J&M will be back next year.

Discussion (55)¬

  1. IDenyEverything says:

    Leaving the power of prayer aside, a lot of medical interventions have no discernible effect either. In these situations, praying might be useful. As a practising clinician, I keep a handy supply of juju trinkets that I scatter at the bedside to gauge prognosis.

  2. dyl says:

    i have a co-worker who shakes a maraca at his computer to make it work. He’s very productive.

  3. rath says:

    Ten days without J&M? goddamn

  4. Jos says:

    Shouldn’t it be “proof of its”?

  5. sgsax says:

    Yay, Moses! Thanks for bringing back the prophet of My People to wrap up the year.

  6. John Moore says:

    It’s good that noone complained about the “new” Moses…..

  7. Stonyground says:

    Spot on with the observation that Moses does not believe in the power of prayer. In the OT the message seems to be that you have to obey all the rules, no matter how inconvenient and pointless, and seriously bash anyone who does not. Providing that you do that it seems that God will ensure that you prosper generally and leave lots of descendants which it seems was considered very important at the time.

  8. Lana says:

    I’m so glad Moses is back. I missed him in some weird way.

  9. baydragon says:

    It may not cure cancer but it can build more churches!

  10. Crusader Rabid says:

    It’s true; prayer cannot cure cancer or make it rain, but having faith is a positive attitude. I believe we will eventually find a cure for cancer. If we don’t believe it’s possible, we never will. How’s that Beatles song go – ‘there’s nothing you can do that can’t be done’.

  11. author says:

    Thanks, Jos. Well spotted.

  12. Chris Phoenix says:

    Stonyground: There may be an evolutionary psychology foundation for the whole “follow the rules and your descendants will prosper” thing.

    For 100,000 years, we had cooking, but no science. If you followed the rules and cooked the plants the right way, you’d get more calories and less poison, and your descendants would prosper. If you broke the rules, you’d get slowly poisoned, and not know why, and you and your descendants would wither away.

    So for 100,000 years, natural selection has been selecting for a propensity to follow received rules…. religiously.

    Think about how many cults and religions have idiosyncratic dietary restrictions. Coincidence?

    In EvPsych, it’s really hard to know if one’s guesses are right, but so far no one’s given me a reason why this has to be wrong.

    And I was just reading The Descent of Man, where Darwin was talking about the origins of human cooperation. He kind of handwaves – clearly once it gets started, cooperative tribes will beat uncooperative tribes, but it’s not really clear why cooperation would first appear within a tribe. Is it possible that this was an accident – that people discovered they could gain status by making up rules for others to follow, which they only followed because of the cooking thing, and then the tribes with better rules started winning?

    Fun speculations…


  13. MrGronk says:

    My father-in-law told me that his god always answers prayers: the answers are “yes”, “no”, and “later” (This also has the useful effect of rendering prayer non-falsifiable).
    Crusader, you’re confusing faith with trust. Asserting that cancer will one day be cured is not absurd. Asserting that Christ will return in glory is absurd. One assertion just needs trust, the other needs faith.
    Merry Christmas, nonetheless!

  14. DonR says:

    Happy Gift Day to all my fellow Atheists!

  15. Juan says:

    Happy Christmas from Spain to everyone. And thanks to Jesus & Mo for being there for so long, putting a bit of light and a lot of fun in our lives! And above all thanks and Merry Christmas to the Barmaid -I’m sure she is as sexy as she is brilliant!

  16. Grouchy-One says:

    Of course banging your head on the floor does no good, that’s why they wear those turbans. It’s pointing the other end up towards heaven that gets the results!

  17. Simon says:

    Apparently us Aussies have just had their first ever saint confirmed by Pope Palpati . . er . . Ratzenschlitzen, apparently for curing cancer of . . get this . . ONE SINGLE PERSON, via the ineffable media of relentless prayer. By that standard I should at least be deified for actually managing to file my tax returns for the last 3 years. Plus it was the lead story for pretty much every network for 2 days, and then followed by a story about pilgrims from everywhere visiting the bedroom of a dead child that apparently draws pictures on the wall in magical holy oil that also cures cancer. It’s sad that the parents lost their child so young but even sadder that they are so delusional about their faith that they can’t see that any decent god wouldn’t have taken their child in the first place.

    Thank go . . um . . Hank that Australia is so progressive.

