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Bill Maher vs. Jesus Christ in 'Religulous' -- who wins?

October 4, 2008 | 10:57 am

"Religion is the easiest thing to sell because it's an invisible product," "Religuous" star Bill Maher tells Gold Derby in this video chat. "Which, by the way, you can't test it out until after you die. So no one's there to complain after you drive this thing off the lot and it breaks down — because you're dead. So what salesman doesn't want a piece of that territory?"

Maher and director Larry Charles take on quite a few of those dubious salesmen of religious beliefs in their sacrilegious documentary now in theaters. Because it's made by such notable showbiz folks, I ask Bill Maher, "Doesn't this documentary epitomize godless Hollywood in a way?"

"I hope!" he roars. "If I have anything to do with it it will."

Bill_maher_religulous_jesus_christ

"How many people at award shows do you see thanking God?" pipes in Larry Charles. "Hollywood is also using God for its own purposes as well."

"Religious people look at me as you might look upon a retarded child," Bill Maher adds, quoting them, "'He's unenlightened. He needs to be saved. He needs to be cured.' I respect all human beings and I would like them to see my version of enlightenment. And mostly I want them to laugh."

Reviews have been quite good from top media. Variety hails "Religulous" as "brilliant, incendiary," while Entertainment Weekly adds, "It's a film that's destined to make a lot of people mad, but Maher, for all his showy atheistic 'doubt,' isn't just trying to crucify religion — he truly wants to know what makes it tick. He leaves no stone tablet unturned." Other raves come from the New York Times, USA Today, Hollywood Reporter and from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times. Among the pans is the Washington Post.

If you'd like to pursue the questions raised by "Religulous" further, I recommend reading this interesting article at Atheists.org, which builds the case for the assertion that there's no credible evidence that Jesus Christ existed. Uncontested is the fact that no one alive during the time Jesus is said to have lived wrote about him, which is strange considering that there are plenty of historic accounts of other messiah figures of the era. The first two mentions of him don't come till more than a half century after the date given for Jesus' execution, and the authenticity of those texts by Josephus in AD 93 and Tacitus in 120 are questioned by many secular scholars. Read more.

To read Gold Derby's take on Religulous' run for the Oscar, click here.

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