Quint talks religion with Larry Charles and Bill Maher!
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with a chat I had with RELIGULOUS director Larry Charles. I had a blast talking with Charles about religion and his work with Bill Maher. I think we cover some very interesting ground. There was a fuck-up with my interview with Bill Maher, which I’ll go into detail about below this interview, but suffice it to say through no fault of Maher’s I ended up getting only one or two decent questions in and I’ll slap those on the bottom of this interview, with a lead-in to how things went so wrong. But up first, the interview that went off without a hitch! Especially keep an eye out for the possibility of a Religulous TV series! Enjoy!
Larry Charles: How are you?
Quint: Hi, I’m doing very well man, so I hear I’m following up Charlie Rose?
Larry Charles: Yes, so you don’t have much to live up to, which is good.
Quint: (laughs) Yeah, he’s not known for doing pretty good interviews, so…
Larry Charles: No, he likes to hear himself talk, but it was actually good, it’s fine.
Quint: That’s awesome. I guess we should start by saying I saw the picture and I really loved it. It’s weird, the picture struck a weird balance for me, because going in being a regular viewer of Bill’s show, I expected there to be a little bit more of a sarcastic tone to it, which as a nonreligious person, I can appreciate and laugh at, but I also don’t share a lot of his vitriol towards a lot of religions, so…
Larry Charles: Right. With the movie, I think what we accomplished in the movie and part of this has to do with the way to present Bill, because you know we show his mom and his sister and we kind of show a little bit of his childhood and you start to kind of connect to him in a way that you don’t on TV or through his stand-up and it softens him a little bit. It doesn’t compromise him, but it softens him a little bit and makes him a relatable person, a character really and so the movie is really, really funny, but it’s not as mean maybe as it might have been under different circumstances. And of course I had fourteen and a half hours of cut material. I have four hundred hours that I shot, fourteen and a half hours that I actually cut that was stuff that was going to be in the movie in one way or another until I started making those final choices and a lot of that stuff was at times much more sarcastic and mean-spirited and stuff like that. Although I found it very funny, we wanted to strike the balance that you are talking about.
Quint: Definitely man, extremists on any side and especially the Christian extremists just seem to be so entertaining and such easy targets, what I loved about…
Larry Charles: Until they push the button and it’s World War 3, it’s all fun and games.
Quint: Until that point, until they bring about Armageddon, but what I loved about the balance is that very much like Sarah Palin now, if you attack her, you just kind of make her a little stronger, but if you letter just stick her own foot in her mouth she completely deflates herself.
Larry Charles: Precisely. That is a big part of what we wound up doing in the movie. There was a time when I was not as confident in letting people hang themselves, but slowly as I massaged my way through the material and I waded through all of that material, I started to feel much better about just letting people talk and hearing what they had to say and so that you as a viewer are watching this and going “Wait a minute, I kind of believe in this, too, and it sounds ridiculous!” It sounds religulious I guess.
Quint: I’ve always really enjoyed… My best friend is a Christian and I’m more agnostic, I really don’t pretend that I know and I have no idea, I’m open to the idea, but I love having theological discussions with my friend, because he is very level headed and he’s able to look at his religion and say “Well, I look at Genesis and it’s written in Jewish poetry, we know that…”
Larry Charles: The thing is though, if religious people were more like that, there would be no reason to make this movie, because that’s a reasonable approach, you look at it as a metaphor, you look at it as poetry, you gleen from it the wisdom that it offers you, but you don’t take it literally, but you take the lessons hopefully literally. What we have in this country and around the world unfortunately is a lot of people, whether it be the KORAN or THE OLD TESTAMENT or THE NEW TESTAMENT or THE BOOK OF MORMON or whatever the hell it is, you have a lot of people who do not see this as a metaphor, who do not see the allusions and the literary quality of it. They just see it as the literal truth given by God. Their God, not your God.
Quint: And one thing that you guys touched on in the movie is people cherry pick religion to bolster their own biases or bolster their own ideals on life.
Larry Charles: You should read THE OLD TESTAMENT and THE NEW TESTAMENT really carefully, as I have been forced to do many times… the cherry picking is so true. There is so much stuff that is ignored, because of course... even to people that believe it’s ridiculous, but it’s all part of the same book you know, so…
Quint: It’s like if you don’t wash your hands twice on one day then it’s a mortal sin and that kind of stuff.
Larry Charles: Even worse, if you light a fire on Saturday, you are supposed to be killed and stuff like that.
Quint: So it is a really interesting thing then, where you have people who can look at that and just say “Well that’s just ridiculous,” but then at the same time believe that God took one of Adam’s ribs and molded that into a woman or…
Larry Charles: The thing is we are implanted with these thoughts. It’s almost like a science fiction movie, we are implanted with these thoughts as children, before we have any choice and even as we become sort of rational adults, there’s a part of us and I’m as guilty of this as anybody, a part of us cling to it. You want to believe in it. It’s a very comforting story on that level. But it’s much harder to get rid of those thoughts or to come to terms with those thoughts, because they had been implanted with you before you really had the consciousness to make the decision for yourself, which is a very insidious part of religion.
Quint: Yeah, well let’s go back to the beginning. How did you originally hook up with Bill? Where did the idea start? I know that’s the most boring question that you are asked about this movie, but…
Larry Charles: I have been asked that quite a bit as you could imagine, but you need to know as well as everybody else. Bill basically wanted to do some kind of project like this. He wanted to make a movie about religion, but didn’t really know what it should be, how it should work, what the tone should be and he kind of felt… he wanted it to be a documentary, so he talked initially to a couple of documentary filmmakers and just found them to be so far from his own sensibility that he didn’t feel good about collaborating with them. Someone suggested that he talk to me and I, having been a… I’m sort of a metaphysical thinker anyway and I’m plagued by a lot of these issues and thoughts and themes plus I come from kind of a similar background to him in terms of our comedy and all of that stuff. Then when we met, even though for 25 years we had the same friends and we kind of ran around in the same circles, we had never met, so when we finally did meet it was as if we knew each other for our entire lives, we were friends forever and we just started riffing right away and within a few minutes we realized we could make a great movie about the subject.
Quint: At what point did you guys figure the basic structure of Bill going around and talking to many different faces of all the different religions? Was that something that he originally wanted to do or is that something that you guys came up with?
Larry Charles: Well, I think he had certain themes and ideas that he wanted to test out and it was still in a very embryonic form at that time and so I was able to kind of take those ideas and elaborate on them and expand upon them and kind of come up with a plan and come up with a vision for the movie that would actually accomplish all of those goals. It was very collaborative.
Quint: What about the tone? I really loved that it took a fairly level headed approach, at least the cut that you made. Did you realize as you were going along when you were getting what you were getting what the final product would be or was that something that really had to be found in the editing room?
Larry Charles: There are a number of layers to making a movie like this, kind of conceptualizing beforehand in preproduction and then there is the reality of what you shoot and you really don’t know what you are going to get in these situations, “Is this person going to be interesting and exciting, funny, surprising, shocking,…” You just don’t know from person to person to person that you interview. You don’t know what situation you are going to find yourself in also and I tried to keep as low a profile and the script down approach to the filmmaking process, so I could be flexible, move on a dime and change directions if I had to. So in the filming I started to see we were getting some great stuff, I could just feel it you know? I could just feel like we were getting gold and then of course I took that 400 hours of gold and 400 hours of archival footage and I had to go into editing and myself and three editors spent about a year really working on it. In fact, I kind of hit a wall at a certain point and at that point Bill came in and he kind of gave his thoughts and we also showed it to a couple people and got some really good opinions about them and that helped us kind of shape and structure the movie finally.
Quint: And it’s also kind of a different documentary in that I think you are hand in hand having something that’s a fascinating look at a very heavy subject matter and something that pushes a billion buttons just on the surface without even digging deep, but you are also making something that is very entertaining.
Larry Charles: Right. Again my hypothesis for this movie was “Can I make a Saturday night date movie about religion?” “Something that people looking for a great time on a Saturday nigh, looking for a great movie at the mall, might choose this movie and go see it and actually find themselves laughing really hard and having a great time and maybe at the end having something to think about as well.”
Quint: Ok, so when you were there getting this footage, what made you happier? Finding somebody who was so balls out crazy entertaining, but like was every bad stereotype for their particular religion, like specifically I’m thinking of the ex-gay priest. When you saw that, was that something that made you happy or when you found the guy that Bill interviews in front of the Vatican, who was my favorite...
Larry Charles: It all made me happy. The scenes that are in the movie are all scenes that made me happy.
Quint: (laughs) I hope so!
