For example, what if he had conducted the identical exercise with regard to the U.S. Constitution, or the Theory of Relativity, or art ,or literature, or economics? Would the answers he elicited be a useful reflection on the value of these subjects? No, of course not.
But Bill Maher is not a serious man. Well, perhaps seriously bitter. Which is another point. Maher does not have the insight or depth of character to delve into the roots of his own bitterness and anger, which pose insurmountable obstacles to any understanding of the Subject of the subject he pretends to explore in Religulous. Thus, the whole exercise is one of triumphant self-justification and narcissistic exultation. Obviously, if he were truly curious about God, he could have dialogued with serious intellectuals possessing valid gnosis. But if he were to do that, he would look like the unlearned rube that he is.
It reminds me of what Bion described as the essence of the psychotic mind (which is more or less present in everyone), which is organized around the unholy triumvirate of arrogance, curiosity and stupidity.
The above link is somewhat esoteric, so let me translight it into plain English. We are all subject to an "infantile catastrophe" as a result of slowly assimilating the truth of our precarious cosmic situation, which begins in omnipotence and unicity but ends, one way or the other, in the realization that we do not create reality or control the m(o)ther, i.e., the source of life. A healthy person is able to negotiate this passage and is therefore subject to ongoing growth, while the unhealthy person denies it and is incapable of true emotional growth, or evolution in O. Their souls will stagnate, even while their minds and bodies grow.
In the case of Maher, it doesn't take a psychologist to see that he isn't actually curious about religion. He has no desire to actually understand the Divine, much less to humbly take the steps necessary to develop an open relationship with That which transcends him. Rather, he is bound by a kind of childishly arrogant, intrusive, and presumptuous curiosity that imagines it can know All without any work or preparation, much less humility and surrender.
This is not at all like proper curiosity, which is much more analogous to patient openness to the Real, embodied in faith, or what I call (o). Thus, Maher does not -- and cannot -- reach any useful conclusions about God, only foreordained ones that are implicit in his original arrogance and omnipotence. As such, the film will be a memorial to his own cosmic stupidity, nothing more. No wonder he's so bitter, because the bitterness is merely the residue of some kind of deep disappointment. Bitterness is a "presence" that always conceals a "present absence." So, what is absent in Maher?
It would be uncharitable to go down that route. We'll just leave it alone for now. Rat faced homunculus.
It is not difficult to tell when one is in the presence of an unevolving mind, which can often be traced back to that psychotic part of the mind that refuses to acknowledge primordial reality, or O. I should hasten to add that this mechanism is no respecter of persons, and obviously afflicts the religious and irreligious alike, so to only attack religious, and not secular, stupidity is the height of intellectual dishonesty (or, more likely, just the arrogance/curiosity/stupidity alluded to above). In fact, it is undoubtedly the deep structure that unifies the Darwinian and religious fundamentalist, each of whom "refuses O," so to speak, and instead clings to a kind of mental scaffolding that is reminiscent of the wire mothers of Harry Harlow.
Often, when someone is speaking about a subject, the more important communication is the emotional tone of the communicant, not the supposed subject matter. Or, you could say that the subject matter is just a superficial excuse for the person to evacuate a primitive emotion. For example, we vividly see this in the left's unhinged reaction to Sarah Palin. What is most noteworthy to the discerning listener is the primitive emotionality that she provokes -- very similar to the primitive emotionality that women provoke in the Islamic world.
In the case of the latter, no men in the Islamic world seem to have the insight or maturity to turn inward and wonder at the source of the violence and contempt in their attitudes toward women. Likewise, with the left vis-a-vis Sarah Palin. There are actually some noteworthy exceptions who are alarmed and appalled at the primitive display, but for most of the left, their reaction is all about their own narcissistic trinity of envy, contempt, and triumph.
Imagine the envy Sarah Palin must provoke in desiccated old feminist hags such as Maureen Dowd, Erica Jong, or Gloria Steinem. The envy is intolerable, so it is quickly transformed into contempt and then triumph. But again, it is the triumph of a sick part of the mind, so it is obviously a pyrrhic victory; if you win, you lose. When mind parasites prevail, it's like cutting off your nous to spite the face before you were born.
Grotstein writes that in Bion's cosmic view, the unconscious psyche is "older than man and is the mysterious source of creativity, imagination, evolution and development." This is O, which, as Grotstein points out, is not so much "truth" as perpetually "truing," as it intersects with the Other. In my view, this would not just be human others, but the transcendent Other as well (or fundamentally, in that it is this supracosmic Other who is reflected in all of the other others). Grotstein adds that "Neurosis is a postponement of our rendezvous with the consequences of this fateful meeting, and psychosis is the abnegating disavowel and discrediting of it altogether."
This is good, so I'll continue: "Thus, Bion's cosmic view of the psyche is one in which we sit on the lap of our [own] Godhead who is mysteriously connected to the Ultimate Godhead." (This almost sounds as if it could have been written by Meister Eckart.)
"'I'-ness consists, furthermore, in a prismatic refraction of the emanations of this Godhead and is known as the spiritual, scientific, and aesthetic vertices.... Our sadnesses and our illnesses constitute both our recognition of our failure to live up to our Godliness and the agony of our stillborn preconceptions which hope to evoke us to return to our rendezvous with experiencing our unexperienced experiences -- to becoming 'O.' Bion represents this as the transformation from Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained."
Maher represents it as the bitter transformation of Paradise Lost to Paradise Doesn't Exist and I Didn't Want it Anyway; or, to put it another way, I'm Back in a Triumphant and Contemptuous Narcissistic Paradise of My Own Making. Plus, Hugh Hefner Invites Me to His Parties, So I Can Pretend That Those Airheaded Bimbos and Porn Stars Would Ever Be Attracted to a Rat Faced Homunculus Like Me if I Didn't Have All This Money.
At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time. --T.S. Eliot