Religulous, The Bill Mahar Film; a review--Part Two
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
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.
- The God of Science (ft. Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, & Arthur C. Clarke) - YouTube
Scientists have a rational, intelligent conversation about God. We all could take a lesson from Carl Sagan, to approach this issue with a little humility. Ex...
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.
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)
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,