Many thanks to this week’s guest scriptwriters, Dr Elaine Starkey and Sarah de Nordwall, who provided us with such eloquent explanations of religious belief in last week’s The Big Questions (fun begins about 12.30 minute mark). Note that they are not answering the charge of wishful thinking, as the boys are in this strip – they are just confessing to it shamelessly.

Discussion (51)¬

  1. Trevor+M says:

    I dont understand the ‘sophisticated reasoning’ 😉

  2. Matt says:

    I increasingly find myself revisiting the old philosophical question about “if you could go back in time to Hitler’s birth….” and replacing “Hitler” with “all religious believers since Darwin”. It takes me to a dark place, but is it any more dark than what our moronic friends have foisted on us?

  3. Laird says:

    Nice to “see” the barmaid again!

  4. jean-françois+gauthier says:

    @Matt, how about homeopathy? though reiki is one of my favourites, it’s got a very special place in my qi.

    sadly, there seems to be no letup in the eruption of funny stuff since darwin was born. (oops, just looked it up, homeopathy is just a few years before darwin.)

    well, as they say: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There%27s_a_sucker_born_every_minute

  5. Jack+Reacher says:

    I just woke up, 0600 – had to look up ‘yearn’ to get it.
    “Have a desire for something or someone who is not present”
    I have been enlightened.

  6. Max+T.+Furr says:

    Spot on, Author. My own journey from religion came when I suddenly realized that the main reason why almost everyone of every religion believes as he does is that he was taught from tothood to believe it. Thus, one’s religion is most often a function of his happenstance of birth rather than of truth.

    Your method of exposing the irony of religious belief is by far the best (and likely the most hated). You are appreciated.

  7. Federico+R.+Bär says:

    The two on-line dictionaries I looked into, offer 20+ synonyms for ýearning’; on behalf of Jesus and Mo, I’d suggest them to add “wishful thinking”. –

  8. Andy says:

    A friend told me that science only answers simple, unimportant questions, while religion answers the deep, important ones. After about an hour of discussion, he had to admit that religion didn’t answer any questions at all, except with a few fabricated fairy tales. Religion may ASK those questions, but it certainly doesn’t answer them.

  9. wrinkel42 says:

    Greetings Author,
    Lo and behold, it’s an undeniable miracle
    Mo’s beard has grown back in
    only a week

  10. They forgot to mention the god-shaped hole in the human heart! That would have shut her up for at least a week.

  11. In the 6,000 or 600,000 or 6 million years that Homo Sapiens has been infesting this planet, we have made up at least a bazillion gods, none of which ever existed except as hallucinations in the heads of believers. There is little hope that advances in technology or lack of evidence for imaginary deities will cause this delusionary behavior to become extinct. Maybe we should consider how best to channel this nonsense into more productive and humanitarian channels?

  12. sosusk says:

    I think here the first two pannels would have been enought, the joke was already delivered there.
    I think we all can imagine the barmaid´s dead silence after the lines in panel two *giggles*

  13. Jerry+www says:

    In the stand up comedy field, her silence is often referred to as a “mic drop”.
    Fits in nicely here as well, although I visualize the bar wipe rag hitting the floor…

  14. Another great strip, Author. You do keep turning them out.
    The most common reason I get for believers refusing to give up a belief in their god is the argument from consequences. “I can’t stop believing because that would make me feel alone and terrified; life would have no meaning; I would have no guide to live by.” etc. This certainly aligns with religion being wishful thinking.

  15. @sosusk : I don’t totally agree. I think the last panel just shows that even after a clear hint to their stupidity (dead silence), J. and Mo. continue to think they’re in the right ! It’s even funnier that way !

  16. Nassar+Ben+Houdja says:

    Thinking about religion
    requires brains, at least a smidgeon
    The powers that be
    Are not Santa Claus, you see
    For an answer, decide what is the question

  17. Michael says:

    Ophelia Benson wrote: “They forgot to mention the god-shaped hole in the human heart!”

    I think that’s the difference between many theists and most atheists, we don’t have a god shaped hole in our hearts or our psyches. I certainly don’t feel the need for a god and I think everyone else here would agree.

