Has anybody seen my ass? I saw Bill Maher's Religulous Friday and laughed it clean off.

Something odd occurred Friday night.   My wife and I saw a movie together and laughed at all the same parts.   This is a woman with whom I have nothing in common except a love of Star Trek (and two kids and 30+ years of marriage).  My wife came to agnosticism late in life and I've been an atheist since I was eight years old.  The audience, too, was laughing with us, but the deck was stacked.  We saw the film in Tulsa's small art house theater, and seventeen of us were from the local atheist and humanist meetups.  We were, one might say, the ideal demographic for this movie.  While this movie was an important, thought proviking piece, I doubt it will change many minds, as people who will be offended will no doubt stay away and those who do see it are just members of the choir to which Maher is preaching.  

Maher conducts interviews with Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Christians, Moslems, and a handful of those practicing other religions, including one based on the smoking of pot.  One might wonder how Bill Mahar got people to participate in his interviews.  He stated in articles published since the film was completed that he hid the nature of his film from interviewees, hid his role in making the film, and just outright lied to people to get them to talk.  Sounds like the finest in traditional American journalism to me.  Maher's extensive knowledge of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Quran coupled with his in-your-face irreverency made him an ideal foil for the religious people he encountered, as he pointed out the inconsistencies and the contradictions in books considered as gospell by so many.  I leared much from this film including the facts that none of the writers of the Gospells could have actually known Jesus and that the tales of Virgin Births and Resurrections for Earthly vestiges of God had been done before and quite often in other instances long before they were connected with the story of Jesus. 

The pace of the movie and the frequent laughs made for quite a quick 110 minutes.  Maher's serious message at the end of the film guarantees you'll be thiking about his film long after the 110 minutes has been spent. Thank you, Bill.


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RidingFool's picture

Since moving to Alaska, I can tell you that without a single doubt for the Thomases of the world, earth and all we know was created in eight days - or was it six? Whatever. *waves hand * Condee is the new Virgin, Dick is the new Jesus, and George rules it all as the three Stooges wrapped up in one, forever and a day.


Furthermore, the Pope has started his campaign...

RidingFool's picture

A giant video screen shows Pope Benedict XVI kicking-off a televised marathon Bible reading on Sunday.ROME, Italy (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI's "In the beginning" started off a weeklong Bible-reading marathon on Italian television Sunday.

A giant video screen shows Pope Benedict XVI kicking-off a televised marathon Bible reading on Sunday.

RAI state TV began its program called "The Bible Day and Night," with Benedict reciting the first chapter of the book of Genesis -- the holy text's opening verses about the creation of the world.

The marathon will feature more than 1,200 people reading the Old and New Testament in over seven days and six nights.


But what's with this seven days shit?

Did it help to enlighten, or simply make fun of...

TMundo's picture

...I'm all for films that deal with religion in the sence of 'getting to the bottom of things' but not in the case of 'making fun of' what some might find querky or strange in another person's religion.

If the film enlightens, than I'd be willing to see it.

Yes, the film enlightens

Coaster's picture

I don't mean to be disrespectful of you, but the film enlightens in showing the problems with accepted religious dogma and, if you will, its mythology. Maher does indeed poke fun of religion and religious people, and that is where most of the humor comes from. The humor, however, is just a hook for the greater message.

I'd love to hear what you thought after seeing Religulous.  If you saw it, you'd be the only person of faith I knew of who had attended a screening.  The results would be interesting. 

well, I suppose I'm game for that...

TMundo's picture

...I'll see when I can fit it into my... ummmm, schedule.


Hmm.  I've heard lots of

jazzdrive3's picture

Hmm.  I've heard lots of those arguments before, and they display some of the same anachronsitic thinking many christians also unfortunately engage in.  Although I'm sure Maher presented them in more entertaining form.  Sorry to see he let that stuff into the movie, because after his interivew on the Daily Show, I really though it would bring some legitimate issues to the forefront and not rely on psuedo-history.

If he wanted to make a pure entertainment piece, that's his perogative and right.  But I'll start poking my eyes out when people start quoting it as proof of anything, or as a "source" which will definately happen when all the bandwagon atheists who can't think for themselves see it.  Not that I'm saying that's you, Coaster.

If he wan't to make a film that took the debate a step forward and actually be interesting for both side, perhaps he sould have engaged in debate and had real interviews with people who actually know what they're talking about.

