Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Maher on Scarborough Country

Bill Maher was on the MSNBC show Scarborough Country yesterday. Here's an excerpt I especially liked:

SCARBOROUGH: And this goes back to what we—this goes back to what we talked about a time earlier when you were on this show. You think that‘s being disrespectful to people‘s faith, to their value system? The thing that is most important to them, for you to say that the Bible doesn‘t have relevance or isn‘t important?

MAHER: Well, I‘m sorry, Joe. You know, I‘m sorry if I offended anybody. But somebody has to say these kinds of things. Somebody has to stop...


MAHER: What? Why?


MAHER: Because religion does so much more harm than good. And as long as we constantly give it a free pass, as long as nobody questions it because, when you say those words, “That‘s my faith,” everybody backs off.

I‘m sorry, but faith means the suspension of rational thinking. And the Bible is an anthology. It‘s an anthology of many works written a long time ago. Some of it is wise. There are some good things in the Bible.

But I like to look at the Ten Commandments as sort of a microcosm of the Bible. Are there some good things in the Ten Commandments? Yes, two of them are actual laws: Don‘t kill—OK, that‘s a good one; I think that‘s good to teach people that—and don‘t steal, also good.

The rest of the eight of them? I don‘t know. Don‘t work on Sunday? Doesn‘t have a lot of relevance, really, does it, Joe? Don‘t swear? Is that really as important as don‘t kill and don‘t steal? Don‘t make statues of other gods and pray to them?

You see what I‘m saying? Some of it is good; some of it is, you know, an old book of Jewish folk tales.

Exactly right.


At 6:11 PM, Blogger Martin Wagner said...

Nice one, Bill. Now if we can just get him to stop drinking the anti-vaccination kool-aid, Maher will be back to being a real rationalist full time!

At 1:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I‘m sorry, but faith means the suspension of rational thinking."

Sorry Bill you got that wrong. Faith is used as an excuse for suspention of rational thinking in some cases but it is not accurate to imply that it is so in all cases.

"The rest of the eight of them? I don‘t know. Don‘t work on Sunday? Doesn‘t have a lot of relevance, really, does it, Joe? Don‘t swear? Is that really as important as don‘t kill and don‘t steal? Don‘t make statues of other gods and pray to them?"

You don't have to join that club if you don't want to Bill.

At 3:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's a tad too generous to even acknowledge that some of the bible is good.

The good parts, like Maher's commandment examples, are just dead obvious. Things that had been said and practiced before the bible. To give the bible credit for the good message of "don't kill people" is silly.

It's like if some nutjob wrote a science book full of complete nonsense, but one paragraph mentioned that the sky is blue. Wow, some of that book is good, some isn't!

At 6:34 AM, Blogger Jaime A. Headden said...

Quoting Bill Maher:

"You see what I‘m saying? Some of it is good; some of it is, you know, an old book of Jewish folk tales."

Which is what Pope John Paul II kinda was saying, about taking some passages literally, and others not. Avoiding reading too much into things. He may have been a Catholic, but I do not think, even in his posterity, the former Pope was stupid.

At 3:58 PM, Anonymous Fred said...

Anonymous wrote: Faith is used as an excuse for suspention of rational thinking in some cases but it is not accurate to imply that it is so in all cases.

Can you give me an example of when that's NOT the case?

You don't have to join that club if you don't want to Bill.

Says you. But it's getting harder and harder. Your club and others (such as those in the Middle East) seem intent on forcing us all into your clubs.

And by the way, can't you "anonymous" guys please post with at least some kind of name??? Having so many "anonymous" posts makes it difficult to reply to the correct person; you're forced to quote the "anonymous" person in question. Just choose "Other" and make up a name if you don't want to use your real one.

At 7:22 AM, Anonymous Frank - Previously Anonymous said...

An example for Fred,

"I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth..." (the Apostles' Creed)

Please do not confuse the belief, or faith, with the suspension of rational thought. I do know, or at minimum accept the current paradigms (but that’s all philosophy of science and another whole topic), that the big bang occurred and evolution has occurred on this planet (and probably others as well). My attempt to understand/model the universe in not in conflict with my faith but instead, from the perspective of my faith, only further reveals the glory of God.

This (in my opinion) is the difference between a bunch of politically oppressive religious zealots trying to force their ideas down the throat of others and most people of faith.

