Bill Maher on Christianity, the Bible and Fairy Tales

Here is Bill Maher in his 2000 special “Be More Cynical” talking about the Christianity:

I thought his point of God being a “single parent” was pretty good.

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  • Reginald Selkirk

    Interesting that in 2000 he still claimed to believe in God, although clearly not the God of the Bible.

    • rodneyAnonymous

      I think he was just trying not to be offensive, because denying the existence of God was not his point/joke, but the gloves came off after 9/11. Maybe not. “During Maher’s appearance on Larry King Live on August 11, 2005, he said he was an agnostic who nevertheless is still quite open to the idea that God exists.” Seems like his opinion is similar to LRA’s.

      • Teleprompter

        In “Religulous”, Maher claims to be agnostic, while trying to make the case that virtually all religious claims are absurd.

        However, someone needs to let Maher know that atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive. He really does not know what the terms mean, which I can’t blame him for all that much, since there is a lot of messy and imprecise use of these words almost everywhere.

        • rodneyAnonymous


      • LRA

        On God, I hope there is a god and I hope that I have a soul/spirit that returns to god when I die, but I don’t believe those things nor disbelieve them, I only hope them. I also don’t know those things. So what does that make me? Agnostic for sure (not knowing), but neither theist nor atheist. It there a word for someone who’s neither theist nor atheist?

        • rodneyAnonymous

          I don’t believe those things nor disbelieve them

          Atheism. LMNOP would call it ignosticism, I think, but weak atheism is lack of belief in gods and strong atheism is belief that there are no gods.

          • rodneyAnonymous

            (That is, agnostic atheist.)

          • rodneyAnonymous

            Also, scratch that, ignostic was literally having no knowledge or belief. You know what gods might be and therefore don’t qualify; discussion was whether or not babies are born atheist, which it turns out I don’t think is accurate.

        • John C

          Yes, because you hold to a measure of hope, you could be rightly called a dreamer, even a romantic, hopeful and open regardless of how small the window, it remains cracked ever so slightly. There is also an element of humility mixed in.

          Hope is a beautiful thing, dont ever relinquish it entirely, for then…you cease to dream and the fairy tales only come true for the dreamers.

          “Imagination has always had power of resurrection that no science can match”.

          Ingrid Bengis

    • Sock

      He claimed to still believe in God in the same way that Joe the Plumber has gay friends.

  • MahouSniper

    Heh, I like Bill Maher. He can be a bit extreme at times but I do find him funny. I like his show Real Time a lot.

  • rodneyAnonymous

    I thought his point of God being a “single parent” was pretty good.

    In the street window of a shop downstairs is a T-shirt that bears the slogan “Jesus Had Two Daddies”… hehe

  • Kodie

    On, Bill Maher is listed as ambiguous (out of atheist, agnostic, and ambiguous). On the page for each celebrity seems to be a collection of things they have been quoted as saying at one time or another, including answers to outright questions in interviews. Ambiguous could mean it’s hard to tell from what they said or they deliberately avoided saying anything firm but seem to lean toward skepticism or doubt, or they’ve firmly stated they are ambiguous. Bill Maher states so.

    The last two observations on the page are:

    “Note that Maher is classified as Category:Ambiguous because he has said (earlier, paraphrased) that while he disdains organized religion he nevertheless doesn’t reject the possibility of a god. It’s not clear if this position of his is still in effect.”

    “Bill Maher stated on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” on Monday, September 29, 2008, promoting his movie, “Religulous,” that he is not an atheist because he sees it as the mirror image of theism and he rejects certainty. It sounds like he would likely accept the label of agnostic.”

    For comparison, George Clooney is ambiguous a different way:
    From Larry King Live February 16, 2006:

    King: Did you lose your faith, or do you still have it?
    Clooney: I don’t have a specific….Yeah…I don’t….You know. It’s an interesting thing. I’ll tell you what’s tricky about this. In talking about religion, if you’re well known, anything you say, it sort of takes off about a bunch of other people and attacks their belief. So I always try to say that, you know, first and foremost, that whatever anybody believes as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else, it’s fair enough, and works, and I think, is real, and matters. I don’t happen to have those beliefs, as much, you know, I don’t believe in those things.

    I don’t know if this is dumb of me, but I was surprised at a lot of names on the home page, and for some reason glad. You know, who cares what famous people do or think, but it had a validating feeling that famous people can be and have been clear and outspoken about their atheism and not lost their fame and fortune.

    • rodneyAnonymous

      “I do not believe in gods” and “I do not believe it is possible to know whether gods exist” = “agnostic atheist”… but yeah, the word “atheist” has a lot of baggage, so many people who technically qualify avoid using the label

    • Siberia

      Lots of good writers on that list…

  • John C

    A nine year old, cynical Maher rant? Getting desparate for new material are you D? Cuz you know, you could always ask me and I would gladly supply you with some LIFE-GIVING words and materials my friend, :)

    Keep’em coming…

    • Lisa S

      Now that’s funny…John C calling Dan desperate…the man that pretended (and poorly, I might add) to be an atheist….


    • Daniel Florien

      Do I sense chronological snobbery?

      • John C

        No, that’s a limitation of attempting to communicate as much as we do through such a limted medium as this…no voice inflection or physical animation to accurately and fully depict the the true meaning of what one is trying to say.

