Monday, March 23, 2009


Bill Maher’s documentary (is this a documentary?) is about the ridiculous nature of religion and religious beliefs. So why would a Christian like me want to watch it? I appreciate when someone presents an intelligent argument and challenges my long-held and sometimes dogmatic beliefs. Frankly, I am intrigued with what he has to ask.

Make no mistake about it. Maher rejects the notion of all religions and argues that these religions are the cause of most of our wars and unspeakable acts of human depravity. He is full of contempt for the atrocities that are enacted in the name of (insert your favorite messiah).

It is not necessarily easy to take jabs at your religion, except Maher mocks it all with enough humor that I couldn’t help but laugh at myself and my own beliefs. Not that he changed my mind, but he does make some interesting points about the strange similarities between Christianity/Judaism/Islam/Mormon/Scientology and mythological stories pre-dating all the leaders of all those aforementioned religions. It gives one pause, that’s for sure. (I don’t even count Scientology as a religion, but Maher’s point is that the beliefs in the mainline religions are just as crazy as the beliefs of Scientology.)

Maher spends his time asking religious folks why they believe what they believe. As if there is anything wrong with that. In one scene, he stops at a church for truckers. One driver gets angry, telling Maher he does not like it when people challenge his Jesus. He left. The others, however, stayed and they had a good discussion with Maher, laughing and joking and … talking. They left on good terms. That was true for most of the conversations he had throughout the movie.

Unlike many documentaries that try to present themselves as unbiased or open minded, Maher makes no such case. You know that going into it. He freely talks about his beliefs and the basis for his questions. Thus, there is no fear of some kind of subversive conversion to atheism. The movie-goer is merely subjected to questions.

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