Regarding “Says you….” Please, again do not confuse the political efforts dressed in religion with true faith. Folks have miss-used religion to oppress other for ages, absolutely true. That oppression is the act of people, not the faith or God. If, it is your contention, and I don’t think that it is, that religion (and not the people) is fundamentally oppressive, then that alone could be the justification for attacking Muslim’s (and other faiths) world wide.

[Now bear with me, I am trying to demonstrate a point of view here.]
The belief that there is no god, again is a belief. The existence of God, or lack thereof, is not provable (at least I think so). Therefore being an atheist is a faith and, while not a formal religion, still starts to look and smell like one. For those of faith, you may now begin to see why the assault on religion is perceived as an assault and therefore why ID can gain ground in the political arena. If I cannot sing Silent Night in the Christmas Play (soon to be renamed by the army of political correctness as the Winter Celebration) because that is “respecting an establishment of religion.” Then denying the teaching of ID in the classroom or at least teaching only Darwinism in the classroom is “respecting an establishment of religion.”

I know the logic of this argument is flawed. But none the less the attempt to expunge all mention of any god (or at least Christ) from any part of the public world is oppressive. Now this is all political stuff and a bit off topic for this blog, but it is at the core of the reason why ID gains ground.

At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Fred said...

Thanks for the follow-up, and thanks for using a name other than anonymous :-). You are correct that I am not saying that religion is fundamentally oppressive, however, religion is interpreted and practiced soley by humans, and that's where the problems oppression and other misuses arise. We have lots of checks and measures to prevent other potentially dangerous things from getting out of hand (drugs, guns, etc.), and we should be vigilant about religion too. The fact that a simple cartoon can cause the death of 50+ people because of religion is insane.

Personally, I have no problem with things like "under God" being in the U.S. pledge of allegiance, or with people saying Merry Christmas. And although I'm not religious, some of my favorite music is 100% religious (Christmas carols, hymns, etc.).

At 1:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maher also said that the religious zealots that that flew jetliners into the WTC and Pentagon were not cowards either. Religion serves a purpose for the majority of humanity that's not bad, it gives them hope to carry on in what's obviously hell for them and looking around the world today, who could really argue with the believers. Maher apparently hasn't suffered any great loss in his life, and he's well established himself as a member of the priviliged class in our society, why he's so flippant about the desire for most members of humanity less lucky than he for some respite from, or meaning for their lives, and some sense of justice when they are invariably wronged by other members of humanity. I totally disagree with Maher, religion does more good than bad, it's when two opposing religions like two opposing ethnic groups or two opposing political parties meet and act like the savages, that is when religion get's a bad name. Religion doesn't cause man to be bad, it's inherent, original sin. We are savages.

Maher's a mocking monkey. It took man 3.5 billion years to evolve from ameba's to his present state of consciousness, man trying to prove the existance of God is more laughable than an ameba trying to prove the existance of man. You need to have patience, and faith, and a sense of humor to deal with both the Pat Robertson's and Bill Maher's in our midst.

At 6:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having thought about Maher's recent comments further, they are really astonishing in their arrogance and ignorance, in his thinking he's so revolutionary in saying religion is useless and that God is dead. Maher claims he's an atheist now, though he's always capitilized on his being Jewish. It's like he's being a petulent adolescent on Scarborough Country, blurting something out solely for the shock value effect, aren't I such a naughty boy, the King has no clothes. Maher's conceit is inexcusable as he portrays himself as a knowledgeable urbane thinking man, so he surely must remember the 1960's Time Magazine "Is God Dead" issue, even if he was a kid then? Forget Time Magazine, let's go back 2000 years into Jewish history when a Jewish mob who followed Jesus, another Jew, turned around and backstabbed him, mocked and ridiculed him, cheering when the atheist pagan Pontius Pilate sentenced Jesus to death for proposing that there was an all powerful God of love and goodness, and that salvation awaited those who patiently sat out this life of desperation with strong silence, with faith that paradise awaited them. Even Christ's faith wavered as he was nailed to the cross. Many of those New Testament Jews who once followed Jesus, indeed cheered wildly when he was crucified, spitting on him as he carried his cross and crown of thorns to Golgotha, he wasn't their promised saviour anymore, he was just a man, this would-be God. So, Bill Maher's revolutionary new idea that religion and God is a crock isn't a new idea at all. America really has way to much free time and money on it's hands if a guy like Bill Maher get's paid for producing absolutely zilch.

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