This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← Promoting Doubt: Bill Maher on the DVD Release of Religulous

Promoting Doubt: Bill Maher on the DVD Release of Religulous - Comments

DoctorE's Avatar Comment 1 by DoctorE

Faith is saying you are not responsible for your actions, there is another invisible guy that calls the shots.
Just the kind of people we should trust.

Hey Bill, loved your movie!

Fri, 20 Feb 2009 16:33:00 UTC | #328279

The Truth, the light's Avatar Comment 2 by The Truth, the light

DoctorE, I love your avatar.

Fri, 20 Feb 2009 16:40:00 UTC | #328283

Frankus1122's Avatar Comment 3 by Frankus1122

More people will watch the DVD and the seeds of doubt will be watered.

Fri, 20 Feb 2009 16:50:00 UTC | #328288

Neuro's Avatar Comment 4 by Neuro

This should be an interesting film. I did not go see it in theaters... waiting for the DVD.

Fri, 20 Feb 2009 17:54:00 UTC | #328313

Ed-words's Avatar Comment 5 by Ed-words

Mark Twain-- "Faith is believin' what you know ain't so."

Thomas Edison - - Religion is bunk!"

Fri, 20 Feb 2009 17:59:00 UTC | #328318

choefel's Avatar Comment 6 by choefel

I drove over 100 miles to see the movie the last day it was at 1 of the 2 theaters I could find it playing in South Florida. I went to the early afternoon showing and was the only person in a room that had over 300 seats. I wished there had been at least one other person to enjoy the humor with. Hopefully there are more of us than this experience would have me believe.

Fri, 20 Feb 2009 18:11:00 UTC | #328320

Mango's Avatar Comment 7 by Mango

I had to drive over an hour to see the film, too, and it repaid me many times over.

Fri, 20 Feb 2009 18:18:00 UTC | #328323

Fuzzy Duck's Avatar Comment 8 by Fuzzy Duck

It's a better comedy than it is a documentary ("Borat," despite some staged scenes, was a better documentary in technique and execution, in my opinion), but it's worth seeing. I hope it inspires some discussion, too.

Fri, 20 Feb 2009 18:27:00 UTC | #328328

Santi Tafarella's Avatar Comment 9 by Santi Tafarella

I saw the film when it first came out, and I've already got the DVD. It is stupendous. My wife watched it with me yesterday and thought it was great also.

One weakness: Bill Maher offers a monologue at the end of the film that made explicit what you can get from simply watching the film. In other words, it ends on an earnest tidying up for the slower members of the audience---kind of like part of the function of the chorus in a Greek tragedy.

Other than that, it is hilarious.

There is one scene that both my wife and I agree is sad. At one point Maher turns the Pascal question ("what if your wrong") back upon a believer, and the expression was one of heartfelt pain that you could see in the eyes of the person. You could really feel, in that scene, just how vested the person was in his belief, and he was clearly crushed at the contemplation of losing it. It was at that point in the film that I thought, "Leave folks like this alone, especially if they are relatively harmless." It seemed better to leave the person in the illusion, rather than crush his spirit like that.


Fri, 20 Feb 2009 18:56:00 UTC | #328332

Hellene's Avatar Comment 10 by Hellene

9. Comment #344237 by Santi Tafarella

Pulling a thorn out hurts in the beginning.

Fri, 20 Feb 2009 19:07:00 UTC | #328336

Butler's Avatar Comment 11 by Butler

It seemed better to leave the person in the illusion, rather than crush his spirit like that.

No, it didn't seem better, it seemed easier and more comfortable. How do you know he's happier in religion than out of it? Surely a person has their best chance of achieving happiness when they're fully aware of the true state of affairs?

Fri, 20 Feb 2009 19:27:00 UTC | #328340

Fizzle's Avatar Comment 12 by Fizzle

the quackish (Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda, who claims to be a reincarnation of Christ)

I remember when this guy started his crap. The natives went crazy.

