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The Compass Versus The Chicken Entrails
Via evolutionblog, Bill Maher on Scarborough Country, on why he's had it out for religion:

BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME": I've always had it out for religion, for very good reasons. It's mostly destructive. I don't know what happens after you die, but to believe what another person tells me just makes me want to say to that person, "How do you know?" So that's what I would ask you. How do you know what happens after you die?

It's only, Joe, because somebody in this long game of telephone from 2000 years ago told you what it was. But if some person hadn't told you, and a person just came up to you on the street and says, "Yes, there's a God, and he had a son, and he sent him on a suicide mission to Earth. And then, on Easter, he flies bodily up to Heaven." I mean, what would you think of a person in the 21st century who believed that somebody could fly bodily up to Heaven?

SCARBOROUGH: But Mr. Maher wasn't finished with that. He went on to talk about religion's effect on politics in America and around the world.

MAHER: It's extremely dangerous. It warps people's thinking. The Bush administration has 150 graduates of Pat Robertson's law school. That's right, Pat Robertson, the man who believes that hurricanes are caused by gay people.

Monica Goodling, who was a very high official in the Justice Department, she was 33 years old, and she was given the job of evaluating all of the U.S. attorneys, all people who are older than her, with more experience, who really know what they're doing. She graduates from Pat Robertson's law school and, at the age of 33, is given this job. Why? Because she and her boss, Alberto Gonzales, and his boss, George Bush, belong to the same cult.

Yes, it's the same cult, but basically what qualified her for this was that they all believe that this space God flew up bodily to Heaven and that's going to save their ass, OK? These are not qualifications for high government office, and that's just one example. Religion warps...

SCARBOROUGH: So are you saying that Christians that believe, as I believe, that there was a Jesus, that he was born, that he died, and he rose again, should we be disqualified from public service because we belong to this cult?

MAHER: You shouldn't be disqualified from public service, but it shouldn't be the most important qualification. And it is, apparently, in the Bush administration.

SCARBOROUGH: Of course not. But that's about George Bush; that's not about Jesus Christ.

MAHER: OK, but George Bush...

SCARBOROUGH: Come on. You and I both know it's not about Jesus. It's about loyalty to George Bush. That's the number-one qualification for working in the Bush administration.

MAHER: You asked me what I had against religion. I'm telling you. It warps the opinions of people who run the world and the people who believe it enable those people to run the world so badly. Why is it going so badly in Iraq? Basically, because there are two sects, the Shiites and the Sunnis, and they have a quarrel over who succeeded Muhammad in the seventh century. That's why...

SCARBOROUGH: Take that up with Shiites and Sunnis. You don't see Christians going around shooting each other in America, do you?

MAHER: I'm just making the point, Joe, that religion warps people's thinking. Until we get over these, I'm sorry, yes, childhood myths, we can't think straight and we can't solve our problems in a functional way, in a way that involves rational thinking. We are steering the ship of state by cutting open a chicken and reading the entrails, like the Romans did, instead of using a compass, which would be science.

Posted by aalkon at May 19, 2007 9:37 AM


Yarrr! The FSM will keel haul Bill Mahrer and then have him walk the plank, yarrr.

Posted by: Yellow Beard at May 19, 2007 10:43 AM

I seem to remember a spate of abortion clinic bombings perpetrated by christians.

Posted by: lujlp at May 19, 2007 12:56 PM

Mr. Scarborough needs to google "Huegenots, Catholics" if he thinks different Christian sects don't have a history of massacring each other.

Posted by: deja pseu at May 19, 2007 1:10 PM

"You don't see Christians going around shooting each other in America, do you?"

No Joe, but they are becoming the objects of humor and pity for secularists. Watch this Youtube video of a public college valedictorian’s religious themed benediction and eventual emotional meltdown:

The best quote: "Lord, please forgive us for worshiping the intellectual mind."

Posted by: Joe at May 19, 2007 4:04 PM

"...Because she and her boss, Alberto Gonzales, and his boss, George Bush, belong to the same cult..."

Same cult that had Maher's "Politically Incorrect" tossed off the air.


Posted by: Doobie at May 19, 2007 10:49 PM

Is Bill Maher making the point that atheists offer better leadership? The atheist regimes of Mao and Stalin weren't so hot.

