Seth MacFarlane on the Rise of Atheism: “It’s About Fucking Time”

What does Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane have to say about the rise of the atheists?

“It’s about fucking time.”

Here he is on Real Time with Bill Maher last night:

Bill tries to give credit for this to his movie Religulous. Of course, this movement was happening long before he came onto the scene. It’s thanks to the national organizations for getting their acts together, the grassroots movement to get people to come out, the success of the bestselling atheist books, and every person who has come out of the closet.

We’re not done yet; there’s a long way to go. But I hope the scale has been tipped.

(via Atheist Media Blog)

  • Rob

    “Bill tries to give credit for this to his movie Religulous”

    Please tell me you’re not that dense.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    I think there’s a bit of sarcasm to it, but not much. I think Maher really feels his movie should be given credit for some of the atheist boom.

  • http://www.mysapce.com/kaylalovesfamilyguy Kayla abbott

    I’m not gonna lie i am a huge seth macfarlane fan but, to get to the point I’m an atheist and i never even heard of bill maher till a few days ago. so don’t give your movie credit bud!

  • Stephan

    He was obviously joking about his movie being the cause as the next thing out of his mouth is that “no, I just think that it is in general a movement; it’s books it’s movies…”

    Relax people.

  • Manochao

    Maher was being sarcastic.

  • Jeru

    Bill was being very sarcastic, he is a comedian after all not just a social commentator. :)

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    The interview would have been really funny if Seth had done it all in Stewie’s voice.

  • http://theedger.org Ron Brown

    Jeff: Yes, yes it would’ve!

    I figured MacFarlane was an atheist given Family Guy’s history of mocking religion, Christianity in particular.

    Another force for the movement toward increased consideration of unbelief and increased skepticism of religion – and one that I don’t see mentioned in the lists of factors (e.g., best-selling books, organizations, etc.) – is the role played by popular TV shows. Bill Maher may be the most cited example of a nonbeliever in media (though, it continues to baffle me that, after all these years, he continues to misunderstand what atheism is….), but he’s not the biggest major media factor. I’d give more weight to South Park, Family Guy and The Simpsons. Sure, they may not fly the flag of unbelief as frequently as Maher, but they have far vaster cultural reach. They are watched by way more people, which includes younger people and people who are not already members of the choir. Not that everyone who watches Maher is necessarily an unbeliever, but surely there are less unbelievers among viewers of the three big cartoons than there are among regular viewers of Maher.

    I remember another funny little mockery of religion on The Office (NBC). Due to some bad luck the boss, Michael Scott, gathered all the employees together to find out their religious beliefs and to consider the possibility of creating a new God or spirit to worship. The fact that Michael’s character is recognized as an ignorant moron just amplifies the mockery. Further amplification came when the company’s luck improved and Michael, consequently, declared that there is in fact a God and he does have a plan for you. He then went onto say that if there wasn’t a God, then what are all these churches doing here?

    Classic.

    Perhaps Hemant can do a post on other examples of major pop cultural endorsements of skepticism, agnosticism, and/or atheism, and mockeries of religion.

  • http://maxhavok.blogspot.com Jason

    I love the fact that Brian came out as being an atheist…. the most intellectual, level-headed character on Family Guy is an atheist.

  • Magnifico Giganticus

    I doubt very much that Bill really thinks his movie is responsible for anything. Look at him smirking when he says it. I think he knows his movie really had almost no impact and was joking on it.

  • http://theedger.org Ron Brown

    Magnifico:

    I wouldn’t say that this movie had almost no impact. It’s hard to measure impact on a per-initiative basis. It’s also fuzzy to decide on where to draw the lines when assessing degree of impact (e.g., massive, significant, insignificant, etc.). But regardless, I would be surprised if a rigorous sociological study were to somehow find that, all things considered, this film had almost no impact.

    Bill Maher is a fairly well-known celebrity who went out of his way to direct his first movie. A big screen movie playing all over the place. And it’s about a very controversial subject that has already been receiving notable media coverage and a level of public debate that has not been seen in, at the least, a very long time.

    In addition to the movie itself, there’s the promotional efforts: advertising on TV, magazines, newspapers, the net, streets, etc.; interviews on major TV stations; write-ups in major newspapers, websites, etc.; reactions from religious organizations, etc etc etc.

    The movie’s content and the publicity it received does a few very important things. Of critical importance is that it keeps the issue on the public agenda. It keeps religious doubt, atheism, and so on on the public radar and people’s minds. And given the magnitude of the project (big screen movie) and the publicity, it somewhat amplifies the issue.

    Next, while much of the discussion and viewing of the film will be done by atheists and staunch critics of atheism, surely less familiar people will also view the film or observe or partake in discussions of it and the subject matter.

    And then there’s the credibility given to atheism and skepticism by virtue of its endorsement by a celebrity and its presentation on major media.

    While it may seem like just another movie. And similarly, the recent front page New York Times article on atheism may seem like just another article (albeit a big one) that will be old news to most people who are even aware that it was ever there within 24 hours. But the presentation of the issues and the perspectives by celebrities in the highest medias sends some powerful implicit messages – that this issue *matters* and is worthy of consideration, and that perhaps atheism, which has long been tarred, may not be that bad if people like Bill Maher are strongly defending it (though, ignorantly, he thinks he isn’t).

  • justanotherjones

    Bill Maher may be the most cited example of a nonbeliever in media (though, it continues to baffle me that, after all these years, he continues to misunderstand what atheism is….)

    I agree! And he says that atheism is not the correct position, that agnosticism is.

  • http://www.banalleakage.com martymankins

    Jason said it best with this:

    I love the fact that Brian came out as being an atheist…. the most intellectual, level-headed character on Family Guy is an atheist.

    As a huge Seth fan, I love this (and can’t wait for the podcast of Real Time since I don’t get HBO anymore).

    And to echo others, Bill was being sarcastic. I think he does get some credit for helping the atheist movement along a bit more, but most of it I think is two fold: the right wing religious nut jobs over-the-top revelations since Bush left office looking more odd than they were before and level headed people like Richard Dawkins not making over-the-top statements and gaining respect from the growing masses.

  • Dave Huntsman

    If we were to start a list of things that have led to the movement in recent years, it would indeed include Bill Maher’s movie, in the 2008 category. The real father of the movement is George Bush; and we were led by two Brits, Dawkins and Hitchens, who actively started the pushback and came to help save us in America. (’bout time the Brits came and saved us, for a change). And it would include Daniel Dennet and Sam, Infidel Guys and FFRF, etc. Lots of good people helped us get to this point where we have a chance of fighting for America again and taking us into the future.

  • Tony

    If you are atheist I would recommend (if you are not familiar with it already) looking into Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism.

  • sebast975

    i agree with Maher that agnosticism is probably the better position for people who don’t believe in god because it can’t be proved. Otherwise, to say that you believe that there never was a god (when that can’t really be proved either) is somewhat hypocritical.


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