An old one today, from 2007.

Did you see Darwin Harmless’s great song, “Don’t be Divisive”, inspired by last week’s strip? Watch it here on YouTube. Warning: it’s catchy.

For those patrons still awaiting their clerihews, signed prints, and other rewards – I haven’t forgotten you! Clerihews are taking up quite a bit of time, but I’m about 75% of the way through them now. Once they’re done, I’ll concentrate on getting all the other rewards out. Thank you for your patience.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that this month’s raffle winner is another Australian! Congrats, James, you win a signed copy of Born Again.

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Discussion (67)¬

  1. Limagolf says:

    Don’t worry about the rewards, we are patient as Job 😉

    (and I already got my clerishew anyway 🙂 )

  2. Pete says:

    Even religion(s) evolve.

  3. Nassar+Ben+Houdja says:

    Reality is merely a crutch
    For those who don’t expect much
    Of anything that is elevating
    Realists are always berating
    Concepts that are beyond their clutch.

  4. ccdarling says:

    I find flouncing works better in a pair of skinny jeans than a shape-concealing robe.

  5. two cents' worth says:

    ccdarling, you must have excellent flouncing technique 🙂 . When I flounce, I rely on the movement of my skirt (or robe)–and the noise that movement makes–to make my flounce complete. But then, I don’t flounce often. I guess I need more practice flouncing while wearing jeans.

  6. two cents' worth says:

    Speaking of evolution and Genesis, you might enjoy the Sylvia cartoon at http://www.gocomics.com/sylvia/2014/01/21

  7. Ephphatha says:

    Responsive only to fundamentalist Christian theology.

  8. Machead says:

    A rerun is not a new strip… It’s a CHANGED strip. What would the barmaid say about false advertising?

  9. Macha says:

    A rude romp known as Genesis,
    turned out to be their nemesis,
    that bloody serpent,
    got them kicked of that garden verdant.

  10. Macha says:

    Try again (damn these arthritic fingers)

    A rude romp known as Genesis,
    turned out to be their nemesis,
    that bloody serpent,
    got them kicked out of that garden verdant.

  11. Michael says:

    “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” -Phillip K. Dick

  12. Author, thanks for the plug. And this one is a classic. Good choice for resurrection.

    I don’t flounce. I prance or I parade, according to relatives. (As in prancing around in his birthday suit.)

    HaggisforBrains, what a wonderful and flattering clarihew on the last thread. Thanks.

    Acolyte, as I expected, going viral is not something that is easy to predict. Also I think we don’t fully appreciate the tiny demographic we all belong to when we hang out in this echo chamber. I love it at the C&B and I’m so happy I found you folks. But even Author’s well deserved fame and popularity may not be enough to push my effort viral. I’m waiting, but as of right now “Don’t Be Divisive” has had 314 views. That’s a far cry from viral. And that’s perfectly okay with me. The enthusiastic applause in the C&B is more than I expected or need.

    This reminds me of a story. In the town where I live there was a professional wedding photographer. Unfortunately he was slowly going blind, and would have to find a new profession. So he spent a lot of time and money making a very comprehensive DVD about how to shoot weddings, the setups, the technical information, the politics. He put his heart into it, did a great job, and then tried to sell it on Ebay. After months of promotion he had only sold a handful of copies.
    He was lamenting the situation to his dentist who told him, “That’s too bad. I have a product I’m selling and I had fifty thousand dollars in sales last week.” The photographer asked what the product was, expecting it to be something to do with dentistry. But no. What the dentist was flogging was an extruded plastic insert that a person could put in their rectum to make their shit come out in shapes. It was so successful that he was marketing a new product – additives one could eat to make their shit come out in different colours.
    I think there may be a lesson about the nature of the Internet in this story someplace.

    Macha, oh no. Another victim of the Nassar virus?

  13. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Darwin, it was 438 at 23:30GMT and 458 an hour later so it’s getting there.
    I showed the video to my daughter when she came round this morning. She rang me an hour ago to tell me off; she’s had the song in her head all day. So, it may not yet be viral, but it is causing ear-worms.

