Still recovering from Xmas excess, so here’s an old one from 2007.

Discussion (38)¬

  1. Matt says:

    Nice summary of the problem facing all believers of the one true faith (whatever they consider that to be)

  2. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Oh no, is Jesus about to do another Tinks?

  3. Federico R. Bär says:

    There are thousands of false religions, sadly right! But they are all composed of people firmly believing that theirs is The True Belief. And they are perfectly happy with that.
    It makes me wonder what’s wrong with adoring A Wrong God? After all, nobody notices it (as long as belief in itself is concerned).

  4. Nassar Ben Houdja says:

    The age old question “What’s truth”
    Is getting quite long in the tooth
    Truth’s a function of geography
    And chronology
    Floated on gin and vermouth.

  5. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Frederico, a good question. Maybe it’s the millions of people killed in the Catholic vs Protestant rivalry, or the Sunni vs Shi’ite misundetstandings, or the ChristianIty vs Islam vs Judaism three-way battle royale, not to mention all the non-believers, heretics, witches and the rest slaughtered, tortured and imprisoned -even today – for not taking somebody else’s god seriously enough.
    And that’s just the Abrahamic big 3, this shit’s been happening since humankind first latched onto the idea that a god or gods would make the perfect excuse for indulging in their own wickedness.
    All killed for believing in the wrong god, by people believing in the wrong god, but aside from that, there’s nothing at all wrong with it.

  6. Author, every time I read a resurrection I am tempted to go back to the archives and start reading the strips over again. This one was well worth a second coming.

    Nassar, one of your best. I have gained a grudging appreciation of your work.

    I recently read a believer’s rebuttal of the atheist argument: You are almost as much of an atheist as I am. I just don’t believe in one more god than you don’t believe in.

    The crux of the rebuttal was: That’s a bit silly. Believers may disagree on the details, but we all agree there is a higher power in charge of things.

    How they get from a belief in a higher power to a belief that said higher power cares what they do with their genitals or finds them a parking space when asked, that is the real mystery. Apparently the devil is indeed in the details. In any event, I shall stop trying to persuade them with the “you can’t all be right” argument. It seems think they can.

  7. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    That’s theology for you, Darwin. They’ll twist and turn the definnition of a god so much that they end up almost defining it out of existence, then use that lack of existence as proof of its power and therefore proof of its existence.
    Don’t forget that religion has one advantage over rational thinking; the religious are free to just make shit up and move goalposts at will, no evidence needed.

  8. Michael says:

    The point of “you are also an atheist except for one god” argument is that it’s not enough to argue that there is a god, but that the believer has to show that the arguments he uses for his god don’t apply to all the others.

  9. Author says:

    Is the RSS feed working for everyone again? I think it’s fixed.

  10. Son of Glenner says:

    Reminds me of a discussion programme in the Aberdeen studio of Grampian TV (RIP) many years ago, when I was the only humanist in a mixed bag of religious representatives; after arguing amongst themselves, when I spoke up, they all joined forces against the one unbeliever. It seemed that any belief was regarded as better than none at all.

  11. Jim Baerg says:

    Acolyte of Sagan: “And that’s just the Abrahamic big 3, this shit’s been happening since humankind first latched onto the idea that a god or gods would make the perfect excuse for indulging in their own wickedness.”

    Is that so? I’m aware of lots of wars & persecutions where one bnunch of monotheists persecuted another bunch of monotheists or a bunch of polytheists. I can think of a few situations where some polytheists persecuted some monotheists. However, I not aware of a case where religion was the excuse for two bunches of polytheists to fight or persecute each other.

    Can anyone here provide such an example?

  12. Someone says:

    God is inside us all. Rapist.

  13. FreeFox says:

    Oh boy, that came from left field, Someone. Made my day. Hehehe…

    Anyway, I, er, wanted to clear up what seems to be some miscommunication. While my job lead me to dip down south of the border many times in the past years and I have seen my fair share of unpleasantries, the rest of the time I live with the kid and his mom a decent 300 km northwest of the fighting. Being an undocumented foreigner and faggot in King Gollum’s increasingly dark cave often ain’t much fun, but nobody is dropping bombs on our roof. So, I am very touched by your concern, mates, but if I mislead you somehow, I apologise. (That doesn’t make the situation less shitty for those thousands of people still down there as the planes and mortars keep pounding away.)

