Father Robert Barron, founder of Word on Fire ministry and Rector/President of Mundelein Seminary near Chicago, has said that HBO talk show host Bill Maher does not understand neither faith nor the Bible, responding to the numerous attacks on Christianity the outspoken comedian has made recently.
"I don't know what possesses me to watch 'Real Time With Bill Maher,' for Maher is, without a doubt, the most annoying anti-religionist on the scene today. Though his show is purportedly about politics, it almost invariably includes some attack on religion, especially Christianity," Barron wrote for Catholic News Agency on Sunday.
Maher has made a number of anti-Christian comments on his show. Earlier this year he called God a "psychotic mass murderer" for the flood as described in the biblical account of Noah's ark, and in June asked Christian Coalition founder Ralph Reed to explain why Jesus had to come down to Earth to "correct His dad" on Old Testament laws such as stoning of adulterous women to death.
"Faith, rightly understood, does not involve any surrender of one's critical intellectual powers, nor is it tantamount to the acceptance of things on the basis of no evidence. What Bill Maher characterizes as 'faith' is nothing but superstition or credulity or intellectual irresponsibility. It is an ersatz 'knowing' that falls short of the legitimate standards of reason. Real faith is not infra-rational but rather supra-rational, that is to say, not below reason but above reason and inclusive of it," Barron wrote.
The Mundelein Seminary president also presented the Roman Catholic view of the Bible, saying that Reed's argument that the entirety of it is to be taken literally leaves one "hopelessly vulnerable to the kind of critique that Bill Maher raises."
"In its marvelous statement on Biblical interpretation, Dei Verbum, Vatican II says that the Bible is the Word of God in the words of men. That laconic statement packs a punch, for it clarifies why the fundamentalist strategy of Scriptural interpretation is always dysfunctional," the priest wrote. "God did not dictate the Scriptures word for word to people who received the message dumbly and automatically; rather, God spoke subtly and indirectly, precisely through human agents who employed distinctive literary techniques and who were conditioned by the cultures in which they found themselves and by the audiences they addressed."
Other Christians have also spoken out against Maher's remarks, including actor Kevin Sorbo of the 2014 film "God's Not Dead."
"I wonder what happened to him in his lifetime, because the atheists I have met, not all of them are angry. I've got some very good friends who are atheists and they just don't believe, they simply don't believe. We've had great debates about it and things like that," Sorbo said in an interview responding to the TV show's remarks that God is a "murderer."
"There is no reason to even try to talk to a guy like that because he has so much hate."
In May 2007 the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights even called for Time Warner, the parent company of HBO, to fire Maher after negative comments he made against the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, founding pastor of the Thomas Road Baptist Church.