Bill Maher Promotes Rationalism on The Daily Show October 1, 2008

Bill Maher Promotes Rationalism on The Daily Show

In case you missed it, Bill Maher was on The Daily Show last night for two segments.

That’s twice the blasphemy!

Religulous comes out this Friday!

Reader Ken emailed me this review:

I just wanted to tell you that I got to see an early screening of Bill Maher’s Religulous tonight, put on by the Phoenix Film Society. I was not disappointed. It was a scream from beginning to end, but absolutely courageous in stating his conclusion: “Grow up or die!” You absolutely must see it.

Can’t wait to see it!

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  • I was a little disappointed to hear him trot out the “I’m not an atheist… it’s the same thing as religion… I can’t know.”

    Do you think there is a god? No? You’re an atheist. “A-” without, “theo-” god, “-ism” belief. Without a belief in god. You are an atheist.

    Don’t me mealy-mouthed, and don’t conflate atheism with the positive existential claim that “There definitely isn’t a god.”

    If you don’t think there is a god, even if you’re not all that sure, you’re an atheist.

    Finally, Hemant, you really need to look at your comment-box preview on FF3.0.2 on the Mac. It renders very badly. This probably happens in other browsers, but that’s the one I’m using at the moment.

    Screen shot.

  • Ngeli

    I can’t wait to see the film either… No idea whether it will actually come out where I live though!

  • belongsomewhere

    I can’t wait, either! The previews look really fantastic, and Bill Maher is a smart guy, so I have pretty high expectations.

  • Andrew

    Too bad Maher is an anti-vaccionationist, and believes in homeopathy.

    I still like him a lot, but, he’s less than rational in some areas.

  • After seeing the interview, what is the answer? What is the difference between the anti-christ and the devil? Inquiring minds want to know.

  • Ross

    I got the impression from the interview that Maher may believe in a god of some sorts, just that he thinks religions are ridiculously wrong. Though most of us here disagree with him on the god point, I don’t think you’ll find many of us who disagree that religion is pretty ridiculous.

    Also, I’ve already checked all the theaters in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Just as I feared, no showtimes for Religulous. I guess I’ll have to wait until the DVD release 🙁

  • I’m happy to find out that Religulous will be playing in the capitol of the confederacy (Richmond, VA) a state that is getting a bit more progressive as time goes on…

  • Today is my 32nd birthday. For this day I wanted to go see Bill’s movie. It isn’t playing anywhere close to me. Happy. Freaking. Birthday.

  • Chris Nowak

    @ t3knomanser
    It’s interesting, i’ve run into this a lot. Most agnostics i’ve talked to actually have almost identical beliefs to me but they just think that Atheist is a term only for those who have a 100% certainty that god does not exist.

    Personally, I call myself an Atheist because even if I can’t for 100% certainty say God doesn’t exist, I can past the point where I take things for truth. For instance, I think God’s nonexistance is more of a truth than gravity. Sure, we could be living in a computer simulation that has nothing to do with the real phsyical world outside of it so gravity might not exist in the physical sense, but in actuality I think that’s probably a more likely scenario than god existing. If that makes any sense.

  • Darryl

    Now that Carlin is gone (Oh, Great Memory), it’s up to talented people like Maher to carry the torch for reason. Of course, for me, Maher, though very funny, doesn’t have the depth and nuance that Carlin’s work has. Carlin seemed more philosophic in his rants; Maher seems too emotionally invested by comparison.

  • I am also a little peeved about Maher’s view on atheism being some hard defined certainty, distinct from agnosticism. More confusion amongst the masses. I pretty sure that everyone here is willing to concede that any given deity COULD exist, but they are unwilling to give such an admission anymore esteem than the acknowledgement that we COULD be living amongst invisible leprechauns, or that the sun COULD be fueled by space dragons from another dimension. Agnosticism and atheism aren’t mutually exclusive…in fact, I would argue that they are necessary for one another. But, then again, what does it matter what we call ourselves? If “atheism” to these people is the absolute belief that there cannot possibly be any thing resembling a god for entirely arbitrary reasons, then I guess we just aren’t atheists. A simple matter, though I really don’t want to abandon such an otherwise apt label because of deliberate misrepresentations of what it means.

  • Ken McKnight

    For me the agnostic position just doesn’t fly for one major reason. There are only two ways to live your life: as a believer or a non-believer.

