Patterico's Pontifications

8/23/2008

“Religion is Detrimental to the Progress of Society”

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 5:49 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

So says Bill Maher in his new documentary Religulous:

“Directed by Larry Charles, the man who put “Borat” together so skillfully, “Religulous” is blatant about Maher’s feelings: religion is bad. All religions are bad. They are ruining everything.”

Maher mocks Jews, Christians, Muslims, Catholics, Mormons, and Scientologists so it’s equal-opportunity religion bashing, although I’m not sure how many movie-goers think the world’s problems will be solved by getting rid of religion.

— DRJ

82 Responses to ““Religion is Detrimental to the Progress of Society””

  1. Uh, didn’t Marx beat him to that about 150 years ago?

    Ecclesiasties 1:9(with the world-weariness of its writer)

    What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

    Dana (084de8)

  2. Well, Bill’s occupation is comedian. Just add cynic to the mix and enjoy the ride. He’s combustible, interesting, doesn’t really change any opinions. His show is a two-drink minimum. I like him.

    Vermont Neighbor (a066ed)

  3. Bill Maher is about 1/1000000000000000000th as smart and witty as he thinks he is. He delivers lines that are not particularly insightful or edgy and then sits back with a smirk and expects the accolades to roll in. He couldn’t hold Tom Wolfe’s jock.

    Jack Klompus (b0e238)

  4. Huh, I guess Marxism didn’t make it into his list of religions deserving of scorn?

    ECM (de5660)

  5. Love it, or hate it, religion is part of the human experience. I don’t think anthropologists have ever found a homo sapien society anywhere that doesn’t include religion of some sort.

    Marxists argue their belief system isn’t religious, but all the essential elements are present, except of course self recognition.

    Ropelight (4a83c9)

  6. Jack K @ 6:16 pm

    Smirk and ego, so true. I don’t know why I hate it so much in Olbermann but it’s okay in Maher. I guess because Bill Maher is a comic/ pundit whereas Keith is a pundit/ clown. Like he doesn’t understand that he’s not running the universe.

    Vermont Neighbor (a066ed)

  7. If it makes a difference, Maher is not a Marxist. The best label for his personal politics is Liberal Libertarian. He doesn’t want the government to ban religion; he wants the people to instigate a revolution against it.

    My personal opinion, he is highly skilled at what he does, but on certain core issues — such as religion — he sometimes comes off as nasty rather than funny. You can see it in his facial expressions: if the joke is silly he will smile while telling it; when telling jokes that are not personal pet peeves (i.e. topical humor) his delivery is deadpan with a tinge of sarcasm; when the subject hits one of his hot buttons he becomes hectoring — the tone of voice as he delivers the punchline says “You’re an idiot if you don’t agree with me”.

    Icy Truth (784175)

  8. “Religion Bill Maher is Detrimental to the Progress of SocietyComedy”

    There. Fixed that for ya.

    Bill M (5e9a70)

  9. OK, so the strikeout’s didn’t post. They were there in the preview! Should be self-explanatory.

    Bill M (5e9a70)

  10. Bill M –

    That’s okay. We understand. So do his call girls … girlfriends.

    Vermont Neighbor (a066ed)

  11. when the subject hits one of his hot buttons he becomes hectoring

    This is where he indulges himself, work-wise. He could tone it down on the anger..

    Vermont Neighbor (a066ed)

  12. From Friedman’s review:

    Maher sends up everything outrageous and unusual in religion, cherry-picking the fringe elements wherever he can find them. There’s no question that he’s serious in his endeavors, and for a while following him feels like it’s going to lead somewhere.

    Alas, it doesn’t. Unlike “Borat,” or even a Moore film, “Religulous” is a dead end. In the last quarter, the laughs peter out as we realize the exploration is pointless. The film concludes with a long, very not funny, tedious speech by Maher — in which he rails against religion — that should clear theaters before the credits start rolling.

    (snip)

    Maher’s point, that the world would be a better place without any religions, that wars would be eliminated and there would be universal understanding, comes across simultaneously as utopian and cynical.

    I’m not a Friedman fan. I’m glad he sees through Maher and his nonsense.

