In case you missed Real Time with Bill Maher last week, you missed a long discussion on religion with conservative atheist S.E. Cupp and the other panelists:
Maher made his usual points: That religious people are delusional. Cupp — who seems to use conservative Christian talking points in her attempt to defend religion — argued that while she is an atheist, she didn’t think religious people were delusional. Maybe it’s a semantics game with her, but what I got out of it was that she refused to say that they were wrong in their thinking. Cory Booker was equally ignorant with his talking points in this discussion. John Avlon, a former Rudy Giuliani speechwriter, made the most sense — which I didn’t think I’d be saying going into the episode.
And while Maher can easily rub religious people the wrong way with his rhetoric, he’s completely right.
Religious people are deluded, regardless of whether they’re good or bad people.
Religion is often bad in and of itself, even without people doing bad things in the name of it.
Teaching ignorance (via Creationism) is a form of child abuse, whether it’s done with the best of intentions or not.
Booker and Cupp didn’t understand where Maher was coming from.
Neither does Jason Whitlock of The Kansas City Star.
He thinks that Maher was attacking his personal faith, his mother, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Look at the arguments he uses to respond to Maher:
Will Maher use his enhanced platform to tell me my mother is “delusional?”
It was faith that gave my mother the strength to work a full shift at a factory and a second job at night so that my brother and I could live in a safe neighborhood with a good school system.
Or will Maher attack my grandmother’s faith?
It was her belief in Christ that allowed her to move emotionally and mentally beyond the racist atrocities her family endured living in the South.
Does Maher believe that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and a group of atheists withstood water hoses, police batons, dogs, lynchings, bombings and jail so that dark-skinned citizens could pursue the American dream?
What does Maher believe got Jewish people through the Holocaust or Nelson Mandela through 27 years of incarceration?
This is an emotional appeal and it fails. Just because something can make you feel better doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Just because your belief in god can get you through a rough time doesn’t mean that god actually exists.
I know this isn’t “friendly” to say, but someone has to break it to Whitlock:
Yes, your mother was deluded. Your grandmother, too.
They sound like wonderful, loving, hard-working women. But they were still inspired by something that has no basis in reality.
Plenty of people work two jobs. Religion isn’t what gets them through it.
Plenty of people work through traumatic experiences. They can do it with or without a belief in god.
Atheists fought just as hard for civil rights movement as some Christians did (let’s not forget that many Christians in the South opposed it). We were also active in the fight for women’s rights. We are active in the fight for marriage equality. (Where are the good Christians in that battle, by the way?)
It’s inappropriate for Maher to define religious people by the nuts who launch bombs or fly planes into buildings in the name of Jesus or Allah. It’s equally unfair to define them by the nuts who want to limit the rights of gays or stand in the way of science in the name of Jesus or Allah.
Maher doesn’t do that. But those are the examples which tend to get through to religious people. They all claim those terrorists are the extremists… then, they go off to their churches and repeat the same words and listen to the same sermons and pray to the same gods.
The “non-terrorists” still fight science education, still convince otherwise-sane people that they should die instead of getting a blood transfusion, still deny gay people equal rights… the list goes on.
And those are the “good” religious people Whitlock seems to be referring to.
This is what happens so often when religious people get defensive about their faith. They resort to anecdotes and examples of when religion made them feel good.
You don’t see Whitlock making an argument as to why Christianity is true (as opposed to Islam or Hinduism, say) or why god exists.
Because there are no good arguments for those things. All he has is this belief in his head that good people in his life were religious, therefore, religion must be good.
It’s bad logic and a misguided column.