Special thanks to today’s guest script-writer, Karen Armstrong.

Discussion (40)¬

  1. pikeamus says:

    PZ had a good crack at ripping Armstrong to shreds for that article here: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/10/the_zombies_will_sup_on_karen.php

  2. bossykate says:

    The Guardian headline was the highlight for me. Fab again, thanks author.

  3. DragonsDream says:

    Hmmm… this is perhaps the first time where the joke didn’t have me in stitches. Too….rote? Sure there is plenty to laugh at with Karen Armstrong but I think the aim here was just too low. OTTH, the mag that Mo is reading is brilliant. I found that funnier than than the main gag.

  4. Daoloth says:

    Very good! John Locke got himself into a huge pickle over this one. He wanted to argue that we have no innate ideas, because if we had them they would have to be true, and because they are not true then…
    A lot of people have a problem with evolutionary psychologists for the same reason, I suspect. The fact that some tendencies might be innate says nothing about whether they are true, or good. For example:
    The concept of “down” is culturally universal and it develops in every normal human. Is it true? No. Physics teaches us that there is no absoute down, there is movement towards centres of local mass. Its still hard to not believe in “down” though. Same is true of god. It might be innate in much of the population but it doesnt make the belief true.

  5. Rosemarie says:

    ……”humans fall very easily into despair if we don’t find some significance in our lives”…
    Karen Armstrong disappoints me. I thought that when she gave up the nun’s habit she also gave up the habit of talking tosh. She sounds just like Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. How many times must I tell them that in spite of not looking for the transcendent or seeing some significance in my life I have not fallen into despair. I am very happy just being alive. However, I occasionally despair at the stupidity of these people who think they know how I should tick.

  6. joe says:

    What’s the difference between “I pretend to know the meaning of life (and you should tithe me 10%)” and “I pretend to know the lottery numbers (and you should give me $1500)”?

    Besides the fact that the latter is a disreputable grifter who does not wear a hat, and the former wears funny hats and is the most honored members of the world community?

  7. nina says:


    Back in the late 80’s, I asked (with honest intention) my science teacher in high school how we determine up and down. He explained that it’s all in relation to the horizon line.

    I then asked, but since there’s no horizon line in space, then up and down is really a local determination with no meaning in a larger context.

    It took me many more years to learn the lesson of never let people with power over you know you’re smarter.

  8. nina says:

    When did respect change from something that had to be earned to something that could be demanded and bestowed?

  9. Don says:


    With the invention of honorifics? Your Holiness, Excellency, Highness, Grace, Worship, Emminence, Majesty, Magnificence…

    Unfortunately, replacing them with Citizen or Comrade doesn’t noticeably reverse the effect.

  10. David B says:

    One of the best. I recommend PZ’s evisceration of Armstrong on Pharyngula.

    While about it, there are also a couple of interesting polls at AOL which can be found at Pharyngula right now. People might want to vote – I did.


    David B

  11. Berto says:

    It would save us all a lot of trouble if we just called it Homo Ridiculousus 🙂

  12. “Karen Armstrong disappoints me. I thought that when she gave up the nun’s habit she also gave up the habit of talking tosh.”

    She did for awhile and then she took it up again – with a vengeance.

  13. Uncle Roger says:

    As I always say, stupidity will be persecuted to the fulleste extent allowed by law.

  14. Headbhang says:

    “”humans fall very easily into despair if we don’t find some significance in our lives”…
    Karen Armstrong disappoints me. […]. How many times must I tell them that in spite of not looking for the transcendent or seeing some significance in my life I have not fallen into despair. I am very happy just being alive. However, I occasionally despair at the stupidity of these people who think they know how I should tick.”
    Sorry, Rosemarie, you might be disappointed about this too, but you should know that you don’t represent the entirety of humanity. Nobody really does. While YOU might not despair at the lack of some significance in your life (and I doubt you actually don’t have SOME significance in it, you’ve just managed to draw it from elsewhere), doesn’t mean that is true of everyone, or that everyone finds it equally easy to derive meaning from more mundane aspects of existance. As long as there is a majority of people that does not tick like you do, the point, unfortunately, still stands.

