Last night, I tuned into Bill O'Reilly's program in time to catch part of an interview with Bill Maher, former host of Politically Incorrect, and now hosting some other unwatchable program on some cable channel. Basically, Maher takes the position that "Christians and others who are religious suffer from a neurological disorder that 'stops people from thinking.'"
While I'm sure that Bill Maher is a very thoughtful person (he has to be, just look at the thoughtful pose he made in the picture to the right), I'm not sure he is being exceedingly thoughtful on this one. There are too many questions that need to be answered before I buy into the idea that I together with 90% of the American population that claims to be Christian are suffering from neurological disorders. Let me give you some questions that I would have asked Mr. Maher if I had been doing the interview.
First, Mr. Maher, you're a comedian are you not? Do you have a degree in medicine? Have you studied neurology? Have you been certified to practice medicine by any licencing board? On what basis do you claim to be qualified to pass this judgement?
Second, if you are speaking as a layman (which I am certain you are), I'm not sure exactly which neurological disorder you might be referencing. Can you tell me the name that neurologists use for this disorder? Can you tell me where you read about this disorder? If there is nothing you have read that suggests that such a disorder has been identied by actual neurologists, can you tell me how you have become the first non-neurologist to be able to identify a new syndrome?
Of course, Dr. Maher doesn't really know anything about neurology, has no background or qualifications to suggest that he knows what he's talking about, and has no journal reports or other information that suggests his thesis is true. Equally obviously, "Dr." Maher is making these statement more as a stunted attempt at a humorous political statement than as a medical diagnosis.
Maher is simply trying, in his semi-witted way, to claim that being religious stops a person from thinking. According to WorldNetDaily, Maher has been making this same claim since at least February when he made the following statement on Scarborough Country:
"We are a nation that is unenlightened because of religion. I do believe that. I think that religion stops people from thinking. I think it justifies crazies. I think flying planes into a building was a faith-based initiative. I think religion is a neurological disorder. If you look at it logically, it's something that was drilled into your head when you were a small child. It certainly was drilled into mine at that age. And you really can't be responsible when you are a kid for what adults put into your head."
This is obviously nonsense. As the foregoing rambling statement demonstrates, Maher isn't even able to focus on his main thesis. Look at the rambling course he takes in just this short statement. He starts out (1) by claiming that the nation is unenlightened because of religion, proceeds to (2) lump all people who believe in God in with the terrorist bombers, claims that (3) this is the type of stuff that faith-based initiatives lead to, jumps to (4) the idea that religion is a neurological disorder, then claims that (5) a person can't be responsible for what they are taught as a child. Huh? Is Bill bi-polar or something?
Did it offend anyone that I should suggest that Bill is mentally unstable? If you support his statements and you thought that was out of line, you need to rethink your position. (For the record, I don't think he's bi-polar, I was using that claim as an illustration.)
Of course, the real question is why does Maher find it necessary to treat people with whom he disagrees as mentally incompetent in some respect? Why isn't it possible that the reason people believe in religious claims is because they make sense? After all, simply because Mr. Maher in his materialistic worldview bubble can't understand how Jesus could actually be the Son of God who came to the world to give His life for the sins of the world doesn't mean that other people are as limited in their worldview.
Further, isn't it obvious that such a claim is malicious and counter-productive? If I were to claim that atheists were suffering from a neurological disorder, wouldn't that be seen as crossing the line from appropriate debate to inappropriate?
Maher's asinine comments are plain and simply an ad hominem. He obviously doesn't understand religion or the teachings of Jesus (saying on the show that Jesus was a "great philosopher" when Jesus' main message was not what He said but who He was), and chooses to attack Christianity through a broad attack on the mental competency of those who believe in Him rather than confront the arguments made that the claims of Christianity is real. (For the record, Maher tried to limit his claims on the O'Reilly program to those "evangelicals" who are the real people he thinks suffer from a neurological disorder. This is typical of people who decry religious belief in this country. When push comes to shove, they always try to make it sound as if they are only attacking the "evangelicals" who have become the only class of people in America it is acceptable to bash, but their statements aren't so limited when you consider their reasoning.)
As an attempt at humor, Maher's statements demonstrate that he is the one who is unenlightened and they should be denounced by all thinking people, atheists and theists alike, because they are bigoted and counter-productive.