    L.N. Smithee (452a68)

  13. When it comes to thinking about religion, I respect poets like William Blake. When it comes to Bill Maher: “Good luck, bud. With a little more effort you might become as respected as Bozo.”

    nk (3c7a86)

  14. “Maher’s point, that the world would be a better place without any religions, that wars would be eliminated and there would be universal understanding, comes across simultaneously as utopian and cynical.”

    I’m still trying to figure out how a lack of religion would have prevented WWII and Hitler’s quest to conqueor Europe… Universal understanding? Right.

    Startling naive.

    Dana (084de8)

  15. It goes back to GK Chesterton’s point that “If man does not believe in God, he does not believe in nothing. It means he will believe in anything.” I offer you global warming and environmentalism as examples.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  16. I agree. Religion is a time-proven code of conduct. Throwing out religion liberates people for awhile, but ultimately they need another ideology and code of conduct to replace it.

    DRJ (a5243f)

  17. Mao’s little red book

    Icy Truth (784175)

  18. What is so original and cutting edge about doing the across-the-board “religion is the root of all evil” schtick anyway? It’s as played out as shock value performance art in San Francisco, George W. Bush is stupid jokes, and throwing around the “racist” j’accuse.
    The left side of the spectrum has been taking a dump on organized religion for how long now? And yet they sure do seem to think the government should be endowed with the power to force virtues upon people. People are inspired to live decent lives and perform acts of kindness toward others as a testament to their faith all the time. And so many who mock religious faith plaster their cars with stickers depicting a heavenward-looking Chicago politician yet fail to see the irony.

    Jack Klompus (b0e238)

  19. Aggressive atheism to me to be all about hating “Daddy.” Disliking any kind of external standard. Most of these people are pretty infantile in that the wish to do whatever they wish to do, without criticism. They are thumbing their nose at the universe with their sneers and insults.

    There are plenty of agnostics I respect. But being an atheist requires a level of certitude that is right up there with Oral Roberts. Paradoxically, it is a matter of faith. It’s also sheer hubris; the idea that a human being can truly understand the entirety of the universe.

    Again, the angry and aggressive atheists are the ones I am discussing.

    Maher is a fool, if he thinks that eliminating religion would eliminate war. He might read a little Russian and Asian history during the 20th century, for one thing.

    Eric Blair (2708f4)

  20. Eric Blair – 9:43 Maher is a fool, if he thinks that eliminating religion would eliminate war.

    Agreed.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  21. But . . . but, it’s right there in the Leftist Manifesto!

    Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    No religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace…

    — камрада Lennon could not possibly wrong; could he?

    Icy Truth (394169)

  22. possibly “be” wrong

    Jeez. Picked the wrong week to stop [verb] [noun].

    Icy Truth (394169)

  23. Bill Maher is an insecure, ill-tempered, egotistical, pseudo-intellectual dwarf.

    Mike LaRoche (f1845c)

  24. Even if all religions are wildly wrong, it doesn’t mean that there is no God. Random chance can’t explain itself any better.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  25. Of course there’s a God for everybody. The question is His Nature.

    nk (3c7a86)

  26. “Of course there’s a God for everybody.”

    nk – You are correct. Bill Maher worships himself and his desires.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  27. Maher mocks Jews, Christians, Muslims, Catholics, Mormons, and Scientologists…

    You know that Catholics are Christians, right?

    Tragic Clown Dog (60d3e7)

  28. After thousands of years of “civilization,” society cannot even obey 10 simple commandments.

    Perfect Sense (9d1b08)

  29. Uh, is there a point to #27?

    Icy Truth (394169)

  30. Comment by Icy Truth — 8/24/2008 @ 3:11 am

    Tragic Clown Dog’s thought went through my mind also, when I read DRJ’s sentence. Many (not most) other Christians (particularly Baptists for some reason I haven’t figured out yet) do not allow Catholics the title of “Christian.” It’s happened to me at least hundreds if not thousands of times (I work in Catholic apologetics though so get it more). Not knockin’ DRJ – I know she meant no disrespect (I saw this post last night and didn’t comment on that, for that reason). But that’s what many Catholics who’ve experienced this type of separation think when confronted with a sentence like this.

    One formulation people use when they have this in mind is, “Jews, Catholics, other Christians, Muslims….” etc.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  31. Fools like Maher make me embarrassed to be an atheist. The problem is not religion per say, but the core of all of these things. . . PEOPLE.
    Idiots like Maher and the like, have made Religion hatred their religion. Thereby causing the same sort of troubles they claim Religion is responsible for.

