People Are Upset About Bill Maher's Comments About Noah (and Copernicus)


Religion is the greatest experiment in cognitive dissonance ever undertaken.
brilliant and a nice gloss @1.
@1: Not to mention the dissonance required to get mad at Bill Maher because deep down you know it is all bullshit and you hate yourself for believing it anyway.
George Carlin covered these concepts years ago. For whatever reason, our all knowing, all powerful God is an insecure, vain twat.
He equips the Creator with every trait that goes to the making of a fiend, and then arrives at the conclusion that a fiend and a father are the same thing!
The conservative psyche in a single sentence. Throw in some same-sex Oedipal complex and you have their current relationship with Vladimir Putin.
What was that bullshit about LDS not being able to drink hot chocolate? That's categorically inaccurate.
God created man in his image. It makes total sense actually: God is a petty asshole, and he keeps wiping out humanity because we're a bunch of petty assholes. it's also why we keep killing each other.

Also the entire flood story is modified from the earlier Gilgamesh anyway. As @1 mentioned, the cognitive dissonance is truly amazing.
Also, I adore Bill Maher for telling it like it is. Hilarious.
@6: I agree. He should have said a Mocha, not a Hot Chocolate, since the issue is caffeine.

His entire rant is now invalidated.
There must have a been a global warming event that caused the great flood (e.g. Noah's Arc) as geologists have ascertained that there was such a flood.
@9: Mocha is fine, if it's decaf.
Dan, Dan, Dan. You always forget the important point: He kills those little old ladies WITH LOVE.

And besides, isn't it better that all of those innocent people died while they were still innocent (and eligible for heaven) before they were corrupt by the evil homosexuals (and thus doomed to Hell.) I bet God knew that those little old ladies were about to become lesbians, and he SAVED them just in time.
Twain was a total badass.
After a quick read of the first few chapters of Genesis, which reads like a dark comedy of errors, one can only conclude that God was a major fuck-up.
It is a curiosity of Christianity (and perhaps of Islam, on which subject I'm not well informed) that they think their God must be good, and kind, and just, and fair, and all of that. They get rather peeved when you question this proposition. And yet, essentially all of the older faiths had Gods or Pantheons that were Conflicted, Inscrutable, or not infrequently merely Assholes. And, yes, this includes the Jewish God. Heck, read the story of the Flood again: at the very end of it God says "geez, that was a dumbass move, not gonna do that one again", and gives us Rainbows by way of compensation.

I'm an Atheist, but my favorite part of my Jewish education was the part about how being the Chosen People means we're stuck with this powerful asshole of a God, not that we're especially worthy nor that God is, either.
Man, I haven't watched Bill Maher in a long time so maybe I'm just not used to his tone, but his comments upset me, too. There's his permeating smugness, his giggling team of sycophants, a laugh line - about how Jews like money - that would've felt dated 80 years ago (but which generated big laughs and applause anyway), and his reductive dismissal of seemingly all religious traditions (just hinted at here, but I know that's something of a Maher hallmark).

I'm a liberal atheist myself, and I agree with a lot of the basic points that Maher's making, but it bothers me the way so many atheists are so willing to throw away thousands of years of religious thought, and so quick to claim a sort of superiority over generations of mystics, prophets and, yes, intellectuals. One of the worst and most frustrating aspects of American Christian conservatives is that they treat the Bible as little more than a book of rules, or as a mark of tribal superiority - ignoring the complexity of it all. Maher doesn't agree with that stuff, but he does seem to agree that the Bible is manifestly simple; it's not.
@ 9 - Chocolate contains caffeine.
There must have a been a global warming event that caused the great flood (e.g. Noah's Arc) as geologists have ascertained that there was such a flood.
I don't know anything about the geological evidence you refer to, but I'm quite comfortable in saying there was not a flood that covered the surface of the earth with its waters. Epic flooding, massive social consequences, I'm prepared to believe in - but not submerged mountains.

The closest thing I can think of offhand to a world suddenly covered in water would be the flooding of the Mediterranean basin, in which a whole landscape was abruptly covered with water - but that was five million years ago and so is considerably older than humanity, let alone than the oral tradition.
It appears that actual Jehovah's Witnesses are mirthful about the idea of possessed cooooookies:
I think Girl Scout cookies are demonized....well, at least the Samoas, LOL! They actually call to me from my kitchen cupboards.
If religion were about love rather than power, Maher wouldn't have much of a point. I find it odd when Bill O'Reilly, Rupert Murdoch and Rush Limbaugh seem to think they have more authority on religious matters than the Pope. If the Pope is preaching love and not judging gays, why is the religious right in America still pushing religion as an excuse for intolerance?

