Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors


Religulous: Preaching to a Choir of Angry Secularists

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Religulous is to religion as rape is to sex. Like the versions of religion and religious people in Bill Maher’s Religulous which opens Friday, rape is a terrible thing which must be recognized and combated. But it hardly defines the range of possible sexual experience. Neither do the violent, small-minded, fear-driven forms of religion upon which Maher focuses define religious experience. So for starters, let’s stop giving Maher credit for attacking all religion. He doesn’t.
Instead, Maher selects the worst of religion and compares it to the best of secularism — hardly a fair fight. But he does make some very important points in this wickedly funny, if totally lopsided analysis of religion. And it’s the people who will be most offended by what he has to say that should listen the most. Why? Because religion shouldn’t get a free pass and it certainly hasn’t earned one.
Maher doesn’t have to go far, or look too hard, to find examples of truly frightening versions of religion, versions which are likely to get most of us killed. In fact, more people are dying today in the name of religion than any time since the crusades. And the more religious you are, the more that should bother you. It’s up to the faithful to clean up the mess that we have too often made of faith. Simply saying things like, “that isn’t real Judaism, Christianity, or Islam” is no answer. Religions are, as their adherents live them, and history will judge if we brought honor or shame to the tradition we love.


Religulous misses the fact that while religion is among the most effective tools for mobilizing the ugliest stuff inside us and rationalizing some of the most hateful and violent acts, it also does the opposite. There is no force in human experience which has evoked the capacity for love, hope and altruism like religion. Missing that, makes Maher and Religulous a great deal like the blind man holding the elephant’s tusk and describing the animal as hard and smooth. He is 100% correct about 20% of the elephant.
Maher insists that he is all about doubt, about the willingness to say “I don’t know”. But he demonstrates no doubt about his own passionately held position. He never wonders if in fact he may not have reached the correct conclusion about the toxicity of religion. So ironically, Maher’s journey of spiritual inquiry, which would have been a wonder to behold, becomes one man’s pilgrimage of secularism among equally zealous people who have found absolutist faith much as he has found absolutist secularity.
If this had been a real journey, then Maher and the rest of us, would have ended up somewhere other than where we began. Alas, that is not the case with Religulous. And as a result, the film will mostly preach to a choir of angry secularists and never engage the vast majority of believers who could use the help of someone as smart and funny as Maher to help them see that questioning can be as sacred as believing. Of course to do that, he would need to start questioning his own disbelief as much as he questions others’ faith.



  • Ruvain

    Religion is not confined to religions. By this I mean, religions are a system of beliefs by which people govern their lives. Nazism was a form of Christianity where the State replaced G-d and Der Fuhrer replaced Jesus. Communism was a religion. Thus, it is an error to think that some type of G-d has to be involved.
    People invent myths because our ability to understand the universe is extraordinarily limited. Uncertainty brings anxiety. For the most part Jews tend to be close to what Mahrer suggests, but increasingly more and more right wing Jews are adopting a very Christianized approach to life. They have adopted a Faith based religion whose basic thought patterns are virtually indistinguishable from right wing Christianity. They need to have answers where there are not answers and people need to ask questions. That’s what makes Hillel so great:
    If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
    If I am for myself alone, what am I?
    If not now, when?
    These three questions are better than all 613 commandments.

  • eastcoastlady

    Ruvain,
    And do not forget (Hillel’s?) summation of Talmud in one sentence while standing on one foot:
    “That which is hateful to you, do not do to others. All the rest is commentary.”
    Shana Tova.

  • Scott

    I tend to believe that this saying of Hillel is prominent more due to the Christian, “Do unto to Others as you would have them do unto you,” than due its intrinsic merit. While I do not denigrate it and I greatly laud its non-intrusive orientation to refrain from doing unpleasant things, I find the Three Questions have a higher moral quality.
    The Three Questions place responsibility where it belongs, i.e., on each person each moment of each day. Asking and deciding what to do and when to do it requires each man to take responsibility for each action and for me, that is morally superior to following orders. Following orders is not fully human. We are not like a computer that prints the key strokes no matter the quality of the thought.
    Also, when a person asks questions, his/her mind has to expand to more and more possibilities. When Jewish tradition requires a person to ask questions, it is hard to have an abdication of the mind. At its heart, following commandments is an abdication of the mind.
    However, the question “which is more important — Study or Action” brings one back to tradition when trying to answer Hillel’s 3 questions. As you know, the answer is circular — study is more important as action is more important and action is more important as study is more important.

  • Gnostic

    The ethic of reciprocity is innate, and it bugs me that people address it as strange and novel. Even Jesus was making that point in his constant rebuke of the laws of the Demiurge. Jesus put forth essentially that “Love is the law”.
    As for Bill Maher, I saw him last night on the tube and he seemed to addressing himself more as an Agnostic Deist rather than the Atheist everyone says he is. I suspect this movie is not nearly as offensive as its made out to be.

