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Discussion (65)¬

  1. IanB says:

    I am still waiting for faith healing and the power of prayer to restore amputated limbs, reckon I’ll keep on waiting too.

  2. Freethinkin+Franklin says:

    a bit misleading, as all three major theologies pray to the same deity, the god of abraham… far too many finger pointing theists do not know this, nor do they care to admit to it. but spot on about the delusional bit…

  3. Undeluded says:

    Indeed, it would be hard to find a greater delusion than believing that prayers are listened to, let alone answered. If things turn out well – goddiddit. If not, it’s the “mysterious ways” cop out. Even the following thought exercise doesn’t stump them:

    A plane with 300 on board crashes – before which, all the passengers prayed fervently to their deities (recorded evidence). There is only one survivor. Observation: the survivor experienced a miracle, and the rest must have “sinned” somehow. Now, what if the lone survivor was a scum-of-the-earth, convicted murderer, Hannibal Lecter type? There will “explanations” by believers, but I cannot conceive of them spouting them with a straight face.

  4. rm says:

    I think your cartoons are gentle. There’s absolutely nothing nasty (or even harsh) about them. Wonderful work.

  5. Sevenlegs says:

    Franklin, I cant help but be pedantic.
    Theology is the study of the concept of Gods and religion. So theologists don’t necessarily pray to anyone.
    Assuming you mean religions, I don’t follow what makes the Abrahamic religions the main three? Islam and Christianity certainly come in on top if you are judging by the number of followers, but Hinduism comes in third with 1.1 billion vs Judaism’s 14 million.

    However, your point about them praying to the same invisible wizard does stand up.

  6. JohnM says:

    There are far worse delusions ‘out there’ than the delusion of an all-loving deity inflicting crippling sickness on the creation he so loves.

    A very current one is being held to by many Western politicians: Islam is just a religion, and can safely be respected as such. Try putting such empty-suited numpties straight, as Robert Spencer, Geert Wilders, etc. have done, and see what happens to you next.

  7. hotrats says:

    Reminds me of my favourite Tweet, from Ricky Gervais:

    MTV News ?@MTVNews
    Beyoncé, Rihanna & Katy Perry send prayers to #Oklahoma after the devastating tornado: #PrayForOklahoma

    Ricky GervaisVerified account ?@rickygervais
    “@MTVNews: Beyoncé, Rihanna & Katy Perry send prayers to #Oklahoma #PrayForOklahoma”

    I feel like an idiot now…I only sent money.

  8. Hobbes says:

    This is a real keeper. One of the primary arguments in my novel is that one’s religious beliefs are most often what he was taught to believe from tothood. This is true for all religions, and every person of every religion believes his to be the sacred truth every bit as fervently as Christians believe theirs. One’s beliefs, then, are more a function of happenstance of birth rather than truth.

  9. LindaR says:

    The real question is did Mo rely just on prayers, or did he take paracetamol and drink lots of fluid? Mind you, he wouldn’t be able to rely on my favourite palliative – whisky toddies, with the emphasis on the whisky! 😉

  10. John+B.+Hodges says:

    The Christian god is a trinity, the Jewish and Islamic god is not. More trivially, the Islamic god is one who speaks through Mohammed, the Jewish and Christian god is not. These are clearly three different gods.

  11. JoJo says:

    Franklin and Sevenlegs: Actually I disagree. They are not the same god. ‘Allah’ has gone through a couple of reboots. He arose during the move among some Arab tribes from polytheism to monotheism. The word was used to mean ‘THE Lord’ as in the ONE before there was any talk of Mohammed. It was hijacked and used at the birth of Islam in the usual bait and switch trick: Follow us! look, we basically use the same words have rituals in common! What’s the harm/difference!?’ Christianity had pulled the same trick on the Pagans – (Easter/Christmas/Christmas Trees/Palm Sunday/Virgin Births/Saviour Myth etc etc..) With the Expansion in to Jewish and Christian territory, suddenly it turned out all the Old and New Testament prophets had been Muslims without ever thinking to mention it. You still hear apologists for Islam saying that ‘Jesus is in the Koran!!” as though there is therefore little difference between Islam and Christianity. Bollocks. Jesus appears in the Koran so his divinity can be denied. It is stated that he was not the Son of God, nor was he crucified. If I were a Christian with the sensitivity of a Muslim, I would be offended in to a street burning frenzy by that. Just as all I’m an atheist…
    The Koran also misunderstands then denies the Trinity. Can’t be talking about the Christian god, then.
    As for being ‘Abrahamic,’ turning up thousands of years late to the party, claiming retrospective dibs on long dead prophets and then plagiarising (badly) some half remembered myths doesn’t count. Mohammed was basically the L. Ron Hubbard of the 7th Century. Call it one of the main ‘Hubbardian’ religions, and I’ll agree.

