This week’s prompted by Dominic Grieve.

Congrats to Patrick in the UK who wins this month’s raffle prize of a signed copy of the 1st volume of J&M strips, “Where’s the Soap?” Congrats!

Discussion (70)¬

  1. Graham+ASH-PORTER says:

    I have these arguments with the religious over my memes! Why won’t religion s just go away?

  2. Likewise, in America, the solution for gun violence is MOAR guns.

  3. laxeyman says:

    Didn’t Einstein say that the definition of madness was the repetition of the same experiment whilst expecting a different result?

  4. rmodiz says:

    I’d have said: “What’s the solution?” “God.”

    Would have been pithier, imo.

  5. Nassar+Ben+Houdja says:

    The problem with religious submission
    Is it is a very bad decision
    Humanity should be free and behave
    Not a subjugated slave
    To controlling tools of insane oppression

  6. Mother+Goose says:

    Christopher Hitchens said it best “religion poisons everything”.

  7. Empiricist says:

    There is a simpler and more elegant solution to the Barmaid’s problems: have yet a third religion successfully conquer the others, murdering all dissenters.

    I never said it was a good solution. Just elegant and simple.

  8. LastResort says:

    Empiricist, there is an even more elegant and simpler and utterly impossible solution to the Barmaid’s Dilemma, no religion.
    Have the two warring teams give up their delusions and convert to the Legion of Light and Reason and the issues they once thought so important would vanish like smoke.

    As I said, impossible.
    Yet so simple and so elegant.
    Better yet, it would be a permanent solution and universally applicable to all such situations.

  9. LastResort, Empiricist, unfortunately no religion is not going to happen. In Vancouver the Sikhs were killing each other over the religious issue of…wait for it… should they have chairs in their temple. I don’t think I will expect reason from such minds as theirs.

  10. Second Thought says:

    Unfortunately, no religion does not guarantee rational thinking. Just look at some of the problems within movement atheism.

  11. LastResort says:

    Darwin Harmless, Dean Doctor Swift would have loved that one.

    Second Thought, you are entirely correct. It is a flaw in the software. It is a large sadness but evolution doesn’t work like engineering.
    In many ways, engineering doesn’t work like engineering, either due to the influence of management and button counters but it does more often than biology.
    There have been many tales of those who have tried to improve on humanity using engineering of one sort or another, creating the Superman or just The Real Man. In general, the over-people, the new and improved men are flawed in ways that reflect their origins. New Gods have temper tantrums writ large. But that is fiction.
    I am not sure the reality would be so bad. It is possible that a real improved version of Man would be entirely better.
    It is even within the bounds of our dreams that she has already arrived.

  12. Suffolk Blue says:

    *second thought* – I’m not quite sure what you mean by “problems within movement atheism”. Are you referring to the bloody centuries of war and torture between rival atheist sects?

    Or are you saying we’re all really bad dancers?

  13. Sinnataggen says:

    As we all know, religion is often no joking matter.

    Not least to Raif Badaw, a Saudi Arabian who has been condemned to 1 000 – ONE THOUSAND whip lashes for the henious crime of starting a netsite for social and liberal debate. The theocratic dictatorship of Saudi Arabia, (our good friends and allies AND customers) will spread this atrocity out over many weeks. What do Muslims around the world think about that? Will they squirm with shame at this act of barbaric cruelty? Will they decry it in the mosques? How many will experience doubts about a religion which goes to such lengths to stifle open debate and criticism.
    As for the rest of us, we can and should help to bring Badawi’s suffering to the world’s attention. Contact your local Amnesty. Write to the Saudi ambassador in your country.

  14. Stephen Mynett says:

    Second Thought, you are correct that all atheists do not agree but none of us use a mythical being as an excuse to exercise prejudice against, torture or murder those who do not share are ideas/ideals. We can, at least, argue in an academic way and accept evidence, something religionists steadfastly refuse to do.