  • Milena

    I’ll probably watch Religulous at some point, but I’m definitely not a big fan of Maher. He’s said some stupid shit, like how women who breastfeed in public are just looking for sexual attention (as opposed to actually trying to feed their babies, I suppose). Almost every time I watch segments of his show, I cringe. He’s no Carlin (who also made me cringe, but in a good, thought-provoking way).

  • I think we can all agree:


  • For me it’s a fifty mile drive to nearest theater showing it. I’m not sure it’s worth it. I’m hoping it will do well and the local theaters will pick it up.

  • Bill Maher confuses anti-theism with atheism: Disappointing. I know he’s talked with Richard Dawkins about Dawkins’ 7 levels of atheism. How could he still get it wrong?
    But Bill Maher believing in homeopathy? Unbelievable.
    What is the evidence for that?

  • Lisa

    @Ken McKnight, what makes you think that there are only two ways people can live their lives? Isn’t that a little limiting? I considered myself an atheist for most of my childhood and early teen years, but as I thought more about what I truly believed in, I realized that I just don’t know. I don’t know whether or not the world was created by an intelligent being, so wouldn’t I be a hypocrite to call myself an atheist?
    It’s important to note that I’m not on the fence about the answer to life, the universe and everything; I have come to terms with the fact that I don’t understand how the world was created. I’m not undecided, I’ve just decided that I don’t know.

    ETA@Jeremy, I’m ashamed to say it seems that I’m confusing the two as well. To be honest I’m not familiar with the term anti-theism. Seems I have more research to do!

  • Spurs Fan

    I agree that most people don’t understand the concept of atheism, especially one as a default. Sure I can’t prove that some sort of diety doesn’t exist, but using all of the senses and logic I have, it doesn’t seem likely that one does exist, so therefore, I feel that I’m an atheist.

    For me the agnostic position just doesn’t fly for one major reason. There are only two ways to live your life: as a believer or a non-believer.

    Ken, I agree to a point, but this is a bit oversimplified, no? After all, I know a lot of “believers” who live like non-believers. These are the people who will sometimes defend their belief in god most vigorously, despite “living in sin” quite often. I think it’s quite a bit more gray than this.

  • @Lisa

    I’m ashamed to say it seems that I’m confusing the two as well. To be honest I’m not familiar with the term anti-theism. Seems I have more research to do!

    I think I got my definition from Matt Dillahunty of the Atheist Experience show.
    However Christopher Hitchens seems to use the word antitheist to mean antireligious.

    You can call yourself an atheist or agnostic and mean the same thing, but Bill Maher did a disservice to agnostic atheist by using a definition for atheism that he is well aware isn’t used by many agnostic atheist, including Dawkins, who he had on his show.

    I think most people who claim to be atheists would say that they don’t know whether God exists or not. There’s no evidence supporting the claim that God doesn’t exist, so you can’t accept that claim either. If you did, you’d be an antitheist (accord to my working definition).

  • Awesomesauce

    Did Bill Maher know better than to say what he did? Probably…

    Though, it seemed like he regained the audience’s approval with that statement. As long as more people are exposed to the ideas of critical thinking and skepticism about these issues, I can overlook it. Better to have temporary misinformation (that most already seem to have anyway) than scare people away from thinking rationally.

  • Aj

    The word “atheist” as understood by the majority, religious people, is that it’s denying the existence of gods. They struggle to contemplate lack of belief, even though they probably lack belief on other subjects.

    By anti-theist, Christopher Hitchens means even though he doesn’t believe in God, if it existed he would be against it. To counter those that while not believing would actually like there to be a God.

    I haven’t heard Bill Maher say anything about vaccines or homeopathy. He says unjustified things about medicine and enviromental causes of illness, with a conspiracy theory thrown in.

  • Big fan of Bill Maher. And I will see this movie.

    Regardless of his self-defined atheist position, I like and agree with his rant against all organized religions.

    I loved his retelling of the God/Jesus story.

  • Re: Even the stupid people are going “wow, she’s pretty stupid”

    I think we’re making progress if people think we should try electing someone who isn’t stupid. Unfortunately, he was probably just kidding….

  • nina

    You people amaze me. Bill Maher is such a disgusting creep[. I would’nt spend one cent of my money on anything he produces. He is a hate monger in my opinion. He is not thought provoking in any way. If God bugs you people so much, fine but don’t try to ruin it for the youth in america who is trying to believe in something good and pure. all you do is bring on confusion and its not don’t want christians to “make” you believe, so quit trying to get into our childrens heads to go your way.
    I will always believe in God as the higher power, through Him we can do anything, without Him we are nothing, which is what atheism is, NOTHING!

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