A response from Maher:

Some audience members at early screenings of "Religulous" have protested that the film focuses on irrational believers. "That's not true," Maher said. "Everybody we talked to was reasonable. They're normally functioning people. "But if you're religious, it means you believe in some crazy stuff. And at that point you don't look reasonable. People think we sought out crazy people and ignored this mythical rational religious person." 

Too bad he confuses reasonable with "knowledgeable".  He could have easily found knowledable people and made a though-provoking film.  Or did I miss that interviewed giants such as Ben Witherington, N. T. Wright, and Bruce Malina, on the subject, for instance, of the historical value of the Gospels?

He rightly attacks the intellectual dishonesty of religion.  Too bad it seems he engaged in much of it himself.  I hope people look on it as the pure Comedy it is meant to be.

I still plan on seeing it.  But you've just sent my expectations through the basement.

I liked what he said on the Daily Show about athetists

Rajah's picture

They're so certain there isn't a God. He said for himself he didn't know.

Proof? A source?

Marion's picture

Is it the comedy that disqualifies the movie as a "source", or is it the absence of the contrary viewpoint?

Don't get me wrong, I see what you're getting at, and I tend to agree - too many people formulate opinions based solely on what others say and think, as opposed to their own experiences or thought process.  However, that sounds to me like the vast majority of the "faithful". When one goes to church, or synagogue, or temple, or whatever, I'm guessing there isn't a lot of contrary opinion being voiced.  Now, I'm sure many believers have devoted some thought to the validity of their religeon's claims, but that doesn't mean they weren't spoon-feed their belief system as little kids.  Being too young to understand that you have the right to disbelieve doesn't make it considerably different than some tool taking "Religulous" as the gospel.  It's youth vs. stupidity, but it's the same ballpark.

I guess I  (atheist, obviously) don't see much difference between quoting Bill Maher and quoting the bible as "proof" of something.  Either way, it's just some dude talking out of his ass.


No one can prove any of it

Rajah's picture

So much of it is in the realm of mythology. That's why so many rely on faith. There's no way to prove there is or isn't a God except maybe when you croak. The lack of proof isn't evidence either.


I can.

michael3b's picture

Scientifically speaking if somebody walks up to you and says such and such is fact and cannot provide one iota of proof, then they are wrong.   The argument that god exists outside the realm of human understanding does not cut it, as humans make a big deal out of supposedly understanding and following through on the wants of some diety or another. Hence these religions.  If we, as humans, simply stated that maybe something made all of this but that we have not a shot in hell of knowing who, what, why, or when and accepted the archetypal "feeling" that maybe we're not alone as just that, then that would be reasonable. That these people take these ancient archetypes and ball them into some Rice KrispyTreat of faithfulness, however, just goes to show how wrong they are.


When mundo talks about jesus, i hear a person who understands the deep psychological, spirtual if you will, ramifications of these beliefs. When people like GW and Yo Momma bin laden talk about it I hear delusion. Deep, deep delusion.  So, to interview "knowledgeable" people on the subject is beside the point.  We need to see what the average schmuck, who will eventually use that misunderstanding to make the rest of our lives hell, thinks..and call them on it.



so than it would help if Maher interviewed the life change...

TMundo's picture

...and illustrated how religion (which to me is a dirty word but I'm tryin to explain here) has helped or hindered the individual or individuals.  Instead of say making fun of a few people on the street.  I dunno, I haven't seen the film.

Coaster, I saw your ass on tv last night

Rajah's picture

Oh sorry, that was Sarah Palin

Bill Maher is a tool.

GrumpyDave's picture

I don't trust his opinion on anything, even when I happen to agree with him. Also I don't know how "important" this film is if he's just preaching to the choir.

BTW Coaster also thinks Star Trek V is a good movie.

Richard Dawkins wants to arrest the Pope

Dan_in_Cincinnati's picture

The more that comes out about the current Pope and his role in concealing the hideous child abuse committed by some priests, the more I want to see him behind bars.


{;-) Dan in Miami

Just because

RidingFool's picture

the common man has been bent to the will of the papist alter and the Roman Catholic coven continues to pull its robes over both of its heads doesn't mean that the priestly delight seen in little boys is anything more than a passing fancy.

You must give them the same benefit of doubt that you give your country's jackboots tramping around in foreign countries.

So what do atheists believe in, Humanity?

Rajah's picture

I have even more reasons not to believe in humanity than a Guy in the Sky.