  15. hotrats says:

    Joan Rivers 1933-2014

    You make the beds, you do the dishes, and six months later you have to start all over again.

    I have so little sex appeal that my gynecologist calls me “Sir”.

    I caused my husband’s heart attack. In the middle of love-making I took the paper bag off my head. He dropped the Polaroid and keeled over and so did the hooker. It would have taken me half an hour to untie myself and call the paramedics, but fortunately the Great Dane could speed-dial.

    After we made love he took a piece of chalk and made an outline of my body.

    Every woman in this room tonight: Think like a second wife. You grab and you take. You grab and you take. And when you die, whatever you got out of him you have buried on you. If the next bitch wants it, make her dig for it.

    A man can sleep around, no questions asked, but if a woman makes nineteen or twenty mistakes, she’s a tramp.

  16. Hotrats, I never tuned in to Joan Rivers. Those quotes make me very sorry about this.

  17. My favourite was Phyllis Diller (July 17, 1917 – August 20, 2012) Her act was scrupulously family friendly, but in private she told the most amazingly coarse jokes.

    Question: What’s black and hairy and sits on a wall?

    Answer: Humpty Cunt

    (You have to appreciate that this was back in the days when “cunt” was still an unspoken vulgarism, even by the most out there comedians.)

    I didn’t really get it, but Phyllis thought it was hilarious. She also laughed hard when I told her about my uncle, who claimed to play the swinette – Two cunt hairs of a sow stretched tight over its asshole and plucked with the front teeth. We had a late night into our cups competition going, you see. Damn but I’m sorry she’s gone.

    But I digress.

  18. Second+Thought says:

    Suffolk Blue – I’m not referring to centuries of war and torture but rather to things like the waves of harassment (some of which is still going on years later) that followed Rebecca Watson saying ‘don’t do that’ regarding a proposition in an elevator in the middle of the night.

  19. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Joan Rivers 1933-2014

    If they (Palestinians) fire rockets from schools and hospitals they have no right to complain when Israel bombs those schools and hospitals. Every dead Palestinian kid is their own fault. (paraphrasing from an interview she gave last month).

    She may have had a wicked sense of humour but religion poisoned even that well.

    As to this weeks theme, I’ve got a feeling that the only thing that could possibly stop all of the nonsense would be a live appearance by The One True God.
    I think the odds are pretty much stacked against that.
    Failing that, and bearing in mind that they have rejected peaceful solutions to their differences since Methuselah was a boy, our only hope is that they kill each other at a faster rate than they can breed replacements.
    Humanity: it must have seemed such a good idea on paper!

  20. LastResort says:

    Acolyte how could the Allahites trust that the Judites’ “One True God” is also their OTG? And why would the Shiites believe the word of a OTG that supported the Sunnis? For that matter, what would a Lutheran or Baptist or Moonie or Mormon think of a OTG that swooped down and casually said it was the OTG of the damned Papists?.
    How could the Orthodoxies possibly accept the word of a OTG that said it was the OTG of the Jews or the silly Mormons or the even sillier Hubbardites?
    Thor, Odin and Zeus’s entire pantheon could swear blind on a stack of Marvel(TM) Comics first editions that the guy standing among them is the real, true, verifiable, authentic OTG and still whichever cults were not the first cult to be contacted would go to war over the lying sod.
    The OTG appearing would be the worst and least convincing thing that could ever happen.
    If there were a OTG it would probably be smart enough to work this out for itself.
    And to avoid this species like a plague.

    Sad, isn’t it, that a visit from Big daddy could be the worst thing to happen?