    As for the holidays, we’ve got by now our own strange eclectic tradition: As a bloody heathen, I celebrate the solstice with the little man by hiking up the mountain, camping out there in the cold for the night, having roast goat over an open fire, and watching the absolutely grandest starry sky you can imagine. Since his mom was raised catholic in Poland, we have a rather private but very cosy traditional Christmas Eve dinner with soup, fish and dumplings. Afterwards there is a first (small) round of presents from St Niklas. On the 25th I usually celebrate the Birthday of the Man Born That Day Many Centuries Ago Who Changed The World, ie. Sir Newton, by taking the kid and his mom to some science museum or exhibit or do some fun sciency experiment together (eg. a couple of years ago we fired our first Pepsi-and-Mentos rocket on that day). And tomorrow we’ll welcome the New Year according to local tradition here, which comes with a decorated evergreen (which we put up on the 24th), a roast bird, and presents brought by Noel Baba.

    Btw, loved your daughter’s stance on Christmas dinner, Acolyte. Hope you rose to the challenge. 😉

    As for Mr. Toronto, cut the chap some slack, mates. It may have sounded a bit belligerent, but it was a fun observation. And it isn’t just the holidays – you have to admit that there is a strange continuum ranging from fanatical religiosity to secular cultural traditions with odd crossovers from festivities to superstitions to value systems such as humanism that owes a good protion (albeit certainly not everything) to Christianity. So let’s take such comments with good scientific, sceptical cheer instead of tribalistic anger, eh?

  14. FreeFox says:

    I’m also curious and second Mr. Baerg‘s request. Can anyone come up with examples of religiously motivated inter-polytheistic warfare, with no monotheists involved?

  15. me not says:

    The Persian celebrations of Shab’e Yalda (the longest night) and No Rooz (new year, on the first day of spring) are good examples of secular celebrations. They probably had a religious origin, but now they are social ocasions to have fun, meet the family and enjoy life.

    In Iran the mollahs really would like to get rid of them, but they are so deeply ingrained that they have to back off every time they try.

    FF, I think Yalda is a Turkish word, what does it mean?

  16. FreeFox says:

    If you have a moment, I recommend watching
    Jonathan Pie’s end of the year rant 2016.
    And afterwards you might enjoy John Oliver’s “tribute to a truly terrible year”.
    Let’s all try harder next year.

  17. me not says:

    I just realised that the second paragraph of my post was quite unintelligible. It should be something like:

    In Iran the mollahs would like to get rid of those traditions. However those traditions are so deeply ingrained that every time the mollahs try to obstruct the celebrations, they end up having to back off.

  18. FreeFox says:

    Hey not me, I dunno. “Yolda” means “on the way” in Turkish. But the word Yalda in Shab e Yalda probably comes from medieval Aramaic, a language used predominantly by Christians in western Syria and southern Turkey during the middle ages (and still a liturgical language for the few Christians in this region), and means Birth, making Shab e Yalda the Night of the Birth.

  19. dr John de Wipper says:

    Sorry to torpedo your good intention, (which I really would LOVE to steal!), but, Sir Isaac Newton was born January 4, 1643, in Woolsthorpe, England.

    Then again, at the time in England they still adhered to the Julian calender, and by THAT reckoning, it WAS december 25 1642.

    Maybe I better decide to accommodate local time measuring, and start celebrating Giant Isaac’s (he acually was tiny) birthday on december 25!

  20. FreeFox, my foxy friend, great to get your reassurance. I took your advice yesterday and offered an olive branch to Mr. Toronto on the previous thread, which I suppose nobody is reading now.
    Once again, the erudition and diversity of this crowd brings me joy. Happy Julian New Year everybody. I’m sure I can wish you all that without an accusation of hypocrisy. 🙂

  21. Welshman says:

    Polytheists fighting each other? I’ve thought long and hard (it very was a good question) and can only come up with Greeks v Trojans.

  22. me not says:

    Thanks FreeFox, I guess Night of Birth does make sense, as after that night daylight hours start increasing again. One thing, though, Shab’e Yalda is my transliteration of what I hear when Farsi speakers say it, so my transcription might be misleading, as I don’t speak Farsi.