    To the cartoon: Genesis is the basis of my atheism. I figured long ago that the whole issue of the existence of God stands or falls on the first book of the Bible, what with it supposedly being God’s own account of how he created the Universe, and so if Genesis could be falsified then it would naturally follow that far from being the word of God, Genesis was no more than yet another man-made creation myth .

    I also realised that the falsification of the account given in Genesis would not only pretty much rule out the existence of God, it would also negate everything of a religious nature that followed, which of course meant that J.C. would have to be downgraded to a mere mortal with a massive ego.

    Can you imagine then how I felt to discover – whilst still at school – that Science* had emphatically falsified Genesis?
    Yup, no kidding. I learned that Genesis had the order that the Universe was created way out of sync. Not only that, but it missed out on about 99.999% of the life of the Universe and about the same percentage of the life of Earth and of the age of life on Earth and 100% of the animal and plant species that had gone extinct by the time the book was written. To be charitable, it only missed maybe 99.9% of the number of species of flora and fauna that live here now, but nary a mention of any of the New World species, nor of the vast majority of the Old.
    And that was it – even before I learned about the complete lack of evidence for events such as a global flood and the subsequent mystery of the vanishing flood water.
    No big C Creation means no God, no Jesus, angels, fallen angels; no Heaven or Hell. Just a big, old book containing a history of varying accuracy of the people and places of the Middle-East over a period of 4000 years or so, written of course by the winners as all history is and, of course, the roots of a tradition that the fine religious folk of today are all too happy to uphold, namely God beginning where knowledge ends.

    To think I would have been burned at the stake for saying that at any time until relatively recently – although I’d still be at risk of beheading in certain quarters even today – but thankfully the worst I received was the cane, oh so many times, for being – and I quote just one of the many names my various R.E. teachers called me over the years – a ‘satanic little bastard.
    Oh, what fun!

    *As was pointed out in the article ShallowEnder linked to in the last thread, Boko Haram means ‘Western education is evil’ or some such nonsense. Learning has always scared religion, and it always will.

  14. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    If God farted, would it look like this?
    Seriously, is there anything in the Bible to compare with a Wolf-Rayet star? Come to think of it, why is there no mention of anything like this in that accursed book?

    Darwin, it’s 475 now. 🙂

  15. Fred Azbell says:

    This is just ASKING for some nutcase to try to kill you. I may not AGREE with the bastards, but I don’t try to BAIT them.

  16. mary2 says:

    You need more grace than I have to successfully flounce. I tend to me more of a stormer.

  17. Macha says:

    I’m always interested to hear stories of people having taken the trip to the Land of Atheism. For me, it’s a case of having been born here and never leaving. My parents were completely non-religious, so I didn’t attend Church or Sunday School. My wider family were also very non-devout, save for an Aunt who went to Church because she liked to wear Big Hats. I was, of course fed some religion at School, but it was all done in such a turgid manner, that it remained satisfyingly remote – something other people might do, but not us.

    So, nothing has been expunged, because nothing was punged in the first place.

    So when I read biblical stories (some are quite interesting), they just come across as, well, stories. I suppose the Sophisticated Theologian ® will say I’m naive and don’t see the hidden meanings, but pfffft.

    Now, I haven’t got the Nassar bug, and wouldn’t want to intrude, but I have just one more verse about Exodus, then I’ll shut up …

    I like the big story of Exodus,
    full of people who might just live next to us,
    it’s a pity that God,
    turned out such a sod.

  18. HaggisForBrains says:

    DH – I just found your movie Reunion on YouTube. It’s surprisingly moving, and I recommend it to the regulars here.

  19. JohnM says:

    @ DH
    Going viral, so far as I have noted, involves a level of banality that you are unlikely ever to be able to stoop to. If you get between 50,000 and 100,000 hits, “Don’t be Divisive” can safely be deemed a roaring success. Tim Minchin typically has around 500,000 but this one has over 2.5m while the content concerns anal rather than banal.

