Today’s link.

Discussion (56)¬

  1. Rob A says:

    Great to see this here!
    Though it’s Adrian Chiles isn’t it!?! he he he

  2. author says:

    Changed. Ta!

  3. John Moore says:

    That must be the Guiness label attached to the draft tap handle!

  4. Rosemarie says:

    My grandson chose a course with critical thinking for a GCSE subject. Six months in it was turned into a course on religion. I fought on his behalf with the school to have him exempted from the course. There was much opposition and claim of it being a compulsory subject. We knew better. In the end we won. The head even said that he would pass easily and have another GCSE pass under his belt though he deliberately failed the mock exam.
    The cartoon rings so true.

  5. cina murtad says:

    that was an irony right? how can we realize and choose something without being critical?

  6. John says:

    Bring back the “old” Jesus and Mo! Please!

  7. archbish says:

    Intrigued by Rosemarie’s response. Presumably he was following an RE accredited course – since this is compulsory – unless parents withdraw in which case they have to provide him with some form of RE – even if that’s humanism.

    Even more confused by how the school turns CT into RE. Hmm.

    Even more confused by the idea that religious people don’t think critically. Double Hmm.

    (Love the cartoons though.)

  8. grouchy-one says:

    Just noticed – Jesus has horns! Must be the Guinness

  9. nina says:

    you can only choose so long as you choose as I do – could be the religious wrong’s slogan

  10. Stuart says:

    A conversation between my wife and small daughter this morning.

    Daughter: “Lauren threw up three times in RE yesterday.”

    Wife: “Was anyone else awake?”

  11. John Moore says:

    This American has no idea what these acronyms are. But that reminds me of a web site I used to read…

  12. Intelligent Designer says:

    @John Moore: Critical Thinking and Religious Education.

    Back in the days before they cocked up education with the cut-and-shut GCSE exams, we had to study RE, but we didn’t have to take the exam. My RE teacher (who was also the Head) was a confessed Marxist, but to his credit, didn’t browbeat us with anti-religious dogma (leaving aside that he wasn’t allowed to) but taught us to examine things like the parables critically and seek non-supernatural explanations for the events described. Thanks, Mr Turner!

    Only in Britain would you have an atheist RE teacher 😀

  13. Toast in the machine says:

    …confused by the idea that religious people don’t think critically

    ‘We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty.’

    *Also, ‘GCSE’ – General Certificate of Secondary Education

  14. muteman says:

    So you guys in the US and England actually have an obligatory Religious Education class? Hope not…

    Are priests allowed in your schools or can only educated teachers teach?

  15. LizardBoy says:

    I love your stuff. The ideas are the key, not the drawings. Please go back to the originals — they let the message speak, not the characters. Sometimes we blunder onto the pot o’ gold. I know you don’t like the primitive versions of these characters, but they really work. At the bare minimum, decrease the number of thorns in Jesus’ “crown.”

  16. LizardBoy says:

    P.S. Do keep the new noses should you revert to the “primitive” versions. Jeez (and Mo), I feel like a criminal commenting on an artist’s work!

  17. Diane G says:

    @ Stuart–that’s priceless! Your wife FTW!

  18. Deborah Hubbard says:

    Intelligent Designer, I was an atheist RE teacher in apartheid South Africa. And I also taught the (high school) kids thinking skills as well as how to analyse literary texts. One must do something …

    One hot day at an athletics meeting, a new colleague who taught Physical Science asked me what my subjects were. I told her. She got that sentimental gleam in her eye and asked what church I went to. No church at all, I explained, not being at all religious. She was a big woman, and she literally jumped out of her seat. When she regained the power of speech she asked if she could pray for me! “Certainly, if you find it helpful”, I said, and all around us, kids were grinning …

  19. archbish says:

    Of course most people – atheists and religious – misunderstand RE. The whole point is to get people to critically evaluate a variety of perspectives on religious, moral and spiritual thought. So, for example, as a teacher in a school specialising in science and maths I had great fun having a huge rant explaining to a vary talented group of students why evolution is not just one theory amongst others. Some of my best students have been ardent atheists and my most interesting dialogues at the moment are with muslim students. My worst students are those who have read a little bit of the God delusion and don’t think critically about that. (By the way as an evolutionary biologist Dawkins is second to none. As a philosopher seriously flawed in his own logical fallacies. Read Alistair McGrath’s reply to see why.)

    Whether people are atheist, theist – of whatever persuasion, deist, agnostic, pantheist or flying spaghetti monster is not the point. What I demand – as a theist RE teacher – is exactly that my students area sensitively critical and can justify what they say. That means not (saying God, the Bible, the Qur’an, the God Delusion, my parents*) say it so it must be true.

