This week’s strip was inspired by the Pope, who nearly got it right, before hoisting his cassock and running away in terror.

Discussion (51)¬

  1. faichai says:

    Funny, I was just sitting on the loo thinking the exact same thing (well, until the last part). Its the part of atheism that scares the shit out of me.

  2. HaggisForBrains says:

    @faichai – Whilst I find the sheer enormity of the universe boggles my haggis, I don’t find it scary. What I do find scary is the idea of hell, but not as scary as the idea of heaven. JP Sartre’s idea of hell being the company of others sounds rather too close to the traditional idea of heaven for my liking.

    @ author – another nice hit!

  3. kennypo65 says:

    The idea of heaven is scary.

    Sin is the result of free will.
    No one sins in heaven.
    Therefore; there is no free will in heaven.

  4. Submoron says:

    Some people just can’t face the thought that there isn’t a purpose behind.


    May please have an Irony Meter one for William Craig Lane’s latest contortionist fit?

    Greta Christina’s article is worth reading.

  5. Submoron says:


    “Some people just canโ€™t face the thought that there isnโ€™t a purpose behind the universe”!

  6. Ketil W.Grevstad says:

    heheeh this was wery good one ๐Ÿ™‚ lol

  7. Scott says:

    Nice comic strip today author

    To reply to kennypo65 though, your first premise is incorrect, free-will enables sin, rather than causes sin which means your conclusion is also wrong since a conclusion could be: everyone in heaven freely chooses not to sin.

  8. Poor Richard says:

    What’s to fear? You, whatever “you” is in this context, have already spent 12 or so billion years in complete oblivion. I, for one, intend to catch up on my sleep.

    True believers, being oblivious by nature, are ready to go.

  9. Nassar Ben Houdja says:

    Handwringing self loathing stumps
    In life give themselves many lumps
    Instead of seeing a universe that’s amazing
    At their navels they’re gazing
    With brains interchangeable with rumps

  10. Ah, the attachment to ego. Very little of what’s here will disappear when I’m gone. In fact, nothing. Or nothing of any significance except to me, and I won’t be here to lament my passing. Doesn’t scare me at all. But I will regret not being able to see what happens next. It is a great show, y’know.
    Seems unlikely Jesus would be uttering such thoughts, unless he’s just winding up Mo. The whole point of the religion of which he is a figure head is that we are NOT insignificant. This whole amazing thing was put together just for us, with humanity at the center, or maybe a genocidal dessert tribe at the center, hard to believe as that may be.
    Thanks, Author. You get me thinking every time.

  11. Bodach says:

    Author, I love how Jesus gets after Mo in these strips. Of course, he is a soft target. I think ‘Blasphemy Boy’ might become my new nickname.

  12. Daz says:

    Scary? Nah. It’s awesome. Literally.

  13. Marla says:

    I don’t usually have trouble “getting” a joke, but could someone explain the gay/vampire cartoon that appears under the J&M strip? Thanks!

  14. durham669 says:

    “When we exist death is not, and when death exists we are not. All sensation and consciousness ends with death and therefore in death there is neither pleasure nor pain. The fear of death arises from the belief that in death there is awareness.” – Epicurus

  15. I think that this is the saddest part of religion – it has some truth elements, but has twisted them for power pig purposes.

    In an existential universe, existance is it’s own purpose – there need not be anything more complicated than that to it.

  16. TonyJazz says:

    Scott, in response to kennypo, you say that everyone in heaven chooses not to sin. Wouldn’t that suggest that there are no choices to be made (or allowed)? Legitimate choices have balance and represent reasonable alternatives, don’t they? (just asking)

  17. durham669 says:

    “Man is the only Religious Animal. The only animal that has the True Religion–several of them. The only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven. The higher animals have no religion.” – Mark Twain

  18. HaggisForBrains says:

    @Marla – What the hell are you talking about?

  19. Daz says:

    I’m guessing it’s and advert, as I’m running adblock plus, and can’t see it.

  20. Daz says:

    “an advert.”

  21. Author says:

    Maria is talking about an ad for a rather wonderful comic by Tony Piro called Calamities of Nature:

    The ad is viewable only in the USA, because that is all he’s paid for ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Maria – Jehovah’s Witnesses are not allowed to consume blood, or receive blood transfusions, because of their interpretation of biblical law. Hence a JW vampire would have a hard life.

  22. Exzanian says:

    No prizes for identifying this one:

    We have no falsehoods to defend
    We want the facts;
    Our force, our thought, we do not spend
    In vain attacks.
    And we will never meanly try
    To save some fair and pleasing lie.