        It was an innocent comment, just being goofy…goofy John, no snobbery intended, I hope I didnt offend, was not my intent.

  • Michael Gray

    I stopped listening at after the 2 minute mark when he said “I believe in God”.

  • Custador

    I liked this: “Was there ever a bigger victim of name dropping than Jesus?”

  • plasticpatrick

    I am surprised to see this on such a rabid God basher site such as this. It’s basically an 8 minute ad for Jesus. I don’t think Bill had one bad thing to say about Jesus. He had a lot to say about the people who would use Jesus as a prop though.
    For starters, let’s separate a bit of ambiguity. Religion does not equal Christianity does not equal belief in God. Religion is the social structure set up around a certain spiritual paradigm to express the commonality of the participants. It’s like God’s (or the anti-god) social club. Christianity is a flavor of religion. Belief in God is not religion. Chances are, if you believe in God, you belong to a religion or at least identify with one. Just like windows is not the computer, the two just hang out together a fair bit, but one does not mean the other.
    I try to be a follower of Christ (Jesus). Many people would say that makes me a Christian, so be it. For me, religion is not something that God or some power hungry elites dreamed up to keep me down, but it is something that helps me understand more about God and other people. I totally get that many people see all the wrongs that people representing religion, the church or even God have done and say, “Therefore there is no god.” I have often wondered why a supposedly perfect God started a flawed human project that has helped some and hurt some, that is inherently corrupt and prone to abuse.
    At best religion can be a tremendous support system, aiding people to discover the meaning of love (love God, love humanity) and even in its worst forms, it can be the bread crumbs that lead to the knowledge of God. Perhaps this is why Jesus started the church or at least planted the seeds that would start the church shortly after his departure.
    Getting back to Jesus, there’s a reason why the people Jesus had the most disdain for were the religious leaders of his day. These very leaders had him killed. Not that much changes in 2000 years. Religious leaders would still be killing people if they had the power to do so. Thank God for separation of church and state. Religion is structure, people want to climb to the top of the structure to rule everyone else. But Jesus rewrote the rules. The last will be first and the first will be last. The greatest among you will be the servant of all. Who is the greatest? Not me. I’m sure you don’t know their name.

    • Teleprompter

      We have religion in every society on Earth, and people claim that the ubiquity of religion is evidence for the merits of its claims. One problem with this idea is that religion is not a monolith. There are many conceptions of God or gods.

      I respect the idea that the practice of a belief should be primarily an individual relationship and not a domineering social structure, but I still do not see enough evidence to suggest that this individual relationship would actually possess any divine or cosmic importance. Why should I have this relationship myself?

      In many cultures, belief does not appear to be a central tenet of religion — rather, practice is emphasized over “believability”. Why are so many variants of Christianity and Islam so dependent on “belief”?

      I agree that many variants of Islam and Christianity do emphasize practice over belief to a much greater degree, but this often seems to be the exception. Since I cannot believe the claims of these religions, it seems that I cannot gain anything from practicing them, according to the structures of the religions themselves.

      If I were to pursue ‘a personal relationship with Christ”, as many commenters on UF would advise, how would I be able to do this if not for the work of the institutional structures of the religion? People claim that their beliefs are not a religion and yet often they would never have known of these tenets except for the presence of the religion they came is redundant. People everywhere are having profound personal experiences, and complement them with a religion of their environment.

      When the name is Krishna or Allah, and not Jesus, and the “personal relationship” is just as strong, it makes you wonder exactly what it means to have a “personal relationship”, doesn’t it?

      • plasticpatrick

        It is entirely possible to have a belief in God and/or a relationship with God or Jesus without the support of the adjoining religion. The ascetics and hermits proved this point. Albeit that they sort of contradict the idea of the great commission they did maintain a connection with God and preferred to have little or no connection with anyone let alone a church.
        Ideally, the church should act as a moral support, but it shouldn’t be the conduit of belief. Just the same as any given atheist can believe what they believe without coming to UF, but you choose to come here to be with like minded individuals. It is similar with religions of a different nature. People like to be with like minded people.
        “Why are so many variants of Christianity and Islam so dependent on “belief”?”(as opposed to practice.) That is a very perceptive observation.
        The fundamental difference between Christianity and all other religions is belief vs. practice. All other religions you have to earn your place by the virtue of your practice (good works, prayer, the five pillars of Islam, bathing in a certain river or whatever). Christianity understands that you can’t do anything for God: he does for you. You’re only real responsibility is to believe and be obedient (to God, not a priest,pope or pastor), anything good that comes after that is a byproduct of your relationship with God, at least in theory. Part of the reason that there are so many Christians that are jerks is that they aren’t practicing this principle and are trying to do good on their own. I don’t want to get too much into Christian jargon but that is what is meant by the “Fruits of the Spirit”. Love, joy, hope, etc. are only present when we are in proper “relations” with God (the Spirit). The problem with trying to do good on our own is that human beings have difficulty with true altruism. We are at least looking for recognition or some other type of payback for the good or notable things we do.

    • JK

      I don’t think ppl would believe in god/gods if there wasn’t religion everywhere. I don’t recall having had the need for a god as a child. But even ppl not believing in god use idioms such as omg, because it is part of our language, which is influenced by the religion which had great influence on ppls lives for centuries, above all because the churches had enormous power even over the kings and social elites.