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Politically Incorrect Transcript, Dec. 22, 2000 (LONG)

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  • Bill Evenson
    http://abc.go.com/primetime/politicallyincorrect/transcripts/transcript_20001222.html December 22, 2000 Guests on this program were: Victoria Jackson Julia
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 29, 2000
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      http://abc.go.com/primetime/politicallyincorrect/transcripts/transcript_20001222.html

      December 22, 2000

      Guests on this program were:

      Victoria Jackson
      Julia Sweeney
      Michael Shermer
      Aaron Neville

      Panel Discussion

      Bill: Good evening and happy holidays, I'm Bill Maher.
      You know, as Christmas approaches, many of us find
      ourselves asking the big questions - does God exist,
      what's his Divine plan, and where can I get my hands
      on a Playstation 2?
      [ Light laughter ]


      [ Applause ]

      Oh, no, please. Well, last night we took a look at
      faith, God and the meaning of life, but we realized
      you can't unlock the histories of existence in a half
      hour. So we added a second half-hour show tonight.

      [ Applause ]

      That should do it. That should -- yeah, that'll do it.
      So think of this as our second coming and stay tuned.
      [ Applause ]

      Bill: Okay. I tell you, for people who are into God
      and faith, they have a lot to plug.

      [ Laughter ]

      She's a very funny comedienne, actress and "SNL" star.
      Her play and memoir -- where is her play? Where is her
      plug? Don't I have it here? No. It's over there, "And
      God Said Ha!," Julia Sweeney. Julia, where are you?
      [ Applause ]

      You don't have something in this pile of Christmas
      goodies?

      Julia: Hello.

      Bill: How you doing, honey? He's the publisher of
      "Skeptic" magazine and the author of -- here I go --
      "How We Believe: The Search For God In The Age Of
      Science," Dr. Michael Shermer. Doc.

      [ Applause ]

      How are you, doc?

      Michael: Hi, Bill.

      Bill: Good to see you.

      Michael: Nice to see you.

      Bill: Okay. His new cd is "Devotion." His family
      biography is "The Brothers Neville," and he is Mr.
      Aaron Neville.

      [ Cheers and applause ]

      Aaron: What's up, Bill?

      Bill: How you doing, sir? Nice to see you.

      Aaron: Nice to see you.

      Bill: And she's a very funny comedienne and a popular
      veteran of "Saturday Night Live," our pal, Victoria
      Jackson.

      [ Applause ]

      You knew I'd have you here for this, right?

      Victoria: I knew it!

      Bill: Okay. All right. Well, you know, Christmas is a
      few days away and people -- I don't know, they get
      religious at this time of year. So we thought we'd do
      this show. And this is your book, Doc, "How We
      Believe," some very provocative stuff in there that I
      think will upset a lot of people. I mean, you do cite
      statistics here that basically say that the dumber
      people are the more religious.

      [ Laughter ]

      Michael: Well -- I didn't phrase it quite that way.

      Bill: No, you didn't, because you're a Doc and I'm
      not. But that's what you're saying.

      Michael: It's --

      Bill: You're saying --

      Michael: The more education you have, the less
      religious you are.

      Bill: Right.

      Michael: And the more educated people are less likely
      to believe in God. Now, it's not some huge dramatic
      thing where like three-quarters of the people who went
      to college don't believe in God. But there is a strong
      correlation. The reason for that, we think, is
      probably that there's more exposure to other ideas and
      other people and other world views and ways of life.
      And it makes it more difficult to believe that the one
      religion you were raised with, who always said "We are
      the one true religion," when everybody else is saying
      they're the one true religion, they can't all be the
      one true religion. Therefore, there's a plurality.

      Bill: Just like children believe in Santa Claus. Same
      thing. Big man in the sky --

      Victoria: Excuse me.

      Bill: You know, you grow up. You find out it's not
      true.

      Victoria: Well, Einstein believed in God.