  • Joshua Hoe

    Might just be me, but I think it begs the question to suggest that Maher is “shooting fish in a barrel” or “cherry picking” because Maher is less concerned with moderates and more concerned with “radicals” who he does really believe have too much power in politics these days,
    Josh

  • Penny K

    Those who find this film insulting are actually proving Bill’s point. The idea that my truth is the only truth and not only is this so but any attempt to say otherwise is not only immoral but offensive. I think Bill can rest his case with that type of dissention. The EXACT type of dissention that can be found in your review.

  • Charles Cosimano

    The problem with Hillel’s Questions is that you may get answers you do not expect, such as:
    If I am not for myself, who will be for me? No one.
    If I am for myself alone, what am I? A rational person.
    If not now, when? Never.
    When you get these answers, you have a person that the questions are not going to work on.

  • openairpreacher

    its simple as pie.. law removes criminals
    From society for the good the majority.
    God will not let sinners in His kingdom
    after they died they cannot enter
    for the good the majority.
    The sinless life and death of Jesus abrogates our
    sentence for sinning
    “exile from kingdom of God forever.”
    under one condition! People must
    repent/stop sinning to enter Gods kingdom
    no Liars ,thieves,murderers ,homosex, will enter in.
    ( Jesus is the only Door)
    Openairpreacher utube

  • eastcoastlady

    (Jesus is the only Door)
    Openairpreacher, you are preaching to the wrong choir here.

  • Mark

    You state that Maher is “is 100% correct about 20% of the elephant.” I think that’s generous. He’s 100% correct about maybe one percent of the elephant.

  • chaim baruch-chaim

    Openairpreacher wrote:
    “no Liars ,thieves,murderers ,homosex, will enter in.”
    Interesting which things he chose to put on his list of the excluded (and which exclusions he excluded). But if he insists on using Jesus as his standard, his list just excluded everyone, since Jesus taught that doing something “in your heart” was the moral equivalent of actually doing it, that hate equals murder, lust equals illicit sex, etc., and that everyone has those things in his heart.
    The minute such Christians pop up with their little lists of who God hates or who he won’t let in for the good of the whole, they show themselves to be both misanthropes, generally, and disrespecters of God, in whose image even the people they exclude were created.
    L’Shalom,
    Chaim

  • Michael Kelly in Cincinnati, Ohio

    IMHO the problem with religion–that’s any religion and all religions–is their endless dogmas, doctrines and rigid rules and regulations, which all-in-all suffocates liberty and thus the human heart. It’s no wonder that there is so much hatred abroad! Actually religion, as I sincerely believe that Yeshua-Jesus taught it, need never be religulous. He warned against this by teaching, “You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” [Matthew 23:24 – actually the entire 23rd chapter of Matthew is a good lesson against religulousity].
    So, what would be a condensed and easily understandable version of what Yeshua-Jesus actually taught? IMHO, and in my own words, learned from years of personal study, if not actually scholarly, would be this:
    (1) Love God woth all your heart, mind and soul, because if you don’t NO one will actually LOVE you–to wit, Bill Maher’s predicament.
    (2) Love your family, as God loves them, because if you don’t your children will not LOVE you in return and will forsake you in your old age.
    (3) Love your neighbor as you would have your neighbor love you, because if you don’t you will breed the seeds of suspicion, gossip, envy, jealousy and warfare.
    (4) If at all possible make PEACE with your enemy and faithfully abide by any fair and lawful treaty, because if you don’t you will know WAR and Rumors of war and death and desolation. Peace, is therefore better than war, but war where no treaty is possible because your enemy is intent upon your suppression and subordination or destruction, then war is NOT unjustifiable and you can be confident that the TRUE God of Israel is on your side along with His Archangels and Angels from Glory.

  • LiberalSpirit

    I haven’t seen the movie, but the reference to rape in this context is gratuitous and manipulative.
    To refer to rape, which is a crime of violence and aggression, as any part of the “range of sexual experience” is absolutely unconscionable. Shame on you, sir.

  • Shoshana

    Hello Dear eastcoastlady,
    I hope your Rosh Hashanah was a truly wonderful! Just wanted to tell you hello and Shalom Shabbat.
    Shoshana :)

  • Andy

    Like I said in another post, I probably won’t see “Religulous”, mostly because I’ve heard it all before. I’ve heard and seen Maher on his former show, his current show and his HBO specials do his religion-bashing thing many, many times, and I get it. Bill Maher hates religion, thinks it’s stupid, thinks that religious people have a “mental block” or a “neurological disorder”, sees no appreciable difference between mainline religion and extremist religion, and thinks the world would be better off with no religion at all. I get it, and I don’t need to spend $10 and sit in a theatre for an hour and half to hear him say it again. Actually, a year or so ago I heard Maher on, I think, Leno, talk about how he had been traveling the world filming a movie, and he said then that the working title is “Religion Is Stupid”. Gee, whadda surprise, Bill! Hey, some of Maher’s religion-bashing is funny, I’ll give him that. Not as funny as some others, like the late George Carlin, or even some of the satire we used to see in “The Wittenburg Door”, but still funny at times. Another reason I don’t feel like I need to see “Religulous” is that religion-bashing is what’s fashionable in comedy these days. Many comedians do it. It isn’t “edgy” or “risky” like comedians like to think it is. It’s actually expected, and it gets easy laughs, sort of like Dubya-bashing. Actually, it’s lazy, for the reasons that Rabbi Herschfield mentions above; it’s taking cheap shots at an easy target.