    PS: Note the way Islam pulls the ladder up after itself. The law in Indonesia, Brunei, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia (and elsewhere) passed to prohibit the use of the word ‘Allah’ by non Muslims to refer to, ummmm, the Abrahamic God! They’re not allowing anyone to pull that trick on *their* followers, now, are they..?

  12. machigai says:

    Thanks jerym.
    I’ve bookmarked that.

  13. ScottR says:

    @IanB – You go ahead and keep waiting! Every type of miracle has occurred including the restoration of severed or missing limbs, as you say, when warranted. But you’re being foolish and don’t have eyes to see what is happening all around you. You’re the type of person that only sees what he wants to see and you’re absolutely convinced that your right. Silly man!

  14. Chris+Phoenix says:

    There is legitimate scientific evidence that prayer works!!! Here’s how it was created:

    1) Find a group of sick people, say 100 of them, or even 1000. Nice big sample.

    2) Divide it in half, and pray for only half of the people, without telling anyone which half they’re in.

    3) Study 40 different indicators of health before and after the study period.

    4) On average, two measures of health (1/20 of the variables studied) will improve with p > 0.05 _regardless of sample size._

    5) Report on the two that improved.

  15. David+Amies says:

    There is some research that suggests that prayer, far from bring beneficial for the sick, is actually harmful! I gather that outcomes in those undergoing major cardiac surgery were worse among the group being prayed for than the controls.

    David Amies

  16. David Amies, prayer being detrimental would be every bit as miraculous as prayer being beneficial. Unless of course the time spent praying prevented some action that might have been helpful, like exercise or simple rest.

    Another good one, Author. I love your rapier punch lines.

    It’s always fascinating to see a group declare that a huge segment of the world are just deluded fools. I watched a documentary recently on the Westboro Baptist Church and their approximately 80 members, all of whom seem convinced that the entire rest of the world is going to Hell and only they will be saved. Such amazing arrogance. Deluded fools indeed.

  17. Pliny the in Between says:

    Self-limiting disease is such a friend to prayer and the dispensers of woo.

  18. ProgMan says:

    Amen to that JoJo

  19. Chiefy says:

    Thanks for the focus point, FF: “all three major theologies pray to the same deity…” I’ve seen some great responses, but I can’t resist adding my two cents. Especially since I used to believe that.

    If, as is most likely, there is no Abrahamic god, then members of those three religions are all praying to nothing, talking to the wall, as it were. Since 0=0, you could say they are praying to the same thing, but that wouldn’t be accurate. You should say they are praying to the same nothing, and nothing does not equal a thing, much less a deity. What they are actually doing is talking to themselves, praying to their own mental constructs of “God.” There are probably as many varieties of those as their are believers.

    I guess on that basis, I wouldn’t say that any two people pray to the same god, unless they happen to have exactly the same god-concept by chance. The best they can hope for is similar gods. That’s why, when someone talks to you about “god,” you should ask for a definition.

  20. opposablethumbs says:

    Darwin Harmless, I think the effect David Amies referred to was thought to be due to the fact that patients were worried they must be really sick, because they were getting prayed over. (in their presence or they knew about it somehow, no blind trial at all let alone double blind). So, nocebo effect.

  21. opposablethumbs says:

    Apologies if this is a duplicate – I’m getting nothing show up.

    Deleterious effects of prayer – nocebo effect (they knew they were being prayed for)

  22. MulberryMan says:

    I am a late arrival to jesus and mo. It has been a revelation (can I use that word safely on this site?). Do I sense some unresolved tension, frustration and critical feelings between jesus and mo in this and recent strips? Their pillow talk has seemed to me to be a fellowship of ‘us against the unwashed non-nonbelievers’ until recently. I’ll buy some books and check out my observation. Best wishes for your work. Fascinated by the thoughtful posts.

  23. djdummy says:

    Nice one Chiefy,But how would that work none of them do anything.

  24. hotrats says:

    Franklin, SevenLegs et al:

    If there were really only one god, we would only have one religion.

    @IanB – You go ahead and keep waiting! Every type of miracle has occurred including the restoration of severed or missing limbs, as you say, when warranted.

