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Author Topic: Religulous
King of Men
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I watched it. I'm not wildly enthusiastic. Full review at my blog, should anyone want to discuss it.
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pooka
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This sums up my thoughts:
quote:
But Maher undermines his arguments at the end when the tone turns sharply serious: He tries to make a connection between religion and all the wars and violence in the world, and he does it with the same kind of certitude he condemned others for having.
http://www.sltrib.com/ci_10592212
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steven
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I might think that the problem isn't religion as much as extremism. Religion is not responsible for the Communist abuses under Mao or Stalin, nor is it responsible for Hitler's treatment of the Jews/gypsies/gays in concentration camps. Extremism is what caused those problems, and, I would say, causes most human problems. Ignorance and extremism are nearly always strongly positively correlated. Isolation and ignorance and also nearly always strongly positively correlated, as well. I see isolation as the root cause of it all. Who's with me?
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C3PO the Dragon Slayer
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"Extremism" is a really subjective term. While I understand what you're getting at, and largely agree, I think the problem is better classified as "blind following:" Doing/thinking something just because you think someone who is in the same group/clan/belief system as you endorses it, and not bothering to think about what that really means.
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pooka
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Well, I know it's an old saw, but I haven't mentioned in a while the book People of the Lie and the proposition that evil is when someone will not consider that they could be wrong.

It's hard to raise kids without being evil, I guess.

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steven
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""blind following:" Doing/thinking something just because you think someone who is in the same group/clan/belief system as you endorses it."

OSC calls it herd-think. To stimulate an active discussion, I put forth the two related theories that it can only exist to the degree that ignorance allows it to exist, and, secondarily, that ignorance exists entirely as a result of isolation. These two theories may need to be treated separately.

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Javert
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I saw it last night and enjoyed it. Consistently funny, and only got a tiny bit preachy at the end.
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TomDavidson
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quote:

It's hard to raise kids without being evil, I guess.

You think? Raising children has taught me to spend most of my time wondering whether I might be wrong.
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Puffy Treat
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I saw it.

Maher and others who seem to sincerely believe that violence will diminish and world peace will be inevitable once religion is gone amuse me.

(It also amuses me that Maher has a myopic focus on Christianity in the film, as if the billions of believers in other religions don't exist or aren't important. Great job, Bill!)

1. Religion is far from the only source of strife in the world. Fooling yourself it's the root cause of ALL negative things will only lead to a rude awakening.

2. None of the atheists I've known (and I've known many) have been unifirmly kinder, more understanding, or peaceful than the religious people (who I've also known many of.) Each had to be judged on a case by case basis.

This is just my own life experience, but such a distinction has never been a valid way to predict who will be a peacemaker and who will be a causer of conflict. [Frown]

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King of Men
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quote:
(It also amuses me that Maher has a myopic focus on Christianity in the film, as if the billions of believers in other religions don't exist or aren't important. Great job, Bill!)

Eh? He talks to quite a few Moslems. You could maybe ding him for ignoring Hindus and Buddhists, but after all his audience his all in the West.

quote:
1. Religion is far from the only source of strife in the world. Fooling yourself it's the root cause of ALL negative things will only lead to a rude awakening.
While this is true, removing a large cause of strife is still worth doing.
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Sterling
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
You think? Raising children has taught me to spend most of my time wondering whether I might be wrong.

Agreed, though it's usually "wrong" in the sense of "am I not doing the best job I could be doing", at least in my case.
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by Puffy Treat:
(It also amuses me that Maher has a myopic focus on Christianity in the film, as if the billions of believers in other religions don't exist or aren't important. Great job, Bill!)

Really? Watching it, he seems like he covered Christians, Jews and Muslims pretty evenly, with a little LDS and Scientology thrown in.

If he gave Christianity a little more time, then it's only because he covered Catholics and Evangelicals and Mormons. And the fact that he's American, in a country that is primarily Christian.

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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:

It's hard to raise kids without being evil, I guess.

You think? Raising children has taught me to spend most of my time wondering whether I might be wrong.
Here's a paraphrase of a typical exchange at my house:

<begin>

Parent: It's time to get in the van. Please put down the toy and come with me.

Child: It's NOT time to get in the van!

Parent: Yes it is. It's time to go to school now. Please listen and do what I tell you.

Child: You do what I say!

<end>

Now, of course I wonder if I handle situations like this in the wrong way. (Perhaps a little bit too much of the Drill Sergeant [Wink] ) But, looking at it another way, I am not willing to consider that I was wrong about what the child should have done and he was right. I'm guessing similar contests are the "evil" [Wink] that pooka was joking about.

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rivka
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sfbum, if you are concerned with being a drill sergeant, you might find Love & Logic useful.

Forum
Radio show

(I have listened to tapes and read a couple books; I have never participated in the forum, but it looks interesting.)

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scifibum
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I was referencing the L&L parenting types there. I've got a couple of their books. Same problem as everything else in my life, too scattered and lazy to give it a solid try.
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rivka
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heh. I wondered if you were. But I had two choices. . . . [Wink]
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KarlEd
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I just watched this tonight and thought it was much better than I had expected.

quote:
Maher and others who seem to sincerely believe that violence will diminish and world peace will be inevitable once religion is gone amuse me.