  • Nell Minow

    I was very touched by the moment in the movie when Maher complimented some worshipers for acting “Christ-like, not Christian.”
    And very troubled when he could not get the Moslem rapper to unequivocally oppose fatwa.
    Maher takes cheap shots and goes for some easy jokes. But I support his support of doubt and think anyone who worries that their faith will somehow be sullied by seeing it doesn’t have much faith to hold onto.

  • Stewart Perry

    I was not going to see Maher’s movie. While he is very bright, his incredibly exaggerated egotism and smug demeanor is a giant turn-off to me. I am sure he thinks he is worthy of that self-aggrandizment. But that said, I am going to see the movie because of your article. You are worth reading. Your writings are balanced, perceptive, honest. And you are very bright too, just without the ego problem. Maher would do well to be influenced by you. But then again, had he done so he might not have gotten to where he is.
    Thank you.
    Stewart Perry

  • Ruvain

    Dear Charles Cosimano,
    Your response about Hillel’s Three Questions shows a desire to control other people. Thus, you miss the entire point the poster was making about Hillel — following orders is a lower form of morality. In fact, one could argue that following orders is no morality. There is no morality is not killing because you fear being caught and sent to jail.
    In order to be moral, man must have the opportunity to make the wrong choice. That is the reason Hillel’s Three Questions result in more moral people — each person has to ask questions that require him/her to take into account not only himself but others. The lack of any fear component in the three questions also shows that Hillel’s approach appears to the rational aspect of man.
    In brief, following orders out of fear involves no morality, but deciding what is appropriate at each moment is the highest morality.

  • Scott

    Dear Ruvain and Cosimano,
    I suspect that Cosimano may not be that familiar with Hillel’s 3 Questions as he approaches them from a rather non-Jewish perspective. However, all religions seem to agree with al-farbai, Maimonides, and Aristotle on the need for similitudes (Socratic lies) in order to keep the ramble in check. As the unenlightened lack the capacity to perceive that “G-d is Love,” they need to be frightened into behaving correctly. That is the function of the myth of Heaven and Hell — it’s the carrot and stick. It involves no morality.
    Jewish tradition has both elements. The two meanings of the Shema reflect that difference between the ramble and the enlightened. The Crito presents the societal dilemma when the Enlightened Person is living the maxim “G-d is Love,” but the ramble are too dumb to understand. Socrates’ solution was to drink the Hemlock. of course, his apparent affirmation of the veracity of the Greek similitudes was a lie — but then he did invent the Socratic Lie.
    Hillel’s Three Questions present Greek philosophy within a Jewish context. Jewish Tradition recognized that man did not become Enlightened by following orders but instead by accepting full responsibility for his actions. In Jewish tradition, the questioning mind moves closer to “G-d.” For that reason FAITH = SIN. Faith has no room for questions. Faith is the total abdication of the mind. Faith is prominent most of Christianity, in right wing Judaism, Nazism, Communism.
    Faith arises from men’s desire for certainty. Because FAITH gives rise to a false belief that one has The Truth, we see people like Openairpreacher. FAITH = SIN is a religious statement, but in the modern world, it is more appropriate to say, FAITH = IGNORANCE. Faith means belief without evidence and lack of evidence is by definition Ignorance.
    Bill Mahrer presents a more moral approach to life than Faith based religions; he urges people to say, “I do not know.” Humans know very little about the universe, but we should all realize that we know so little that FAITH is dangerous. For Mahrer, it boils down to simple honesty: when you do not know, admit you do not know. FAITH is not knowledge; it is ignorance and sin.

