Category: Faith vs. Reason

In his 2008 film “Religulous,” Bill Maher makes the argument that belief in God is ridiculous. The term “religulous” is a combination of the words “religion” and “ridiculous.” Maher’s main goal with the film seems to be to convince people that religion is responsible for most of the evil in the world, and that we would all be better off if religion was eradicated. The film begins with Maher in Israel, near the Valley of Megiddo, the location where the end-times Battle of Armageddon is prophesied in the Bible. Maher’s point is that religion, if it is not destroyed, will cause the destruction of the world.

In his assault on religion, Maher attacks Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Mormonism. His main target, though, is Christianity. Nearly half of the documentary is dedicated to attacking Christianity. Maher argues that there is no historical evidence that Jesus ever existed and that the main beliefs of Christianity are simply Christianized versions of other religious beliefs. Maher, of course, presents very one-sided views on these issues. Since these attacks have already been well-answered many times, we will only respond to them briefly. First, there is overwhelming historical evidence that a man named Jesus lived in Israel in the early 1st century A.D. There is more attestation to Jesus’ existence than nearly any other historical figure of that time period.

Second, all of the beliefs that Maher claims Christianity borrowed from other religions are, in fact, evidence of the opposite. There are no historical or religious documents which pre-date Christianity that contain beliefs that are identical, or even closely similar, to the beliefs of Christianity. All of the documents from these religions that contain beliefs that are similar to Christianity are dated to centuries after Christianity began. Maher makes the illogical assumption that the post-spread-of-Christianity beliefs of these religions are the same as the pre-spread-of-Christianity beliefs of these religions. History records that Christianity spread rapidly in the 1st through 5th centuries A.D. The other religions of that time copied Christian beliefs, attributing Christ-like characteristics to their own messiahs / founders, in an attempt to stop the spread of Christianity. Again, there is not a single ancient document that pre-dates the spread of Christianity which presents explicit Christian-like beliefs in other religions.

In addition to reusing these weak and invalid arguments, “Religulous” spends a great deal of time showing Maher making religious people look ridiculous. Whether it is an actor who plays Jesus at a Holy Land theme park, or a South American cult leader who claims to be Jesus, or tourists of biblical sites in Israel, Maher asks loaded questions, and the responses are clearly edited to make the person look as foolish as possible. “Religulous” gives very little time to anyone who can intelligently argue for God’s existence or defend the beliefs of Christianity. Instead, Maher interviews only individuals whom even most Christians would consider to be ridiculous.

Perhaps the only redeeming quality of Maher’s “Religulous” is the expose on Islam. Maher correctly notes how dangerous radical Islam is. The problem is that Maher seemingly attributes this same danger to anyone who believes in God. Maher’s goal was not to produce an honest and informative documentary on the dangers of religion. Rather, Maher’s goal was to make any and every religion appear to be ridiculous at best and dangerous at worst.

Maher claims to be an agnostic. He claims to not know whether God exists or if there is life after death. However, for someone who claims not to know, Maher dogmatically argues against any belief in God. Maher clearly believes that God does not exist. The core message of “Religulous” is that anyone with a brain should be able to come to the conclusion that God does not exist. Maher’s arrogance, disdain for people of faith, and condescension to anyone who does not agree with him is clearly seen throughout the film. Maher reveals himself to be precisely what he is attacking, a closed-minded bigot who thinks he has all the answers.

Psalm 14:1 declares, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” The word “fool” in this verse does not refer to intelligence. It is the Hebrew word that refers to a person without morals. Psalm 14:1 is saying that an immoral person denies the existence of God to remove any responsibility for the immoral and evil actions the person commits. Maher is an intelligent man. Morally speaking, though, Maher is a fool. In “Religulous,” Maher himself says that he rejects God because God has rules that interfere with his sex life. In the end, that is all that “Religulous” is, a sad attempt to attack religion in order to escape from God’s moral commands. Bill Maher clearly demonstrates the truth of Psalm 14:1, “The [moral] fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”

Faith vs. Reason

Faith—“the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)—is knowing that God will honor His Word. But reason, which opposes Hebrews 11:1, tries to trump faith by invoking man’s intellect.

Reason places confidence in man, but it is actually closely related to worry. All the while, the Father waits patiently for us to acknowledge our need of a Savior and then respond in faith. Reason says, “I can do it.” Faith says, “With God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Reason says, “Hurry and get yours before it’s gone.”

Faith responds, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Reason wrings its hands and says, “There has to be a better way!” Faith looks at Jesus and hears Him whisper, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

God’s Word states that the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. It makes no sense whatsoever to them because Satan has blinded their eyes to the truth. But to us who are being saved, the gospel is the very power of God (1 Cor. 1:18).

The Lord says, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside” (1 Cor. 1:19). Those who are of the world may seem to have the upper hand now, but a time will come when they will wither as the grass. Only those belonging to Christ in faith truly possess eternity.

Am I responding in faith?

So how do we ensure that we are living by faith rather than by reason?

Faith is hope taken a step further. For example, hope says, “I want something to happen, but I’m not sure it will.” However, faith says, “I want something to happen, and I’m absolutely certain that it will because God has promised it.”

Hope is an important element of Christianity. But when God gives us a specific promise about something we hope for, that’s when it we are to have faith. We can act on the promises God gives us—thanking and praising Him for their completion. Because we have faith, we have confidence that God is who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do, regardless of how our circumstances appear. Reason requires evidence. But faith understands that God will keep His word to us.

To be sure you are responding in faith, focus on the Father. God has the very best plan for our lives and you can absolutely trust Him to fulfill it.