  15. AlvinStargut says:

    Brilliant! Love the “Guardian’s” headline, too. Keep up the good work!

  16. Maggs says:

    To get back to the comic for a bit, I wonder if it is less that humans are ‘meaning seeking creatures’ and more that humans are innately superstitious. While not understanding how things worked, humans might have deduced that there must be something ‘other’ that was in control and needed appeasing if the horrors of life were to be survived, or indeed, if what an individual human wanted was to be provided.

  17. inversejerk says:

    i was disapointed in a way when i discovered a while back that that karen armstrong actually was a deist, as her history of god was one of the cornerstones of my rejection of religion. i wonder if she gets that a lot.

  18. nina says:

    Don – excellent theory – especially when applied to modern politicians having The Honourable in front of their names – sadly rather than reflect reality, more often than not it serves as a reminder to them how they are supposed to be.

    Maggs – I dunno about meaning seeking creatures, but our brains are definitely pattern seeking – which is a kind of meaning – mostly I think it stems from our insecurity, so we collectively have to tell ourselves lies to make us feel important. So god/afterlife is just a grandiose version of size doesn’t matter and “it” happens to every guy.

  19. Ayashi says:

    Having a greater than ourself thingy out there that is suposed to be allknowing, all powerfull, and somehow kind, forgiving (blablabla…), is just a way to go back to being an infant, with a parental figure taking care of you and making all the bad things go away.

    No need to look to deep into it, leaving all the thinking and responsability to someone/thing else is just the easiest way throw life.

  20. Didac says:

    Well, Homo sapiens evolved in Paleolithic era, as a hunter-gatherer species. Then, there was the so-called Neolithic revolution, and nowadays most Homo sapiens populations are producers not gatherers. As a consequence of the Neolithic revolution, slavery was introduced. Slavery was seen as a human condition and nowadays it has been abolished in the whole world. Unfortunately, there are cases of slavery, but slavement is seen as a crime against humanity and it is punished by law. The only “human condition” is the condition of self-development and self-determination.

  21. Hamilton Jacobi says:

    The best part of the whole thing is that portrait of the pope. I think he deserves a bigger role, maybe as an occasional guest star like Moses.

  22. Rosemarie says:

    Headbang, if you read my comments again you will actually realize that I was speaking for myself and NOT for the “entirety of humanity”. I did, however, make a typing error because I wanted to write “seeking” significance and not seeing. Any significance my life may have is for others to see. My two orphaned grandchildren whom I have raised these past ten years probably can.

  23. TIE says:

    great one, I love the “vatican to CofE, we want your bigots”


  24. […] struck me as an interesting term so I typed it into a Google search and turned up this comic strip critique of Armstong’s book. If you’re offended by comic representations of Jesus or […]

  25. nina says:


    I think you’ve summed up religion perfectly – an intentional continuation of the infant/childhood state well into adulthood – the mental equivalent of failure to launch

  26. Ayashi says:

    Just went through the whole comics (once again), seems the latest research in cognitive psychology agrees with me (http://www.jesusandmo.net/2005/12/16/hole/).
    Maybe we’re onto something here …

  27. JohnnieCanuck says:

    Ayashi, they don’t even try to hide it. It’s everywhere. It’s in the honorifics they bestow on the clergy. Pope=Papa=Padre=Father. The last one is also used for their god as in ‘Our Father who art in Heaven’. Then there’s Lord which has an archaic meaning of father.

    Then there’s all the ‘unless you come unto me as a little child’ and ‘reason is the tool of the devil’ stuff in their holy book and a whole lot more in their hymn books.

    Proof that there’s a sucker born every minute.

    That link needs to be: http://www.jesusandmo.net/2005/12/16/hole/

  28. Nassar Ben Houdja says:

    October 21, 2008.

    If atheists are so smart, how did they get surrounded by idiots?

  29. Dilige et quod vis fac says:

    Andre Gide: “Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.”

