There is a great difference in excellency, usefulness, and comfort between people of clear, digested knowledge, and confused, undigested apprehensions. -Richard Baxter

Bill Maher and his gift to believers

He’s crass, but funny.  Admittedly despises children, but probably could still make them laugh. His brief interlude off the air after his….inadvisable comments on his erstwhile talk show on HBO notwithstanding, he’s back true to form: teaming up with the director of Borat, he’s taking his comedic pot-shots at religious faith.

Paste Magazine :: News :: Bill Maher and Ben Stein facing off with religious docs

Tim Keller’s recent book, The Reason for God, instructs believers to do the counter-intuitive thing of musing on the reasonable doubts people have about the Gospel. Only by grasping their substance enough to be able to articulate them can believers show pre-believers the respect they deserve in voicing their doubts.

So Maher’s mock-umentary (think This is Spinal Tap with an edge and an agenda) gives us an opportunity, not so much to plumb the depths of deeply reasoned arguments, but to get a quick summary of where most Americans come down on their problems with religious faith.  Maher’s snippet her of an interview he did with Larry King reveals that his central issue is that anyone making religious claims is claiming too much–that since we (believers) don’t know with certainty that any of our claims are valid, then we shouldn’t be making claims at all.

But Maher’s argument doesn’t abide by its own premise–namely that only that which can be verified entirely can be spoken of.  But just as we can’t know for certain if these claims are true, neither can we know with certainty that these claims are not true.  So, Maher applies an inconsistent stipulation for what ought be presented as truth. (is my reasoning clear and cogent here?)

Anyhow, I think watching his mockumentary might be worth our time.  Sounds like a worthwhile, if not entertaining, look at popular culture’s problems (inconsistent as they may be) with faith in general and the Gospel in particular.  In that sense, Maher has given believers a gift: a summary of where people have problems with religious claims.  That certainly narrows and sharpens our task of seeking to persuade men (2 Cor 5:11)

May we make every thought captive

1 Comment»

  Jared Nelson wrote @

Well, I must disagree with you on one point: Bill Maher is not funny. Annoying, yes. Funny: no.

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