A resurrection from a few years ago to tide us over the holiday period.

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Discussion (36)¬

  1. Nassar+Ben+Houdja says:

    Perhaps if corporate franchised religion
    Would practice what it preaches, just a smidgeon
    It would appear much less lame
    Or criminally insane
    With constant offended indignation.

  2. Reid Malenfant says:

    Returned last night from a week in Brussels and witnessed first hand Mo’s ‘Deaply held religious beliefs’ in action and it was unsettling to say the least. I was unaware of just how further down the road of ‘Surreptitious Isamification’ they have been led – it certainly gave us plenty of pause for thought. Indeed, this issue was the predominant topic of conversation with practically every Belgian we conversed with.

    In addition, we also witnessed the ‘handling’ and ‘stage management’ of organised street begging; we actually fell for it at first and gave money and food before observing the organised cash pick-ups and the way the children and props are constantly being redistributed between them – they were predominantly very convincing raggedy hijab wearing females but after I smelt a rat we discretely followed a ‘Handler’ around the corner to a couple of new 4X4’s loaded with dry cardboard etc and accompanied by a number of heavies of evident North African descent. Ironically the person in chard always appeared to be a very loud and strident Muslim female.

    Saw an arrest of one such team that required a heavy Police presence to keep it from turning any uglier – I was later told by Officers (I’m a nosey git!) that this scenario is now regarded as organised crime which is reaching epic proportions thanks to the volume of money they extract from the unaware. They suspect that the money is being fed into active Islamist groups; one such being ‘Sharia for Belgium’.

    Does not bode well does it?

  3. steeve says:

    …and the real NBH is back!

  4. Again I urge you to read David Silverman’s latest book “Fighting God”. Although the data is USA-centric, the underlying idea of ‘firebrand atheism” is useful to us all, and should be put into practice in whatever way we see fit. However, there is a big difference in fighting religion in USA and in Europe. In USA, the “religionists” are old grey white men and there’s nothing political incorrect to fight those. In Europe, the agressive religion is Islam, and opposing that religion has always the burdon of being branded “islamophobe” or “racist”. Nonetheless, we should not be deterred by this, and demand a strict separation between religion and state, and the freedom of speach, including the freedom to offend !

  5. errata : gray-haired (not grey), and freedom of speech (not speach). Those are the errors I’m aware of. Sorry if there are any odders ! 🙂

  6. Federico R. Bär says:

    Display of… identical to the reason for itself. I enjoyed this unsurpassed play on words! May your wit continue in 2016!

  7. Max T. Furr says:

    Ah, come on Author, why are you trying to yank the faithful from the cosmic teat by showing your complete and utter lack of respect?

    They will only growl, cling tighter, and suck harder. 😀

  8. Grumpy says:

    Nice one for the end of the year author, look forward to 2016.

  9. Jerry+www says:

    Occam’s Razor v2.0

  10. I spent yesterday afternoon at a jam packed memorial service, held in a very large Catholic church, for a teen who died in a skiing accident. Surrounded as I was by such obvious pain and grief, it was not the time to sound off on my own beliefs or show disrespect for the apparently sincere expressions of utter nonsense. Not the right time to mock. It was disconcerting to hear so much crazy, and so many people who seem unable to understand that time passes and things actually change.

    If i were to lose an arm, yet run around insisting that my arm was still there, that I would be reunited with my arm soon, that my arm still existed, healthy and invisible, in another place, people would think me insane. If I were to lose my job, yet insist that the job was still mine and that soon the pay cheques would come my way again, people would recognize that I was in denial. Yet somehow the massive denial that goes with the death of a loved one is an accepted, encouraged, and expected (demanded?) characteristic of human beings.

    There was a lot of crazy in my afternoon yesterday. I just hope I never catch it.

    Author, thanks again for reminding me that I am not alone, which is the way I felt yesterday.

  11. Michael says:

    An oldie but a goodie, Author.

  12. banks says:

    Happy New Year and a belated Happy Jesus’s Birthday!

  13. davespod says:

    Thanks, Darwin Harmless. Brilliant analogies.

