Religulous (2008)
★★★★ / ★★★★

The people who claim that this is another “Borat”-style kind of documentary are the exact same people who believe in god to such an extent that they’re willing to delude themselves that Bill Maher is not asking questions worth answering. I do think that Maher asks valid questions to the religious individuals featured (whose religions range from Christianity, Islam, Mormonism and Scientology) but he is smart enough to not let go of that trademark sense of humor that made him so famous. Even though I was born a Catholic, I do not affiliate myself with any religious group because, to be blunt, I think the whole thing is a crock. Even though my parents are Catholics, they provided me the freedom to choose and think for myself so I’m going to exercise it until the day I die. When I watch documentaries that challenge any religion, excitement comes over me because I love taking apart people’s arguments from both sides and decide which side is weaker. Although Maher did bring up a plethora of excellent points, I can admit that there were times when I wished he went straight for the jugular instead of dancing around the issue and eventually reaching it. However, Maher had enough insight to keep me on my feet and such insights made my arguments that much stronger the next time I get into a debate about religion. Another thing I liked about this film was its fast cuts to random images like Jonah Hill, cartoons aimed for children, older films that tell a story from the Bible, nuclear weapons going off, and even Maher’s childhood videos–all of which serve to provide a sense of humor and to support certain arguments on how ludicrous biblethumpers really are. One downside about this documentary, however, was that it lost a little bit of that great momentum in the final twenty minutes. There were less laughs because the jokes weren’t as sharp even though it’s still making fun of religion and people who build their lives around it. I highly recommend this film especially to agnostics and atheists. I doubt anyone with a strong set of religious beliefs will change their minds. There were a couple of quotes that stood out to me but this quote pretty much embodied the film’s argument: “Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don’t have all the answers to think that they do. Most people would think it’s wonderful when someone says, “I’m willing, Lord! I’ll do whatever you want me to do!” Except that since there are no gods actually talking to us, that void is filled in by people with their own corruptions and limitations and agendas.”

3 replies »

  1. Here is the English version of an article on science and Mormonism that I published awhile ago in my blog “Interlingua multilingue”:

    Science and the Mormons

    The Mormons are a religious sect that emerged from Christianity in the United States in the Nineteenth Century. They added to the Bible their own scripture, the Book of Mormon, translated by Joseph Smith from an original text in a language he called Reformed Egyptian. According to the mythology of the Mormons, in 1827 the angel Moroni gave Smith these texts, which were engraved on golden tables. Smith could understand them without learning their language through the divine magic of two special lenses that he used to read them while he translated them.

    Smith and his followers were persecuted by traditional Christians, who forced them to travel slowly and with great sacrifices until they reached what is now Utah, where their descendants dominate the religious and social life of this American state.

    According to the Mormons, the Indians of the Americas came from Egypt more than 2,000 (two thousand) years ago. They used this myth to convert many Indians to their religion. “We were taught that all the blessings of our Hebrew ancestors made us a special people,” said Jose a Loyaza, a lawyer in Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah. “And this identity gave us a sense of transcendental affiliation, a special identity with God.” But Loyaza gradually learned that there was another outrageous irony to his faith.

    He rejected his religion after learning that evidence provided by comparative DNA studies between American Indians and Asians conclusively proved that the first humans that migrated to the Americas came not from the Middle East but from Asia.

    For the Mormons this genetic confirmation of the origin of the Indians in the Americas is a fundamental collision of science against religion. It is in direct conflict with the Book of Mormon, which, according to their religion, is a completely error-free historical work that must be interpreted literally.

    The Book of Mormon is also fundamentally racist. It narrates that a tribe of Hebrews from Jeruselem went to the Americas in 600 B.C. and split up into two groups, the Nephites and the Lamanites. The Nephites carried the “true” religion to the new world and were in constant conflict with the Lamanites, who practiced idolatry. The Nephites were white (in 1980 the Mormons changed the word to “pure”), and the Lamanites received from God “The curse of blackness.”

    The Book of Mormon also narrates that in 385 A.D. the Lamanites exterminated all the other Hebrews and became the principal ancestors of the American Indians. But the Mormons insist that if the Lamanites returned to the “true” religion (Mormonism, quite naturally), their skin would eventually become white like the skin of the Nephites that their ancestors had exterminated.

