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Religulous, The Bill Mahar Film; a review--Part Two

Updated on February 27, 2016
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Chris spent 50 years in the Evangelical world as a layman, as a student at a prominent Christian University and as a missionary and pastor.

Bill Maher

Source

In 2008, Bill Maher and film director Larry Charles, released a film by the name "Religulous." The documentary was produced by Thousand Words and distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment. This is Part Two of a two part critique of that film.

Bill Maher in Religulous

In his film, Religulous, Bill Maher is funny, insightful, probing, unfair, unscrupulous and entertaining.

See Part One for Introductory Material

For the sake of brevity, I will continue where Part One left off, without further introduction. See Part One for interesting, introductory material. cm

Portrait of Dr. Francis S. Collins, Director of NHGRI, from 1993 to 2008.
Portrait of Dr. Francis S. Collins, Director of NHGRI, from 1993 to 2008. | Source

Dr. Francis Collins's Book Mentioned in This Article

The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief
The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief

The Language of God provides the best argument for the integration of faith and logic since C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity.

 

Interview With an Eminent Scientist of Faith

Dr. Francis Collins was director of the National Center for Human Genome Research and director of the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium. Maher introduced him as “the only famous scientist who is also religious.” Lets consider that statement. Albert Einstein isn't alive now, but his death in 1955 was not that long ago. He unquestionably believed in a god. Here is an excerpt from a New York Times article from 1997. “According to a much-discussed survey reported in the journal Nature in 1997, 40 percent of biologists, physicists and mathematicians said they believed in God - and not just a nonspecific transcendental presence but, as the survey put it, a God to whom one may pray "in expectation of receiving an answer." “ Dr. Joseph Murray won the Nobel Prize in medicine for organ transplantation in 1990. He is a devoted Catholic. Dr. Kenneth Miller is a professor of biology at Brown University. He has written a book, “Finding Darwin’s God” which explains how he reconciles evolution with his Roman Catholic beliefs. Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan and Arthur Clarke are/were not atheists. These three men are featured in a video called “The God of Science” in which they discuss their personal beliefs. To see the video, follow the link below.

Stephen Hawking during the press conference at the National Library of France to inaugurate the Laboratory of Astronomy and Particles in Paris and the French release of his work God created the integers.
Stephen Hawking during the press conference at the National Library of France to inaugurate the Laboratory of Astronomy and Particles in Paris and the French release of his work God created the integers. | Source

Carl Sagan died in 1996 and Dr. Clarke passed away in 2008, but they were prominent, modern scientists and scholars who believed in a god. While this does not mean these men were necessarily religious, they do leave the door ajar when it comes to the existence of a god. Dr. Collins has written several books, including “The Language of God: A scientist presents evidence for belief” and “Belief: Readings on the reasons for faith.” The interview focused on the historicity of Christ. For some reason, Dr. Collins had very little to say on this subject about which he had written two books. Are we to believe that this whole interview actually occurred as it is represented in the film? This interview strikes me as the most blatant example of drastic, selective editing in the whole film. If Dr. Collins really represented himself as the film portrays, he let himself and all Christians down miserably. But I can’t believe this is the case.

Maher introduced a potentially very powerful argument against Christianity, if true. He claims that religions and religious writings, centuries older than Christianity, describe various gods as being born of virgins, holding occupations as carpenters, performing miracles, being baptized in a river, walking on water, raising the dead, being crucified, resurrected and ascending to heaven. The accusation is that Christianity, in its first two centuries, begged, borrowed and stole these supposed elements of Christ’s life from ancient religions and that Christ never really existed. He was, we are told, created by early Christian writers and founders. Bill Maher gives as examples the gods Horus, Krishna and Mithra. I have done some reading from primary sources on these gods after watching the film and found some of the things, which the New Testament applies to Jesus, in the mythologies of ancient religions. But, they do not appear in the concise, organized way Maher presents them. But this does not disprove Maher's point since many of the elements of Christ's life can be seen elsewhere.

Christopher Hitchens: God is not Great

God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

With eloquent clarity, Hitchens frames the argument for a more secular life based on science and

reason, in which hell is replaced by the Hubble Telescope's awesome view of the universe, and Moses and the burning bush give way to the beauty and symmetry

of the double helix.

 

Top Nine Quotes By Bill Maher in The Film Religulous

I want to end by quoting verbatim some of Maher’s comments throughout the film, but particularly from the final monologue, which was by far the best part of the film to me.