  14. Jerry+www says:

    Dangerous destructive tornadoes passed through the southern part of the U.S. in the past few days and as usual many people who were smart enough hid in their bathtubs and survived. Others, who were not so smart / lucky weren’t able to get to the tub and then later testify on the news how Jesus saved them like those in Group 1 did.
    Same as it ever was…

  15. Len says:

    A good one, Author – thanks (again!)

    Best wishes to all for 2016. May it contain a little less crazy than 2015.

  16. stevegallacci says:

    to Reid M. It is not religion that makes that kind of street crime. Most likely they are part of the long-standing criminal class throughout Europe, simply taking up the image of the refugee for the moment. I saw the same thing in Paris forty years ago among ambiguously “eastern european” waifs.

  17. pink+squirrel says:

    Atheists have a complete and utter lack of respect for dearly held religious beleifs

    strangely enough muslims also have a complete and utter lack of respect for dearly held religious beleifs, often of other muslims

    and also xians have a complete and utter lack of respect for dearly held religious beleifs

    whats new?

  18. John the Apple-state says:

    Mr. Harmless, many, many religious people do lose limbs, houses, countries, jobs and other trivia in addition to such serious things as entire humans then carry on in a delusional haze demanding that their special big daddy in the sky put aside **THE PLAN** on which it has been working for six millennia to poke about in the micro-physics in such a way as to fix their particular loss. In short, they pray for divine intercession. Many of them are of the opinion that an entity that creates complete suns, stars and planets, together with fake dinosaur fossils and real cancers will set aside its heavy workload of tracking sparrows and utterly ruin its intricate, inerrant, ineffable **PLAN** if only they can make the right incantation, strike the right bargain, promise the right vow.

    I have long suggested an experiment that not one priest or other practitioner of peasant, magical thinking has ever accepted as a challenge.
    I will cut off the priest’s arms with a very sharp and powerful motorised saw to ensure a clean dismemberment. With one of the arms, we will hire a top trauma unit to surgically re-attach it. We will use the very latest and most expensive micro-surgical techniques, the best antibiotics, extreme aseptic conditions suitable for a probe of Europa’s ocean and all the other good stuff. This arm we will monitor and tend with supreme care and the best scientific knowledge we have.
    The other arm we will tie back on with a loop of cloth cut from the shroud of Turin and soaked in holy water from Lourdes. This arm we will have every priest, every shaman, imam, witch-doctor, practising Wiccan, mullah and pope praying over. We will have every congregation in every church on the globe pray for it on every one of their sabbaths and holy days. We will have them demand the intercession of every djinn, every saint and every angel to drive out the demons of sickness and to make the arm whole and functional.
    Surely, with all that magic and majesty and power the non-medicated arm should heal better than the one treated by satanic, evil, nasty science?
    Surely the septicaemia and gangrene imps will be exorcised by the weight of all of those good wishes?

    As I said above, no priest or astrologist, homeopath or crystal healer, touch healer or psychically powered superhuman has ever taken me up on the test.

    I wonder why?

    Could it be for the same reason that so many of the religious wear prosthetic lenses to improve their “god-given” vision? Including millions of its supposedly favoured sons? And for the same reason that they reach for a dentist, not a bible when their teeth hurt?
    And for the same reason that they rushed a pope to a hospital for immediate surgery when he was shot instead of taking him to the very much closer church and simply praying for a miracle?

    They know it is all lies, hypocrisy, delusion and idiocy. They just can’t openly admit it or the entire rotting edifice of the churches will vanish under a crushing wave of reality.

    My wife died. I want her back. She is not coming back. I want to see her as so many people in books, films and TV shows see ghosts and angels, I won’t for there is no such thing. I want to see her as the utterly insane and drugged out of their gourds are reputed to see the unreal, I can’t, my mind doesn’t not seem to be fragile enough to break in that fashion.
    I lied. mostly because you were ripped from this world in a way that brooks no return.
    I may intend, I may wish, I may want to bring you back but there is no coming back. Not in the really real world. (Bonus points for identifying the movie reference, including character and the actor.)
    Some of us can live with this.

    For a very short while.
    The cheery thought to remember is that this, too, shall end. Eventually, all sadness is annihilated. At the end of the darkest, deepest, longest, coldest, wettest, most fungus-riddled tunnel is oblivion.
    That’s life.