It is rather sad that my island rarely gets a mention as anything other than a tourist location or as this bastards's birthplace.

Fri, 20 Feb 2009 19:32:00 UTC | #328341

dazzjazz's Avatar Comment 13 by dazzjazz

wish it screened in Australia - will watch the DVD

Fri, 20 Feb 2009 22:01:00 UTC | #328362

Daniel Delaney's Avatar Comment 14 by Daniel Delaney

Just watched it yesterday and I liked it. The big guy in the red shirt, from the truckers chapel who got offended and walked out, reminds me of the sort of xtians in my area. You can't even try to question their beliefs. Hmmmm, I wonder if my recently converted pentecostal brother and sister-in-law will watch it with me... I'll pray to Joe Pesci and see if that does the trick.

Fri, 20 Feb 2009 23:12:00 UTC | #328369

Logicel's Avatar Comment 15 by Logicel

Santi wrote: ...and the expression was one of heartfelt pain that you could see in the eyes of the person.

Empathy is a double edge sword. We can act incorrectly based on what we think is empathetic 'truth.' For some empathetic people, they have a hard time knowing where they end and others begin. As for pain, it is part of living (and sometimes a necessary part of learning), and we need to learn how to cope with it, not avoid it. People who think they know what is best for others are meddlesome, though well meaning of course.

Sat, 21 Feb 2009 00:00:00 UTC | #328378

Logicel's Avatar Comment 16 by Logicel

Santi wrote: It was at that point in the film that I thought, "Leave folks like this alone, especially if they are relatively harmless."

Who is stopping you? You have the right to act according to your dictates.

Sat, 21 Feb 2009 00:14:00 UTC | #328388

AForce1's Avatar Comment 17 by AForce1


Sat, 21 Feb 2009 00:45:00 UTC | #328394

Sargeist's Avatar Comment 18 by Sargeist

Jonah was inside the whale for 300 years?

It's amazing what you can lear from all sorts of sources!

Sat, 21 Feb 2009 01:04:00 UTC | #328399

MarcCountry's Avatar Comment 19 by MarcCountry

I found it odd that Maher, raised a Catholic, has put away those childish things, but very clearly self-identifies as a Jew (culturally) because of his mother's side of the family.

This sense of his 'jewishness' clearly, and sadly, interferes completely with his interview with the ultra-orthodox Jew who identifies himself as not supporting Israel, to such an extent that Maher himself (just like the fat trucker in the trailer-church) ends up walking out on the interview... very bad form, which made Maher look almost as childish and closed-minded as his worst subjects.

Sat, 21 Feb 2009 01:15:00 UTC | #328401

black wolf's Avatar Comment 20 by black wolf

Yes, Maher botched the Jonah story. The book speaks of a fish and three days and nights. Imagining a whale instead of a large fish is obviously a later interpretation to rationalize the beast's size.

But that's actually besides the point (the book also tells stories about regular men living for many hundreds of years with a straight face).
It's interesting how this story is being used by the religious. Apparently it's very often told to children (huge fish make a big impression, and God is the nice guy at the end who saves Jonah and forgives people), something like this: God tells Jonah that there's a city where everybody is evil and depraved, and he's going to give them the good old smiting. Jonah's supposed to go there and convert people. He's afraid of the evil people and decides to escape God's order by travelling away on a ship. A storm comes up threatening to sink the ship, and everybody prays to their various gods, but Jonah doesn't want to draw God's attention so sleeps instead. The sailors wake him up, and they draw lots to decide who is the cause of the storm. Predictably, they draw Jonah's name, so he has to go. Big fish comes and swallows him, spits him out on the shore after three days. God tells Jonah he's forgiven him and the evil people. Jonah asks God why, if those people are so evil, shouldn't he punish them. God explains forgiveness and all is well.

