On Friday, Bill Maher, addressing Talibangelical displeasure over the film Noah, took the opportunity to denounce the God of the Old Testament as a psychotic mass murderer.
On Saturday, that God did not strike down Bill Maher, nor did he smite him on Sunday, when, presumably, God might have been resting with the rest of his flock. But on Monday, when Maher was still among us, Bryan Fischer was forced to do some very painful thinking.
Since it was inconceivable that God would not strike Maher down for the public denunciation, cognitive dissonance came to the rescue and told Fischer that God must have spared Maher to give him a chance to repent. You know, like he did with Lot’s wife.
Well anyway, Fischer had this all figured out:
So Bill Maher has been created by God. God created Bill Maher. God gave Bill Maher freedom of choice. Bill Maher is a free moral agent. And so the decisions Bill Maher is making right now, to blaspheme God, to ridicule God, to mock God, he only has the ability to do that because God has given him that gift. The gift of free will. The gift of judgment, the gift of discernment, the gift of this enormously precious gift of being able to make decisions of our own lives.
This is factually incorrect. The only reason Bill Maher was not tortured and then burned at the stake by the end of business Friday by people like Fischer, was because of the secular United States Constitution. That right of free speech was granted to Bill Maher by the First Amendment of the Constitution, not by God, but by men, for free speech is nowhere granted by the Law of Moses.
In fact, God denies to men and women the right of free speech in his Third Commandment, saying:
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”
Paul of Tarsus repeats this injunction in his letter to the Galatians, writing that God will not be mocked without consequence, the whole “reap what you sow” thing we hear about so often. Once again, Bryan Fischer seems to possess a special copy of the Bible.
Look, it’s not really free will when somebody is holding a sword over your soul, is it? As Himma (2006) has pointed out, giving a robber money as the alternative to being shot does not imply consent to give the robber money. By the same token, being offered hellfire as the consequence of exercising free will is not really granting free will.
If you want to know what biblical free will gets you, ask Adam and Eve.
At this point, Fischer is forced to rationalize Maher’s continued existence:
So Bill Maher now is using this for profane and blasphemous purposes and the only reason that Bill Maher after a tirade like that, there is absolutely only one reason why Bill Maher draws even another single breath and that is because God is merciful, God is compassionate, he is abounding and steadfast love and loving kindness.
Oh…THAT explains the whole flood thing. God was being merciful and compassionate. So Bill Maher uses the Bible to show God is a psychotic mass murderer and in defense of God, Bryan Fischer uses the Bible to show that all that psychotic mass murder is really just tough love, a manifestation of boundless mercy and compassion.
I wonder if that was Lot’s wife’s last thought as she turned into salt. I wonder if that was the last thought of Israel’s pagans as they were killed and tortured for believing in the wrong God, or the last thought of all those people, men, women, and children, in those cities that merciful and compassionate God ordered destroyed, the last thought of all the women God ordered raped and enslaved, all the babies whose heads he ordered be bashed in while their mothers were being raped and enslaved.
Free will? It wasn’t as if Solomon’s hundreds of concubines filled out applications for the position, Mr. Fischer. But maybe sexual servitude is a sign of mercy and compassion as well.
I don’t know…I’m really not getting this whole mercy and compassion vibe.
That is the only reason Bill Maher gets to draw another breath after saying those kinds of things to the potter. Why does God allow Bill Maher to go on these blasphemous rants? Because he is waiting for Bill Maher to come to this place of repentance. And he is continuing to extend to him his grace and his patience and his mercy. Now eventually, the clock is going to run out for Bill Maher and maybe when he reaches the end of his life and he doesn’t turn before the – before he reaches the end of his life that he’s gonna have to face God with those words and he will be judged on those words, because Jesus said, we will be judged by every careless word that comes out of our mouth, and Bill Maher might have thought he was being hip and kinda trendy kinda cool and all that, but he’s gonna be judged for those careless words. God hopes it doesn’t come to that. I mean, God, by all rights, could take him right now and Bill Maher would have to face judgment by the end of the day. Why doesn’t God do that? Because he is patient with Bill Maher. He doesn’t wanna have to do that. He wants to give Bill Maher the time to come to his senses and to come to a place of repentance.
Makes you wonder, doesn’t it, if God can be so patient with one guy why he is destroying entire cities full of innocent people for the sins of the few, killing birds, setting fires, causing earthquakes, sending hurricanes and unleashing volcanoes. Maybe the big guy is a little bipolar?
I wish Fischer had been blessed with some self awareness, and that he could hear himself talk. He says God gives us the freedom to make decisions about our own lives but then, like his God, denounces all those who make what he perceives to be the “wrong” decisions. If God is so full of love, why is Bryan Fisher so full of hate?
There is a reason the word heresy is taken from the Greek word for “choice.” And the one thing Bryan Fischer and his friends on the Religious Right absolutely do not want you to have, is choice. And that includes, especially, Bill Maher, who just got away with speaking truth to power.
Not thanks to God, But thanks to the First Amendment.
Himma, K.E. (2006). Legal, social and ethical issues of the Internet. In H. Bidgoli (Ed.), Handbook of information security, volume 2. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.