      Michael: No, he didn't.

      Victoria: Yes, he did.

      Michael: He believed in Spinoza's God, which was that
      the laws of nature and the beauty and harmony of the
      universe are grand and wonderful to study.

      Victoria: Sir Isaac Newton --

      Michael: He did not believe -- Newton did.

      Victoria: C.S. Lewis, Kirkegaard, Um --

      [ Laughter ]

      Pascal!

      Aaron: Me.

      Victoria: And me!

      Michael: How about all of the guys that didn't believe
      in God? Now, wait -- the decision about whether there
      is a God or not is not decided by how many smart
      people believe in him or not. Look, here's the reality
      of it -- nobody knows if there's a God or not for
      sure. If we knew for sure, then we wouldn't be having
      these talks, right?

      Bill: But doc, you also say that women believe in more
      silly stuff than men, which --

      Michael: No, no, no, no, no. Wait a minute, wait a
      minute.

      Bill: Wait a second. Wait a second.

      [ Audience booing ]

      Victoria: Boo!

      Bill: I'll say it right here -- you say "educated,
      open people and men feel the need to justify their
      faith with rational arguments, whereas less educated
      people -- especially women -- "

      Victoria: All the disciples were men.

      Bill: " -- are comfortable with their faith being
      based on emotional reasons."

      Julia: That's because we don't educate our girls the
      same way we educate boys.

      Bill: Ah, So stupid people do believe in God.

      [ Laughter ]

      Julia: No, I'm just saying that in our culture, girls
      are usually led away from sciences and
      from logical and critical thinking.

      Bill: What do you mean led away? They're not led away.

      Julia: Yes, they are.

      Bill: They don't choose to go? Oh, yeah, right, we
      close those doors. We say, "Oh, wait a second, you
      have a vagina? You can't go in this computer course."

      [ Laughter ]

      We don't lead them away, they don't -

      Julia: No, there's not a law, but I'm saying that if
      you look at statistics, girls who reach
      puberty stop answering the questions in math class.

      Michael: That's right, they are discouraged --

      Julia: More often, they're discouraged because it's
      not -- they're not seen as attractive to the boys if
      they're good in those areas.

      Bill: But they're not discouraged. It's what they
      want. It's where they're --

      Julia: Okay, no. Okay, this is what we can agree on --
      it's our culture -- that's what's true in our culture
      right now.

      Bill: Maybe it's not our culture, maybe it's our
      biology.

      Victoria: I don't think women believe more than men
      do. I think that's not true.

      Michael: No, here's the deal -

      [ Laughter ]

      Is that all of us come to our beliefs for personal,
      psychological reasons, for upbringing --
      the number one predictor of anybody's religious
      beliefs is their parents' religious beliefs. And then
      it gets tweaked from there, to peer group influences
      and so on. When guys justify their belief, they do it
      using arguments having to do with the complexity of
      the universe, the intelligent design, the dna, all
      this stuff.

      Bill: Right.

      Michael: Women, I think, are just more honest -

      Victoria: I told you about the dna backstage.

      Michael: I know, I know, I know.

      [ Laughter ]

      I've heard it before, believe me. I think actually
      women are just more honest about what we really base
      our beliefs on. That is, women are more --

      Bill: Right.

      Michael: -- sensitive to what's really going on with
      belief systems. Guys are just trying to justify --

      Bill: Guys are saying, "I'll believe it when I see
      it." Women are saying, "I'll believe it when it makes
      me feel good." And you don't have to watch "Oprah"
      every day to know that is the basic difference between
      men and women.

      [ Light laughter ]

      No, seriously.

      Julia: Well, women are more prone to giving credence
      to their emotional life, which is a good thing. And
      they are more open about taking solace and comfort
      from an idea of a God.

      Bill: But you don't know if that's a good thing. It's
      sometimes a good thing.

      Michael: It's not good or bad, it just is.

