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Discussion (29)¬

  1. Poor Richard says:


    Otherwise, like Barmaid, I am speechless.

  2. Matt B says:


  3. Tea says:

    Awesome. 🙂

  4. Hobbes says:

    MAGNIFICIENT! Author is the Michelangelo of satirical logic.

  5. Hobbes says:

    I see they both emptied their glasses after the dawning.

  6. jfredett says:

    That has to be the most inspired logical argument I’ve ever heard. That is, assuming I understood it.

    For those who missed it, and want an explanation, you can observe my interpretation @

    (Sorry for the shameless plug)


  7. Bodach says:

    Hobbes, they needed to lube up before pulling out their holy books and versifying their circular reasoning.

  8. Jrf says:

    Reminds me of Douglas Adam’s famous argument for the non-existant of a God which ended with ‘oops, I hadn’t thought of that’ says God and vanishes in a puff of logic

  9. Mat/Tia says:

    Gödel is watching you. Beware!!! 😀

  10. Toast in the machine says:

    Wow – that takes some chewing.

    For some reason, the word Ouroboros floats to mind.

  11. blueshifter says:

    nope – I still don’t get it, even after reading jfreddet’s post on it. Someone else give it a shot; gimme a nice, slow paraphrasing of the argument.

  12. tie says:

    jfredett thanks for that link with the explanation, I have to admit that I could not get my head around the logical fallacy … maybe because it’s 1:46 in the morning and I should be in bed, yeah… that is my alibi 😉

  13. Anonick says:

    One of the best! Maybe the argument doesn’t hold up to scrutiny (I don’t know), but it surely rendered Jesus and Mo speechless!

  14. Hobbes says:

    jfredett, that was a good analogy.

    blueshifter, the argument Jesus and Mo made, invalidated itself. They were trying to use reason to demonstrate that reasoning itself is an invalid argument because it is circular. So, if the argument J&M proposed is a valid argument, then their argument, itself, is invalid. See? (call the boys in those clean, white coats–I’m ready)

  15. Hobbes says:

    I have an argument which, I think, is similar to this.

    It is said that God is omniscient. If were so, then how could God change his mind (as in repenting that he had made man–so he caused the cosmic toilet bowl to overflow and drown them all out, except Noah and family, of course)?

    If he were omniscient, then he would have to know that he would change his mind, which means he had planned to change his mind, which means he couldn’t change his mind—or something like that.

    On the other hand, omniscience is a good explanation as to why Yahweh is devoid of humor. He already knows the punch-line of all the jokes.

  16. MrGronk says:

    You don’t require faith in reason anyway, because faith is nothing more than the mental process required to believe an assertion that is unprovable and impossible. The boys are using the word “faith” when they mean “trust”, a common misunderstanding.

  17. Go Middies says:

    Jrf: Douglas Adams’ argument about God revolves around the Babel Fish. Since something like the Babel fish could not possibly have evolved but was created by God, proof belies faith and the Babel fish was proof, it was QED and God vanished in a puff of logic.

    Love the reset of DA, though. RIP. 🙁

  18. Tumsup says:

    “reason itself requires faith in reason” Huh?
    No, it doesn’t. Reason is simply a useful tool, demonstrated to lead to the truth in many if not most cases. An hypothesis can be perfectly reasonable and, at the same time, perfectly absurd. Think of Achilles and the tortoise.
    You have to do the experiments and gather the evidence. There’s no faith involved.

  19. Jim says:

    MrGronk: Your definition of faith is unfair. First of all, just because something is unprovable does not mean it is impossible. Second, faith, as most people have used it, and do use it today, is fairly far from a “required mental process.”
    In fact, it is very much trust – you could say “strong trust” would be close, or “religious trust.” To use “faith” in place of “trust” is not a misunderstanding, but the correct usage. Look it up in a dictionary.

  20. Jim says:


    God’s omniscience and omnipotence create many problems. “Change” of any sort is one of them, including reactions.
    One way to get around problems like the one you bring up is to suggest that the scripture is just the interpretation of God’s behavior from the people’s perspective. Thus God does not change his mind, but knows and does everything in sequence, as planned. Of course that does not square very well with orthodoxy, but it is the sort of thing suggested by thinkers like Spinoza, and perhaps Maimonides (though he would be a bit more cagey about it).
    And of course my favourite question when examining the omniscience of God is that of motivation. Why would a perfect being do anything? There can be no wants or needs….

  21. spaghettimonster says:

    If he were omniscient, then he would have to know that he would change his mind, which means he had planned to change his mind, which means he couldn’t change his mind—or something like that.

    Hobbes, some christians would usually respond by saying that humans have free will, so God can’t actually predict how men will behave since future is not decided yet (I have heard that from a christian).

    Even though that makes God *not* omniscient.

