I don’t use the word “atheist” about myself, because I think it mirrors the certitude I’m so opposed to in religion. What I say in the film is that I don’t know. I don’t know what happens when you die, and all the religious people who claim they do know are being ridiculous. I know that they don’t know any more than I do. They do not have special powers that I don’t possess. When they speak about the afterlife with such certainty and so many specifics, it just makes me laugh.
I’ve written and spoken at length about this over some time. Again and again I’ve argued that I’m pretty certain that certitude leads to war. Or in spiritual terms, that attachment generates suffering. The problem is that Maher’s certitude makes him sound like a fundamentalist in rationalist’s clothing:
People can tell you, “Oh yes, when you get to Paradise there are 72 virgins, not 70, not 75.” Or they say, “Jesus will be there sitting at the right hand of the Father, wearing a white robe with red piping. There will be three angels playing trumpets.” Well, how do you know this? It’s just so preposterous. So, yes, I would like to say to the atheists and agnostics, the people who I call rationalists, let’s stop ceding the moral high ground to the people who believe in the talking snake. Let’s have our voices heard and be in the debate. Let’s stand up and say we’re not ready to let the country be given over to the Sarah Palins of the world.
To be fair, I agree with much of what he is saying, and, let it be known that have not seen the film yet so feel free to discount my premature commentary. Our baby daughter came down with a slight bug so my wife and I have been home-bound, which has forced us to watch a selection of Tivoed mediocrity instead of getting to the theater. That said, reviews and Maher’s own comments seem to center around his clinging to his version of what is false. We call this “fundamentalism.”
More to come.