    Don’t happen to have before-and-after piccies of same, by any chance? Or are we talking salamanders?

  25. Mo is horizontal. It was a week of being horizontal that cured him.

  26. Brother Daniel says:

    Whenever you have two monotheists whose beliefs about god are not identical, it is a matter of taste whether you say (1) that they believe in different gods, or (2) that they believe in the same god but disagree on the attributes of that god. Those two alternatives are equally apt descriptions of exactly the same state of affairs, notwithstanding their formal contrariness.

  27. yahweh says:

    I’ve long been intrigued by the idea that the Abrahamic religions are praying to the same god despite their differences. FWIW I think they are praying to quite different gods – looking at things from a social/anthropological perspective.

    But, viewed as a character passed on by tradition, you can see the link and understand its development over time and place, and see that they are in this sense ‘the same’.

    But not if the character actually exists. Then you presumably have to believe that different religions have all become aware of it (Him) by some mysterious means but nonetheless disagree significantly over what it says, wants, does, is like, etc.

    So if this god does exist, and if there is only one of it, the one thing that is certain is that it has serious communications issues.

    Alternatively, you could conclude that this, like most holy mysteries, is yet another reductio ad absurdam of theology and that there is in fact nothing there.

  28. yahweh says:

    Or to put it another way see

    Kudos, Author.

  29. yahweh says:

    Using unix / open source terminology, Islam and Christianity are forks of Judaism. Allah and God could be forks of jahweh.

  30. UncoBob says:

    Since Jesus has a history of raising the dead, restoring sight to the blind etc, how come he has to go running to the old man in the ‘hit and miss’ prayer thing rather than just curing Mo himself?

  31. Graham ASH-PORTER says:

    Want to know what is wrong with a religion, ask someone of a different Faith, and vice versa!

  32. JohnM says:

    @David+Amies, Darwin+H

    It seems to me that being prayed for, when one is suffering a life threatening condition, could indeed be detrimental. The recipient of the prayers might well feel his/her recovery is being somehow externalised, and to a greater or lesser degree ease up on their personal fight with whatever is the threat. Somewhat reminiscent of how voodoo believers will crawl away and die just because they imagine a curse put upon them will be effective. Also I read somewhere that among certain peoples there is a tendency to accept that their life is over simply because of age, and individuals can easily persuade themselves to become moribund and expire.
    It would be nice to have the opposite possibility – to think and reason your way out of a deadly cancer, for example.

  33. IanB says:

    hotrats says:”Don’t happen to have before-and-after piccies of same, by any chance? ”

    Not ones that aren’t fakes I’d wager

  34. hotrats says:


    I was just waiting for an excuse to post this:
    and I spotted this too:

  35. omg says:

    It is the first time I saw the second one. Appearing on toast… hilarious.

  36. IanB says:


    Now that’s brought a genuine smile, thank you.

  37. Hotrats, I had to share that second one on FB. Made me laugh. First one was pretty funny too. We can’t believe any image now.

    Regarding the one god worshipped by both question: As I understand it, Christians refer to God the father, and think of themselves as the children of God. Muslims consider themselves the servants of God. Big difference between being somebody’s son and being somebody’s servant.

  38. NSPike says:

    This is wildly off topic, but I think it’s positive to see those of faith at least attempting to apply reason and sense to the Bible, and found this link interesting. I hope you will too:

  39. opposablethumbs says:

    😀 appearing on toast. Thank you for those!

  40. Jerryw says:

    To update one of my father’s WWII sayings:
    You put a prayer in one hand, and then you…..
    Some may get this.

  41. NSPike, wildly OT but quite interesting. “The poor will be always among us,” was one of my mother’s favourites when explaining why being too profligate with charity was a bad idea.
    It’s very obvious that anybody claiming the bible is a moral guide has to climb up on a ladder and cherry pick like mad.

  42. two cents' worth says:

    Jerryw, would you take pity on those of us who don’t get it, and can’t find it using Google? 🙂 If it’s something that would be tolerated per the rules for this comments section, please post the complete updated version of your father’s WWII saying. I, for one, would appreciate it. (My step-dad is a WWII US Navy vet but, given the ellipsis in your comment, I think my very proper Mom might dislike it if I asked him about the saying.)

  43. Jerryw says:

    two cents,
    I’ve heard several versions of the original quote, but the one told to me by my dad used “wish” and using what’s left of my memory of +/- 50 years ago went something like this (borrowing another version of yet another word to respect the sanctity of the comment section):

    “Put a wish in one hand and put *crap* in the other, come back in a day and what do you still have?”.

