This strip is from 13 years ago. The stat was based on an old survey which has subsequently had doubt cast upon it.

Discussion (28)¬

  1. Rdb says:

    That’s my new tag line “Those that know nothing will believe anything”!

  2. Michael says:

    Unfortunately almost 40% of American adults believe in creationism. Of those, over half are Young Earth Creationists.

  3. M27Holts says:

    Epistemic Relativism is the root of all evil…

  4. Epistemic relativism. Thanks for this addition to my vocabulary. Makes as much sense as cultural relativism.

  5. Laripu says:

    There may indeed be different equally valid ways of “knowing”. But when I have a bacterial infection, I want the way of knowing that prescribes antibiotics, not the way of “knowing” that offers prayer.

    For poetry, religious imagery works great. Leonard Cohen wrote, echoing Pope John Paul II in the first line:

    “So come, my friends, be not afraid
    We are so lightly here
    It is in love that we are made
    In love we disappear
    Tho’ all the maps of blood and flesh
    Are posted on the door
    There’s no one who has told us yet
    What boogie street is for”

    It’s a nice bit of poetry, but he was wrong. Darwin told us, in effect, what boogie street was for.

  6. Son of Glenner says:

    Laripu: “boogie street”?

  7. Laripu says:

    Son of Glenner, see discussion of that here:
    It’s a great song, but Cohen was obsessed by religion. I think by the end (2016)-he had figured out that it was mostly nonsense.

  8. Someone says:

    By J&M’s logic, anyone can say “Two plus two is five”, because they “know it.”

  9. M27Holts says:

    Laripu…Mostly nonsense? That’s very generous….Humanities and arts students are frightened to death of the hard sciences… and what you don’t understand you attempt to undermine and ridicule…Douglas Adams had the right idea…build a big spaceship and send all the religious tossers into space to find their god…bon voyage fookwits….

  10. Jesus Iscariot, Esq. says:

    What do you call the epistemological approach of just spewing lies for your personal benefit? Religion maybe. Con job?

    Or this decade: McConnell, Trump, and Conway, Inc.

  11. Laripu says:

    M27Holts, as I said, Cohen figured out that it was mostly nonsense. I wasn’t referring to what I understand, but instead to what I think he understood.

    I like his poetry and music, despite the fact that his subject matter was partly religious (and partly sexual, and partly political). If you listen to the last record, there are a number of songs that show a non-religious understanding. For example:

    1. In one song, he addresses a deity, saying “only one of us was real, and that was me”.
    2. In a poem, later turned into another song, “It sounded like the truth, It seemed the better way, but you’d have to be a fool to choose the meek today”
    3. The song “Steer Your Way” is sad advice to his son to ignore religion and other common beliefs; but to retain a sense of responsibility, the Mea Culpa.
    4. The title song “You Want It Darker” is addressed to a deity that failed: “a million candles burning for the love that never came”.

    For someone that spent most of his life working as a poet and songwriter, writing to a great extent on religious themes, that’s a pretty good advance.

  12. M27Holts says:

    I sometimes like depressing music, but prefer to listen to Dave Greenslade or Steven Wilson. Cohen is far too depressing…bet hes killed more people than salt water crocodiles….

  13. Laripu says:

    M27Holts, that’s a common misunderstanding. He writes seriously, but it’s actually not depressing if understood as intended. Sometimes it’s funny.

    But I agree that it’s not to everyone’s taste. My wife, for example, shares your opinion.

    Probably the seriousness is because he was first and foremost a poet, who wrote poetry set to music. (He also wrote two novels, the first of which was ok, but the second of which was horrible in a “new fiction” kind of way, for the early 60s. To be avoided.)

  14. Laripu says:

    Anyway, to get back to the topic, natural selection and evolution explain so much about the world, that they ought to totally out-compete religion and/or creationism for people’s beliefs.

    The fact that these ideas haven’t won out indicates that they aren’t understood. Maybe the stumbling blocks are the time frames and probability. Or maybe the ideas are just too difficult for most people; which is a kind way of saying that must people are as dumb as nine chickens.

    The tiny fraction of smart people have created a complicated world that the great mass of dummies can’t easily navigate. That will lead to bad outcomes.