Some say if there is a God why does he she it allow all the pain and suffering in this world? A better question would be why do we allow it? We can make a heaven or hell of this world, it's up to us. If there is a God like creature out there why would hesheit be concern with this little speck of a world? There are millions and millions of galaxies in this universe alone. I belive in a uncaring God, it would be arrogant to think God cares about little ole me or you.

Can anyone prove there is a God, of couse not. God would be so beyond our understanding we could not comprehend hesheit. So what use is God and the belief? I really don't know. Maybe the belief that there are things beyond myself and the world of humans that gives me a little comfort. Surely the crumby, nasty, vile world we,ve created isn't all there is...


btw I believe in Santa Claus, U.F.O.s, Aliens, Ghosts and Bigfoot and it doesn't hurt a soul one wit

Atheism Defined

Coaster's picture

Atheism is the lack of belief in a deity.  Period. 

Atheism therefor doesn't necessarily imply a belief in anything.  If you want to know what an atheist believes, seek out an individual atheist and ask them.  By their definition, you'll find that one thing all atheists share is that they don't believe in god(s).

It's that simple.

I don't know about other atheists but your non-beliefs don't ...

Rajah's picture

stop there. Bet you don't believe there are ghosts, U.F.O.s or Grey Aliens to name a few. I think you're a skeptic of most things.

from what I understand Raj at this point we're separted from God

TMundo's picture

...and it seems to make sence, I mean, look around you!  Have you ever seen such a mess?  Do you think this is what God intended?  No.  It's what man chose long ago, now I know you or me didn't, but honestly, do you think you'd have done a better job back in the garden?

Anyway, the point is that it was not God's intention from the beginning for us to live like this.

Speaking of the Garden, there's the case of Adam's first wife

Rajah's picture

Lilith was created before Eve. She wanted to be equal to Adam and she wanted to be on top during sex. For that God cursed her and all her children would die. She was turned into a demon and is blamed for all babies' deaths.

Didn't Lilith

RidingFool's picture

have a fair somewhere?

Sarah McLachlan named it after Lilith

Rajah's picture

Maybe because Lilith wanted to be equal the Adam

Yes Raj, she did name it after that story...

TMundo's picture

... but at a quick glance, it does not appear that the story ever had a place in the Bible, except possibly to refer to demon(s) as lilith(s) as being another common word for demons, but not because it was based on an earlier Bible reference, it simply may have been incorporated into the language.  Also sometimes refered to as a screeching owl, my guess is in hearing an owl screech, well...

Anyway, this is all wiki info, but I don't ever recall seeing it in Genesis, so...

anyway, there is no Biblical basis for it, but mythologically speaking sure, and yes, that is where Sarah got the name from

There are tons of stuff left out of the Bible

Rajah's picture

Mostly an arbitrary decision when they streamlined christianity. Gospels and folkore have been deemed unworthy to their narrow view of things. I see no more legitimacy in the ones that were left in than the ones which were left out. This was all determined by church officals ages ago when Constantine gathered them together. Many christian sects disappeared in those early years. Who's to say which one reflected the true religion. The Bible is full of dogma that was put in long after the prophets were dead.Enoch is only referred to in one sentence in the Bible while there's a whole book about him. The more I hear about the stuff left out the more I find them interesting.The Bible was word of mouth i.e. folklore for many years before it was written down. Why should we rely on child molesting priests and monks opinions on what's worthy to be included and what is not. I'm more interested in what Jesus's girlfriend had to say about him than Paul who never met the man.

Full well if it doesn't agree or contradicts...

TMundo's picture

...the rest of it, it should not be in there.  I would imagine that was the meaning behind putting the books together.  Generally folklore told by word of mouth would be left out due to the fact that it is hearsay.  The five books of the Torah were written directly by Moses, it wasn't some old wives tale written down generations later.  They didn't have video camera in those days so what do you want?  You either believe it or you don't.  It either makes sence to you morally or it doesn't.  You either delve into it and let it help you or you ignore it.  Generally though, if a book contradicts what's in other books (and I don't mean taking two different lines from two different books totally out of context I mean everything has to agree in context) then I don't think it makes sence that it should be in there.

Constantine wasn't the grand emperor of the entire area, but only over a few areas if I remeber correctly.  It was his story that allowed christianity to become an accepted part of the culture, but not the dominant part of that culture.  Christians were just no longer shunned, it hadn't become the main religion yet.