  20. JohnM says:

    @ Macha

    Are we supposed to complete the pair of couplets to make a limerick? I can offer
    …”And threw them all under the bus”

  21. two cents' worth says:

    HaggisForBrains, thanks for the link to Reunion! DH, I enjoyed the video for many reasons, but wanted to make sure to ask whether you’d mind if I borrowed the phrase “shameless philanthropist.” 🙂

  22. Macha says:

    IanB : no, I reckon a pair of couplets is fine, although I admit that Exodus invited a finisher.

    I’m on a roll now, working my way through the Bible in search of spiritual fulfilment …

    Leviticus, it is said, was writ by Moses,
    but that theory is full of supposes,
    reading it can induce slumbers,
    but at least it’s not so boring as Numbers.

  23. Chiefy says:

    Macha, I had to play with your first couplet:

    A raunchy romp is known as Genesis.
    Eve doesn’t know what Adam’s penis is.
    A bloody rude serpent
    Shows her something not verdant.
    And a snake then becomes their own nemesis.

  24. JohnM says:

    @ Chiefy
    Now maybe Macha is going to call you IanB, too. Is it accolade or insult, Macha? 🙂

  25. Macha says:

    DH: 715, maybe not yet viral, but comfortably warm.

    Chiefy: time for a poemfest?

    It all reminds me of the very important question …

    Does God have a bellybutton, if not, why not?

  26. Macha says:


    This has to be said with the voice of Bubble …


  27. Chiefy says:

    I think I’m outclassed here, Macha. I bet I can beat Nassar, though I don’t have his unique je ne sais quoi.

    Bellybutton? I donno. The real question is, does God have a creator, and if not why not?

  28. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Down the ages
    The question ripples.
    Why did God
    Give Adam Nipples?

    Macha, there are no hidden meanings in the Bible. No metaphors. No analogies.
    It wasn’t written to be heard by sophisticated thinkers. Does anybody think that the average Joe and Mo 2000 years ago were walking home after listening to their priest reading from the Bible discussing the finer points of Leviticus?, or debating the meaning of a day in Genesis?
    Of course they weren’t. It was written to be taken literally, and all the s’fistikated theology ever since has been an exercise in wasting time splitting hairs conning the masses</strike maintaining the status quo.

  29. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Sorry, couldn’t think of a valid reason for theology.

  30. Chiefy says:

    The universe is so complicated it must have an even more complicated creator, who is so complicated, it must have an even more etc…. ending in infinite complexity, ergo God. Praise Jesus, it’s turtles all the way down, and gods all the way up!

  31. two cents’ worth, you are certainly welcome to the phrase. But I’m curious. Did you realize that the two brothers were played by the same actor?

  32. JohnM says:

    @ Macha
    Who is Bubble (ellipsis)? Also, I’ve looked back at some of IanB’s comments and so I can safely take your Freudian? slip as accolade. 🙂

    Of course God has a bellybutton. We are made in his image, aren’t we, and we all have one. What is more interesting is whether God has testicles, gets a boner now and again, and then what he does about that.

  33. Macha says:

    JohnM: sorry to do this …


    Bubble had a particular way of saying “Sorry” as “Sorri”


  34. IanB says:

    JohnM says: @ Chiefy
    Now maybe Macha is going to call you IanB, too. Is it accolade or insult, Macha?

    Accolade IWHT 😀

  35. WalterWalcarpit says:

    DH ‘Don’t be Divisive’ is a wonderful wee ditty. A wonderful satyrical bent and a veritable earworm indeed. Nice one, well done.

    Macha, what a character Bubbles was. I miss her too.
    However I am not sure she said ‘sorri’ once in that particular collection of chaotic clips.

  36. hotrats says:


    Sorry, couldn’t think of a valid reason for theology.

    Priests have a lot of spare time, and lots of bad thoughts to rationalize?
    Uh, right, you said valid… sorry, I’ve got nothing.

  37. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    hotrats, I suppose that keeping priests out of kiddies trouble is a valid use for theology, but in the real world we have prisons for that sort of person so still not a valid reason for it.

  38. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Whoops! That’s a lot of stike. It’s like the miners all over again.
    Try again:
    hotrats, I suppose that keeping priests out of kiddies trouble is a valid use for theology, but in the real world we have prisons for that sort of person so still not a valid reason for it.

