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July 12th, 2011
11:34 AM ET

Bill Maher explains his 'apatheism,' apathetic atheism

Comedian Bill Maher sits down with Piers Morgan to talk about growing up Catholic and becoming an "apatheist," an apathetic atheist who just doesn't think much about religion.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Content Partner

soundoff (1,340 Responses)
  1. Herp Derp

    Bill is always on point!!!!

    July 12, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  2. nobody special

    Dear God, please save me from your followers.

    July 12, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  3. JerseyBill

    Who cares what this d-bag thinks?

    July 12, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  4. Zak

    @Colin
    Which of the following groups based their 20th Century social outlooks on a collection of Atheistic philosophies created by Marx and other Atheists.

    (a) USSR under Stalin
    (b) Cambodia under Pol Pot
    (c) Red China under Mao Tse Tung
    (d) All of the above?

    July 12, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • colin

      (e) none of the above. Communism was a geo-political movement. It opposed religion not on theological grounds, but becuase it saw it as a threat to its power. Likewise, Hitler was a Christian, but I do not believe he did what he did to further a Christian agenda. Despots will use or oppose religion as it best suits them.

      July 12, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  5. Phillip IV

    I actually wouldn't mind betting that the dumbest 10 atheists in the USA are smarter than the smartest 10 believers. I mean it. When I look at atheists, they are always the smartest members of society – 95% of the american Academy of Scientists for example, are atheists.

    If there were a god, why would he have made the atheists so smart and hide himself so well that only the dumb still believe in him.

    July 12, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • mg

      I would take that bet.

      July 12, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • JW

      So by that logic anyone who does not agree with you should be considered dumb.

      July 12, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • Drinker

      Well said and good point!

      July 12, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • Mayflower

      Being learned and being wise are two entirely different things. The most brilliant minds I know also happen to be the least socially adept and the most arrogant. I'd rather hang out with a few fairly smart people of faith than spend any time with someone who makes sure everyone knows they know more than everyone else and makes sure to lambast anyone who a) isn't as smart and b) mocks someone who doesn't think the same way they do.

      The atheists I know (and I know several casually) aren't just non-believers. If they were, I'd say live and let live. They make sure they mock anyone of faith, and that's just not cool. We humans use 10% of our brain capacity. Who knows what is possible with the other 90%? Would we be able to perceive that there actually is a God? Who knows, but I'm not so arrogant and closed-minded as they are to rule it out.

      July 12, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • mike

      25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
      (Matthew 11:25-26)

      July 12, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • colin

      Hmmm, hidden from adults and revealed only to little children. Was Jesus talking about a priest's private parts?

      July 12, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • Christ Follower

      Phillip IV,

      Then how do you explain these Christians??? Some of the Most Influential, Most Famous Scientist who were Christians
      Scientists listed in both Scientists of Faith (Christians) and these individuals could be considered among history's most influential and famous scientists, who also happen to have been devout Christians of various denominations:
      Roger Bacon
      Martin Luther King
      Johannes Kepler
      Johannes Baptista van Helmont
      Blaise Pascal
      Robert Boyle
      Anton van Leeuwenhoek
      Carolus Linnaeus
      Leonhard Euler
      John Dalton
      Michael Faraday
      John Frederick William Herschel
      Matthew Fontaine Maury
      James Prescott Joule
      Gregor Mendel
      William Thomson, Lord Kelvin
      James Clerk Maxwell
      George Washington Carver
      Arthur Stanley Eddington
      All U.S. Presidents

      July 12, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • colin

      I cannot agree or disagree on any individual you mention, but I do accept that, up util the last 100 years, most people (including scientists) were theists of various stripes. It is no surprise that early scientific breakthroughs were made by people who, to varying degrees believed in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism or other religions.

      But so what, that was then, this is now. Now most thinking people are atheists or agnostics. As society has become more educated and atheism more accepted, the % of theists is in real decline in the educated West.

      Also, each of the religions I mentioned is different – so which one is real based on the scientists it produced?

      July 12, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • wgage

      Christ follower, that is a short list compared to the famous atheist on wiki.

      July 12, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Christ Follower

      Collen,
      EVERY ONE of our US Presidents claim to be Christians, to date! We've voted all of them into office. If the atheist scientists are so smart then why aren't they running our country??? It's because they wouldn't get voted in – that's why! Like it or not, this Country was and will always be founded on Christianity. Christ prevails.

