This review presents quite a quandary for me. Personally, I am not religious, but I certainly respect the rights of others to believe as they see fit (unless they want to kill me or mine for disagreeing with them). In this documentary, standup comic Bill Maher seems to think he will dissuade various believers from their convictions by offering puerile arguments: "If your God is so good, why does He allow bad things to happen?" ...points we made on these same topics in our early teens.

I found myself feeling sorry for everyone on the screen, those various believers AND Maher, for his well-documented failure to sway even one person. At least that seemed to be his intent, but it made me uneasy. Logic has absolutely NO weight when it is used against deeply held convictions.

As an audience member, I had to salute the film historians who punctuated the discussions with very funny film clips from old "Sword and Sandal" epics, plus many other, more obscure, sources. They kept the presentation lively and entertaining. In my opinion, Maher is a very funny man, even when I find him coming up short, intellectually.

The editors cleverly wove into the narrative many carefully researched factoids that contradicted the speakers with graphic evidence of their delusions, by illustrating the realities of their beliefs, e.g., the peaceful nature of the Muslim religion juxtaposed with newsreels of violent bombings and worse. (News clips interspersed the discussions.)

There is an interview with a Muslim woman standing on the spot in Amsterdam where, in 2004, movie director Theo van Gogh was murdered (shot, stabbed AND had his throat cut -- a terrific example of zealous overkill, don't you think?). His crime? Creating a 10-minute film that addressed the topic of violence against women in Islamic societies. Blithely dismissing the evidence, the interviewee continues to insist that Islam is a gentle, peaceful religion.

Even though the various branches and sects of the Christian religion are his primary targets, his aim is to debunk ALL religions, much like Christopher Hitchens did in his book, "God is NOT Great: How Religion Poisons Everything." His bit about the Jewish rite of circumcision is very funny, as are his visits to the Vatican, the Mormon Tabernacle and a "Holy Land" theme park somewhere in the American south. It was fun to watch Maher flummoxed by one Jewish rabbi who absolutely would NOT allow himself to be interrupted!

I understand what Maher is trying to say: If we could set aside the divisiveness caused by the world's religions, we might be able to get along.

But here in Seattle last night, he was preaching to the choir.