    Morons.

    Like any of the atheistic societies have any better record. They are actually worse, and more recent. In the form of Red China, and Belarus, still on going.

    Fundamentalist Islam is in need of adjustment, and all Scientology is in great need of ridicule, scorn, and it top adherents are suckers for ponying up for the “secrets”.

    JP (e05949)

  32. Comment by Ropelight — 8/23/2008 @ 6:37 pm:

    Lest us forget, Liberation Theology is Marx with god added, then Cone tossed in some of the Maoist Black Panther Racial Politics and gave forth Black Liberation Theology. All they are is communism-god added for a new fresh taste!

    JP (e05949)

  33. Comment by Icy Truth — 8/24/2008 @ 3:11 am
    &
    Comment by no one you know — 8/24/2008 @ 4:32 am

    Most people have no idea how there version of Christianity came about. The schisms are long forgotten, and all they know is their version is “The Only True” version. That they all, technically, sprang from the Catholic Church is of little meaning to them.
    Whore of Rome, Hugenot, Annabaptist, Socinian, and all that rot, were rather vulgar terms (to some) tossed at people over the years.

    JP (e05949)

  34. If religion is detrimental to society, then compare societies with religion to ones without it.

    That would be a good way to see whether it’s “detrimental.”

    I suspect religion is detrimental to Bill Maher, and he projects this into “all society.”

    Whether a religion is true or false is, of course, not something Maher wants to worry about. He only wants to get rid of it because…well, because.

    I don’t think he will succeed. Humanity is profoundly religious.

    steve miller (028fae)

  35. Maher was actually humorous at one time – long ago, when Politically Incorrect was broadcast from NYC, on Comedy Central. He used to have guests on that would challenge his often inane assumptions, and those guests tended to be authors and individuals who could give him a good counterpoint. But he hasn’t aged well in the ensuing years – this movie being just one among the many examples.

    Dmac (874677)

  36. There is really no need to go and drag dwarfs and clowns into this discussion. They are …. unsettling.

    JD (5f0e11)

  37. If religion is detrimental to society, then compare societies with religion to ones without it.

    That would be a good way to see whether it’s “detrimental.”

    Historically, in countries where the state controls the church (see: China) as well as the everyday life of its citizens, the underground Christian churches thrive and consistently grow. The stronger the persecution, the stronger the church. Funny how that works.

    Dana (084de8)

  38. #30 – no one you know

    I think DRJ specified Catholics in a list alongside Christians because that’s what Maher does himself. Maher was raised Catholic and pays particular focus on Catholic rituals in his act. George Carlin, who also was raised Catholic, used to do the same thing.

    Icy Truth (c38387)

  39. Religion had nothing to do with Iraq either. Remember, Saddam was a secular progressive tyrant, who hated religion. That is what they tried to tell me.

    JD (5f0e11)

  40. Comment by Icy Truth — 8/24/2008 @ 10:05 am

    Yep, am sure that’s all DRJ meant, and what lots of people mean when they list like that. But I understand why the question Tragic Clown Dog asked (keep wanting to type the other famous dog :) ) would pop into his/her head.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  41. #5 @ 6:37p,

    Dirty Harry said, “A man has got to know his limitations.”

    Human beings are no more capable of getting rid of religion than they are of eliminating inequality, or preventing juvenile delinquency, or exceeding the speed of light.

    Advocates for such nostrums display an arrogrant presumptuousness more revealing of an incomplete education and an inflated ego than anything else.

    As my old professor said, “If frogs could be made to grow fur, the world would be safe for chinchillas.”