    Happy new year, folks, and may you all have many, many more.

  19. pink squirrel : good point, but there’s a difference though. Ask any “good” muslim or xian what would change their mind and they would say “nothing”. Ask any atheist what whould change their mind and they say : “any scientific valid proof of a god’s existence”. So, atheists are actually willing to change their mind, wile “religionists” wont…

  20. John the Apple-state says:

    Aya Hijab Cartoon, there was at least one episode of one of the various incarnations of “Star Trek” in which a confidence trickster tried to extort a planet’s government out of stuff by using high tech magic tricks to do “god-things”. In each case the worthy captain and crew of the good ship “Enterprise” would foil the plans of the villain, often by stealing her ship and using her own tech against her.
    I suspect that “Time Tunnel”, “Dr. Who” and “Stargate”, among many others, have all also used that plot to drive an episode or two. Possibly even “The Outer Limits”.

    A god would need to be incredibly convincing to prove its bona fides to a true scientist.
    Not because we hate the idea or we reject the idea or we are evil but simply because most of the tricks gods do in the various sacred books, from making weak wine from wine-soaked barrels and water to reviving corpse-like people and even striding along on top of a lake can be easily done even with 20th Century technologies and would be trivial for any more advanced toolkits.
    Even creating a universe is not entirely beyond the technology of places like CERN and FermiLab. It can’t be done, yet, but it is theoretically possible that it may one day be a viable proposition.

    So a “god” would need to be a lot better than the Thor of Marvel Comics to be accepted as a supreme creator by any rational entity.
    Even then, it would need to provide a compelling reason for us to praise it, pray to it, bow down before it or otherwise hold it in any esteem.
    Making the cosmos is not a good enough qualification for us to build a church to any divinity. Why would it be? It probably didn’t do it for our sake. Indeed, it is arguable that as we had not been created it could not have done it for us. So why should we revere it?

    Even should a deity provide proof of its existence, its might and its copyright to the cosmos there is still no reason for us to bother with it.

    It does not matter what or who built this place or if it popped into existence out of sheer perversity, we don’t owe the creator or creative urge anything. Not even a grudging “thank you”.

    In brief: even were a god to prove it was a god we don’t need to talk to it. It could be interesting to do so but the difference in perspectives would probably make it a terribly boring conversation.
    Personally, I don’t see any way of such a being being able to convince me, but that is down to failure of my imagination. Surely a divine critter that can make up Pi and pie could find a way were it to desire such a thing.

    The aliens in “Trek” could never convince the morally superior Captains because they were not gods. A real god should easily be able to. Even if I can’t think of a test that would differentiate between tech and divinity a divinity must be able to.

    So a real, true, bone fide creator of everything (including, no doubt, itself) would be able to prove its divinity to a sceptic.
    So what?
    Once it has done so, why should we care?

    The existence of a real, true, verified, proven god with all his copyright notices filed would make absolutely no difference to me.
    Why should it?
    I’m damned sure I make very little if any difference to it.

    Knowing of the existence of a god, any god, would answer a question, nothing more. The knowledge is functionally useless. It doesn’t help us in any way. It doesn’t tell us which are the ripe fruits nor which dogs bite.
    It is, to the purpose of living forever and populating the galaxies with our kind, frankly irrelevant.

    It would be nice were a god to show up and to definitively put an end to all the speculation just so we can get some peace and quiet, but it is not something that would in any way alter what I am going to have for breakfast.

    Which may or may not be pig-derived …

    Happy new year, everyone.

  21. John the Apple-state says:

    I’m not barred for being depressing and obnoxious? How very disappointing. 🙁

    I am sorry I interrupted. I’m off into the wilds of the wolds of the worlds to find milk. I may be some time …

  22. John the Apple-state says:

    I cut-and pasted the wrong comic, naturally. This is the one that should have been cited above. 154 is probably funnier in context, though.

    As King Harold said, it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

  23. “So, atheists are actually willing to change their mind, wile “religionists” wont…”

    Aya Hijab Cartoon, I wish I was open minded enough to agree with you. But if god herself appeared before me and offered all kinds of physics-denying alterations to my reality to prove her existence, I would have to ask myself this question: Is this really happening or has my brain malfunctioned and I’m now insane?

