Sunday, October 19, 2008


How was the movie?

I found it entertaining, but I felt myself squirming when he is asking Christians why they believe what they believe. Their pat answers seem shallow and remind me of times in my life when I was asked to defend what I believed.

During my college years I spent a year taking some courses at Sophia University in Tokyo. The international division had classes in the evening. I remember how the cultural anthropology class really stimulated my thinking about other belief systems. One evening, in between classes, when everyone was in the hallways, one guy yells at me, asking, "How can you believe in a God who allows evil in the world?' I felt flustered and mumbled some answer (who knows what I said). It caused me so much anxiety to defend God when I simply believed what I was taught all my life. So when I heard the Christians in the movie, defending their beliefs, the answers seem ridiculous.

Bill Maher goes over the top, but I think it's important to ask, "Why do you believe what you believe?" Maybe the answer is simply "I don't know."

1 comment:

Phil said...

As Mike mentioned to me, Maher is going after the more fundamentalist segments of religions, and pretty much ignoring the moderates. So for Maher, the wackier the better. More for him to ridicule. He even seems disappointed with those taking a more moderate stance, as though they aren't really being consistent with what their religions propound.

Yet other times he had me nodding in agreement, and you're left wondering, why do so many humans think critically in all other areas of life, but end up believing utter nonsense when it comes to the most important questions about our existence?

But the question I'm left with is, to what extent does a Jew need to believe what's in the Hebrew scriptures to really be a Jew, and how much of the Koran does a Muslim need to believe to be a genuine Muslim, and how much do we need to believe in the really strange events in the New Testament, such as the virgin birth, miracles, a bodily resurrection, to be considered a Christian? Is it enough to live by Jesus' ethical teachings to be a "Christian"? Would it be enough to follow Joseph Smith's ethical teachings to be a "Mormon"?