I watch and I consistently enjoy watching HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, whether I agree with the expressed viewpoints or not. About the only time I don't enjoy it is when Maher puts on his soft lifestyle atheism. And this week, with one of his guests Christopher Hitchens (also a soft atheist) he was in that ranting mode once again.
Part of what I do not enjoy about the discussion is the reduction of religion to the belief that there is an old man in the sky running around to help us. Religion is a diverse phenomena and one definition--the acknowledgement that we rely on some greater-than-us--could also fit Maher's lifestyle appeals to reason over religion. In those appeals, Maher gives reason a metaphysical, superceding aura, and he argues for submission to it. That sounds quasi-theological to me.
But these lifestyle atheists don't truly challenge more of the problematic dimensions of faith like the classic atheists, a point that is underscored in a recent Christian Century article, which compares today's atheists like Hitchens to classic atheist giants like Ludwig Feuerbach, Sigmund Freud, and Karl Marx. If atheists are going to be worthy of battle, then they should at least bring real heat against religion like the masters of atheism did. Otherwise, I'm not impressed.