Bill Maher on Conan

Bill Maher talks about the Republicans and religion on Late Night with Conan O’Brien:

Bill’s hilarious (as usual), but if you’ve ever watched Real Time with Bill Maher, you’ve heard him say all this before.

It’s even more entertaining to watch Conan O’Brien‘s reactions to what Bill is saying.

He seems very uncomfortable during the talk of religion and unsure of what to do. So he ends up not reacting at all. No real smiles, no big frowns, just stillness… even when Bill says that Conan must not be religious since he doesn’t believe in a talking snake. (In fact, Conan is Roman Catholic.)

PZ points out his favorite line:

“You can’t be a rational person six days a week…and on one day of the week, go to a building, and think you’re drinking the blood of a two thousand year old space god.”



[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Hemant, do you agree with the quote in your post from PZ? If you do, how can you explain all of the quite rational people who believe and practice religion? It’s a rather all or nothing statement. Some of these religious people have produced some of the foundation works of math and science, does that mean that you don’t trust their work?
    I didn’t bother to look, is it PZ’s or Maher’s? And if it’s Maher’s are we to assume that the sage of Morris believes he’s a better source of wisdom than, literally, any Catholic or others who believe in the literal presence? I’d ask PZ directly but have found he gets rather emotional when challenged to account for his reasoning.

  • http://thatatheistguysblog.blogspot.com NYCatheist

    Some of these religious people have produced some of the foundation works of math and science, does that mean that you don’t trust their work?

    I guess it depends what day of the week they produced it. ;-)

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Good point, NYCatheist, as traditional Catholics would tend to observe the Sunday sabbath. And I might accept regarding them as going off their beam once a week (though I’ve read some rather impressive reasoning about the issue, not that I believe it myself) but the statement is that the one day would preclude them from being “rational” all week too. I’m wondering if that means I should abandon algebra of two variables and the rest of math that depends on it as well as solid geometry.

    Looks like music was the right thing to major…., oh, oh. Can’t do that either without risking irrationality.

  • http://thatatheistguysblog.blogspot.com NYCatheist

    Maybe instead of being rudely hyperbolic in calling religious folks irrational, we can instead say they are “part-time rationalists”. As many have pointed out, there are plenty of people in the world who really believe 72 virgins await them after death, yet have the technical (and rational) skill to construct a nuclear weapon.

    Even I, a paragon of atheistic rationality (heh), have my moments where I take a vacation from rational though, and those thoughts might very well be “colorless green ideas sleeping furiously”.

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    You can’t be a rational person six days a week…and on one day of the week, go to a building, and think you’re drinking the blood of a two thousand year old space god.

    Ok, so what about those who believe in medical quackery 24/7?

    What’s interesting is that Maher contradicts himself. He says that line that I quoted and then agrees that the religious are compartmentalizing, which implies that they are doing the very thing he says they can’t do. Oh, and bonus demerits for flippant use of the word “retarded.”

    I like Bill Maher a lot of the time, but he isn’t immune to irrationality.

  • Mriana

    Christian Hillbilly. :lol: Yup! I’d say that is Matt Romney alright.

  • http://badidea.wordpress.com Bad

    I have to say I sort of agree. Maher’s point seems a little ill edited. It’s quite clear that people can and do do what he says they “can’t.” It would have made more sense if he said that they shouldn’t do it. That was, in fact, probably exactly what he meant, and “you can’t” can have that meaning. But when taken out of context in a quote, that’s not quite what it seems to say.

  • http://www.saintgasoline.com Saint Gasoline

    Basically, what the quote is implying that you can’t consider yourself “rational” if on one day of the week you believe in irrational nonsense such as the dogma of the Catholic church. You can be the most eminent scientist of all time in your day job, but if you believe in talking snakes and miracles, you’re obviously discrediting all your other scientific good sense in at least one particular realm of discourse.

    It’d be a lot like believing that driving is the most reasonable method for getting to work six days a week, but on the seventh day all of a suddent thinking walking on your hands is somehow a more reasonable method for getting around.

  • Carry On

    Hi to all, The point everyone seems to be missing about Bill Maher is that he is a comedian first and foremost in his appearances, and his opinions just happen to be atheistic and written for a laugh, as well as for the point he wants to make. He is a fabulous voice for returning sanity to our nation. There really is no middle ground between believing and not believing. Weekdays, or weekend, you either do, or you don’t. Linking all this to the rational work some people do is a side step I’m not following.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Hemant, do you agree with the quote in your post from PZ? If you do, how can you explain all of the quite rational people who believe and practice religion?

