, Bill Maher's cinematic jab at berserk religious beliefs, has sparked anew the debate about religion's role in society. Maher's approach is to highlight the crazy outcomes of religious irrationality. However, in order to make a funny film, Maher has sidestepped the primary risk associated with theistic thought.

Maher failed to note that the primary potential harm brought on by religion is not the conclusions some believers reach. Indeed, religious people of all ilks can and have reached conclusions on opposite ends of the spectrum regarding homosexuality, women's rights, abortion, politics, science, war, and if you trace the controversies back, slavery and the geo-centric universe. Instead, the chief risk arises from the PROCESS that religious people enlist to reach their conclusions, a process that arises from the core belief of theism itself. Religious people believe at least one of the following.

(1) Divine revelation as a source of knowledge.
(2) Divine inspiration as available to an individual.
(3) A divine plan exists that human beings are to follow.

Every religious person believes this, and thus finds it difficult (if not impossible) to rationalize criticizing the conclusions of others who share these exact same core beliefs. Their only basis for nullifying others' interpretation of knowledge, inspiration, or God's plan draws from their same expectation of divine intervention or intent.

From a non-theistic point of view, anyone who makes decisions based on any of these beliefs is engaging in absurd fantasy. And such thinking becomes dangerous because not following the decisions that are based on these beliefs displeases their God (whatever form that may take). In other words, if they believe God leads them to a particular conclusion, then that conclusion becomes unquestionable to the believer.

So, Believers, which of these do you believe:

(1) Divine revelation is a source of knowledge?
(2) Divine inspiration is available to individuals?
(3) A divine plan exists that human beings are to follow?

I suggest making any decisions based on these core beliefs of religion makes you potentially (even if not actually) dangerous. It most certainly leaves you ill-equipped to criticize others who care nothing about the harm they may cause, so long as they are following the wishes of their imaginary friend.

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Comment by markystar on October 18, 2008 at 12:15pm
>>i think he's trapped in an entertainment world which is atheist-friendly.

i wanna add to that, because it probably came out sounding wrong...

hollywood is atheist-friendly, i think, but the sponsors aren't.

but in hollywood and the music business the "god concept" has little relevance.
it's when the advertisers and sponsers come in that it gets messy....
Comment by markystar on October 18, 2008 at 12:07pm
Maher is a TV celebrity.... and not much more.
he's on our side, but he's not in a position to dump out what you wanted him too.
TV is a ridiculously AD driven business, so, i'm happy e could at least get out his points...

that said, do you consider him a mover and shaker in advancing atheism?

i don't. i think he's trapped in an entertainment world which is atheist-friendly.

and yes..... you are right, he didn't address you the questions you laid out.
but probably the network wouldn't let him (first) and (second) it wouldn't be entertaining except to the atheist elite (and no network wants to cater to that sector yet).

unfortunately, the celebrity on the screen -- as forward thinking as the may be/see) -- are the tools of a larger economy-bases system that only allows them a few soundbytes a night.

it's gonna take time, unfortunately....



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