This isn't supported by the film. Maher doesn't make the arguement that violence will diminish once religion is gone, but rather argues that
"end of days" religion coupled with technology capable of world destruction will likely result in self-fulfilling prophecy. That's not even remotely the same arguement you pose above.

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Shanna
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I saw it Sunday night.

It wasn't incredibly exciting. The guy I went with was "dumbstruck" by the film but I've been an atheist since I was eleven years old so it was alot of the same. I guess considering it was from the director of "Borat," I expected something more outrageous.

I think the problem was that it was stuck between being just another "look how silly and nonsensical religious people are" and being a serious examination of religion and its negative impact on society. I didn't do either very well.

But it had some pleasantly surprising moments. Like when Maher recognized the beauty of the analogy offered by the theme-park Jesus as an explanation of the Trinity. Of course, Maher thought the rest of the interview was ridiculous but it was nice to see him recognize those little moment of genius, though I agree that its dangerous when one moment of clarity can sell a collection of absurdity.

My favorite part was the Catholic priest he spoke with outside of the Vatican. It struck a chord with mer personally. I want to send that guy a letter of admiration.

I guess it does an okay job of rallying atheists and promoting a sense of community. Like a funny, less aggressive Dawkins.

But I'd prefer a film aimed at the "religious moderate" with the goal of offering a real, well-supported, logical alternative to faith.

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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by Shanna:
But I'd prefer a film aimed at the "religious moderate" with the goal of offering a real, well-supported, logical alternative to faith.

Well, the issue with that is that many atheists don't think there needs to be an alternative to faith.

Sort of like asking for an alternative to the common cold. The alternative to a cold is not having a cold. And the alternative to faith is not having, or needing, faith.

(I apologize if anyone is offended by comparing faith to the common cold. I'm being incredibly general and simplistic in order to serve the metaphor.)

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MattP
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Sam Harris could pull it off, I think. He thinks some spiritual experiences are worth persuing even absent religious faith.
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Shanna
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Thanks Javert for pointing that out. I was struggling to avoid expressing the desire to "convert people to atheism" and ended up being even more nonsensical.

Am I the only one who is uncomfortable when attacks are aimed at Islam? Maybe its because I have a great respect and appreciation for religion. But in the way that someone might admire a lion or shark, or an innovative new weapon developed by scientists. Its power and history may be fascinating but its still dangerous and not to be toyed with. I don't mind attacks on Christianity because, as a Western majority, it enjoys plenty of leniency and respect. As a religion, it needs to be open to scrutiny. And I don't have an issue with challenging Islam based on its beliefs. Like Maher challenging the absurdity of the virgin birth and talking snakes. Islam has its own quirks that should be examined and discussed.

But there seems to be so much emphasis focused on the current violence, which is not strictly a religious matter but one of culture and politics. When Maher talked about Mormonism he went after the absurdity of its mythos. He didn't focus on exclusively on polygamy though its a hot topic.

Back to Islam, I liked when he talked about the insanity of three sister religions fighting over the landmark. I liked when he went into the temple and down to the Rock. But the bit with the rapper and the terrorist jokes were unnecessary cheap shots.

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rollainm
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
Sam Harris could pull it off, I think. He thinks some spiritual experiences are worth persuing even absent religious faith.

As brilliant as I think Sam Harris is, I think he lacks the diplomacy (for lack of a better word) to pull off any kind of significant movement.

On second thought, diplomacy isn't the right word after all. I'll put it this way: there are significant numbers of people - even atheists - that get an intellectual elitist kind of vibe from him. Perhaps they find his claims outright insulting, or maybe they think he chooses his words a little too carefully. I don't know, but my point is, quite unfortunately, that I don't think he's capable of accomplishing anything but preaching to the choir.

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KarlEd
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I don't think the part with the rapper was a cheap shot at all. In fact, it offered one of the more important insights into a certain Islamic mindset. The rapper was defending his form of "dissent" from a very narrow interpretation of the faith, while simultaneously defending the death sentence put on Salman Rushdie for his criticism of Islam. Maher was pointing out the hypocrisy of this stance, as well as arguing in favor of the basic right to freedom of speech.
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Teshi
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quote:
OSC calls it herd-think. To stimulate an active discussion, I put forth the two related theories that it can only exist to the degree that ignorance allows it to exist, and, secondarily, that ignorance exists entirely as a result of isolation. These two theories may need to be treated separately.
Not all extremists are herd thinkers. In fact, many are decidedly not herd-thinkers, and proud. Think of Fred Phelps. Their extremism outdoes everyone around them and they revel in that.
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steven
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Whoah, back up. I didn't bring up "blind following". My point is that extremism can only exist to the degree that ignorance also exists. Blind following is the result of personality. We're not all leaders, simply by personality. I say that people like Fred Phelps and Hitler are the way they are out of fear*. They are afraid to accept people and beliefs that are alien to them. They also have very dominating personalities, and those two factors are both necessary to create a Phelps.


*that fear can only exist to the degree that isolation/ignorance allow. [Smile]

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