Which of the following video clips bothers you more? Which is a more compelling argument against religion?
Interestingly enough, the latter bothers me more than Bill Maher. People like the woman ranting about something I know not what seem to do more damage to the perception of religion than all the good that the Mother Teresa’s do to build it, which in and of itself is mind-boggling. All of us need to beware of getting information from “odd” sources.
- We don’t build a theology from Televangelists.
- We don’t buy stories about the Holy Grail from Opie (Da Vinci Code)
- We don’t reject the resurrection because of film-makers (James Cameron)
- And we don’t reject religion because odd people give Bill Maher comedic material.
Religion is not a bad word. I am a religious person. Yes, I have a relationship with God through Christ but I am still religious. I am not opposed to religion, I am opposed to bad religion, and I think that is what most people are against. Some Christians say that religion is to be rejected because it is man’s search for God – or man’s creation.
James tells us about religion:
James 1:26-27 26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
If you practiced that kind of religion, people would have to take notice.
So, here are the attacks against religion (and Jesus) put forth by Bill Maher:
- Religion is a neurological disorder (ad hominem, unsubstantiated)
- Religion makes people not respect other people’s lives (sweeping generalization, unsubstantiated)
- Religious people do not believe in science and rationality (This is just a dumb statement, based on the fundamentalists rejection of evolution, again, sweeping generalization, unsubstantiated, many if not most of the scientists in the world have some belief in God)
- Religion is arrogance parading as humility (personal opinion in response to a dumb point by the host, celebrities acknowledging God are not representative of evangelicals, or most religious people, humility is a pillar of our faith)
- You believe because adults told you a fairy tale as a child, and you don’t have the intelligence to know the difference (ad hominem, unsubstantiated, many examples of reasoned arguments for belief in God, the person of Christ, the resurrection. to compare Christ to Jack from the beanstalk actually demonstrates Maher’s ignorance).
- Religion is for weak minded people who need strength in numbers (Ad hominem, quoting Jesse Ventura must represent the depth of his sources)
- If you had been born in Pakistan you wouldn’t believe in Jesus, you would believe in Mohammed (unsubstantiated, in fact there are Christians in all 238 countries in the world).
None of these points are substantiated. After making these ridiculous statements he tries to say that he is not saying that he doesn’t believe in God, he just doesn’t believe in religion. Atheists, Anti-theists, Anti-religionists consistently make these sorts of claims. It is not really an argument at all, he simply points out the obvious: there are stupid people out there, many of them claiming to be religious and they do traditional religious things – but that doesn’t make them right, or representative of true religion and undefiled religion. It also does not disprove the claims of the religion in question. If pinned down, the critic will usually switch from one form of religious stupidity to another so that he can keep the argument away any sort of substantive claim. All he has said is, “I don’t like stupid people.” Not so brilliant after all.