The religious views of Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher are well known.
Colbert is a practicing Catholic, and Maher a lapsed Catholic and strict atheist whose comments about religion have been known to offend even his fellow non-believers. Days after the terrorist attacks in Paris, perpetrated possibly by religious extremists, Bill and Stephen duked it out over faith.
And you can imagine where each of them stood.
The battle ground was The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and both men were in excellent form. Colbert laughed as Maher insulted his religious beliefs, Bill put forth his usual snide “religious-people are idiots” argument to counter Stephen’s attempt to bring him back to the church.
Even Scott Timberg, a writer over at Salon who said his personal beliefs are closer to Bill’s than Stephen’s, admitted that the affable host won the argument. Maher, by comparison, was his usual “notoriously noxious anti-religious zealot,” Slate wrote.
Anyone who professes to have Christian faith should be encouraged by Stephen’s interview and the way he handled Maher’s typically dismissive comments. Instead of rising to anger or lapsing into childish insults, Colbert used kindness, humility, and open-mindedness to partially disarm Bill and keep the debate from becoming truly nasty and awkward.
In other words, Stephen made anyone of faith — be they Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist — look pretty darn good.
The discussion began when Maher told Colbert that they lived very different lifestyles and thus, he would never be invited to dinner at the host’s house. The reason: their differences of opinion when it comes to religion.
Then Colbert did something that’s pretty hard to pull off — he invited his guest to return to the Catholic church, and added in a teeny bit of Christian doctrine in the process, without sounding obnoxious, preachy, or pushy. It’s all in the delivery.
“Come on back, Bill. The door is always open. Golden ticket, right before you, all you have to do is humble yourself before the presence of the Lord, admit there are things greater than you in the universe that you do not understand, and salvation awaits you. Take Pascal’s Wager. If you’re wrong, you’re an idiot, but if I’m right, you’re going to hell.”
Maher wasn’t really amused, or swayed. Later, he accused his religious counterpart of lecturing him, to which Colbert countered that it was an invitation and mocked him openly in front of the studio audience: “This guy gave me a huge lecture about going to dinner. I will eat what I want. Italian, Italian food! How dare you!”
Bill’s anti-religion arguments were pretty standard — and the audience offered loud cheers in response — but Stephen seemed to enjoy the insults. In response to Stephen’s attempted conversion, Bill admitted that there are things he doesn’t understand, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“I do admit there are things in the universe I don’t understand, but my response to that is not to just make up silly stories, or to believe intellectually embarrassing myths from the Bronze Age, but you believe whatever you want to.”
After Maher told Stephen that the ancient wisdom he believes in comes from the same people who “did not know what a germ or an atom was or where the sun went at night,” Colbert just laughed it off, saying “my religion teaches me humility in the face of this kind of attack,” Entertainment Tonight added.
Since the two already covered a usually-taboo topic, they moved on to politics, and in this brief discussion, Maher made some good points. He argued that the only way to get rid of groups like ISIS is to change the ideas that form the foundation of their philosophy: “women as second-class citizens, gay people don’t deserve to be alive.” But then he said that most mainstream Muslims agree with these extremist ideas, so that good point was short-lived.
His other targets, according to Salon: he called Ted Cruz a “a chickenhawk with a law degree,” Ben Carson “somehow a brain surgeon and a head case,” and described Donald Trump’s entire campaign strategy as “me build wall, me great.”
Who do you think won the brief religion battle?
[Image via YouTube]