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October 22, 2008

The beginning of wisdom

Maher2 Take Michael Moore, add a generous helping of Richard Dawkins, and stir in a little totalitarianism ("religion must die!"), and you have Bill Maher's Religulous. There's not much more to the experience than that -- aside from the general annoyingness of being lectured extensively on science by a guy who doesn't believe in germs.

In yesterday's BreakPoint commentary, though, Chuck Colson focused on an aspect of a film that really hit home for him -- an aspect I don't think has been touched on much in reviews of the film.

. . . Maher—himself a former Catholic who admits that he used to try to “bargain” with God—interviews a group of men at a trucker’s chapel. Like many other scenes in the film, this one is carefully set up to make us marvel at the brilliance of Bill Maher and the inferiority of everyone around him. (It’s hard for a viewer to avoid the conclusion that the only higher power in Maher’s universe is his own ego.)

But Maher at least pretends to flatter the truckers and their chaplain. He reminds them that guys in prisons and foxholes hang on to religion because they have nothing else. And then he says, “But you guys aren’t dumb.” In other words, Maher’s point is that the truckers should know better than to believe in God—unlike all those dumb prisoners and soldiers out there who don’t know any better.

Having been in prison myself, let me speak for those prisoners. Recognizing your need for God isn’t a question of “smart or stupid.” It’s a matter of recognizing who you are; your own insufficiency, the sin in your own heart—and prisoners get that. And then you have to recognize your desperate need for a Savior.

But whether you’re a prisoner or a doctor or a lawyer or a comedian, you don’t have to have a gigantic I.Q. to see that it’s necessary because you cannot rescue yourself from your own mortality or sinfulness—that is, you are not God. In fact, realizing your own spiritual need is probably the wisest thing anyone can do.

(Image © Lionsgate)

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