Apropos of my last post, have a look at the thread over on Richard Dawkins' site. The scary thing is the number of people - a minority, but a significant one - who want to defend the more crackpot aspects of Bill Maher's thinking. The people concerned appear to be, in every other respect, the kind who are fans of Dawkins: i.e., atheistic, anti-religious types.
Let this underline one of my occasional themes: genuinely moderate religious people are not our enemies. The other side of it is that someone does not become a friend of reason and science (or liberty, if it comes to that) merely by being anti-religious. It's well to subject religion to sceptical scrutiny, and I'll go on doing that - and defending it, and encouraging it in others. But the divide between religious people and non-religious people does not map neatly onto the divide between people who are friends of reason, science, and liberty and people who are enemies of one or more of those values. I wish it were so simple, which would make things much easier for me. But it's not.
As for Bill Maher himself, I have enough regard for him to hope that he'll yet come around to the side of reason on the issue that's been raised with him in Michael Shermer's excellent open letter. In many ways, he's admirable, and I take no pleasure in slagging him off. Please, Mr. Maher, have a good think about what Michael wrote. Do you really believe that you are the only rationalist who is in step here? (Well, he won't read what I say, but I bet he'll read what Michael Shermer has said, and he certainly heard the comment that Richard Dawkins made a couple of weeks ago.)
I really hope that Maher will sort this out in his mind in a rational way, but at the moment my hopes aren't very high.