    My rational mind tells me that it is far more likely that I’ve gone totally bonkers
    than the proof of god’s existence is valid.

    All I can know is what my brain can recognize and tell me, and my brain is obviously not to be trusted. For this reason, I shall remain a teapot agnostic, though my best guess is that teapot doesn’t exist.

    Also, what John the Apple-state said.

  24. John the Apple-state says:

    Mr. Harmless, we must trust what our brains are telling us, we have no alternatives. Even when we are solidly batshit crazy we have to trust our insanity.
    We can doubt what our senses tell us, those were made to jump to conclusions on totally inadequate data in the hope that most of the time they would err on the side of caution and keep us alive. We see a moving shadow, we instantly assume it’s a killer and become scared. That is very reasonable as we must
    never mistakenly assume something is benign when it isn’t. This is a bloody lethal universe that hates us and earnestly wishes us dead, we should never assume anything is harmless until we prove it so. We don’t get to survive mistakes like that. So our senses are built to abstract patterns from poor data and our first impulse is to abstract dangerous patterns.
    It is a machine gun, until we see the whole picture and can tell it’s a flute.
    M. C. Escher and many others made good, even genius, use of the fact that our senses are superbly designed to keep us alive and only secondarily designed to tell us anything real about the world.

    Which brings us to gods.
    Were we to encounter a real one, the first thing we might think is that it was a confidence trickster in the manner of “Star Trek” baddies. Then, as you correctly suggest, we might suspect our own minds but that would be a very last resort. We are far more likely to suspect our senses.

    I have seen stage magicians at work. Even after they explain their tricks and after they show me in slow motion how they are done the illusions still work. My senses are still fooled. I know for a complete and utter truth that the magician is lying to me, tricking me, but it still looks like he is doing the impossible.
    In those cases, I never doubted my mind. I never assumed I was wrong and that real magics were happening. I just assumed that his hands were faster than my powers of observation. That he was a good trickster.
    I would probably assume the same with a real god.
    That either it was using tech to do the magic or that it was using sleight of hand and my senses were conning me.
    If the god-thing was convincing enough, I might even accept as a working hypothesis that it was telling the truth.
    The last assumption I would ever make is that my mind had failed.
    Because that is a useless theory. If I assume I am nuts then all reasoning stops and I can’t decide which apple is ripe enough to eat and which is rotten. If I can’t trust my mind, my experiences, my skills, my memory and my reasoning abilities then I may as well curl up in a corner and gibber.
    Doing anything else would be dangerous and stupid.
    I must assume I am sane. I might be wrong. I may be working with bad or inadequate information (as my senses do all the time) or my reasoning may be flawed in that I don’t think things through but I must trust what I think.
    Even if I should come to think that the bugger doing magic tricks is a true and real god.
    Tech may fool me. My senses fool me all the time and magicians make a good living by fooling many of us but we must trust ourselves to be sane.

    Especially when we are raving nut-jobs. 🙂

    Have a truly wonderful new beer, everyone and ‘bye.

  25. IanB says:

    Any god popping into our existence as it were has to over come Clarke’s third law that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. As for magic I saw the late great David Nixon make an attractive female vanish in front of a large audience, it was very convincing but of course a trick.

  26. Mr. Darwin Harmless & Mr. John The Apple, I love you guys ! Mind you, I’m a 60-year old gray-haired white male, so don’t take this the wrong way 🙂 ! I just enjoyed your answers very much !

  27. John the Apple-state, I get the feeling you have never been insane, and find the condition hard to appreciate. My brother was recently insane, temporarily. He told me that he had focused his “energy”on some keys lying on a floor in the police station, and had caused them to heat up and melt into the tiles. I had a hard time convincing him that this hadn’t actually happened. It wasn’t his senses that were confusing him. It wasn’t his senses that told him the keys were glowing hot and melting. It was his mind. And in this situation, the two are inseparable. So it’s a meaningless distinction.

    But I do take your point. It is my mind telling me not to trust my mind that would prevent me from believing evidence of a god, just as your mind would tell you to not trust your senses but look for the technological trick or rational explanation.

