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A Michigan Reader Hits The Traverse City Film Festival, Sees RELIGULOUS And FLASH OF GENIUS!!

Beaks here... I'm not sure if this is AICN's first review for Larry Charles's (or is that Bill Maher's?) RELIGULOUS, but it's definitely the first I've read. What's especially interesting is that it was written by an evangelical Christian who did his best to stay open-minded as Maher unleashed a blistering attack on his faith (and, from the sound of it, the faith of just about everyone else in the world). I'm not a huge fan of Maher myself (never liked his stand-up, and only watch his show for the guests), but anything that challenges folks to more closely examine their religious beliefs is, on balance, a good thing. Did Maher convert our contributor to atheism? You'll find out after you read his review for the comparably innocuous FLASH OF GENIUS.

(FYI, the version of RELIGULOUS screened in Traverse City was not final.)

Hi Harry, Mori, et al. I just got back from a couple of films at the 4th Annual Traverse City (MI) Film Festival, and since I haven't seen anything on your site about Greg Kinnear's "Flash of Genius" or Bill Maher's "Religulous," I thought I'd chime in with my two cents. So use these reviews however you want. First of all, a few words about the Traverse City Film Festival - it might be better known nationally as the Michael Moore Film Fest, as he is the cofounder of the festival. He's a native Michigan guy with a summer cottage in the area, and though many locals here don't approve of his politics, they sure love what he's done with the film festival. His big score this year was getting fellow native Michigander Madonna to show up and show off her new documentary, but it was sold out weeks ago and I didn't have much interest in seeing it. Anyway, it's been one of the highlights of my summer each of the last few years, and I was excited to go again! The first film I saw today was the docudrama "Flash of Genius," starring Greg Kinnear, by first time director Marc Abraham. Kinnear plays engineering professor Bob Kearns, who in the first 10 minutes of the film invents the intermittent windshield wiper. Kearns is convinced he is going to make a boatload of money from Ford Motors, as they tell him they want to use his design in their new cars. Without warning, they say they are no longer interested, but soon after new car models are introduced utilizing his windshield wipers. Kearns becomes obsessed, to the detriment of his health, career, and family, with receiving his proper credit and getting Ford to admit they stole his intermittent wiper idea. This is Kinnear's film to carry, as he is in pretty much every scene. I'll admit, I usually like Kinnear in most films, and I thought he should have received more praise than Arkin or Carell did for his role in "Little Miss Sunshine," but it was a little hard for me to accept him at first as a 1960s or 70's era college professor. I kept waiting for him to make some snarky "Talk Soup" type comment. He's not always likable or rational - he's the kind of guy who turns down the advances of his lovely wife (Lauren Graham, looking great in a nightgown as the mother of his six kids) to go work in his basement on his invention! Graham has a few good lines in the first half of the film, as does Dermont Mulroney, as Kearn's car dealer friend/parnter, but the two almost disappear in the second half of the film. This being a true story, I'm sure the writers were boxed in somewhat, and I'm not sure how much artistic license they took. There are some other notable supporting performances, with Alan Alda appearing too briefly as a lawyer, Mitch Pileggi as a bad-guy Ford honcho, on-screen just a few minutes longer than he was in the latest X-Files flick, and even Daniel Roebuck (Doc Artz! Hi Node 32774 and Room 23 friends!) as a Ford engineer. I had 2 minor complaints. First, the story dragged a little in the middle, when Kearns hits bottom. That is probably due more to the story itself. Secondly, the narrative and title screens never seem to commit to a time frame. At first it seems we're in the 60's, with Kearns inventing the wipers, then we get a "Four Years Later" title card and Kearns has home videotapes in his house and leaves messages on an answering machine. Are we suddenly in the 80's? We aren't told. Overall, the movie was enjoyable. Kinnear mostly wins you over, and the audience really seemed to get into the David vs. Goliath story. I can see the studios trying to build some Oscar buzz for Kinnear's performance, but I feel it's just a very good, as opposed to a great, performance. I'd give the film 4 out of 5 stars. My second film of the day was Bill Maher's sure to be controversial "documentary" "Religulous." This film was directed by Larry Charles ("Borat"), who is also on the board of directors at the Traverse City Film Fest. He came out and introduced the film, saying we were the second audience in the world to see it, after the previous night's showing of the film. Then we immediately got to the flick. Bill Maher does his best Michael Moore or Morgan Spurlock here, as he goes around interviewing various people of faith around the world, pointing out the absurdities of their beliefs. The interviews are interspersed with pop culture clips and Maher's own comments. He spends the first hour or so taking on Christianity, and he starts by examining his own background by interviewing his sister and Jewish mother, who raised him Catholic like his father was. He moves on to interview some easy targets like believers at a truck stop, an African-American "prosperity and riches" preacher who wishes to be addressed as Dr. - even though he has no degree, an ex-gay preacher, the propritor of the Creation Museum, and a Jew for Jesus, among others. After an hour grilling Christians he eventually gets to Mormonism, Scientology, Judiasm, and finally Islam. I've got to be upfront - I'm an evangelical Christian, and I went in this film expecting to be offended to some extent. I was a fan of Maher's Politically Incorrect show when it was on ABC, and though I disagree with his political views more than I agree, I appreciated the fact that he brought some diverse viewpoints and speakers onto mainstream TV. Maher brings up some goods laughs during this film, I'll admit, mostly due to his comebacks, one-liners, and creative media clips. The biggest laughs come from an interview with Senator Mark Pryor from Arkansas, who admits "there's no IQ test to be senator." I also enjoyed Maher's diatribe in London's Hyde Park, where he "preaches" the Gospel of Scientology, and his interview in Amsterdam with the stoned founder of the "Church of Cannabis." But overall this film was a big disappointment. Maher is unable to raise the level of discourse on religion any deeper than what most of use probably went through in the dorm during freshman year of college. He dismisses all of Christianity based on the supernatural events in the Bible, which he says couldn't have happened, and complains that it doesn't present itself the way he personally wants it to. Maher also attempts to mock an actor playing Jesus at a Holy Land theme park in Orlando, but the actor comes off as being much more genuine and caring than Bill ever does. When Christians in the film state that something is a Biblical fact, Maher laughs it off and says they can't back it up. But he then dismisses Jesus Christ as being = Horus, an Egyptian God, which he states as being a fact, even though he doesn't back it up himself. The last half hour of the film, when he veers away from attacking Christianity, seems to drag quite a bit. Maher does interview a few people that seem to carry some intellectual weight, such as Dr. Francis Collins, author of the Human Genome project, but those interviews are extremely brief and heavily edited. Most of the politicians he shows in clips are Republicans (Bush, McCain), though he doesn't mention Obama's faith and the fact that Sen. Pryor, who doubts evolution, is a Democrat. The kicker is the ending. (MAJOR SPOILER - I guess): After 90 minutes of interviews, Bill states that all religion is evil and must be destroyed for the good of humankind. He comes to this conclusion based on the Koran's and the Bible's predictions of destruction of the world at the "end times" and feels that these religions want the world to be destroyed because God or Allah has ordained it. Bill states, without irony, that the only certainty anyone can have in life is doubt, and that anyone that claims to have certainty over the afterlife is fooling themselves and others. (He states this with some certainty!). While extremely "subtle" images play on the screen (nuclear explosions, war in Iraq, suicide bombers, etc..), Bill continues this long sermon against religion with the passion of a fire and brimstone preacher. I wasn't sure if his venom was intentional or not, but he comes off as being no different from those he mocks in the film. The ending is especially jarring as the build-up necessary for that type of extreme statement never seems to be existant beforehand. I think this film may play well to the audiences that want to hear it. There are some good chuckles in the first 2/3 of the film, and if you're anti-religion you might enjoy the message. I saw this with a friend who is opposed to religion and she liked the film much more than I did. I think Maher might be looking for controversy to help sell this film, and I hope the Christian community won't take his bait. I'm still surprised at his venom at the end - it seemed rather out of place for a film that previously had a mostly lighter tone. Director Larry Charles did a Q&A after the film, which I missed, but I sure wish I could have stayed for the potential fireworks. I'd give the film 2 out of 5 stars. TheBigE (not a plant - I was a big contributor to the 10000 post Lost TB last year, and I live in Michigan, for crying out loud!)

RELIGULOUS will likely play at this September's Toronto Film Festival, so you can expect to hear much more on this one in a few weeks. Prepare for rancor.

Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 4, 2008, 4:17 p.m. CST


    by wontyouletmeknow.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 4:17 p.m. CST


    by wontyouletmeknow.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 4:17 p.m. CST

    Sorry Guys.

    by wontyouletmeknow.

    It's just...yah...the first time I've ever gotten a first.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 4:24 p.m. CST

    by cyberskunk

    The major spoiler in the review reminded me of a signature quote I saw somewhere that I liked: "Militant agnostic. I don't know, and neither do you."

