The Faith of the Unbeliever

After resisting my friends who told me for 4 years to watch Bill Maher's Religulous, I finally gave in.  I was looking for something to watch, and saw that it was added to Netflix Instant Streaming.  I wish I had paid more attention to the box art before I watched the movie, but since I didn't see it till later, I will save it.

Preconceptions

I used to be a big fan of Bill Maher, and watched Politically Incorrect until it was canceled.  I even watched Real Time for a while.  Now, you know since I started with "I used to be a fan," you know I am about to say something bad.

While I still find him funny, I started to realize that he was talking about things he didn't understand.  I know he is a comedian, but he seems to want people to take him seriously on the issues he is passionate about.  I can't if he keeps getting the facts wrong.

Was this a Documentary?

I went into this knowing he would be hostile to religion, but I had no idea was I was getting in to.  This is not a documentary, it is a propaganda film at worse and a bad comedy special at best.

The film follows a simple format.  Ridiculous believer interviewed/quoted, then ridiculed, then inflammatory images.  Rinse and repeat.

There is no way to watch this film without agreeing with Bill, that religious people are crazy.  He found some of the wackiest people in the world, most of whom I had never heard of, showed them spouting off crazily, then say, "See, I told you, religious people are crazy."

Not about Religion

Like so many films and books like this, this film is not about why religious people are crazy, it is about:

  • Why Christians are crazy bigots
  • Why Muslims are dangerous
  • Why Jews are crazy
  • Don't Scientologists believe wacky things
  • Mormons are nationalistic nut jobs

First, there are 900 million Hindus in the world.  I know it is common to forget them, but they are the third largest religion in the world (Adherents). 

I know someone is going to say, "He mentioned Krishna."  He mentioned Krishna in a rant about the gospel story.

Buddhists are also ignored.  Lip service is paid to rational Christians, but they were included primarily to prove his point that religion is a disease.

There are many religious movements that stress a value in the balance of faith and reason.  This is a movie about Fundamentalism.

Fundamentalism is Religion.  Religion is not Fundamentalism.

McIntosh is a type of apple; therefore, all apples are McIntosh apples.  That obviously doesn't make sense.  So way does the argument that "Fundamentalism is a form of Religion; therefore, All Religion is Fundamentalism," make sense to some many smart people?

I could go after the film for a lot of things, but this is its major flaw, and it repeats it over and over again.

  • Fundamentalists tend to be bigots; therefore, all religious people are bigots.
  • The Inquisitors were Catholic; therefore, all Catholics are Inquisitors.
  • The Jihadists are Muslim; therefore, all Muslims are Jihadists.

Ridiculous reductionism.  That is all the film is.  Nothing more.

When I started to write this post, I looked closely at the box art to make sure I was spelling the name right, and that is when I saw:

From ... The Director of Borat

Ahh, like Borat this movie was intended to be entertaining through insults.  Too bad it failed.