Yesterday's announced discovery of space ripples, which help explain the creation of the universe 14 billion years ago, just illustrates that religion explains nothing. If it has a purpose, it should be to encourage love and understanding. There is no empirical basis to put one set of beliefs above another and judge others on that basis.
@10 - Bill Nye asserted in his debate with Ken Ham that there was no geologic evidence for a global flood that would have affected Noah.

There *may* have been a local flood where Noah was (if he even existed). Or maybe it was all purely allegorical, like the "Garden of Eden" in Genesis.

(debate video on youtube)
@15 The Christian god, and Jesus in particular, is a projection. That's why their god is the bestest & goodest that's ever been. It's the same relationship you'll see with children and their imaginary friends: the friend just happens to like/hate the same things the child does and takes the blame when the kid does something wrong.

Remember, Jesus makes you better than other people. That's his job.
@6: It sounds like at one point hot chocolate wasn't allowed though:

"The Mormon Church today interprets hot drinks to mean tea and coffee. It would appear, however, that in the early history of the Church all hot drinks were forbidden. On April 7, 1868, the Mormon Apostle George Q. Cannon stated that chocolate drinks and hot soups were forbidden: 'We are told, and very plainly too, that hot drinks--tea, coffee, chocolate, cocoa and all drinks of this kind are not good for man....we must feed our children properly.... We must not permit them to drink liquor or hot drinks, or hot soups or to use tobacco or other articles that are injurious.' (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 12, pp. 221 & 223)"

btw, it's also worth watching the last three minutes of Overtime as they argue about Noah and then religion in general.

I've often remarked that the fundy Christian God is at heart very pagan. Petty, vindictive, flawed. The only thing that really separates their God from Zeus is that their God doesn't go around impregnating mortals. Oh wait.
I was fairly sure by age 11 that religion was all a big con, but I wasn't about to "come out" to anybody about it. I do not understand to this day why my extremely conventional churchgoing parents had a copy of Letters From The Earth in the house, but they did, and once I got my 11 year old hands on it, I became an out-and-proud unbeliever.
@26 - Yes, that was it. Thank you.
I love it. The rise of the internet has created a new world where anyone with access can choose to find out just how fucked religion is. People can believe what they like, but I know through many fractious encounters that the people who believed a bunch of bullshit are being taken to task by well informed atheists. No longer do people have to check with their Pastor, they can use google. This is why the churches are screaming. They are losing control and all that loverly money and power.
@29 - Yes, people can do that and will do that. Still, the technology of information provided by the Internet does not negate the drive humans have for spiritual fellowship -- for which there are philosophies, meditations, and religions that provide a vehicle to accommodate that drive.
Sounds like they're finding a problem to fit their solution.
@31 - Sure, atheism and spirituality are not mutually exclusive.
@31 - Yup. It makes me crazy when people talk about "the human drive for spiritual connection," or however they phrase it, as some sort of universal experience of humanity. I do not experience any type of spirituality, and I know many others who are the same. If there is a universal human experience, it is much more elemental - something like curiosity/interest in the world, ourselves, and our place in the world - and we keep calling it spirituality because the whole religion/spirituality thing has been the best answer to our curiosity up until the modern time. We're so used to it now that we think it's innate, but it's not.
Can you imagine a world where Bill Maher is President Bernie Sanders' press secretary? THAT is true rapture.
I've long since felt that even if I had 100% undeniable proof that the Christian God existed, I wouldn't worship him. Frankly, he just doesn't deserve to be worshiped.
I loved the guy at the end of Overtime who said that Noah was a great parable about being punished for being bad stewards of the planet. The response from Bill was that destroying everything as punishment sends a bit of a mixed message. It's like a Dad beating a puppy to death with a baseball bat because his kid isn't a responsible enough pet owner.
I think you mean @26.
Randy Newman's got it too:
Cain slew Abel Seth knew not why
For if the children of Israel were to multiply
Why must any of the children die?
So he asked the Lord
And the Lord said:

"Man means nothing he means less to me
than the lowiliest cactus flower
or the humblest yucca tree
he chases round this desert
cause he thinks that's where i'll be
that's why i love mankind

I recoil in horror from the foulness of thee
from the squalor and the filth and the misery
How we laugh up here in heaven at the prayers you offer me
That's why i love mankind"

The Christians and the Jews were having a jamboree
The Buddhists and the Hindus joined on satellite TV
They picked their four greatest priests
And they began to speak
They said "Lord the plague is on the world
Lord no man is free
The temples that we built to you
Have tumbled into the sea
Lord, if you won't take care of us
Won't you please please let us be?"

