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Discussion (30)¬

  1. […] and Mo: Claim Jesus and Mo: Claim Dieser Eintrag wurde von Daniel Fallenstein am Fr, 4. Jul 2008 um 14:58 geschrieben, abgelegt […]

  2. Laury says:

    Where did you find the definition “justified true belief”?

    Knowledge (`ilm) is what one comes to know through an education in school, university, on one’s own reading books, and through scientific experiment.

    Using definitions from hadith only:

    Faith (iman) is knowledge in heart, testified to by one’s words and actions.

    Knowledge in the heart is “the religion of old women.” The Prophet and his companions come across an old woman working her spinning wheel. He asks her about her faith. She replies that just as surely as her hand turns the spinning wheel, so God turns the world. In other words, it seems ridiculous to think that the world moves on its own since her spinning wheel will not turn on its own.

    The Prophet’s knowledge of the Qur’an comes from direct experience. Something extraordinary happened to him that ultimately to be a message from God. He thought he was possessed at first. That was the most obvious explanation given his cultural circumstances. He had to be convinced by others who were aware of prophecies describing a coming messenger. It can be said that his wife Khadija accepted the revelation of the Qur’an before he did.

    In other words, he confirmed his experiences through what was considered transmitted knowledge (`ilm) of the day. It was enough for them. Those who have followed have been moved by what he recited. Folks will tend to say that the Qur’an talks about the world in a way that makes sense to them. The religion of old women.

    No, it does not stand up to scrutiny in the materialist sense you are implying here. To ask it to do so is to make a serious category error. You are criticizing the Qur’an for being something Muslims (on the whole) have never claimed it to be.

    Typically your strips are very funny. It is not like you to be so intellectually sloppy. I will assume you researched the matter first, so I will blame it on a bad translation of some definition of knowledge you picked up somewhere. In the end, you turn out to be guilty of exactly the same error you made fun of in the strip. It is no category error to say that your definitions do not hold up to scrutiny.

  3. Tea says:


    JTB is a standard philosophical definition of knowledge.

  4. jONES. says:

    justified true belief:

    I don’t believe in god(s).

    ’nuff said.

  5. falterer says:

    I like that Jesus is reading Viz.

  6. Poor Richard says:

    Author has made no categorical error, Laury. All categories fall under the heading of Nature. Reference to the supernatural is pure superstition. When someone can demonstrate otherwise to me, I’ll recant.

  7. tie says:

    that first page, has a very interesting link to a you tube video, where 2 representatives of Pakistan and egypt manage to shut up criticism of the declaration of human rights in islam using some really pathetic arguments, that boil down to… “It is insulting for our faith to discuss Sharia … ”

    pathetic and really sad that they can get away with this,

  8. John Cowan says:

    Not all justified true belief is knowledge: see . In particular, if the justification doesn’t actually support the belief, but the belief is true for some entirely separate reason, that doesn’t count as knowledge.

    That said, I feel like Babbage writing to Tennyson to complain about his lines “Every minute dies a man / Every minute one is born” that they took no account of the increase in population, and should be changed to “Every minute dies a man / And one and one-sixteenth is born”. (Tennyson eventually did change “minute” to “moment”.)

  9. Tea says:


    Sure, there are problems with the definition. The point is that the JTB is not a “bad translation of some definition of knowledge you picked up somewhere,” as Laury would have it.

  10. Steve says:

    No matter what your operative definition of JTB or knowledge is, it is not analogy, allegory, revealed dogma or personal revelation, as Laury seems to indicate.

  11. JohnnieCanuck says:

    Laury’s “bad translation of some definition of knowledge you picked up somewhere” phrasing somehow makes me think of the Gideons and their 1.7 billion bibles.

    This brings me to ask if there is an Islamic equivalent of the Gideons, leaving copies of the Qur’an in hotel rooms throughout their lands?

  12. Greg says:

    The author of the comic uses a common philosophical definition of JTB. Laury sounds rather like Humpty Dumpty from that famous exchange with Alice in Through the Looking Glass:

    ‘There’s glory for you!’