  39. beechnut says:

    Yes, it’s a problem that reality is so uncooperative. It’s almost as if it just knew you wanted things to be different and chose to be bloody annoying. I once had a friend who thinks that truth is what you choose: she said that truth is relative. And she chooses to live that way, as if nobody else matters except for what she can get from “their reality”. She is not my friend any more. Reality really is really annoying. But it’s all we have.

  40. beechnut says:

    @AoS “but in the real world we have prisons for that sort of person”

    No no, we have priests for that sort of person. That’s why the RCC is so confused. Priests are holy and ordained, and imbued or suffused or just filled with Irish whiskey Holy Spirit so they just can’t be wrong. Sorry, but that’s reality, as doctrine will have it, and doctrine is what they tell us, naturally.

  41. hotrats says:

    Possible new definition for the argumentative:

    Religious, adj. 1) Disrespectful of reality.

    A broad sweep perhaps, but as well as the usual suspects for the usual reasons, communism and football always did have religious overtones.

    It doesn’t seem to apply so much to Buddhism, so perhaps that’s not really a religion, just a philosophy, plus some cognitive and behaviour therapy. Most Buddhists would rather self-immolate than do violence, like the crack suicide squad of the Judean People’s Front.

  42. Physeter says:

    I really like that song. It’s simple but catchy and sticks in your head. Reminds me of something you might hear on NPR Saturday morning.

    Also–this website keeps trying to give me an https version, instead of http. But the secured site doesn’t work, all the colors and formatting are gone, while the non-secured site works just fine.

  43. Author says:

    Thank you for the info, Physeter. I hope that’s fixed now.

  44. GE says:

    @beechnut: I strongly dislike people who can’t accept that there’s an objective reality when I’m perfectly willing to concede that we all have subjective perceptions of it.

    Years back, I had a frustrating (but ultimately amusing) experience with two people I worked with (not an office setting – cutting out the specifics, we were in one of many hotel bars across the United States at the time during our off-hours, and this profession unfortunately attracts a lot of fuzzy-thinking people). One proclaimed himself an atheist and science-loving skeptic, though I had my doubts regarding the latter – he had odd and irritating philosophical leanings. The other was a full-on Newage/woo/fruity thinker (whom I probably shouldn’t have humored – or dated – for as long as I did!).

    Both spent the better part of three rounds trying to argue that there is no objective reality – you know, the usual fruitiness of “reality is whatever you perceive it to be” and “if you don’t perceive it, it isn’t in your reality” (similar to your ex-friend).

    The pseudo-skeptic rose to head for the bar and buy round four, still facing me and continuing the debate…and he promptly stumbled over a low table behind him.

    Looking at him pointedly, I said: “You didn’t perceive the table, huh? But it was still a reality.”

    I hope his laughter indicated that he was more embarrassed by his cerebral misstep than his physical one. Judging by her sour face, my (now long since ex-) girlfriend was extremely annoyed by her ally’s philosophical pratfall, realizing they had essentially just “lost” the argument.

  45. HaggisForBrains says:

    …like the crack suicide squad of the Judean People’s Front.

    Fuck off! ‘Judean People’s Front’. We’re the People’s Front of Judea! ‘Judean People’s Front’ Wankers!

  46. BJ says:

    Michael – “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” -Phillip K. Dick – I thought according to Adams that was eyeglasses?

    Haggis – you should see South African politics – we have, amongst many others, African National Congress, African Independent Congress, Congress of the People, Pan Africanist Congress, Cape People’s Congress, South African Democratic Congress and the interestingly named International Revelation Congress, As to the3 EFF make up your own definition for this TLA!

  47. hotrats says:


    ISIS: Shhh! Shh. Shhh. Shh.
    FRANCIS: Oh. Uh, Al-Quaeda. Officials.
    FRANCIS: What’s your group doing here?
    DEADLY DIRK: We’re going to kidnap Bashir Assad’s wife, take her back, issue demands.
    FRANCIS: So are we….(argument)
    DEADLY DIRK: You bastards! We’ve been planning this for months.
    FRANCIS: Well, tough titty for you, Fish Face. Oh! Oh.
    (C.F.G. and P.F.J. fight)
    BRIAN: Brothers! Brothers! We should be struggling together!
    FRANCIS: We are!
    BRIAN: We mustn’t fight each other! Surely we should be united against the common enemy!
    BRIAN: No, no! The infidels and unbelievers!
    EVERYONE: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yes. Right.