And the Lord said
And the Lord said

"I burn down your cities--how blind you must be
I take from you your children and you say how blessed are we
You must all be crazy to put your faith in me
That's why i love mankind
You really need me
That's why i love mankind"
@33. It just means that spirituality is not your cup of tea. That's all and that's fine. It's non-debatable.
What I mean by non-debatable in @40 is that for someone to say that spirituality isn't real is like trying to convince someone that they really don't like sex.
Since we seem to be having another debate about God....…
What was amazing about that episode was that it was SULLIVAN the republican who out and said "America's racial history is similar to that of Nazi Germany'. A lot of red and black people have been saying that since (literally) the end of the war against the nazis. And the average Americans belief in god isnt based in ontological analogy, its literal. Taliban Christianity.

Most liberals and even progressives are afraid to openly admit that on air. Racial history, religious extremism and anything involving the actual prosecution of our 2 wars/occupations tends to be off the discussion table for most democrats. The republicans and the media have bullied the left so much on these topics that criticism is offbounds from the mainstream.
I often hear people say that Sullivan is a Republican, but I think that's inaccurate. He's really a moderate Democrat now. He's a small "c" conservative, who is most at home among British conservatives, which places him well within the mainstream of the current American Democratic party. I agree that a lot of his past, and even some of his current views, are contemptible, but he's nowhere near the modern Republican party. He thinks they're crazy.
@37 Ancient Mesopotamian peoples would have seen those floods every year. They wouldn't have been strange or noteworthy in the slightest.

Besides, "40 days and nights" can be basically taken as slang for "long-ass time".

(Speaking of slang, and almost on topic: remember Noah's son whose entire line was cursed for all time because he uncovered his father's nakedness? Ever wonder what was so horrible about that? Uncovering nakedness was a common phrase for sex in writings from the period. The more you know!)
@41, no, it is non-debatable because it is a meaningless term.

10 people say that are spiritual and they all mean 10 different things.

From having a nice time at church, to feeling a sense of awe at nature, to believing that God has spoken directly to them, and a myriad of other things as well.

You can't debate the validity of spiritual experience because no two people mean the same thing by it.

Once you actually define what someone means by "spiritual" you certainly can debate it because then you actually have something that can be comprehended to debate.
What Albert Einstein wrote to a little girl who asked him, "Do scientists pray?":

January 24, 1936

Dear Phyllis,

I will attempt to reply to your question as simply as I can. Here is my answer:

Scientists believe that every occurrence, including the affairs of human beings, is due to the laws of nature. Therefore a scientist cannot be inclined to believe that the course of events can be influenced by prayer, that is, by a supernaturally manifested wish.

However, we must concede that our actual knowledge of these forces is imperfect, so that in the end the belief in the existence of a final, ultimate spirit rests on a kind of faith. Such belief remains widespread even with the current achievements in science.

But also, everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that some spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, one that is vastly superior to that of man. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is surely quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.

With cordial greetings,

your A. Einstein
Plushsnail: I don't know what you mean by this "Religious thought" of which you speak.

Fortunate: good work unpacking that. I don't know what the word "spiritual" means and haven't seen any use for it since I figured that out several years ago. Humans need to cut loose and get high, so we tell stories around campfires, play music and go to movies, the day these stories came to be mistaken for truth they become lies.

Signed Sincerely:Rev. Dktr Saint Cephalopod
@23: Wait... SOUP was forbidden? How does any culture ban SOUP?

Mormons: the original Soup Nazis. "No soup for you... because it's hot."
@16- "....but it bothers me the way so many atheists are so willing to throw away thousands of years of religious thought, and so quick to claim a sort of superiority over generations of mystics, prophets and, yes, intellectuals."