    I wish and pray that this gives you comfort ;o)

  44. omg says:

    “The Internet Is Taking Away America’s Religion”; I think in the graph, non-affiliation mean with any religion. I hope internet will continue to spread the knowledge that religion is just BS;

  45. omg says:

    I think we can searching for god:

  46. hotrats says:

    DH: I think this one is ‘up your street’, so to speak.

  47. Jobrag says:

    The author missed a trick here the barmaid should have delivered a course of antibiotics.

  48. JoJo says:

    Brother Daniel said this:
    “Whenever you have two monotheists whose beliefs about god are not identical, it is a matter of taste whether you say (1) that they believe in different gods, or (2) that they believe in the same god but disagree on the attributes of that god. ”
    I disagree. Two people can’t reasonably agree they are looking at a zebra while arguing about the colour of its feathers. Monotheistic religions usually claim tier deity is the magic creator of the universe. That creator s defined within the mythology of the religion. That is crucial, because one argument often deployed by believers (I’ve heard it often) to explain their belief is that they look around the world and feel compelled yo believe something so amazing and complex could come from a creator. “Ok, but why does that make you a catholic” (etc) is the obvious retort. When you tell a Christian that God doesn’t exist, you can do so on he basis of 1) The characteristics of the god claimed by the sources they rely just don’t add up even within ther own mythology and 2) the evidence does not support the claim of a divine creator. Two people claiming to worship the creator of the universe do not necessarily have a common god as each is defined by its respective mythology. Islam ‘Borrowed’ bits of mythology from Judaism, paganism and Christianity as it went along to aid conversion. Christianity had done something similar, but the practice of plagiarism goes way back before then and xi certainly evident in Roman polytheism

  49. Chiefy says:

    JoJo, I agree with what you say, but I don’t think it specifically addresses what Brother Daniel said. If a god exists, it is what it is. What people have faith in are concepts of god only, especially since there is no real evidence to connect those concepts with reality. So the question is whether those concepts are similar enough to hypothetically refer to the same thing. It depends on how broad a definition of “god” you allow. It’s semantics. I can call a bat a bird, if I define birds as warm-blooded creatures that can fly. Similarly, if I define “god” as the creator of the universe, that leaves a lot of latitude. God could be the laws of physics, or primordial vacuum, or such.

  50. IanB says:

    Jobrag: “The author missed a trick here the barmaid should have delivered a course of antibiotics.”

    it’s Flu antibiotics won’t help 😀

  51. omg says:

    I think this blog entry fit well here. I hope you like it:

  52. machigai says:

    Where is Nassar?

  53. JoJo says:

    True enough, Chiefy. Islam does the same with the terms ‘peace,’ ‘tolerance,’ ‘freedom’ and ‘Women’s rights.’

  54. Sevenlegs says:

    Jojo, in my opinion, as Allah and God etc are all fictional characters, if the author of those books says they are the same person/thing, they are. Its like all these comic book reboots where they change everyone’s back story. It is logically impossible for them to be the same person, but its fiction so you don’t need to be tied down with something as trivial as logic

  55. JohnM says:

    @machigai “Where is Nassar?”

    I. too, was musing on that same thing earlier. I do hope there’s nothing in any of his ‘limericks’ which Islamonutters might construe as blasphemy, insulting the prophet, apostasy, or any other very acceptable (to us) behaviour, and for which they might feel obliged by Allah to hunt him down.

  56. Brother Daniel says:

    To respond to JoJo and Chiefy:

    We’re considering two randomly/arbitrarily-chosen monotheists (let’s call them Bill and Ted), and considering whether to describe their differences as

    P1: They believe in the same god, but have some differences of opinion on some of the characteristics of this god


    P2: They believe in different gods.

    My claim is that P1 and P2 are equally apt descriptions of the same state of affairs, and that the selection of one over the other is a matter of taste. In particular, I don’t favour P1 over P2 in general, so I agree with JoJo’s statement, “Two people claiming to worship the creator of the universe do not necessarily have a common god.”

    But the next part of JoJo’s statement (“…as each is defined by its respective mythology”) is, I think, potentially misleading. For one thing, P1 and P2 are (explicitly) statements about the content of Bill’s and Ted’s beliefs. So it seems a tad bizarre to judge between P1 and P2 based on something exterior to those beliefs. And that’s what this appeal to mythology appears to do (unless I’ve misunderstood, which is possible).

