On the September 30 episode of the popular daytime show, The View, Bill Maher was interviewed about his new movie, "Religulous." He made one comment that I found particularly intellectually dishonest. Maher stated that faith is defined as "a lack of critical thinking." I am not going to give him the benefit of the doubt in assuming he was just trying to garner more viewers for his newly released movie through a controversial interview. In fact, without having seen the film, I believe it is safe to say he actually holds this opinion. I will, however, go see his film and review it here.
So why is this statement intellectually dishonest? First, Maher's statement is not necessarily true. I can be a person either of religious faith or of no religous faith and "lack critical thinking." Second, if he is stating that the definiton of "faith" entails a lack of critical thinking, then one can assume if you have faith in anything, then it is solely because you lack critical thinking. So if you have faith in your own reasoning abilities (critical thinking abilities), according to Maher, you lack critical thinking. Of course, I am taking liberties with the word "faith;" liberties which Maher would probably not agree with. He most likely would address faith as "religious faith." So then, my third point is that his statement makes no mention of the fact that numerous influential philosophers, economists, educators, social reformers, inventors, and scientists throughout history have had religious "faith." So who lacks the critical thinking in the third instance? Is it the people who had religious faith or the people who followed these influential historical persons of religious faith? (That would be all of us, by the way: atheist, agnostic, and believer alike.)
Normally, I do not respond to such outright ridiculousness on the part of the entertainment industry: such is the freedom of expression. However, when there is a chance that millions of people may be swayed by such an unthoughtful comment (not unthoughtful as in emotionally, but as in actually not utilizing the information available to come to a conclusion), it becomes necessary for me to respond. So I ask that you think through what is being said when people make such claims. A person may opine that people of faith are uncritical thinkers, but proving this to be the case 100% of the time is a task of much greater magnitude (or, as I like to say, a whole nother ball park). Perhaps Bill Maher should think more critically about his critical thinking statements.
Addendum: I realize throughout the history of Christianity, we have had some poor representations of the Christian faith, which could lead to such a misconception of faith. If Christians are currently representing "faith" as being a belief held to completely without reason, this idea is not based in a Biblical understanding of Christianity.
Acts 17:2-3, Colossians 2:8, 2 Corinthians 10:5, Proverbs 4:6-7, 1 Peter 3:15, 2 Peter 1:16
A post note: I will also respond to his ill-informed claim that the story of Jesus is "just like" the story of Horus. This is a horribly uncritical statement concerning the area of comparative religions and mythology.