    The simple truth is what we ask,
    Not the ideal;
    We’ve set ourselves the noble task
    To find the real.
    If all there is naught but dross,
    We want to know and bear our loss.

    We will not willingly be fooled,
    By fables nursed;
    Our hearts, by earnest thought, are schooled
    To bear the worst;
    And we can stand erect and dare
    All things, all facts that really are.

    We have no God to serve or fear,
    No hell to shun,
    No devil with malicious leer.
    When life is done
    An endless sleep may close our eyes.
    A sleep with neither dreams nor sighs.

    We have no master on the land —
    No king in air —
    Without a manacle we stand,
    Without a prayer,
    Without a fear of coming night,
    We seek the truth, we love the light.

    We do not bow before a guess,
    A vague unknown;
    A senseless force we do not bless
    In solemn tone.
    When evil comes we do not curse,
    Or thank because it is no worse.

    When cyclones rend — when lightning blights,
    ‘Tis naught but fate;
    There is no God of wrath who smites
    In heartless hate.
    Behind the things that injure man
    There is no purpose, thought, or plan.

    We waste no time in useless dread,
    In trembling fear;
    The present lives, the past is dead,
    And we are here,
    All welcome guests at life’s great feast —
    We need no help from ghost or priest.

    Our life is joyous, jocund, free —
    Not one a slave
    Who bends in fear the trembling knee,
    And seeks to save
    A coward soul from future pain;
    Not one will cringe or crawl for gain.

    The jeweled cup of love we drain,
    And friendship’s wine
    Now swiftly flows in every vein
    With warmth divine.
    And so we love and hope and dream
    That in death’s sky there is a gleam.

    We walk according to our light,
    Pursue the path
    That leads to honor’s stainless height,
    Careless of wrath
    Or curse of God, or priestly spite,
    Longing to know and do the right.

    We love our fellow-man, our kind,
    Wife, child, and friend.
    To phantoms we are deaf and blind,
    But we extend
    The helping hand to the distressed;
    By lifting others we are blessed.

    Love’s sacred flame within the heart
    And friendship’s glow;
    While all the miracles of art
    Their wealth bestow
    Upon the thrilled and joyous brain,
    And present raptures banish pain.

    We love no phantoms of the skies,
    But living flesh,
    With passion’s soft and soulful eyes,
    Lips warm and fresh,
    And cheeks with health’s red flag unfurled,
    The breathing angels of this world.

    The hands that help are better far
    Than lips that pray.
    Love is the ever gleaming star
    That leads the way,
    That shines, not on vague worlds of bliss,
    But on a paradise in this.

    We do not pray, or weep, or wail;
    We have no dread,
    No fear to pass beyond the veil
    That hides the dead.
    And yet we question, dream, and guess,
    But knowledge we do not possess.

    We ask, yet nothing seems to know;
    We cry in vain.
    There is no “master of the show”
    Who will explain,
    Or from the future tear the mask;
    And yet we dream, and still we ask

    Is there beyond the silent night
    An endless day;
    Is death a door that leads to light?
    We cannot say.
    The tongueless secret locked in fate
    We do not know. — We hope and wait.

  23. Krylle says:

    @faichai โ€“ I suggest you eat more vegetables.

  24. HaggisForBrains says:

    @Author – Thanks!

  25. HaggisForBrains says:

    Re Jehovah’s Witness Vampire joke – have a look at this:

    Sometimes you just can’t make them up!

  26. Marla says:

    Thank you Author and HaggisForBrains for the JW/vampire explanation and the eye opening article. I had no idea JWs were that rigid about transfusions. I also am sorry if I caused any confusion for those who could not see the advert! LOL

  27. b1gr1d3r says:

    @Author The JW/Vampire advert is also visible in Canada

  28. Jerry w says:

    Yet another reply to kennypo65
    You said: “No one sins in heaven.
    Therefore; there is no free will in heaven.”

    My offer of a Choice B:
    Everyone sins, therefore there is no heaven

  29. “If man were merely a random product of evolution in some place on the margins of the universe, then his life would make no sense or might even be a chance of nature,” said the Pope. And seldom will you read a more concise statement of the argumentum ad consequentiam. Don’t they ever get tired of it?

  30. Eskimo to Missionary: If I didn’t know about God and sin, would I go to Hell when I die?
    Missionary: Uh, no. Not if you didn’t know.
    Eskimo: Then why did you tell me?

    Don’t know where this came from, but I had to share it. Kind of takes the wind out the sails for saving souls, doesn’t it?