  48. Robert, not Bob says:

    Hotrats, Buddhism is meaningless without reincarnation, for which there’s no evidence. That puts it in the same category, even though it’s generally less evil.

  49. hotrats says:

    Robert, not Bob:

    Not only is Buddhism meaningful without reincarnation, many Buddhists are strict about keeping it out of the mainstream, including the no-nonsense crew at the pithily-named buddhistsagainstreincarnation.com , for reasons including the following:

    Intelligent people might reject Buddhism on the basis of their strong reasonable disbelief in reincarnation. This would be unfortunate.

    “Reincarnation” normally is understood to be the transmigration of a soul to another body after death. There is no such core teaching in Buddhism. One of the most fundamental doctrines of Buddhism is anatta, or anatman meaning no soul, or no self. There is no permanent essence of an individual self that survives death.

    A belief in rebirth can encourage thoughts and desires of surviving death. This grasping tendency leads to suffering.

    So perhaps Buddhism isn’t a religion. It seems to be much too sensible, not to mention being refreshingly free of any concept of ‘god’.

    (Assuming the fact of reincarnation in identifying great teachers such as the Dalai and Panchen Lamas is a uniquely Tibetan tradition, and is not part of mainstream Buddhism.)

  50. Mary2 says:

    Unfortunately Buddhism, as all other imported religions, often carries an intermingled underlay of whatever traditional beliefs it ‘replaced’; usually worship of dead ancestors and spirit realms so, while modern Western Buddhism is often sans a belief in reincarnation or afterlife, other versions can be highly supernatural.

  51. JohnM says:

    DH’s song has hit the 1,000 views. Though it could be just due to a few of us checking in to see how many hits it has got.

  52. hotrats says:


    While it is true that some Buddhist cultures retain earlier cultural artefacts, such as animism, in much of the far east, a certain amount of ‘woo’ is present in all cultures, including our own. Belief in crystal vibrations, homoeopathy and aura massage is no less intellectually wooly than believing that a human has a past life, and neither have any real impact on the religiosity of the believer.

    I maintain that Buddhism isn’t a religion, because it doesn’t require you to make any public commitment, follow anyone, or indeed believe anything, in order to understand its teachings. It doesn’t issue threats, fatwas or declarations of holy intent. It has no intrinsic bias against women or gays, embraces scientific progress, and is generally tolerant / liberal on social issues. In religious terms, it’s just not trying hard enough.

  53. Mary2 says:

    Hotrats, you’re right: I didn’t mean to suggest that Western cultures weren’t full of superstitous or supernatural twaddle. Only that I think we give Buddhism too much credit by only looking at it separated from its worldly context. From the little that I know, the Tibetan theocracy was a pretty repressive, intolerant regime. Buddhists in Sri Lanka and Myanmar have also been very guilty of sectarian conflict. I agree that, on paper, Buddhism is a lot more pleasant than the monotheists and, if read for its philosophy, is actually quite a lovely worldview but in other parts of the world I don’t think we can separate religious beliefs from all the other cultural influences which become entangled with them.

  54. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    I’ve seen conclusive proof of reincarnation!
    I was at a friend’s house one day and his dog was asleep on its side in its basket. All of a sudden it started making ‘chuffing’ noises somewhat like very muffled barks, and its limbs were moving as though it was running, even though it was still asleep.
    “Oh, look” said my friend, “he’s chasing rabbits”.

    The thing is, his dog had never seen a rabbit before, so how was it able to dream about them unless it had seen some in a previous life?
    Hah! Answer that, smarty-pants atheists. 🙂

  55. hotrats says:


    An answer from ‘Fat Freddie’s Cat’

    “Chasing rabbits? You fool! I was dancing the fandango with Carmen Miranda!”

  56. two cents' worth says:

    Darwin Harmless, I’m sorry to say that the fact that the same actor played the part of both brothers went right over my head.

