Well deserved, though. So take care not to hurt your shoulder.
One important issue is the relation between religion and war. Here Maher is even more off base than usual:
But what happens when we hold Maher to his own standard? For instance, what about his claims that religion is the only cause of man’s woes and if it were gone, all would be well. Given his constant request that one base his beliefs on evidence, and scientific study, Maher frequently drops the ball on his own end. For example, take his belief that religion is the cause of war. He fails to engage in any scientific investigation on how it is that religion is to blame for all the troubles in the world. He doesn’t, as Plato said, “carve nature at its joints” but he “hacks off parts like a clumsy butcher.” One rightly wonders, especially since Maher offered no sources, from where did he draw his scientific data from? Or, is he meaning to give us a rant based on loosely cobbled facts mashed together from some of his own personal experiences, and concluding with a fallacious hasty generalization that “religion poisons everything?”The truth seems as so often more to be that anti-religion poisons everything.
Not the least by dropping any pretense of doing science.
One thing you do in an objective, scientific study of something is take into account all the relevant empirical information. Those who exclude empirical data that bears on their thesis are not engaged in honest scientific inquiry. They’re engaging in a witch hunt! Maher doesn’t mention sociological, economic, political, historical, ideological ethical, or geographical factors, all of which play a huge part in wars. He doesn’t reference the influential work of Robert Pape, for example, who concluded in the book Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism: “There is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the world's religions.” After studying 315 suicide attacks from 1981-2004, Pape, a University of Chicago political science professor, concludes that suicide bombers' actions stem from logical military strategies, not their religion. Pape claims that the fundamental motive is political. The desire to force the withdrawal of foreign forces occupying land believed to belong to an oppressed people who have seriously limited resources at their disposal (McGrath, Dawkins Delusion, 80), is demonstrated by Pape through serious scientific study.Unfotunately for Maher, science demands a bigger brain than bite.
The simple fact of the matter is, and it is one that Maher is too lazy to take note of or account for, the causes of war are just too complex a thing; we must, as atheist David Livingstone Smith puts it, “resist the temptation to box the causes of war in tidy categories hedged about with arbitrary distinctions.” Smith, our Darwinian atheist philosopher, offers his views on the cause of war in his book. He claims that, “War can be approached from many angles. We can consider it from the standpoint of various disciplines. All of these are important, but there is one dimension that underpins them all: the bedrock of human nature.” (p. xiii)Pseudoscience is a big problem today, and something that should be countered by all parties. Not the least those claiming consistent support from science.
Other atheists that are more level headed than Maher on this matter are those like Michael Shermer. Shermer claims that he “is not convinced by the New Atheists argument that without religion there would be, "no suicide bombers, no 9/11, no 7/7, no Crusades, no witch-hunts, no Gunpowder Plot, no Indian partition, no Israeli/Palestinian wars, no Serb/Croat/Muslim massacres, no persecution of Jews as 'Christ-killers,' no Northern Ireland 'troubles'…. In my opinion, many of these events—and others often attributed solely to religion by atheists—were less religiously motivated than politically driven, or at the very least involved religion in the service of political hegemony.”
The New Atheists, however, seem to eager to remove the carpet beneath their feet to notice.
Worries about the hack scholarship of some like Maher and the New Atheist led University of Hawaii political scientist R.J. Rummell to introduce the term “democide” to cover all forms of politically motivated government-sponsored killing apart from warfare. Maher seems to think that all genocides are religiously motivated. But estimates of the death toll from 20th century democide ranges up toward the 170 million mark according to Rummell’s book Death By Government. How can Maher's theory explain all the relevant data. As a worshiper of "Science," Maher should know that hypothesis that cannot account for a lot of the data should be dropped. But Maher is one of the faithful. He refuses to let facts and evidence get in the way of his jihad.