I believe that once the Holy roman empire took over, there were actually real christians around, that didn't follow the pope, but may have been persecuted.  I don't follow the catholic church so I don't really care for their interpretation.  There supposedly were some revivals of true christianity during some of the monastic eras, but I don't know the details of that either, I just know what He's done for me, what the Word has done for me, especially reguarding that OCD problem.

The Pope is evil

Dan_in_Cincinnati's picture

This would call into question the legitimacy of his religion don't you think?

{;-) Dan (agnostic) in Miami

PS:  If the Catholic church continues to defend this Pope eventually all Catholics will lose faith.

The Catholic Church like all power institutions is corrupt

Rajah's picture

Sarah Silverman said it best "Sell the Vatican, Feed the World

Child rape is a special kind of evil

Dan_in_Cincinnati's picture

No one can ignore something this despicable.  The Pope - when he was a cardinal - made sure that child molesting priests were not removed from the priesthood.  If he isn't removed it is hard to see how the Catholic church will survive.

Arrest him!

{;-) Dan in Miami

Roman Catholic church moved child rapists around the Globe

Dan_in_Cincinnati's picture

From the Associated Press:

In an investigation spanning 21 countries across six continents, The Associated Press found 30 cases of priests accused of abuse who were transferred or moved abroad. Some escaped police investigations. Many had access to children in another country, and some abused again.

"The pattern is if a priest gets into trouble and it's close to becoming a scandal or if the law might get involved, they send them to the missions abroad," said Richard Sipe, a former Benedictine monk and critic of what he says is a practice of international transfers of accused and admitted priest child abusers. "Anything to avoid a scandal."


The Pope did this.  Put him in jail where he belongs.

{;-) Dan in Miami




The prison could set him to digging post holes

Rajah's picture

with that hat of his

Proof that the pope is evil

Dan_in_Cincinnati's picture

From columnist Andrew Sullivan:

The AP's story on Joseph Ratzinger's direct involvement in delaying for six years the defrocking of a priest who had confessed to tying up and raping minors ends any doubt that the future Pope is as implicated in the sex abuse crisis as much as any other official in the church.


{;-) Dan in Miami

PS:  Arrest the pope.  He is not above the law, although he thinks he is.

He thinks he IS the law

FearlessFreep's picture

Like Lord Thurlow.


could've sworn priests weren't needed as pointed out in the book

TMundo's picture

of Hebrews.  Something to the effect of Jesus becoming the high priest and being the sacrificeas well.

You see before Jesus came, their was mosaic law.  You needed to go to a priest, who would in turn go to God and offer up a sacrifice for your sin, and one for his as well.  If the priest wasn't right with God, your sins were't forgiven.  This was all temporary and symbolic.  Once Jesus came, He became the high priest, and He was the sacrifice for sin, so he became the intermediary between you and God.  You ask God for forgiveness for sins in Jesus' name.

And so the need for priests is eliminated.


Just watched Religulous on Showtime

Rajah's picture

The only part that showed what reasoning christians think was when he was talking to the Vatican astronomer and that jolly priest outside the Vatican. There are christians that don't take the Bible literally. The others he interviewed simply don't care about evolution or any science for that matter. Put a sadle on a dinosaur, they don't give a flip wheather it's true or not. They don't wonder about such things.

Mark Twain on organized religion

Dan_in_Cincinnati's picture

"Concentration of power in a political machine is bad; and an Established Church is only a political machine; it was invented for that; it is nursed, cradled, preserved for that; it is an enemy to human liberty, and does no good which it could not better do in a split-up and scattered condition."

-- Samuel Clemons (AKA Mark Twain)

{;-) Dan in Miami


I've got nothing against God

Rajah's picture

It's his fan club I can't stand

Germans are leaving Catholic church

Dan_in_Cincinnati's picture

Because of the Pope's cover-ups and his cold personality, German Catholics no longer take the Vatican seriously.  From the Christian Science Monitor:

Polls reflect this sentiment. A March survey showed that only 24 percent of Germans expressed trust in Pope Benedict, compared with 38 percent in January. Overall trust in the Roman Catholic Church was even lower, at 17 percent in March compared with 29 percent in January, the poll showed. And according to the Forsa Institute's April poll of more than 1,000 German Catholics, 23 percent of all church members are considering leaving.

The greatest disillusionment is felt among youths, the poll found, with more than one-third of Catholics aged 18 to 29 considering leaving the church.


{;-) Dan in Miami

PS:  Eventually the Catholic church will exist only in backward parts of the world, such as South America and Africa.