  • Sean Rhoades

    On Faith In God
    If we had proof that God existed, or could empirically prove that Jesus Christ is LORD, then the works we did for God might also be tainted, by possible selfish motivations. Because we can’t prove God exist, although we do the good works commanded by God for a later reward, and of course to avoid punishment, there’s nothing to substantiate that motivation other than faith. And because there’s no way to substantiate our motivation, aside from blind faith, it cannot be selfish, given we do the commandments as Jesus taught. This is perhaps why God does not give us explicit evidence of himself, and requires us to have faith, it’s for our own protection, and of course, to teach us to rely on his invisible help through difficult situations. It also teaches us that loving others unselfishly is so much better than being selfish, and hopefully in time, this loving behavior becomes second nature, not something we have to fight ourselves with, just to attempt. Without the moral principles taught us from the Bible, or even from other beliefs, “MOST” take the path of least resistance and allow their selfish animal nature (something we all have) to control their behavior. Some individuals who claim to have faith, for example in the Bible, have cleverly cherry picked out verses that give them an excuse be behave like selfish animals, and these individuals give their religion a bad name. (2 Peter 2:1-2).
    Romans 3:31 GNB Does this mean that by this faith we do away with the Law? No, not at all; instead, we uphold the Law.
    Romans 13:8-10 GNB Be under obligation to no one—the only obligation you have is to love one another. Whoever does this has obeyed the Law. 9 The commandments, “Do not commit adultery; do not commit murder; do not steal; do not desire what belongs to someone else”—all these, and any others besides, are summed up in the one command, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” 10 If you love others, you will never do them wrong; to love, then, is to obey the whole Law.
    For More Christian Works of Faith see also (Matthew 6:1-8 , Matthew 6:30, Matthew 5:38-48, Luke 12:4-5, Matthew 10:26-30)

  • LAURA MUSHKAT

    HOW CAN YOU TAKE WHAT A COMIC MIND GIVES OUT SO SERIOUSLY! OY VEY!
    THE GUY IS SUPPOSED TO BE CONTROVERSAL and he gets what he wants
    lots and lots and lots and lots of free publicity
    If like me you do not care for him why watch?
    Then again I do not need material for a article every day!(LOL)
    hugs
    Laura

  • new beginning

    I read a book many years ago that stated people are very symbol minded. If you wave the right symbol in front of them you can use their emotions against them. Rationality would let you do that if you were a malicious sort.
    Bill Maher is waving a red cape in front of you now. How do you feel?
    All religions, the one I was raised in and all the others say theirs is the only way. In Judaism, the Chabadniks, among others, cite Halacha, literally translated as “the way.” They don’t say the only way, just the way. The implication is that if this is THE way, there is no other worth considering.
    I like Judaism even if I am skeptical about it. It’s what I am used to. There are beautiful things to think about within its walls. But, there are walls nonetheless.
    If Bill Maher gets a few people to think clearly and critically about their faith, will it cause the end of religion? No. It will only cause questions that are too difficult for religion to answer. It may lead to open questioning and also to the idea that faith has SOME answers, but not all the answers. Rationality must be part of the answer, else why would G-d have granted it to us? ;-)
    At the end of the day, Maher’s humour, like many comedians’ humour, is meant to provoke thought, and reflect our societal psychoses back to us in bites that won’t make us choke on it, but will make us chew on it a bit more thoroughly.
    But Rabbi, I must protest the idea of comparing his humour to rape. It’s an assault to the senses, and a call to the sensible to think.

  • eastcoastlady

    Shoshana,
    Once again, you give me a big smile. Rosh Hashanah was just fine, thank you. I hope yours was filled with good feelings, company, good food, and happiness.
    Thank you again sincerely,
    ECL

  • Scott

    Dear Sean,
    You make a very passionate plea for total ignorance to be the basis of your making moral decisions. Thank you for supporting the point that FAITH = SIN.
    Dear New Beginnings,
    You are simply wrong. All religions do not say that they are the only way. In Jewish tradition, we do not even have a theology, but to the extent Jewish tradition addresses this issue, it is settled that Jews do not say that our ways are the only ways.

  • S H Ziegler

    Do not confuse organized religon with a spiritual belief in a superior consiousness. Organized religon has had thousands of years improve people as human beings and failed miserably. Needless to say science and religon don’t mix; unless you cook the time books and fake the orgasim. Adjusting to reality so organized religon isn’t too foolish is a sophistry. A Jew who does not fully accept Torah or a Christian who picks part of the bibles is losing the battle for his/her own soul

  • Lucy Silver

    What amazes me is this: Religion should provide a blueprint for our lives. I would assume that the bluprint would, among other things, include instructions on a moral way of life. Yet, one can be very moral and yet be a fervent athiest. One can be full of hatred (which I assume is immoral) and a fervent, die-hard fundamentalist.
    It is this dichotomy — the divorce of morality from religion — that has peppered Mahar. Have the definitions of “moral” changed over the centuries? After all, slavery was once accepted by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Child marriage was once acceptable, but it has became “immoral” save for Islam.
    Even within their own dimensions, religions seem to violently disagree about what is “right.” Muslims differ radically about the definition of jihad. Some believe it their duty to defend Islam against all securarists and othe believers. Some Christians believe that it is right to deny the teachings of physics and evolution, and to hold everyone follow precepts such as the sin of aboirtion. Jews have destroyed Arab villages because they need a homeland of their own.
    Mahar’s movie is about this split: you, apparently, do not have to be religious to be moral in the modern sense of the word.
    IS MORALITY, IN THE MODERN SENSE OF THE WORD (HUMANISTIC) THE RAISON D’ETRE OF RELIGION? I believe that religion transcends humanistic morality. THEREIN LIES THE RUB.
    Lucy