      Bill: Not always --

      Michael: Viva La Difference. It's just the way it is,
      and it's good, yeah.

      Victoria: But all the disciples were men.

      Bill: Right.

      Victoria: All the disciples were men. And all of the
      guys in the Bible were men. There weren't just women
      following Jesus around.

      Michael: You know, it seemed like a patriarchal system
      that women wouldn't endorse necessarily. Why would you
      endorse that?

      Victoria: You know why there's more old ladies in
      church 'cause all the husbands died.

      [ Laughter ]

      Michael: Well, there you go.

      [ Applause ]

      Bill: All right. I have to take a break. In a minute,
      we'll come back to this.

      [ Applause ]

      Announcer: Join us next week on "Politically
      Incorrect" when Bill's guests will
      include stone temple pilots' frontman Scott Weiland,
      "Loveline's" Dr. Drew Pinsky,
      from "House of Style," Molly Sims, and Judge Mills
      Lane.

      [ Applause ]

      Bill: All right. It's almost Christmas, time of year
      to talk about religion. I know you think that I'm one
      of those people who is going to suffer an eternal
      damnation in a lake of fire that burns but never
      consumes. Much like Glendale in August.

      [ Laughter ]

      But here's -- what I was asking last night on our
      show, I want to ask this to you -- if the Gospels are
      the word of God, how come they don't agree with each
      other? Doesn't that say that --

      Victoria: For example?

      Bill: For example, like only one of them mentions the
      Magi and the star in the sky. Some of them have him
      being born in Bethlehem, some of them in Nazareth.
      There's lots of --
      one of them, at the end, he says, "God, why hast thou
      forsaken me?"

      Michael: Which, by the way, is an exact quote from
      Isaiah, which tells us probably the gospel writers
      were just copying from Isaiah.

      Bill: Well, they were.

      Michael: So here's the deal -- Mark is the first one
      written, in about 60 A.D. Matthew and Luke were copied
      directly from Mark, we know, because they're
      word-for-word verbatim, all of the documents from Mark
      in those two. John was probably -- we don't know who
      wrote John. It may even be a woman because there are
      some feminist themes in there. Which is sort of odd,
      because Jesus -- if you think about it, it's odd that
      the Christian conservative would endorse Jesus, like
      George W. Says, Jesus is his favorite philosopher,
      right?

      Bill: Right.

      Michael: He says give up your private property, which
      is bad, belongings are no good, and abandon your
      family to follow him. So basically he's a
      family-hating Communist endorsed by the Republicans.
      Now, how do you figure that?

      [ Laughter ]

      [ Applause ]

      Victoria: He was just saying that he couldn't make it
      on his own. He was just saying -- you can't get
      eternal life by your good works 'cause you'll never be
      good enough. That's what he was trying to say.

      Bill: What do you mean trying to say? I thought he was
      God.

      [ Laughter ]

      Victoria: He's explaining it.

      Bill: I mean, George Bush, I understand, has trouble
      saying things.

      [ Laughter ]

      Victoria: Now, all those things you say, they don't
      take away from any of the truth. If there's a star in
      one, and one doesn't, how does that affect the Gospel?


      Bill: Isn't that kind of a big thing, the star, the
      magi?

      Victoria: No, four guys see a traffic accident and
      they all tell you what they saw, and it doesn't
      contradict at all.

      Bill: But you do realize that the guys who wrote the
      gospels didn't see any of Jesus, they lived long after
      he died.

      Victoria: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John?

      Michael: This is the oral tradition passed along. And
      you know, when you tell stories, and they get tweaked
      and changed.

      Bill: Yes.

      Michael: And also, these are --

      Bill: Plus, they weren't trying to record history.
      They were trying to convert people.

      Victoria: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, they knew
      Jesus.

      Bill: They didn't know Jesus. They lived after he
      died.

      Michael: That's right, long after.

      Victoria: Oh, I didn't know that.