    One of the things in the video that made me smile in surprise is that the intellectual brother was considered the black sheep of the family. In my mom’s family, he’d be the favored son; the son who went into business rather than academia would be considered to be–not a black sheep, exactly, but an oddball, at least.

  57. AOS- Our understanding of dogs chasing rabbits is a being than which no greater can be conceived..The idea of dogs chasing rabbits exists in the mind. A rabbit chaser that exists both in the mind and in reality is greater than a being that exists only in the mind. If rabbit chasers only exists in the mind, then we can conceive of a greater being—that which exists in reality. We cannot imagine something that is greater than a RABBIT CHASER. Therefore, RABBIT CHASERS exist.

  58. Check mate, evil atheists!

  59. Macha says:

    OK, you dismal Atheists, I hereby proffer my proof, completely rabbit-free, of God – based on Gödel’s Incompletness Theorem, referred to as GIT.

    Firstly, a résume of the theorem ….

    “In any set of mathematical rules, M, there exists a set of theorems,T, which can be defined in M, but which cannot be proved in M”

    OK? It means that in a given set of maths (e.g. Number Theory), we are always going to be able to define theorems which we can’t prove.

    Let us continue (start kneeling now).

    If the universe is natural, without any supernatural components, we must be able to explain it in a mechanistic manner, i.e. with mathematics. Considering the current known universe, we represent this mathematical explanation as :


    However, GIT says that this M(0) must contain a set of theorems which are definable but not provable. We call this set of unprovable theorems T(0).

    Our original premise is contingent on the universe being mechanistic, so these unprovable theorems, T(0), must refer to as-yet undiscovered physical phenomena. Consequently, we have to develop a more powerful set of mathematical rules to prove these unproved theorems and explain these newly discovered phenomena. This new set of maths is :


    And so it goes on. Each set of more complex mathematics brings its own set of unprovable theorems.

    Now if the universe is mechanistic, we must eventually arrive at a set of mathematics M(n) which defines all that there is to be known. Furthermore, if our original premise is true, this M(n) must contain a theorem which proves that there is no more to be known.

    But, GIT has proved that even within this all powerful naturalistic M(n) there are unprovable theorems, T(n). Furthermore, because M(n) has proved that we know all about the natural, mechanistic universe, then T(n) must be outside the natural and refer to the supernatural. So:

    T(n) = God

    et voilà


    Wow, what was that?

  60. LastResort says:

    (1) the incompleteness theorem is not an observed fact, it is a logical construct which may or may not apply to any set mathematics. It is possible to design a mathematics without it, indeed a mathematics in which it is impossible, in which all theorems definable are provable. All one need do is start with the Axion that any definable theorem is provable.

    (2) The cosmos need not be either mechanistic nor explicable. A small example: there has been considerable effort expended in trying to tie Relativity and Quantum together into a coherent,meaningful whole, a “Theory Of Everything”. This may not be possible. The universe may work in such a way that no description of it can be made that uses both at once. The relationship between Relativity and Quantum may forever be inexplicable and not susceptible to mathematical modelling. Gravity and time and mass may forever be inexplicable. Just because the reductionist approach of Science has been highly useful and very powerful does not imply it is universally so.

    (3) Mathematics is not reality. The map is not the territory. That is peasant magical thinking, voodoo thinking. It is simplicity itself to show that by having the mass of a particle increase exponentially as its speed increases toward that of a photon en vacuo you could use the same equation to predict faster than light matter with “imaginary” mass which can never travel so slowly as light-speed and which speeds up as it loses momentum and kinetic energy. Tachyons. However, there has never been any indication of such things and were they real, not mere mathematical phantoms they should appear as lost energy in at least some high energy physics experiments. Mathematics is a description not a prescription. Making the numbers work does not create something. Mathematics is not invocative magic.

