Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Religulous..Movie Review

I finally saw the documentary movie Religulous and my feelings are somewhat mixed. While I generally agree with Maher about 60% of the time on most issues - mainly the Middle East, debunking 911 stupidities, scientific rationalism, free speech etc - his smugness and know it all approach are often nauseating. In Religulous the tone of his arguments as well as his selected editing reflect this sentiment. Nevertheless the movie is worth seeing - if for nothing else in the way it highlights the absurdities that underpin organized belief.

It is clear from the beginning that Maher's principal target is Christianity but he takes bold swipes at Judaism, Islam, Mormonism and Scientology as well. Hinduism is mentioned in a cursory level while Buddhism and Sikhism (not to mention Jainism and Zoroastrianism) are left untouched.

Maher's principal thesis is that religious faith is inconsistent with rationalism and is therefore non-sensical. In such regards Maher fails, in that he uses as does Richard Dawkins, the most extreme examples to make his case. He also conveniently fails to mention the range of debate that exist particularly within Judaism and Christianity on interpretation of the texts and therefore leaves the viewer with the impression that most religious believer are literalists who cannot tell the difference between myth and fact.

In such a regards Maher is intellectually dishonest. He also polarizers (like his buddy Michael Moore) to portray and ironically falls short of the standards of scientific rationalism that he claims to espouse.

Despite such shortcomings he does succeed as an entertainer. Ever the comedian his interviews are highlighted with a quick wit that made me chuckle loudly on several occasions.

While Religulous has its merits it is far (very far) from brilliant. Couple that with Maher's Moral Equivalency rant against all of organized religion (in his closing remarks) and the porosity of his thought is exposed. In short he provides an 'oompa-loompa' treatment of a topic begging for scholastic rigour.
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