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We’re All Doomed October 19, 2008

Posted by sociallyacceptableinsanity in Atheism.
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This Friday I finally saw Religulous, the new Bill Maher movie about the insanity that is religion.  In this movie Maher travels the world, interviewing people of many faiths and asking them questions about what and why they believe.

It probably goes without saying that I laughed a lot, as did the rest of the audience.  However, I was shaking my head ruefully while I laughed, because this movie brought home to me, once again, the sheer impossibility of getting religious people to see reason.  Almost every person he talked to seemed rational enough, but the minute he challenged them to explain inconsistancies in their beliefs they would retreat behind a wall of dogma, “faith” or just plain weirdness.  Do you really believe that Jonah lived for three days in the belly of a whale?  “It was a large fish,” the interviewee says.  As Maher wonderingly asks later, does that make a difference somehow?  Oh, it wasn’t a whale, it was a large fish.  That makes infinitely more sense, doesn’t it?  The only people that seemed open to listening to him were the truckers at a truck stop chapel, even though one of them walked out on him.

Maher takes on Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Scientology, Mormonism, and televangelism, shotting holes in their hypocrisy.   Time and again, when asked why their religion fostered intolerance and hatred, respondents of all faiths would answer “it’s all political.”  That’s right:  my religion doesn’t breed hate, it’s everyone else that is causing it.

He visits the Mormom Temple in Salt Lake City (they throw him out),  the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, the Dome of the Rock, the Vatican and the Holy Land Experience in Orlando.  About the Holy Land Experience:  I could not figure out why the audience at the “Crucifixion” kept clapping!  What, were they just being polite, or did they really get off on seeing their “Lord” dragging a cross while being beaten by Roman soldiers?  Bizarre….

I really got a kick out of the two Vatican priests that he interviewed (outside the actual walls of the Vatican – the officials didn’t want him there any more than the Mormons did),  but I kept asking myself if they were really Vatican priests.  These guys were openly, cheerfully scornful of so many Catholic beliefs.   I know that Catholicism has changed a lot since Vatican II, but I didn’t think that they had gotten to the point where they didn’t believe in Hell anymore.  I think I might research that a little more.

In the end, amid images of violence and destruction intercut with those of religous adherents bobbing, swaying, gesticulating, screaming and otherwise acting like they are just plain nuts, Maher comes to his final point.  Humankind’s ability to created weapons of mass destruction does not mix well with their inablility to stop clinging to religious belief, and we may all eventually pay the ultimate price for such madness.  His final diagnosis?  That we must “grow up, or die.”

While I know that many people thought his conclusion to be heavy-handed and a bit melodramatic, I liked it. 

Because he’s right.

Hear an audio clip of audience reaction to the movie.