      [ Laughter ]

      Michael: Yeah.

      Victoria: I should have learned that in Bible college.

      Michael: No, they don't tell that you in Bible
      college, no.

      Bill: They were written by different --

      [ Laughter ]

      Victoria: The Bible was written over a period of 1,600
      years, 40 different authors and it all is one
      narrative. How does that work? It's a miracle.

      Julia: There must be a God!

      [ Laughter ]

      Aaron: They were written by man, and God said,
      "Believe, have faith." That's the word.

      Michael: And that's what it comes down to, really, is
      faith. You can't prove it.

      Julia: Right.

      Victoria: And by the way, he told me backstage that he
      became a born-again Christian when he was --

      Bill: Yeah, I read his book, he did that to get laid.

      [ Laughter ]

      That's what it says. It says he had a friend whose
      sister you wanted to impress, am I right, doc?

      Michael: Well, that's true.

      [ Laughter ]

      That's just the background context that -- I can't
      believe I put that in the book.

      Julia: The first two stories in the Bible, the
      creation, are two contradictory and different stories
      of the creation. So, to me, if you're reading a book
      and the first two chapters of the book are two
      different versions of one story, then that's telling
      you not to take it literally. It's supposed to be a
      metaphor.

      Bill: Exactly.

      Victoria: What are the two versions? What are you
      talking about?

      Julia: In Genesis 1 and then the next story in
      Genesis, where Adam and Eve are born -- or created at
      the same time. And then the first one, Adam's first
      and then Eve's taken from the rib. It's two different
      stories. So to me, when I read a book that has two
      different stories in the beginning, it's saying,
      "These are myths." That these are the myths of our
      culture. These are beautiful stories that have great
      psychological impact, and a great way to understand
      our people psychologically. But they're not to be
      taken literally. And the Bible contradicts itself over
      and over and over again.

      [ Applause ]

      Bill: Yeah. I mean, just to give you one example --
      Joseph didn't really put Mary on a donkey. It just
      says they hauled ass.

      [ Laughter ]

      Julia: Ooh.

      Michael: And let's talk about that story. The virgin
      birth thing --

      Bill: Yeah.

      Michael: Okay, all right. So this is the oldest story
      in history, right? She gets pregnant.

      Bill: It is the oldest, it is literally.

      Michael: And he says, "what's the deal, honey? She
      says, "Um, it was God who impregnated me." And he
      bought it.

      [ Laughter ]

      Bill: But I mean, that's not -- but none of the Christ
      story is original. The authors were trying to convert
      people. They took myths that were already popular.
      December 25th --

      Victoria: Well, why do they do that to get their head
      chopped off?

      Bill: Well, they didn't get their head chopped off.

      Victoria: They didn't get rich off of it or anything.

      Michael: They created a world religion.

      [ Applause ]

      Victoria: Why? What do they get out of it?

      Bill: Honey, I mean, you want to talk about religions
      getting rich, there's a lot of books in the library on
      that.

      Victoria: Well, the guys in the Bible did not get
      rich, they got killed.

      Bill: No. They didn't get -- not those people at the
      time of Jesus. Later, when the religion got popular
      and was a threat --

      Julia: It was all Paul.

      Bill: People got --

      Julia: I just want to say it's Paul.

      Victoria: Yeah, so this other guy Paul says, "Someday
      in the year 2000, I want people to get rich so I'm
      gonna make up a story"?

      Julia: No, Paul was like -- he was like the PMK for
      Jesus.

      Bill: Yeah.

      Julia: Get all of the publicity.

      Michael: It's not just -- people aren't motivated just
      by money. I mean --

      Bill: Right.

      Michael: The difference between a cult and a religion
      is about 100 years. When it begins -- think about it.
      The Mormons, 100 years ago, a small cult. Now they're
      a world religion. Scientologists are halfway there.
      And the motivation comes from the psychology of having
      believers tell you that you are divine like your God,
      you know, that's motivating. There's a whole sort of
      concatenation of psychological events going on there
      that drives these things from a little movement to a
      big movement. Just think of VCRs versus Beta, right?
      One of them gets a head start. Christianity gets a
      slight head start over all the other cults in Rome and
      it took off, and here we are.

