"Arrogant, Irrational Hypocrisy"
RELIGULOUS, comedian Bill Maher’s attack on Christianity and religion, is full of lies, half-truths, false assumptions, logical contradictions and fallacies, distortions, intolerance, prejudice, bigotry, arrogance, ignorance, and hypocrisy. It’s a pathetic propaganda piece that will warp the hearts and minds of the gullible and the ignorant. It is also very poorly researched and argued.
Maher’s diatribe starts out innocently enough. He tells the viewer how he was raised a Roman Catholic, even though his mother is Jewish. He makes a couple light jokes about this religious upbringing. For instance, he jokes that, because of his mother’s Jewish background, he brought a lawyer into the confession booth with him. Then, Mr. Maher visits a small trucker chapel and starts questioning the pastor and a small group of men about their Christian faith. Though one man angrily stalks out, the others do a good job of answering most of Maher’s questions, then pray to God with him that God will answer all his questions. After the prayer, Maher thanks them for being “Christ-like” instead of acting like “Christians,” as if the two words are inherently antonyms.
The rest of the documentary is filled with lots of vitriol and ridicule, even during its lighter moments.
Included are ambush confrontations with many Christians and a few Jews and Muslims, as well as two ex-Mormons (see also the Los Angeles Times, “The Big Picture” on August 7, 2008, by Patrick Goldstein for solid proof of Maher’s clearly unethical ambush interview tactics). Some of the people interviewed do better against Maher than others. There are also some interviews with a few scholars, including a Catholic priest who’s an astronomer and the Christian head of the human genome project. Finally, at the end of the movie, Maher launches into a diatribe comparing all religious leaders and believers, including President George Bush, to evil and ignorant Muslim terrorists. After making that overbroad generalization, Maher angrily denounces people of faith for being too certain and too judgmental. He then tells them that it is actually more “humble” to acknowledge doubts and belief in God and religion, like he does.
First of all, let’s deal with some of the outright falsehoods in this movie.
Although Maher has never studied under a real biblical scholar as far as MOVIEGUIDE® knows, Maher contends during the movie that the Book of Genesis teaches that a snake talks with Eve, that the Bible never teaches original sin, and that Jesus Christ never promised his followers clothes, shelter and food.
Maher does not seem to realize that there are at least two perfectly valid ways to understand the passage about the talking serpent, not snake. As Chapter 28 of Ezekiel and Revelation 12:9 and 20:2 make clear, the talking “serpent” in Chapter 3 of Genesis is actually Satan, or the Devil, a fallen angel who tempts all people to rebel against God, including Adam and Eve. Thus, either this fallen angel miraculously took on the form of some kind of serpent. Or, some words in Genesis must be interpreted completely symbolically or figuratively (but still literally), as a symbolic or metaphorical comparison of Satan to the deceit and wickedness of a serpent with a forked tongue.
Contrary to what Maher says in RELIGULOUS, the Bible does indeed teach the doctrine of original sin, in Genesis 8:21, Psalm 5:9, 14:1-3 and 53:1-3, Isaiah 59:4-8, Romans 3:9-18 and 3:21-24, 1 John 1:8-10, and many other places. These and other passages show how Maher’s explanations and interpretations of what the Bible teaches cannot be trusted at all.
Maher is also wrong when he says, while discussing the false prosperity doctrine of some Christian leaders, that Jesus Christ never promised his followers clothes, shelter and food. Jesus does indeed promise his followers food, shelter and clothing in Matthew 6:28-34. In fact, Jesus says in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [clothes, shelter and food] will be given to you.” Thus, while Jesus Christ never promised to turn all his followers into wealthy people, he does promise them enough material goods to sustain them as they preach His Gospel. Another claim about the Bible by Maher bites the dust!
Then, Maher claims that the virgin birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are just legends that Christians borrowed from earlier pagan religions. As examples, he cites the Hindu worship of the god Krishna, the Egyptian god Horus who is the son of Isis and Osiris, and the Greco-Roman worship of the god Mithra.
As scholars like J. Gresham Machen, Ron Nash, Walter Burkert, and others have proved, these gods have little in common with Jesus Christ and Christianity. Contrary to what Maher claims, neither Krishna, Horus, nor Mithra were born of real virgins. This is a another horrendous lie spread by atheists and agnostics like Maher. It has no basis in historical fact. Both Krishna and Horus had two physical parents. And, the similarities to Christianity in the Mithra religion were invented after Christianity had made significant inroads in the ancient world. This is also true of some later Hindu beliefs regarding Krishna that Hindus after Jesus Christ actually borrowed from Christianity themselves.
These falsehoods from Bill Maher are horrible enough. What’s perhaps even more horrible is that Maher gets some help in spreading lies from Father George Coyne, Director Emeritus of the Vatican Observatory. At one point in the movie, Coyne tells Maher that some of the documents in the New Testament were written 200 years after Jesus Christ’s death.