    `I don’t know what you mean by “glory”,’ Alice said.

    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant “there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”‘

    `But “glory” doesn’t mean “a nice knock-down argument”,’ Alice objected.

    `When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

    `The question is,’ said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

    `The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master — that’s all.’

  13. Toast in the machine says:

    Thanks for the post Laury (this Laury?). I don’t understand why your opening sentence gives the impression that you wish to question/criticise the definition ‘justified true belief’, when you then go on to use exactly this definition in your subsequent apologia for the revealed ‘truth’ of Islam. As Tea says immediately after your post, ‘justified true belief’ is a standard philosophical definition of ‘knowledge’, but not only that, in your own paragraph immediately following your apparent criticism of this definition, you use what amounts to exactly the same definition yourself – ‘Knowledge is what one comes to know through an education in school, university, on one’s own reading books, and through scientific experiment’. In this definition you are ‘justifying’ (‘comes to know through an education…’ etc) knowledge on exactly the same terms.

    You say that Mohamed’s ‘knowledge of the Qur’an comes from direct experience’, but then admit ‘it does not stand up to scrutiny in the materialist sense you are implying here’, and that the author is ‘criticizing the Qur’an for being something Muslims (on the whole) have never claimed it to be’. So how many Muslims claim that the Quran is true in a non-materialist (presumably metaphorical only) sense, and that they do not claim it to be literally true? I’ve certainly never met one. Not even the most secular Muslim I’ve met would define that description as anything other than heretical.

    You accuse the author of being ‘intellectually sloppy’. I won’t ‘assume you researched the matter first’, as your response is self-contradictory and nonsensical. You say the author’s ‘definitions do not hold up to scrutiny’, but there are no definitions of the author’s in this strip, and you yourself, in your own criticism, validate exactly the definition you pretend to refute.

    You are right about one thing: typically Jesus and Mo ‘strips are very funny’.

  14. Toast in the machine says:

    That should be: ‘this Laury – ?’

  15. Tea says:

    That’s impossible. You can’t be part of a department of philosophy without ever having heard of JTB. Or can you?

  16. ticticboom says:

    If you account for spin, exaggeration, and usual problems with copies of copies of oral traditons, the Bible stands up pretty well to the archeological findings and records from other cultures. Naturally, the further back in time you go the less accurate things get. While Genesis is mostly myth and legend, by the time you get to the reigns of Saul, David and Solomon, the big picture at least squares with what their enemies and contemporaries said, propaganda from both sides not withstanding.

    So, consider the fact that Mo mangled pretty much every Bible story he told, almost always in ways benificial to the Arabs in general and him in particular (i.e., Abraham was prepared to sacrifice Ishmael instead of Issac). And that he seemed to think people born thousands of years apart lived at the same time (he slaimed the mother of Jesus and the sister of Aaron from the Exodus were the same person). Since Mo claimed he was relating the literal word of Allah, either the All-Knowing One has a really bad memory, or Mo needed his hearing checked.

    Actually, I recall that he complained about hearing bells ringing that no-one else could hear. Maybe those meta-physical tolls screwed with the dictation.

    Or maybe Allah should’ve picked someone other than an illiterate goat herder to take notes.

  17. ayra says:

    Were is the “first comic”-link? I’m certainly not clicking on the back-link 1 million times just to read a webcomic…

  18. Poor Richard says:

    ayra: under “codices” on the right, just beneath the T-shirt.

  19. Jerry w says:

    Think about this:

    All prayers are answered.

    Sometimes the answer is no.

    Hence, ‘justified true belief’

    Wherein a negative can be taken as an affirmation.

    I’m just saying…..

  20. Ish says:

    “Think about this:

    All prayers are answered.

    Sometimes the answer is no.”