    That quote is from Maher, not PZ. Are there rational people who also practice religion? Yes. But in church or in their religious life, they do choose to believe something on faith that I believe is inherently irrational. That’s not calling them crazy. We all know there are intelligent people who believe in God. But depending on what stories you believe, there is a gradation of how much irrationality you feel comfortable accepting.

    There’s a difference to me between someone who accepts scientific truths but thinks there has to be “something more” out there and someone who thinks God created us in our present form and actually listens to our prayers. And that should come into account.

    Maher lumps them all together for convenience and comedic effect.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Thank you for the clarification, Hemant. In the heat of blog posting it’s easy to give offense where none is intended.

    I think it only makes sense to think of things in terms of rationality and irrationality if they are susceptible to reasoning. Religious beiiefs can only become irrational when it is possible to refute them with physical evidence. Otherwise it’s no more a question of rationality than a preference for red over green or Lewis over Pullman, though in the latter some of us vote none of the above.

  • Carry On

    “Religious believer” includes the most hysterical individual to the barely interested and Hermant makes that point in his most recent post.

    Some believers seem to be making up their own rules about what they can and can’t believe. For example, I could never make myself think there was a devil, or a hell, among other things, so I didn’t believe that part. When a person gets to that point, they are very close to not believing at all. They are counted as believers, but they undermine the church and don’t generally support it financially. Maher’s humor is quite possible aimed at helping them take that last step or two toward atheism.

    The stakes are high. Believing is a mandated requirement for any presidential candidate in 2008. Why? Is that a guaranty of morality, statesmanship, intellengence or coalition building? Nontheists can bring all those things to the table, but the country is in the hands of the religious right. I want a president who can think critically and logically about the problems we face and let someone else do the praying for devine guidance, whatever THAT is.

  • ash

    olvlzl,

    Religious beiiefs can only become irrational when it is possible to refute them with physical evidence.

    do you not consider the claim of absolute knowledge on this subject irrational? many religious people claim to know god, speak to god, even see and hear god. if they described their god as ‘harvey-the-six-foot-rabbit’ they would be considered irrational, it seems an exemption of standards to decide because they are calling these experiences a god it may suddenly be rational.

    i don’t really care if people follow a deist or pantheist approach to religion, but as soon as doctrines creep in with paticular qualities attributed to their god, religion is claiming to know the unknowable, and that for me is where irrationality begins. (for clarity, i agree with Hemant that there’s definately huge variables of irrationality throughout religious beliefs).

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    ash, religious people who claim to know anything about the existence of a God open themselves up to legitimate demands to demonstrate how they know it. Believing in a God doesn’t make the same claim. Knowing something isn’t cut and dried but part of knowing something is the ability to pass on the knowledge to people on a basis other than desiring something to be true or who are indifferent to it. Some people claim to know that memes exist but they aren’t able to demonstrate their existence in a way that would compel other people to acknowledge the existence of them Asserting that you know what you only believe is irrational, believing in something while admitting that you don’t know it isn’t irrational, it’s realistic. That’s the difference.

  • http://journals.aol.ca/plittle/AuroraWalkingVacation/ Paul

    I think the most interesting thing about this comment thread is the fact that if olvlzl had actually watched the video to which Hemant linked, he would not have had to ask his question in the first place.

  • http://www.ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    Hemant said:

    There’s a difference to me between someone who accepts scientific truths but thinks there has to be “something more” out there and someone who thinks God created us in our present form and actually listens to our prayers.

    Would it be completely out of the question to be all of the above?

    Carry on said:

    Believing is a mandated requirement for any presidential candidate in 2008. Why?

    Correction. Claiming to believe is. Who can tell if anyone is a true believer?

  • Maria

    What’s interesting is that Maher contradicts himself. He says that line that I quoted and then agrees that the religious are compartmentalizing, which implies that they are doing the very thing he says they can’t do. Oh, and bonus demerits for flippant use of the word “retarded.”

    I agee. I also don’t like how he makes generalizations.

    There’s a difference to me between someone who accepts scientific truths but thinks there has to be “something more” out there and someone who thinks God created us in our present form and actually listens to our prayers. And that should come into account.

    Yes it should. Too bad it doesn’t. I think Conan should have called him on it and said “so if you think I’m a Schizo, why are you on my show?” Having worked with schizophrenics, I’d say that’s a very strong word to use to generalize all people who believe in a god (though it certainly seems almost true for people like Pat Robertson and many fundies/evangelicals!)

    Maher lumps them all together for convenience and comedic effect.

    Yeah, and it’s not very funny.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Paul, I didn’t watch it because I have a slow connection. Doesn’t someone of PZ Myer’s reputation and known point of view quoting the statement count for something? If I’d endorsed the bigoted and stupid statements of some religious fundamentalist, which I never would do, I can assure you it would become an issue.

    As to what you find most interesting, to each his own.


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