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 4:25 p.m. CST

    Wow! A hollywood liberal doesn't like Christianity!

    by greyspecter

    Hold on, I have to call CNN. Fox News passed on the story.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 4:26 p.m. CST

    Go Wolverines!

    by theredtoad

    that is all.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 4:27 p.m. CST

    also...good to see ya back BigE. Us Losties miss ya!

    by theredtoad

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 4:28 p.m. CST


    by JoeSixPack

    Don't worry about the "first" haters. Eff 'em.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 4:46 p.m. CST

    Thanks redtoad

    by theBigE

    I'll be back in the Lost Universe soon. Keep it going over there, will ya!

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 4:51 p.m. CST

    Religion ....

    by Willips Brighton

    ... the last stumbling block for halfass liberals who can't get over the guilt. I meet so many supposed anti-establishment lefties who are still devoted to the idea of a "spirit in the sky" who rules us all. Name me one positive thing on Earth that could not exist without religion? You go, Bill Maher.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 4:53 p.m. CST

    As the ridiculous polarized TB is inevitable...

    by Darwyn

    I'll just preempt everyone by saying, as an athiest and someone who would come off sounding liberal despite not placing myself on that continuum, I have to admit that I don't think this serves any purpose. I am a minority in the athiest community that does not like Christopher Hitchens crusade, nor Dawkin's "righteous" anti-religion bashing. Because look, what it boils down to is that their positions are almost as dogmatic as anyone's. They go around making the argument that almost the entire world is irrational when it comes to religion. Well if everyone is irrational, perhaps you have to take another look at human nature and reinterpret what makes people tick. There view is that we have free will and the ability for rationale, standards by which much of the world lets them down, and therefore basis for their righteous anger at religious people who are not living up to their potential. But again, if almost the whole population of the world seems to exist in some sort of mass delusion, it suggests free will and rationality aren't the primary lenses to see humanity through, which implicates that perhaps their views about people are wrong and just as culturally informed and dogmatic as anyone's. As I said, I am an athiest, but on the same hand I have tried to UNDERSTAND the nature of religion and human nature rather than mock. Religion has served a vital purpose in the past, one that arguably needs some serious updating and overhauling. As a system of social organization and identity synchronization as well as a provider of order, security and control, simply mocking religion is no more enlightened than those they call ignorant. If you want to improve the situation, promote understanding, human self-awareness and new ways of conceptualizing the world, don't just deconstruct - do you really want to take away people's framework for understanding the world, their psychic crutch? Fine, than what do you propose in it's place - liberalism? It's only slightly more developed than conservatism, and just as dogmatic.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 5:06 p.m. CST

    Go Bill Maher go!


    I'm a Christian, but I think different aspects of religion deserve to be made fun of now and again. And I love Bill Maher's show. Sometimes I find I couldn't disagree with him more, but you have to love that he's willing to put his views out there, even the unpopular ones, and willing to discuss them. America could use more frank, open, honest discussion surrounding hotbed topics--the sort of discussion I enjoy watching on Real Time. I hope this movie packs some provacative insight, but even if it doesn't, I'm sure it will be funny. I'm also sure that clips of it will be on youtube until the end of days. I am concerned about the description of the ending rant. I hate when documentaries boil down to a last minute speech by the narrator. I hope the film makes an argument on its own terms without requiring a last minute summary to make up for a lack of substanence.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 5:06 p.m. CST

    Darwyn - Very well said

    by spud mcspud

    As someone who went through a phase of extremely evangelical Christianity in my teens and early twenties, and hit my thirties with some healthy agnosticism to temper my faith, I have to say - I don't think religion is the problem, it's fundamentalism and dogma that is the problem. Those whose faith makes them the most active in their communities seem to be the ones who aren't 100% sure of their faith - or who are 100%, but don't try to force it on others. In my experience, it's the ones who ARE absolutely certain of their faith with no room for doubt whatsoever who cause the trouble - usually by adhering way more strictly to the "judging others" parts of their faith.<P> It's the same as saying (as we do in the UK) that football or violent video games are the cause of violent crime in the modern age. They're not the cause - human nature is the cause. Religion, football, violoent video games, your country's customs - they are the causes that people disagree over in order to justify starting some shit. Banning religion / football / violent video games / cultural differences won't stop viole nce or any of the other more negative aspects of the human condition - and it's this simple truth that I think the foaming-at-the-mouth militant atheist fundamentalists (yep, we're looking at YOU, Dawkins and Maher) seem to miss every time. However, Darwyn, you seem to have hit it squarely on the nose. Now all we need is for you to make the movie Maher wishes he could have and straighten this whole thing out.<P> Now I'm going to kick back and kick Graham Kendrick's ass for writing "Shine Jesus Shine", thus introducing the concept of 'warm and fuzzy' to the emotional composition of the modern Christian...

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 5:07 p.m. CST


    by greyspecter

    umm, right, colon, because it's not like most films, tv shows, and documentaries don't villify corporations as being the ultimate evil. I've never even heard of Haliburton and Enron, or Big Tabacco and Big Oil. What am I thinking?

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 5:20 p.m. CST


    by chipps

    Yeah i pretty much agree. I'm a practicing catholic, but i have no problem admitting the absurdity of religion. That is why they call it faith. Faith is belief in absence of knowledge. Any wacko christian that attempts to 'prove' the existence of god is off the charts. Additionally i (and most chatholics) have no problem admitting the past wrongs of the church. The way i see it (and largly dawson) is that these wrongs boil down to intolerance. (he also thinks religion has been disproved and is illogical, but that is not a reason to ban it, intolerance is). Well the chatholic church has at various times tried to ban other religions/ denominations and look what people think about that. Religious tolerance is a cornerstone of every western democracy. Why can't some of these atheists be tolerant of other beliefs. If they don't like leaders acting on religious conscience, don't vote for them. If enough people agree they won't get elected. That is how democracy works.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 5:23 p.m. CST

    Religion can't be evil

    by Funketeer

    Evil is a concept reserved for human beings. Atheists who blame a concept of philosophy for all the world's ills are just as bad as the religious nuts who blame their actions or their situations on whatever god they worship. I've never understood why some Atheists feel the need to spend time and energy trying to disprove something. If you don't believe in God, then don't but why waste your precious time trying to convince other people to feel the same way?

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 5:48 p.m. CST

    Can't wait for Religulous.

    by Lucasblows

    It sounds similar to ground covered in the book- God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens. Which is a fantastic book which does, in fact, back up that religion is fucking evil.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 5:52 p.m. CST


    by Lucasblows

    I understand your point. But, religion also wastes a vast amount of time trying to convert others. And not just non-believers, but those who don't believe in the same invisible man as they do.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 5:55 p.m. CST

    There are two issues here

    by greyspecter

    One is the veracity of religion at all, and the other is the particular stance of liberals who dominate the mainstream media toward the concept of religion. All I'm saying is that people like Maher are predisposed to rejecting the notion of God, Creationism, the Quran, etc. It can't be objective. So yeah, get your views reinforced, but admit that it's biased to begin with.<p> And Lucasblows, how do you define "evil"?

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 6:05 p.m. CST

    Well, the only religious FACT we have is uncertainty.

    by IndustryKiller!

    That is a fact. A completely inarguable F-A-C-T. As factual as the computer I type on or the eyes you read this with. Belief is fine, but dogmatic belief isn't based on facts. That's just plain inarguable.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 6:05 p.m. CST

    A concept cannot be evil...

    by spud mcspud

    ...only the motives behind it.<P> Very basic example: You have your finger on a trigger that will release a bomb that will destroy millions of people trapped on a secure island. You trigger the bomb. They all die.<P> This was an EVIL act if your motives were to just kill millions in the name of your religion / political stance / foreign policy / furtherance of murky political motives.<P> This was a GOOD act if all these people were carrying an extremely virulent Ebola x1,000,000 that could wipe out mankind, and you had to wipe them out to stop the disease from spreading like wildfire.<P> The act itself either kills for no sensible reason, or becomes the act that saves the human race - but all because of the motives behind it. The concept is obviously a lot more complex, but that's my view of it - religion is not intrinsically evil, but if someone uses religion as a tool to further their evil motives - the outcome CAN be evil.<P> Besides, most religions teach the Golden rule - "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" - as the backbone of their philosophy. You find the less pure tenets of most faiths come in when people add stuff to those religions to further their own ends, whatever they may be. But religion, as and of itself, is not evil.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 6:07 p.m. CST

    Here's one definition:

    by Lucasblows

    Evil: A mind controlling institution which attempts to cover up the molestation of children yet tries to enforce it's "values" upon others.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 6:14 p.m. CST

    But, seriously everyone SHOULD believe what they want to believe

    by Lucasblows

    ...but if this was a documentary about Jesus' life, nobody would be up in arms about it. But, because it actually suggests "Hey, maybe this is all bullshit," people complain and get offended.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 6:24 p.m. CST


    by spud mcspud

    Hey, if this movie had any balls whatsoever, it would go after Islam PROPERLY. Maybe then all this stuff about what happened with Christianity, oh I dunno, 400 years ago (isn't that when the Inquisition was, roughly?) could finally be ignored in favour of the fact that in many Islam-governed countries, practices such as stoning, beheading, severing of limbs, the limiting of basic human rights for women etc are carried out widespread and daily, yet people like Bill Maher lack the courage ot REALLY go after them. He does a half-assed skit taking some bikini chick to a burqa store - whoa! Scary! Try taking that same chick to an Islamic country, see if you'll get her back in one piece.<P> This movie looks edgy, but - as per usual - is just some old agitprop picking on a safe subject to place his prejudices on. Let's see him go to Saudi Arabia and tell the governments there that they're wrong about their religion - then see him try to get out of there alive...

