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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I watched Religulous with Bill Maher last night. I had been wanting to see that movie since I first heard about it. It's a documentary, and the premise is that Bill, an atheist, goes around trying to find answers (and when he does he shoots them down) about why religious people believe in their religion. The movie is 2 hours, and I'd say the first hour and 15 minutes are spent knocking Christianity.

I'm all for open discussion, and people like Bill Maher questioning why we believe what we believe. I am not a fan of Bill Maher, and I think he has an agenda against Christianity and religion in general, but I found that I wasn't appalled with him, as I thought I would be. What I was appalled with, was the lack of knowledge and answers that the Christians he interviewed possessed (or not possessed if that makes more sense).

Within the first 10 minutes of the movie, Bill is in front of about 10 Christians, and the basis for his argument is that "The gospels are NOT an eyewitness account of Jesus, and that they were written by men who had never met him, decades later". He also said that the bible does not mention a "virgin birth". Not ONE of the men (at least in the movie, I'm not sure if their answer to that was edited out) disputed that. Not one of them. They stood there dumbfounded. For the first time in my life, I found myself yelling at the TV screen (well, besides when I'm watching the 49ers). I couldn't believe that the preacher of the church Bill was at, didn't dispute Bill's claim. (For the record, the Gospels, and a lot of the Bible for that matter were written by men who did in fact walk and talk with Jesus. Those books are absolutely an eye witness account. And the bible does in fact mention a virgin birth, in both Matthew and Luke. )

Later, Bill interviewed a senator from somewhere, a Christian senator, and asked him if he believed in evolution. The senator, to my extreme surprise, said he did. Again, I was completely shocked. While the Bible isn't a science book, it clearly states in the FIRST chapter of Genesis that God created everything. The planet, stars, plants, animals, humans, oceans, etc etc. God created all of it. So again, it was sad to see a Christian senator say that evolution was how we came about.

I realize that if Bill had interviewed someone (and maybe he did but didn't include it in the movie, in order to portray Christians as idiots) who could explain their faith better, he would have asked questions like "Well how do you know the Bible is true?" Again, not one person in their defense of their faith quoted the verse from 2 Timothy that says "EVERY scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching".

Bill then interviewed a TV evangelist that said "money and riches will come as a result of serving God". This was perhaps the most ridiculous and frustrating interview out of all the Christians he interviewed. This pastor was so far off the mark that he actually began to quote fictitious scripture. (Again, Bill could have edited this interview to his liking, removing accurate things this pastor said) This pastor didn't really have answers either, and the answers he did have were so far off base with the basic principles of Christ followership that it fueled Bill Maher's own thoughts on religion and why it's ridiculous.

Throughout the movie and his interviews with various people (Christian and non alike) Bill quoted scriptures from the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Qur'an and others, using those specific scriptures to prove his point. What Bill did was exactly what everyone does who wants to prove the bible as flawed. He pulled one verse, out of context, amongst surrounding verses that continued to explain that particular verse, and used it for his argument. Unfortunately again in the interviews, these Christians couldn't answer Bill's question because they didn't know the rest of the verse.

He also brought up the "fact" that Jesus' story was borrowed from many different stories of gods from different cultures. He started using examples from Egyptian gods, Greek gods and Muslim gods. He said that the story of Jesus blended from this guy, that guy and others. Not once did Bill theorize that perhaps those stories were written after the bible, or that those stories (interpreted by men thousands of years later who were hired to decipher hieroglyphics) could have been interpreted wrong or off base. Bill Maher took those stories as fact.

My point to all of this, is that I think it's EXTREMELY important to interpret the bible, to know and understand it, and to most of all, defend your faith and have answers and responses to the types of questions Bill Maher and others ask. The bible is not full of contradictions. The bible was written by men who had first-hand contact and conversations with God and Jesus. It is infallible, and can provide answers for the types of questions that men ask. The problem is, we don't take the time to learn it. We go around with our basic knowledge, and think that's good enough. It's not. We need to be dedicated to the Word, to study it and embed it into our psyche.

There have been men far more intelligent than Bill Maher that have asked similar questions. The problem isn't Bill Maher, or people like him who denounce religion and Christianity. The problem is with Christians who have never bothered to do anything more than go to church on Sunday and listen to some pastor preach. The problem is with Christians who misinterpret and twist the bible in order to fit their own personal agenda. (As in Christians who say things like "God hates fags") The problem is with humans, not the bible, and not God. Humans mess it up. Humans twist and make religion into the hateful, warring thing it has become. My God, the God of the bible is a loving God.