    Ropelight (4a83c9)

  42. BTW I truly feel sorry for people like Bill Maher. steve miller upthread said Maher doesn’t care whether religion is true or false (the only question about religion that’s right to ask), he just wants to be rid of it. I think that’s right. Won’t speculate why (I suspect it’s because he doesn’t want the moral strictures but how should I know) but I feel very sorry for people who have no clue how much God loves them and won’t listen to people trying to tell them so. Here’s a cool John Donne poem in his honor (too often it has applied to me too):

    Batter my heart, three-person’d God ; for You
    As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
    That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
    Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
    I, like an usurp’d town, to another due,
    Labour to admit You, but O, to no end.
    Reason, Your viceroy in me, me should defend,
    But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
    Yet dearly I love You, and would be loved fain,
    But am betroth’d unto your enemy ;
    Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
    Take me to You, imprison me, for I,
    Except You enthrall me, never shall be free,
    Nor ever chaste, except You ravish me.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  43. OK, I speculated a little. :)

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  44. Who is Maher and why does he command such attention?

    mhr (c52215)

  45. David, you may not believe this now, or care two whits, or think it’s laughable or stupid, but am gonna say it anyway. What you learned in both your Jewish and Catholic backgrounds was correct. God is a real person, and loves you more, much more, than anyone in your life, infinitely more (yes, even more than your husband, whom He loves just as much) and He wants more than anything for you to spend forever with Him.

    Doesn’t matter if you say no now. He doesn’t give up, not even after you say your very last “no.” He’s never the one that will reject you. You have to do it to Him.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  46. That’s just what I was talking about. He’s a bi-polar control freak. Happily he doesn’t exist.

    David Ehrenstein (1d6679)

  47. The Hound of Heaven has fleas!

    David Ehrenstein (1d6679)

  48. He’s a bi-polar control freak

    — Olbermann is not God.

    Icy Truth (c38387)

  49. No one believes in “religion.” People believe in a particular set of statements about something & call that a religion. Whether the statements are true or false is the subject of investigation.

    People who don’t believe in a G/god might not be “religious.” (They might be religious; they just might not include a personalized supreme being.) But atheism gets what, 3-5% in the polls? Doesn’t disprove atheism, but it shows how profoundly religious humanity is.

    Seems to me that most people going around believing in things that can’t be literally proven, such as justice, beauty, or truth. Get rid of that, and you’ll have it all set to get rid of “religion.”

    steve miller (4b2f43)

  50. No it just shows how profoundly susceptible people are to bullies.

    David Ehrenstein (1d6679)

  51. The bedrock of religion is unshakable belief in something well outside the range of human experience. Or, to put it another way, faith is unquestioned acceptance of the supernormal.

    Like it, or lump it. The best way to deal with contentious religious issues is for you to go to your church, and I’ll go to mine.

    Ropelight (4a83c9)

  52. Or not go to any church at all.

    Except to look at the frescos.

    David Ehrenstein (1d6679)

  53. He’s a bi-polar control freak

    – Olbermann is not God.

    Comment by Icy Truth — 8/24/2008 @ 2:58 pm

    Didn’t see that one coming. LOL

    That’s just what I was talking about. He’s a bi-polar control freak. Happily he doesn’t exist.

    Comment by David Ehrenstein — 8/24/2008 @ 2:41 pm

    The Hound of Heaven has fleas!

    Comment by David Ehrenstein — 8/24/2008 @ 2:42 pm

    ..But did see these coming. Will just say, have had quite a bit of experience dealing with hostility regarding faith in God, and I know attempts to deflect and to get a rise out of someone when I see them.

    The best part about all of it is, God will still love you every bit as much, nor will He give up, no matter how many names you call Him. Hope you have a good night, David.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  54. Your smug condescension is duly noted.

    David Ehrenstein (1d6679)

  55. Of course, companeros, this “god” business comes in many different forms and varying degrees of dogmatic obedience requirements. That is why ALL “religions” must be “banned”. That and “politics” – because everyone knows “politics” is at the heart of all nationstate disputes and conflicts! And I heard once someone quoting one of the many iterations of this god ideat – and they told me I should not [insert in here a personal preference, foible, vice, etc or even harmless hobby] !!!!!

    I declare a thought-crime!!!

    Californio (970696)

  56. Now Hear The Voice of God — speaking through his prophet, Randy Newman. [link to song saying people don’t matter to God]

    Comment by David Ehrenstein — 8/24/2008 @ 11:07 am

    [God’s] a bi-polar control freak. Happily he doesn’t exist.

    Comment by David Ehrenstein — 8/24/2008 @ 2:41 pm

    The Hound of Heaven has fleas!

    Comment by David Ehrenstein — 8/24/2008 @ 2:42 pm

    No it just shows how profoundly susceptible people are to bullies.

    Comment by David Ehrenstein — 8/24/2008 @ 3:10 pm

    Am sure you fully expected to get a rise out of someone with those comments. When it didn’t happen, you typed this:

    Your smug condescension is duly noted.