  30. Mohamad says:

    Atheist people is son of a monkey and gorilla. It so funny when some primate can be transform into human but the rest of the primates are still primate. Origin of Species is a liar book, a stupid and silliest book in human history. But may the people who are a descent of primate will recognize the book because the are not a real human, but the are the animal because the descendant are primate such gorilla, monkey, chimpanzee, baboon, and may be pig and dog. So atheist people is low class human because they are from animal, but people with religion is a high class human because they are from father of humans, Prophet Adam. Thank you.

  31. Mohamad says:

    May be the gorilla and monkey transform into human like Power Rangers. So funny, how the silliest ideology such atheist can be followed by Western that claim they are so clever and brilliant? So clever until make sex near the road like a dog. Thank you.

  32. Mohamad says:

    There are fact about the shape of the universe in Origin of Species? So please tell me how the shape of the universe and the shape of pain if you are still brilliant as you claim. Thank you.

  33. Mohamad says:

    Westerner is normal for homosexual, but is same sex practice can produce a baby? So funny when the westerner so struggle for homosexual, but the practice is so useless. Thank you.

  34. Author says:

    @Mohamad – I wonder what you were searching for which led you to this particular comic, entitled ‘homo’. Do you spend a lot of time thinking about homosexual sex?

  35. Mohamad says:

    Author, you should answer my question, I not mean this title ‘homo’ in the cartoon is homosexual, but I told you about the behavior of Westerner who like doing homosexual activities, it immoral, but you people say, human right, it stupid, but you people say freedom. It mean you people is immoral and stupid. Answer my question: Why the rest of primate still a monkey, gorilla, chimpanzee, baboon? When they will transform into human? Tomorrow? Next Week? Next Month? Next Year? Or they will never transform into human because the word in silliest book, Origin of Species is a liar. Second question, what the shape of universe and the shape of pain? Triangle? Rectangular? Round? or you have no answer because Charles Darwin not wrote in his silliest book, Origin of Species? I am waiting for you answer. Answer my question to proof your belief in atheism, if you cannot give any answer that mean you are a liar like you master, Charles Darwin. Proof that if you have a dignity. Thank you.

  36. Mohamad says:

    I think you can’t give me the answer for may question because you have not answer for my question if you find it from silliest book, Origin of Species and others books in that category. The answer is only in religion faith. It mean atheism is a liar and the silliest belief but religion is a true path of our life. You must think what I have written carefully, to be cheated by the silliest belief such atheism and books such Origin of Species, you should find the truth into religion. I hope you will give an answers for my question above if you still believe in atheism, but if you have no answer from atheism view, you should acknowledge, that atheism is a liar and stupid belief. I hope you will not cheating yourself, because if you want to protect you atheism belief although you know the belief is wrong, you are the worst people in the world. Thank you.

  37. fenchurch says:

    If North Americans come from Europe, why are there still Europeans?
    When will the English, the Italians, the French, the Spanish transform into North Americans? Tomorrow? Next Week? Next Month? Next Year?

    How do we prove to believers that we are atheists? Why do they keep wanting proof beyond not our stating that we don’t believe in gods? I don’t get this. Is there a test we can take other than:
    Do you believe in any god(s)? [ ] Yes [x] No

    Do they need to do a home-search of our domiciles to uncover any secret shrines and altars to icons other than Lego, Kinder Surprise Toys, and TV show action figures?

    I love being one of the worst people in the world– the world must be pretty fucking awesome if my intelligence, compassion, desire to help, environmentalism, volunteer efforts, generosity, tolerance, wit, kindness to animals, tolerance, and creativity belongs to the lowest of the low 🙂

  38. fenchurch says:

    s/2nd ‘tolerance’/ civic-mindedness

  39. smartalek says:

    I love how, after throwing invective that in which vileness and ludicrousness are throwing a battle royal for supremacy (not to mention a command of English that is less than commanding), Mohamad still feels obligated to end every missive with a nice, polite “Thank you.”
    Hope for some basic level of decency, underneath all the religious counter-programming?
    Or just a curious epistolary tic?

  40. azoomer says:


    Another one of those theology provides meaning when science (physics) fails… Perhaps the author of said article should have read this first.


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