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 6:34 p.m. CST

    Spud Mcspud

    by Lucasblows

    That was why I mentioned reading the Hitchens book which clearly outlines everything you just mentioned and attacks every religion, not just Catholic. For anyone really curious and open minded enough to read a book about Atheist ideas, it is an excellent book. Bill's movie is obviously meant to be more humorous than a true documentary. I also have not seen it and just have this review to go by, so I truly do not know what it contains. But I am still looking forward to it.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 6:42 p.m. CST

    Evangelical Christian-- Must be from Grand Rapids.

    by ZeroCorpse

    The wacky armpit of my great state. <p> Oh-- And Religion can not only be evil, I am convinced it is the source (or perhaps just a symptom) of ALL evil. <p> Discuss.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 6:47 p.m. CST

    Lucasblows, my final thought

    by greyspecter

    If you're truly open-minded and interested in gaining a perspective on both sides, let me politely ask you to read the New Testament. Just read it once, start to finish, or if that's too much to ask, the 4 Gospels. See what Christ actually preached. Disregard all the past atrocities and tragedies perpetrated in His name. The issue isn't how well His example has been followed, but rather what that exmaple really was. So just read the Gospel and then you may have a better understanding of what true Christians believe. If you'd like to continue this discussion, post and ask for my email, I'll give it. Thanks, and God bless.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 6:54 p.m. CST

    I have often thought

    by chipps

    that much that is distasteful is either hard to outlaw (just being a prick) or easy to get away with (murder is not that to get away with) In fact when you think about distasteful behavior can be very rewarding: stalin, genghis kahn, there is a long list. It is true that religion can push people to, or allow them to justify wrong doing, but people rarely look at the opposite. In an environment where there is no god, and no temporal judgment, many people would be more inclined to act selfishly. Religion, even if it is all cock and bull, certainly can be an agent for good. and while it is absurd as a concept, i really do think if you read the god delusion, he does argue in circles and uses inconsistent examples.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 6:54 p.m. CST


    by Lucasblows

    I don't need to read it. I know it. I was raised Catholic so I have that perspective. You would say "I have lost my way" and I would say "I opened my eyes." We disagree. It's OK.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 6:56 p.m. CST

    Could be from Holland too

    by Maxer

    At least Muskegon and Traverse City save west Michigan. And I want Religulous to be funny, but I just can't see it doing or saying anything new, or convincing anyone to stop practicing religion. Just preaching to its own choir.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 7:10 p.m. CST


    by HoboCode

    Good reviews man!

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 7:16 p.m. CST

    Hitchens and Dawkins are pussies.

    by HoboCode

    Read The End of Faith by Sam Harris. Now there is a guy with some balls.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 7:16 p.m. CST


    by HoboCode

    Go State!

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 7:29 p.m. CST


    by Funketeer

    Religion doesn't try to convert, people do. A church didn't cover up sexual molestation by it's members, people did. Religion is an abstract and can not be blamed for the evils done by individuals in its name.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 7:31 p.m. CST

    That's if you believe religion isn't man made...

    by Lucasblows

    ...which I do.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 7:47 p.m. CST

    So where's the Madonna doc review??

    by jefflebowski

    I was in Eastport for the weekend and saw a quick live shot at the theater on the pathetic Traverse City news. Wish I had known about the film-fest. By the way, Moore looks like pretty shabby right now. I guess he fell off the "Get Healthy" wagon after Sicko. PS Wolverines suck. Go State!!

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 7:48 p.m. CST

    Politics,religion,race....Star Wars

    by liljuniorbrown

    Some things just can't be discussed without passionate arguments. I would be catagorized as "religous", but i've never preached to anyone, i've never passed out snakes to people while there chanting,i've never told anyone they are going to hell and i think that slutty asian chicks with huge boobs are the one true form of happiness in my life. I guess that makes me an idiot. Oh well Bill Maher flipped off the whole world on national tv right after september 11th, so in my book he's just an old Hugh Heffener wannabe with no talent other than to try to pis people off. The kind of kid who got the shit kicked out of him all the way through to college. Good luck Bill.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 7:58 p.m. CST

    Ford & Those Wipers

    by mike904

    I remember this now. How did it all turn out?

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 7:58 p.m. CST

    Jesus serves as a pretty good role model when you think about it

    by drewlicious

    I'm not religious but it seems to me if followed appropriately Christianity can help with a complete and happy lifestyle. At the very least the philosophy is sound, love thy neighbor and all that. I haven't set foot in a church in years, firm believer in God but not so much in church, but the morals sank in from my childhood. I suppose the big problem with religion in general is that it can be twisted into just about anything.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 8:26 p.m. CST


    by theBigE

    I've only read some excerpts from Sam Harris - I guess I wasn't very impressed with what I read from him, or from what I've read from Dawkins. Same old, same old. I haven't read any of Hitchens' work. <p> Go State indeed! <p> Did you see the shout out to you guys up there? I'm hoping to be back in the TB's soon. Namaste!

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 8:31 p.m. CST


    by theBigE

    The Madonna show has been sold out for over a month, and I really had no interest in going. If I want to see a 50-year old in hot pants, I can head down to the corner bar. From what I read, the Madonna doc is pretty good but her few breif appearences in the film only distracts from the overall message. Oh, and Mike Moore just fawned over her mercilessly before and after the show. <p> Go State!

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 8:57 p.m. CST

    Shout out.

    by HoboCode

    Yeah I saw it. Awesome man. Thanks. Harris is much more arrogant and rigid in his atheism than Dawkins but more digestable than Hitchens whose writing is dryer than the Sahara.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 9:43 p.m. CST

    someone should waterboard christopher hitchens...

    by chipps

    oh wait, they did. good-o

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 9:57 p.m. CST

    I Demand My First Amendment Right

    by Guy Gaduois

    to not be offended! <p> Wait, that's not in the Constitution? Or the Bill of Rights? Are you sure? Yup, it's not there. Go pound sand, Maher - if you've got the right to be consistently unfunny, I obviously do not have the right to be 'unoffended'. The question is, who will be the first to kill for this non-existent, unassailably absent right?

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 9:58 p.m. CST

    Maher is enlightened, you idiots

    by Sir Loin

    Let's face it, he's more qualified to tell you what to think than thousands of years' worth of knowledge passed down, plus he's better at making fun of said knowledge. Watch it and feel superior for awhile, then realize you've been suckered out of $10. hahaha!!!

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 10:42 p.m. CST


    by Funketeer

    It doesn't matter if it's man made or not. People make decisions. What those decisions are based on does not absolve or condemn the person making them. Just because a religion calls for it's followers to kill, doesn't mean people have to follow.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 10:49 p.m. CST

    We want Madonna!

    by thebearovingian

    No, we demand it!

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 10:51 p.m. CST

    the funny thing is...

    by sidburnd1

    everyone has a religion, even atheists like mahr.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 11:02 p.m. CST


    by LostMythos

    wow, so many of you believers have no sense of history - what is the difference between jesus and zeus? Do you know how many versions of the bible there were before the current one? it is 2008, there is water on Mars and still people actually believe this childish stuff? I really do not think you actually think before you believe. All religion is for children who want to follow. there is no god.. it is in us and it is love, not some book of rules for infants to follow. Good job Bill Maher!!! Grow up people, get a mind and listen to some Bill Hicks.....

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 11:04 p.m. CST

    ok smartass...

    by chipps

    how many?

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 11:14 p.m. CST

    Thanks for sharing your beliefs, LostMythos

    by greyspecter

    It takes faith to believe in God. It takes faith not to believe in God, since there is no incontrovertial evidence to prove His existence or non-existence. <p> As for your ironically hilarious points on history, it has been documented from sources like the Dead Sea Scrolls, along with the thousands of copies dating from around 60 years after the New Testament was written, that the accuracy of the Bible is around 95%, with most of the errors involving punctuation and spelling. Perhaps you can spell out the similarities between Jesus and Zeus. One was "king" of the gods because he killed his father Cronus by getting Cronus to swallow a stone instead of him (Zeus). Zeus loved to screw mortal women and acted more like a drunken frat boy than the god of thunder. And this equates to Jesus how?

