Monday, October 6, 2008

Religulous - a Response

You might have heard of Bill Maher's movie, Religulous, that mocks those who believe in God. The basic message of the movie is that Maher tries to trap people and make them look stupid to prop up his views. He does so in a sarcastic way trying to be funny. But, most of the time, he just comes off as mean. Of course, he doesn't generally get people who can match wits with him - because he doesn't really want a good response to his questions.

Two things to do - pray for him and then respond with truth (in kindness). Here is a good example:


John said...

An excellent defense by Fr. Robert Barron. Three words: FAITH AND REASON.

Bill Maher is nothing than a sychophant narcissistic bully that is nothing more than a bitter fallen-away Catholic. (...And that's my chartiable view of the man!) He does need prayers, and I know I do need them as well to tolerate his religious hatred.

One closing quote I'd like to bring into this discussion is from Pope John Paul II, and it crystalizes the entire response to Bill Maher's diatribe:
"Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes."

John said...

Hi, I am somewhere between an atheist and an agnostic, although I was very Catholic for the first 20 years of my life. I do respect your call to be nice in any response to Bill Maher. I was intrigured by Fr. Barron's response also. My question to you is this. How can you determine which stories to believe in the bible and which not to? In church readings never start with an explanation of what is fiction and what is not. I also have never seen a bible that lets you know which is which. So how should one know that Jonah living in a fish is ridiculous, but virgin birth is not?

Marcel said...

John - Thanks for the questions. First off, the Catholic church says that there are many ways to read Scripture. Also, if we are studying Scripture, there are many different approaches that we can take. But, some things can be held up as models of interpretation.

1 - We should try to understand the literal sense of Scripture, which helps us see what the original human author intended to teach and how his audience understood him. To accomplish this one must study the literary types, history, etc.

Interpretation is not a open-and-closed one-way street. There are many different levels of understanding what the Bible is saying to us. But, your particular question about fiction in the Bible is important. Before I try to answer it, you must understand that the Catholic Church teaches that the Bible teaches all things as true, which are for our salvation. It is not a history or science textbook and if we try to read those topics into it, we are the ones making the mistakes. It is a book about the story of God's relationship with his people.

To learn what the Catholic Church teaches about interpretation of the Bible, this is a good place to start:

You may not be interested in the entire document, or understand it all, but it should help. You might try to go down to the section entitled "1. The Literal Sense".

I hope this helps.