Larry Charles: (laughs) But the truth is, there’s a lot of stuff that I love just as much that didn’t make it into the movie for one reason or another, so there are choices that we had to make and those are aesthetic choices and again, I was trying to make a ninety minute non-fiction comedy, so the stuff that was fascinating or interesting or compelling, but didn’t quite fit into the format or the structure that the film started to evolve into, that stuff fell by the wayside. My hope is that the movie is successful enough, and I’ve already talked to Lionsgate about this, but I would like to take the 400 hours and cut it into half hours and like sell it to HBO or something, so people can see a lot of the stuff that didn’t make it into the movie.
Quint: That’d be cool. That’d be cooler than just doing it as extra features on a DVD.
Larry Charles: I think so.
Quint: I think that could be really interesting.
Larry Charles: I think it would be very entertaining and then you get to see a lot of the stuff that we shot that we couldn’t use in the movie and you would get to see expanded versions of a lot of the stuff like the Father Foster in front of the Vatican, you can see more stuff about him and there was a lot of great stuff that didn’t make it in from just those interviews.
Quint: Well, I can also see that as being something that if it’s successful, being something that continues on being its own series.
Larry Charles: Absolutely and I would love to be involved with that. I mean I could work on this movie in one form or another for the rest of my life really, I’m happy.
Quint: Were there any moments that you kind of knew the weight of what you guys were talking about, that you were fearful of your lives?
Larry Charles: We had confrontations at virtually every location we went to in one form or another, sometimes more tense, sometimes less tense, sometimes really scary, sometimes less scary, but essentially we were thrown out of virtually every location we were in. We were thrown out of the Western Wall. We were thrown out of Dome of The Rock. We were thrown out of Al-‘Aas Mosque. We were thrown out of Jefferson Memorial. We were thrown out of the Mormon Tabernacle. We got thrown out of every place you know, so in each of those situations there was a confrontation.
[Someone rings a doorbell]
Larry Charles: [To the person] Hey, hold on a second. Who could that be? Hold on a second. (in the distance) Hi, I’m on the phone. I need a little quiet, please. Thank you.
Quint: I was about to say, there comes the hit man from one of the various religions.
Larry Charles: That would be good timing. What if you heard gunshots while we were on the phone…
Quint: Then I probably would be freaking out a little bit and hoping it was a good prank.
Larry Charles: The only thing is if I would get murdered, that would make a good DVD extra, so there’s always an upside.
Quint: It’d guarantee you a number one weekend, right?
Larry Charles: That’s right, exactly. I’ll do anything to make the movie successful! I’d put a Fatwa on my own head just to get a little buzz going.
Quint: (laughs) So, you met resistance from every branch or religion. Was there any in particular that were scary?
Larry Charles: I think being in The Dome of The Rock, which is in the middle of Jerusalem, and is probably the most controversial site in history, was probably the most intense thing and we didn’t really belong. I’m born Jewish, not that I’m a practicing Jew, but Jews are not allowed there and you walk through there and there are people with guns everywhere and there are bullet holes everywhere and there is angry people everywhere and you know this is the seed of all the conflict in the world from the very beginning of civilization and you feel the weight of that, no question about it.
Quint: That’s insane. I really expected a lot more of Bill traveling America, but it really did surprise me actually going to all of the religious landmarks and I think it opened the movie up a lot more than I was expecting.
Larry Charles: I didn’t want to make a dry documentary. I didn’t want to make something that was like medicine. I wanted to make something that was fun, like a road movie and very handmade and very intimate and very small budget and you know, I was trying to accomplish a number of things and make a very valid movie and not just a series of talking head interviews and that’s why the music is fun and the clips are fun and all of that stuff, too.
Quint: You keep mentioning that there was a lot of stuff, what was the thing that you would love for people to see that’s not in the movie? What is the thing that you would be most excited if you got the TV show?
Larry Charles: That’s a good question. The thing that pops into my head when you ask the question is that we interviewed a guy in Rome, although he doesn’t actually live in Rome, a guy named Rayl and Rayl was a very minor pop star in France, just a crappy pop singer who was walking through the park one day by himself, of course, like most prophets, and was abducted by a UFO, taken into a UFO and basically told that it’s his job to save the world and he started a cult and he came to see us in Rome and he walks into the room and he is wearing like, I don’t know if you remember PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE…
Quint: Oh yeah!
Larry Charles: He’s wearing this spacesuit like PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, but the weird thing is he’s got a growing cult and it’s mostly of young hot chicks and so the interview was so crazy and he brings all of his followers in with him… It was just a very surreal kind of moment, so that will be fun to see, but you see I didn’t want to overload the movie with wackos, because I knew people would be criticizing that and in fact they are even criticizing it even now and they forget that we have high level Muslim Clerics, we have senators, we have high level Vatican priests, we have these scientists, but people have been so pointing out the more fringed people, but really in the movie we really diminished the amount of fringe people, because we didn’t need them to sound crazy, the regular people sounded crazy, you know?
Quint: And you also didn’t focus as much on scientology as I was expecting. I guess they’re more of an easy target.
Larry Charles: We gave scientology it’s due, but the fact of the matter is what we are saying is as crazy as it is, it’s really all that much crazier than Christianity or Judaism really, it’s just newer. Everything started out as kind of a crazy cult and then as it got bigger and older, it became religion, you know? Scientology is the same way and so is Mormonism and both of those are very fast growing religions also by the way.
Quint: Definitely. I don’t know, it just seems… It’s so funny, it’s almost a no brainer, like when Bill goes through the original Egyptian legend that’s essentially the Christ story…
Larry Charles: That’s just one example. There are dozens of examples of that kind of rattling around the Mediterranean of a Messiah figure who was born of a virgin, who died on a crucifix, who was resurrected, who had twelve disciples, that was a very common tale. The names changed, but the story is the same.
Quint: If you remember when…
Larry Charles: Let me just add, there is no tangible proof or evidence whatsoever that Jesus even existed. That’s a shocker and that was something that I discovered in my research. There were many historians living in Jerusalem at the time who wrote about what was going on in Jerusalem and talked about cult leaders and religions and stuff like that and false Messiahs and all of that kind of stuff and Jesus is never mentioned in any of those things. The only people that really wrote about Jesus are people that lived decades later, long after he supposedly died. No one who wrote about Jesus actually met him.
Quint: It’s just weird that as a society we kind of at least in the past needed to have that religion to explain some things and I think it’s really interesting that the movie closes with Maher pretty much telling us, “That time is over, we don’t need religion to explain to us where the sun goes at night.”
Larry Charles: Monotheism was a movement, you know what I mean? Before monotheism there was polytheism. Before polytheism there was animism, there was Greek mythology. There was Roman mythology. There was Norse mythology… All of these things were the religions of their time and they died out when they were no longer relevant. Monotheism to me is in its death throws, because there were so many important questions to ask, “Who are we?” “Where are we?” “Where do we come from?” “Where are we going?” and in my opinion, what has happened is religion has thwarted that inquiry. Those are important questions worth exploring, but we are not allowed to explore them as long as organized religion exists.
Quint: Let me put this to you. It turned out to be nothing, but like a year ago they were talking about having found Jesus’ remains and that ended up being nothing, but one of the concerns with a lot of people was that if they found Jesus’ remains, it could prove “OK he was here,” but it also disproved that he ascended bodily into heaven…
Larry Charles: That he was mortal and I suppose that’s possible, although like I said, there was no proof of that. I mean look, if he did exist, I could guarantee you he was not the son of God. That part of the story that he existed is fine, I have no problem with that, but the idea that this guy was the son of God and he’s really God and he was killed and was resurrected and he walked on water and all of that kind of stuff… I mean he sounds more like David Copperfield.
Quint: I think one of the interesting points though was that if something came out that fully disproved Christianity or something that fully disproved another religion, do you think that if religion ended essentially overnight if that would cause a whole lot of instability?
Larry Charles: The problem, like if you could imagine like a headline in the NEW YORK TIMES “JESUS NEVER EXISTED,” I think it would be shattering and you would have some chaos there, the thing is though, you would have to also… I have a section of this that didn’t make it into the movie, but even Allah is just one of three hundred and sixty gods inside the Kaaba originally and was arbitrarily chosen to be “THE god,” so all of these stories, when you really examine the history of these stories, you start to realize how they were cobbled together by man, not by God.
Quint: Do you see us being kind of kept in a continuing cycle, like a snake eating its tail, when you see the rise of stuff like Mormonism and Scientology and smaller cults?
Larry Charles: I think where we are at is that we know so much more than we knew when monotheism emerged and so we need to stop calling it religion, we need to start asking the important questions about ourselves and the species if we want it to perpetuate. If we want to evolve into another level of consciousness, we need to kind of remove the shackles of organized religion which is stopping us from exploring those questions.
Quint: Well, I think it would be a very fascinating world. I don’t think I will ever see it in my lifetime, seeing religion at least in the incarnation it is now, kind of take that back seat.