Father Coyne’s careless assertion is absolutely false. As most of the best, and objectively most reliable, astute and knowledgeable biblical scholars have proven, all of the New Testament documents were written within 70 years of Christ’s death and resurrection, In fact, some of the best ones, such as the late biblical scholar John A. T. Robinson, believe that all of the documents were written between about 44 and 70 A.D., within 12-38 years or so of Christ’s ministry in Israel. Furthermore, some passages in the Bible, such as 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, actually represent oral traditions and hymns about Jesus Christ going back to within five years or less of Christ’s death and resurrection! Even more liberal scholars admit to these facts. In other words, therefore, he vast preponderance of the evidence strongly indicates that the Bible is at least 99% reliable and trustworthy. Now, that’s about as close to certainty as you can get!
Of course, none of the Christians Maher talks to in RELIGULOUS, not even Father Coyne, actually make their living as professional biblical scholars or history scholars, much less as professional Christian debaters. Thus, all the alleged evidence that Maher summons against Christianity and religious faith in his movie is about as empirically and logically one-sided and invalid as you can possible get! Apparently, Maher is unable to engage a true and truly knowledgeable biblical scholar, historian, theologian, or Christian debater in a serious conversation. Why didn’t Maher interview the scholars who journalist Lee Strobel interviewed in his great books THE CASE FOR CHRIST and THE CASE FOR FAITH? Or, why didn’t he interview or cite any of the other dozens of scholars MOVIEGUIDE®’s staff has known and read? It is absolutely irresponsible to release a sloppy “documentary” like this on unsuspecting moviegoers know little or nothing about the subjects Maher brings up in this movie!
Throughout RELIGULOUS, Maher constantly distorts the theology of the Bible and of Christianity by interpreting the Bible and Christian theology in the most venal, contentious ways imaginable. For example, according to him, all Bible-believing Evangelical Christians are stupid “fundamentalists” who believe in a completely non-figurative, literal Bible that teaches the Earth is only about 5,000 years old. Maher’s definition of the words “literal” interpretation is so narrow-minded, biased and illogically unfair that it makes the harshest pro-slavery racists during the Civil War seem like just misguided innocents. Thus, if anyone is being stupid, bigoted and intolerant, it’s Bill Maher!
Surprisingly, Bill Maher morally equates all religious believers and President George Bush’s policies in the War on Terror and the War Against Muslim Extremism, terrorists and their supporters. In that charge, Maher’s movie cites the Muslim terrorists who committed the attacks on 9/11, other Muslim and Arab homicide bombers, and the Muslims, Palestinians, Arabs, and Persians who support Muslim and Arab terrorists. Maher makes a big deal out of Bush’s Christian faith and Bush’s belief that democracy and liberty are a divine right from God.
Here again, Maher shows how stupid, misguided and venal he himself is. This kind of moral equivalence is similar to the moral equivalence that ignorant, misguided and hateful people on the political left used to make between Ronald Reagan, the United States and the evil Communist dictators in the Soviet Union and Red China. Maher forgets, however, that it is the Muslim terrorists and extremists, supported by people like Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, and the evil imams running Iran and discriminating against Christians in Saudi Arabia, who have murdered innocent civilians in Israel and on 9/11. Bush’s policies may not always be perfectly prudent or sound, but they are a valid response to these murderous attacks.
In this light, it should be noted that, in the last century alone, according to Vox Day in THE IRRATIONAL ATHEIST, atheists murdered more than 153 million people, but in the last 20 centuries, self-described Christians have only caused the demise of 1.65 million people – at the most! Of course, these “Christians” either were not really Christians, or they committed an unintentional, but still horrible, sin. Also, throughout recorded history, according to ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WARS by Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod, religious wars account for only 7% of the total wars conducted by human beings. Of those 123 wars, 66% have involved Islam! These statistics clearly show that Islam and atheism are the real problems, not George Bush and certainly not Christianity.
Finally, Maher ridicules Christians and believers in other religions as being narrow-minded, judgmental, arrogant, irrational, full of stubborn certainty, and hypocritical. Of course, at the same time Maher accuses his opponents of these nasty things, he is doing the same things that he just accused them of doing. This is not only logically self-contradictory, and, hence, irrational, it is also hypocritical. Instead of pointing fingers at religious people, especially Christians, Maher needs to look at himself in the mirror!
Consequently, as noted above, RELIGULOUS is a pathetic propaganda piece that’s very poorly researched and argued. It also contains some gratuitous foul language and crude sexual remarks. The first sentence shows Bill Maher’s willful ignorance, bigotry and hatred. The second sentence shows his deliberately immoral character. It is always telling to MOVIEGUIDE® how many Christophobic humanists and antagonists think nothing of saying the “f” word in public, verbally taking Christ’s name in vain in public, and publicly, joyfully displaying the most vulgar kinds of sexual material and comments. Don’t they know how badly it reflects on their moral, intellectual and emotional integrity, especially if they spend time ranting against Christians and making the most vile judgments against Christians?
Matthew 4:4 and Chapter 3 of Genesis show how Satan misuses the words of God, including the Bible, to tempt people to sin. In fact, in Matthew 4:4, Satan actually tries to tempt Jesus Christ, the incarnated Son of God the Father, to sin!!! By misusing the Bible in these ways, Bill Maher has clearly become a tool of Satan, or what used to be called “a useful idiot.” As such, he is intentionally or unintentionally trying to blind the minds of other unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4). The Good News, however (as Paul relates in Acts 26:12-23), is that Jesus Christ sends His followers to open the eyes of unbelievers, both Jews and Gentiles, and “turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me, Jesus.”