  18. Daoloth says:

    @Chris. I dont see why hypotheses that are inspired by the realisation that evolution did not stop at the neck are inherently any tougher to test than any other proposition in science?
    Take your suggestion about culinary rule following. Is it domain general or domain specific, for example? Is it all rules or ones associated with food prohibitions? Competing hypotheses suggest themselves. Just off the top of my head:
    1) Does rule- follwoing tend to increase in areas of high pathogen loading as predicted by the cooking-rules-as-hygenine idea? Thornhill recently tested something like this .
    2) Alternatively do food rules exist to control socialisation, especially of marriageable duaghters? If so then you would predict- that such rules tend to track prohibitions conerning neighbouring food preferences (ie desert tribes having taboos about what they eat on the coast).
    Notice that that these two (very loose) hypotheses make oppsing predictions.
    The notion that evolutionary predictions are untestable with regard to humans is the modern version of Bishop Wilberforce’s disgust at Darwin. SJ Gould promoted this idea for political reasons and its high time we left his nonsense behind.

  19. Hobbes says:

    Chris Phoenix, I would think that by the time the rules were invented, our Australopithecine ancestors had already been taught, for the most part, what they could and could not eat via natural selection. Perhaps the rules were put in place because we were losing our natural selection-derived instinct for correct sustenance. The rules provided our budding intelligence with “why” some foods are poisonous, and the rules evolved from there as a means of control (often poisonous) over the minds of the masses. Cooking seems to me to be a natural extension of finding and eating animals burned to death in wild fires. It tasted better and lasted longer.

  20. Hobbes says:

    addendum to my last post: –Food tasted better and lasted longer, and what one could or could not cook, and how one cooks it, was still a process of natural selection.

  21. Hobbes says:

    Oh, and a happy, wonderful Solstice to all. May you all be safe, warm and happy throughout the coming year 🙂

  22. nina says:

    well diseases like cancer can go into remission – a miracle would be an amputee’s limb being restored spontaneously – but apparently the prayer god hates amputees

  23. Daoloth says:

    @ Hobbes & Chris: Another thought occurs. If prohibitions track pathogens then why do the older generation actually PROMOTE smoking in the young when they try to ban it? Granted smoking is not identical to eating but it is interesting how attempts to ban it/educate the young result in its being the thing to do.

  24. John Moore says:

    I don’t know how many of you will enjoy this but there are some really choice cartoons here……

  25. Necessary Evil says:

    The experiment showed that people who knew they were being prayed for felt better upon recovery in hospital than people who weren’t prayed for or who didn’t know they were being prayed for. Therefore prayer is a good thing. No matter that some people have deluded ideas about its mode of efficacy. If they didn’t then they wouldn’t pray. Therefore deluded ideas can be a good thing too. Merry Christmas everyone!

  26. nina says:

    Necessary Evil – prayer is basically the placebo effect – it works for things that are subjective – perception of pain/discomfort levels

    and not at all for measurable effects

    ultimately, I don’t see people benefiting from false comfort – no matter if it’s prayer or a sugar pill

  27. Nibien says:

    “ultimately, I don’t see people benefiting from false comfort – no matter if it’s prayer or a sugar pill”

    Well, the Placebo effect does help, particularly with primarily mental things (Minor pains, minor depressions, ect) However, to claim prayer works to fix something is as absurd as claiming a sugar-pill should be a medical treatment.

    And, if someone really wished to benefit from the Placebo effect, again, use sugar pill. Prayer costs far more, financially with donations from the poor saps being scammed, lives from the millions lost to HIV which the church lovingly refuses to help combat with condoms, to civil rights of minorities and women.

    Saying we should use prayer for the placebo effect is as foolish as shooting yourself in the foot to release endorphins to stop a headache. There are far better ways to do it; and the second choice leads to more suffering in the long run regardless.

  28. Dave Dell says:

    I think to be canonized there should be a regrowth of a lost limb or at least a lost digit or penis through the power of prayer. This “cancer cure” through prayer and months of chemo sainthood is just rediculous. Gimme a real miracle, regrow an arm.

  29. Dave Dell says:

    Nina, You’re right. Give me a real miracle and get a lost arm or leg restored through prayer.
    At least a lost digit.

  30. Hobbes says:

    Daoloth, ah, but in the case of smoking (like health “care”), there is the huge-profit motive, and peer pressure, and the “cool” factor. Also, eating the wrong food is likely to kill or at least make one ill quickly. Smoking kills VERY slowly and stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain.

    I wouldn’t want to ban it outright, but keep it from the youth and public places such as restaurants and other closed in areas.

