Craig Hazen, the director of Biola University’s graduate program in Christian apologetics, has written an insightful review of the Bill Maher movie Religulous. It’s a documentary I won’t be seeing, not because I’m afraid to face criticism of what I believe, but because I’ve already seen more than enough of Bill Maher’s comedy. His style is foul and his jokes are obvious. Next time you find Maher on television, hit the mute button and watch his pantomime: You can easily guess what he’s saying, just from his dyspeptic sneer and relentless eye-rolling. In fact, if you make up your own nasty snarking to match his facial expressions, you’re pretty likely to be saying more clever things than he’s saying.
Hazen’s review, therefore, doesn’t so much save me from watching the documentary, which I wasn’t going to do at any rate, as it gives me some information and analysis about what some people are watching. As Hazen says, “Maher is pitching this film as mavericky—telling the truth about religion that everyone else is afraid to address. But Religulous is nothing more than filthy, nudie, druggie, and obtusey. There is little to laugh at and nothing to learn (except maybe that if you quit being religulous you get to act like Caligulous).”
Were there any thoughtful and penetrating objections to Christianity in the film? No. Did they interview any thoughtful and accomplished Christian scholars. No. The closest they came to this was an interview with renowned scientist Dr. Francis Collins whose segment in the film made almost no sense indicating that they had butchered it down to nubs in the editing room.
Maher does bring up two points that are argued on occasion by knowledgeable opponents of Christianity. These are 1) that the New Testament was produced generations after the events they record, and 2) that the basic story of Jesus is simply a retelling of myths that predated him, myths that came out of Mithraism and Egyptian religion.
Hazen goes on to consider these two arguments helpfully, pointing to some reliable analysis of the charges.