    Well in that case I want to see the ‘With Compliments’ slip

  21. Toast in the machine says:

    It is surely worthwhile demonstrating the inconsistencies, inaccuracies and the sometimes sadistic immorality of supposed holy books such as the koran, but from what I know of it, I don’t think the bible deserves to get off lightly either. Defending the later books of the bible on the grounds that ‘the big picture squares with what [Saul, David and Solomon’s] enemies and contemporaries said’, whilst attacking the Koran because of chronological errors, or because a particular story doesn’t agree with its biblical equivalent seems to measure them by different standards.

    You say that ‘naturally, the further back in time you go the less accurate things get’, as if that means we should accept the New testament as essentially factual, while being able to dismiss the Old (though you also say ‘Genesis is mostly myth and legend..’ – ‘MOSTLY’? – what else is it?). There are many people alive today who don’t believe that man walked on the moon 40 years ago, or even what exactly happened in New York on 11 September 2001. That’s with two such massive events, with global satellite communications, endless film and video footage and all the 20th and 21st century technological investigative means we have at our disposal. You then condemn the koran because it doesn’t agree with the bible, even though the bible in many places doesn’t even agree with itself.

    Lineages and familial relationships are frequently confused in the bible – Matthew and Luke can’t agree even about Jesus’s lineage. (Nor whether Herod slaughtered the first-born and J, M & J had to flee to Egypt). The whole 40 days in the wilderness bit didn’t happen according to John. Apparently, Jesus came to enforce Mosaic law, though he also came to abolish it. Both books are supposed to be god’s explanation and instructions to his creation – certainly, muslims tend to insist that in the original arabic, the koran is the literal, infalible word of god, while on some levels most xians accept that the bible is a confused patchwork of stories, which frequently disagree with each other, and through history a sizable industry has revolved around ‘interpreting’ these contradictions and inconsistencies in order to make various square pegs fit the round holes. I guess that when it comes down to it, many people who think of themselves as christian, if confronted with numerous sections of the bible, would find it hard to assert that they believed them – literally or metaphorically. They must thank god for cognitive dissonance.

  22. Stauf says:

    The answers is yes, there are Qur’an in hotel rooms left by some group, surely not the Giddon’s

  23. Fifi says:

    It’s all very simple.

    – You believe in God (or Zeus or the Tooth Fairy…)
    – I trust science.

    I don’t believe in science. I trust science. It’s means that I can verify every single little bit of science if I feel the need. It would take me a few thousands lifetimes at least to do all the verifying thingy on everything I trust in science, but I could, I could.

  24. Elric says:

    Not to belabor the point, but I’d like to clarify soemthing about Fifi’s statement. I’ll preface it by saying that I greatly believe in scientific principles & have never believed in any religious belief.

    However, You can’t verify every little thing regarding science, math, or logic. Basic mathematical axioms (like 1 does not equal 0) are unprovable. Here is a wiki definition:

    In traditional logic, an axiom or postulate is a proposition that is not proved or demonstrated but considered to be either self-evident, or subject to necessary decision. Therefore, its truth is taken for granted, and serves as a starting point for deducing and inferring other (theory dependent) truths.

    So, once you accept 1 does not equal 0, you can take 1,000 pages of mathematical logic and “prove” that 1+1=2. But, you must first accept that 1 doesn’t equal 0.

    Hope that makes sense to everyone. Even logic has assumptions. But at least they aren’t as incredible as religious ones.

  25. ticticboom says:

    @Toast in the machine:

    I don’t care when people attack the Bible over inconsistencies. I never claimed it’s the literal word of God, and no educated Christian or Jew should, either. But when people equate it with Mohammed’s ramblings (which they claim ARE the literal word of Allah), it gets my Irish up.

    The Gospels were written years, if not decades, after Jesus’ death, by the disciples of the original Apostles, so you get the usual errors and exaggeration of transcribed oral traditons with the added effect of the scribes being zealots, as converts usually are. These effects are exponentially worse on the Koran, which was first compiled well over a century after Mo’s death by borderline illiterates in one of the most inefficient languages known to man (only Chinese is worse than Arabic).