    I am intrigued by the origin of both No Rooz and Shab’e Yalda. I have always more or less assumed that they would be originally zoroastrian festivals, but don’t really have any reason for my assumption, other than them being Persian festivals. You seem to be rather knowledgeable about the area, what is your take on it?

    In any case, sorry for the OT. Happy crossing of an arbitrary point of the orbit of Terra around Sol everyone.

  23. FreeFox says:

    “No Rooz”, or Nauruz, or Nouruz, or Nowruz means New Day in Persian. Interestingly, the word ruz for day has the same core root as the German Licht, English light, and Latin lux. And apparently it was not just a but the holiest Zoroastrian festival (and perhaps held to be the day the universe itself began), though as a fundamental spring festival it seems to go back even before that to seriously pagan days, just like Easter goes back to the pagan goddess Eostra before Christianity hijacked it.

  24. DC Toronto says:

    Thanks Foxey. I appreciate your words.
    My intention was not to offend, so I was genuinely surprised by the reaction to my comment. I thought it was clear that I wasn’t suggesting total rejection of the holidays in a persons daily life. But here, of all places, I expected at least some acknowledgement that the word Christmas was a direct link to that which is constantly mocked.
    I like your word, tribalism. That was certainly my feeling when I saw the harsh reactions to my comment. At one point I thought Darwin was going to excommunicate me (or to borrow the scientologists word .. Disconnect me) … it really did strike me as something out of a medieval church’s playbook. That was what struck me as hypocritical, not the occasional Christmas wish.
    and to show that I am not feeling ‘holier than thou’ … I’ll let this slip. I celebrate the Christmas holiday with my family. There is no church involved so it’s more of a secular celebration, but I do enjoy many of the traditional hymns at this time of year. And the goodwill that abounds.
    I do generally stick to Happy Holidays in my salutations, although I did let slip a Merry Christmas in a store on Christmas Eve. The girl looked a little surprised, but I shrugged in the spirit of the season and left it at that.

    Maybe that;s what gave rise to my comment. I said on another thread that I find a persons reactions to my comment often reveal more about them than about what I’ve said. It appears that can apply to me and the comment I made … hmm … you really can learn something new every day.

  25. DC Toronto, I find I react badly when people land on these threads and pop off what I take to be a disparaging comment right off the hop. Tribalism is probably a good description of how I feel about this group. This is my tribe, and somebody wandering in with a chip on their shoulder gets my dandruff up.
    Also, please keep in mind that the written word tends to amplify emotion. What the writer thinks is a witty bit of snark can come off as a howl of rage to the reader.
    If you check back on the previous thread you will see that I have reined in my inner curmudgeon. Now that I understand you better, you do seem like a reasonable sort of fellow. So happy new year. All the best in 2017.

  26. I just realized that I wished everybody a happy Julian New Year in my previous post. I meant, of course, a Happy Gregorian New Year. Just another brain fart, eh.

  27. HaggisForBrains says:

    In certain parts of Scotland we celebrate both the Gregorian and the Julian New Year – not that we really need an excuse for a piss-up. The twelfth* of January is celebrated as “Old New Year”.

    * That’s what I recall (I no longer live in that part of Scotland), but an online search tells me is should be the fourteenth of January.

    Ah, a further search tells me that my recollection is correct, and somehow we celebrate Old New Year two days earlier than any other country. I guess we just can’t wait that long between piss-ups.

  28. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    re. polytheist dust-ups, the Romans and Egyptians spring to mind, although their battles were due to empire building rather than religious in nature.
    That’s not to say there isn’t suffering within polytheistic faiths caused by religion. Honour killings and the caste system are two prevelent and ongoing examples.

  29. DC Toronto says:

    Thanks Dar. I’m pretty deliberate in what I write. And I like to think that I’m the epitome of clarity. Obviously, i’m not as clear as I think I am. I didn’t suggest in my op that I howled with laughter and I did try to walk it back by acknowledging that it’s perfectly acceptable to celebrate.