Catholics are cool. They believe in the bloody Christ on a cross

Rajah's picture

I think the celebration of Easter should be changed. They're emphasizing him rising from the dead when they should center on the beating of Jesus. That's my favorite part in the Passion of Christ. Wish I was a roman soldier back then, what fun they had! Kids could beat a Jesus pinata  and when they bust him open prizes and candy would come out. The meat for that day would change from ham to hamburger in honor of Christ being beaten.


gamerarocks's picture

Personally, I found Maher (whom I think can be quite funny) was so busy trying to find a platform from which to base his thoughts he lost any humor.  A couple of smirks at his conversations with the various clergymen where overshadowed by staid conversations and contrived dialouge that came across like a first grade reader version of why athiests aren't evil and why religion(s) might be.  All in all I enjoyed it more than a Tim McCarver commentary, but since that's saying nothing whatsoever and I had expectations of this film and of Maher in it I came away disappointed.

Now, Jon Safran vs God?  THAT'S hysterical, religious (or religulous), and poignant.  Going door to door in Salt Lake City enquiring if people wanted to become atheists?  Classic. 

One out of four people is freakishly stupid. If three of your friends are normal, then it's you.


Really Really?

Coaster's picture

I liked Religuloous.  I wasn't expecting a laugh-riot comedy, but parts of it was plenty amusing.   If you see Maher doing his stand-up, you'll find he makes some serious points too.  I.E.: "I know where a lot of criticism of our president is coming from and so do you.  To his critics, I say "We elected a Black man president: Get over it." 

On the other hand, the guy going door-to-door in Salt Lake City began to wear thin after the first door.  But I wish to hell there were a few thousand people in Salt Lake doing that every weekend morning in real life.

Really Really Really?

gamerarocks's picture

Guess I'll have to agree to disagree with you on this movie.  I found it to be nothing more than a basic primer on atheists and what perceptions are held by both sides while skipping over points and segments that seemed to be a natural progression.  Just didn't care for what the movie did or got to. 

One out of four people is freakishly stupid. If three of your friends are normal, then it's you.


Really? x 4

Rajah's picture

This movie might have worked better if Maher had been a little less smug and more earnest. People are a bit more open when they feel they're not being mocked. This wasn't a search for truth, Maher had already made up his mind. Atheists act like they're all about science but it's not scientific when you draw your conclusion before you start. He started with the premise it's all bullshit. My personal opinion is it doesn't matter what you believe as long as it guides you to become a good person and treat those around you well. Someone could believe in Santa Claus and treat people with generousity and kindness like ole Saint Nick. Really is it all that important wheather he's real or not?

Video roundup of Catholic Church scandal

Dan_in_Cincinnati's picture

The following video puts together TV coverage of the abuse scandal from sources around the world.


{;-) Dan in Miami

Rosary now used as a gang sign?

Dan_in_Cincinnati's picture

Well here's something I can't blame on the Pope:

"Holy gangsters"

By David Waters

This isn't what St. Padre Pio had in mind when he said, "the rosary is my weapon."

Gang members in some of the more Catholic parts of the country are using rosaries (and their First Amendment right to religious freedom) to signal their rank and allegiance, especially in schools that enforce strict dress codes and uniforms.

"You are often dealing with gang members who have no inkling or cares about the religious significance of the rosary beads," Jared Lewis, a former California police officer, told Daniel Burke of Religion News Service. "They are just trying to skirt around school rules under the guise of a religious symbol."

Lewis said rosaries are most popular among Latino gang members. He says that the Latin Kings gang use colored beads to mark members' rank in the gang-- five black and five gold beads for members; two gold beads for top dogs; while assassins wear all black. Members of the Netas, an East Coast gang with origins in Puerto Rico, wear 78 red, white and blue beads to symbolize the 78 towns in Puerto Rico. Prospective members wear all white beads before they join the gang.


{;-) Dan in Miami

PS:  Well even if these rosary things were banned from schools the gangsta wannabes would probably just use hand signs.  Can't cut off the little rat bastards hands.

Our town had gangs of nuns beating up on young lads

Rajah's picture

It's amazing the damage those wooden rulers could do

It's always refreshing--

Billy_Z's picture

To go up against a bunch of sign carrying religious fruitcakes and immerse oneself in an argument with them. I'm not saying I'm smarter than they are, but flexibility is a definite asset.

Anyway, I'm an agnostic so I feel pretty immune to their claims.



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