      July 12, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Christ Follower Calling Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln Christians is a huge stretch and the same is probably true of a lot more of them. When you seek to become the leader of a predominantly Christian nation and one that is indeed a real laggard amongst Western countries w/r/t giving up the old superst-itions, you aren't going to get a lot of people wearing their disbelief on their sleeves.

      July 12, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • GodPot

      The reason for the trend you mention is that atheists do not have a taboo list of things they won't or can't study, read and investigate. Christians however tend to refrain from reading anything that might contradict their ideology as do many religious persons who feel like their faith is threatened if they are exposed to anything that does not fit their faith.

      Thus, atheists will study any book's, religious in nature or not, with no starting bias and are more able to absorb and reflect on the material with no guilt or shame. They can take something in, ponder it and look for anything of value, learn from it and move on, unlike the religious mind that often becomes plagued by guilt for thinking about anything that may make sense but doesn't conform to their faith.

      July 12, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • Stephen M

      Phillip - I'd assume you're being hyperbolic, but since you reiterated with an "I mean it", I need to point out that your bet is absolutely ridiculous. On average, the more learned a person is, the more skeptical he/she is likely to be - that is statistically true. Religion is often a cop-out for ignorance, and intellectual curiosity is often championed by atheists. But to suggest that a person's religious beliefs imply an exception-free ordering on intelligence is naive, if not insane. A brilliant professor may hold a personal belief in God, and the disheveled man who just passed me on the streets of Berkeley, dancing and making ape noises, may not. You can pat yourself on the back all you want for joining the elite crowd - but as both 5% of the American Academy of Scientists and atheists who make sweeping generalizations on message boards can attest to, there are exceptions to every rule.

      July 12, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
  6. Brian

    My psychology professor made an interesting comment. He said "religion has all the symptoms of a mental illness. We don't consider it as such because so many people go in for it."

    July 12, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • colin

      As they say Brian, if one person believes they talk to god, we call them a lunatic, if a dozen do, we call them a cult, if a billion do, we call them Christians.

      July 12, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • swin

      Yogi Berra would like this: It has been my experience that all my psychology professors themselves needed a psychologist.

      July 12, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • JerseyBill

      Please keep in mind he is a college professor.

      July 12, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • John Richardson

      You know, there is actually a physical analog. No one thinks strawberries are poisonous even though some people can die from eating them. Those people are called allergic. But some "poisonous" things seem simply to be things to which many, many people are allergic.

      July 12, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  7. icedawg

    The self-assured religion mockers are amusing to say the least.

    July 12, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • To say the least

      .

      July 12, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  8. Lufkin

    This interview seems like an excuse for Bill Maher to tell us about something he doesn't think about, but thinking is not Maher's game. His game, like Limbaugh's and Beck's and Olbermann's is "having all the answers" and having those answers fit a particular ready-made agenda that makes thought unnecessary. Nobody watches or listens to these people to think, or to hear them think; we watch them to have what we already think fed back to us in easily digestible form. It's no mistake that all of them built their careers during the Bush era.

    July 12, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • Lufkin

      And going on TV to tell proudly tell people that you "never think about X" is just about the signal sign of intellectual mediocrity and image over substance.

      July 12, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  9. Frank

    Is there anyone more boring than Bill Maher? He really puts me to sleep.

    July 12, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • realkman

      He also puts my 5 year old to sleep. Your intellectual capacity seem to be at the same level.

      July 12, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  10. BillMaherCommie

    Bill Maher is an obnoxious pansy loud-mouthed liberal weasel and I cant belive anyone cares what this ugly toad has to say about anything

    July 12, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • FrozenTundra

      Why did you read the article?

      July 12, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • keylee

      Bill Maher has more intelligence in his pinky finger then the right wing morons posting comments on this blog.

      July 12, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • realkman

      Anybody with IQ over 100. Certainly, you do not qualify.

      July 12, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • Penny Lady

      Well! No one saw that coming!

      July 12, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • Mayflower

      Yes, Bill Maher is smart. He's also an arrogant, intolerant toe rag. I have absolutely no patience for people who preach tolerance but are unwilling to listen to and try to understand the other side's point of view. If you want everyone to tolerate the gays, you have to be willing to tolerate the Christians too.