    *delete as applicaple

  20. Stephen Turner says:

    In Spain, all RE teachers in public schools are employed by the RC Church and paid by the taxpayer. In fact the present government has been making moves to offer a sort of civics course as an alternative, and the Church has not been in favour. Can’t imagine why.

    Good one Author: can you assure us that Mo’s left hand is clean?

  21. Hobbes says:

    RE is not a requirement in the US in public schools. However, that doesn’t stop the Rabid Religious Right from a constant assault with their creationism (ID). There’s a movement on now by another nut, Ray Comfort, of “Living Waters” to hand out altered copies of Darwin’s Origin of Species on college campuses in the US and Canada. The alteration includes missing chapters of Darwin’s work, and an intro to ID.

    Also, Author might be able to do something with the Rabid Right’s suggestion that Obama should be killed.

    BTW, I like the new art, especially since they kept their wild eyes and Mo isn’t smiling any more.

  22. Tie says:

    I still think the new look distracts from the script, the minimalistic old style was great. made the comic strip really strong by using the contrast of low tech drawings with high brow text… Bring back the old yo!

  23. MyCatIsGod says:

    I was having a chat with a Muslim the other day, in which I mentioned how frustrating I found irrationality, especially the religiously irrational. He replied by saying that the religious were not at all ‘irrational’. They were ‘anti-rational’.

    Not sure where to go with that one…

  24. pikeamus says:

    My memories of RE in school were that they were not indoctrinating but did soft play a lot of the less savoury or less plausible aspects of the various faiths covered. Most of the time the classes were just about learning some facts and occasionally there was some discussion of what aspects of the specific religion in question were positive. I don’t remember there ever being any dialogue on what aspects of the specific religions were negative.

    archbish: McGrath’s replies to Dawkins are terrible. I see lots of people complaining about Dawkin’s “unsophisticated philosophy”, though very few are willing to explain exactly what is wrong with it. In fairness TGD is not a philosophically rigorous book, it was never intended to be, but most (if not all) of the arguments in it can be adapted to the more sophisticated arguments from theists.

  25. Didac says:

    Well, for the religious label to children, we cannot forget that for most people religious label are simply an ethnic label. For example, Polish and Irish are mostly Catholics because they are Polish and Irish.

  26. ShaunOTD says:

    @archbish – if you’re already teaching critical thinking, then you’re the kind of RE teacher the humanists are campaigning for – but don’t make the mistake of thinking all RE teachers (theists or atheists) do their jobs properly. I’ve heard many complaints from parents about teachers using their classroom as a pulpit.

    Also, not even Dawkins thinks he’s “second to none” as an evolutionary biologist – although he’s had some significant ideas in the field, for which he’s made the case forcefully and well.

  27. Natalie says:

    @muteman: In the US we do not have obligatory RE classes in public schools (I guess in the UK they do). RE classes are sometimes offered, but are certainly not required for students. If you go to a private school, all bets are off.

  28. Rosemarie says:

    If my grandson’s RE teacher were an atheist maybe her lessons would not be so nauseating. I myself took the World Religions course for my degree at the OU a few years ago, which I found fascinating. It was sort of amusing to observe in tutorials that some of the other, religious, students were put off by practices in other religions, especially Hinduism and its Tantric practices. And yet, if they had been born into that society they would find it acceptable.

  29. John Moore says:

    I like to use the term “geographically lucky” to explain why a person was the specific religion they are. I used this on a staunch Southern Baptist and of course got the deer in the head lights look.

  30. ajbjasus says:

    That must be the Guiness label attached to the draft tap handle!

    I’m afrais that’s a traditional British handpump, not a tap handle. It dispenses beer by mechanical action from a non pressurised barrel. When done properly (ie in Yorkshire) it produces the best pint in the world.

    Guinness is never served that way.

  31. Toast in the machine says:

    Of course most people – atheists and religious –many RE teachers misunderstand RE‘, and use RE lessons not for the comparative historical purposes for which they are intended, but as soft-core pro-religious propaganda sessions. Mine certainly did. Words and concepts which were not mentioned once throughout several years of tedious classes included ‘humanism’, ‘secularism’, ‘agnosticism’ and ‘atheism’.

    And the fact remains, you can only accept a supernatural explanation for anything by exempting that belief from truly objective critical thinking.

  32. Toast in the machine says:

    What I demand … is exactly that my students area sensitively critical and can justify what they say. That means not … my parents say it so it must be true.

    Out of interest, what percentage of – for example – your muslim pupils have you had who you imagine would have ended up muslim had they been born in, say, Iceland, to, say, one agnostic and one christian parent?