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 11:16 p.m. CST

    ask god

    by LostMythos

    there are currently more than 50 versions in english and throughout history there have been more than 400... do you know why the church made it so priests can not marry? so the church keeps their land, too many were leaving it to their families... how many indulgences have you paid for recently... wake up! when the aliens come this will all seem so silly...

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 11:18 p.m. CST


    by Lucasblows

    That's where you are mistaken. Certain sects of certain religions call for you to make sacrifices such as human life and also they ask that you go out and convert others. They teach you these things are your duty. You are taught from childhood, they are encouraged by religious parents and by adulthood, you are brainwashed and are brainwashing your child. The "idea" of religion bands people together differently than any other man concocted idea. Because it is a belief, and beliefs don't give way to reason, logic or facts. Try to reason with a man who claims he's doing "God's will." It's literally impossible because he believes he's acting for a higher purpose. That is how religion is evil.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 11:18 p.m. CST


    by chipps

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 11:19 p.m. CST

    jesus was a jew

    by LostMythos

    jesus is like zeus because they are both fake idols created in order to control the silly people who bow down to them... are you rebuilding the temple of david as we speak!

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 11:35 p.m. CST

    I wish people would study the life of Jesus...

    by zacdilone

    ...instead of the lives of his idiot followers. I would agree that religion is evil. But I think faith in Jesus is just fine.

  • Aug. 4, 2008, 11:35 p.m. CST

    And yes...

    by zacdilone

    ...I'm from Grand Rapids.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 12:02 a.m. CST

    While I thit's over the top to say that religion is inherently e

    by Mister Pink

    ..I still think it's perfectly fair to say that it's inherently irrational, primativistic and intellectually limiting as well as lacking the slightest bit evidentiary justification. There aren't any invisible magic fairies in the sky, and note to the person who wrote this review -- supernatural miracles actually ARE impossible. Sorry to disappoint you, but there it is.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 12:06 a.m. CST

    Man, I butchered that subject line.

    by Mister Pink

    Sorry about that.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 12:26 a.m. CST

    A couple things...

    by DarthCorleone

    1) To the person above who asks that I just read the New Testament or at least the Gospels - I have read them - both in my naive youth and my more discerning adulthood. I paid particular attention to that Jesus guy, and frankly I found his behavior and attitude as a teacher unnecessarily harsh and condescending.<br><br> 2) Why, it is asked, do non-believers feel the need to challenge the believers? Well, I find proselytizing on both sides to be obnoxious, but if the topic is raised, then I'm going to make my thoughts known. I'm not going to push, because change in that arena is glacial, but I do feel that in general the human civilization is becoming more secular for the better. I think it's for the better because I think that the general advancement of the human race is dependent upon reason, science, truth, and avoidance of superstition. I'm sorry, but religion runs contrary to all those things. The notion that humanity needs that crutch is a fallacy. It only seems that way because the indoctrination runs so deep.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 1:40 a.m. CST

    Flash of Madge's 'gina!

    by thebearovingian

    It's already been well documented.<p>All those people who believe in a higher power (i.e. God) are idiots, morons, sheeple, deluded, lemmings, etc? Right. I think a huge majority of the human population believes and yet some of you are willing to say that they are all dumb, unenlightened stooges? And you few are the enlightened ones who live on the higher plane of reality and look down your noses at the stupid masses. Wow, what balls you have to be that arrogant and condescending! Fucking prideful elitists.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 2:49 a.m. CST

    Politically Incorrect

    by Napoleon Park

    was a great show on Comedy Central - ABC apparently bought it so they could ruin it. I'm not sure what their profit motive was in that other than getting rid of competition.<p>Maher doing an anti-religion movie? Apparently he should either learn how to structure an argument or at least look up the term "preaching to the converted."

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 4:16 a.m. CST

    by AllieJamison

    Here is the thing ...if I want to exercise my doubt I read Ludwig Feuerbach and thoughts of other people who spent quite some time on thinking about God's non-existence. For me there's no faith without doubt. ...IMO it's important to explore all the reasoning for God's non-existence if I want to find out about my faith. Just it would be logical for me to read about theological ideas and concepts if I decide to be certain of God's non-existence. Maher & Co don't seem to do that. Well ...that's their problem. The film sounds quite funny as well as very superficial and I'll go see it out of curiosity and to see what's in for me ...

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 5:05 a.m. CST


    by spud mcspud

    I love that - you say "get a mind" and then tell us all to go listen to Maher and Bill Hicks...<P> So you're still a follower, you just follow the teachings of Bill Maher and Bill Hicks (who, by the way, had a great deal of respect for the teachings of Jesus, just not the church that followed him) rather than follow the teachings of Jesus. You're as much a sheep as the believers you denigrate, you just listen to a different gospel - the Gospel of the Sarcastic Nihilist. Go you.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 5:06 a.m. CST

    Isn't it fun mocking other peoples inadequacies!!

    by JackRabbitSlim

    Makes me feel so much better about myself. "Now THERE'S that inflated sense of self-esteem"

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 5:15 a.m. CST


    by spud mcspud

    The man you speak of not being able to reason with because he is a believer - it's not the belief warping the man, it's how the man applies this belief to his believer. Which is why some people use their faith to justify them doing good things (see all those who are raising money to build schoolhouses in underdeveloped countries, for example) and some people use it to justify blasting Palestinian children to Hell (several American evangelists use their money partly to fund the Israeli war machine, as they believe the utter destruction of Israel will hasten the Second Coming), but the faith is exactly the same - it's the motives of the people themselves that uses or abuses that faith. Like it or not, if we were to wipe all religion off the face of the earth, all the evils committed in the name of religion would be committed in the name of something else. You can't blame a concept for the actions of manifest human nature. Religion is neither good nor evil - it is an idea to be invested in. It's a much more complex issue than just "all religion is evil"...

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 5:18 a.m. CST

    Mister Pink

    by spud mcspud

    Yeah - you've been all over the world and personally ivestigated, then personally disproven, each and every claim to a miracle or paranormal hapenning EVER. I assume that's why you can speak so authoritatively on the fact that there are NO miracles.<P> Why is it in discussions like this, the non-believers eventually sound more fundamentalist than the believers, who for the most part believe in live and let live?

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 5:23 a.m. CST

    Sir Loin

    by spud mcspud

    How is Bill Maher better qualified than the rest of us to know about these things? He's a stand-up and TV presenter! Is the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything only given to TV employees, or whatever?

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 5:25 a.m. CST

    "it's how the man applies this belief to his believer"

    by spud mcspud

    "it's how the man applies this belief to his believer" should say "it's how the man applies this belief to his BEHAVIOUR". I may go to Hell for that mistake, but probably won't...

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 6:55 a.m. CST

    Maher and his love of Scarecrows

    by stvnhthr

    Bill Maher seems like a smart guy, but I always was confused why he spent so much time making straw men attacks. He seldom gets his facts rights so it is frustrating to watch him rant and rave against a half truth. Oh well, those who love to heap venom on organized religon should have a fun old time with a whole movie of his weak logic. Maybe if he was a little braver Bill would open a discussion wiht a real theological mind rather than looking for the easy pickings.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 6:59 a.m. CST

    I'm a Christian


    And I'm not remotely offended by Religulous. He made a movie. Good for him. <br><Br> Of course, I was an atheist for most of my life, so I do have some sympathy in regards to where he's coming from.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 7:08 a.m. CST

    There is no "god"...

    by Kid Z

    ...and no "love" either, for that matter.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 8:57 a.m. CST

    "accuracy of the Bible is around 95%"

    by HoboCode

    Get real.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 9:28 a.m. CST

    I believe the 95% stat...

    by zacdilone meant to represent the accuracy of transmission, not message. In other words, 95% of the biblical text is accurate to the original text (unlike the whole "game of telephone" theory that people love to throw around without merit). So there is only a 5% variance in the text we have today from what it originally was. I don't think that person was trying to argue that the Bible is 95% factual.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 9:30 a.m. CST

    Jesus was harsh and condescending?

    by zacdilone

    Sure, to the hypocrites of his day. What's so bad about that? But to women, the underprivileged, the oppressed, and the hurting he was undeniably a champion.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 9:44 a.m. CST


    by Lucasblows

    "Religion is not evil, people are... blah, blah blah." Point is, religion is man made. It was created to control the populace in primitive times. I'd like to think that we are slowly evolving away from the absurd thought that we have a great big invisible man in the sky ready to pass judgement on us and send us to the room of fire when we're bad. I guess not. Like I said earlier. Believe what you wish. If believing God comforts you that we all will someday die, that's great.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 9:48 a.m. CST

    .....Mahers owned by Scheuer........

