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Religulous [Oct. 6th, 2008|02:39 pm]
Okrzyki, przyjaciel!
Some impressions:

1. Bill Maher needs to figure out how groom his hair so it doesn't look like greasy seaweed. Seriously, on the big screen it's really an uncomfortable distraction.

2. All of the interviews were very dishonestly edited. Several times I saw cuts after something Maher said to a reaction shot of the interviewee, where the interviewee wasn't reacting to what Maher said. Any time there's an edit like that, it's just to make the interviewee look like an idiot.

3. You can always have the last word if you're editing the interview. You can also cut out any part where the interviewee makes a reasonable rebuttal to Maher's premise.

4. His whole thesis in this movie -- that religion is bad -- can be refuted thusly:

Everyone from Paul of Tarsus to Gödel has shown that all knowledge is incomplete, that all models of the universe are provisional. Religious people have their imperfect models of the universe, and atheists have theirs. You can make an effective argument (as Maher does, up to a point) that a scientific empericism is closer to describing the 'real world' than religious faith.

But you can't make an effective argument that an atheistic or agnostic world view is 'better' -- for two reasons: 1) Assuming that you can objectively judge the outcomes of decisions, in both the religous and secular can you argue that one is 'better'? 2) Can you even judge anything objectively?

This is a functional argument for religious faith -- even if some of the things you believe are silly, you may in fact be a better person for your faith. The same thing goes for atheists -- you can argue atheism meaning there is no a priori morality. Atheists can choose to be go wild on the world, since nothing has any particular meaning. Or you can work from human tradition, common sense, and come to a human idea of moralty.

But what you can't say, scientifically, is "those people over there are nuts." Which more or less is what Maher's movie is all about. You don't know enough about the universe to make that judgement!
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: chaircrusher
2008-10-07 02:21 am (UTC)
I think that 1 Corinthians 13 is perhaps difficult to deconstruct into a series of testable hypotheses, but I think it's definitely consistent with a scientific world view. My interpretation of the last 4 verses is this: We can't know everything, we can't even know what we don't know, but the abiding truth of the human condition is that if we seek to love and care for others we're participating in the only certainty we're ever likely to find in this world.

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[User Picture]From: calmdahn
2008-10-07 02:27 am (UTC)
Except that's not religion pal. See, there's a huge illogical leap from that philosophy to the unerring and direct word of god that christians claim the bible to be.
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[User Picture]From: pipecock
2008-10-07 10:58 pm (UTC)
exactly. as a philosopher, i think jesus was quite an alright dood. as a deity that i should pray to and obey as god, not so much.
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[User Picture]From: pipecock
2008-10-07 11:06 pm (UTC)
i actually think that is the opposite of the scientific world view. science is about TRYING to understand everything, in a way that relies on proof and evidence no matter how abstract the idea. caring for others and science are not directly correlated.
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[User Picture]From: chaircrusher
2008-10-07 11:15 pm (UTC)
Science has since the last century been continually bumping up against the limits of knowledgte. Google Gödel Incompleteness Theorem.

And think about how many ways that you can correlate caring with science -- the evolutionary advantage of altruism, the physiological response to being nurtured, etc etc.

And you can use your own common sense to see the importance of caring for other people.
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[User Picture]From: pipecock
2008-10-07 11:22 pm (UTC)
you can scientifically examine the advantages of caring, but you can also examine the advantages of NOT caring. science is objective to all of this. that is why it is superior.
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