Atheists’ Meeting with White House Officials Discussed on Real Time with Bill Maher

I don’t know how I missed this, but in the (Internet-only) “Overtime” segment of Real Time with Bill Maher last Friday, the entire discussion revolved around the Secular Coalition for America’s briefing with White House officials. (They didn’t mention us by name, but we all know…)

The segment is NSFW (there’s swearing).

I cringed during most of the beginning part.

Adam Carolla doesn’t get it at all. Penn Jillette isn’t our saving grace. Maher makes a good point that we can’t get proper representation at the table unless we’re organized. But he of all people should know there is indeed one openly non-theistic member of Congress (Rep. Pete Stark came out in 2007, thanks to the SCA).

Any other thoughts?

  • Brandon

    Okay, so I watched it halfway through, partly because it was loading really choppily and partly because they started to get off-topic.

    I absolutely agree with your thoughts, Hemant. I’ve never really liked Adam Carolla that much (I don’t like his comedic style) and the beginning of this segment didn’t help my opinion.

    Being an atheist is supposed to be about not giving a shit? Penn Jillette is supposed to be our figurehead? WTF? I think Adam just personally doesn’t give a shit, and is projecting his attitude.

    Bill Maher did a good job pointing out the “biggest unrepresented minority” thing. And I had no idea that Pete Stark was an out atheist. Still…one member of Congress isn’t that much. That’s less than 0.5% of the House, compared to approximately 16% of the population, and like Bill Maher said, that viewpoint never comes up, is never represented.

  • http://www.twitter.com/bobbymauger Bobby

    If you can’t watch it, or don’t want to kill 8 minutes, here’s the summary:
    Adam calls himself an an atheist, but has atheist confused with misanthrope. Bill calls him and Christyna out on it.
    Then Bill calls her out for using religion as a crutch for “explaining ethics to children is hard” even while claiming no religion herself.
    The conversation then devolves into “is there a god?” debate between morons.
    It then goes further off topic to “can you be suicide bomber without religion?”
    The end.

  • http://www.facebook.com/amandajeantetz Amanda Tetz

    Aye… So much about this makes me cringe. haha

    Gosh, where to begin?

    First of all, I hate Adam’s attitude toward atheism. I understand where he’s coming from, and I myself am guilty of speaking out against religion about as fervently as someone defending their diety but the fact is, it is a societal misconception that atheism should be about “not giving a shit”. I think speaking out against religion is so taboo to so many people, that as soon as someone does it, it becomes a personal attack on people with faith and we’re automatically out-of-control, offensive assholes with no desire to understand where the religious are coming from.
    And that sort of works in to what Bill was saying about having a voice. We don’t have one – not because we aren’t well-represented, merely because we are incredibly censored. As soon as you question someone’s faith, you’re somehow denying their right to freedom of religion. [While conversely, missionaries can come to your door and sell you their religion, completely ignoring your right to freedom from religion... And no one is offended... Could it be that those without faith are more accepting of people believing in whatever they want? hmmm...]

    The other thing that absolutely floored me was something that Ms. Freeland said:
    “I don’t personally have faith, but as a mother I definitely make my kids go to church.”
    :O!!! Please excuse the emoticon but are you serious?! It seems her idea is that she’s using church to teach her children good morals and the difference between right and wrong. Which is understandable – although I haven’t the slightest idea why she doesn’t think she can teach this to her children herself instead of using a set of moral standards that are completely against human nature, incredibly outdated and, in my opinion, completely inapplicable to the modern world.

    Phew.
    I had a lot more to say, but I’m gonna end it there. lol
    Another fab post from the Friendly Atheist! Thanks so much!

  • Lynx

    Carolla was obviously joking about Jillette. He advocates for “to each his or her own” non-interventionist atheism. I disagree, but he’s stil at least clear on what he believes.

    Much more worriesome was the woman. She doesn’t believe but she forces her kids to go to church. Wow…just…wow. So she knowingly is bringing her children up in a web of lies because doing all the work of bringing up her kids with good moral values herself is, what, to much of a bother? So much for the moral value of honesty, eh?

    I’ve seen Dennett talk a lot about atheists who “believe in belief”. People who essentially don’t believe themselves but think belief itself is awesome for other people. I hadn’t ever actually seen one of those people before now. I’m a little surprised at just how much it pissed me off. Give me Carolla’s “leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone” any day over “I don’t have faith but lets lie to the kids, ok?”.

  • KeithLM

    I understand Carolla’s feelings, and I used to be more like that. Bill Maher explains the problem with being apathetic about it. So it was somewhat fortunate that Carolla went that way so that the issue could be discussed.

  • Aj

    Truth relativism (it’s not skepticism), belief in belief, apathetic agnosticism, misrepresenting science, misquoting Steven Weinberg, and an atheist who sends her kids to church. A pathetic bunch, I didn’t expect intelligent discussion on anything Bill Maher’s involved in.

  • Michael

    The woman probably sends her children to church for social reasons. She alluded to “societal values” a lot, and it sounded to me like she was trying to rationalize sending her kids to church because she didn’t want them to become social misfits.
    If so, that’s an extremely cowardly thing to do. At best, it’s an extremely lazy parenting strategy.

    I can also empathize with Corolla, and I don’t think what he said is really a bad thing. He sounds like a scared person. I’ve never listened to his radio show, but I’m pretty sure that his strength lies in comedy. There are defensible reasons to distrust a political group that claims to represent you, but he didn’t really mention any of them. The whole attitude of “I refuse to give a shit” postpones having to commit to others’ opinions.

    But many people are in the same position as Corolla. How do you deal with issues that scare you and you aren’t comfortable with? For some people, comedy is the best way to go. Corolla can help make those people more comfortable with themselves. It’s a hell of a lot better than leaving them to alone with pressure to conform and reconvert.
    We need to support our misanthropic kin that don’t want to give a shit.

  • Richard Wade

    Adam Carolla said,

    The whole point of being an atheist is not giving a shit.

    No, the whole point of being Adam Carolla is not giving a shit.

    I agree with Michael, he sounds like he’s scared. Scared of the consequences of coming out from behind his glib and blithe spoiled brat apathy and working against the status quo to make a positive difference. Characterizing atheists who organize to press for policy change as being “religious” is just his transparent excuse for his indifference to issues that effect him, but that he’s too lazy or timid to think about.

    He said that he as an atheist just wants to be left alone. Well, the freedom to be left alone that he’s enjoying was given to him by people who gave a shit, and gave their lives as well. He and the rest of us won’t be left alone indefinitely if we all follow his example and don’t give a shit.

    We’re surrounded by fanatics who definitely give a shit, and that’s what they’ll be giving us and everybody else if we don’t work hard to counter them.

    To paraphrase the famous saying, “The only thing necessary for shit to triumph is for good men to be like Adam Carolla.”


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X