Saturday, October 4, 2008

Grow up or die

Here's a surprise - I saw Religulous last night. And, like most - if not all - atheist bloggers I will post a review. Or maybe not a review, but at least some reactions. First of all, I thought it was a good movie. And there were quite a few geographical connections that amused us. For example, the very first segment took place in Raleigh (where I live). Then, a short time later, there was a segment in Winter Park (where I used to live) and not long after that, there was a segment at the Holy Land theme park in Orlando (which I drove past every day on my way to work).

One problem I did have with the movie was his occasional choice of foil. Not to say that Bill Maher was particularly cruel to his guests, but he did pick a few people who did not appear to be quite up to the challenge. Also, he has been promoting the film on various TV outlets and saying, in each instance, that he is just asking questions. Well, he does ask questions, but he also laughs at their answers. Granted, I would laugh at them as well, but the movie is not nearly as even-handed as it pretends to be.

I did enjoy the end which takes its cues from Sam Harris's The End of Faith. I think that it provides a reason for the movie. If the entire thing were just to make fun of religion (Former Jew who is now 'for Jesus' selling crosses, former homosexual working to change other homosexuals, Jews working around the clock to create Kosher technology that can be utilized on the Sabbath, 'Scooby Doo' style cartoons explaining some of the more delicate tenets of Mormonism just to name a small handful) then the movie would be harmless. But by ending on a serious note, the point is doubly made, I think. The world is on the brink of cataclysmic collapse at the hands of the religious and, as we have just seen, they are crazy.

Without its faults? No. As an atheist, I was very pleased to see this movie. As a moviegoer, I was slightly disappointed. My apologies, by the way, to the various MeetUp groups who saw the film in Cary - we're lazy and that was just too far for me. We went to the Rialto which, in addition to being only twenty minutes from our house is also right across the street from Lilly's Pizza. I love Lilly's Pizza!

One final thought on Bill Maher. He is an atheist. I realize that I shouldn't do that, that I have no right to label someone after they have gone to great lengths to call themselves something else (in his case agnostic). But the thing is that we agree on what we believe in, but we disagree on how to phrase it. He does not believe in god and nor do I; hence, atheist. His idea of an atheist, however, is someone who is absolutely certain that no god exists. I doubt that such a person even exists. Most atheists I have met and whose books I have read do not posit any kind of absolute certainty. They may say, as I do, that they seriously doubt that a god exists, but no one would ever claim any kind of certainty. And since the operative thought is simply 'not believing in a god,' he is, by my definition, an atheist. I suppose he finds this label to be restrictive, and that may well be the reason he chooses to associate himself with the somewhat less divisive term.


Makarios said...

So, as someone who sees himself as a person who doesn't need God in order to be kind, and compassionate, to be sitting in a room full of people for the sole purpose of laughing at, ridiculing and sneering at an identified group of people, not for what they do but they believe differently than you? Did it make you feel like a good person?

Baconeater said...

I wrote a post about Maher dissing atheists.
For the record, he has said in the past that he believes that there is a "force" in the universe he considers to be God and he said before that he believes in God.
So he may be an agnostic, but I think he is an atheist by now.
Still he is not defining atheist properly on the talk show circuit.

Heather McIntosh said...

The concensus seems to be that he's an atheist. But we all know that nobody but atheists would watch it if he came out and admitted he was one.

Atheist = devil worshiper
Doubter = honest truth-seeker