The more research the MOVIEGUIDE® staff conducts, and the more evidence we dig up, the more we have found that the Bible and Christianity are true, and all other ideologies that contradict them, or that make contrary assertions to undermine them, are false. Jesus Christ is completely worthy of your worship. And, the Bible is indeed the inerrant, infallible Word of God.
Of course, don’t take OUR word for it. Go and do the serious research and evidence gathering on your own. Examine the biblical passages we cite and look up our sources. Then, pray to Jesus Christ that God will answer the remaining questions you may have.
Partial Bibliography (Contact MOVIEGUIDE® for more)
Baehr, Ted. “The Culture-Wise Family.” Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 2007.
Bruce, F.F. “The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?” (Madison, Wisc.:
InterVarsity Press, 1987.
Geisler, Norman. “Christian Apologetics.” Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989.
Habermas, Gary. “The Verdict of History: Conclusive Evidence for the Life of Jesus.”
Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1988.Machen, J. Gresham. “The Origin of Paul’s Religion.” Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1947.
Machen, J. Gresham. “The Virgin Birth of Christ.” New York: Harper & Row, 1930.
McDowell, Josh, and Bill Wilson. “He Walked Among Us: Evidence for the Historical
Jesus.” San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life Publishers, 1988.
Metzger, Bruce M. “The New Testament: Its Background, Growth, and Content,” 2nd
edition. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1983.
Montgomery, John Warwick. “Human Rights & Human Dignity.” Grand Rapids:
Zondervan, 1986. 131-160.
Montgomery, John Warwick. “Where Is History Going?” Minneapolis: Bethany House,
Nash, Ronald H. “Christianity and the Hellenistic World.” Grand Rapids: Zondervan,
Nash, Ronald H. “Faith & Reason: Searching for a Rational Faith.” Grand Rapids:
Snyder, Tom. “Myth Conceptions.” Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995.
Strobel, Lee. “The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence
For Jesus.” Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998.
Thiede, Carsten Peter, and Matthew D’Ancona. “Eyewitness to Jesus: Amazing New
Manuscript Evidence About the Origin of the Gospels.” New York: Doubleday,
Wenham, John. “Redating Matthew, Mark & Luke.” Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity
Wilkins, Michael J., and J. P. Moreland. “Jesus Under Fire.” Grand Rapids: Zondervan,
(HHH, PCPCPC, AbAbAb, EvEvEv, RHRHRH, HoHo, FR, C, B, LL, V, SS, NN, MMM) Very strong politically correct, left-oriented humanist worldview that’s also very strongly anti-Christian, anti-Bible, anti-God, anti-George Bush, anti-conservative, anti-Judaism, anti-religious, and anti-supernatural, often in a venal, contentious way meant to ridicule other people who disagree with the humanist filmmakers rather than honestly investigate and debate serious and/or controversial issues, with a very strong defense of evolution, very strong revisionist history from a humanist worldview, a strong defense of homosexual behavior, and some false religious notions cited, but some Christians do get a few positive Christian, biblical and moral messages through without being ridiculed or successfully refuted and insulted; at least 20 light and strong obscenities (including a few “f” words but very few), two strong profanities and one light profanity, plus a few vulgar asides, often for comedy or ridicule; some newsreel footage of violence and images from a Passion play are briefly shown; a photo of nude sexual activity but not extremely graphic, some crude sexual remarks and a discussion of sexuality; upper female nudity in one photo and a few images of upper male nudity; no alcohol; no smoking; and, ridicule, hypocrisy, arrogance, anti-religious bigotry, falsehoods and half-truths cited as if they were absolutely certain, narrator misuses biblical passages to make invalid arguments, some Mormon polytheistic beliefs are accurately cited but then ridiculed, etc.
RELIGULOUS is comedian Bill Maher’s attack on religion, especially Christianity and Christians in America. Using some ambush interview tactics that a Los Angeles Times interview article by Patrick Goldstein showed were unethical, Maher confronts many Christians. He also questions some Jews and Muslims, and two ex-Mormons. A few of the Christians do better than the others. Of course, Maher always has the last word; and that word is usually full of mocking skepticism and vitriol. During the movie, Maher attacks the Bible and the history behind Jesus Christ and Christian doctrines, while making up his own Bible interpretations as he goes along. Finally, he attacks people of faith for being narrow-minded, judgmental, arrogant, irrational, full of certainty, and hypocritical.
RELIGULOUS is filled with lies, half-truths, false assumptions, logical contradictions, distortions, intolerance, bigotry, arrogance, ignorance, and hypocrisy. It’s a pathetic propaganda piece that’s poorly researched. For example, Maher falsely claims the Bible never teaches original sin. He obviously hasn’t read Genesis 8:21 or Romans 3:9-18. At the end, it is Bill Maher himself who becomes judgmental, arrogant and full of certainty. His comments are themselves contradictory, illogical, irrational, hypocritical, and abhorrent.