, and accusing Muslim people of being all terrorists. This man is dangerous and has to be destroyed. People of earth, let’s unite against ignorance and let’s forbid this movie. It is not a matter of freedom of expression because it is only a call for hate.

Posted by ism | Report as abusive
 

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