Bill Maher says of religion that it is made up of “Good people trying to make it good. But it is corrupt. Fucking little kids corrupt. Burning people alive corrupt.”

After accurately telling the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, Maher follows with this: “If I ever had to swear an oath, why would I want to put my hand on a King James Bible? I could find more morality in the Rick James Bible.”

Bill Maher visits the ancient Cerne Abbas Giant archaeological site in England. It is in the shape of a giant, complete with a very large erection on the side of a grassy hill. No one knows what it is. Some say aliens built it. Others claim it is a religious site. The locals cut the grass and tend it. They just do it because they've always done it. Maher says “Isn't that religion for you? Sometimes you kneel, sometimes you fast, and sometimes you go up on the hill and you cut the grass around the giant space penis.”

“Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It’s nothing to brag about.”

“Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don’t have all the answers to think that they do.”

“The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt. Doubt is humble, and that is what man needs to be, considering that human history is just a litany of getting shit dead wrong.”

“If you belonged to a political party or a social club that was tied to as much bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, violence and sheer ignorance as religion is, you’d resign in protest.”

Bill Maher winds up the film by documenting that many Christians and Christian leaders believe that God may end the world by means of a nuclear explosion. In my view it does not matter if that is true or if not all Christians believe it. What matters is that those who believe it are looking forward to it. Here is the closing quote: “If the world does come to an end here [in Megiddo, Israel] or wherever, or if it lives into the future decimated by the effects of a religion inspired nuclear terrorism, lets remember what the real problem was: That we learned how to precipitate mass death before we got passed the neurological disorder of wishing for it. That’s it. Grow up, or die.”



Religulous: The Final Message (must see)

Religious, The Bill Maher Film

It is interesting, even ironic, that most of these observations by Maher are of a moral nature. Religion normally attempts to dictate morality, yet people refuse to accept religion because of the immorality in religion and in its history.

These types of questions should be mandatory curricula at Seminaries today. But the sad state of affairs at many Christian institutions is that they hear these objections and respond by saying, "ah, the poor blind sinners," and nothing more.

For a great portion of our society, the age of gullible, unquestioning disciples is gone. Christianity must enter a new phase of answering for itself and its history.


Thanks for reading,

Chris

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    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 4 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      bethperry, welcome to my hubs. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Yes, Maher can be smug and a little annoying at times, I agree. The documentary left me straddling the fence in terms of my attitude toward the film. There was some really bad, biased content and there were some brilliant moments. Anyway, I am really glad you stopped by.

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 4 years ago from Tennesee

      cam8510, I personally can't stand Maher and his typical smug attitude toward beliefs he doesn't share. However, I did enjoy your article. It provided enticing info about the documentary but without being ripe in spoilers.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 4 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      I don't know if he thought we wouldn't notice the editing scissors around his neck or what. I like Bill, but he did not do a good job on this film. Tanks Kerry.

    • profile image

      Kerry43 4 years ago

      Dare I say it, but the first thing that came to my mind as I watched some of part 1 of this show...Maher, with his editing prowess has bestowed some godliness upon himself. I think he did himself an injustice chopping this show to pieces the way he did. I say this, not having seen the whole thing, yet what I did witness was rather painful.

      Thank, Chris :) Excellent review and checking out the Hawking, et al link.

      Kerry

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 4 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      eHealer, Coming from you, those are certainly compliments. Thank you for taking the time to read the articles. For the most part, I like Bill Maher. He is a great entertainer and many of his thoughts on the subject of religion resonate with me. Thanks for stopping by.

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Very interesting article on Bill and his views on religion. I have always struggled with the issue, and will probably continue to. I like the way you remain objective while discussing other's views on religion. It shows you have a talent for journalism and reporting on an objective scale. You are a good writer, I will read more of your hubs. Excellent piece and thank you for a great read.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 4 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Robin and Vincent, thanks for reading and commenting. Bill Maher really did take the gloves off at the end when he said that organized religion had to go. I am with the two of you on freedom.

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      Vincent Moore 4 years ago

      An amazing film, but I'm with Robin in embracing scientific discovery. Yet I've always been more spiritual than religious. Let's also embrace the freedom of choice and may we always have it.

    • RobinGrosswirth23 profile image

      Robin Grosswirth 4 years ago from New York

      While I don't believe in organized religion, I won't snub another if it works for them. Faith for many is tied to hope and hope is a positive thing. I feel whatever makes everyone happy is fine by me. However, for me, I embrace scientific discovery. Religion has corruption, costs too much to be invited into its house (for Jewish practice) and has far too many tenets. Good conversation starter here. Interesting. BTW, I like Bill Maher.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 4 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      haha, I thought that's where you got it. Very clever.

