Bill Maher's "Religulous"

No, I have not seen “Religulous” yet.

Will I? Maybe. I’m always interested to see someone else’s take on Christianity (and religion in general). I realize the viewpoint Maher is coming from, and I know he’s got an agenda to make religious people look silly – and often they don’t need his help to do so – but I can still watch his movie with a critical eye and take the good with the bad. I can guarantee that there’s at least one thing in the movie that I can take and use in my life.

Greg Boyd is an author that I respect. He is extremely smart when it comes to Christian theology and apologetics. He has seen Religulous, and he blogged his thoughts about it. Here’s a snippet:

I also have to say that I found myself in agreement with much of Maher’s commentary. While many Christians seem to feel the need to defend religion – at least the Christian religion – from the sort of criticism Maher raises,  I think its imperative for followers of Jesus to side with these sorts of criticisms. For the undeniable truth is that religion – including the Christian religion –  is often irrational and extremely dangerous.

Fortunately, the kingdom Jesus inaugurated has got nothing to do with religion.  Indeed, Jesus’ main opposition came from the guardians of religion, and religion continues to be a main obstacle to the advancement of his kingdom. (For more on this, see my Repenting of Religion). If Maher’s documentary does anything to help people get free of religion, it’s done humanity and the kingdom a great service, in my opinion.

He also says:

Having said this, there’s much to criticize in Maher’s documentary. I’ll offer one general and one specific criticism.

First, Religulous is utterly devoid of nuances and objectivity.  Maher lumps all religion in the same silly and dangerous bucket while never bothering to tell his audience what he means by the term “religion.” One gets the impression that humanity can be divided up into two well defined groups: on the one side you have rational humane people who have no religious beliefs and who simply want to make the world a better place; on the other side you have irrational misanthropic people who have “religious” beliefs and who inhibit progress and threaten the world.

But surely Maher is aware that people without religious beliefs have done their fair share of stupid and evil things throughout history while people with religious beliefs have often been extremely rational and have done a lot of good in the world.  And surely Maher is aware that there’s a world of difference between (say) a Buddhist monk who practices total non-violence and whose aspiration is to eventually escape the wheel of reincarnation and become nothing (nirvana) and (say) a Muslim extremist who slaughters innocent people by blowing himself up in a crowded market square so he can eternally enjoy sex with 72 virgins in heaven!  Maher could have given his documentary a little more credibility had he nuanced his slam on religion a little and at least tipped his hat in the direction of fairness.

You can read his whole critique of the movie here, which includes his thoughts on the Horus-Christ parallels that Maher draws in the movie (Horus was a god as told in an Egyptian myth).

For another Christian viewpoint, you can read Dan Kimball’s thoughts over at his blog.

If any of you get a chance to see the movie, please share your thoughts on it. I’d love to hear more about it from y’all. If I do get a chance to see it, I’ll let you know what I thought of it.