There is so much wrong with this story. It raises all sorts of questions about God's morality, why people would think they could hide from him, why there is idolatry and heresy on the ship that apparently doesn't concern God at all, why to believe God about the city people's character just on his say-so when his omnipresence is obviously in doubt. Even more importantly, Jesus told this story as fact - so he was either ignorant (there is no miracle involved to allow Jonah to breathe or not be devoured) of what is possible in reality (being God himself...), or he is knowingly telling a lie (being God himself...).

When theists try to square this story with omnipresence, omnibenevolence, divine honesty, omniscience, hilarity ensues.
This is what I actually found on google hit three:
In a book (no title provided), a Dr. Rimmer (first name not given) retells a story of a sailor that the sailor (name not given) allegedly declared on oath to be true. At an untold location, a whaler was thrown from his boat by an enraged whale and swallowed whole. He passed out in the stomach. The whale was killed by the other whalers and the man rescued from inside (note, this was right after he'd been swallowed, not three days later), allegedly his eyes and ears affected by the acid.

The page then asserts that similar stories (all from 'Dr. Rimmer') have happened multiple times over the last decades, and ends there.
How this relates (even if it was true) to staying inside the fish for three days, the page forgets to explain. Instead, it asserts that biological facts about availability of oxygen, acidic environments, injury from teeth are all simply untrue. Because Dr. Rimmer has a story that contradicts them. End of. Believe.

Interestingly, in Islam this story is told to illustrate God as a punishing powerful being, not to emphasize forgiveness.

This is Dr. Rimmer:
"Harry Rimmer (1890-1952) was a American creationist, itinerant evangelist and writer of anti-evolution pamphlets. Rimmer had very limited training in science, though he tried to use science to prove the veracity of the Bible. He is most prominent as an early pioneer in the creationist movement in the United States." (wiki) Just another Bible college creationist liar. And just another web page copying lies and adding their own.

Sat, 21 Feb 2009 02:13:00 UTC | #328411

jeffff's Avatar Comment 21 by jeffff

Looks like I'm in the minority here in saying I was a little disappointed with the film. I agree 100% with it's sentiment, it just came across a bit low grade and opportunist. Still, an entertaining watch all the same.

Sat, 21 Feb 2009 02:28:00 UTC | #328415

Henri Bergson's Avatar Comment 22 by Henri Bergson

Watch my two videos on Islam, both favourited by Pat Condell on his Youtube homepage:

Sat, 21 Feb 2009 02:47:00 UTC | #328419

juju77's Avatar Comment 23 by juju77

This is just a note to MarcCountry about Bill Maher and his "Jewishness":
1) He didn't walk out on the rabbi because he wasn't a Zionist; he walked out on him because the rabbi had met with people like the President of Iran and held the view that the Jewish people must suffer much worse than the Holocaust before they can be "worthy" of Israel. The rabbi apparently had not read any of the history of Europe for the past 2,000 years, or else he would not had made the statement that the Jews were living under the regimes of Europe with God's protection and peace. The rabbi either glossed over or completely dismissed the Holocaust and the many other persecutions of Jews in Europe, and that was what made Maher leave. I couldn't had tolerated to be in a room with such a freak for as long as Bill did, so my hat is off to him.
2) Why does Maher consider himself culturally Jewish (much as dear Mr. Hitchens does)? Because for centuries being Jewish was defined by one's birth, not one's religious practice. As Hitchens has pointed out, the Jews seem to have a gene for atheism, and I personally consider myself to be culturally Jewish but atheist in belief. Remember, to someone like Hitler the most orthodox of rabbis and the most secular nonobservant Jew were equally Jewish and were equally qualified to be sent off to the camps.
All in all, this is a great film. Be sure to watch all of the deleted scenes and extras; they're just as good (if not better) than the scenes in the main film.

Sat, 21 Feb 2009 03:10:00 UTC | #328434

Pony's Avatar Comment 24 by Pony

Heh heh, jewjew. (gasp! I cracked the secret code of your screen name! oh noes!)