    by redhankyspanky

    It was classic when Micheal Scheuer owned Mahers little bitch ass, on Americans dying for Israel. <p> Fuck Bill Maher, and his lame ass hate movie. What a dickless turd that schill is. His fans too, for that matter. Fucking ignorant sheeple.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 9:51 a.m. CST

    Ignorant "sheeple"...

    by Lucasblows

    ...are those people all speaking in unison every Sunday as they sit, stand, kneel upon command.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 10:01 a.m. CST

    by BladeRazor

    I am always amazed at how many people devote their entire lives to a mythological figure from an old book written by people who never met the man in a time when people believed the Earth to be flat. In the year 300 or so, Earthlings didn’t know what a germ or an atom was. They had no knowledge of Dinosaurs that have been extinct for 65 million years. They hadn’t discovered electricity. They believed that the sun and the stars revolved around the earth. The people of that era manufactured answers for the questions that overwhelmed them. There is no historical record for Jesus other than the passages in the New Testament. The Romans have no record of Jesus or a crucifixion (and the Romans kept great records). Why would 21st century earthlings work backwards from this old book? This is a book that crucifies homosexuals, subjugates women and is one of the most violent books ever written. (Just read Leviticus or Exodus to see the naughty parts.) The religious nuts have always stifled progress in the world. We non-theists shouldn’t have to tolerate the encroachment of religion into our secular government. Keep thy religion to thyself.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 10:31 a.m. CST

    Sounds disappointing, and I'm a stone-cold atheist.

    by samsquanch

    Sounds like desperate mockery to me. I think we're all past just making fun of each other, aren't we? I think any worthwhile adult understands that tolerance is the way to understanding, and making things better for all of us, right? The only thing I can think of to possibly defend this movie is the fact that there aren't any real atheist movies out there. Fox Mulder is an atheist, or he was, anyway, while the X-Files were on TV, though the word 'atheist' was never uttered in the 9 years that show ran. <p> It's too bad that we finally get an avowedly atheist movie, and it sounds smarmy and self-important. Shit.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 10:36 a.m. CST

    I always wonder why religious people get so mad

    by samsquanch

    Why is it that the atheists and agnostics are the ones that inspire so much righteous, biblical wrath? If anything, we should be dismissed, even pitied. I respect whatever people believe, and I try not to judge anyone, it takes diff'rent strokes, after all, but MAN, whenever I say something like, for example: <p> " I think that if you happened to be born in an arab country you'd probably be muslim, if you happened to be born in Israel you'd probably be Jewish..." <p> People get that vein popping in their forehead and they want to smite me. What the hell is wrong with that? Also, if I say something like: <p> "I think that life is a completely random event in the cosmos and that when we die our consciousness ceases to exist" <p> They fully expect and want a lightning bolt to strike me down dead. What the hell? If you believe in an afterlife, that's fucking great for you. I'm jealous. Imagine an atheist punching out a Christian because the Christian said "hey buddy! let's hang out in heaven if I don't see you again!" I still expect religious people to either laugh at me or look at me like I'm a cancer patient when I tell them I'm atheist, but instead, they want to beat me up. Let me ask you this: If you believe, I mean reaaally believe that you're going to heaven, and I'm probably going to hell, to BURN FOR ALL ETERNITY, why THE FUCK do you care if I don't?

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 10:42 a.m. CST

    samsquach you're committing the same sin as many Christians

    by zacdilone

    That's a pretty huge generalization you're making there. Every Christian wants you smitten/smote/whatever? I don't think so. Every movement has its militant wing. Militant Christians do act like atheists are the enemy, but they do not represent the whole. Just like Bill Maher doesn't represent the whole of atheism with his "we must destroy all religion" schtick.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 10:43 a.m. CST


    by zacdilone

    I'm a Christian and I agree with you. Thank goodness what you describe is far from Christianity really is. Thanks for agreeing with me!

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 10:46 a.m. CST


    by HoboCode

    because it's part of their "belief," their duty, to save as many as us heathens as they can. As far as the angry part I can't tel lyou. their own insecurities about their faith probably plays a role.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 10:51 a.m. CST


    by HoboCode

    Yeah that is one thing I can't stand about Mahr. He has an unwavering love of Israel and refuses to accept any opinion that is critical of our support of Israel.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 11:04 a.m. CST

    No proof of Jesus

    by ZeroCorpse

    Not one shred of evidence exists outside of the Bible- a flawed document to be sure- that Jesus ever existed. Not One Shred. <p> He's in no historical texts from the time, no government texts of the time, no birth records, no death records. . . There's no mention of him in any way whatsoever outside of the religion that claims he existed and, by the way, also claims he was a demigod. <p> You'd think that people would write about a controversial guy who raises the dead, walks on water, cures lepers, heals the blind, preaches constantly, and who is subsequently arrested, crucified, and entombed. You'd think that if this same fellow were suspected of coming out of that tomb after he'd been presumed dead, they'd have something to say about him; A note, a mention, a medical inquiry, a record of punishment for the soldier or doctor who "verified" his death, a military note of award or commendation for the guys that subdued this "demigod", a brag, a boast, a "hey, did you hear who they crucified last week?" story. ANYTHING!!! <p> Instead, there's nothing. Not one record. Not one note. Not one private citizen wrote about it in their diary. Not one person made a note of it in public records. NOBODY ever heard of, saw, met, or witnessed the death of Jesus of Nazareth, except those people who declared themselves "Apostles". Don't you think that's a bit strange? NOT ONE WORD ABOUT JESUS' EXISTENCE HAS BEEN FOUND OUTSIDE OF THE CHRISTIAN BIBLE.<p> Look it up. Go ahead. The only outside-the-Bible mention was discovered to be be a forgery. Otherwise, nothing has been discovered-- not by Christians or secular anthropologists-- for over 2000 years. <p> Saul (Paul) of Tarsus wrote of Jesus as a parable. Nothing more. When the tale of Jesus was first written, it was some thirty to fifty years AFTER his supposed resurrection; That's the first time in history his name was ever mentioned. The story of Jesus- according to Saul himself- was not meant to be in the real world, but in the world of parables, where fantastic things happen. It was not told as history, but as tale of fantasy. <p> Deists who founded America (like Thomas Jefferson) did NOT believe the Christian Bible. In the absence of any scientific understanding of the origins of the universe and our own species, they believed in an uninvolved creator that simply made the universe-- and humanity-- and then disappeared, never to be involved again. Jefferson himself mocked the supposed divinity of Jesus. He even cut up the Bible into pieces and glued it back together to make a Bible without all the supernatural elements, which he thought were ridiculous and improbable. (The Jefferson Bible. Look it up.) <p> So sorry, people: There was never a Jesus Christ. He's part of Saul's fairy tale, written to inspire people and NOT intended to be taken literally. <p> Of course, it goes without saying that there's no God/Jehovah either. Of course, children are taught by adults to believe in the impossible from the moment they're born; First it's Santa Claus, then the Easter Bunny, then the Tooth Fairy. You're mentally conditioned by your parents to trust things on faith alone, in hopes of some sort of reward. When they start shoving Jesus down your maw, you slurp it up because your fragile psyche needs at least ONE of these tales told by your parents to be real, and because by that time it's too late. You've been indoctrinated and the NEED to believe is so strong that you can't shake it. <p> Call it faith if you want. I call it brainwashing. <p> Frankly, I think it should be illegal (child abuse) for parents to introduce religion to their children until they're in their teens. At that point, give them the options, tell them all the tales, and let them make up their own mind. I'm sure you'll see a lot fewer people becoming Christians, Muslims, Jews, Shintoists, Hindus, or following any other religion based on falsehoods and faith. <p> The worst part of it? About 90% of Christians have NEVER even read the Bible cover-to-cover. They only believe based on what they're TOLD by their pastor, their parents, the assholes who exploit their faith (Dobson, TD Jakes, etc.) and their fellow Christians. But open up and read the ENTIRE Bible?!?! Why should they be bothered to do that (or work to comprehend it) when they can just be told the "good parts" by someone who deigns to "know God" better than they do? <p> It's a good thing science doesn't work that way. Scientists actually *read* their books, and if they don't agree with the hypothesis within, they work to find the RIGHT hypothesis instead of just passing off the inaccurate one for thousands of years. <p> I encourage all Christians with an open mind (that may be an oxymoron, I know) to listen to Julia Sweeney's "Letting Go of God" -- It's a story about a Julia's personal experience with her faith. She was devoutly religious, but wanted to delve deeper into her beliefs. When she did, what she found was that it was more of a comfort food than a nutritional diet of information. It's humorous, respectful of religion, and explains why a person who believes in God with her whole heart, who was raised to love God and cherish her religion, would eventually turn to atheism. <p> I know you won't listen to it, though. The first requirement of religion is to close your mind to other points of view. Your cult is the only way, and you're not even ALLOWED to listen to other points of view objectively. To do so would bring scorn upon you from the other members of your faith. (She touches on this, too... Not that you'll ever know.) <p> Good luck, religion. You'll be extinct some day. I wish it would be within my lifetime, but I suspect it will take another 150 years before humanity finally gives up its security blanket.<p> Yes, Jesus is your woobie. Face it. Let it go.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 11:04 a.m. CST


    by samsquanch

    Didn't make the generalization you speak of. I was speaking from personal experience. At no point did I imply that "Every Christian" was like that.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 11:19 a.m. CST


    by Lucasblows

    The religious services might differ, but the overall premise remains. A bunch of people worshiping an empty sky. Most people universally agree Scientology is crazy. But it isn't any crazier than all the other religions. A Sci-Fi story taken for fact.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 11:22 a.m. CST

    As for "faith"

    by Lucasblows

    Faith is just another way of saying "I have no facts whatsoever to back up something I believe to be true."