      July 12, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  11. Rene Hjortborg Bjørnskov

    "One of Americas most famous Atheists" Not even close Billy.

    July 12, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  12. Marcus

    Who gives a flying #### bleep besides the Left wing loonies what religion or non-religion Bill freakin Maher follows?!?! Only CNN would give time to this clown...

    July 12, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • sonofgadfly

      Perhaps you've heard of Glenn freakin' Beck? And Fox (cough) news?

      July 12, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Marky Merlot

      When I think of loonies, left-wing aren't on the top of my list of suspects. Now if you said Palin, Bachmann, Beck and such of their ilk, now you're talking LOONIE.

      July 12, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  13. Doug

    Religion.......the battle over who has the better imaginary friend. Athiests are not evil Bob...perharps they are just thinkers.

    July 12, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  14. George

    Religion comes from a time when society was limited by the amount of food its agriculture could produce, and new progressive ideas could not be supported, so the human faculty for creativity and reason posed a danger to society. The emphasis is on myth and looking backwards, focusing on the unchanging aspects of life and interpreting new events in old ways. Now our society is one of rational scientific thought, looking forward, and huge new ideas being plausible to execute. Hence there's a bit of a gulf between "modern" thinkers and those heavily influenced by religious thought.

    July 12, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • sonofgadfly

      George, that's a very nice myth you just told. I am a big fan of rational, scientific thought myself, but I don't have any idea why you would think that modern society is based on it.

      July 12, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • swin

      And now how long did it take you to dream this up?

      July 12, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Dave in Dallas

      Hmmm. I was wondering when someone would respond to the as yet unspoken demand "please expound upon your slightly tangential beliefs regarding social structure and it's agriculture and reactionary antecedents in 300 words or less". Well done, George, well done.

      July 12, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  15. FrozenTundra

    I don't agree with many things Bill Maher says, but give him some credit for being truthful. A person that talks to a statue is mentally ill, whether it is a Mickey Mouse statue at Disney World or a statue of Jesus in a church.

    July 12, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  16. jeb

    If people want to believe in imaginary supreme beings, that is fine with me as long as they don't force it on the rest of us.

    July 12, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  17. Colin

    Which of the following groups bases their 21st Century social outlook on a collection of Bronze Age myths from the Middle East, that were cobbled together into a book during the Dark Ages:

    (a) The Ayatollahs of Iran
    (b) The Afghan Taliban
    (c) American Christians; or
    (d) All of the above?

    July 12, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • Dave in Dallas

      That's grossly simplistic. The Christian book was not cobbled together. It was cobbled of course, but then translated, and translated, and translated a couple more times by divinely inspired couriers of God's word (the ancient version of "press 1 for spanish, press 2 for english").

      But if I had to answer your question as asked, ... d.

      July 12, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  18. Marky Merlot

    Famous Irish comedian, Dave Allen often joked;"I'm an Atheist, thank God", but to see his introduction to religion, as a 4 year old starting Catholic primary school is a treat. Hilarious and yet, ridiculous sounding as fairy tales! Go g**gle it: Dave Allen on Religion. When you see it through a child's eyes, you realize how bizzare it all sounds.

    July 12, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  19. Leonid Brezhnev

    There is no god, no after life, no little 'angels' floating around protecting you from harm,. Grow up, sheeple.

    July 12, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  20. Brian

    Religion is a psychological device to side step our fear of the unknown. Personally, I quit going to church when I was 12 years old. I just got tired of all those nasty, hateful people who call themselves "Christian." As Nietzsche said "The last Christian died on the cross."

    July 12, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • sharky

      Except Jesus was a Jew.

      July 12, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • sonofgadfly

      Sharky: "Jew" is an ethnic group, as well as a religion. Christianity is "only" a religion. Though I'm no longer a practicing Christian (and am indifferent toward Judaism), I think Jesus made it pretty clear that he emphatically disagreed with the Jewish priesthood on a number of issues, and thus did not himself ascribe to Judaism as it was practiced then and there. To put it more plainly, he was executed for blasphemy against Judaism. Thus, I think it can be said that he was a Christian Jew.

      July 12, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.