    I guess we all bring our own interpretations to this forum and our personal baggage that we’ve collected on the journey to reading J&M so what I think is wry humour catches a few nerves. Not to worry, I’m back to work soon so will likely take my place at the back of the room again. And I’ve learned a bit more about communication from this episode. Which is part of what I’m seeking on my journey through life, so there’s that.

    Enjoy the new year.

  30. Grumpy says:

    Author: Happy New Year to you, and of course all your readers.

  31. Deimos says:

    If you’re looking for polytheistic dustups might I suggest the many works of Alexander the great and the most excellent battle at the hot gates. Persian empire armies had so many gods going on that the pre-battle rites often took a whole day. And of course closer to home the many godded brits against the equally polytheistic romans.
    As Akhenaton was the only mono theist who wasn’t Jewish before 30ad then almost any battle bc is likely to qualify.

  32. me not says:

    Regarding the polytheistic guys, I think they get an unfair pass. Just look at the hindu loonies going round looking for people who may have eaten beef.

    Religion is a tool for control first and foremost, and we see that everywhere, with all religions. I really don’t understand why some eastern religions seem to get a bit of a pass in the west, why are hinduism, budhism or sikhism any less contemptible than christianity?

  33. FreeFox says:

    Yo, MC Tonto, the name is FreeFox. I am also happy with Rikki, Fox, or the risqué acronym FF. *g* If you absolutely want to chance a flirt, you can try calling me foxy… but please, don’t ever use “Foxey” again. *shudders* ugh

    H4B, love that tradition. Maybe one can go with whisky and the other with the aforementioned gin & vermouth. ^_^

    AoS, polytheists can certainly also be dicks and cunts, but it might be that monotheists are better specifically at the “my invisible daddy is better than your invisible daddy” game. Or not. Hence the question if anyone here knows of historical incidents of purely religiously motivated inter-polytheistic warfare.

    Also, you didn’t tell how your christmas cooking worked out in a foreign kitchen. ^_^

  34. Son of Glenner says:

    Happy New Year to our revered Author and to all regulars, lurkers, or casual visitors to the C&B pub, whether they be: atheists, agnostics, monotheists or polytheists; vegans, vegetarians, pescetarians or omnivores; alcoholics, drunkards, boozers or teetotallers; black, brown, golden or white; Scottish, other British, other European, Canadian, other American, Asian, African, Oceanic; Progressive, Conservative, Republican, Democrat, Monarchist, Environmentalist.
    Best New Year wishes also to any of you not covered by at least one of the above categories.

  35. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    FreeFox, dinner was a success, it just took a little longer than it would have in my own kitchen. At home I cook on an old gas range with eight burners and three ovens, so using a single electric oven with four ceramic hob plates was strange, but it all turned out as planned, went down a treat, and as a little bonus that I’m sure will get your approval, the turkey’s carcass (almost ostrich-sized) went to a fox family living nearby.

    I’ve just done it all again for our New Year’s dinner, but at home this time, only with beef instead of turkey and for fourteen adults and six children! I even made my own horseradish sauce using wild horseradish root. Now that clears the sinuses.
    Bloody good job I enjoy cooking, eh?

    I can’t think of any polytheistic wars fought purely on religious grounds, but then I would suspect that many historical wars which were labelled ‘religious’ were motivated by more earthly ambitions anyway, the god or gods used as a smokescreen. It would have been far easier to raise an army to fight and die if they believed it’d be for god than for the personal gains of a few greedy kings or princes.
    Maybe the warlords who happen to be polytheists are just more honest about their intentions than monotheists (Islamic jihadists notwithstanding; we’re all pretty clear on what they’re fighting for). They might ask for the protection and assistance from their pantheon but fight in the name of empire-building or revenge or to restore honour lost in previous wars, and so on; their gods are a sideshow, not the main event.

  36. Robert in Cambridge says:

    FreeFox asked: ” Can anyone come up with examples of religiously motivated inter-polytheistic warfare, with no monotheists involved?”

    That’s an interesting question. There are examples with one polytheistic group fighting a monotheistic one of course (Hindu/Moslem). I’m not sure the greeks/romans/vikings fought each other for religious reasons. Could it me that polytheistic religions, by their nature, foster an appreciation of diverity of gods?

  37. WalterWalcarpit says:

    It is never too late, nor too early to say to one and all:

    Happy New Year!


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