    The real trickster is our feelings. When I talk to devout Christians, their belief is always based in their feelings, their emotional responses to an experience. Well, that and the argument from consequences – If I didn’t believe then my life would have no meaning (or some variation of a consequence they will not accept.)

    Aya Hijab Cartoon, nice to be loved for my mind. I shall ignore the implied homophobia of your clarification. Oops. I guess I failed to ignore that. 🙂 Hey, I’m also an elderly grey-haired white male. I’ll take any motivation for love that comes my way. But these days, lusting after my body seems to be a thing of the past. Damn, eh.

  28. @Darwin Harmless : alright, alright, come here you, I’ll give you a big kiss !

  29. John the Apple-state says:

    Mr Harmless and Mr. Cartoon, I love you two, too. I love all humans. Also cats, dogs, most plants, sloths, dolphin, lizards, chimps, the Earth, the Moon, Sol, our beautiful star and some other stuff that I’ll keep quiet about.
    I love the Good Author, too. Even if I am fairly sure he’s a she in disguise. (His secret identity shall never be revealed but … don’t tell anyone this … she is really Barmaid!).

    Mr. Harmless, I have been of unsound mind on at least two occasions for protracted periods and for differing reasons, grief and love. I fully understood the why of the process both times but that made them no less strange.
    It was not my senses that curled me up into a ball with grief, it was a slightly broken mind. Yes, I know that compared to more deeply damaged people this is a trivial experience which many milliards (do people still use that lovely word?) have suffered before me and to a far greater degree than I did, nevertheless it hurt at the time.
    It still does though I now function past it.
    Love is also insanity, of a mild and happy sort. With that one, I was only too glad to both suffer it and to entirely trust it. I still do.
    And I am not perfectly certain that you lot are not a figment of my broken mind, that I am not lying in a bed-thing on a world in a galaxy far from here, in a body no human could imagine much less describe hallucinating this world and all of its parts.
    That theory would certainly explain priests, politicians and why you imaginary people abandoned the Moon. Among many other oddities.
    But it isn’t a very useful theory. Pragmatically, it does not matter whether I’m utterly batshit or not I simply must go with the flow. I must live and operate as though this world and its demented crew are really real and as though wandering around in heavy traffic would have consequences.
    I don’t know whether she was real or not but a psychiatrist, when I was but a slim and self-confident youth some aeons past, declared me to be sane. She even signed a report certifying me as sane. This, of course, means little as she may well have been as much an invention of that far-away alien in the cradle as are the rest of you but at least it does show that my massive delusion of this world has a certain consistency.
    Sort of half-way between neutron star material and tepid tapioca.

    I could never prove a god was real, though I can easily think of many ways to disprove a fake, but I am of the opinion that The One Truly True Real Big Daddy Divinity should be able to do so with ease. I am very bright (at times and when cats aren’t around) but I would expect that anything smart enough to create a universe with Pi in it, among other touches, would be at least so clever as me and probably a fucking huge lump smarter.
    I can’t prove any of you are real, or that this world is real or that a wandering guy with a beard is a real deity but I would be open to the idea that said bloke probably could prove all of the above.
    If there were a real one, which, of course is a moot point as there are no gods.

    I can’t even prove that I felt, or feel, grief or love or even hunger. I am quite willing to accept that a being that has the power to make an uncountable infinity of uncountable infinities of numbers that resemble Pi closely would find a way to do those, too.

    The religious, of course, say that it already has. That their personal relationship with the big guy is proof, that their many poorly written books are more proof and that the very existence of the world is the final clincher.
    Those are, to be very polite and not mocking at all, complete shite.
    Also wrong.
    Also indications of insanity on a level that far surpasses your poor brother (whom I hope gets properly treated so he can join you in the “real” world again) and his keys. That is a mild delusion.
    Imagining a ghost raped an unwed teenager two millennia ago, produced a hybrid alien-human with magical superpowers who wandered about a bit preaching then got nailed to a dead tree and died but came back just to demonstrate to a couple of his pals that he was back and then buggered off into the fiftieth dimension all just so the ghost could “forgive” people for transgressions of a code that the very same ghost programmed those puppet-people to transgress and that praying to the unhuman alien hybrid zombie can win you money and get you sex is a far greater and more dangerous insanity. ( I am not going to proof-read that sentence, it was bad enough writing it.)

