Faith Purposeful Suspension Of Critical Thinking

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As people investigate Christianity they may get many of their ideas about faith from people like Bill Maher or some other popular people in society. But what if they are wrong? Here are three things that Bill Maher may be wrong about.

Number 1: Faith is the purposeful suspension of critical thinking

He is saying that it is impossible to be a person of faith and still be a reasonable and intelligent person who is able to think critically.  However, that is just not accurate. There are a lot of intelligent people who still have a belief in God. In fact, really everyone has a belief in something. They have an ideology. They may not call it faith or religion but it is still a belief system.

Number 2: There are only two reasons Christians believe what they do

Bill Maher says that the first reason Christians believe is because someone told them. For example, a pastor says something and then the person is like a robot and just believes everything that was said.  Or the other reason is that they read it in the Bible. The point that Bill Maher seems to be making is that you need to think for yourself. So the alternative is to not be influenced by the Bible or Christian leaders. But just coming up with your own ideas and then believing yourself does not necessary lead to truth. In fact some of our own ideas are not that good and can lead to some trouble.

Number 3: Christians only believe the happy half of the Bible

There may be some truth to this statement. Sometimes Christians will not want to deal with some of the tough issues; issues that are difficult to grasp or explain or that we just don’t like. As we learn to trust Jesus, we will understand that we just don’t trust him to save us, we need to trust his perspective on life over our own perspective. We have to come to God on God’s terms not on our own.

At the end of the day, faith is recognizing that God is God and that we are not. We do not have all the answers. We all have to decide if we are going to believe in ourselves or are we going to believe in God, even when it may be difficult.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. How much impact does a person like Bill Maher have in our society? Do you think it’s a good thing? Explain.
  4. “Faith is the purposeful suspension of critical thinking.” Do you agree? Why or why not? Name some Christians who are intelligent, critical thinkers.
  5. Do atheists have faith? If so, in what?
  6. Do you believe the Bible is a reliable document? If not, what is a more reliable source of truth? Defend your answer.
  7. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

Ministry Tools:




Well-known atheist Bill Maher clashed with the chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Ralph Reed, on his show Friday while discussing whether the Bible is the literal word of God.

“Faith: the purposeful suspension of critical thinking,” The HBO Real Time host said, giving his definition of the word.

He grilled Mr. Reed on several passages he said showed harmful behavior if followed to the letter, including passages about women having pre-marital sex needing to be stoned.

Mr. Reed pointed to Jesus’ teachings that all people are sinful, and the well-known quote “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” But Mr. Maher questioned why Jesus needed to change Old Testament teachings.

“If the Bible’s a perfect book written by a perfect guy why is this part in there?” he said. “Why did Jesus need to come along to correct his Dad?”

“When you’ve convinced yourself that there is this place you’re gonna go — for which there is absolutely no evidence, it is just something people pulled right out of their ass Ralph — I’m sure it is easier to lay your head on the pillow,” Mr. Maher said.

SEE ALSO: Bill Maher: ‘Gay mafia’ will take your career down ‘if you cross them’

Mr. Reed said the TV host was being very selective in what parts of the Bible he was talking about. He pointed to Old Testament dietary laws being changed in the New Testament as one example of God renewing his covenant with his people.

“You’re not going to get to heaven by observing do’s and don’ts and rules,” Mr. Reed said. “You’re going to get to heaven by a personal relationship with God through his Son.”

Mr. Reed has written a new book, “Awakening,” which argues that many of America’s problems are caused by a lack of faith.

“You don’t have to have faith to be a good person,” he said. “But the fact is that in the overwhelming number of cases it is something that leads to social behaviors that are more committed to other people.”

“You can do those things without believing in magic,” Mr. Maher retorted.

Mr. Reed pointed to the increasing debt and rising number of children born out of wedlock as problems facing the nation.

“All I’m saying is that there are some things we have to get back in order,” he said. “I don’t think you can do it by electing another politician I don’t think you can do it by passing another law. I think you need a moral and a cultural and a spiritual renewal.”

Mr. Maher commented that he did admire Mr. Reed’s courage in being willing to come debate the Bible with an atheist on TV.

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