  22. Hobbes says:


    Yes, the explanation does not square with orthodoxy. But, of course, that was my point. I think that if you took a survey of all Christians, most would say that God is omniscient and omnipotent, yet if you asked specific questions such as mine, I would bet most would retreat to spaghettimonster’s response–all but the hard-core fundis, who would just change the subject. However, that makes the mind of a fundamentalist the only place in the universe both sides of a contradiction can exist at once.

    That scripture is only an interpretation of God’s behavior from the people’s perspective, I would agree that it is the human perspective of what their idea of the actions of their idea of their god should be. After all, the power of gods always rose and fell according to the power of the patronate’s (especially the early city-states’) ability to conquer. This idea, amazingly, is still held today by many, including Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin (see http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/1016-01.htm).

    Yes, Spinoza. Pantheism was one of my stages on my journey from belief to non-belief. And, the problem of perfection is one I’ve considered as well, but never asked that particular question. Thanks to both of you for your interesting and thought provoking responses

  23. MrGronk says:


    yes, I’m aware that faith is nowadays generally taken to be a synonym for trust. So why not just say trust? I really think that the language neeeds some semantic housekeeping. To clarify, I define faith as the mental process required to believe an assertion that is unprovable and untestable AND impossible. When did you last need faith to believe that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow? Why would you need faith for that? You’ve seen it happen, and your understanding of physics tells you its bound to happen again. In other words, your experience and reason assures you the sun will rise tomorrow, and that’s an assertion you can have trust in.
    Now if some clown in a pointy hat were to wave some ancient twaddle at you saying that an invisible, heatless, gravity-less sun is rising in the west, what sort of thinking would you have to do in order to believe that with conviction?
    To summarise:
    Trust: product of reason and experience.
    Faith: Enemy of reason and experience.

  24. Jim says:

    Yes, I saw how you defined faith. I just don’t think it is correct, especially the “impossible” bit. It is a rather loaded definition. Why not just untestable/unprovable?

    Of course I don’t need faith to believe the sun will rise in the east. I don’t even need science. I don’t need to understand it at all. I just assume it will, as my ancestors have, as my experience dictates, and that assumption is unconscious.

    What the hell is this about a heatless, invisible sun? And pointy hats? I know you are offering a caricature of religion, but the sun example really doesn’t work. What sort of thinking would I have to do? Obviously pretty strange thinking. But I guess it would depend on who the clown was, how they explained their case, things like that. You know, so I could figure out whether I should trust them or not.

    I don’t see how your comment should be summarized to indicate faith is an enemy of reason and experience. Perhaps it could be an object of reason and experience. And you cannot really build “enemy” into its definition so swiftly, especially with your rather strawman-esque sun example.

    The real point of J and M’s discussion is reason’s (and logic’s, mathematic’s, et cetera) foundation, or lack thereof. It is true that reason is just as it is, sort of a brute fact. Logic, “just works,” “just is,” as either a structure of the brain or the world, or, as it seems to be, both. You cannot prove reason – wanting proof is a function of having reason to begin with. So they are right to see our relationship to these things as a sort of faith, a trust that they will not lead us wrong. If we don’t trust reason, madness tends to ensue…

    The question to then ponder is whether trust in God/trust in religion et cetera is groundless in the same way that reason is. I don’t think it should get its own category, but some have argued it should. And looking at religion historically, for many people in world history, the idea of a necessary being “behind the scenes” does seem to have been a basic assumption, not a result of reason (i.e. they didn’t “make up a story,” or at least they didn’t know they were).

  25. Jerry w says:



    Please stop, my head is going to explode….

    I have full faith and trust that you can do it/

    jerry w

  26. Sam says:


    Do you, philosophers think that it is possible _in principle_ that there is a specific area in epistemology unaccessible to reason?

  27. […] and Mo is a webcomic which I enjoy on occasion, the most recent comic involves Jesus and Mo talking with the barmaid about how, while they have exhausted every argument […]

  28. A word can have many definitions. “A law requires a lawgiver. There exists a law of gravitation. Therefore God exists.” Perhaps.

    And what happens if you break the law of gravitation? A cosmic policeman comes along and fines you? Scientific laws are not analogous to legal laws. They just share the same name. That one type of law requires a lawgiver in no way implies that the other type also does. And yet precisely this “logic” has been used many times by my JW family and friends. Shoddy, isn’t it?

    There is similar confusion in this discussion about “faith”. It’s a word with many meanings. Perhaps acceptance of logical axioms does require faith. And belief in God also requires faith. But the two are in no way equivalent.


  29. Marius Andersen says:

    This reminds me of Lewis Carroll’s “What the Tortoise Said to Achilles” dialogue. It’s cited in Douglas Hofstadter: Gödel, Escher, Bach.


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