  • Darlene Jones

    Hello one and all:
    I am a Christian by birth and faith, but I believe ALL religions have a little bit of the truth and if we can come together somehow to weed through all of it, the real answer just might be right in front of our faces! But, I’m really writing to commend Lucy and New Beginnings on their opinions and their writing, and the Rabbi for being so open minded about what he witnessed and how it should be taken. This is my first visit to this site, but it won’t be my last, I’m sure. Thought provoking and intelligent dialogue is very difficult to come by these days, and its a welcome breath of fresh air to find it alive and well here. Thank you all for surely making me think more and continue to defend my very open mind.
    Sincerely,
    Darlene

  • Patrick

    “Neither do the violent, small-minded, fear-driven forms of religion upon which Maher focuses define religious experience. So for starters, let’s stop giving Maher credit for attacking all religion. He doesn’t.”
    What? Did you even watch the film? Included in the violent, small-minded, fear driven forms of religion he focuses on are Catholicism, Judaism, Protestantism and Islamism. Which make up virtually 100% of the religious faiths out there. So, no I will not stop giving him credit for attacking all religion. The facts speak otherwise.

  • Ruvain

    Patrick:
    1. Christianity = 2.1 Billion
    2. Islam = 1.5 Billion
    3. Secular/Agnostic = 1.1 Billion
    4. Hinduism = 900 Million
    5. Chinese tradition = 394 Million
    6. Buddhism = 376 million
    7. primal-indigeneous = 300 million
    //
    12. Judaism = 14 million (But Jews are a People and not a religion)
    (source Adherents.com)
    The groups you mention make up about 55% which is about 1/2 of what you claim. Also Mahrer did not criticize all Christians or all Jews or all Muslims.

  • jon

    bill mahar is a smart man and he uses that ability to denergrate any and all things that may seem sacred to anyone..i have watched him for yrs and he just seems to get worse,,,he has no respect for any body..he will go after anything that may give him rateings..that is all he is about. how much can he earn by breaking down some insitution.he is part of that radical 60s group that wants to tear down the establishment,reguardles of who he hurts,or distroys..he only has strenth if you pay for his contiued imoral crusade against the judao christan society.. dont spend your hard earned money on garbage.. plant a tree.save a seal.send money to the holy land to keep her safe .but dont spend good money on somebody that at every turn trys to break down our last vesteges of hope in the world..namely the belief in the lord g’d beware of false profits for the come in the night..blessed is the lord,b’h…have a nice day…

  • chaim baruch-chaim

    jon: “beware of false profits for the come in the night”
    ROTFLMAO

  • Linda

    I find it very interesting to see so many comments made on morals. Morals come from one place and that is God. Isn’t it wonderful of him to loan everyone on the planet his blueprint for living, including Bill. Many may think that Bill is a very smart man but anyone can look around and see the majesty of creation and know that a Master created it. That takes only childlike common sense. And God created the simple to confound the wise so he could walk in humility of a gracious God full of loving kindness who allows humanity to share his world.

  • Doug Smith

    You say Mahar is a very smart man. I think he has been educated beyond his intelligence. The FOOL has said in his heart, there is no G-D. Jon Stewart is not much better. On Jon Stewart show, Mahar really took a dig at the christianity view point on the trinity, He made silly comments on G-D talking to himself. He that is greater than we created all things, unfortunately, Mahar was one of them

  • Sean Rhoades

    Dear Scott
    The definition you created, Faith = Sin = Ignorance if it were the correct definition of faith would be a great argument against religion, in fact if it were a correct definition your argument would obviously not be subject to falsification, but it’s not the definition of faith. By the way Scott, all the Laws of Physics are subject to falsification, although we put “faith” in the equations based on that empirical evidence, it doesn’t make the equations, Laws set in stone. For example Einstein improved on Newton’s Laws of motion, yet some of Einstein’s improvements can’t seem to explain Quantum Physics, very well. When someone gets into their car, they have to put faith in many things in order to get from A to B, the list is huge. This empirical evidence certainly helps us make intelligent decisions about future events, but the outcome we may have faith in, is never going to be set in stone. If you would like to know what the Christian definition of Faith is I point you to the book of Hebrews chapter 11, where the writer points us to many examples of faithful men and women, found in the Old Testament. Here’s the first verse:
    Heb 11:1 GNB To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.

  • Karen

    Maher is simply asking for evidence regarding the immaculate conception. A story that was conjured up later on in history and that may have been borrowed from myths that were popular at that time.
    He is simply asking clergy to explain how they believe that they are the new messiah. He is asking why Jews go to such lengths and loopholes to make a wheelchair.
    He is saying that one of the most fundemenatal fears that humans have is death. Therefore, people have constructed ideologies to help them overcome their fear.
    He is asking people to really take a good, hard look at their religious beliefs. And why not question them? If one has full faith in their beliefs, then this should not bother one. The fact that this is bothersome to some may indicate a sense of uncertainty about one’s beliefs.