    How successful do you feel your attempts are to teach such pupils critical thinking skills? I am genuinely interested.

  33. James says:

    In Texas, many high schools (for students aged 15-18 years (especially tasty when roasted over an open fire, but I digress ;>O), generally), have a”non-denominational” religious course as an elective. The course frequently covers only the Old Testament, to avoid “Christian” indoctrination.

  34. Rosemarie says:

    @ James
    That’s novel, having regular fairy tale classes for seniors. Anyway, is the OT not the holy book of Judaism? How can a course on it be described as “non-denominational”?

  35. Crusader Rabid says:

    RE’s allowed in my state, actually I’m an RE teacher myself bringing bible stories & the gospel to some 90 kids who are lovin’ it!

  36. Peter Harris says:

    In a classic Times “missing the point”, they have felt compelled to point out that the models in the Humanist campaign are Christian:

    Despite the very message of the campaign being that labelling is not necessary. Interesting they brand it “athiest” rather than “humanist” [isn’t the latter areligious but not necessarily atheistic?].


  37. PJ says:

    As a historical note, the teaching of RE or RS in English schools is not there for any educational reasons. It results from a classic Brtish fudge dating from the 1945 Education Act which, as well as making it the duty of local authorities o provide free universal secondary education, also brought Church of England schools, previously independent, into the state system. The payoff for the CofE was to make “scripture”, later remarketed as RE, now RS, a compulsory part of the curriculum (bizarrely for 40 years RE was the only compulsory subject in English schools). Any school that tries to take it off the curriculum gets immediately shopped by some local God-botherer to the authorities. Lately teenagers are rightly unwilling to give up valuable time for a Mickey Mouse subject, so most schools make it a compulsory GCSE.

    In practice the value of the course depends largely on the individual teacher. While it is very encouraging to see postings from the right sort of RE teacher, there are a fair number of nutters out there as well. We recently had to deal with our 13 year old daughter having extremist anti-abortion propoganda, including graphic images of dismembered foetuses presented as part of a “balanced” debate on reproductive rights.

  38. ShaunOTD says:

    @Crusader Rabid – That’s nice dear. I hope you’re including the parts where the God who is Love commands his followers to commit genocide, rape, looting and slave-taking. And that he has a bizarre obsession with collecting foreskins.

  39. Daoloth says:

    @Archbish: You sound like an RE teacher who was at my school. She was a moral philosopher really, but this was the only platform to introduce it. Is that a fair description?
    My arguments with her (and with Alistair Macgrath) tended to revolve around what on earth god was needed for. As sophisticated theologians they (and you?) had ridded themselves of pretty much all of the objectionable bits, but I have to confess that I wondered what was left apart from the sense that somehow being reductionist would somehow be bad for the seriousness of moral thought?
    Now I might be putting words in your mouth- so please forgive me if I have got the wrong end of the stick. Interested in your response.

  40. Muffin says:

    I would be all for Religious Studies at schools – it’s interesting, even if you don’t ”subscribe” to the beliefs – if they’d actually study religion. Not Christianity. Alone.

    The course *I* did was ok: we managed to ‘cover’ 4 religions(!). That was back in… ooh. 2004?

    Then they changed the curriculum, and even in non-religious schools, it became a government initiative to educate students fully on Christianity. Very useful to the two Hindus in the entire school. Not so much for those Christians clued up on it, or atheists fed up with Christio-centric teaching.

    It is apparently even now a legal requirement for schools to enrol all children into an extra (quarter) GCSE of RS aka ‘Christianity’ or ‘Critical Religious Thinking’.

    No wonder young people (and through them their parents) have no idea about other faiths…

  41. JP says:

    I just realized where I have seen Jesus, before. He is doing stand up under the alias, Demetry Martin.

  42. Vordreller says:

    Didn’t check the other comments. Might be up already. This blogpost is about the ads.

  43. Hobbes says:

    Muffin, you are correct. In the US, and I suspect the UK as well, when evangelicals talk about teaching “religion” in schools, they are as usual being deceptive. They really mean Christianity. And they don’t mean teach “about” religion, but to indoctrinate religion (Christianity).

  44. Intelligent Designer says:

    AJBJASUS said “I’m afrais that’s a traditional British handpump, not a tap handle. It dispenses beer by mechanical action from a non pressurised barrel. When done properly (ie in Yorkshire) it produces the best pint in the world.”

    As an ex-barman, I can assure you that the beer that squirts out of freshly tapped barrel is most certainly under pressure. The beer is still fermenting slightly when ‘canned’, so gasses build up. There is a reason that barrels and kegs are built so strongly!