    (4) Even if all of your mathematical reasoning were correct and the cosmos was adequately and necessarily perfectly described and prescribed by it, if the cosmos was “ruled” by the logics of mathematics, the fact that there are T(aleph) theorems in the M(aleph) models which can be defined but not proven does not indicate any form of super-nature. All it means is that some theorems will forever be unproven. [Alice’s Radiance Theorem: “If a grove is boro it must also be slithey.” Using any formal logic show this as provable.]
    This says nothing about the existence or not of anything.
    There is a “number” called Aleph-null which is the infinite count of the number of integers. It is usually called an infinity. It is defined as a countable infinity as there is in principle a way of reaching Aleph-null; start at zero and count. Reaching it would take a while but it can in principle be easily done. It’s not a very difficult process. Any dog who has watched you pocket four treats and whom you have given three to could, in principle, manage it.
    There is a very much larger number, also an infinity, called Aleph-One. This is the number of Real Numbers. For very valid reasons this is not, even in principle a countable number. It is very much more infinite than Aleph-null. These assertions can be proven but it would take a couple of pages so please just accept these statements for the sake of the argument. If you wish you can start with WikiPedia’s articles on the various infinities, extend your learning to various mathematical tutorial sites and even visit a Library to check up on what I say. Indeed, I truly encourage this. Maths is fun.
    If we stipulate the above, then we have two very large numbers, both infinite but one of which is very much “larger” than the other. Now, the logical first question is: are there any definable numbers between them?
    Of course there are. We can simply define Beth as “a very large number between those two infinities” and continue with definitions as we see fit. Can we prove the existence of Beth style numbers?
    I have no idea though I doubt it **1. It is not my area of expertise. But even if we can not it says nothing about the existence of natural-born pink and green striped giraffes or alate micro-humanoids. All it says is that in that one set of number theories there isn’t a way to use numbers between the two infinities.
    Nothing more.

    Macha, your “proof” is, as you very well know, completely fallacious but the last step is totally and utterly illogical and outside the purview of any mathematics. It is equivalent to stating that you don’t know how radio works so “Star Trek” must all be real.
    But, of course you knew this.
    And it is the only “logic” the religious folks ever use.
    You can’t instantly explain why diamond is hard and graphite slippery so all of the “Harry Potter” novels are true news reportage not fiction.
    Your presentation was an example of the same sort of nonsensical non sequitur, but it was quite funny.

    **1: To prevent shouting of “foul” from the peanut gallery, I should add that in the ZF and ZFC formal mathematics usually taught and used there aren’t any numbers between A0 and A1 by definition. However, we could build a mathematics with more interesting definitions should we so wish. Maths is a game anyone can join in.
    If you start with an axiom that not everything need be consistent you can even create mathematical systems in which any form of magic “works”. This does not, of course, force the cosmos to comply.
    The map is not the territory even if your maths says it is.

  61. LastResort says:

    Acolyte of Sagan: how does one know the canine under discussion is chasing rabbits and not having revenge fantasies of eating its owners?
    Indeed, how does one know it is not fleeing from a mighty Owner who has discovered what the Bad Dog has done and feels guilty enough about to fear retribution?
    “If you fall in your dreams and hit the ground and die do you die in real life?”
    Unless a ghost returns to relate it, there is no way to know what, if anything a dreamer’s mind was doing before it stopped so that is a nonsensical question. As is your tale of reincarnated dogs.
    Of course you know that but I wonder if the religious folk do?

  62. beechnut says:

    @GE I think that there are things to be gained by not accepting an objective reality. If one can convince oneself that what one prefers is defensible then one can ignore reality, and everyone affected by it, with the proviso that one can adjust things when reality interferes. Relativism is really a social stance in relation to what one can control. In a stable society, this is quite possible, and damaged people try to absorb the shock by adjusting their emotions to received opinion. I think that this is true of the present time with its fashionable notions of relativism.

    Religious thinking works the same way. There are many defences in support of faith, and many ways of negotiating the dangers of actual facts, but as long as society agrees to support the game the damage that the faithful do to other people’s lives goes unchallenged and is frequently defended. Which, I think, is the point. We’re social animals. Truth doesn’t matter nearly so much as our ability to manipulate and manage. Religion is a brilliant exercise in doing that: it has convinced the world that it has the “truth” — blinding, ultimate “truth” — and it manipulates its way through all our lives simply by rewriting “ultimate truth” as it requires.