  • Bobby Eaton

    Spirituality, not religion, imparts the value of love more than anything. Moralism, like self-improvement is a disease. Only neurotics who don’t love and accept themselves as they are try to self-improve from a position of lack. Self-improvement comes naturally for those who have self-love. Moralism, like religion, is created by people who tell how we should be and not all code works for everyone.
    LOVE is all you need. All human emotions come form love or fear. There is no good or evil. Only love or fear. When you come from love, you can never be wrong, proved wrong or argued with. Love is the only reality and that includes self-love. With love comes understanding, compassion, honesty, integrity, curiosity, trust, etc. Everything you need. When you come from love you always know the appropriate thing to do.
    Beliefs are nothing more than excuses to have faith in things that cannot be verified as the truth.
    An omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent god with unconditional love and ultimate compassion cannot be: judgmental; afraid of being questioned; ashamed of his creation; condone war or war declared in his name; be afraid of false idols or other gods; order the murder of men, women, children which he does in the Bible numerous times (being the protector of his creation); order the raping and sexual slavery of women (like he ordered King David and the Isrealites to do); and surely would not take pleasure in sadism (such as people glorifying the Crucifixion and Resurrection; taking pleasure out of dehumanizing and demoralizing people by saying they are faulty and need to be saved; and by practicing rituals of vampirism and cannibalism by drinking Jesus’ blood to gain eternal life and eating his flesh, which Christianity would consider satanic in any other context)
    Isaiah 14:12 tells us that Lucifier or the Anti-Christ is the Morning Star. In the last page of the Bible, in Revelation, Jesus reveals himself to be the Morning Star.
    The word Anti-Christ means Substitute Christ, not against Christ. Jesus is the Anti-Christ. He is the substitute for your responsibility for your actions, free will and “sins”. Teaching people to have delusions of grandeur, guilt, worthlessness and self-rejection and using the Second Coming of Christ as the ultimate way to deal with that guilt is a blasphemy. Jesus is a personified false image of God, as God cannot be represented in image by physical matter.
    The story of the “Son of God” and “The Light” is an astro-theological concept of the Sun and the zodiac constellations dating back to the Egyptians and has been retold using different gods throughout the world. During the winter solstice, the sun is hung on The Southern Cross star group and after 3 days is “resurrected”, after almost disapperaring in the southern hemisphere for 3 days because of it’s faint rise. The ancients knew that if the sun disappeared, they would die. Hence, the sun is “The Light of the World” who “comes on clouds for all to see” and who brings life to all on earth.
    Holy books were never meant to be take seriously and using outdated, pre-scientific beliefs that on a deep level cause delusional schizophrenia, judgment of other humans, and war declared in some god’s name needs to seriously update itself. Christianity is psychological just as damaging as the terrorists they have used to instill people with fear about war. People usually are what they hate.
    Spirituality tells us that we are God also as our spiritual body is in his image. But the idea that there is some invisible man in the sky who rewards or punishes us is an adult version of Santa and is a blasphemy. Spirituality teaches us to empower ourself through love and acceptance and make a difference in the world, not train us to be a a victim in fear who is a slave of bondage to ir-responsiblity, performance love and believing in a false reality based on false history and false science.
    For those Christians who demonize non-believers. Can you deal with them or ANYONE with love and compassion. If you can’t it’s because you are judging them, and judgment is just a reflection of what you don’t like about yourself.
    If you don’t questions your faith, and test it to see if it works without using bizarre explanations to strictly make sense of things that are clearly wrong, you don’t know if you are right. An all knowing God has no need to fear being questioned. God (no male or female identity) would smile upon our efforts to understand the universe (kingdom of heaven) we live in.