    • randslam profile image

      Rand Zacharias 4 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      Ahhh, grasshopper...you are very astute...Khengis is the spelling of Genghis Khan...in some languages...very sharp.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 4 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      You have some great names for your characters khengis is pretty close to Genghis (Khan). Now there is a bad guy. I would have no idea what a decent writer should do. Keep up the good writing.

    • randslam profile image

      Rand Zacharias 4 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      Xander is going to start having a very bumpy ride, but...next chapter introduces another personality who's name is "Anthony Khengis Kravatowski, they call him spider,"...a very, very bad man.

      Thanks for your input...Xander does have to move on, but I'm trying to develop twists that my readers aren't going to expect...y'know, like a decent writer should, right? lol

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 4 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      I just read I-IV of Xander. I'm enjoying it very much. I just finished doing much the same thing as you are with Xander. Mine went on for over 26000 words. I like Xanders relationship to his father. He seems to accept his Dad's quirks and loves him. But he has to move on doesn't he?

    • randslam profile image

      Rand Zacharias 4 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      I only need 1 percent...that's enough...churches will always fail no matter the size...they are human instruments trying to unveil God...can't be done...only a god can do that. I'm with ya.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 4 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      I agree with you more than you may think. On the Organized Religion issue at least. The bigger the organization the more impacting the effects of the corruption. But it is in small churches as well. The era of mega-churches won't last long. People will get bored with it and tired of funding it. But there is enormous power in the leadership of mega-churches. The senior pastors of these congregations are the leadership if the Evangelical Church in America.

      I am with you, lets say, 98 percent. Hows that? haha.

    • randslam profile image

      Rand Zacharias 4 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      I concur, but for the fact that I would rather cling to Nietzsche's Eternal Reoccurrance theory than the idea that humans have an immortal soul...this is an ancient Egyptian idea...are we not simply dust...star dust, yes...but dust?

      I traveled a similar path in regards to a forty year stint with the Worldwide Church of God...a sect/cult of some bearing from 1940 to 1992...when it all fell apart...it took me 20 years to get to where I am...and I now like where I am.

      I trust the universe will continue to provide for me...if I continue to nurture and tend my own garden metaphorically while trying to help those who have been lost in whatever religious structure...because I truly believe ALL organized religion is WRONG...it just doesn't work...power leads to corruption...big church and then big corruption...it's only human.

      I'm simply surprised we don't have more Hitlers, or Machiavellian popes, or fanatic US Presidents, or nutbars from around the globe.

      When you realize that 97 percent of the planet has some form of mental health issue...you realize...doom is in our future, but hope is our light.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 4 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      randslam, thanks for reading my hubs and for commenting. Good observation when you say I seem torn on my critique. I was an Evangelical Christian for the first fifty years of my life. Now I am someplace between agnostic and deist. It's like looking for a new home. So, it comes across in some of my writing. I think many of my other hubs exhibit less of this struggle.

      I like Maher too. Regarding organized religion, he is right on the money as far as I am concerned. But God, if He exists, is not organized religion. All religions cannot be right, but the most certainly can all be wrong.

      Does God exist? When I contemplate that question, I sometimes wonder why it is so debatable. If God wants us to believe, why isn't there conclusive evidence? Christians would say it is because God wants us to have faith. In my own view, if believing (or not) in God has the eternal consequences we are told it does, it seems only fair that we would be given adequate cause to believe.

    • randslam profile image

      Rand Zacharias 4 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      Hey, Chris...you seem torn on your critique?

      Are you an agnostic or a Christian? I like your writing style and you make some valid points about Maher's documentary stylings, but film is tough...you have to keep the viewers' attention...ergo, the editing difficulties. Now, I'm not defending Maher...however, I do love him...he's hilarious--and oft times--dead on the money when it comes to the political and religious state of the US.

      I do agree with his aggressive atheism, because when it gets right down to the very core of all of it--you can't prove there is a god...and you can't prove that there isn't. I've chosen the path of agnosticism as it really doesn't matter if there is or isn't. Yep...that's true.

      If I choose to live a good and moral life without having to fret about an after life, only the quality of my present life, then...and only then...does the process of Life become much less complicated...you simply get to live to love your fellow human beings, do some good and when it's your time...lay down and die...simple.

      A man once said, "Imagine." We should, too, I imagine.