    Well, perhaps it doesn’t do that any more. Nowadays it just trades on people’s habits of mind while hoping it still has enough cash after all the litigation and compensation to at least look the part. I reckon the real danger will not be the RCC but commercial enterprise, especially self-styled “protestant” commercial enterprise: the sort that will put our sovereign governments in the dock just for doing what we voted for.

  63. beechnut says:

    cosmicstargoat actually said:

    A rabbit chaser that exists both in the mind and in reality is greater than a being that exists only in the mind. If rabbit chasers only exists in the mind, then we can conceive of a greater being—that which exists in reality.

    non sequitur: my being is a three-toed flax weevil. It is much greater than other three-toed flax weevils because until I existed on Wednesday morning nobody thought of them. I even thought of it as actually existing, so it’s infinitely greater than the other ones nobody thought about — or at least I like to think so. And it is by definition a greater eater of rabbit chasers than other three-toed flax weevils, because if it were not it wouldn’t be infinitely greater, would it?

  64. You folks crack me up. All of you. Thanks for that.

    Two cent’s worth, “Darwin Harmless, I’m sorry to say that the fact that the same actor played the part of both brothers went right over my head.”

    Well drat. That was the experiment -to see if I could do absolutely everything myself, from hair and makeup to camera and sound, not to mention performance. Everything in fact but Fritz Kreisler’s wonderful violin. So that whole production involved a night with the camera in my kitchen, a shave and a haircut, a bit of planning, and some time with Final Cut Pro on the Mac. But it doesn’t work if people don’t see that it is all one actor, and how could they know it was all me on a lonely night making it if I don’t tell them.

    Perhaps I succeeded too well. It’s like explaining a joke. Not funny.

  65. MeNot says:

    Macha, really nice tongue in cheek use of the Goedel Incompleteness Theorem.

    I tend to use it as an argument for why theology could never prove the existence of god. My argument (forgive the lack of rigour, I am only a physicist) is that according to GIT, for any logical system, there will always be “facts” that can not be proven by just using the logical system itself. For instance, in euclidean geometry you have the axioms that are assumed true and then you deduce theorems from them that can be proven.

    In physical reality, that is not an issue, because the “facts” are observable, we can measure the speed of light, we can verify the relationship between the voltage drop and the current flowing over a section of conductor …, so our axioms are safe, because they are to a large extent incontrovertible, and we can develop formal theories from those axioms. The problem for theology is that they don’t have any facts to use as axioms, and the existence of god, being an axiom can not be proved due to GIT.

    DH, I did think both characters were the same actor when I saw it, must say that it looks like it was make by a whole team, fantastic for a solo effort!

  66. two cents' worth says:

    Darwin Harmless, on the contrary, I think your success is even greater for my not noticing that you played the part of both brothers. It shows your talent as an actor to disappear into the part you’re playing. I did find the video funny, but now I find it even funnier–the way I enjoyed Gilbert & Sullivan lyrics even more after someone explained to me the allusions and jokes that I hadn’t understood. I am quite impressed at how well you did the many jobs involved in creating the video.

    You mentioned that the only job you didn’t do was to play the violin. Do you play the trombone that caught my eye in the background of the video? I also recall seeing a sign on the fridge that said something like “power center.” What’s that all about?

    Wait–this is beginning to remind me of other conversations here at the pub about literary analysis, art history, and the like. I’m sure a grad student or a professor of film could find plenty of material for a paper on your video. But, as you say, sometimes explaining the joke makes it not funny. (That’s one of the reasons why I never took to literary analysis in college.) To me, the important thing is that your video made me smile and made me think. Thanks for sharing it with us here at the pub!

  67. MeMot, thanks. Glad you caught the joke.

    Two cents worth, thanks for the appreciation and for asking. I wrote out a long answer to your questions but… It’s just embarrassing. I’m getting too much attention here. If you are curious, email [email protected] and I’ll tell you all about me.

    My song is at 1,229 views, but I think at least twenty of them are me checking in on it. Anyway, it’s had a very gratifying response. Great comments so far. I keep waiting for the religious to check in and slag it big time. That will be fun.


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