  31. spoing says:

    @Nassar Ben – I’m curious to know who you mean by the handwringing self-loathers you mention in your ditty? J&M or the atheists Jesus parodies in this edition?

    @Darwin – that is an excellent response, can’t wait to use it hehe.

  32. Unruly Simian says:

    @ Darwin – I used to have a strident Baptist secretary to whom I made that very point and her response was (drum roll, please) “they will go straight to hell if they don’t believe in Jesus….” at her response more conversation was not neccessary…

  33. Daz says:


    That quote is from Annie Dillard, apparently. If I remember rightly, it’s quoted in Joan Konner’s The Atheist’s Bible.

  34. Jash says:

    kennypo65 just made hell scarier for me now. I thought it is going to be boring with just people praising god around. Never thought of the free will part… really scary now…

  35. spoing says:

    The thing is, if religionists are so terrified at the prospect of facing up to the meaninglessness of everything, why is it they do such a shit job of providing decent alternatives? What’s so great about the alternatives they offer?

    “when we’ve been there
    10000 years
    bright shining as the sun
    we’ve no less days
    to sing god’s praise
    than when we first begun”

    Jesus Christ! That sounds like the most fiendish torture ever described. Enforced worship of a made self-obsessed deity for 10 millenia with no toilet breaks.

    The Islamic virgins-on-tap heaven is somewhat more compelling than the Christian one (well, if you’re a misogynistic sex-crazed male at least).

    It would seem to me that hell is exactly the place we atheists would prefer to go. Better company for starters. Much better conversation. Waaaay sexier. How is it that religionists manage to peddle this depressing vision so well?
    Are there any religions with a decent heaven??

  36. spoing says:

    Sorry everyone I meant “MAD self-obsessed deity” …

  37. Sosusk says:

    this is a thought I, personally, find quite tranquilizing…. it depends on how you see your life: fulfilling and glorious as a prophet and/or son of God?
    or are we just normal persons who try to live as well as possible and are our lifes full of mistakes? Then it would be nice that, at some point, these mistakes no longer matter.
    and why are there so many normal people aspiring transcendence?

  38. Blakey says:

    @Unruly Simian, Darwin Harmless:

    Sadly, from my memory of sunday school, more years ago than I care to recall, US’ horrible baptist secretary is absolutely correct, biblically. The idea that innocents get treated well is heretical. The whole POINT of religion is that “we are the real people”. They go to hell because they’re just not like us real human beings.



    Plus, apparently, hell gets all the best composers.

  39. Sosusk

    When everything we are exposed to – religion, advertising, other people – all carry the message that we are not good enough unless we buy their product or carry their baggage – it’s not really any wonder why people want to be more than what or who they are.

    We are under constant bombardment of messages that say we individually and sometimes collectively do not matter – it makes people who accept those messages easy targets for those would seek to take advantage of that insecurity – religion, advertisers, other people…..

  40. gk4c4 says:

    Like in most of religious debates, pope’s helpless feeling of meaninglessness and its religious repercussions, are definitely factually scientifically wrong. Considering what we now know about cosmos and human species position within it, humanity definitely closer to the speck rather than the crown of creation.

    But, for thousands of years, men – sons or daughters of gods or kings included – never know these facts. While the fear of unknown is real, and there’s is a lot of money to be made for those who could give popular answer –> presto celebrities, presto religions.

    So, yes science is the factual truth, yes organized religions (as the same with all other cultural artifacts of mankind in the past) got it wrong. Yes, some people are too invested in past glories (and more importantly the prestige and finances involved) – they will not accept willingly. That’s where we are now.

    so be it ..

  41. Stonyground says:

    From the early seventies Pink Floyd album ‘Dark Side of the Moon’:

    I am not frightened of dying, anytime will do I don’t mind. Why should I be frightenened of dying, there’s no reason for it, you gotta go sometime.

    Not a great fan of Pink Floyd to be honest, I prefer ELP, but the Dark Side of the Moon is one of my favourite albums and I have listened to it for 35 years and never got bored with it.

  42. Unruly Simian says:

    @ Stony – Did you know that Alan Parsons, from Alan Parsons Project produced Dark Side of the Moon? Love’em both…..

  43. dimbulb says:

    …”leaving only atoms and memories…”

    Huh? Memories? No. Just atoms.

    Otherwise, I liked it.

  44. Buford says:

    @ dimbulb
    Possibly they meant other peoples memories of the dearly departed rather than the departed’s own memories surviving death?