Larry Charles: Well, let’s see what happens this weekend. Who knows, religion might be over by Monday.
Quint: You guys can be the new prophets.
Larry Charles: You’re right. That’s all we need.
Quint: Well thanks so much for your time man, I really appreciate it.
Larry Charles: My pleasure. Thank you so much for your kind words.
Quint: Oh definitely man and good luck with the flick.
Larry Charles: I’ll see you around.
So, you have that interview, which was supposed to be followed up with an interview with Bill Maher. I’m a fan of Maher’s, as I’ve stated earlier. If there is one person I don’t want to sound like an idiot with it’s him. When we were originally scheduling this interview, it was to be on a Thursday, but that was moved to a Tuesday a day or two before the interview. However that change did not stick in my brain, so I was sleeping when the call came in. I wake up to hear the publicist leaving a message on my answering machine going, “Quint. I have Bill Maher on the line. Where are you? I’m going to try calling back." I jump out of bed, run to grab my recorder and pick up the phone when she calls back. It was at the end of his interview cycle, so I was left with 6 minutes instead of 15 minutes and I was half-asleep, trying to shake the cobwebs out of my head. In short, I’m totally embarrassed and as a result I will post the little bit of the 6 minute interview that isn’t me rambling into his ear and him being nice about me being a stuttering dumbass. Here you go!
Quint: I had an interesting talk with Larry yesterday about how he arrived at the final cut. He told me he had 400 hours of footage…
Bill Maher: Well, that’s Larry’s method. He’s like a sculptor who wants to make a sculpture of a butterfly and starts with enough clay to make an elephant. It’s a long process, but you know… it kind of works. His other great genius innovation, I think, and I guess he learned this on BORAT, is you never ask permission to do anything. You just do it. We were thrown out of everywhere, but his idea was if you ask no one is going to let you go anywhere. Just do it. They’ll throw you out, but by the time they do you got your film.
Quint: It’s one thing to do a movie like BORAT, but I can only imagine… when you’re dealing with religion as a subject, every joke you make is a deep cut to someone, a deep insult…
Bill Maher: Exactly. It’s the last taboo. The word “faith” is a magic work in America. You say the word faith and everybody just backs off and goes, “Okay, well we can’t go there.” And I’m saying, “We can go there.” I don’t think we’re doing it in a mean way. People don’t see this movie as condescending or judgmental. We’re laughing all the way through it, we’re making people laugh all the way through it. I think that’s the saving grace. I’m not judging people, I’m just asking questions. It’s amazing because faith is such a magic word they have never been asked these very basic questions before. (laughs) Why is faith good, for example? Why doesn’t God, who is all powerful, get rid of the devil? Why doesn’t he just obliterate the devil and be done with it? Why are we having this game? Why doesn’t he just tell us all what the skinny is on him and religion and the world instead of always going through prophets? Why does he take one guy up on a mountain or out in a field when nobody’s around and say “Okay, here’s the deal… now you go back and tell everybody.”Why doesn’t God just come out and tell us?
Quint: Because there’s no money in it that way.
Bill Maher: Exactly. There’s no money in it. Once you beat the devil… it’s like Batman needs The Riddler.
Quint: The movie played much differently than I expected… I expected you taking a much harder line on religion based on seeing your work on both Politically Incorrect and Real Time…
Bill Maher: Right. It was very important for us to let the audience know that I’m not any different from them. I was brought up a Catholic. I’ve got a crazy family, too. We have our religious stuff, our beliefs, so I think the audience feels from the get-go “Oh, he’s not that different.” Also, we take great pains to point out that throughout my life, before I got to this point… You know, I was not always where I am today with my Agnosticism. I lived for years with this imaginary man in my head. God, whatever. I didn’t really think of it a lot. I didn’t really put a face to the name, it was just somebody I bargained with when I was in trouble, pleaded with when I fucked up… (laughs) You know! It took me a long time to get to where I am, so I’m kind of telling people that they can go on that same journey and they should give themselves a break. You don’t have to worship anything.
So, as you can see, there were a few interesting things to cover, especially when I actually started to wake up a little bit. That was my fuck-up and I apologize for not being on the ball with that one. Judging by our brief conversation I think there would be an amazing half-hour chat on this topic, but it was not meant to be on this one. Hope you enjoyed what I could salvage. RELIGULOUS really is a fun film and is out in theaters now. Stay tuned for a lot more interviews hitting this week including an hour-long exclusive chat with a certain fan-favorite director about a certain fan-favorite movie getting a sequel. Stay tuned for that one! -Quint firstname.lastname@example.org
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Oct. 14, 2008, 7:54 p.m. CST
by Spacker Dave
Larry Charles is a fave of mine.
Oct. 14, 2008, 8 p.m. CST
If you're an non believer than you'd watch this to see people make fools of themselves and if you're a believer then you most likely won't give it the time of day. Love the toast poster though. Inspired.
Oct. 14, 2008, 8:13 p.m. CST
Maher makes his point so much more effectively than Christopher Hitchens, who Maher seems to like so much. Too many people who don't believe in God come off as smug and hateful as many of those who do.
Oct. 14, 2008, 8:25 p.m. CST
by riding that tidal wave of atheist sentiment the movie-going public has been clamoring for.
Oct. 14, 2008, 8:30 p.m. CST
"SORRY, I'm not a BELIEVER". "I'm on TV" whaaaa!
Oct. 14, 2008, 8:32 p.m. CST
When the "greatest generation" assholes finally die off, we can put a lot of simplistic ideas behind us. Younger generations aren't nearly as strident, and many consider the whole religion thing to be complete horseshit. Can't wait.
Oct. 14, 2008, 8:39 p.m. CST
by Goon Bighead
That's why your on a site with cartoon graphics and will ever write for a real publication.
Oct. 14, 2008, 8:40 p.m. CST
... it's that we're all going to turn into trees when monkeys overthrow cancer. Yeah, fuck Jesus.
Oct. 14, 2008, 8:42 p.m. CST
What do you want DNA? You could probably say that of any historical figure B.C.E. (Before Common Era)I think if people started writing and talking about some dude with these wild new theories and got executed by Rome, the Romans would call bullshit and say the dude never existed.
Oct. 14, 2008, 8:42 p.m. CST
The historical Jesus of Nazareth did exist. The Gospels were written within a lifetime after his death, so people would have known who he was at their first writing. The locations and timeframe are all accurate and the ancillary characters in the New Testament are all real historical figures. It's much easier to argue over the divinity of Jesus than it is to argue over his existence. Or his greatness for that matter.
Oct. 14, 2008, 8:46 p.m. CST
I know the census happened at some point between 12 and 6 BC. This is because the calendar created by The Church is wrong. Not hard to believe since their calendar also indicates that the Earth is 10,000 years old.
Oct. 14, 2008, 8:46 p.m. CST
who thought Maher (and the film) did come off as smug and condescending? And I'm a fan of Maher and an agnostic. I just thought he still came off as the same old arrogant Bill Maher, which is not a problem necessarily, I just wish people would stop touting this as a more balanced, less vitriolic film than it is. He's consistently arrogant and occasionally downright mean to many of the folks in the film. I really think the film will alienate most of the religious people its message is aimed at.
Oct. 14, 2008, 9:16 p.m. CST
Ok, so congrats Bill, you've gone through all the religions, the 'crazy' idea of the man in the sky that you plead with when you're in trouble, but I wouldn't be so condescending because you still don't know - WHY AND HOW THE FUCK ARE WE HERE? <p>Once you get beyond all the bullshit, there's still the fundamental question lingering over everything we see. There's still the fact of occasional breakthroughs in the way we see and understand the universe. What is that saying? The most insane thing about it is that it makes any sense at all?<p>I just can't stand people who strut around proclaiming disbelief in anything God-related because when you look up at the vastness of space, I can't think of anything BUT God or at least a God concept. It's very likely that SOMETHING or some being far beyond our comprehension set things in motion and made it so that it all makes sense. To me, it's more likely that there is something than there isn't, because the latter leads to the conclusion that we very likely wouldn't even be here if it were that void of a God concept. It would mean that it's all just here and very likely wouldn't make that pesky 'sense' that it does. THAT'S the simplest explanation, NOT the explanation that it all just is here with nothing setting anything in motion. Then you come up against the pesky infinite universe (I guess one that has continuously expanded and collapsed? or one that is one of many that we're unaware of? both are possible, no?) or a universe that has a definite beginning. In that case, what was on the outside of that spec of matter and energy before the big bang? What did it expand into? How long was it sitting there? <p>I realize the quesitons of 'what was on the outside?' are brushed aside by physicists as unimportant to understanding THIS universe, the one we were given, but the question is still there, isn't it? And does anyone know the answer? Huh, Bill?<p>It just REALLY bothers me that he struts around yet doesn't address those questions that NONE of us have the answer to, and are the reason that a non-personal God concept still exists and must linger and always will until the true nature of the origins of the universe present themselves. I truly feel he has no idea about the intersection of religion and science, as many agnostics do not. They put the Christian, the Islamic, and the Jewish idols to sleep and think that the question is over, when really, it's only just begun.