Posted by: doombuggy at May 20, 2007 12:21 AM

There is no such thing as an "atheist regime." Atheism is not a belief system, it's simply a lack of belief in unproven bullshit. There are no credos, no groups to join, no 10 commandments of atheists. Furthermore, Roman Genn, who knows a little something about Russia, having spent his formative years there, he'll tell you the regime there wasn't atheistic:

It most certainly was not. “Jesuits without Jesus,”( in Churchill’s words) certainly, but not without gods. The whole system was undoubtedly structured as a religion — the cult of Lenin and his gang, the Inquisition, the commissars in the army, and consistent extermination of nonbelievers and doubters (committed to mental institutions or expelled from the Motherland during the more vegetarian periods). Soviet Communism was no more than traditional Russian imperialism, draped in the red flag for the consumption of the useful macacas around the globe. Thus, the easy transition into newly founded “spirituality” — the former first secretaries and KGB colonels crossing themselves fervently, with laughable tales about secret baptisms by their babushkas. It is true that genuine believers are scarce (there’s not one prostitute or a thug in Moscow who doesn’t wear a religious adornment on her/his neck) but who do exist tend to be rabidly anti-Western, anti-American, and anti-Catholic, as the Russian Orthodox Church is the source of the paranoia and hatred of liberal Western values. We will be fooling ourselves if we are to believe that, having exchanged the “Short Course of the History of the Communist Party” for the Bible, the Russians will become civilized.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 20, 2007 1:58 AM

Here's more on the silly and oft-mentioned nonthink that Mao and Stalin were atheists (PS You left out Hitler, the usually third stooge in that trio.)

But most people seem to assume that because they abolished religion, they must be atheists. In fact, they abolished religion so that they could establish cults of personality, and become gods themselves. They did what they needed to in order to get more power, and religion was a rival power source, which is why they abolished it. Stalin actually reinstated the church after Hitler invaded, because he thought it would help him (from here). Religion simply got in their way, and they eliminated anything and anyone that got in their way.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 20, 2007 2:00 AM

Posted by: deja pseu at May 20, 2007 8:56 AM

Amy, if I only had a cent for every time I was told off with the "Hitler, Stalin and Mao, were atheists, too" card in discussions like this, I'd probably be filthy rich. As if that were a reason against being an atheist or an agnostic.

My usual reply: "Hitler was a vegetarian and loved the music of Richard Wagner. Hitler and Stalin were dog lovers. I don't see that as a reasonable argument against being a vegetarian, listening to Wagner or owning a dog."

Cheers and keep up the good work!

Posted by: Rainer at May 20, 2007 9:11 AM

Whoa, Joe...unbelievable video!

Didn't get to watch Carlin yet. Was on mobile broadband yesterday, so I'm a bit behind in my YouTube-ability.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 20, 2007 9:32 AM

"There is no such thing as an "atheist regime." Atheism is not a belief system..."

You can't just remove someone's belief. You have to give them something else to believe in.

I'm rooting for the atheists to give us a better world to live in, but you've got to be able to point to things besides better pornography.

It seems to me that communities that embrace christianity are friendly and safe for the most people. If I had three doors to chose from to live behind, and behind one is a christian community, another an islamic community, and a third an atheist community, I would pick the christian door.

Posted by: doombuggy at May 21, 2007 5:24 AM

That's unwise. Atheists I know are moral people with strong ethics. Chances are, they didn't get to god belief without a lot of philosophical consideration. I agree with you that atheists have to promote secular ethics, and that there should be groups centered around rational belief for people who need the group aspect of religion.

Moreover, humans have an evolved system of ethics built in. It's why you don't bludgeon somebody who looks at you funny on the street and why there isn't unnecessary killing in the animal world, despite, as I heard in a video the other day, the fact that nobody handed them two big stone tablets. Look up Morals & Atheism pt. 1, and then pt. 2. I think it's called that. On YouTube. I'm on deadline, or I'd find the link for you.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 21, 2007 8:43 AM

I left out that it's actually in your self-interest and in the survival interest of all species to have a system with a built in code of group survival and reciprocal altruism.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 21, 2007 8:48 AM

I'm willing to bet Laramie, Wyoming, where Matthew Shepard was beaten to death and his body hung on a fence embraces Christianity. So does Colorado City, Arizona, where Warren Jeffs held sway over Mormon polygamists busy raping their child brides. And what about lovely Philadelphia, Mississippi? I'm sure its townspeople considered themselves fine, upstanding Southern Baptists--until three civil rights workers moved into town in 1964 and had to be murdered for their beliefs.

What silliness. Human behavior is the same all over, no matter the religion or community. I'm sure somewhere out there, in a little Buddhist town in Tibet or Nepal, right now someone's getting robbed or screwing someone else's wife.

Posted by: Rebecca at May 21, 2007 4:35 PM

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