On the other hand, it is pure nonsense to play Catholicism off against
science. After all, were it not for the role of the Catholic Church, there would
have been no Scientific Revolution and no early breakthroughs in
He didn't. Wasn't that much easier than exaggerating the truth to defend your fables? He did have fun at joking that "Catholic" and "astronomer" were contradictory, but that was only a passing remark that he probably would have made ABOUT ANY RELIGION. Hence 1. the premise of the movie (religion being ridiculous) and 2. the statements from the very person he is interviewing at the time of how scripture itself is not science.
But, to address this oft repeated notion about the Catholic Church being redeemed for sanctioning scientific research several centuries into its existence, when it had a near-monopoly on Western existence, is rather weak. Especially since it was done for their own advancement, and they opposed every bloody item of research that made them feel uncomfortable, and challenge their fragile little belief systems (though, admittedly, they do have a history of getting over those fears decades after their original relevance). They were a dominant system, trying to get ahead and stifling anything that lessened the theological arguments that allowed them their dominance. If they can be credited for tossing some of their exorbitant wealth off for research of non-theological nature (since they had been doing the same exclusively for theology for an incredibly long time), well, kudos. I think I would prefer (as Bill mentions in the film) that they not have such funds to have the power to make such dictates in the first place, but, what did Jesus know.
Equally dumb is the assertion that the Ten Commandments are flawed because they
don’t speak to child abuse, rape and torture. Had Maher gone to more religion
classes, he would have learned that the central taboos listed are umbrella
strictures that cover a host of subsidiary sins.
Utter fail. Child abuse, rape, and torture are not covered under even the most liberal interpretations of the Ten Commandments. And, the thing is, the terms of the Ten Commandments are actually applied TOO broadly, and seen to be a set of comprehensive rules when they just fail to be such a thing. I mean, for instance: the forbiddance against "stealing" was originally supposed to be in reference to kidnapping, and the fact that the prohibition against killing is actually just one against "murder" (however you arbitrarily define that to make certain forms of killing acceptable) makes it much more specific (and less coherent) than the broader one we are often told of.
But, even if you did take the broadest possible interpretations, the Ten Commandments just fail to give us insight into matters involving horrible, non-fatal crimes. First, we should factor out the four God laws, which just do not pertain to human experience at all. We have left: the rule against coveting (pretty broad naturally), against disrespecting parents (maybe expand that elders), against adultery (wow...stretch that thing all the way to "don't break oaths"), and against false witness (which is already expanded to interpretation as a prohibition against lying, rather than one than the more specific "lying in order to get other people into trouble"). It becomes immediately clear that not one of these commandments could be reasonably extended enough to encompass prohibitions against such heinous activities as Maher brings up. Far from being dumb, it is incredibly relevant that this supposed source of morality fails so badly to account for the laws against the worst kinds of actions we know of today.
More important, if Jesus is not the Son of God, as Maher contends, then why does
he waste time—and make himself look silly in the process—by invoking Jesus’ name
to give homosexuality a pass?
Fail. Again. Invoking Jesus's name is a device that we use to show that people have no rational basis for their positions, even after assuming that all else in their worldview is correct! It is pointing out inconsistency, contradiction, hypocrisy, or just plain ignorance. He does not look silly in the process...you just happen to be incredibly bad at noticing a rhetorical device when you see it.
And, of course, Maher’s contention that religion kills looks rather feeble given
that the 20th century was the most violent in history. Hasn’t he noticed that
Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were expressly atheistic and anti-religious?
Weak. Also: Hitler wasn't an atheist.
It's good to know that these things go in one ear and out another with the thoroughly indoctrinated. It makes me very...hopeful...[places shotgun in mouth]