The Wisdom and Warning of Bill Maher's "Religulous"

Bill Maher is a funny guy, though sometimes what he has us laughing at is as frightening upon further examination as it was comical on first impression.  Organized religion is exactly just such a facet of human life.  We can laugh at the ideas of a sky daddy and dust-men and rib-women for a while, but when people who seriously and devotedly believe in those and other fallacies attempt to superimpose their belief on an entire population, using government as the mechanism, the topic stops being funny pretty quickly.

So it is no surprise that there wasn't even a hint of a smile on Bill's face as he delivered the closing commentary on his film, "Religulous."  I wasn't smiling either ... but I found myself nodding in agreement an awful lot.

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The irony of religion is that because of its power to divert man to destructive courses, the world could actually come to an end. The plain fact is, religion must die for mankind to live. The hour is getting very late to be able to indulge in having in key decisions made by religious people. By irrationalists, by those who would steer the ship of state not by a compass, but by the equivalent of reading the entrails of a chicken. George Bush prayed a lot about Iraq, but he didn't learn a lot about it.

Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It's nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith, and enable and elevate it are intellectual slaveholders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction. Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don't have all the answers to think that they do. Most people would think it's wonderful when someone says, "I'm willing, Lord! I'll do whatever you want me to do!" Except that since there are no gods actually talking to us, that void is filled in by people with their own corruptions and limitations and agendas. And anyone who tells you they know, they just know what happens when you die, I promise you, you don't. How can I be so sure? Because I don't know, and you do not possess mental powers that I do not.

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's what man needs to be, considering that human history is just a litany of getting shit dead wrong. This is why rational people, anti-religionists, must end their timidity and come out of the closet and assert themselves. And those who consider themselves only moderately religious really need to look in the mirror and realize that the solace and comfort that religion brings you actually comes at a terrible price. 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. To do otherwise is to be an enabler, a mafia wife, for the true devils of extremism that draw their legitimacy from the billions of their fellow travelers.

If the world does come to an end here, or wherever, or if it limps into the future, decimated by the effects of religion-inspired nuclear terrorism, let's remember what the real problem was that we learned how to precipitate mass death before we got past the neurological disorder of wishing for it. That's it. Grow up or die.

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And for those who would care to see the complete closing comment, here it is:


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Tags: Bill Maher, Religulous

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Comment by Alan Perlman on January 13, 2013 at 11:48am

Loren, I agree 1000% with your last affirmation and would like to see it on T-shirts. 

I always find your uncompromising stand to be invigorating.  Atheists MUST be proud and principled.  You, I, and Johnny Cash -- we will not back down. 

You're right about programming.  But even with lukewarm programming (my family), escape would have been harder if I had not gotten a religion-free education and left my home town at an early age.  In getting free of religion, geographical isolation and the absence of social reinforcement are major factors.

Comment by Earther on January 12, 2013 at 4:47pm

Loren, I would like to add to that, our own promotion of life itself from an atheistic view.  In that I mean over time what we as people who are atheist offer the world as in reproduction, farming, writing, medical practice etc... may grow as a mainstream and persistent occurance of life.

Comment by Loren Miller on January 12, 2013 at 1:06pm

It depends on WHO you're programming and HOW the programming is done, I suspect, Alan.  A LOT of us have been through various types of that programming, some as young as you say, and yet here we stand, free of it.  It makes me wonder as there become more of us, how many more will be emboldened to shake off the indoctrination and refuse further permission to their programmers.

Our job is to be persistent and consistent, to maintain who we are in the face of their crap, and To Not Back Down ... EVER.

Comment by Alan Perlman on January 12, 2013 at 12:48pm

Bill is standing at Megiddo, supposedly the location of the Final Showdown. 

I saw the movie -- a speical event at a Chicago CFI meeting -- and came away with my suspicions confirmed (religious believers of all stripes are quite immovable and locked into their world-views) and my fears heightened. 

Most memorable scene: in a trailer full of God-fearing American truckers, Bill asked a few innocuous Socratic questions, and you could feel the antagonism building.  One burly specimen said he was leaving, unable to tolerate any disrespect for "my God."

"Grow up or die" says it perfectly.   But how are they gonna grow up when you start programming them at age 5?  Compared to the 3rd world nations with (or soon to acquire nukes), the folks who avoided mutually assured destruction for 40 years were adults (and even then, the button was almost pushed, at least once).  We're only going to back away from the brink when political leaders around the world have the guts to get religion out of politics in their countries.  Not gonna happen.

Also recommended: The God Who Wasn't There -- persuasive evidence that Jesus never existed.

 

Comment by Pat on January 11, 2013 at 9:15am

Randall, I did watch Religulous when it first came out. And, I'm currently recording the PBS series, Abolitionists. And, the French film Night and Fog. Yes, it's makes me mad, also. But for me, anyway, it's a constant reminder that there is evil in the world and how that evil operates. The constant barrage of fear, hatred, and intolerance, delivered by the willful ignorance and distortion of reality. I do think there is a need for us to get aggravated.  As Hannah Arendt correctly subtitled her book Eichman in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, that banality is with us today. And, because it's banal, it appears as boring and trite, when in fact it is the essence of the intentional infliction of human misery. Unfortunately for us as a species, history repeats itself. "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." George Santayana. The constant reminder, again for me anyway, is a learning tool to try and learn and not to repeat.

Comment by Randall Smith on January 11, 2013 at 8:16am

Although I totally agree with "the message" in "Religulous", I won't go see it (maybe if it's on TV, but that'll never happen). I won't watch it for the same reasons I don't watch murder mysteries or Civil Rights shows (PBS's "Abolitionists" or the movie "Mississippi Burning" for examples). They just make me mad and depressed. I am familiar with injustice, conservatism, bigotry, stupidity, etc. No need to get aggrevated. 

Comment by Napoleon Bonaparte on January 11, 2013 at 1:56am

Religulous - full film

 

Comment by James Kz on January 11, 2013 at 1:04am

I was still a Wiccan when the movie came out, and though I am unaware of any atrocities that Wicca has perpetrated or promotes, I agreed completely with Mr Maher's sentiments. I won't say that movie turned me to atheism (I was an atheistic Wiccan already, and last year just dropped the Wicca part), it did show what religion does when it is in the majority.

At one time Christianity was a minority faith in the Middle East, persecuted (like Wiccans and atheists are now). It points what happens should any religion gain ascendency.

It too is a warning of sorts for atheism. While it is not a religion, in the unlikely event that atheism gains majority status in the USA it could conceivable become a force for persecution too. (I don't mean banning Ten Commandment monuments in courthouses or working against the pernicious creep of religion in government.)

Comment by Earther on January 10, 2013 at 6:52pm

I was happy when that movie came out because at that time I was looking for atheistic influence.  Bill Maher capitolizes on social media that promotes theist ideas but he is also keeping his beliefs intact.  I appreciate Bill for encouraging other atheist to come foward but I do not want to make other atheist to feel like it is easy to do so.  Everyone must choose their own speed and comfort level on exposing themselves to the world.  There is no evidence that anyone can fix the worlds social illusions of correctness or wrongs.  It is important to nurture what you believe is valuable.  To expose the beliefs of governmental elected officials and social influence to more of the public by way of books, television or movies helps to teach those of us who do not have that knowledge.  It also makes us aware of how dangerous the world is by way of social influence.

Comment by Humble Pie on January 10, 2013 at 12:38pm

Discovered this beauty back when I was still "undercover" and had some measure of influence at a local church. I thought about playing it for some of the other young people to see how they rebutted it... or if they did. But I never got around to it. In retrospect, I wish I had.

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