Oct. 14, 2008, 9:24 p.m. CST
Your argument is interesting. The main problem many of us have with religion though is: Why does anyone need to *worship a 'god'* I think we can all agree that no one has the answers. The blind insistence of most religions that they have the key, when it is glaringly obvious that they are completely ignorant, is what makes agnostics like myself so angry. I'm all for SCIENTIFIC investigations into the origins of our universe and our species. Pretending that there is a mystical 'answer' that depends on 'faith' is where ALL religions are flat-out WRONG.
Oct. 14, 2008, 9:25 p.m. CST
Even with the fuck-up you are holding this site up like a pair of crutches lately. ☺
Oct. 14, 2008, 9:34 p.m. CST
by The Ringwraith
Since when was the Talpiot tomb nothing? I know there is no consensus about it, but I'm pretty sure its still a very valid, if controversial, theory. Simca Jacobovici and Charles Pellegrino are very respected scientific journalists not prone to shock tactics, and if there's anyone I trust not to put his name to absolute bullshit its James Cameron. So I'd be careful before labeling the Talpiot tomb as "nothing". Espeically since we all know how good Christians can be at fabricating counter-arguments to scientific discoveries not compatible with their doctrine.
Oct. 14, 2008, 9:34 p.m. CST
their opinion on religion... Wow man, whoever you are, you Sir/Mam are a loser! Do you also buy diet books written by fat people who are still fat? <P> That Larry Charles Quote on him hoping the film Changing a few opinions. Those people who's opinions it would change are wastes of life! If they can't come to that type of conclusion without a hand holder- I mean fuck it! I just wouldn't want to know that person. What else could a film make them change their minds on, or become focused with. Imagine that sad fuck who always says yeah "That Religious movie... man it changed my life." <P> And Quint I haven't seen the movie but what is up with this "There is no money" quote you said???? Please tell me that wasn't said somewhere in the film. This is that sheep shit I'm talking about. Is that a Eric/Quint quote from his mouth? Or is it a quote he thought was cool and he tossed it out there trying to impress his idol. <P> People, you need to believe in whatever it is you believe in, not because someone else tells you to, but because it's what you believe in, and the only one who should challenge you and you're belief system is yourself. <P> I don't believe in Any Man Made/Documented version of God, and I'm not weak or simple enough to let a movie educate me or change my opinion on such a subject. <P> It's a sad world we live in. Arm chair critics, people who follow trends to fit in, or simply because they lack a brain and it sounds smart or intelligent to them!
Oct. 14, 2008, 9:40 p.m. CST
Ironically, in making a movie about religion being didactic and oppresive and narrow-minded, the film itself turned out to be didatic and oppresive and narrow-minded. Good chuckle here and there, though. Just a shade of neutrality would have been nice.
Oct. 14, 2008, 9:59 p.m. CST
on all you haters
Oct. 14, 2008, 10:10 p.m. CST
you sound like morons. please, are you really preaching on a talkback?? about religion?? PHYSICS?! haha, your lack of a life humors me greatly. no wonder your losers. bill maher sounds MUCH smarter in every 90 minutes of this movie than both of you sound.... oh wait, you dont have a forum to speak in. im guessing cuz what you have to say interests nobody
Oct. 14, 2008, 10:10 p.m. CST
Oct. 14, 2008, 10:11 p.m. CST
i was talkin bout you
Oct. 14, 2008, 10:20 p.m. CST
by Dapper Swindler
"Why doesn’t God, who is all powerful, get rid of the devil? Why doesn’t he just obliterate the devil and be done with it? Why are we having this game? Why doesn’t he just tell us all what the skinny is on him and religion and the world instead of always going through prophets?" Ask some better questions and this documentary could have been more though provoking.
Oct. 14, 2008, 10:27 p.m. CST
Admit it is preaching to the converted, but this movie like well written books by Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris are important in making this subject more open to discussion.
Some good points made here. I did see the movie, and agree that it came off as condescending. He told people that they were wrong when he himself had no alternative answer to offer. With that said, the movie did make me laugh. In the end, people should ask questions. It's healthy. However, doing so in a way to try and discredit someone else when none of us have the right answer just doesn't seem right
Oct. 14, 2008, 11:11 p.m. CST
"He told people that they were wrong when he himself had no alternative answer to offer." <p> <p> How about this: We don't know yet. Is that so hard to say? Why make up myths and fairytales to explain shit around us, and then kill each other over them?
Oct. 14, 2008, 11:15 p.m. CST
"Why are we here?" is not very sensible.<p> It assumes there "must" be a reason, or a purpose, or an objective.<p> Why assume that? Nature just happens. You live, you have powerful and interesting experiences, you stop living.<p> It doesn't "mean" something. It just happens for a while.<p> Doesn't make it any less enjoyable and important for you.<p> Imagining a super-powerful entity (somehow excused from the laws of physics) which has a brain which allocates a "purpose" or "meaning" seems hard to justify as a matter of logic.<p> But you're perfectly entitled to think that if you like. There's nothing "wrong" with thinking like that. It doesn't matter much what anyone "thinks" about these things, including Maher. <p> The problem comes when people cause harm to others who don't share their beliefs. Like the Inquistion, or the Taleban, or Al Quaeda or the Nazis. <p> They're the people to watch out for.
Oct. 14, 2008, 11:20 p.m. CST
You don't answer the 'mystery' of why 'god' doesn't just defeat the 'devil' Why is that a stupid question. Why should we worship such an apathetic being? Religion simply doesn't make sense.
Oct. 14, 2008, 11:25 p.m. CST
Reason #1156 why I don't bother to post most of the time. 'irritable' thanks you sum it up better than I could possibly.
Oct. 14, 2008, 11:46 p.m. CST
But then I'm a Bill Maher fan, and basically got what I expected. A funny "overview" of religion as seen through the eyes of a sarcastic agnostic. Personally, I could have done without the last 5 minutes where Maher gets all serious and tells us to "grow up or die".Take out that last bit and you'd encourage more debate or discussion by folks after the lights come up. It just ends the film on such a harsh and negative tone and could be off putting to a lot of folks. I still recomend it though. A very good film that could have been great. Now when is this site going to cover I.O.U.S.A.? I'm very curious to see it, but it seems to be getting a very limited release.
Oct. 14, 2008, 11:58 p.m. CST
growing up with a jewish education, ive always been taught that the "devil" should be thought of more as a metaphor for the human desire to sin, and not as an actual, living figure. one of the hebrew names for satan is actually yeitzer harah, which translates to the evil inclination. the reason this is a stupid question because the whole idea of being pious or a sinner is that we as human beings have the choice to do either. "killing" the devil would essentially mean removing from man the desire to do wrong, and thereby stripping him of free will. and that would just suck
Oct. 15, 2008, 12:14 a.m. CST
that Batman needed the Joker? Not the Riddler. Whatever, I'm seein this movie tomorrow, and I think Bill Maher is great. My opinions won't be changed. I just want a chuckle.
Oct. 15, 2008, 12:43 a.m. CST
RELIGULOUS opened at #10 on its opening weekend (grossing a dimunutive $3 million; on its subsequent weekend, it slipped off the map). Meanwhile, it's low budget Christian counterpart,FIREPROOF, sustained legs (it's star. Kirk Cameron, donated his salary to charity.). Poor li'l Maher probably double his coke dose upon reading the figures; Lion's Gate blew $$$ on commercials that drew flies ). Maher fancies himself an intellect; but its an artificial intelligence. As evinced by ratings, Maher is no Jon Stewart. He's a Stewart wannabee. Flashback: my former colleagues confused wit with smugness; they're now either saddled with Grendel-type spouses or selling lawn mowers at K-Mart. Since Mr. Maher is bereft of sex appeal or popularity (sample Towson College's female students, who opt for George Clooney's "hunkiness"; few of are aware of Maher's "puppet show"), I'll buy Black 'n' Decker hardware from the poor man. And, like his beleagured colleagues, I'll pretend to actually listen to him!
Oct. 15, 2008, 12:54 a.m. CST
Religulous per screen average is higher, it has been out for a shorter amount of time. You are full of shit and you are certainly aware of it. Proof is right here http://tinyurl.com/3o3zqb (I used tinyurl for your tiny little brain)
Oct. 15, 2008, 12:57 a.m. CST
...if most of us could actually SEE 'Religulous' we certainly would. 568 screens doens't exactly allow the possibility. I will certainly give props though to 'Fireproof.' There is an audience there that deserves to be catered to. Comparing the two is just an inflammatory bunch of shit and you know it.
