Bill Maher, outspoken atheist and host of Real Time, appeared on the Charlie Rose show Tuesday and wound up defending Christianity, at least as it compares to Islam.
Maher’s distaste for religion is well known from his film Religulous. When he singled out Islam saying, “there are illiberal beliefs that are held be a vast number of Muslim people,” Charlie Rose replied, “a vast number of Christians too.” “No, that’s not true. Not true,” Maher replied. He then went into a discourse on the differences between Islam and Christianity which left Rose struggling to defend his knee-jerk reaction. [I first saw this clip at The Right Scoop.]
A few years ago, when “new atheism” was all the rage, most of the brickbats seemed to be directed toward Christianity. Christians made a safer target for outrage since, even if they took offense, the worst one could realistically expect was some harsh language. Islam on the other hand has shown itself not so tolerant of criticism. Death threats, angry mobs and murder have been the reaction to films or cartoons the Muslim world found offensive.
As a result of this, some of the outspoken atheists refused to play the false equivalence game. Back in 2007, Sam Harris rebuked Richard Dawkins for suggesting suicide bombing was the next logical step for moderate Christianity. Harris called it “bullshit” and pointed out that Islam was more threatening than any Christian sect. Over time, Dawkins seems to have changed his views. He has recently been taking heat from the left and from some atheists for focusing his outrage on Islam.