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 11:27 a.m. CST

    thank you, zerocorpse, for showing us true tolerance

    by greyspecter

    actually, both Josephus and Tacitus, neither of whom were Christians, refer to Jesus. Most atheist scholars concede that a man named Jesus did exist. Whether he performed miracles and rose from the dead is, naturally, an area of faith, but the man really existed. <p> Also, let me say that equating catholicism with Christianity is erroneous. Protestant pastors are allowed to marry, and while they may commit adultery every once in a while, they don't molest boys. Likewise, not every service is liturgical and involves the worship of saints and Mary. <p> Lastly, returning to the reason for this talkback, (and, incidentally adressing zerocorpse) what rankles me as a Christian is that condencing, mocking attitude that dismisses all believers as being simple-minded, hateful, intolerant bigots. Which is what Maher comes off as, if the reviewer is correct, and what ZeroCorpse and his ilk certainly comes off as. Tell you what: i'll watch religulous if you atheists watch Ben Stein's Expelled, which i don't think was ever reviewed by AICN. way to look at both sides, Harry.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 11:30 a.m. CST

    How do you really feel ZeroCorpse?

    by HoboCode

    Come on. Don't hold back. LOL.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 11:33 a.m. CST

    Jesus is really Caesarian, son of Julius Caesar.

    by HoboCode

    That's what Secret Ruler ofd the World taught me. That's right. Christ was Pollo's son.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 11:51 a.m. CST

    What does it matter, you're all screwed when Xenu comes back

    by drewlicious

    Want to take free stress test?

  • Aug. 5, 2008, noon CST

    But Grey...

    by Novaman5000

    The same attitude argument could be leveled against christians. I'm agnostic, despite extensive exposure to christianity (especially catholicism) in many forms, and despite being a good person (if i do say so myself) and respectful of other religions, I've been told several times that I'm going to hell simply because I am not a christian and don't hold those beliefs.<p> There is a patronizing/condescending tone that seems to come to the surface more often than not when a believer is dealing with a non-believer.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 12:04 p.m. CST

    Faith is what you do with it...

    by Blue_Demon

    You can cut the heads off non-believers, or you can feed the poor in Calcutta. In my opinion, faith is a good thing. Nobody was ever hurt by the Ten Commandments (except for those guys down there where Chuck threw the tablets. XD )

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 12:13 p.m. CST

    Religion is Absurd

    by BladeRazor

    Greyspecter said, "...mocking attitude that dismisses all believers as being simple-minded, hateful, intolerant bigots." Just look at the historical record of religion and how it has caused more human suffering than anything. Atheists should be allowed to stir things up when church and state violations arise. We are the most discriminated group of people in America. Just try to run for office. We're the new gays. Bill Maher is the first celebrity to put his balls on the chopping block with his film by showing the absurdity of religion. I'm looking forward to it!

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 12:15 p.m. CST

    Uh, Bladerazor

    by samsquanch

    just a piece of advice- Don't refer to atheists as "the new gays". It makes you sound like a douche.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 12:16 p.m. CST


    by Blue_Demon

    The suffering you speak of...was it done BECAUSE of the faith's values, or IN SPITE of the faith's values. That's the important thing.<p>I think the atheist view has killed more than the religious view. Communism has one hell of a body count. Makes Hitler look like an amateur.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 12:21 p.m. CST

    I think Greyspector has it backwards

    by Lucasblows

    Whenever I get into the "I'm Atheist and here's why" conversation with anyone religious, I get the same condescending "I'll pray for your soul" or "you're lost" sympathetic attitude. I feel, as a Atheist who was raised Catholic, that you have to defend yourself from this attitude. It's insulting.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 12:21 p.m. CST

    Blue Demon, is it a competition?

    by samsquanch

    I don't think you want to go there. Sure, Stalin killed what, like 20 million? He was one man, though, and he didn't commit those killings as a direct result of his atheism, or because any atheist doctrine instructed him to do so. Religion has been around for a hell of a lot longer than communism.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 12:32 p.m. CST

    Josephus and Tacitus' references were fraudulent.

    by ZeroCorpse

    Look it up, kid. We've known this for a long time now. The only people clinging to them being true are the Christians who embraced them as "proof" of Jesus' existence. <p> I concede that a man named Jesus exists, too. Right now he's in the parking lot at Home Depot waiting to be hired to work on your lawn. <p> And, please-- Don't get me wrong. I DO despise religion and people who whole-heartedly and illogically embrace it. I don't think I made it any big secret. <p> I went to Christian schools much of my life. I studied theology seriously. I've been a member of several religions, and I come from a family where Quakers, Shakers, Southern Baptists, Nazarenes, Lutherans, and other protestants are the dominant members of my clan. I'm the black sheep now because I rejected religion after all they did to pound it into my head. <p> I lived in Grand Rapids for eight miserable years, and in my time there I met every kind of Evangelical Christian you could imagine, but they ALL had the same shit-eating grin on their face, and they ALL reviled me openly. Some of them would be polite while they shoveled disdain my way, while others would wait until I wasn't looking and they'd damage my personal property (break car windows, rip bumper stickers off my stuff, tear pages out of my books). So please, don't tell me that my little speech up there is an example of intolerance-- I spent most of my adult life facing the intolerance of Christians. I've been denied jobs because I wasn't a Christian, physically assaulted because I expressed a differing religious opinion, and verbally abused because I openly expressed my lack of faith. <p> I know that it's not ALL Christians who do these things, but you are responsible for your creed and what members do. If you can take jubilant credit for their conversion to your faith, you must also take blame for their misbehavior under the banner of God's love. <p> My own sister is a fundamentalist Christian. My grandfather was a fire & brimstone Quaker who believed everyone else was damned, and that Jesus Christ himself was going to escort him to Heaven upon his death. I admired my Grandfather, but I never agreed with him or the way he treated some people over religious matters. <p> The point here is that I'm allowed to disagree, and YOU'RE allowed to disagree, and how we deal with that indicates our emotional maturity. I have no problem with you being an insular butt-head who takes offense at my opinion. More power to you, mate! But there's a difference between you taking offense to it and directly addressing me, personally. You couldn't be a good Christian and "turn the other cheek" even though you KNOW it's what you're supposed to do, right? You had to come at me ready to debate, fight, and defend your faith. <p> Whereas I don't care if you insult me. I'll defend my points, but I really don't give a shit about your opinion of me, and I really don't see it as my duty to convert you out of your cult. If you want to be a brain-addled Christer, go right ahead. It's your life. <p> Just keep the fuck out of my government, my schools, and my politics. Stay the fuck away from women's clinics and anything having to do with science that threatens your faith. Worship quietly as your Jesus asked of you, and keep your fairy tales out of my way. <p> For the record, my rant doesn't just apply to Christians-- I loathe ALL religions. I tolerate some more than others, though. I've never had a Wiccan proselytize or try to interject their faith into politics. I've never had any problems with Taoists trying to convert me, or threatening to hurt me because I wasn't also a Taoist. But I have consistantly had bad experiences with members of all Abrahamic religions, and a few others (Hindus and I do not seem to get along). <p> When the religious nuts stop trying to interject their faith into my life, I'll stop loathing them. I don't care what you BELIEVE-- I only care how you interact with the things I hold dear. If you threaten MY way of life, you'd damn well better expect my scorn. <p> So no, I have no respect for your religion. Fuck your religion, and fuck you for insisting that I not disrespect it. I'll disrespect it as long as it's not worthy of respect. <p> Blue Demon-- Mother Teresa didn't feed the poor in Calcutta (I assume you were invoking her). She was allowing the sick to die, in agony, and declared their suffering to be "holy." She wouldn't give them relief from the pain or deplorable conditions because their suffering was what she believed God wanted. So even the Saints are vile people. Feeding a few poor people doesn't make up for what was essentially cult-inspired torture.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 12:33 p.m. CST

    Samsquanch...good point.

    by Blue_Demon

    No, it is not a competition. I meant that under Communism, nearly 150 million have the hands of officially atheist governments. Now that's in the last century.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 12:38 p.m. CST


    by m2298

    When you state that parents shouldn't be allowed to teach religion to pre-teen children (as does Dawkins) do mean it in a theoretical sense or do you really expect any democratic government to actually attempt to pass and enforce such a law?