Oct. 15, 2008, 1:03 a.m. CST
This movie was a bit hateful, but made some good points along the way. It was very funny stuff. If you want, you can check out my review at http://www.robertkent.net/robertkentnetmoviereviews/id10.html
Oct. 15, 2008, 1:15 a.m. CST
I'm in a hospital (2:05 AM) as a result of a collision handicap. You're defending this poor soul because--you have nothing better to do. Maher's film has equally handicapped Lion's Gate, the company that admitted the film would "tank" on DVD. Now I have to sleep (your thread has therapeutically abetted this goal). Maher, not unlike his low-rated series (HBO? Cinemax? Adult Swim?), and film failure (Michael Moore is chuckling), is looking for compassion. Do the best you can. The zip feedback to this thread is testament to the film's folly (a flop). No doubt, Lion's Gate is prepping rotten horor films to compensate for the loss. G'night--and try a hobby (aside from watching TVLand).
Oct. 15, 2008, 1:23 a.m. CST
Kirk Cameron's invisble quickie was fueled with zip p.r. Now perform your hula lessons (formerly forced upon you by your high school superiors in front of the girls' gym class) and cry to your mom. Maher is a Moore/Stewart wannabee who miserably flopped. Time to retire, I'm switching threads. This one is empty (not unlike theatres).
Oct. 15, 2008, 1:38 a.m. CST
I love the fact Bill Maher tore embedded belief systems a new one using the simplest of approaches: asking basic questions. It's funny how these monolithic systems crumble when even their most basic premises are called into question. In my opinion, it makes them that much more transparent.<p> I'm happy Maher did it with his dry sense of humor. I've not always been his biggest fan, but I respect his incisive approach.<p> Anyone interested in a decidedly more scientific and laugh out loud take on this subject should check out:<p> http://www.rifters.com/real/crawl.htm (Scroll down to: "Understanding Sarah Palin: Or, God Is In The Wattles"). This is scientist and science fiction writer Peter Watts's blog, and it's well worth reading. If you think Bill Maher's take on religion is unsettling, Watts will open up a whole new can of worms on the subject. Great stuff.<p> "Religulous" might not do that well at the box office, but I don't really care. The fact it got made gladdens me. Thanks, Bill.
Oct. 15, 2008, 2:11 a.m. CST
thegreatewhatzit- what are you smoking? Its already quadrupled its budget. In terms of money per theatre it opened in second place, and is currently (like 2 weeks out) still in 5th place. No, it didn't open number 1 overall, but that would be unreasonable considering its only in like 500 theatres. Overall its doing very well and I wouldn't be surprised if it hit 20 million in theatres (which would be a massive profit for lionsgate)
Oct. 15, 2008, 2:40 a.m. CST
by The Dum Guy
Is he pandering?
Oct. 15, 2008, 3:41 a.m. CST
1) i find it intellectually dishonest for people like dawkins to complain that religious people set up the argument in such a way that they win through definition. Certainly they (we) do do that (though i don't actually do it to win arguements with him but rather because it is what i belive) that is he really hates the idea that religious people don't require proof and claim that infact faith is proof without belief. The dishonest thing is that he does the same. I think it is faith to describe 'god' as a supernatural unquantifiable being (whether you believe or not) Science, which by definition confines itself to observable quantifiable phenomenon is simply not equipt to examine the theory that there exist something that is unquantifiable. So the the idea that science disproves religion is like saying 'only those things that can be observed are real, thing x can not be observed and therefore is not real' or another, equally dishonest statement: 'god created the earth, there is an earth therefore god exists'<p>i myself think that religious texts should be taken with a grain of salt, but the statement (incorect) that there are not secular accounts of the life of jesus is like saying, 'there are no accounts of the life of jesus, except for all of those other thousands of accounts' and there are shit loads of contempory accounts (not thousands) there is here a presupposition that it is not real that colours the argument. what about this presuposion: the reason that there are very few secular accounts is that jesus was real. since he was the son of god people he interacted with belived him to be the son of god and consequently the only accounts of his life are non secular due to the reality of his divinity. I am not saying any of these arguments are suppior or more honest. I am saying that that it is dishonest of some to say that one or another of them is more intellectually honest. anyway i'm looking forward to this, even though i realise it's main idea is 'you are stupid'. here one for anyone shaking their head saying this guy is an idoit. tell me the classical proof that the earth travels around the sun. or for that matter why life is more abundant near the equator. Or the annual turnover of the worlds largest secular charity. Or why world vision and the red cross are active in almost every country despite the evil nature of their origins
Oct. 15, 2008, 3:43 a.m. CST
it is all rhetorical, my only point here is that you need not be stupid and or evil to have faith. I know many will disagree with that.
faith is belief without proof. hmmmm
Oct. 15, 2008, 4:34 a.m. CST
100% of the things discussed in your interview have for decades been addressed and refuted by apologetics. The fact that these guys still believe in the copycat thesis that Christianity derives itself from Ancient Egyptian beliefs just solidifies how ignorant they really are. Here's what you should've asked them Quint... How about for their next comical documentary they approach the experts hmmm? You know, kind of like how Ben Stein was brave enough to do in his 'Expelled' documentary? Funny how nobody on this site has even discussed or reviewed that one, at least from what I've seen. In Expelled, atheism's frontmen and women exposed themselves for the buffoons that they are and how much hocus pocus there is in their whole 'intellectual' movement. Sorry Quint, those of us who believe in Christianity and the Bible as the absolute truth do so with full conviction and good reasons. It is often atheists and agnostics and the anti religious who prefer to simplify the world into something they're more comfortable with. An easy answer, and a target to blame, in this case religious people. Perhaps someone ought to inform Bill and co. that the worst atrocities and regimes in history have been those that rejected religion and formed their party philosophies on the state and social Darwinism. This film is only preaching to the choir so they can pat themselves on the back and be comfortable knowing that a few random religious people on the street being confronted out of nowhere like this for the first time weren't able to satisfactorily defend their beliefs from Maher. Although I'd be intrigued in knowing what sort of things were cut out of the film that they aren't telling us about. How about next time you ask them to do better and start trying to interview people who know their shit? Which should really serve as a lesson for religious people everywhere too... You better start asking questions and considering what people like Maher and Charles are accusing you of being and why they think your faith is nonsense. And once you've done that you better seek out the answers in order to justify your faith, otherwise why do you have it at all? There are plenty of resources. The damn internet is one! Libraries and book stores are another. Use them! Spend some time to study your faith. Or suit yourselves to become wimps at Maher's behest and ridicule. Quint, I recommend you do too, least you also risk being categorized in the same ignorant vein as Maher and Charles. Perhaps next time you can even call them out on some of their asanine comments and beliefs.
Oct. 15, 2008, 4:53 a.m. CST
Yeah, maybe Carmilla was unnecessarily vitriolic while responding to you, but that doesn't mean what he said didn't have any merit. You can't expect someone who doesn't have a lot of name recognition to make a boffo box office. And you DO have to look at how many screens it's playing at. I have you to see the flick, and am an agnostic, but will hopefully see it this weekend with my very religious girlfriend. I want to see what she has to say about the whole thing. But anyway, you can't say that Fireproof has had zero marketing because Kirk Cameron has a built-in base with the people who attend churches that are associated with his, I'm guessing connected nationally, and basically any church because this is a religious movie. Same concept as the Passion of the Christ but on a smaller scale. <p> So to defend Bill for a second, he was unfairly criticized and taken off of his successful ABC show after what he said about the 9/11 terrorists. And I'd argue that his HBO show is probably a lot more interesting (I was too young to really get into Politically Incorrect at the time) </p>
Oct. 15, 2008, 5:29 a.m. CST
by The Ringwraith
"It is often atheists and agnostics and the anti religious who prefer to simplify the world into something they're more comfortable with." This is very true, however it works both ways. I tend to think of it like this. Lets say 15% of religious people are so because they are informed and because their faith works for them for whatever reasons. 15% of atheists/agnostics are so because they are equally informed but their reasoned opinion differs from people of faith. The other 70% of people, whether they consider themselves religious or atheist, are probably not informed enough either way to form valid opinion. It is from that pool, the people who just assume the beliefs of their parents or the people around them, that Maher hopes to rescue people as it is the pool evangelicals recruit from. There is as much ignorance coming from one side of the fence as the other.