Sat, 21 Feb 2009 03:17:00 UTC | #328435

clatz's Avatar Comment 25 by clatz

His response to people questioning his motives is brilliant :

"I'm here promoting doubt -- that's my product," Maher says near the beginning of the movie. "The other guys are selling certainty. Not me. I'm on the corner with doubt."

You can't argue with it, and you can only expect his attention if you pander religious certainty. Because of course that's exactly how they sell their product ... they speak from an artificial position of authority, and they tell you they KNOW it's true. So if you can get some of the followers to admit that they are not 100% sure of something then perhaps the house of cards will come crashing down.

In the discussion between Richard and Bishop Harries, a little time was devoted to the problem of people treating the Bible and inerrant and/or infallible. The good bishop played the Anglican card and spoke of allegories, poetry, hidden truths etc (he even tried to say there is different types of truths, but none picked him up on it), but when asked "what is allegory and what is literal?", he essentially said that the only things that must be taken literally are the things that are essential to Christianity. Namely, the resurrection. Unfortunately he didn't get the Maher treatment as the discussion moved on. But he should of. It is an untenable position, and is one taken by Lennox as well.

If you could only get them to admit that the evidence isn't strong, or that there is event the smallest possibility the human souffle that is the big J went the way of most, and failed to rise ... then we would be getting somewhere.

Sat, 21 Feb 2009 03:23:00 UTC | #328436

DeludedNoLonger's Avatar Comment 26 by DeludedNoLonger

Let's call an ace an ace and a spade a spade. Atheists are simply smarter than theists. Why hasn't this fact been studied in greater detail?

Yours truly,

The Atheist Missionary

Sat, 21 Feb 2009 03:52:00 UTC | #328437

Techie Rob's Avatar Comment 27 by Techie Rob

Admittedly, this is not a perfect film. The weak points have been pointed out above, so I won't revisit them here. But a film does not have to be a five-star extravaganza to be good enough, and the film is good enough. Especially compared to the films coming out on the other side of the debate. (Expelled and the clip on the atheist's nightmare spring to mind.)

DeludedNoLonger brings out an important point. The film seems to be targeted at the middle-brow audience. Bill is not so foolish at to think that the LCD faith-heads will be convinced by his work, but the middle-of-the-road fence-sitters might.

Most of the champions of rationality have targeted a relatively high-brow audience. Your average Joe is not likely to pick up a book and read it, but he might take the 90 minute investment in a film. Truth is, the New Atheist movement, such as it is, needs more regular people like this. We need the masses to be convinced, not just the higher end of the IQ bell curve, where you find most of the posters to this forum and the authors they are inspired by.

Sat, 21 Feb 2009 04:27:00 UTC | #328447

rsharvey's Avatar Comment 28 by rsharvey

9. Comment #344237 by Santi Tafarella

"You could really feel, in that scene, just how vested the person was in his belief, and he was clearly crushed at the contemplation of losing it."

That's interesting, I had a totally different take on that moment.
I thought it was theme-park-Jesus' attempt to appear 'genuinely' concerned about Bill's prospects in the afterlife. I actually thought it came across kinda 'hammy'... I could be wrong though.

also why were the crowd cheering at Theme-park-Jesus' crucifixion??

Sat, 21 Feb 2009 06:43:00 UTC | #328496

PERSON's Avatar Comment 29 by PERSON

"Atheists are simply smarter than theists."
Rubbish. There are plenty of dumb atheists and smart religious people. The truth is subtler.

Dawkins has argued that a particular person may achieve more intellectually as an atheist than a theist, I think ascribing it to the rationalisation or compartmentalisation that is necessary.

This may be true for some disciplines and professions in some places, but I think for many people it is more costly in terms of consideration to be atheist. And that sets aside other penalties.

Sat, 21 Feb 2009 07:04:00 UTC | #328505

TIKI AL's Avatar Comment 30 by TIKI AL

I was a little disappointed Bill didn't storm the Vatican for an interview. If it was after happy hour Hitchens would have.

Sat, 21 Feb 2009 07:05:00 UTC | #328506