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 12:40 p.m. CST

    ZeroC, I'll look into Mother Theresa...

    by Blue_Demon

    If what you say is true, then she's no sait, I agree. But churches have been helping the poor for ages. All this good in the name of faith simply cannot be ignored because of some idiots who commit atrocities in the name of God. Again, you can sin in spite of your faith.<p>Ack...gotta get back to work. Insurance waits for no man.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 12:44 p.m. CST

    Churches have been helping the poor for ages...

    by Lucasblows

    ...and they not only feed them food. They feed them "the word of God" in an attempt to convert them. It's a means to an end and it's self-serving.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 12:47 p.m. CST

    Lucasblows et al

    by greyspecter

    I'm not defending the condecending attitude or outright hellfire & damnation that zealots sling. Certainly, it's counterproductive 99.999% of the time. No argument here. Nay, one of the major teaching of the New Testament is that "men would see [Christians'] good works and praise God." Christians are to witness to the positive aspects of Christianity, not the negative ones, and I agree that religious institutions sadly tend to hammer on the negative ones instead of the positive ones. <p> As for the "You're going to hell" comment, well, that's what the bible teaches. If you believe the Bible to be the word of God, then you have to agree with that. But that's an issue for you and the Lord to work out. <p> Oh, and by the way, if you don't believe in this stuff, then just ignore the bellicose preachers and live your life. I surivived undergrad and grad school at a liberal arts university where the vaaaaast majority of professors didn't believe; when they mocked my faith, I just sighed and moved on.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 12:56 p.m. CST

    Blue, I don't doubt your numbers, I do know what you meant.

    by samsquanch

    You meant that because of that 150, and many millions more murdered under political regimes that happen to have an atheistic bent, we should consider that the human capacity to murder is more informed by an atheistic worldview than a religious one. This is where we disagree. It bothers me when atheists bring up the religious body count as an argument either against religion or for atheism, because I think it's a cynical way to further an argument, but your post about communism was such that I needed to weigh in, though it kind of grosses me out. <p> The only point worth making here is in what capacity, at what level of influence does either the presence or absence of religion affect grand murderous rampages, wars, pogroms, holocausts, atrocities, genocides, ethnic cleansings, etc. Your position is that the absence of religion causes these things more than the presence of it. Though I'm loathe to admit, I take the opposite view. <p> I don't happen to believe that human values, morality, or the concept of goodness flows from religion. In fact, I believe it's the other way around. I think the human construct of religion has cast itself around an older, more innate human instinct that has since been labeled goodness, and then claimed sole propriety over these instincts. <p> Therefore, I don't believe that an absence of religion necessarily denotes an absence of morality, it is simply an absence of a ritualized tribal vestige. Human goodness can and does exist without religion, as does the capacity for human evil. The fact that atheists commit evil acts is not because they are atheists, whether or not they are atheists is an incidental detail. <p> The same argument cannot be used for religion, however. Whereas atheism essentially doesn't matter, religion absolutely does, when it comes to examples in history of crimes against humanity. In fact, I would argue that the most remarkable, grotesque and singularly unique examples of human brutality, with the exception of the Holocaust, perhaps, was carried out by true believers honestly thinking they were doing their deity's will. Do you see my point? Religious crimes are committed BECAUSE of the religion of the criminal, in most cases, whereas atheists crimes are committed for other reasons.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 1:09 p.m. CST

    "For me and the Lord to the work out"

    by Lucasblows

    Whew! That's pressure! Well, thankfully I know the bible is not the word of any superior being. If it was you'd think if it was they'd have mentioned those Dinosaur things? Did God forget about those? Did Adam and Eve not notice them as they were romping naked in the Garden of Eden? Maybe they were too mesmerized by the talking snake.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 1:10 p.m. CST

    Ben Stein's Expelled? Why didn't this site review it?

    by Flea Circus

    Yes why didn't it? The best part of Expelled is that he's taking a a Christian viewpoint that well over the majority of Americans have and acting like he's a prosecuted and ostracized from society. Or that if the papers that the scientists in Expelled were writing wouldn't be hurting their careers in Galileo's time, you mean when Galileo was forced under house arrest for the rest of his life and made to recant his true statements about the universe? Please let's dial back the clock to that golden age of the Inquisition. The arguement that this world and universe is too complicated to have just happened, is my favorite part of creationism, aka intelligent design. I grew up watching videos and reading books all explaining creationism and how God made the world, so watching Expelled was like spending some time with an old friend. If man did evolve from mud and lightning over eon's of time I think that's maybe more amazing than being thought into existence or created in some far off intelligent designer laboratory. People can believe whatever they want, but here's the problem, if there is an intelligent designer than who or what is he/she? I'm sure many Christians wouldn't want teachers saying that aliens or that another god besides their own made the universe. The problem becomes the WHO, more than say looking at animals and plants and seeing how they interact in their environment, and how changes in that environment can affect things. This is what at the heart of all these debates, it's that the Bible is an unprovable, irrational document, if you don't think so reread the Bible, when Jesus says "If your hand offends you, cut it off.", that's irrational, and there's plenty of that in the Bible.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 1:13 p.m. CST

    Dawkin's aetheist paradise.

    by drewlicious

    Is pure bunk. If somehow religion dissappeared overnight we'd just find a brand new reason to kill eachother. It might be becasue of cultural or racial differences, economics, greed, or just over available resources. I wouldn't be suprised if that would be a reason for us and Chinese going to war in 20 years. In some cases devotion to a scientific theory closely resembles religious fervor. There was a point in history where people still clung to eugenics and even today some won't even debate certain theories. Case in point: Global warming. I do believe that the most likely answer is that it is happening and we are at least partially to blame, however it's strongest promoters won't even debate it in a public forum. I understand that they may feel that it would be wrong to give a bullshit counterpoint (if it is bullshit) any attentiont would be counterproductive, but if the truth is on your side you should be open to all challenges.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 1:24 p.m. CST

    drew- the truth is open

    by samsquanch

    Just becuase someone believes in science, doesn't mean they aren't flawed close-minded assholes. And the reason that a lot of scientists won't debate it is because the people inviting debate tend to have a very clear religious agenda, and that is something that is seen to be beneath the standing of any scientist worth his salt. Believe me, they aren't afraid of the religious agenda, they simple deem it beneath them. Take that as you will. <p> There's a point to be made that a religion that can't adapt to an ever-changing world, and an ever-expanding field of knowledge about our world is doomed to wither and become irrelevant. That's what baffles me about the resistance to the mounting evidence of Global Warming, or Intelligent Design or Creationism movements- they're just so astonishingly counter-intuitive, so stridently hostile to neutral, reasonable ways of thinking that are not in and of themselves anti-religious, that it reminds me of the Shakespearean line: "thou doth protest too much". There's something very competetive about it, as if the creationists believe that science is an adversary, like a visiting football team, horning in on turf that was already claimed by religion. How very macho. In fact, and I'm sure you understand this- science isn't actually a belief system or an ideology, it's a method, and one that is built on the premise that it can be wrong, often is wrong, and will never be complete. It's an open-minded process, whereas the creationist's version of Christianity is air-tight and hermetically sealed against even the most passive investigation. One thing that always amuses me about Creationists is their adopting of the empirical state of 'theory' as applied to Natural Selection. "Darwin's theory is just that- a theory", they announce, triumphantly, firmly believing that they have felled Goliath with his own stone. Well, Like I said, Science is a method, and in fact, all science, (with the exception of a fraction of the observable stuff and phenomena that make up our immediate surroundings) is "just a theory". That's how science works. The empirical process begins with an idea, opinion, or leap of intuition, or most often, an unexpected accident, then a hypothesis is formed. Once the hypothesis has been put through a series of tests it becomes a theory. At any point along this line if anything goes wrong, if the hypothesis falls apart under evidence, it never reaches the level of theory. A theory becomes a theory when everything goes right, when all tests and evidence add up to what the hypothesis posits, but something like evolution can't become scientific fact because no one has so far sat down to observe the process over millions of years and take notes. Empirically speaking, it remains 'just a theory', But a theory with almost 200 years of rigorous, mounting evidence and experimentation that supports it. With each and every field of scholarship in science that has developed since Victorian times, geology, chemistry, biology, anthropology, (among others) the theory of evolution has been supported. Not once, in almost two centuries has the slightest hint that there might be something wrong with it ever shown up. So "Just a theory" actually means a great, great deal. <p> It's ironic that the method of science that prevents it from labeling evolution as fact is the thing most infinitely sensible about it, and the thing that creationists try to use against it, without any sense.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 2:12 p.m. CST