  45. FreeFox says:

    Seriously, that’s all bollocks. Nobody is scared by the size of the universe. There’s a cute story (don’t know whether it’s true, but it sounds good) about Pacific islanders. when Cook or whoever encountered them, he found their sea maps to be totally inaccurate and even contradictory: They said a route was so and so long one way, but longer or shorter going back. So it’s all nonsense he thought. But it wasn’t: The maps didn’t depict the “objective” distance as seen from a, well, let’s call it “God-Perspective” for a laugh, but the subjective distance – the time and effort it took to cover it. And given wind patterns and currents and whatnot the maps were extremely accurate… and useful, to those who knew to read them.
    What’s that got to do with the price of cheese? Nobody has strong feelings about the facts. The facts just are. The only thing anyone cares about are the meaning those facts have for us. That’s where we get irrational. If you feel loved and secure, you might look at a vast universe and think: Wow, all that uninhabitable emptiness and I got this warm, cozy place provided for me, what a caring and loving universe this is. With God or without. But if you are secretly afraid that your mummy and daddy don’t love you, and that you are all alone, well, you project that into the universe, and you need to make up a divine teddy bear to cuddle with under your blanket and hide yourself from that terrible emptiness.
    Religion (as opposed to religious experiences, which might go either way) is a way to make up meanings that stabilize power structures, sometimes through comfort, sometimes through fear and hatred. But it’s always the pretense of something objective that’s really subjective. What’s so funny about most Atheists is that they, too, think they are objective. I mean, sure, the scientific *method* IS actually objective – as objective as the humans employing allow it to be. But that doesn’t make the people any less subjective. Hell, that’s exactly *why* the method has been invented, why there are double blind experiments and all those other techniques to reduce bias, because *everybody’s* got the bias. No matter whether looking at the universe makes you feel all warm and gooey or cold and scared stiff – it’s not the universe that’s doing that, it’s just your bias. Either way.

  46. spoing says:

    @freefox … I think the point of the strip is that the desert monotheistic traditions tend to find the apparent conclusions of evolution theory / quantum physics (i.e. that we are really just the byproduct of an evolutionary algorithm, living briefly and precariously on some tiny speck in the corner of the cosmos) kind of scary. I would imagine that the eastern faiths would be less susceptible to this. Which is kind of the point you’re making about the perspectives of the Pacific Islanders you mentioned (I think). So no, it isn’t bollocks at all – some forms of belief lend themselves to paranoia and insecurity more readily than others.

  47. FreeFox says:

    Didn’t mean to call the strip bollocks, but the claim that it is the emptiness out there that is scaring anyone. It’s only the emptiness within.

  48. @FreeFox – from a different forum discussion, I think that that emptiness within is why people try to give themselves meaning and validation by clinging to religion – it makes them feel like they matter and that they are special.

    so atheists, gays and people who reject diety religions by our existance are saying that they don’t matter – which is why they can then justify denying or giving us equal rights and status in the society that we share with them.

    they fear atheist because it doesn’t offer an alternative to the comforts of there religion, atheism doesn’t tell you where you came from, how to behave and what’s going to happen after you die – they cling to religion because they don’t want to have to sort these things out – they don’t trust themselves – and they are not willing to trust those of us who prefer to sort it out ourselves

    so, but doing the work and arriving at conclusions, we’re “arrogant” for thinking we can and do know anything

    because they aren’t willing to do the work to learn or know anything – they are judging us by not only their own low standards and unwilling/unable to learn/know – by they are assuming that we have the same no/low self esteem that they have

    they don’t know that when they externally validate their existance, they are putting a stamp on nothing

    that validation has to come from within to be meaningful

  49. the fear the external emptiness, because it’s the same emptiness they see/feel inside

    to us, the universe is vast of full of all kinds of things, because we aren’t empty on the inside

    the religious live in fear and they die a thousand deaths

    the non-religious live and die only once

  50. Bones'sDog says:

    Exzanian, I found a few places your poem could have been gleaned from. Sorry it took so long. This one may be easier to read. It’s not a googley site.
    And this one is ultra-cool. It even has a zoomy tool and everything.
    Thank you for this.


NOTE: This comments section is provided as a friendly place for readers of J&M to talk, to exchange jokes and ideas, to engage in profound philosophical discussion, and to ridicule the sincerely held beliefs of millions. As such, comments of a racist, sexist or homophobic nature will not be tolerated.

If you are posting for the first time, or you change your username and/or email, your comment will be held in moderation until approval. When your first comment is approved, subsequent comments will be published automatically.