Thursday, September 25, 2008


What started this:
  • "You can't be a rational person six days of the week and put on a suit and make rational decisions and go to work and, on one day of the week, go to a building and think you're drinking the blood of a 2,000-year-old space god... The plain fact is religion must die for man to live." Bill Maher, who's about to release a "documentary" attacking religion entitled Religulous (thanks to Jeffery Overstreet & Peter Chattaway for pointing an excellent Wall Street Journal article by Mollie Hemingway entitled Look Who's Irrational Now - you need to read the whole thing!)
  • The upcoming new U.S. movie "Religulous" was created to "destroy the whole system" of organized religion worldwide, director Larry Charles says. Charles said at a recent news conference that the intent behind his documentary-style film was not to debunk any religious beliefs, but rather take an all-out assault on organized religion, The Observer reported Sunday. "I don't think 'debunk' is the right word," the "Borat" director said. "I want to destroy more than debunk, just destroy the whole system." (taken from a UPI wire story)

Maybe it's just me... but isn't it difficult to have a reasonable ethical/moral/philosophical discussion with folks who start the conversation by saying, "I want to wipe you & your kind off the map"? Yes, I know that the best way to attract people to a film about religious questions is to make it controversial - thus the over-the-top pull quotes... but it sounds like these two just went out & had fun setting straw men on fire.

I'm curious - I know I've got some blog readers who don't share my religious faith. What are you guys thinking about this upcoming film?


Anonymous said...

I will not see the movie. My own atheism developed over many years of research and life experience, and I still call myself a reluctant atheist. In one of the religion classes I took in college, I learned just what a huge role religion serves not only in the structure of culture and society, but in the personal experience and world view of the individual.

I do not talk about my atheism very often. Anyone still able to hang on to that gossamer thread of faith in a universe that cares and a joyful afterlife where you can be with those you love forever should be allowed to hang on to it as long as they can. Considering my wife's illness, I know I would much rather believe than not.

Such a paradigm shift cannot be forced. It's a personal realization of each person's responsibility to make the world a better place, and how important it is to bring hope and joy into people's lives through your own actions.

There's $0.02 I don't usually share.

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

Jeff, thanks for being honest & open (esp. in the blogosphere, where being honest & open can quickly lead to be being besieged & pummeled.)

I think there's a difference between "classic" atheism ("I don't believe in the existence of God") and what gets called the New Atheism ("The existence of religion is evil.") The first is a theological struggle - the second seems to be more about power & fear.

The door's always open for conversations about this stuff - online or otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I hadn't thought of it that way, but I think you have described it perfectly. It does seem to be about fear and power, and it's coming out like an ad campaign for a new diet, with celebrity spokespersons and media leverage.

It's not right.

Anonymous said...

Well, I went and saw it today, really against my better judgement, but that's how I tend to feel about all these polemics disguised as documentaries. I'm always glad I saw them in the end; my thinking is that anything that increases your knowledge base can't be bad.

I probably have a lot to say about this subject, but I guess people who want to hear that can always check my rantings in RSP on the Geek. :) I'll suffice it to say that this movie is pretty poor. It's mean-spirited and rather useless; it's not trying to appeal to the rationality of believers to get them to change their ways, but it's also not giving non-believers any information they don't already possess.

In the end the movie tries to be a call to atheists to be more vocal about the role (or non-role) that we want religion to play in foreign and domestic policy. I think in general, that's a good thing. But if by "being vocal", Mahrer means "making fun of" and "looking down on", then it's really not helping anyone, and we're becoming exactly what we claim to despise: people who judge others based on their belief systems.

Stephanie said...

I am agnostic and I was interested in seeing this movie but if it is just making fun of people who believe then I'll pass. I have a lot of respect for anyone who devotes their life to helping others and organized religion, as it is practiced, does just that. I believe in the separation of church and state and I do not want anyone to shove their beliefs down my throat but I don't experience that in everyday life. I will probably see the movie because I have heard that he has some intelligent people on who challenge him just a bit. I agree with Scott's facebook note that he should have interviewed theologians but I haven't heard that he did.

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

Jeffery Overstreet's "Looking Closer" blog has a post culling some highlights from a number of reviews (w/links to the full reviews):