  • Bobby Eaton

    Spirituality, not religion, imparts the value of love more than anything. Moralism, like self-improvement is a disease. Only neurotics who don’t love and accept themselves as they are try to self-improve from a position of lack. Self-improvement comes naturally for those who have self-love. Moralism, like religion, is created by people who tell how we should be and not all code works for everyone.
    LOVE is all you need. All human emotions come form love or fear. There is no good or evil. Only love or fear. When you come from love, you can never be wrong, proved wrong or argued with. Love is the only reality and that includes self-love. With love comes understanding, compassion, honesty, integrity, curiosity, trust, etc. Everything you need. When you come from love you always know the appropriate thing to do.
    Beliefs are nothing more than excuses to have faith in things that cannot be verified as the truth.
    An omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent god with unconditional love and ultimate compassion cannot be: judgmental; afraid of being questioned; ashamed of his creation; condone war or war declared in his name; be afraid of false idols or other gods; order the murder of men, women, children which he does in the Bible numerous times (being the protector of his creation); order the raping and sexual slavery of women (like he ordered King David and the Isrealites to do); and surely would not take pleasure in sadism (such as people glorifying the Crucifixion and Resurrection; taking pleasure out of dehumanizing and demoralizing people by saying they are faulty and need to be saved; and by practicing rituals of vampirism and cannibalism by drinking Jesus’ blood to gain eternal life and eating his flesh, which Christianity would consider satanic in any other context)
    Isaiah 14:12 tells us that Lucifier or the Anti-Christ is the Morning Star. In the last page of the Bible, in Revelation, Jesus reveals himself to be the Morning Star.
    The word Anti-Christ means Substitute Christ, not against Christ. Jesus is the Anti-Christ. He is the substitute for your responsibility for your actions, free will and “sins”. Teaching people to have delusions of grandeur, guilt, worthlessness and self-rejection and using the Second Coming of Christ as the ultimate way to deal with that guilt is a blasphemy. Jesus is a personified false image of God, as God cannot be represented in image by physical matter.
    The story of the “Son of God” and “The Light” is an astro-theological concept of the Sun and the zodiac constellations dating back to the Egyptians and has been retold using different gods throughout the world. During the winter solstice, the sun is hung on The Southern Cross star group and after 3 days is “resurrected”, after almost disapperaring in the southern hemisphere for 3 days because of it’s faint rise. The ancients knew that if the sun disappeared, they would die. Hence, the sun is “The Light of the World” who “comes on clouds for all to see” and who brings life to all on earth.
    Holy books were never meant to be take seriously and using outdated, pre-scientific beliefs that on a deep level cause delusional schizophrenia, judgment of other humans, and war declared in some god’s name needs to seriously update itself. Christianity is psychological just as damaging as the terrorists they have used to instill people with fear about war. People usually are what they hate.
    Spirituality tells us that we are God also as our spiritual body is in his image. But the idea that there is some invisible man in the sky who rewards or punishes us is an adult version of Santa and is a blasphemy. Spirituality teaches us to empower ourself through love and acceptance and make a difference in the world, not train us to be a a victim in fear who is a slave of bondage to ir-responsiblity, performance love and believing in a false reality based on false history and false science.
    For those Christians who demonize non-believers. Can you deal with them or ANYONE with love and compassion. If you can’t it’s because you are judging them, and judgment is just a reflection of what you don’t like about yourself.
    If you don’t questions your faith, and test it to see if it works without using bizarre explanations to strictly make sense of things that are clearly wrong, you don’t know if you are right. An all knowing God has no need to fear being questioned. God (no male or female identity) would smile upon our efforts to understand the universe (kingdom of heaven) we live in.

  • Dracula’s Mommy

    “LOVE is all you need. All human emotions come form love or fear. There is no good or evil. Only love or fear. When you come from love, you can never be wrong, proved wrong or argued with. Love is the only reality and that includes self-love. With love comes understanding, compassion, honesty, integrity, curiosity, trust, etc. Everything you need. When you come from love you always know the appropriate thing to do.”
    That and about 20 karate lessons will be all you need when facing a mugger. Do you kick them in the nuts to get your 20 bucks, or do you kick them in the nuts for love? Be honest now.
    I think if one comes from logic, one will be on the better path to knowing what to do. Love is just as dangerous, misleading, and deceptive a place to come from.
    “God must sometimes do what is painful. Those who say God is love have never been to a dentist” — C.S. Lewis.

  • David in Las Vegas, Nevada

    The posted comment is correct, it is the fear of death that humans have that justifies their passion for believing in something that cannot be proven. When a mother is told that her ten year old son or daughter was just killed in a car accident, the comment is “God has taken him home.” When a family is told that their pet dog has died, the comment is “It was God’s will.” Humans always seek to rationalize death and to explain it. But the fact remains, when you die, you die. There is no heaven, no hell, no afterlife, no “moving on” to something else. There is no spirit or soul. You are buried or cremated, your body decomposes and that’s it. Believers always say that there must be some explanation for our life. Why? animals, fish, humans, all have the same life cycle. They are conceived, they live and they die. There is no meaning to life. It just is. Humans question life, only because they have the mental capacity to do so. We are just that much higher up on the food chain. I am sure that an ant would question the meaning of life if they were up on the chain as well. The idea of questioning life is not the same as proof that something after life exists. Religion is simply a way for people explain the unexplainable. It’s sad though, when you think about it. There is no reason to explain life. And once you adopt that rational form of thought, religion is exposed for the blind faith crutch that it is.
    Dave

  • deb #1

    Imagine there’s no……………………

  • Icelander

    “The Passion of the Christ” was preaching to the choir. “Expelled” was preaching to the choir. “Fireproof” is preaching to the choir.
    The only reason Rabbi Hisrchfield has a problem with “Religulous” is because Bill Maher is asking questions that make religious people uncomfortable. He could have just as easily asked a Jesuit scholar or a senior Rabbi or an Imam the questions, and it would have gotten the same results. And Bill Maher would be excoriated by the religious for it.
    I applaud Bill Maher and others like him for asking pointed questions and not taking “you have to have faith” as an answer. Superstition and blind faith have run the world for most of human history. It’s time for reason and logic to have their chance. But they won’t get it if we continue to bow to the demand that religion never be questioned.

