How Not To Talk with an Atheist
Here are a few of the points addressed, along with my suggestions included:
Noah's Ark "story": Sadly, Christians are as guilty as anyone else for making the historical Biblical narrative of Noah into just a "story", or as O'Reilly says here, "an allegory". The Bible is emphatically not an allegory, and when allegory is applied in the Bible, it is used clearly as allegory- even introduced as such. (Galatians 4:24) If the text is read as it stands, we have no problem seeing that the account of the flood is to be taken as real history. This testimony is reinforced by the hundreds of ancient legends all over the world about a world-wide flood. The only way to explain that is that a world-wide really did wipe out everything!
There are "stories that are untrue": Because many have rejected the flood for evolutionary dating, we MUST accept that Noah's flood story is at some point untrue. However, if we take the Bible at face value, we come to a fossil record that can only be accounted for by a world-wide flood. As Maher said, the Bible is the "Word of God" and should be read as such.
"How about killing your neighbor if you see him working on a Sunday":
O'Reilly tries to switch the topic instead of addressing this legitimate concern/question. Obviously Maher is not out to get his questions answered, he is simply out to make people (who believe what the Bible says) look stupid. Unfortunately, O'Reilly does what many Christians do by neither addressing his question or his motivation- he goes right to the New Testament alone. Only THAT is important, they say. The O.T. is too hard to understand, right? Well, is it? This surely was not Jesus' approach. He affirmed and upheld the Law and the Prophets as being fully inspired by God, without error. Jesus wasn't afraid of looking stupid, neither was Paul.
(For some ideas on how I would answer Maher's question, look here. If Maher would accept his own premise, that the Bible is written by God, there would obviously be things that would seem, at first, to make "no sense" to finite, sinful humans.)
"Nobody can explain [our origins] but it doesn't mean we should make up stories like children to explain it."
This is the most laughable comment made in the whole piece. Unlike the agnostic (i.e. unknowing) story of macro-evolution - the fairy tale for grownups, the Bible is the only first-hand historical account of our origins. Therefore believing the Bible is not, like O'Reilly says, a "leap of faith". Indeed Christians put faith in God, but this is based on actual experience with God Himself, and an overwhelming amount of logical evidence to go with it (fulfilled prophecies, archeological findings, internal and external textual evidence etc.). Maher, on the other hand, believes implicitly in things in which he has no experience, nor any good evidence to believe. The driving factor for him, and for atheists in general, is that he does not want to believe in God. Romans 1:18 makes it clear that we all know there is a God by the created things we see around us, but we push away that truth so that we can do what we want to do. So in fact Maher's accusation falls on his own head: He is creating a fantasy world for himself so that he can do whatever he wants without God.
Instead of condemning Maher, it must be said that all of us do that same thing at times and therefore we all need the grace of God! My goal in a conversation like this would not be to end like O'Reilly did, but allow Maher to see the joy that I have in God and point him to this very loving God that can save him.