I just got through watching Jon Stewart's interview with Bill Maher about Maher's upcoming movie, Religulous. It's a pretty good interview, and if you want to see it, here it is:
Of course, I'd like to take exception to how Maher describes why he's not an atheist. He says that he sees atheists as being similar to religious-types, as apparently they're "certain" about their beliefs, and it's the certainty that he doesn't trust. I don't know what atheists he's talking to, but every atheist that I know (myself included) don't think of themselves as being certain that there is no God. We tend to view it more as the default position. We simply don't believe, much in the same way that everybody else doesn't believe in Zeus, Odin, etc. If there was some solid evidence, we'd be willing to be convinced.
Whatever though, that's nitpicking. What I like about the idea for the movie is that Maher is out there asking questions. He also brings up some good points. One time, while teaching my students about Hinduism, a student commented that it all sounded "made up." I responded by saying that it seemed that way because it was new to him, and if he were to tell somebody about his religion who had never heard of it before, it would sound just as strange to them. Basically, that's Maher's point when he describes the basic idea behind Christianity - God sends his son (who is him) on a suicide mission so we can be forgiven for not being perfect.
Anyway, I'm all over this movie. Of course, it's bound to spark some controversy. I'm hoping that he does a fair job of it. I criticized the movie Expelled because it misrepresented science, and in interviews Ben Stein showed that he lacked even some basic knowledge as to what evolution even is. Of course, if Maher does something similar, then he needs to be criticized for that. From what I can tell though, he's laying out exactly what the beliefs behind these religions are. It's not his fault if those beliefs happen to sound crazy.