      Bill: So, right --

      [ Applause ]

      So -- right.

      Michael: VCR/Beta, that's the principle. The Betamax
      is actually better than VCR, and there was probably
      other religions other than Christianity, but
      somebody's gotta win out.

      Julia: But I have to say that since I lost my faith,
      that is when I began to appreciate Jesus' teachings so
      much more. Like, I wasn't able to relate to him as a
      God. But as a person who had some incredibly dangerous
      ideas, I began to have such love for him.

      Bill: Oh, I agree. There's no greater example. I mean,
      there's just no better guy.

      Victoria: So when you got cancer, you didn't pray?

      Julia: No.

      Victoria: You didn't pray to God once?

      Julia: No. I did -- I did for other things, because it
      really wasn't until after that experience that I went
      through a big philosophical change that led me to
      where I am now. So -- but about my own cancer now. But
      about my brother, I did. And I used religion and it's
      a great solace.

      Victoria: If you don't believe in it, why did you pray
      about your brother?

      [ Applause ]

      Bill: But would God really want you to --

      Victoria: I mean, why were you praying if you don't
      believe that there's anyone listening?

      Julia: This was not that -- that was before I feel the
      way I do now. But at the time, when I did pray -- and
      it was very comforting, and it was very -- I got great
      solace from it. And that's very sad to give up for me.
      And it's a great tragedy for me to give that up. But
      I'm willing to give it up because I want to see things
      clearly. I want to -- I'm willing to give that away in
      order to feel like I'm looking for what's true, rather
      than what's just nice for me to be true.

      Bill: Okay, I'm sorry, I can't give anything away. I
      gotta sell everything.

      [ Applause ]

      [ Applause ]

      Bill: Okay. So first of all, honey, you know, we're
      not trying to pick on you.

      Victoria: I know.

      Bill: I know.

      Victoria: I'm not picking on you, either.

      Bill: Okay.

      [ Laughter ]

      You're supposed to be on her side. Where are you in
      all of this, Mr. Jesus on your arm?

      Aaron: Oh, yeah, I got him.

      Bill: But I think the problem people have with
      religion, some people, is that when you compare the
      religions of the world, they seem to have the same
      core beliefs about morality. They're all trying to
      tell people, "Stay in line. Don't kill each other.
      Don't lie, honor your parents." It's the minutiae, the
      myths that get people in trouble. Why are they
      fighting in Jerusalem? Because some people believe
      that Muhammad descended from the other one -- no,
      Jesus was here, no, it was Moses. You know, so they
      fight over stuff that
      doesn't seem -- yes.

      Victoria: They're fighting 'cause one was Ishmael and
      one was Isaac, and they both have the same dad and
      they both think that they deserve that. But anyway, go
      ahead.

      [ Laughter ]

      [ Applause ]

      Bill: But -- yeah.

      Victoria: What you're saying is that all the religions
      are the same, and I agree with you, they --

      Bill: No.

      Victoria: The world religio means "To bind back to
      God" and it's about good works. And the difference
      with the Bible is, it says, ephesians 2, 8:9, "For by
      grace are you saved through faith but not of yourself,
      is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should
      boast."

      [ Applause ]

      And the gospel is that Jesus died for our sins and
      that we can't earn eternal life on our own good works.
      No matter how good you are, you're never good enough.

      [ Applause ]

      Bill: But you know, you know --

      Victoria: It's a wonderful gift. You don't even have
      to do anything.

      Michael: Gosh, it's so -- it's so simplistic, if
      you're good, we're going to do these nice things for
      you. If you're bad, we're going to hit you.

      Victoria: That's why only dumb women believe in it.