  18. What Aya Hijab Cartoon said.

  19. machigai says:


  20. machigai says:

    oh well what the hell

  21. extro24 says:

    Religion is a consequence of our evolution in ape social groups led by an Alpha Male. We have projected this instinct to find an Alpha Male onto the Universe. We demand that this cold, impersonal place should act like an ape family. God is simply the Great Ape Alpha Male in the Sky.

  22. drJohndeWipper says:

    “God is simply the Great Ape Alpha Male in the Sky.”
    I hope you have NOT patented that!
    I think I will be using it from time to time.

  23. two cents' worth says:

    extro24, you’ve accounted for the patriarchal religions. For the matriarchal ones (I know, I know, they’re moribund at best now), I read somewhere (in The Skeptical Feminist, perhaps?) that we yearn for the Big Mama, because we want to feel the way we did when we were infants–safe and content, with all our needs met even though we didn’t/couldn’t put them into words. (By “we,” I mean “humans, generally speaking,” not “we whose online pub is the Cock & Bull.”) I left “Great Ape” out of Big Mama’s name because this yearning may go back to our earliest mammalian ancestors.

    Barmaid, I’d like to try a Mark Seven, please 🙂 . http://www.absolutdrinks.com/en/drinks/mark-seven/

  24. FreeFox says:

    I think I’ll have a Bloody Mary. 😀 Cheers, two cents’ worth!

    (PS: While the lack of self-awareness in J&M, and by extension, most religious people, is funny, I fail to see how that is actually an argument against the belief. Or, indeed, how most non-religious people are more self-aware or realistic…)

  25. pink+squirrel says:

    I yearn for the day when Religion is gone from humanity
    so religion does not fulfill or answer my wishful thinking

  26. Dysania says:

    @two cents’ worth
    Hey, that sounds tasty, and I think I even have the ingredients!
    Thanks mate, cheers!

  27. drJohndeWipper says:

    two cents’ worth, November 5, 2013 at 11:11 pm (that is where I am now reading the comment history) you asked:
    Has bioelectricty been found to be what gives life to physical organisms? Can you recommend any reading material aimed at non-specialists
    Perhaps “QUANTUM EVOLUTION, life in the Multiverse” Johnjoe MacFadden (ISBN 078-0-00-655128-7) has what you want, perhaps more than you asked for.
    I at least found it VERY interesting!

  28. drJohndeWipper says:

    Oops. I succeeded in starting italics, but not in ending them after repeating your question.

  29. pink+squirrel says:

    the alpha male ape idea works with monotheism – except that the earliest relgions were polytheist
    weingelt showed that there is a statistical corelation between the structure of a society and its form of religious form
    with a trend for tribal society towards polytheism and a trend towards monotheism in dictatorship
    it is a statistical trend
    so make of it what you will

  30. Paddy says:

    A lot of polytheistic pantheons are headed by an alpha male deity, however, eg Ra, Zeus, Odin, etc. Hinduism is an obvious exception, however. In having three alpha deities.

  31. two cents' worth says:

    drJohndeWipper, thanks for the tip! I’ve found a library that has it, and I’ve put it on my legenda (things to be read) list. For others who are interested, the author is Johnjoe McFadden.

  32. two cents' worth says:

    Hmm. The markup for underlining still doesn’t work here. Take 2:

    That’s Johnjoe McFadden.

  33. Robert,+not+Bob says:

    As to the development of religion, regarding polytheism vs monotheism, I think monotheism just turned out to be a really powerful adaptive trait for religion, like a designer drug that fits chemical receptors better than naturally-occurring ones. Or like refined sugar for animals that evolved to crave carbohydrates in their diets. Just a bit surprising it took as long as it did to appear.

  34. extro24 says:

    Desmond Morris was one of the authors who postulated that religion is a fruitless search for a Cosmic Alpha Male (in “The Naked Ape”). He notes that bowing, closing eyes during prayer, vocalizations (singing) and clasping the hands in a submissive gesture are all behaviours exhibited by apes when they approach their Alpha Male. So the behaviour of humans in a church, synagogue or mosque is actually ape behaviour. Religion is not incidental – it is a consequence of our evolution as tribal apes. Note that the Cosmic Alpha Male (God) is explicitly identified as a human ape.

  35. Shaughn says:

    Next time I visit a zoo, I’ll check which (male) apes offer their bottom to their alpha male.