    But despite these outrageous racist insults, many Indians and Polynesians (who also, according to the Mormons, are the descendants of the Lamanites) converted to Mormonism instead of telling the Mormons to go fuck themselves. (Through some perverse mechanism in human psychology, these converts are like homosexual priests who support the Roman catholic church or other gay people who support any type of Christianity.)

    “The fiction that I was a Lamanite,” said Damon Kali, a lawyer in Sunnyvale, California, whose ancestors came from Polynesian islands, “was the principal reason that I converted to Mormonism.” He had been a missionary for the Mormans before he discovered that genetic evidence proved that the Lamanites were only a religious myth, and he could not continue his efforts to convert others to Mormonism.

    Officially the Mormon church insists that nothing in the Book of Mormon is incompatible with the genetic evidence. Some Mormons are now saying that the Levites were a small group of Hebrews that went to Central America and after many generations of marrying with the natives they met, their Hebrew DNA disappeared into the DNA of their neighbors.

    In 2002, officers of the church started a trial to excommunicate Thomas W. Murphy, a professor of anthropology at Edmonds Community College in Washington, an American state at the extreme northwest of the continental United States.

    His trial attracted a lot of attention in the American public communications media, which ridiculed the church and insisted that Murphy was the Galileo of Mormonism. The general contempt provoked by this publicity seriously embarrassed the officers of the church, and they stopped the trial.

  2. While I appreciate Maher’s right to ask questions, I have to point out that their is a definate difference between Religion and faith. I have to agree that alot of the bible stories are not believabe, but I know God works in my life. No, I don’t hear voices in my head, but I am lucky enough to have seen his work in my life.

    I know I know you don’t believe, but what do you or Bill Maher care if I am comforted by the belief that the lord is working in my life. Maher says right in the movie that he doesn’t know. So if he doesn’t know that their is a God then he doesn’t know if there isn’t a God.

    I choose to believe, and while Maher has the right to his oppinion I don’t think its right for him to tell others that their is no God when he himself says he doesn’t know.

    I do have to wonder, if there is no God then why does every civilization in the history of the world, without exception, have a form of diety. Without even having contact with each other. Where did prayer come from?

    I would like him to research the studies that have been done on the power of prayer. Great things have happened and been documented when a group of people have come together to pray for a cause.

    Maybe this isn’t God working in the world, Maybe it’s senergy of a multitude of people with a single goal, But it is a sign that a higher power is at work in our lives.

    Now I know I haven’t changed your mind as you haven’t changed mine, But I hope you will at least think about my point of view as I have thought about yours.

  3. Maher questions religion’s affect upon humanity and rightly so, but how he can in one breath support PETA known to kill more animals than it saves is beyond me if he believes that animals are sentient beings? This is hypocrasy to support an organization that wants to end the lives of all domestic animals on this earth. What does he “believe in”, the Richard Dawkins award supposes he supports science when in fact he has made anti science statements and supports alternative medicine or no medicine at all. Supporting animal rights means he does not believe that any medicine can help either humans or animals if animals were used to produce such medicine. I suppose if he had diabetes he would find another rationale as so many PETA supporters do to keep taking their insulin. I just cannot understand a man who asks us to support reason when it comes to religion, but in other areas anthromorphizes animals to the point he eleveates them above humans even his own father. Go figure. I don’t know why they call it animal rights when they seem to be passing laws that entirely limit the rights dogs and cats such as ripping out their sex organs, confining them to their “guardians” homes, not allowing them to roam freely as they want chickens to do. So dogs and cats are just given partial rights, whereas, chickens can have all the rights denied to dogs and cats. Go figure this animal rights cult belief system. There is no rhyme or reason to it, just money and power. For a real insight into the motives check out and this is really ironic part. This factual video was taken off the air in the US by the force of the HSUS political machine. Its so ironic that the only place that truly offers free speech is an Iranian you tube websight where true freedom of expression cannot be hidden from the public. It takes a while, but it is an eye opener about where these animal rights radicals con the public out of their money.

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