    After all, if god meant us to fly to the moon in rocket ships, why would he give us airplanes? 😉

  15. M27Holts says:

    Allah gave planes to.his followers so they could butcher infidels….

  16. Someone says:

    ^ Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
    (…apologies to John Candy.)

  17. Troubleshooter says:

    Actually, there are all sorts of paths that lead to god, J … and they all go nowhere.

  18. Donn says:

    I think what’s hard about evolution etc. is not the principles, which are fairly obvious, it’s the purpose. You might ask, why did the elucidation of natural selection wait until the 19th century if it was so obvious? Well, in part because no one cared. We (Christians) were interested in the original conception and purpose of phenomena, more than the principles by which it operates. The Greeks might easily have thought of it, likely did, but the Christian West’s fixation with an all-powerful deity means that any satisfactory explanation of how the world works, has to go there. Everyone understands the possibility that there is in fact no such deity, but that doesn’t make the evolutionary explanation more satisfactory. That’s what I think.

    The key, I guess, is getting people to accept that the origin and purpose of the world isn’t accessible to that kind of explanation. There isn’t really a factual alternative to the Christian God account – that was a silly idea, and anything like it would also be silly. The need we have, has to be filled in some other way. Maybe just an appreciation of the beauty of what can be produced by thousands and millions of years of grinding together.

  19. Son of Glenner says:

    Donn: It’s a fundamental error to attribute “purpose” to evolution. Or, for that matter, to the history and prospective future of the universe.

    Why assume that there must be a purpose?

    The trouble is that people generally are so brainwashed by explanations of things and events in terms of “God’s plan”, or some other purpose-based interpretation, that, even when they have come to realise the fraudulent nature of the god hypothesis, they still wonder “what does it all mean – what is the actual purpose of everything?”

  20. Donn says:

    Yes, that’s what I’m saying. But that’s a vacuum that religions have traditionally filled, not only Christianity and its relatives. We have to come to grips with that in a way that’s more satisfying than “don’t be an idiot, there’s no purpose in it.” Ways of confronting this that probably will have some of the character that religions traditionally partake of, without resorting to faith in preposterous propositions. And without overtaxing people’s apparently very limited mental faculties.

  21. M27Holts says:

    Suppose I was lucky. My first senior biology teacher was rocket fit! So when she told us to buy and read Darwin’s book we all did it because we were all infatuated with her! If we had a dusty old fart, we may not have been so convinced…haha

  22. two cents' worth says:

    Donn, you’ve reminded me of one of my favorite scenes from the TV series Babylon 5, when G’Kar is asked, “What is truth? And what is god?” The video clip is available at

  23. Son of Glenner says:

    M27Holts: As a dusty old fart, I thank you for your words of wisdom.

  24. M27Holts says:

    Aha…you an old teacher then….my school was well rough, you had to look after yourself….but some of the lady teachers…hmm I would have crawled over broken glass to.poke twigs in their shit….

  25. Laripu says:

    M27Holts, the 16-year-old version of me also had a very nice looking biology teacher. (I think she was of Scandinavian origin, judging from the surname and blond hair.)

    But my ultimate understanding was driven by my older brother, who was and still is a biologist. He tells me that evolution is a framework that leads to interesting experiments. He says that without it you get research that leads nowhere. Fundamentally, it’s useful.

    How about this, for dog lovers:

  26. Son of Glenner says:

    Laripu: Note also: grotesquely flattened face (bulldogs, pugs, etc), floppy ears (many breeds), short legs (dachshunds, corgis, etc), all of which make the dog look more like a puppy or a human baby. Note also various behavioural adaptations. You may believe that God created wolves, but there is no doubt that Man created dogs in all their splendid diversity!

    Interestingly, cats have several characteristics that endear them to susceptible (gullible!) humans, but these are naturally evolved. But a cat is always his/her own cat, does not bond with a master/mistress in the way that a dog does.

    (I think it was Mark Twain who wrote: “Dogs look up to you; cats look down on you; pigs is equal”!)

  27. Donn says:

    I don’t have a lot of real experience with pigs, but my impression of their mentality is that in fact they and humans have followed a similar path. The pig is evolved to cope well with crowded, unwholesome conditions, and to maintain a big and indiscriminate appetite under those conditions.


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