Bill Maher, Welcome to the World of U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson

Nov 2, 2023 by David Fowler

Bill Maher, Welcome to the World of U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson
Bill Maher, comedian, host of Real Time, and an old-fashioned sort of liberal who is increasingly quoted by Fox News for his complaints with radical progressives, took the new Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives to task for his Christianity. By comparing Johnson to the shooter in Maine who was said to “hear voices inside his head,” Maher showed how little he understood Christianity and how little he had thought through his atheism.
Maher’s statement was as follows: "And I was reading about this horrible shooting in Maine. And, you know, we don't know much about the guy yet, but apparently he heard voices and I thought ‘Is he that different than Mike Johnson? Degree, yes, but its thinner than you think."
I don’t know that Speaker Johnson ever said he “heard” God say something to him. That thought would be too much for an atheist to apprehend. But I don’t think that’s what Maher was thinking of, and I’ve not heard of any Christian saying he or she received an audible communication from God.
Rather, Christians, and I presume Speaker Johnson based on my personal knowledge of him, believe God “speaks” to them through the words they read in the Bible, which Johnson said sets forth his worldview.
That, too, would seem preposterous to a skeptic like Maher, but surely you would think a person of his intellect would have previously considered what makes his monologues elicit laughter from some and engender irritation in others.
Something more is always taking place in any form of communication that is beyond the material aspects or components of it, such as the sound waves, in Maher’s case, or the ink and paper in the case of a writer. Meaning is something beyond the material causes involved.
Dr. John Lennox, a professor of mathematics at Oxford, explains this in an entertaining way that I hope you will enjoy.
Dr. Lennox Stumps His Atheist Professorial Colleague.
At one of the periodic Oxford University faculty dinners, Dr. Lennox introduced himself to the biochemist sitting at his table. When the biochemist said he knew little about mathematics about which they could talk, Dr. Lennox replied that he was also interested in bigger things such as whether “this universe is all that exists and is there a God?”
The biochemist retorted, “I'm an atheist. I'm a reductionist, and we've got nothing to talk about at all.”
Here is how Dr. Lennox described the conversation that followed:
And I said to him, “You know, we're going to have a fascinating evening.”
He said, “Are we?”
“Yes,” I said, “because I am intrigued by reductionism. I don’t think you are a methodological reductionist, but an ontological reductionist (from the word ontos, which means being). And you think everything can be reduced to physics and chemistry without remainder.”
He says, “That's exactly what I believe, and that's why we've nothing to talk about.”
“Well,” I said, “Let's do a little experiment.” So, I picked up the menu on the table, and there it was, in all its glory, [the words] “roast chicken.”
He said, “What's the problem?”
“Well,” I said, “You believe everything can be explained in terms of physics and chemistry?”
“Absolutely,” he said.
“Right,” I said. “Let's have a go at this. Have a look at those letters. R-O-A-S-T. They carry meaning for both of us.”
Now I said, “You're a reductionist.”
“Yes,” he said, “A reductionist.”
Lenox: “Everything is physics and chemistry.”
Biochemist: “Everything is physics and chemistry.”
“Right,” I said. “Explain to me the semiotics [the study of how signs and symbols communicate meaning] of those letters in terms of the physics and chemistry of the paper and ink. Explain to me how they carry meaning.”
And there was a deathly silence. And his wife was sitting next to him, and she nudged him, and rather too loudly, she said, “Get out of that if you can.”
But he didn't try. I was astonished at his reaction.
He said, “John, I've gone into my laboratory every day for the last 40 years thinking it could be done. But now I see it can't. You cannot explain the semiotics [the meaning of signs and symbols, which would include letters of the alphabet], the way those letters carry meaning, without an author.”
Mr. Maher, Let Me Introduce You to the Bible and its Author.
Maher would certainly deny that God inspired men to write the words (letters—a form of sign or symbol) of the original autographs that now comprise what Christians call the Bible. But those letters and words, just as the spoken words in Maher’s monologues, carry meaning. And just as Maher hopes his words carry the meaning he intends, it stands to reason that God would have His words carry the meaning He intends.
Now, the typical Christian, those within the historic stream of Christianity, believes that God, who is a spirit, works in lives of those who are His, to stir in them the meaning He intended, analogous to what Maher tries to do each evening. See 1 Corinthians 2:12-14.[i] Hearing voices inside one’s head is rank mysticism, not Christianity.
In fact, in the early days of Christianity, we are told that those who “received the word” of the Apostles “with all readiness also “searched the scriptures (which was then the Old Testament writings) daily” to determine “whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). They wanted to know if what they heard lined up with what had been written with letters forming words intended to carry meaning.
How God Bears Witness of Himself to Maher in Every Show.
I think Mr. Maher needs to give a bit more thought to what makes sound waves communicate meaning, purpose, and even humor to our minds, and what makes the sound wave of a jackhammer carry a meaning different from a sound wave from his mouth. He ought to give more consideration to why some people see a sunset or read a poem and are “moved by it.”
What invisible thing is taking place between the hearing ear and the seeing eye, on the one hand, and the thinking mind and emotions on the other?
What takes the sound waves coming from Maher’s mouth, converts them into something intelligible to another person’s brain, and evokes laughter?
Speaker Johnson would say that it’s the same God he reads about in Acts 17:28 for “in Him we live, and move, and have our being.” By analogical reasoning, God is bearing witness of Himself to Mr. Maher every night in his monologues when his audience laughs.
In Maher’s atheistic world there is no God, only the silence that comes with meaningless sounds expressing meaningless words. Without Him, your jokes would be just so much unintelligible noise. So, welcome, Mr. Maher, to the world in which you and Speaker Johnson live.

[i] “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy[fn] Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

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