||[Oct. 6th, 2008|02:39 pm]
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!
Scientology, Mormonism, Reunification Church, etc etc. An Organized Religion is just a cult with staying power.
But that's neither here nor there to my argument: not only do you bum people out by telling them their religion is bullshit, you are ignoring the ways in which it improves lives and comforts the afflicted. It's a human institution, and it involves believing in things that can't be proven, or worse, are demonstrably fantastic, but to dismiss it out of hand is to impose YOUR beliefs on others.
And one should keep in mind that ALL certainty is a fiction, including one's certainty about others' beliefs.
actually, i pretty much agree with your entire argument (from the beginning of the post onward), but the swipe at L. Ron, Inc. was too easy to not take. they're just so damn freaky.
let's apply it to musical lingo that we're familiar with...a religion is to cult as mainstream is to underground. (maybe that's a little redundant, even.)
"ALL certainty is a fiction"
i see where you're going with that, but it belies science and logic. to wit, i am certain that when i put my feet on the floor, i will not go through it into the room below. i can point to a number of reasonable certainties that we as humans experience a number so large that it approaches the infinite. god, however, is not one of them. god/the supernatural is not a reasonable certainty. that's the point, and the only one. religion does lots of nice things, but it is founded on, BY DEFINITION, an unreasonable certainty, aka blind faith.
You could wake up tomorrow after having a lesion develop in a particular place in your brain, and not recognize the left half of your body as your own, and be frightened that it was attacking you.
You can't prove, or disprove God. Hell any two people will come up with three definitions of God. But people can believe anything, and can only prove a few things.
And when it comes to faith... well religious people CELEBRATE believing in something beyond what they they can see. They derive comfort from it. I can't share that experience with that but who am I to try and take it away from them. As long as they don't fuck with me I think it's rude to fuck with them.
Enh. You just don't get it.