    Atheism explained

    by BladeRazor

    “…under Communism, nearly 150 million have the hands of officially atheist governments...” This is an erroneous association. Atheism had nothing more to do with Stalin’s maniacal killing spree than his moustache. It’s a common come-back that the Jesus-heads make in defending their mythology. Nobody ever tries to convert the world to atheism. Sam Harris argues that the term Atheist really shouldn’t be used any more than you would call somebody a “non-astrologer”. Atheism is not an organization. It is a rejection of all deities. Also, the non-religious represent close to 17% of America. That’s more than a lot of the popular religious cults out there yet most of us remain in the closet. It took a civil rights movement to level the playing field for people of color and a woman’s movement to gain respect in a man’s world. This film will only help the cause. Someday, America will be a lot like secular Europe where they have all but discarded the make-believe in favor of the scientific method to explain our origins.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 2:53 p.m. CST

    Blade, I hope you're right,

    by samsquanch

    but I don't think this film will help atheists. You don't raise yourself in the eyes of the world by being a surly, self-righteous bully. You don't win an argument by making fun of your opponent. This film just seems petty and cynical to me. <p> Anyway, there's a new Religulous TB at the top. Let's go there.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 3:30 p.m. CST


    by Blue_Demon

    If the 150 million killed in this century had little to do with Communism, then they had even less to do with religion.<p>I like your view of this human instinct we label good coming from within us. I don't agree with it, but it is a sweet thought (and no, I'm not being a wise-ass.) This view of yours, that religion was based on this human trait kind of proves the point I want to make that religion, if based on good, is good! I agree, the absense of religion does not denote the absense of morality. There are some wonderful atheists out there, just as there are some vile Christians. You say that the fact that atheists commit evil acts is not because they are atheists. Okay, I can go with that. Where I have to disagree with you is where you say that Religious crimes are commited BECAUSE of the religion of the criminal. You say that various crimes are carried out by true believers "honestly thinking they were doing their deity's will." That's the key phrase here. Up on the talkbalk I said that people commit atrocities not BECAUSE of their religion, but IN SPITE of their religion. It is because of a horrific misinterpretation of faith that these murders occur. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that it is okay for a person who disagrees with abortion should kill an abortion doctor.<p>Using your view, that religion was based on the goodness of man and not the other way around, then religion is probably a way to what? Articulate that feeling? Then it is a good thing. I feel religion, at its core, is here to make the world a better place.<p>I must say, I have enjoyed this exchange. It's nice to run into somebody who disagrees with me who doesn't resort to name-calling. The word "douchebag" gets use more in talkbacks than on the floor of a douchebag factory. :)

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 3:42 p.m. CST

    Noah's Ark

    by BladeRazor

    "…surly, self-righteous bully." I haven't seen the film so I don't know if there is any bullying. Christians and other religious kooks usually will dig their own grave when you simply ask them the age the Earth or about Dinosaurs or about the “talking snake” fable. Or ask them how Noah loaded pairs of all the Earth’s animal species onto a 3,000 year old wooden boat- and why the tigers didn’t eat the lambs. It all makes for some great entertainment without any bullying required. From the trailer it looks as though that was Maher’s approach.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 4:50 p.m. CST

    I can only wonder

    by Boromir

    who in their right mind would admit to being an "evangelical Christian" in the United States in 2008. I'm sure the EC's themselves would respond that it's someone who's not ashamed of their faith, and who refuses to deny Jesus Christ, yada, yada, yada. I can only guess that's it's also someone who doesn't feel guilt or shame for helping to publicly perpetrate some of the grossest injustices, gravest errors, and shockingly horrific failures of morality and public policy ever committed by a ruling regime in this country. Maybe these folks should be given an award for audacity and obliviousness. Then made to ring a bell and shout "unclean" wherever they go.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 5:23 p.m. CST

    One thing I do love, is the assertion that:

    by Novaman5000

    Without religion, there would be no morality. I find that suggestion hilarious and actually fairly insulting to the human race in general. It's as if mankind is not capable of goodness unless being forced to do it by God.<p> It seems like alot of religion is about that: Painting man as primarily bad creatures in need of a savior. If something good happens, it's God's will, not because of anything man did. If something bad happens, it's because mankind has free will and they're full of sin. We humans can't win!

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 5:30 p.m. CST

    Both these films sound like shit

    by Mullah Omar

    Thanks for the warning.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 7:49 p.m. CST

    "Being a surly, self-righteous bully."

    by torgosPizza

    You're talking about the religious right, I assume? No one is more of a bully than the conservatives. Atheists and others like me who are non-believers, freethinkers, whatever, are on a constant uphill battle against the religious folks who wish to push their beliefs on others. Why do music and movies get censored? Religion. The FCC is afraid of offending the religious right, so they censor the "God" out of "God Damn." Wouldn't want to take OUR lord's name in vain, right? Whose lord, exactly? Sure as hell isn't mine.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 9:16 p.m. CST


    by sweeneydave

    As Christians it's very important to have our faith challenged. It's far better for us to believe because we truely believe rather than because somebody told us to.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 10:39 p.m. CST

    hey M-O-M

    by theBigE

    Maybe it's not clear in my review (not much of a writer, it's true) but I didn't dislike Religulous because it was done by Bill Maher, an agnostic (atheists are convinced there is no God, he clearly says he doesn't know and thinks it to be unlikely). The film does have some great laughs in the first hour. What I didn't like was Maher's inability to bring up anything new or somewhat deep in the discourse on religion. You can find better humor from the Christian satire magazine the Wittenburg Door. And Maher's venomous tacked on conclusion seemed to have no justification - he was really stretching. I appreciate absurdist humor - I loved Borat, even when he went into the Pentecostal Church in that film. Humor about Christians doesn't scare me. But be responsible, have a point that is valid based on the findings you present. That's the real problem with the film.

  • Aug. 5, 2008, 11:04 p.m. CST

    atheists don't believe in no gods; they lack belief in gods

    by JacksParasites

    It's a subtle distinction but an important one. It requires no faith whatsoever to not believe in magical thinking that can't be falsified. Everything about religion is pathetic and absurd. And the fact that much of the world still believes in these anti-scientific, atavistic superstitions involving stories of magic talking snakes and 900-year-old alcoholics building magical boats large enough to carry every kind of animal on the planet, enough food for all of them for 40 days, space for all their shit, and presumably compartments keeping the predators from eating their prey--all of this is worthy of ridicule often. You're perfectly capable of finding values on your own. You've been doing it your whole life. The universe didn't have you in mind, nor does it care whether you've worn mixed fabrics or who you've slept with or even if you've killed somebody. Only we care about that because we have brains capable of feeling empathy for those who are suffering and we can identify with them. I hope the religious get over yourselves. Like the rest of us living on this pale blue dot in a random galaxy amongst billions and billions of other galaxies, in the grand scheme of the universe, you're not that important. The universe doesn't owe you anything, nor will it miss you when you're gone. The sooner you accept this reality, the sooner you'll realize that you're perfectly capable of being happy and living a happy life without buying into the deluded magical thinking of ancient primitives with no greater understanding of the universe than the rest of us.

  • Aug. 6, 2008, 2:03 a.m. CST

    Hey Novaman

    by Balcony Fool

    Men *are* primarily bad creatures. You don't need to be a scientist to figure that out. You don't need to teach you're children to be selfish, manipulative, mean, or violent. They have those qualities inherently. We teach them, instead, to be kind, giving, thoughtful, etcetera. <P> It has little to do with the whole notion of religion, but the idea that man is inherently good is worthy of a good ol' fashined LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!

  • Aug. 6, 2008, 2:03 p.m. CST


    by Jack Parsons

    what did jesus say that was original and instructive? none of his concepts were original - he did not invent morality. i asked this question of a believer, and he quoted something about the fact that jesus stated he was the son of god and that we should follow, and that was all the message we needed. really? obey me or burn? that's a devil, not a god.

  • Aug. 6, 2008, 2:13 p.m. CST


    by Jack Parsons

    the word "atheist" means "no god". it doesn't mean "not your god". point is, all of you are atheists. just not about the same ones. if you complain about atheism, i suggest arguing with the face in your bathroom mirror.

  • Aug. 6, 2008, 2:17 p.m. CST

    make a stand

    by Jack Parsons

    either you believe in talking snakes, or you don't. atheism or deism. there is no fence, never was. the bible is not a metaphorical document. either it is, or is not, true. and to believe in the talking snake requires the infliction of childhood trauma, otherwise it would be a silly story. to believe a mad thing, you must be injected during the period in which you have no ideological immune system. dawkins makes a salient point that religion is child abuse, and that no child is a christian or muslim -- their parents are, and make them so

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 11:12 a.m. CST

    Wow Jack Parsons - talking to yourself?

    by JackRabbitSlim

    And he rants at the silence...