    We don’t tend to see how unsane the demented tales of the zombie alien half-breed are because we are soaked in them. But imagine trying to explain them to a real alien, one that looks vaguely like a cross between a sponge and a crinoid, breeds using seven different genders and sees in magnetism, an alien to whose people the idea of super-sponge-crinoids has never occurred.
    They would lock up Earth and quarantine the place forever …
    Which actually explains a few things …

    We have to trust our minds, even the insane among us. When others judge those minds to be broken, as you did with your brother and as I do with the religious then we have a choice between trusting those around us or wrapping ourselves in our warm, comforting insanity. We know which option the religious prefer.
    I pretend to be more open on the matter. Whether I actually would be were a real god to show up is a moot issue as there are no real gods but I would like to think that I am flexible enough to admit when I am wrong.
    That happens ever so very rarely so it takes me a while to recognise it.

    What we, the people who think we are sane and living in the real world experiencing Reality must do is convince the religious that they are none of those things, that their stories are all lies, fraud and illusion and that they could be happier, safer, wealthier, healthier and far more productive should they get cured of them.
    We need to get them all psychiatric help.
    Preferably before they kill us all.
    After they kill us all is a little ineffective.
    And would ruin our entire weekend.

    Sorry, I did not mean to ramble on at such great length. Indeed, I only really visited to check on my spelling but I got caught up in the tide of ideas whirling around in my head like a maelstrom of hypernovae. I know I have not expressed myself well, but the collision of concepts burning in the grey stew that helps me think (or that I think is helping me think) is rather distracting.
    I must write some of this stuff down.
    Posterity demands it. Or my posterior demands it. Or the royal college of psychiatry would love it. 🙂

    Short version: I don’t know if I’m insane but cats like me. Assuming cats are real.

    Have a lovely new year, everyone, I’m off home, now so I won’t bother anyone again.
    It’s been real.

    Unless it hasn’t?

  30. John the Apple-state says:

    Cats fondly imagine that cats are real. If you doubt this, try eating hot roast chicken with one nearby. 🙂

    Neither cats nor dogs ever seem to doubt their own sanity. They definitely have great suspicions about ours but they are fairly sure of their own.

  31. pink+squirrel says:

    My rational mind tells me that it is far more likely that I’ve gone totally bonkers
    than the proof of god’s existence is valid.

    a ‘god’ worthy of the name/concept would know this in advance and takes steps to provide real proof that would not be susceptible to such problems

    surely it would be far simpler for ‘god’ to just ‘wish magic’ it so that all atheists were brain coverted into beleivers

  32. pink+squirrel says:

    Cats are real
    or possibly disguised aliens from Canopus according to that women who claims to understand the spoken language of cats

  33. pink+squirrel says:

    Neither cats nor dogs ever seem to doubt their own sanity.

    wasn’t that the topic of ‘Fluke’

  34. WalterWalcarpit says:

    There was rather too much tl:dr for me up there but ‘Fluke’ was a superb conceit.

    And the strip is quite simply superb. Yet another nail-on-the-head with the punchlines, Author, and another gem snuck through with “Maybe they weren’t doing it properly”. We are certainly better at mocking these days and the proof is in the reactionary response.

  35. plainsuch says:

    John the Apple-state

    We must not trust our brains. Here are a couple lists (fresh off google) explaining a few of the reasons.

    Once upon a time my brain told me God was real, probably because my parents had primed it to say that. Then I started matching what I thought was real with what really happened and brain eventually corrected itself. It took considerable effort on my part first and it has taken continuing effort since then. Most theists are still theists because they don’t put out that effort so nothing is likely to change there mind.

    It took me a long time to understand that if there isn’t much cognition involved there won’t be much cognitive dissononce either. Apparently, you can comfortably hold contradictory opinions as long as most of your opinions are based on emotional judgements and fitting in with the beliefs of your neighbors.

  36. pink+squirrel says:

    pets and insanity
    anyone who agrees that animals have personality would have to agree that such can include metal illness
    few animals however would survive the more disabling insanities due to natural selection pressures

    I have known of dogs being insane or fixated
    cats by their nature dont conform to human definitions of sanity


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