  • laura faulk

    Mr. Eaton, I invite you to re-read Isaiah 14:12. Lucifer,which, as you probably know, means “light-bearer”, is referred to in that verse as the “son of the morning”. Indeed, Christ states in Revelation 22:16: “…I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” KJV If you read through the New Testament, you will learn that Satan numerous times tried to deter Christ from his mission of loving the Father with all of his heart, mind, and soul. This purpose necessitated obedience to what God willed for him in his time on Earth. In fact, Christ preached if you love me, you will be obedient. We, like Lucifer, have a real problem with obedience because we, too, desire to be like God, to rule the universe. Christ’s obedience led him to the cross, victory over the grave, and the position of highest honor in heaven. Conversely, Lucifer, because of his pride and insurrection, was cast down from his position of honor among his fellow angels. He can’t get over this humiliation and desires our company. He continues to enjoy our misery that results from living in disobedience to the Father’s will.

  • zeny waller

    I wish all (agnostics included) could read the post by laura faulk. It is right on in terms of religious belief.Great understanding of the WORD!!!

  • J. Alejandro

    I think the writer gives too much credit to Bill Maher who has always been just simply an anti-Catholic bigot, and now a general equal opportunity anti-religion bigot. His Stalinist, even Nazi (not to mention truly idiotic) desire to ban religion is not new. At least Stalin and Lenin knew not to mess with religion and decided not to war directly against it. Giving so much attention to Maher on this topic is like giving attention to Paris Hilton on politics.

  • chaim baruch-chaim

    Dave wrote: “There is no meaning to life. It just is.”
    If we look at essence instead of aspect, God is “defined” as simply being. It is only fitting that those whose belief claims humanity to be made in the image of God see humans simply as being, not essentially as meaning.
    Meaning may be found in thoughts, actions, responses, and interactions – in the aspects expressed by beings. But our being itself is is-ness, like God. We’re just so busy doing, thinking, sensing, responding, and interacting that we lose track of our is-ness.
    L’Shalom,
    Chaim

  • eastcoastlady

    At least Stalin and Lenin knew not to mess with religion and decided not to war directly against it.
    Except if you’re Jewish. They waged plenty of enmity against.
    And last I heard, religion in Russia is still not openly practiced or encouraged. It’s still mostly about the State.

  • hbooth

    Great article.

  • Howard Mandel

    Who cares if a good deed is done in the name of religion, if I have to take a bad one with it. Since good and evil are both done in the name of religion doesn’t that cancel out its role as a moral compass? If it can’t do that what is it really good for?

  • Saadaya

    I think the criticism on religion was well deserved, and I think people like him need to accentuate the dangers of fanaticism.
    Even many of us secularists cannot even fathom (because we tend not to believe nonsense) how crazy and dangerous religious people’s beliefs can really be. I mean, there ARE thousands of people in the supposedly civilized and modern country of the US who honestly are earnest about the world coming to an end and they want to see Jesus mounted on top of a white horse hovering above a nuclear bomb site! This is not just superstition. It’s much MUCH MUCH more morbid! These are the same people who are voting for governments who are militarizing the world and squandering our financial resources to finance war instead of PEACE, education, health care and other essentials. How can a country build a great civilization and a great society with this medieval mindset?
    It takes people like Maher to make others aware of how crazy this apocalyptic ideology really is. I do think he said many things that needed to be said.

  • Open Eyes

    …. and religion to this world is like rape.

  • Mason

    I personally believe that whoever wrote this stupid article is a fool. Excuse me sir, but are not your opinions on religion also lopsided as well? People like you believe religion is the best thing to happen to mankind which couldn’t be further from the truth. Religion has created and justified much murder, genocide, war, rape, hatred and injustice- all the while operating under the peaceful image.
    Religion rarely brings out the best in people, and even if it does- it still comes at a controversial price. For example, many see the pope as a kind man, which is truly is- however he supports a pro-life stance, therefore slamming the doors on raped women who wind up pregnant and young girls who are at tremendous health risks to continue the pregnancy. He also freely attacks gay rights without any ounce of compassion. I would say the “good” religious people would be the liberals, all the others are either neutral or pure evil.
    Furthermore, I strongly dislike how you compare Religulous to religion- as rape is to sex. HOW DARE YOU! Religion, which happily lies to its followers and kills anyone that opposes them are the rapists. It is never different, Religion does the most evil and violent things and then calls the dying victims the evil ones.
    Religion brutally rapes the minds on human beings, it removes us of our ability to be rational and peaceful and replaces it with a dogmas and impossible ideologies. Religion is the rape of mankind’s understanding.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/openairpreacher openairpreacher

    Love Jesus and stop sinning
    or
    you will go to hell!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Varados

    “Of course to do that, he would need to start questioning his own disbelief as much as he questions others’ faith.”

    Of course it would never do to expect those of faith to question their beliefs.

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