    Comment by David Ehrenstein — 8/24/2008 @ 7:22 pm

    Not responding in kind to insults about one’s beliefs = “smug condescension.” Got it. 😉 Thanks, David, and have a good day.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  57. What can we expect from a man who dressed up on Halloween as Steve Erwin with the stingray barb sticking out of his chest, yet, currently does an advertisement for PETA?

    Paul Atreides (0f949e)

  58. #59 – What can we expect . . . ?

    — In Maher’s lapsed-Catholic-to-the-point-of-atheism worldview there is original sin, but he’s pretty much written off any hope of mankind getting better (because he does not believe in the redemptive part of the equation). But the animals — they’re the innocent victims of our madness, so they need to be protected at all costs. He will still rail against man’s inhumanity to man, but at the end of the day he always reaches the same Homer Simpson conclusion: throw up your hands and say, “Eh. What’re you gonna do?”

    Icy Truth (f54eb3)

  59. #55- noyk

    Ehrenstein: [God’s] a bi-polar control freak.
    Me: Olbermann is not God.
    noyk: Didn’t see that one coming. LOL

    — Thank you, but that one was nothing more than an exercise in plugging in the name of a liberal who people perceive to be that way. No biggie.

    My alternate choice was: Bill Clinton is not God, no matter how many times women have said “Oh God, oh God!” in his presence.

    Icy Truth (f54eb3)

  60. One formulation people use when they have this in mind is, “Jews, Catholics, other Christians, Muslims….” etc.

    But here, that would likely be wrong. Maher sometimes attacks Catholics specifically, and other times he attacks Christians generally, Catholic and Protestant alike. “Other Christians” would only make sense if he took some shots at Protestants in particular.

    Xrlq (b71926)

  61. I agree with Bill Maher most of the time, but when it comes to Religion, I think he is a bit off the bubble.

    However I’ll probably rent his movie.

    Oiram (983921)

  62. Speaking of “a bit off the bubble”.^

    (The good thing about “cheap shots” is that they’re free)

    Icy Truth (f54eb3)

  63. #63 – Color me shocked !!!!

    JD (5f0e11)

  64. “…color…”

    Bigot!

    Another Drew (6c5558)

  65. But here, that would likely be wrong. Maher sometimes attacks Catholics specifically, and other times he attacks Christians generally, Catholic and Protestant alike. “Other Christians” would only make sense if he took some shots at Protestants in particular.

    Comment by Xrlq — 8/25/2008 @ 9:23 am

    That’s true – hadn’t thought of it like that. Except for Ted Haggard and maybe a few others, I think you’re right that he tends to slam Christians in general when he’s not goin’ after Catholics.

    “…color…”

    Bigot!

    Comment by Another Drew — 8/25/2008 @ 9:40 am

    *sucks in air* Good one!

    no one you know (1f5ddb)

  66. I denounce myself.

    JD (5f0e11)

  67. Just as long as you don’t denounce yourself three times before the dawn…

    Scott Jacobs (a1c284)

  68. Scott @ 9:52…

    Would that be like saying “BeatleJuice” three times?

    Another Drew (6c5558)

  69. BeatleJuice?

    Did they sell that alongside those mop-top wigs?

    Icy Truth (f54eb3)

  70. BeatleJuice?

    Is that how you revive John & George for a reunion concert?

    Icy Truth (b746b7)

  71. BeatleJuice?

    Is that what Paul employed to impregnate Heather?

    Icy Truth (b746b7)

  72. BeatleJuice?

    Is that what Ringo called his little drinky-winky when he was palling around with Keith Moon in the 70’s?

    Icy Truth (b746b7)

  73. John, George, Paul, Ringo???????

    Another Drew (6c5558)

  74. Here’s a scary thought: AirSupplyJuice

    *shiver*

    “The horror . . . the horror!” — Col. Kurtz

    Icy Truth (b746b7)

  75. You like to fart in elevators, don’tcha, Dave?

    L.N. Smithee (0931d2)

  76. No, that would be you.

    Oh, the pain! I am so stung by your rapier wit!

    L.N. Smithee (0931d2)

  77. No need for a rapier when a stiff breeze will serve quite nicely.

    David Ehrenstein (1d6679)


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