  45. Garlic says:

    “there are a fair number of nutters out there as well. We recently had to deal with our 13 year old daughter having extremist anti-abortion propoganda, including graphic images of dismembered foetuses presented as part of a “balanced” debate on reproductive rights.”
    I experienced this in school too. I am currently working in a country where abortion is illegal and think it should be compulsory for any sadistic morons caught bombarding small kids with this tripe to come to places like this and see the real problems a natalist domestic policy can cause, as well as being fired from their jobs. The first because they clearly have no concept of what ‘balance’ is and need shocking into reality, and the second because they have no right to indoctrinate young minds.
    In my school we were never taught about the pro-choice side of the abortion debate, only the anti. I taught myself about it by reading feminist literature. My mother, a liberal and very lapsed Catholic, said she would not have an abortion herself but staunchly refused to deny this right to others and said if I ever ‘found myself in trouble’ I could rely on her support irrespective of what decision I made.
    I got an A* at RS GCSE, ten years ago when that was really quite unusual. It was a higher mark than all the Christians who made up the rest of the class, but I was an agnostic. We only studied Christianity, and the vicar who taught the class (also a qualified teacher) came out with a remark in one lesson that he thought the holocaust had happened because the Jews demanded Jesus’ blood to be on their heads. As a part Romany child with Jewish friends I was also aware that Hitler’s racial purity rules would have condemned me to a cattle truck followed by a horrific death. I was not best pleased with this inhuman statement. I taught myself about other religions by reading the sections of the book we never covered and doing my own research. Now I am thinking of becoming an RS teacher myself and I swear if I go through with it that I will never do such an appalling bodge job as this.
    Incidently, this is the first time I’ve ever mentioned the holocaust remark to anyone as far as I know, and while repeating it I can clearly see its similarity to the parts of the Koran where Jews are compared to demons and we hear that Allah turned them into pigs and dogs (he obviously didn’t do a good job, since they are still around and look neither porcine nor canine to me). In bed indeed, eh?

  46. archbish says:

    PJ – two inaccuracies. 1 RS was compulsory since the establishment of state education in the 1800s. 2. the monitoring of delivery of RS lies in the hands of the local standing advisory council for RE. This is composed of local ministers of all religions, LEA members, union members, etc.. It is a public body and it’s minutes/meetings are open to all.

    Muffin: the same SACRE needs to ensure that RE covers more than Christianity in state schools. THe syllabus has to reflect that the heritage of the country is, in the main, Christian but if it does not cover other religions – and for some of the more recent revisions humanism, etc – it is failing it’s job. your latest “legal” statement does not exist. some schools offer critical thinking as a course in it’s own right – it should not take the place of RE.

    Toast: 2 points. 1. many people who teach RE are not RE teachers. Actually, this is an important issue. If you want to change the critical approach to RE then become an RE teacher. WE’re a scarcity subject. 2. How successful am I? That’s hard to assess but I am getting students coming up to me years later to thank me for the courses they followed since they have seen some benefit in their later life.

  47. nina says:

    I wouldn’t object to a comparative religion or including religion in history and art classes – as long as it’s “about” religion and not religion.

    Indeed, in these classes, it’s rather intwined – but religion must stay out of science classes – unless it’s part of the history of science and how religion retarded science.

    man, to think, we could have hover cars, a moon base and doing zips around the galaxy by now.

  48. nina says:

    as for the don’t label me advert: I agree with the blog entirely – and would add that if the xtian parents were concerned about how their children’s images might be used

    perhaps they shouldn’t sell their photos to stock image companies.

    if you’re willing to exploit your kids and rent them to others, then you can’t really complain about how the images are used.

  49. BigDaveSB says:

    Still loving the comics, but I would love them more if Jesus got his old beard back. I’m getting used to Mo not being a little of centre with his garments, but Jesus just looks wrong.

    That said you’re a genius with the scripts, and it’s your show!

    Thanks for the great comic!

  50. Joshua3886 says:

    Still not sure what RE is even after googling it and wikied it. I never took a course about religion in college and am still not offered one. Is it something in High School, cause I dropped out and took my GED instead. I never even went to high school. Oh well guess I sound uninformed.

  51. jz says:

    your comics are really insightful and since i’m new, i’m now taking the time to read them from the start, a little a day. they’re timeless – love them!

  52. Jerry w says:

    You could easily leave out the word “critical”, and the rest of the material from this page would remain the same. Thinking is the curse of religion, it always has been, it always will be.

  53. Westdude says:

    All right, Xtian dudes. You can prove that god exists.
    Now you have to prove if she is really a male or a female.


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