    On the other hand, the beliefs of Bill and Ted are not sufficient to distinguish between P1 and P2. To see why, let’s introduce another character, Alice. Suppose Alice has the same beliefs that Bill has about god, AND the same understanding (right or wrong) that Bill has about the content of Ted’s beliefs. We could have Bill holding to P1 as the description of his difference with Ted, while Alice holds to P2 as the description of that same disagreement, with neither of them suffering from any contradiction in doing so!

    And that’s why I say that P1 and P2 are equally apt (in spite of being formally contrary).

    These identity-questions regarding god may appear, at first, to be no different from the similar questions that can arise regarding an ordinary person. Someone elsewhere might think “Brother Daniel is a pretty cool guy” while someone here might think “Brother Daniel is an idiot”. Having different opinions about Brother Daniel’s character and abilities, are those two people referring to the same Brother Daniel or to two different ones?

    However, crucially, that question can be answered in principle, because people can be _tracked_. With sufficient effort put into surveillance, you could confirm that (for example) the Brother Daniel who occasionally posts a comment in J&M-land is the same person as the Brother Daniel who’s a moderator on And it wouldn’t take long to figure out that he’s NOT the Brother Daniel mentioned on Wikipedia. (I was unaware of the existence of the latter when I picked this userid a dozen years ago. And he’s dead, anyway.)

    But there’s no way to track god, even in principle. (I don’t even need to make any atheistic assumptions in order to say that.) So there’s no way to distinguish between the state of affairs described by P1 and that described by P2.

  57. hotrats says:

    Brother Daniel:

    QED. Or as we used to say, Amen.

  58. Floridatlantic says:

    This is not original with me. I saw it in (another) cartoon:

    Prayer — with 2 aspirins — cures a headache.

  59. two cents' worth says:

    Floridatlantic, sounds like you and Jerryw are looking at different sides of the same coin. (Or, as Brother Daniel might say, your thoughts are equally apt, in spite of being formally contrary.) 🙂

    Jerryw, thanks for explaining updated version of your father’s WWII saying. I take it that soap and water (much less hand sanitizer) were hard to come by during WWII. 😉

  60. Mary2 says:

    Sorry to come late to the party but I think the question of whether Allah and Yahweh are the same god or different gods is a nonsensical question. If you are speaking historically then they are obviously different forks/branches of the same earlier myths; if you are speaking religiously then you only have to read what the believers believe about them to see they cannot be the same entity – in one version the god has a son who is himself and dies etc. in the other version he doesn’t. If I came from another planet or a land which was very culturally distant from the judeo/christian/muslim cultures, I may not be able to see much difference and think they were all just slight variations/different denominations. In some respects there is probably more difference between the god of the catholics and the god of fundamentalist evangelicals and few people would say they do not believe in the same god.

    TL:DR The question as stated needs to specify from which ontological position one is looking for the answer before one can answer coherently.

  61. hotrats says:

    Adam Seligman, a professor of religion, has pointed out (in “Tolerance, Tradition and Modernity”) that the whole notion of religious tolerance assumes necessary differences, since there is no need to tolerate a religion that is essentially the same as your own.

    However, in another sense, all gods are the same god; they all fill the same hole in the believer’s head, and are indistiguishable from each other in the nullity of their evidence and plausibility.

  62. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Jerryw says:

    April 4, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    To update one of my father’s WWII sayings:
    You put a prayer in one hand, and then you…..
    Some may get this

    I got it. It was one my Grandad bought home from WWI (whilst leaving behind a substantial portion of his large intestine – and his belief in God).
    Tha’ can pray into one hand and crap into t’other, but only one’ll get full

    Nassar, Nassar, wherefore art thou, Nassar?

  63. lol says:

    Freethinkin+Franklin is right to say that this cartoon is somewhat misleading. Because I’ve always found J&M’s humour to be either in clever wordplay or of the “it’s funny because it’s true” variety, this one falls flat.

    Yes, Muslims and Christians have different beliefs about God. Muslims do not believe in the divinity or divine parentage of Jesus. However, at least from the Islamic persepective, the God about whom we disagree is the same. Verse 3:65 makes this fairly clear. Of course, I cannot speak for Christians’ view.

    We also share a belief in what I’ve heard described as a “personal God” who intervenes, who hears prayers and may answer.

    Since nothing that occurs in this cartoon’s narrative goes outside the shared beliefs, as I understand them, there is no reason for both of them to consider the other deluded in this context.


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