As an atheist, I’m royally pissed that Bill Maher is one of the most public atheist figures out there right now. The man has zero depth, and his understanding and appreciation for the greatest arguments for atheism are nearly nonexistent.
It honestly troubles me that Maher is one of the more likely atheists that people are going to see in the spotlight. While atheists can hardly be thought of as an organized association with representatives, it’s an arguably automatic assumption for the uninformed. If that’s going to happen at all, I’d rather have real atheist intellectual powerhouses making movies like Religulous.
Anyway, this pitting is getting too nice and reasonable. Does anyone else (atheist or otherwise) get sick when Maher goes off on an anti-religion rant on his HBO show?
Religion aside, Bill Maher comes across to me as a self-important, smug dick. He seems very much like the kind of person who would either be patronizing and/or treat you like you’re stupid and unenlightened if you don’t agree with him.
That isn’t the kind of attitude or behavior that gets my respect, even when I do agree with him on the occasional thing.
Haven’t seen the movie (yet), don’t regularly watch Maher’s show, but…he’s not an atheist. He’s an agnostic and he’s pretty adamant about being identified as such. Probably doesn’t change the gist of your OP, but just thought I’d throw that out there.
Personally, I’ve found his show, Real Time With Bill Maher to be one of the more interesting shows around. It’s one of the few things I miss about not having TV right now. Really, I think that by the standards of comedy/commentary shows, he does manage to put forth some good commentary and some decent debate. Unless he goes off on one of his anti-meat or anti-medicine rants. Even as someone who thinks he has a point about the current tendency towards germophobia and a few other issues, I think it’s plainly idiotic to pretty much dismiss all of the advances in medicine in the twentieth century.
The movie’s not in Thailand yet, nor do I expect it to be, as this is not the usual fare that goes down well here. But Ebert has a good review of Religuloushere. He liked the film itself a lot, and the review makes me want to see it. I have a good DVD source who imports a lot of films that pass Thailand by, so I may be able to get it through him. Never seen anything of Bill Maher’s before and only vaguely recognize the name.
I enjoyed his interview on the Daily Show very much, and found his attitude on a mainstream show to be refreshing and empowering. I don’t much care for atheists who blanch at what he has to say, nor, on that note, for those who are troubled by Richard Dawkins either.
Can I ask what you mean by this? What “greatest arguments” should he be pushing that he isn’t? He’s not an atheist and isn’t touting any one POV’s talking points. He thinks organized religion is a form of accepted insanity, and I happen to agree with him. He points out some of the patently ridiculous things that people believe are literally true, and asks believers questions about their faith that often show that they aren’t particularly knowledgeable about the very things they claim are so important to them. Granted, he can be contemptuous and aggressive about it, and I can understand not liking his style (though I enjoy it quite a bit), but claiming he has zero depth and understanding? I can’t agree with that criticism, and would like to know specifically what you’re referring to here.
To be honest, I was operating under the assumption that he was aggressively atheist. In that vein, I think I’ve been criticizing him on the wrong point when I talk about arguments in the original post. As you say, it’s his style then that irks me. If he’s agnostic, then I understand why he doesn’t sound like Dawkin’s and company.
Still, I think it’d be relatively easy for people to not care about the distinction between agnosticism and atheism, so I still pit Bill Maher just for being such an ass when he interviews people on his show and religion comes up. Did you see the episode where the guy from Black Eyed Peas was one of the panel? He didn’t elaborate on his points at all. He just kept pointing to the newspaper article on how 60% of Americans believe in angels and how he felt that this clearly showed how stupid Americans are.
Just in the realm of people who don’t have a belief, I simply wish there was a very charismatic representative if there has to be one at all.
But just to clarify, YES, I was mistaken on Bill Maher being an atheist. I retract my criticism of arguments but stick with my general loathing of his style.
I like Bill Maher and think his show has some of the most engrossing discussions on the air. I think there are some topics that Maher is out to lunch on (vaccinations, for instance), but religion isn’t one of them. Seeing anyone on television who is willing to routinely challenge the sacred cow of religious belief (not so much the “Religion causes wars” meme, but the willingness to say that the beliefs themselves are absurd and irrational), is so rare and refreshing that it forgives a lot for me.
Are you talking about Maher himself or his guest’s when you refer to discussion? One of the things that kind of pisses me off about the program is that he often has really good conversations going about a topic between the guests, but all he has to add to it are little one-liners and other gimmicks. Obviously, there’s a reason I still watch the show, and it has everything to do with the guests and nothing to do with Maher.
Why? Because he is stating the same thoughts you have had, but he’s getting paid for it? If he’s saying things you agree with, it seems a little odd to hate his output. Is it like me accepting that The Rolling Stones have produced some fantastic music, but still thinking Mick Jagger is a twat?
I can’t speak for Cervaise but having given your own Mick Jagger example I’m finding it a bit hard to understand how you can not understand Cervaise’s opinion. I don’t know Bill Maher but if he’s smug, preening and self-satisfied, why would you need to be jealous of his money to find him irritating?
It’s okay. I realise now I answered my own question. I don’t need to envy Jagger’s wealth to think he is a prick. But saying that, Jagger has never took on anything philosophically deeper than extolling his tastes in women to the world. Bill Maher is more rock and roll than Jagger could ever dream of being, imho.