So if you're an atheist, then you have declared yourself superior to the religious thoughts of every theist. You think you're right and they're wrong. You're just being circumspect about it. But everyone who makes a statement of faith or lack thereof is saying "I think I'm right about religion and if you disagree with me I think you're wrong."

This doesn't mean that religious people didn't (and don't still) have great thoughts about other topics.
@47- That was pretty irrelevant.…

Albert Einstein called himself Agnostic and was quite definitely not on board with the god in the Noah story.
@51, sorry for being irrelevant, I guess I should of stuck to soup and hot chocolate.

That is a pretty great link you provided. It's a beautiful response to what is so frustrating about reading Slog comments when it comes to anything having to do with the subject of God. On Slog, you either agree that everyone who is a believer is an idiot or you are a troll.

Obviously Einstein was not a believer in the God of the Noah story. But while he definitely didn't believe in religion or "an existence dominated by wishes, hopes and primitive feelings," he seems to have believed in something. Here is a quote from that wiki page you linked to:

In a 1930 New York Times article, Einstein distinguished three human impulses which develop religious belief: fear, social morality, and a cosmic religious feeling. A primitive understanding of causality causes fear, and the fearful invent supernatural beings analogous to themselves. The desire for love and support create a social and moral need for a supreme being; both these styles have an anthropomorphic concept of God. The third style, which Einstein deemed most mature, originates in a deep sense of awe and mystery. He said, the individual feels "the sublimity and marvelous order which reveal themselves in nature ... and he wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole." Einstein saw science as an antagonist of the first two styles of religious belief, but as a partner in the third.[40] He maintained, "even though the realms of religion and science in themselves are clearly marked off from each other" there are "strong reciprocal relationships and dependencies" as aspirations for truth derive from the religious sphere. For Einstein, "science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."
I've read that the brain of the religious person has much more activity in the sectors dealing with pattern recognition than the brain of a non-religious person. You might conclude that this difference in activity level means the religious person better grasps the universe--seeing all the connections the atheist misses--while I might conclude that this difference means the religious person grasps at straws--seeing connections that aren't there like a conspiracy theorist.

Which is to say, your spiritual experience of some great design to things is no more (or less) valid than my experience of *no* design. Each side, unable to experience the world as the other does, tends to assume the other is simply sticking their heads in the sand and refusing to admit to what they *must* really know, deep down.

Which in turn is a long-winded way to say, the need for spirituality does seem to be inherent in some people, but that doesn't make it an inherent human need. To use the phrase "the human need for spirituality" implies that the spiritual (more pattern recognition) experience of the world is the right one, and that people who don't have that, or feel the need for it, are therefore somehow less than human.
@52- And Einstein's quasi-religious beliefs lead him into a futile battle against quantum physics.

It's really one of his least admirable bits of thinking. Everyone wants a universe with purpose, but it probably doesn't have one.
@54-I disagree, I think it is the very core of his thinking, as it was for Tolstoy and Spinoza and many other great minds.

What Einstein, Tolstoy and Spinoza had in common was their rejection of simplistic religious dogma, but not necessarily a rejection of some spirit manifest in the workings of the universe. And each was either excommunicated, called a heretic or labeled an atheist for their beliefs when in fact they were simply seeking the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It led these three to what some consider the greatest writing, scientific discoveries and philosophical thinking our planet has ever known. I find that very admirable.

I really did appreciate that link and I respect your belief that the universe probably has no purpose. I wish more folks on Slog were interested in sharing ideas instead of shitting on people who believe in a higher power.

Like Tolstoy said, "The assertion that you live in falsehood and I in truth is the most cruel thing one man can say to another." (yes,it works both ways)
@kekmeshi "very pagan. Petty, vindictive, flawed."

Pagans as described by Christians, were petty, vindictive and flawed.

But were they ? Marcus Aurelius, one of the 5 good emperors and a stoic philosopher, saw the Christians for what they were, a bunch of fanatics hell-bent on destroying every other sort of religion or independant thinking through force, invoking "martyrdom", and accordingly persecuted that intolerant sect. Have you ever checked what Christian martyrs were up to ? They were destroying private or public property they disagreed with. Very much like modern day suicide bombers or talibans.

As for morals, the Egyptians were the only people in Antiquity which did not practice infanticide, even for handicapped children. An oddity in their time. They were Pagans.