And to close, I need to clarify that in NO way do I think I have all the answers and in NO way do I think I'm any better than the people interviewed in that movie. I just feel that I would have been able to explain and answer my stance and why I believe what I believe, and what I believe, in a different manner than them.

It's extremely important for Christians to be able to have answers for the types of questions Bill Maher asked. It is, in my opinion, inexcusable for me to remain silent and not argue the fact that Jesus was born of a virgin, and that the gospels were in fact first-hand accounts of Jesus' life. It's not ok for ME. I want to bring others to Christ, so I need to be prepared for those types of questions.
posted by Ricky @ 10:19 AM  
  • At 12/25/2008 10:41:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    I've been reading your blog for almost two years now I think. I came across it one day and it made me laugh, so I subscribed. This, however is the first post that has prompted me to leave a comment.

    Anyone who knows me knows that I am not religious by any stretch of the imagination, much to my mothers chagrin. However, while I am not religions I am always interested in learning and I am particularly interested in your response to some questions I have.

    You said in your post "The bible was written by men who had first-hand contact and conversations with God and Jesus."

    My first question to that is: The bible is a book, written by man tens of thousands of years ago, in a language which is no longer spoken. To add to that when languages are translated, there is no literal translation and it turn much of the true message is lost. So how can one take the bible at it's word?

    My second question is this: How can anyone know that the words written by men are a completely accurate account of what occurred? For example, there are conversations documented word for word which seems illogical for the times and means that would have been had for documentation.

    I'll stop for now with those and look forward to your answers.

  • At 12/25/2008 12:26:00 PM, Blogger Ricky said…

    Hey Anomaly, thanks for coming to my blog for the past two years. I'm glad you've laughed. That's always my intention with everything, to brighten people's day. :)

    And because this is a post on the internet, and not an actual conversation, I hope my words don't come off as "preachy" or "I'm so smart". ;)

    You mentioned that the bible was written tens of thousands of years ago, but according to bible scholars and manuscripts from the time, the book of Genesis was actually written in 1450 B.C. A few other books were written at exactly the same time by Moses, consecutively after Genesis. (After Genesis he wrote Exodus, then Numbers, then Deuteronomy, etc) So, Genesis is the oldest written book in the bible, and as you go further along in the bible, the books are more recent. For example, the book of John in the New Testament was written about 90 A.D.

    The bible was written primarily in two languages, Hebrew and Aramaic. People to this day still speak Hebrew. (In Israel, for example). The New Testament was written in modern day Greek. When the bible was translated by scholars from one language to the next, it was done in a very painstaking manner, and had to be approved and gone over by experts in the original language. And even though there are quite a few translations of the bible now, in many different languages, there is no question that every translation has undergone the same rigorous and in-depth manner as when it was first written.

    The first hand accounts and contact with God that I was referring to in my post, were stories like when Moses was coming down Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments (from Exodus 34:29) and his face was literally glowing because he had physically talked to God on the top of that mountain, and that glory caused his face to glow. Also, the entire New Testament is written by men who walked and talked with Jesus. The Gospels (the first 4 books of the New Testament) were written by 4 men who literally walked around with Jesus for 3 years. The rest of the books of the New Testament were written mostly by those same 4 men, and a few other people that physically hung out with Jesus.

    To answer your last question, as to how can anyone know that the words written by men are accurate and truly representative of what occurred (which is a GREAT question by the way) can be answered for me, in a few ways.

    First, there is a verse in the New Testament that specifically answers your exact question. It's in 2nd Timothy. And it says "Every Scripture passage is inspired by God. All of them are useful for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God's approval." Basically what it's saying is that every word in the bible is God breathed. Not one single word was put in or allowed that wasn't approved or given to the man writing it, by God. That verse is a key verse when discussing this matter.

    Secondly, I can answer that question because of the things that have happened in my life, and the things I have witnessed first hand. The things Jesus preaches about in the New Testament about "following him to experience life in abundance" is true in my life. I have never experienced a more rewarding time in my life than this year when I truly started allowing God to be center stage in my life.

    I feel like I've written a novel here. So I am going to spend some time with my family on Christmas because my daughter Kayla keeps saying "Daddy COME LAY DOWN".

    Thanks for the comment, and have a great Christmas.

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