    The stories in the Old Testament generally are based on a common myth or legend, or a major event. Taking Jericho, for instance, was a real event. I don’t think God brought the walls down, and I think if you read between the lines agents opened the gates from inside.

    The Israelites slaughtered the poplulations for a simple reason: to convice the next city not to resist. That was standard operating procedure throughout history, across cultures. Personally, I think declaring that God commanded it was over the top.

    And I remember that a British officer, after reading about one of Saul’s sons using a hidden trail to outflank the Philistines (who were Minoan, not Arabs) recognized he was in the same area, and found the trail, using it to outflank the Turks.

    The stories in the Koran, on the other hand, are usually Bible stories perverted to make the Arabs look good and the Christians, and particulary the Jews, look bad. Switching Ishmael for Issac and Mecca for the Temple Mount is just one example. Picture an Englishman claiming Washington and Jefferson fought for King George during the revolution.

    Mo really didn’t care if his stories meshed with the Jewish versions, or even the last time he told the same story. A few of the early Meccan verses said nice things about what he later declared infidels, when Mo thought he could convert them. But when they didn’t react favorably to having a raving maniac mangle their lore (and Jews, then as now, know their own history better than anyone), he started with the whole “Jews are brother of apes and pigs” thing.

  26. Fifi says:


    Your point is very much true. It’s also quite why I’ve stopped caring much about philosophers, logicians and mathematicians. All very useful in their own fields but they tend to aim for such internal consistency that they most often become, err, a bit irrelevant? A bit like theologians except that they are not completely wrong?

    When dealing in person with the 1+1=2 issue, I take what I must admit is a little bit of a shortcut, a somewhat crude form of maieutics if you will.

    Here’s my approach:

    (shuffle shuffle rummage rummage grab thunk put an apple on the table)
    Me – See. One apple. One.
    Logician – Yes but …
    Me – Waaaaait a second!
    (shuffle shuffle rummage rummage grab thunk put another apple on the table)
    Me – See. One more apple. One.
    (point point)
    Me – One here. One there.
    Logician – Yes but …
    Me – Yes but nothing.
    (grab grab thunk thunk place the two apples next to each other around the middle of the table)
    Me – See, two apples. 1+1=2
    Logician – Yes yes sure but set theor…
    Me – All right, all right, I see. We have a situation.
    (shuffle shuffle rummage rummage dig dig)
    Me – Zoot ! Where the heck is that thing?
    (more shuffle shuffle rummage rummage clonk cling dig dig grab grab)
    Me – Ah! There it is!
    Logician – Hey? Hey! Stop!!! What are you planning to do with that baseball ba…
    [ BAMMMM! ]
    Me – See. One lump
    Logician – Arhhh!!! But it hurts! You’re completely cra….
    [ RE-BAMMMM! ]
    Me – See. One more lump. One lump on your left. One lump on your right. And that makes two lumps on your head. 1+1=2.

    At this point, either the logician has become a strongly committed empiricist or I start studying the number 3 :>

  27. joe says:

    Damn! I was reading Wittgenstein’s “Ethics, Life and Faith”, where he’s basically trying to push your cartoon.

    You get bonus points for conciseness.

    He gets bonus points for pointing out that you believe because you have to — life makes you crazy and religion might get you through the night, but only an ass then claims that it’s a Justified True Belief.

  28. thescallop says:

    Mo’s teeth are really white.

  29. Captain Arse says:

    Who cares about all that philosophy stuff: Jesus is reading Viz!

  30. Cephas Atheos says:

    Fifi, is it ok if I love you, too? Agape, not eros, that would be weird…

    I recently finished some of Stephen Pinker’s and Alain deBotton’s great books, and loving language, I thought I’d have a run at Bertrand Russell’s wonderful ‘Problems in Philosophy’… I’m keeping my head above water, so to speak, but there ain’t a baseball bat in sight.

    Perhaps that’s the problem with philosophers and mathemagicians – not enough apples? They need vitamin F (Fifi)!

    Huge thanks for the belly laugh!


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