This Wednesday I went to see Religulous by Bill Maher with Georgie at the Angelika theater. For an opening day at 2:20pm the theater wasn’t crowded but had a good turnout. We got there right on 2:20 on the dot (with our pre-ordered tickets) and managed to procure a whole row for ourselves.

Let me just say that I hate Michael Moore documentaries, especially when you seek to mock lay people. I winced as Maher proceeded to go into a Truck driver chapel and question the people there on their faith. Some gems out of that include “They’ve proven that he {Jesus} had only women blood and therefore was virgin birth. There was no male blood in him!” (uh… huh) However, to Maher’s credit he wasn’t quite as disrespectful and annoying as Moore.

The whole tone of the movie is mocking, however. They inserted cartoon and other “wise cracking” clips between some of the more naive and thoughtless statements made by those being interviewed by Maher. For example the short clips from the video below was featured in the movie.

I take it as another hashing out along the very same lines as Dawkin’s The God Delusion. I believe Maher is really making a case for all moderates to “look in the mirror.” As soon as he makes a plea that he thinks religion is harmful, there’s judgment. I think that’s the more interesting issue. You really need to draw the lines in a movie such as this. You can’t have it both ways, you can’t say that “I respect people’s beliefs,” and judge them for it. Clearly we (atheists) do not respect people who have beliefs like that. He conflates the terms “know” and “belief.” Belief tends to be more solipsistic, like “thinking that they know.” Whereas knowledge presumes some justification or verifiability, perhaps? I don’t know, I must go to more epistemology reading group meetings. In this case then the message of his movie is not, as he claims, doubt.

He is much more likable than more. He seems genuine in some parts, but his movie sends too many mixed messages. It’s entertaining, I suppose.

3 Thoughts on “Religulous

  1. 3 main choices

    (1) pursue
    (2) stop somewhere
    -a) fix the specific progression of history
    -b) fix only the methodology -> go to (1)
    (3) random

    I am anti-atheist. There are right and wrong beliefs, within a mytho-national context.

    The right distinction is not between atheism or theism. Nor necessarily between being on the belief side or the knowing side. Every logical system is based on a belief axiom, often mytho-traditional linked with the mysterious body.

    The final test of value comes down to the clash of intuitive bodies or constitutions, such as the human corpus-spiritus or the imperial kingship, and sometimes the presidential body miming the king/emperor.

  2. I am an atheist that does not believe the world would be in a worse position if inhabited only by atheists. I think some mystic/spiritual beliefs are harmful. I also think many are unreasonable and irrational. I also don’t buy the whole pascal’s wager of “you don’t know what is out there.” There is a lot we don’t know, which still does not point to having a grandfather like home-dad in some heaven up in the sky.

    I think it is irresponsible and irrational to jump from epistemological doubt to hinting at some idealism.

    Oh well.

  3. I don’t think atheism is a reality, so to speak. Everyone lives within a mythological context, and takes on either a theist or atheist lingo to explain the mechanism.

    Thus, instead of god, an atheist would or could say: “history”, “society”, “brain”, “intuition”, “common sense”, “matter”, “physics”. It’s not that different.

    I mean, the two attitudes can coexist at different layers of cognition. On one side, the purely organizational cognition, where things could be arranged in terms of dry numbers indicating certain attitudes (it still retains symbolic elements as any attribution consists of an imaginary, partial quality/perspective). The other side, a more sensitive, imagination friendly arrangement of life as a whole, taking in consideration the internal reality of a mind or heart.

    Being a theist doesn’t necessary require the god factor to be a bearded father up on a cloud. A theist could just say there is something quite mysterious that keeps us doubting and seeking, and that mystery as an entity or unit could be called god.

    And remember that lawness, the quality of having pretty or frequently consistent tendencies is equal to personality. The central difference is that of the body cosmos, one covered in human skin, consisting of meat and bones, so forth. The other less clear to our eyes, and not having the skin covered totality.

    The element of surprise/chance makes lawness closer to persona. The question of the distinction between persona and impersonal law remains quite open, usually revolving around the concept of intentionality, especially as a whole, versus instinct/chemistry.

    The attribution of male quality to the heavenly element, and female q to the earthly element is a highly frequent human psychological tendency. One way to see it is that at a certain fundamental level of conception, masculinity and heaveliness was together. The separation of heaven and earth, to draw a line between earth and heaven is already a myth creating process. It is already a step into the religious process of our mind.

    In a highly objective cognition of the world, the next moment is not guaranteed. There is no objective ground to say, “the next moment, the reality will stand, the laws will be valid”, especially so in regards to social realities, often altered by ambitions and various desires.

    I myself am not a follower of Pascal’s “betting”, but Pascal is a genius that requires cosideration. For now, I’d just say that we usually bet for the next moment. That is our heaven or hell. Death and reincarnation happens in a daily level. To take that to a more grand level of conception has its objectivity, and the choice of imagery and names is a very open field, that can be judged by its level of match with one’s or one group’s psychology or the logic of mind and soul, and/or its inspirational capabilities not only for order but also for progress.

    The impulse to live, to name, to organize are pretty irrational. Responsibilities are a constructed relationship, usually towards a mythologized relation to a constructed “other”, that may or may not yet even exist (children of the future) or may not exist any more (ancestors, forefathers, etc). The basic construct of responsibilities is determined by an imaginary sentiment to an “apparently dead” past and “non-existant” bunch of that may come ahead, and centered on a milliad of imagined and impulsed conglomerate of sense-perception. To take the doubt to the extreme could stop the processing of any action, as in the finality there is no absolute rationality.

    The idealistic aspect of life is limited by inter-relations summed in history and mythology, acting in terms of bodies and kingdom-societies. An unimaginative civilization leaves little behind. Much like the mongolian empire. There is no need to create a grand culture either. Its a matter of preference. To just eat, sleep, shit, and grow food, hunt/work, and doubt everything beyond that, is a valid vision. To do the same, and adventure into either or both the dark mystery of the universe or of our dreams/poetry is also a valid vision.

    Take history, and pick the civilization that most suits your sensation. Much at the broad level is repeated and a good reference.

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