    There is a certain segment of the older generation (often the “family values” folks) who do not give a rats ass about the younger generation so long as they can make big bucks. The segment of the older generation (often us secular folks) who would like to ban it, at least in early youth, actually do care about the health of the young.

    Like politics, take out the profit motive, and you get folks who honestly want to help others.

  31. Jerry w says:

    Seasonal reminder ~ All prayers are answered, but sometimes the answer is no!

    Here’s a gift that will keep on giving: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-loomis24-2009dec24,0,1312936.story

  32. Kerithion says:

    @Chris Phoenix – hey Chris, thanks for your thoughts on EvPsych regarding rule formation as a consequence of food preparation, and to Daoloth and Hobbes for their insights too. I’ve never come across that particular concept of social evolution before. Extremely intriguing stuff. As you say, fun speculation.

    Hope 2010 is good to everyone, and that the Mayans remembered to carry the 2.

  33. Jerry w says:

    When Roger Mahoney gets to prison he’ll have to answer this:
    “You want to be the husband or the wife?”
    God help him choose wisely….. Ho Ho Ho indeed!

  34. Didac says:

    Stonyground is very right. In Moses’ times, rewards were payed on Earth, either in your personal life or in the lives of your descendants. Saduceans were sure that this vision reflects that Moses did not believe in an “active” after-life. The original after-life is merely the life of your descendants (i.e. personal descendants or descendants of your own nation). Individualism forced a change to a personal after-life and a reward in Heaven. That was also needed in order to cope with the injustices in our “material” world.

  35. Daoloth says:

    @Hobbes. Oh sure- I agree. Was not making a moral argument. I don’t have any moral arguments- as anyone who knows me would confirm!
    I am only interested in the psychological mechanisms involved and I am struck by the fact that many prohibitions by the older generation often have the opposite effect of what was intended. I wondered how this mechanism might have evolved. Of course ALL psychological processes evolved- there is no alternative (creationist psychology anyone?). The only interesting question is HOW each process evolved- ie as a direct adaptation or as a by-product of adaption on some other process/es.
    Food prohibitions are intriguing. By-products of cultural in-group cohesion taboos? Ways to control the young through stopping uncontrolled fraternisation? Tracking local pathogens? All of these (and more besides) are testable hypotheses. Check out Dan Fessler’s site if you are interested. A typical paper is this one:

  36. Ayashi says:

    Younger generations trying to break the rules is logical if you consider that is one of the easiest ways to achieve something remarcable, getting the credit for it and it’s associate benefits.
    It’s the same princible as lottery, with a relative low cost compared to the benefits if won.

  37. Necessary Evil says:

    The upshot of this seems to me to be that religions should carry a Mental Health Warning. On the other hand it has been shown that taking medicines where you have read the small print about all the possible side-effects makes you more likely to suffer those side-effects than if you’d been blissfully unaware. If the benefit of intercessory prayer only occurs when the object of that prayer is aware of it then anyone not wishing to be prayed for can say so. It does seem though that if you are ill then the best course of action would be not to read the label and get people to pray for you.

  38. nina says:

    food prohibitions made sense in the days before we had refridgeration or understood sea food safety

    they make little sense now, other than as a cultural affectation or personal preference.

  39. T says:

    Can you do a strip about why does God hate amputees? I mean, think about it: incurable, inoperable cancer has been “miraculously” cured! But does someone’s appendage or limb ever “miraculously” grow back? No!

  40. Almond Sledge says:

    Doesn’t actual evidence point to God’s existence? What about the life of Jesus? Was he not a real historical figure?
    Are the claims we hear about healing and miracles made-up?
    Let’s explore this possibility with an open mind that there is a God and He is able to do what He purposes. Any comments? Sledge

  41. Almond Sledge says:

    I was looking at the submission at http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/ and found it really thought provoking. We did not ‘evolve’ from apes, no we did not.

  42. DonR says:

    @Almond Sledge

    Let’s first define what is and isn’t an open mind shall we? An open mind is a critical, skeptical tool that analyses ALL EVIDENCE and comes to a conclusion based on probability, reason & logic. An open mind is NOT giving every option equal validity and choosing to accept the most comforting of the options laid out.

    Provide me, please, with evidence for God’s existence; not Jesus’ existence, not the proposed miraculousness of certain events… GOD’S existence. I’d love to hear it, because I, like many here, do have an open mind and am quite ready to change my view given appropriate, testable, falsifiable evidence.

