Sunday, March 29, 2009

Take THAT Bill Maher

The other night Hubby and I watched Bill Maher's Religulous (it's 'religious' combined with 'ridiculous' in case you haven't heard of it). He has a very obvious intent with the film: to show that religious people are hung up on unsubstantiated fairy tales because they are too weak to stand up and ask questions, and that this blind devotion to silliness is destroying the world (via holy wars, religious terrorism, etc). OK, so obviously I disagree with him across the board, and frankly the film would be offensive to almost everyone I know, so I don't recommend it. However, I wanted to take the chance to give my responses to some of the questions he threw at his interviewees. You see, as any intelligent documentary-maker would, he choose to interview people who would help him make the point that he wanted to make; in other words, he choose nice people who felt strongly about their faith but didn't know how to carry on a good debate, or how to give a strong answer to a hard question. (Or, in the case of his sequence about Mormons, he chose to interview a pair of apostates; and everyone knows that a former-member will always paint a different picture than a faithful-member.)

So here are my responses to some of his questions (in no particular order):

The Bible says a snake talked to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Can an intelligent person really believe in talking snakes?
No, I don't believe in talking snakes. I believe that's a metaphor for the devil. Surely you've heard the term "he's such a snake!" [I might say that Bill Maher is a bit of a snake!]

Scientists tell us that evolution is fact. So how can you believe in a creation story like the one in the Bible?
I have two thoughts on this. First, science is a growing and changing field. 600 years ago science told us that the world was flat and that Earth was the center of the universe, then folks like Columbus and Galileo came along and proved otherwise, so everyone adjusted their theories to match the newly-found facts. I'm not convinced that science can ever give us a final answer about anything, it can just tell me what our best guess is right now.
Secondly, I don't think that evolution and creationism are actually in conflict. I believe that God created the world and put a multitude of creatures in it, but that over time many of those creatures and plants have changed and evolved. Do I believe that men came from apes? No, I believe we are created in the image of God just like the Bible says. But I do believe in evolution.

How do you explain that the same stories (virgin birth, miracles and healings, resurrection on the third day) were told around the Mediterranean and even across the world for centuries before Christ?
Cultures around the world also have flood stories, and creation stories, and first man/first woman stories. I believe that the same stories come up all over the world because they are all based in one truth. I believe that that one truth is most accurately described in the Bible, but I think the very fact that cultures around the world are telling the same stories is a very good indication that somewhere up the line the stories were true. Of course they vary a bit from one area to another, because each society is going to adapt the story to fit their culture and way of living, but that doesn't mean they didn't start as one story.

If God wants us to be happy, then why would he let the Holocaust happen?
Because God will not interfere with our free will. He wants us to be happy, and He wants us to be kind to each other, but he does not and will not force us to do things. I think He did and does weep at many of the horrible things that men have done to each other, but He won't interfere because that would not be fair. The fact of the matter is that some people are going to choose to do good kind things, and some people aren't, but a fair God has to treat us all equally, so he allows us all our choice.
Incidentally, I think that the periods of intense evil--times such as the holocaust--also serve to bring out intense goodness. There is opposition in all things, and I think of people like Corrie Ten Boom or Eli Wiesel, and I see that the worst situations can often bring out the best in people. So even those terrible things are giving people a chance to choose who they want to be.

"Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking... The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions, is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt. Doubt is humble and that is what man needs to be..." [yes, that one is an actual quote from the movie]
I actually agree that the only appropriate attitude is to ask questions. I think that some religions hold a lot more water than others on the logic front, and that 'blind faith' is never a virtue. Yes, I consider myself a woman of faith, but it's not blind. I have studied the tenants of my faith and frankly I find that they explain a lot of things in what I find to be a very logical way. My faith is not about feeling comfortable or taking anybody's word for anything, it's about having logical explanations for life, the universe and everything. ☺ I find that the more I learn of science and the world, and the more I understand my religion, the more they fit together beautifully.

Too bad he didn't interview me, huh?


sara said...

I didn't watch it just because I can't stand Bill Maher! UGH.

Also - evolutionists don't really believe that men came from apes. They're just a shared relative. I share your same thoughts about evolution and creationism. I don't think they're mutually exclusive and why wouldn't God use natural laws for creation? Makes sense to me.

Tim said...

Thanks for this.
I think Maher is like Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh--extremist and not someone I'd ever want to meet.
I'd give pretty much the same responses you did, except I'd say that God used evolution in his creation to create all living things--even humans (after all, both religion and science tell us that we're made from the dust of the earth).

Tim said...

By the way, the evidence for evolution is pretty strong. Small details might change, but the big stuff--the type of stuff you'd learn in an intro biology class--has enough evidence behind it that it's here to stay. Science can't give us final answers (otherwise research scientists wouldn't have anything to do), but it does a lot more than just give best guesses. We use what we know about evolution to fight diseases and battle pests.
Also, 600 years ago, we did know the earth was round. Scientists had it figured out long before Columbus set sail.

Samurai Mom said...

Couldn't agree with you more! And about Virgin births well - they can and do happen today so I am not surprised that there were stories about it before the real deal.

Brittany Ann said...

Perfect! I love your answers. It drives me crazy when people who don't have religion decide that if you want religion you must be a weak-minded moron incapable of independent thought. And it makes me proud to see intelligent church members stand up for themselves.

nicole said...

Awesome! These are great responses! I like what you said about Heavenly Father respecting our agency, because this life is a test, a time for us to have agency in order to prove our faithfulness. "And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them."

And I LOVE Corrie Ten Boom. The Hiding Place is one of my very favorite books. Classic!

Christa said...

My biology teacher made a statement the week that we studied the big bang theory and evolution in school, she said that scripture teaches us that one day is like a thousand years to God. She said it may have only taken God seven days to create the earth, but what is seven days? Do we know that it was 7 days with 24 hours, or was it 7 thousand years? Depends on who's measuring the time I guess.
I agree, and I know that things are constantly evolving, I just know I'm not one of those things.

Future Mama said...

You tell 'em girl!!! That guy can drive me NUTS!!

Kelly said...

Wow - these are fantastic answers. Very insightful. Thank you for sharing these!

lynnette said...

that was refreshing and encouraging totally over people who can´t see more than one point of view...or who twist things to make their point (michael moore also comes to mind.)

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