Oct. 15, 2008, 5:53 a.m. CST
Maher came of as incredibly smug and ill-informed. No proof Jesus of Nazareth existed? Um... thats funny because there is plenty of proof of most historians will agree he did. Whether or not he was the son of God is one thing... but to say no proof he is existed is just plain stupid. But thats not the best part. He wants to stick with that incorrect and idiotic statement because there is no DNA evidence (as someone above said, I mean I can only think that really is what he wants) then fine. But he also said the first 4 commandments were all about God. The first 4 were all about how to worship him and love him, etc. Forgot the exact thing he said, but he definitely said first 4 were God related. #4 - Honor Thy Father & Mother. Hmm... first 4... but thats 4... hmmm...are my parents God? Also the testiments do provide for most crimes, including rape, if you read them correctly. But no he wants to take them word for word. "Hey Maher....do not steal... can't you say that rape is a form of theft,of theft of a persons body without their consent" NO NO ABSOLUTELY NOT YOU CAN'T SAY THAT. But if he was taking the other end of the arguement, then that is exactly what he would say. Please, him, Michael Moore, all ignorant idiots who just make themselves look stupider then usual doing movies like this. Its one thing to have a belief, quite another to laugh (constantly) and others who have that belief, and do so right in front of their faces, saying stuff like "jeez.. you look like a smart man... you can't honestly believe that!" Insinuating anyone who believes in Religion, miracles, etc is not smart. Well I'm mostly Catholic (don't believe every single thing they teach) and I'm in Mensa so... I guess Mensa is accepting Stupid people now too.
Oct. 15, 2008, 6:07 a.m. CST
If I wanted anti-christian stuff I'de listen to some bloody amazing Slayer records! The idea of having to see this movie makes me sleepy.
Oct. 15, 2008, 6:09 a.m. CST
were eligible for Densa?
Oct. 15, 2008, 6:31 a.m. CST
(ie religion falsely masquerading as science).<p> It's hard to imagine any sensible adult, whether with religious beliefs or not, considering that religion should be taught as if it was science.<p> Certainly, in Kitzmiller v Dover Area School Board the (impeccably conservative) Judge thought that pretending that religion is science involves "breathtaking inanity". [http://tiny url.com/48mqoy]<p> As "Expelled" is only a promotional advertorial for the fraudulent activities of the Discovery Institute, it's hardly comparable to "Religulous" - which is just a documentary.
Oct. 15, 2008, 7:01 a.m. CST
It is ironic to hear how mean spirited and unobjective both Larry and Bill come off as in this interview while the whole time they seem to believe they are completely even handed. Amazing.
Oct. 15, 2008, 8:01 a.m. CST
...he's an asshole. Why would any superior being design bone cancer or allow children to be raped or people destroy each other in his name. No one can prove there is a God, but if there is, he(or she) has a lot of explaining to do (and apparently isn't going to).
Oct. 15, 2008, 8:40 a.m. CST
I've read a fairly interesting book called "The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus" and its pretty good. Even if you are a believer, or ultimately disagree with it, the book is pretty convincing in showing that there is no historical basis for Jesus. It isn't about lack of DNA either. If nothing else, go to Amazon.com and check out the reviews. If you read all the reviews you'll find plenty of Christians saying that the book had some really great points. Of course, I'm not saying people haven't tried to refute the book, but it does a darned good job of showing that the claim that there isnt any historical evidence is actually one you can't immediately discount (anymore).
Oct. 15, 2008, 8:56 a.m. CST
Interesting. I never knew that. I'm seeign this tonight. Really lookign forward to it.
Oct. 15, 2008, 9:16 a.m. CST
Q: How many MENSA members does it take to screw in a lightbulb? A: One to screw in the lightbulb, and the rest of the membership to tell you that they are members of Mensa because no one else cares.
Oct. 15, 2008, 9:39 a.m. CST
You dopes who contradict this statement...let's see your evidence. Cite ONE SOURCE that is not the discredited forgery from Josephus, which most CHRISTIANS even admit is false. You are like the "scientists" who clung to the idea that the earth is flat, etc., etc., because you're too cowardly to go out and do the research. <p>I used to be a very sincere, truth-searching Christian. One day, it hit me just how insane the whole idea of eternal torture in hell really is...then I began to question other things...then I thought, "OK, let me at LEAST be convinced that Jesus existed AS A MAN and I'll go from there." <p>Guess what? No evidence whatsoever. And it has NOTHING to do with lack of DNA evidence. There is NO MENTION OF HIM from the people who kept the records of that time. If the stuff in the New Testament was true, if someone existed named Jesus who caused so much turmoil and such an uprising in Israel, wouldn't SOMEONE have kept a record of it? They didn't. <p>The thing is...I WANT someone to prove me wrong...so do it. But as you do the research, you'll realize you can't. And then YOU'LL have to go from there.
Oct. 15, 2008, 9:47 a.m. CST
Did they bury him? Burn him? Was he taken aloft by God? There's nothing in Egyptian history to show that he existed or of a slave uprising... wha happened???
Oct. 15, 2008, 9:50 a.m. CST
Maher's film is dead; consult IMDb (meanwhile, God is well and alive and prompting debates). God's name recognition sustains popularity; only insomniacs are aware of Maher's existence. Who's the asswipe who insisted that Kirk Cameron still kindles some sort of popularity? I forgot this guy was cast in some ancient sitcom. I really doubt "Kirk Cameron, star of ??" was plastered on theatre marquees. The bottom line is a low budget, pro-Christian film is minting money (zip publicity, zip marketing) while Maher's vanity project is six feet under. Maher is a dick, confusing smugness with intellect (think Eddie Hascal). Grossing only $3 million, his home movie is no blessing to Lions Gate (the company spent more than $3 mill on commercials, prints, et al). The distributor will, no doubt, be eager to buy more amateur horror movies for direct-to-DVD firesales as compensation. Anyone on this site, saddled with a $10 quickie, should consult the company ASAP. Okay, I'm bored and stuck in a hospital (will be discharged later today). This thread is more dead than the ER "out patients" (morgue meat). I'm outta here (the good news for Maher; this thread has prompted more attendance than his TV show...is it still broadcast?).
Oct. 15, 2008, 10:11 a.m. CST
Do you want God to rule your will, to not give you a choice? <p>Vices are products of humans, not what God allows. <p>You have free will. Do whatever you want to do. But here is where most people, religious or non-religious forget. There is accountability. Don't think you will rape a child and get away with it. I think there would be serious injustice if people get to commit murder and not go to hell for it. And I am hoping the first ones are the suicide bombers.
Oct. 15, 2008, 10:11 a.m. CST
The company pays an average of $10,000 to $25,000 for trainwrecks (amateurish horror movies); they just wrap it in an extravagant DVD jacket (cool art, sometimes a hologram). Now is a good time to unload some crap (I work with these guys).
Oct. 15, 2008, 10:13 a.m. CST
The Romans have no record of Jesus and they kept great records. The men who wrote the conflicting gospels of the New Testament never met Jesus. The whole thing is pretty silly when you consider its modern day incarnations.<p>Maher is a hero for bringing these ideas to this great film.
Oct. 15, 2008, 10:40 a.m. CST
A sleezy, angry little man.
Oct. 15, 2008, 10:57 a.m. CST
In the next interview, how about you go interview a guy at Jiffy Lube and discuss how the space shuttle works. Nothing entertains me more than reading what people think about subject matter to which they have no informative opinions to share.
Oct. 15, 2008, 11:38 a.m. CST
I think you're looking at this argument in the wrong way. <br>Maher asks why God allows the Devil to exist. Others ask why things like tornadoes, mudslides, tsunamis, and other non-manmade disasters are allowed by God to happen (I think this is part of Maher's question, too). I think these are good points, and the "free will" argument doesn't have anything to do with them (although one TBer mentioned kids getting raped, which is a manmade occurance and does have to do with free will). <br>I would like to know, personally, why God allows natural disasters. The whole idea of punishing man's wrong-doing just seems archaic to me because most of the people who are impacted by these events probably lead good lives. <br>So let's ask the question a different way. According to the stories, God made this planet for man to live on. So why did he construct a planet which has a surface that grinds upon itself, causing entire areas of ground to shift violently and rivers of deathly lava and smuthering ash to belch forth or creating gigantic waves that smash the land and surge over dry areas, wiping out many living things in its path? Why create a weather system that brings with it violent storms that literally destroy everything in their path, leaving scars on the earth, and create cold and hot stages that decimate the planet's flora and fauna? Why create a universe with huge projectiles that fly around at tremendous speeds and every so often fling themselves upon an inhabited planet, killing off entire species, or even worse stars that explode when they die, swallowing planets in their last act? Why create creatures who must take the lives of others on a daily basis in order to just survive? <br>That's pretty sadistic.
Oct. 15, 2008, 11:45 a.m. CST
Oh, please. <br>You don't go to an idiot at Jiffy Lube to talk about space shuttles because space shuttles are quantifiable and when you go to an astronaut, you can be just about 100% certain that they know more about space shuttles than a grease jocky at Jiffy Lube. <br>But no one knows for absolute certain (in the true sense of the word "knows") whether or not God exists. In this case, the idiot has just as much actual information as the "expert". The only difference is that the expert has studied the beliefs of people. So what? I'm only interested in what other people believe A) out of a scholarly and poetic curiousity and B) because their beliefs significantly influence my country's politics. Because it is the "idiots" and not the "experts" who vote in droves, I'm really interested in what compels them to vote in the manner that they do (with regards to both parties).