    Note: For the sake of argument, and under presumption, God is defined as the Judea-Christian entity that is all-powerful, all-knowing & the creator of the entire universe containing 100,000,000,000 galaxies, each containing 100,000,000,000 stars, which in total compose approx. 4% of the known universe.

  43. DonR says:

    @Almond Sledge (second comment).

    You are correct, we did not evolve from apes. We are apes, and all apes (including us) are evolved from a common ancestor which was not an ape. The most recent divergence (ie common ancestor) in the evolutionary tree is between humans and chimpanzees ( and probably bonobos; pygmy chimpanzees) approx. 4,000,000,000 years ago. They are our closest cousins.

  44. Daoloth says:

    @ Sledge. Much obliged for the link. Hilarious. Always good to start the year with a belly laugh. Unfortunately for those on the “scientists who dissent from Darwinism” list:
    1) Calling yourself a scientist don’t make you one.
    2) Being one does not entail any set of beliefs (even evolution by natural selection) to get into the club.
    3) Having an attitude to evidence is what gets you in.
    Now find me someone on that list who is not religious. There are none. Take any of them and then tell me which piece of evidence would be required to convince them that God does not exist?
    There is none.
    Ipso facto they can call themselves what they like. And so can I.

  45. DonR says:

    Seems my research may be out of date regarding the point in history at which the human/chimp common ancestor resides. Latest readings of mine place it at about 6 million years, not 4 million.

    Live and learn. 🙂

    P.S. Ahh, shit. Just realised I wrote 4 billion, not 4 million previously. It should have been million, my apologies.

  46. JohnnieCanuck says:

    There is barely any evidence of Jesus’ existence, independent of the Bible. Both the Romans and the Hebrews of the day were quite dedicated record keepers. For one example, from the many miracles and other claims made for Jesus: The corpses that came back from the dead when he died should have created enough excitement that dozens of records outside the Bible should exist.

    Imagine many bodies of ‘saints’ arising from their graves and going into the city and appearing to many. Were they healthy and ready to resume their lives? What of wives and business partners who had made new arrangements? What of the disbursement of their estates? The marvel, not to mention the acrimony would soon have been the talk of the Empire.

    Also, the sun was darkened for three hours, all over the Earth (wouldn’t that require a flat Earth to work?). Why isn’t this confirmed by Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Mayan and other astronomers whose records we have? They could hardly have missed it, unless it was already night there.

    Oh, I know! This claim is just allegory and no True Christian(tm) takes it literally.

    Two mentions by Josephus, one likely a Christian forgery and the other not supported independently by any other historian of the day, are not much to support the claim that a miracle worker walked the Earth, let alone on water.

  47. Daoloth says:

    Can’t remember whether anyone has shared this with JaMers yet. If not then check out this new abomination: http://faduda.ie/?p=1996
    If it doesn’t make you angry then you weren’t paying attention

  48. Jerry w says:

    Banging your head on the floor has been found in scientific research to be exactly as effective as lashing yourself with a short leather whip as a show of your devotion. Or, exactly as non-effective, depending on how you look at it.

  49. DonR says:

    Johnnie said: “Also, the sun was darkened for three hours, all over the Earth (wouldn’t that require a flat Earth to work?)”

    No, not really. Not if the light source is extinguished, or covered up. A spherical object that’s not in the path of light rays is as dark as a flat object not in the path of light rays.

    Everything else is correct, but that piece of logic is pretty flawed.

  50. P.H. Bering says:

    The next installemnt is long overdue, so, pleeeease, don’t let us starve much longer!

  51. kiyaroru says:

    If we don’t get a new fix soon, I’m going to start preying. I mean praying. Who is the god of interweb cartoons?

  52. Nicole says:

    Very much enjoy reading the comix. Hoping that we could discuss use of one of them (this one) on an upcoming post on my site. It’s about the lack of compassion often displayed by religious people when it comes to people who are sick or hurt. Especially the idea that people deserve or have brought about the wrath of god and so their illness or injury is evidence for that. Often present in some quantity with religious folk and a great excuse not to have to care about people or to believe that praying for someone is enough. Quite a touchy topic in some ways, so a little humor would be very welcome. Hope to hear from you, and good work!

  53. druth says:

    I suspect cooking came from people saying “look, fire, let’s stick stuff in it!” The true foundation of science.

    I am pretty sure eating things found dead after a forest fire lead to the “don’t eat stuff found dead beside the road” rule.


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