The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Questioning Your Religion

Humans are a mysterious species in a mysterious world in a universe of mystery. Yet, for some reason, we approach it all with a sense of certitude, thanks to our religions.

And Bill Maher wants to know -why? In his documentary, Religulous, Maher travels the world asking experts and non-experts alike about the certainty of faith, religion, and dogmatic text. The movie has already received and will most likely continue to receive a lot of controversy and backlash. Why? Has religious fundamentalism become so intolerant that it can no longer accept the skeptism from someone who simply does not understand?

Religulous is an important, smart, philosophical movie that somehow finds the ability to be funny. Bill Maher’s weasely smug manner is needed for the quick-wit necessary to go toe-to-toe with the unreasonable. Both certainty and intolerance play a strong role throughout this documentary. Why are religions so certain? With so many conflicting answers from so many conflicting religions, someone must be wrong.

Maybe Bill Maher is just looking for that one religion to display alittle humility. His travels take him to all regions of the United States, the Vatican, to the Palestine/Israel border, and various other places of religious importance. Each region displays such heartbreaking and dehumanizing displays of intolerance in one way or another all in the name of religion. From the “Thank God for AIDS” signs in America, to the clips of suicide bombs in Israel, the battle of fundamental religious ideology just seems so dangerous- and outrageously outdated.

Maher inspires humility and tolerance, but throughout shows little himself. That seriously weakens his argument. But his message- no matter how smug or obnoxious it was delivered- was to be more rational and peaceful and to be less judgmental and violent. Is that not the message at the core of most of the world’s religions? Religulous, if anything, makes us wonder one important question: what has happened?

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