Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bill Maher makes a movie

Let us take a well needed break from politics and discuss religion instead.

Their is a new movie out called Religulous starring Bill Maher. Now honestly I have not seen the movie but I have seen enough clips and read enough articles to know the premise of the movie is that a belief in God is silly and people who believe in God are ignorant. The movie concentrates on making fun of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Any objective person who has watched Bill Maher would have to agree that he is an arrogant jerk. He probably believes anyone who does not agree with him on a whole host of things are stupid. Quite frankly that is an easy trap for an intelligent person to fall into.

But the fact of the matter is there are a lot of people more intelligent then Bill Maher who believe in God. Do you know which group of scientists has the highest percentage of God believers?
Mathematicians. That is because the science of Math reveals a symmetry to the universe that could not have developed randomly. While Albert Einstein did not believe in a personal God he did believe in a creator God. " I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings."(Albert Einstein, responding to Rabbi Herbert Goldstein who had sent Einstein a cablegram bluntly demanding "Do you believe in God?" Quoted from Victor J. Stenger, Has Science Found God? 2001, chapter 3.) " I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know his thoughts. The rest are details. " (The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press, 2000 p.202). There are an un-endless list of scientists who have had there faith strengthened by their scientific studies. Admittedly their are other scientists who have reached an an opposite conclusion but the point is that it is a mistake to call religious believers ignorant or unintelligent. To me a creator God makes more sense then a belief that this is all the result of randomness, from the big bang, to life forming , to the development of the human mind it is hard to belief that it is all an accident. It is all rather complicated for that.
The problem that atheists ( and quite frankly Einstein where he refuses to believe in a personal God) have is that they believe if something does not make sense to their superior intellect it can not be true. If they can not understand why God allows evil to exist then the conclusion is that God does not exist. This is actually the height of arrogance. One of my favorite Books in the bible is the book of Job. There is a beautiful poetry to it.
The story is about how God and the devil have a bet. The Devil bets that if all the good things in life Job has are taken away from him he will turn away from God. God sets out to prove the devil wrong and a series of very terrible things happen to Job. God wins the bet but their is one part where Job rails against what is happening to him and asks God why. I love Gods answer

38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, 38:2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? 38:3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
38:4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
38:5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? 38:6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; 38:7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 38:8 Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? 38:9 When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it, 38:10 And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, 38:11 And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed? 38:12 Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place; 38:13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it? 38:14 It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment.
38:15 And from the wicked their light is withholden, and the high arm shall be broken.
38:16 Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth? 38:17 Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death? 38:18 Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all.
38:19 Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof, 38:20 That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof? 38:21 Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born? or because the number of thy days is great? 38:22 Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, 38:23 Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war? 38:24 By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth? 38:25 Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder; 38:26 To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man; 38:27 To satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth? 38:28 Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew? 38:29 Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it? 38:30 The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.
38:31 Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? 38:32 Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? 38:33 Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth? 38:34 Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee? 38:35 Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go and say unto thee, Here we are? 38:36 Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart? 38:37 Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven, 38:38 When the dust groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave fast together? 38:39 Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? or fill the appetite of the young lions, 38:40 When they couch in their dens, and abide in the covert to lie in wait? 38:41 Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat.

The point is that our small minds are incapable of understanding God. No matter how smart we are we will never fully understand the mind of God. That is not a reason for unbelief.

Now there are a lot of religious beliefs even among various Christian sects that I do not agree with.
Self flagellation, snake handling, the belief that the book of genesis is literal, that we should not use technology the list could go on and on. I do not however mock those beliefs. Because our capacity to understand God is limited we all come to him on terms we can understand and we all have different levels of understanding. Of course I am talking in the context of Judaism and Christianity.
God did give us the ability to reason and that should be applied to how we choose which world religion we will adhere to but that is another long post.

The root of Maher's problem is that he is an arrogant jerk and that explains his viewpoint. While it would be easy to get angry with him the appropriate response is to pray that he will loose his arrogance and then he will be able to see the light.


Anonymous said...

You might be interested in this online commentary "Putting God on Trial: The Biblical Book of Job" ( as supplementary or background material for your upcoming course on the Book of Job. It is written by a Canadian criminal defense lawyer, now a Crown prosecutor, and it explores the legal and moral dynamics of the Book of Job with particular emphasis on the distinction between causal responsibility and moral blameworthiness embedded in Job’s Oath of Innocence. It is highly praised by Job scholars (Clines, Janzen, Habel) and the Review of Biblical Literature, all of whose reviews are on the website. The author is an evangelical Christian, denominationally Anglican. He is also the Canadian Director for the Mortimer J. Adler Centre for the Study of the Great Ideas, a Chicago-based think tank.

Son of Liberty said...

Thanks for the tip. I will check it out