Oct. 15, 2008, 12:16 p.m. CST
The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems! -Homer Simpson (but replace religion with beer lol)
Oct. 15, 2008, 12:28 p.m. CST
I am just saying....
Oct. 15, 2008, 12:38 p.m. CST
or maybe it just doesn't exist...<p> Just sayin...
Oct. 15, 2008, 12:40 p.m. CST
One thing I always hated about Mahr is when he is asked a question that he can't answer, he cracks a joke instead of answering it. He's just an Atheist fundamentalist- he believes all problems stem religion. He is the inverse of those he lampoons, with the same flaws and blindness. If he'd stop and think, all problems stem from people.
Oct. 15, 2008, 12:44 p.m. CST
Actually there is more evidence for Jesus than almost anyone else alive during the early A.D. years. If you exclude governement authority figures you don't have near the ammount of evidence for any other person in history from that time. So I guess if you wish to exclude Jesus as a historical figure you would also have to exclude the bulk of humanity as ever existing. That is an interesting point of view, but not very logical.
Oct. 15, 2008, 12:50 p.m. CST
"A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion." Maher and his supporters definately have a little philosophy. Perhaps someday they will gain some depth in the subject.
Oct. 15, 2008, 1:11 p.m. CST
I guess my theological degree from Princeton doesn't count for much. I have now been set straight, thanks to their informed dialogue. I kneel at the altar of their theological insight.
Oct. 15, 2008, 1:25 p.m. CST
He only acted like a dick half the time in this case. He did bring up quite a few valid points, the whole Horus montage I'm definitely looking into, but at the same time he seemed more interested in ridiculing his subjects rather than interviewing them. I also found his concept of a God to be rather simplistic. If you think of God in a primitive, storybook way then of course its going to come off stupid. His view of most Christians is pretty similiar in that he basically believes most don't practice Christ's morality which is really unfair. If you use only the fanatics to make your point it's easy to ignore all of the really good people. Case in point, I think the Mormons believe in some really silly, stupid things, but every single Mormon I met have done more charity work than the average person, including me. I look like a selfish asshole next to these people. I guess my point is that Bill Maher is throwing the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to abandoning religion.
Oct. 15, 2008, 1:39 p.m. CST
I am pretty much a solid atheist/agnostic type, and didn't think a comedic film by Bill Maher/Larry Charles was really going to be an earth-shaking philosophical document. Basically, I look at the title and understand that its mostly a film about sillier side of religion (why, people keep asking, are there no religious moderates in the film? Well, they're not really all that religulous are they?)<br><br>So anyway, I was already in agreement with Maher and willing to accept the film for what it is. But a few things kind of troubled me, the biggest perhaps being that I thought Judaism gets a surprising pass in the film. He rags on the ex-jews for Jesus guy... but is converting from one made-up religion to another really much more stupid than just staying put? The only Jewish guy who takes any heat is the Holocaust denier guy, who admittedly is an annoying asshat, but so far from any other Jewish religious thought that he hardly even qualifies as a token represenation. He actually seems pretty sympathetic to the elderly (Rabbai?) who demoans that the Muslims have erected a building over the former temple area. Seems like the joke is at least equally on the Jews for not letting it go after all this time. I mean, its not like I went to the movie to really see him beat up on Jewish people, but sometimes the movie seemed almost pro-Jewish where it was definitely anti- Christian, Muslim, Mormon, etc. I really can't figure out why this would be, unless its just because its a smaller religion than the other ones. He also doesn't address any Asian religions, I guess since they're not much of a force in America, but it might have been interesting to hear his take on em since their philosophy is pretty different than the monotheistic religions he goes after. <br><br> My other main problem is, of course, the end, which (as others have noted) is unfunny and completely unrelated to the rest of the movie. Religion will destroy us all? Please. There are plenty of reasons Religion should go away, but I think we're much more likely to destroy ourselves with nuclear weapons for other reasons (greed, hatred, fear, insanity... religion doesn't have a monopoly on em). There are much better arguments against religion that more directly stem from the rest of the film, and I wish he had used them instead.
Oct. 15, 2008, 1:43 p.m. CST
Does anyone know how accurate he was or can at least point me to some texts on this? I'm curious about that one for some reason.
Oct. 15, 2008, 1:50 p.m. CST
by Snowed In
...was when Erik Estrada knocked him out on "Pictionary". It's been all downhill since then.
Oct. 15, 2008, 2:22 p.m. CST
I remember reading in one of those Strobel books a pretty interesting argument for Christ's divinity. The question is: why would you die or martyr yourself for something you KNOW for a fact is a lie? Jesus's disciples all knew whether he really resurrected or not and all of them ended up executed exiled or otherwise. Assuming this is true, why would they do this? What did they have to gain? Thoughts?
Oct. 15, 2008, 3:34 p.m. CST
Oct. 15, 2008, 3:36 p.m. CST
Oct. 15, 2008, 3:58 p.m. CST
People don't seem to understand Maher's point. We DON'T know ....nobody does so to believe 100% in anything is ridiculous. His jabs are really just to underscore the point that Christianity, Islam and others are intended to be the ultimate truth but there is simply no concrete evidence. Just F'ing say you don't know but I hope X is true. Frankly I personally refuse to believe there is a being as deeply cruel, selfish and insensitive as God/Johovah/Yaweh. If there was such a being I would never serve him. F him, you thought Hitler was bad....Billions sick, murdered, etc over the course of world's existence, some tortured in a fiery pit for all times cause they don't agree with him and he is supposed to be the GOOD GUY. Hopefully such a being can't exist...... If someday I am wrong hopefully I will be able to spit in his and satan's face for using us as puppets.
Oct. 15, 2008, 4:19 p.m. CST
Just wanted to get your attention.<p> I believe the question stated above was: Why and how the fuck are we or anything else here?<p> Well, as it turns out, the simplest answer is not that some creature or lifeform beyond us set it all in motion billions of years ago. The simplest answer is in fact that the initial question is misleading in the fact that it presupposes an answer. We've learned a lot about our universe. It's 13.7 billion years old, and is around 14 billion lightyears wide. We know about relativity and quantum mechanics and string theory, and its cousin, loop-quantum gravity. We also know about BBNS (Big Bang Nucleosynthesis), and how it explains why a lot of the chemicals that make up your body cannot be manufactured by any process on Earth, but instead in the hearts of stars older than our sun. We know about the evolution of stars and more importantly, of man.<p> But, not one single answer as to "why" or "how." Perhaps the simplest answer to the query is this:<p> There is NO why or how. There is NO over-arching, cosmic "reason" for us to be here other than the words, "Shit happens."<p> But human arrogance isn't satisfied with that. No, human arrogance demands more. Feels it has a right to more. Alas, there ISN'T more, as far as we can figure, and we've figured out a LOT of shit. Instead, it's better to ask this question:<p> WHY do WE feel we NEED that big, overarching meaning, and all of the dogma that it entails?<p> If it's because we feel we "can't handle" being nothing but scurrying pieces of meaningless cosmic dust, the leftovers from some process far more ancient than us, then humanity need to grow the fuck up. I know I have. I do not need a bogeyman in my closet to make me stay in my bed. I do not need a "battle for heaven" to explain cosmic furies in the sky. I do not need archers in the stars nor saviors on crosses, nor do I need promises for an afterlife. This life will do me just fine, thanks. No need for an eternal paradise or neverending pain here. Nope. I'm fine.<p> All I need are my friends, my family, and the people and things that bring me fleeting pleasure as I hurtle around on this tiny, TINY globe in space, for whatever 50-80 years I get to be here. And when I lay down, and my eyes close, and the neurons in my head stop firing their electro-chemical impulses, I will smile. Because I will have lived. And I will have done it without the headfull of horseshit known as Christianity or Paganism or Islam or Judaism.<p> Nope, I'll die happier for not having to have dealt with all that shit, at least in my own life.<p> What others do is their own damn business.
Oct. 15, 2008, 4:33 p.m. CST
The smoking gun against Christianity? Hardly. The idea that the deity would take on human form in order to teach us and lead us into the light was (is) embedded in the souls of all humanity so that we would be (are) more inclinded to it when it happened. The Christian good news does not point backwards to these myths as its origin. Rather these myths are signposts pointing forward to the Christian truth.