      Michael: It's like, for 5-year-olds.

      [ Laughter ]

      Bill: It is.

      Michael: Kind of basic.

      Victoria: It's very simple.

      Bill: It is very simple. Exactly. But life isn't very
      simple.

      Michael: No, it's complex. What you're finding in
      those commonalities between all those religions are
      real basic moral fundamental principles, like "Do unto
      others." It's in all of them, why? Because -- I think
      -- that we evolved morality. We are a hierarchal
      primate social species, in which we need to be able to
      interact with each other in order to survive as a
      collective whole. How do we do that? "Do unto others"
      is the perfect beginning of the philosophy. And then
      you build on that.

      Bill: You see, like, in government we did it. And
      that's another institution like religion -- instead of
      going tooth and claw and clubbing each other in the
      streets, we had a disputed election, we solved it --
      sort of -- in the courts.

      [ Laughter ]

      Michael: Did we?

      Bill: Religion the same thing. Instead of having
      people do that -- but why do we need all the myths?
      Why is it -- and when people believe them
      fundamentally, then they fight over it and kill each
      other.

      Victoria: Atheism is responsible for more killing than
      Christianity --

      Julia: No, no!

      Victoria: Yes, it is! Can't use that Christian war
      thing anyway.

      Bill: Atheists are more responsible?

      Michael: Religions have been the master of persecution
      and warfare throughout history.

      Victoria: But Hitler wasn't a Christian, you know.

      Michael: But we can't blame religion for this. It's
      extremism. It's what you were just saying, Bill, it's
      extremism of any kind -- ideological, political,
      religious. That's the problem.

      Bill: Yeah. And --

      [ Applause ]

      30 seconds, kids.

      Victoria: Merry Christmas!

      Bill: Last chance to get in on the religious show.

      Michael: When people say you can't be good without God
      --

      Bill: This is your last prayer.

      Michael: -- My response is, maybe you can't be good
      without God.

      Bill: Yes.

      Michael: Obviously, lots of nonreligious people are
      plenty good. Lots of religious people are bad.

      Victoria: Are you celebrating Christmas?

      Michael: I celebrate Festivus, for the rest of us.

      [ Applause ]

      Of course I celebrate Christmas with my God. Of
      course.

      Bill: Well, Christmas isn't a religious holiday.

      Victoria: It's Jesus' birthday.

      Bill: I know. Well, first of all, it isn't even Jesus'
      birthday. Let's get that straight.

      Michael: It's the winter solstice.

      Bill: It is not Jesus' birthday.

      Victoria: I know what happened when it was hot
      outside. I know.

      Michael: It's the winter -- we're celebrating. The
      days are getting longer.

      Bill: So if you know that that's baloney --

      Aaron: Whether you get in heaven or not if you're good
      without believing in Jesus, that's
      your belief.

      Bill: Yeah, even the Pope said that recently. The pope
      said, "You know what? Even without me, I think you can
      get there." And we all went, "Hey, that's more than
      Bush said."

      [ Laughter ]

      Gotta take a break. We'll be right back.

      [ Applause ]

      [ Applause ]

      Bill: So let me just ask in the very short time we
      have, did Jesus exist? Because some people say there's
      no historical record, just a religious record.

      Aaron: When I'm singing, I feel like the Jesus in me
      is touching the Jesus in whoever's listening. And I
      believe in Jesus.

      Victoria: I believe in Jesus.

      [ Applause ]

      Oh! You know what, if he didn't exist, why did they
      base the calendar on his death?

      Michael: Huh?

      Julia: Okay.

      Bill: Well --

      Michael: That settles it.

      Bill: That's a good --

      Aaron: 2,000 A.D.

      Bill: Tomorrow, we have Molly Sims, Corey Feldman,
      Mindy Sterling and Monica Crowley.

      [ Applause ]

      Give us your 2 cents! Mouse over and mouth off on the
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