    Do bonobos count as apes or as monkeys?

  36. pink+squirrel says:

    Bonobos are apes being tailless
    not sure of their counting or arithmetical skills

  37. Shaughn says:

    Thanks pink+squirrel !
    So we may safely assume that god has no tail.

  38. pink+squirrel says:

    if ‘god’ exists the it can give itself a tail if it chooses to

  39. pink+squirrel : every non-existing entity can do whatever it likes. A “hoomzaboota” can jump 50 m in the air, and transform into a Belgian beer ! (A “hoomzaboota” is something I just made up)

  40. smartalek says:

    Re: your “mic drop” reference.
    I’ve found that one of the curiosities of this universe is, whenever I learn a new word or phrase, no matter how obscure it might appear to be, I am almost certain to trip over it somewhere in the world in short order.
    Just last week, I learned what a “mic drop” was (from the video linked below, if my attempt to post it isn’t edited out), so thank you for presenting me my moment to recognize and apply it.

    *The vid that taught me what is mean by “mic drop:”

  41. Dysania says:

    All hail hoomzaboota!
    I think I’m going to turn that to a religion.
    At first there was nothing, and then a hoomzaboota jumped and all kinds of shit happened that created the earth.
    Now he judges whenever people are naughty or nice, and when the time comes he will transform into a Belgian beer and all the nice people are going to enjoy it. Naughty people on the other hand get nothing and that’s why they’re going to cry for all eternity.
    That was the first draft of the Sacred book of hoomzaboota, how is it?

  42. Jerry+www says:

    Dysania says:
    February 28, 2016 at 11:18 pm
    “All hail hoomzaboota!”
    Sorry, if you don’t think enough of your god to use an upper case letter to start his / her / it’s name, why should anyone else jump in line to show respect? Also, such respect will require that Hoomzaboota (see how much more regal that looks) will die and then return in 3 days, as has been the norm for religious leaders since, oh, +/- the year 33 a.d., so we’re still waiting for the obit to show up in the news.

  43. Dysania says:

    Stop oppressing my religion, you … you ATHEIST! How dare you make reasonable suggestions when talking about our most sacret text, like it isn’t actually created by the mighty Hoomzaboota himself! Now start worshipping him and and give me lots of money so that I can build temples.

  44. drJohndeWipper says:

    …” and give me lots of money so that I can build temples.”
    What currency do you require? I should still have an old (Dutch) Monopoly set, using guilders. If that will do, you are welcome to it. After all, Hoomzaboota by definition is timeless, so She can still make use of it.

  45. Shaughn says:

    Hey, what’s in it for me if I believe in homethebooty?

    What’s the booty anyway?

  46. pink+squirrel says:

    so a Hoomzaboota can a transform into a Belgian beer and jump 50 m
    just Belgian?
    only 50 metres?
    not much of a deity then

  47. pink+squirrel says:

    Yap Island currency is best for paying deities
    or perhaps Chinese hell money

  48. Dysania says:

    No no no you should give me real money, because of many incomprehensible and fishy reasons, it’s not like Hoomzaboota could himself make his presence known, could he?
    If you believe in Hoomzaboota with your whole heart (which is a piece of flesh that probably doesn’t have any capacity to make such decisions), then when the time comes you will enjoy nice Belgian beer. But if you are naughty and don’t believe in him you will get nothing (you know, unless you buy it yourself or something). That’s why you should worship Hoomzaboota!

  49. Dysania says:

    (Sorry, for some reason I didn’t notice your comment earlier)
    Actually he’s way better than the usual omnipotent omnibelevolent etc. god, because his powers aren’t logically impossible.
    On the other hand, if we start defining god/s as something not omnipotent, what would stop us from defining humans as gods? I mean, we tend to fulfill our own wishes.
    Btw, it seems that the atheist pig has made a comic of the jesus and mo: http://theatheistpig.com/index.php/comic/pig-in-a-blanket-3/

  50. FreeFox says:

    Damn. I *want* 30 lashes with bacon strips!

  51. aidni says:

    This where in my Philosophy class when my teacher asks me how I think the world began I proclaim ‘it was THE GREAT HOOMZABOOTA’ and see how many Christians I can offend, as that seems to be my job in that lesson.


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