Oct. 15, 2008, 9:16 p.m. CST
by Billy Goat
It's based on fundamentally backwards concepts of love, truth, morality, and justice.<p>Christianity depends on the following premises:<br>1. It is possible for a perfect Creator to be displeased by His own handiwork.<br>2. A displeased Creator can be pleased again if you murder something.<br>3. Anyone who doesn't see how perfectly sane and reasonable 1 and 2 are, deserves punishment.<p>I mean, it's not like beliefs are choices. To believe, means to think something is true. When something looks true, you believe it. When it doesn't, you don't. There's no choice involved.<p>Now we all know that it is unjust to punish people for things beyond their control, including beliefs. Even the Catholic church admits that it was wrong... MORALLY wrong... to punish Galileo for his sincere thoughts. But isn't that what Hell is? A punishment for sincere thoughts? What does that tell us about the morals of the God who created Hell? And the people who love Him?<p>Christian often tell me, "you can't get to Heaven by being good." Which makes me wonder: Why would someone who wants to be good, care about Heaven? Why would someone who wants to get to Heaven, care about being good? And, which one of those two desires would God prefer people to have?<p>Just some stuff to think about.
Oct. 15, 2008, 9:21 p.m. CST
I tend to agree with Subtlety. I thought the religion wil ldestroy us all mushroom cloud/zealot montage at the end wa heavy handed. <p> I also agree that Maher seems to give the Jews a pass. Most notably in his interview with the Rabbi who attended the Iranian Holocaust conference. He attacks this man, and maybe he deserves to be, but what does the fact that this man denies the Holocaust have to do with religion? Maher used it soley as a way to ONCE AGAIN pledge support for Israel. Apparently Maher doesn't see the hypocrisy in this sentiment--supporting Israel, a religious-based, and therefore undemocratic, state in a fil about doubting religous faith? Huh?
Oct. 15, 2008, 9:25 p.m. CST
not "Koran". Just FYI. ;)
Oct. 15, 2008, 11:06 p.m. CST
I think the point Maher was making was that if one of the other religions is right then there WOULD be consequences for a devoted Christian or a devoted anything. Given the sheer number of belief systems in history and the infinite number of possibilities that have never been articulated, the odds that any one person of any individual denomination chose the right one are very slim. Now I think the "playing the odds" argument is a disingenuous reason for choosing a religion in the first place but one could say the odds of a higher power showing mercy on an agnostic who chose not to believe anything are greater than the odds He would show mercy on someone who was devoted to a false god. Maher isn't telling you not to believe, he's asking you to admit you don't know for sure. Just as he admits he doesn't know. If you do question your faith as good people do then he's not targeting you. He's only targeting people that refuse to allow any doubt in their beliefs. He thinks the same of atheists who do this as he does of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Scientologists, Mormons, etc...
Oct. 15, 2008, 11:44 p.m. CST
All I see are three individuals with the most tenuous grasp of the complexity of the subject of religion trying to disprove it. It's laughable at best, the movie will make hundreds has a previous talkback pointed out.
Oct. 16, 2008, 12:06 a.m. CST
get off your high horse, you don't value logic at all. It's fucking ridiculous. Why don't you share your incredible grasp of the complexity of religion Mier1? Because I see very logical and intelligent discourse being presented from the non religious types then from the religious ones who spew the same moronic bullshit that hasn't changed in 2,000 years. Alanmoore, i'm impressed man, just well put. Why don't you bible thumpers read his post, and also think about the very real possibility that you might be wrong, either because you chose the wrong side or that their is no higher power OR that if there is, it doesn't give a shit about you to begin with...
Oct. 16, 2008, 6:18 a.m. CST
I don't usually take much interest into what people in these talkbacks have to say, mostly because of my own arrogance. I admit, most of the time I think anybody who has any sort of contradictory opinion to mine is someone who is 'wrong'. This mindset implies that I know what is right, which I will admit, with a slight amount of chagrin, is selfish and mistaken. For reasons that are far too personal, I wanted to check back on this talkback. Like every other human being, I am not only bound, but destined, to make mistakes throughout my life. Such mistakes may or may not be considered 'serious' at the time, like my ability to quickly discredit any of you for your opinion on who might be the next Captain America, or to the extent to which you preach your faith in your particular God or religion. Admittedly, reading what a lot of you had to say, it is VERY easy to see why in my generation, someone like Bill Maher would make a movie like this. Then I came across what the talkbacker alanmoore had to say. Something struck a chord when I read those last couple paragraphs. "All I need are my friends, my family, and the people and things that bring me fleeting pleasure as I hurtle around on this tiny, TINY globe in space, for whatever 50-80 years I get to be here. And when I lay down, and my eyes close, and the neurons in my head stop firing their electro-chemical impulses, I will smile. Because I will have lived. And I will have done it without the headfull of horseshit known as Christianity or Paganism or Islam or Judaism. Nope, I'll die happier for not having to have dealt with all that shit, at least in my own life. What others do is their own damn business." The world is a very inconceivable place, full of mystery and wonder, as well as ideas and beliefs. Man (and Woman) have the unique ability to recognize their consciousness which undoubtably pushes most of us to look for answers for the unexplainable. Most of you have reasons, just like me, for believing what you believe; your upbringing, your personal obstacles, etc. There is, however, a very volatile notion that comes with succumbing to what is force fed into your mind. If we, as HUMANS, and not just people of different faiths, or religion, or race, or sex, or ideologies, or WHATEVER, would just search a little deeper within our own minds, and more importantly our hearts, and just learn to LIVE, and NOT DIE, with one another, I truly believe an answer might present itself within your personal mental awareness. Life is not lived just to be right, then die; Be wrong, it takes more integrity. Opinions, beliefs, ideas, hypotheses, conceptions, proposals, visions, suggestions- they all bear the same weight when arguing. If you possess even the slightest ounce of sympathetic, tolerant bone in your body, as a Christian, Atheist, Muslim, Jew, Mormon, Scientologist, Buddhist, (sorry if I left you out, I highly doubt you're reading this anyway), you might take a second to recognize your fellow HUMAN BEING and his freedom on this Earth to believe in whatever he or she may believe in. The world is far from perfect, as is man in all his arrogance of validity in the universe. But maybe, just maybe, we can all learn to appreciate the mistakes of our lives, instead of making excuses for why we make them. "True uncertainty scares me far less than being falsely certain" Now, go out and live and let live, and who knows, maybe even love.
Oct. 16, 2008, 2:23 p.m. CST
So tired of this. Agnosticism is a religion only if not stamp collecting is a hobby. Think about it.
Oct. 16, 2008, 2:47 p.m. CST
Well, I don't know about agnosticism but atheism is very much like a religion. For lots of reasons. Think about this, I know that "Not Stamp Collecting" is not a hobby, but how many web sites are about "Not Stamp Collecting"? How many are there out there promoting atheism?
Oct. 16, 2008, 5:34 p.m. CST
Well, there would be a lot more if Stamp Collecting was a major part of the reasons our leaders declared war and a significant influence on the way the country is governed. In the absence of religion, there would be no need for Atheist websites/books/etc.
"If an Atheist is wrong, that person is doomed. For eternity." <p>Really? I guess I'm in trouble. I don't know if there is a god but I also don't know if Pink Unicorns exist either. By your logic, the atheist should just accept the nonsense of the bible (written back when people had all the answers) to ensure that they will fly with the angels in the make-believe afterlife. <p>If god punishes intelligent people who question his existence in a fiery hell, then he’s just a big asshole. And if you read the bible, you will find the god character to be a vengeful, divisive prick. I don’t need any of that ancient crap in my life.
Oct. 16, 2008, 8:52 p.m. CST
You believe something with certainty without any proof. That's religion.
Oct. 16, 2008, 9:10 p.m. CST
A tired argument at best. You assume the world would have less war and violence and more peace if political leaders were atheists? I see nothing in the human heart or mind to suggest that. In particular I would offer Stalin and Mao. Moreover, the fact that you suggest there is a need to eliminate religion implies that there is an ideological and political agenda that atheists are promoting--in this way then atheists become the very thing they criticize--people who would push their ideas on all--except, of course, their position is the correct or superior one. Oh, the irony. Finally, your argument is in a long line of very tired one--the world would be great only if we could get rid of [BLANK] people. What should we use to fill in the blank? It depends upon whom you ask. It could be captalists, communists, feminist, men, blacks, whites, the rich, the poor, gays, Muslims, Christians, atheists or in your case and the case of Maher and his crew--the religious. More irony.
Oct. 16, 2008, 9:34 p.m. CST
are exactly the type of person Bill Maher criticizes. I don't think it's pushing a politcal ideology to say the world would be a better place if there were no genocidists or suicide bombers or child molestors. Bill Maher is calling out anyone who believes with absolute certainty something that no evidence.<p>TallBoy66, agnosticism is the belief that absolute truth as to the existence of a higher power is, by definition, unattainable.
Oct. 16, 2008, 9:46 p.m. CST
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