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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.

Hollaback Girl October 11, 2008

Posted by sociallyacceptableinsanity in Atheism.
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Well, I didn’t get a chance to see Religulous because it didn’t hit the local theaters until this weekend, but I’m going this Tuesday, come hell or high water (pun intended).

I thought I’d use today’s post to answer some of the comments I’ve gotten on earlier posts.  Much to my delight, I have yet to receive any death threats, fatwahs or impenetrable rants so far:  in fact, most of the comments have been well thought out, if not entirely grammatically correct.

“Dahni” wrote me two lengthy comments about Religion and Politics:  Why Sarah Palin Scares the Crap Out of Me, out of which I will address a few of her more interesting points.  She writes:

“…here we all are. How did we get here? Most ask or ponder this question. 1. God – Where did he come from? Nobody can answer that, so it is accepted by faith. 2. Evolution – big bang, but where did out of nothing come from? Nobody can answer this either, so it is accepted by faith. In this, there is no difference between the two.”

Yes, I agree that people’s belief in god is a matter of faith, as there is no real proof of god’s existence.  However, I do not agree that the “Big Bang” theory is accepted by faith.  It is a scientific theory, and to quote from the NASA website, a theory is a “scientifically testable general principle or body of principles offered to explain observed phenomena. In scientific usage, a theory is distinct from a hypothesis (or conjecture) that is proposed to explain previously observed phenomena. For a hypothesis to rise to the level of theory, it must predict the existence of new phenomena that are subsequently observed. A theory can be overturned if new phenomena are observed that directly contradict the theory.”

There is a huge difference between religious faith and the scientific method.  Just because science hasn’t found “all of the answers” does not mean that science is founded on faith.

“Dahni” also goes on to say:

“Finally you ask: “Why can’t Americans just grow up?” Answer: In the world, America and Americans are really a young country and people and has a young system of government. You are a mother. Americans are like children. Children need to be taught. Children not only need limits and boundaries to protect them and keep them safe, they want them. Many religious people like children, expect God to protect them, guide them, provide for them etc., just as children expect this of their parents. Many people expect the same thing from government. There is no difference.

First off, I am not a mother, nor have I ever claimed to be a mother.  Secondly, the whole point that I am trying to make is that people need to just grow up!  I agree that we are a young country, but I do not agree that it gives us license to act as children.

The last comment that I want to discuss is from “klbuley,” commenting on Dont’ Believe Everything You Read

“Do you believe in love? You cannot see love. You see the fruits of love, but it is not something tangible, or measurable. There are books written about love, from people in love, out of love, or who hope to fall in love, but what is it really? People believe it exists because it benefits them. People love, because the alternative stinks. There is little proof, as you see it, of God. People believe, because the alternative (if they are wrong), stinks.’

I understand what “klbuley” is trying to say here, but this whole comment strikes me as just very sad.  It sounds like should all believe in god because life would be horrible without someone to look after us.  To me, the very idea of that is horrible.  To think that it would be worse to stand on your own, to be responsible for your actions, to be rational?  To be so afraid of the world, of life? 

Now that would stink.