  21. LastResort says:

    The problem, Acolyte, is that faith has nothing to do with reality. No matter what the Second Coming of a re-incarnated Mohammed said about the K’ran being a mass of syphilis-induced trash the various schisms of Islam would refuse to accept one word of his claims. The most that would happen would be the creation of yet more semi-Islamite-looking cults.
    And more wars.
    The famous Mr. Carpenter from Nazareth could join him, together with the angel Moroni and still those protesting faith would stick to what they know and love instead of the “truth”.
    Indeed, even with miracles aplenty, the second comings would most likely end up being drugged and incarcerated for their own protection. That’s a far more probable result than them getting their own TV shows.
    Should they stay unjailed and undoped and should they manage to reach milliards through modern communications media, they would no more stop the strife or end one single cult than would the appearance of their Big Daddy, no matter how firmly they attested to having lied the first time round.
    Nor would they or their Daddy OTG convince some infidels.
    I’m not sure what would convince me but some raggedy hippy doing magic tricks would not be sufficient and the magical reification of an alleged creator of the cosmos would be a big idea to swallow.
    I would doubt. I would look for the man behind the curtain. I would want to know how the alien is doing that. I would look for her starship.
    I think that I could be convinced but I’m not sure what would be convincing enough.
    A being so powerful could, after all, lie. Everyone lies.
    If a supposedly rational and unbiased reasoning being finds it difficult to accept such a OTG or its messenger reborn it must be ever so much harder for the faithful.
    I have nothing to lose by its existence being proven, they have their lives and faiths and cultures and justifications for all of the atrocities. Some of them even have their jobs on the line.
    Mr. Carpenter, Jim Jones, Mo’, Mr. Moon, Mr. Smith or his angel, no matter who came back to disavow their religion it would not work. And no matter where the OTG appeared it would cause conflict and create chaos.
    Proof would be a disaster.
    Worse than no proof by far.

    The only way to stop religion is to kill all of the religious and to educate the infants into reason and faithlessness.
    And I don’t want to meet anyone who thinks that is a good solution.

  22. Be reasonable says:

    There were two men in an asylum, both claiming to be Jesus. The only certainty was that ONE of them was a liar.

  23. mafanoo says:

    Religion does not implicitly cause suffering. The division of society into different classes does. Religion does not do that. The church helps the poor in many instances. In other instances it gets? influences from capitalism and is controlled by it.

  24. LastResort, “Hubbardites”? I’m so stealing that. 🙂

    If the OTG were to appear to me, I’d have a choice to make. Either I was face to face with the OTG, or I’d gone completely nuts. Given the probability of the letter versus the former, I think there’s no way I could be convinced to believe.

    I think we are on the same page here.

  25. LastResort says:

    Darwin Harmless you have committed one of the prime logical errors, the Fallacy of The Excluded Middle.
    You may be sane and the OTG might be there but it could be lying. It could just be a little alien girlie with a spaceship full of magic tricks.
    The one attribute a OTG *must* have is ability to inspire the sudden icy clarity of certainty in doubters.
    However, I would be reluctant to trust even this. Altering the chemistry of a brain could be easy for an alien with transporter and replicator tech.
    I have seen *human* magicians do the inexplicable and seemingly impossible. Aliens with better tech should be able to do much more impressive magic tricks.

    Seeing a OTG may not mean you are broken, it may merely mean the OTG is fake.

    And you are very welcome to “Hubbardites”. A friend of mine once called them “Ellronnies”. You are welcome to that, too, if you want it.

  26. LastResort says:

    mafanoo just about every single religion cuts humanity into three separate and highly unequal parts: Priests, sheep and unbelievers. There are a few Protestant Christian cults, like the Church of Jesus Christ of The Latter Day Saints, who pretend not to have a distinct priestly class but there are still elders of the church who make the decisions and gather in the money and have the first pick of the available virgins.
    Every religion is all about the priests getting off the farm and getting laid. Having money and power are essential parts of the process but they are really secondary to the essence. Priests do not want to do farm work and they want loads of juicy, choice nookie, the younger and tastier the better. Having good food with many meat meals per day, wearing pounds of gold and strutting around commanding kings and armies are bonuses.
    To ensure the continuity of their privilege the priests always need a distraction, an evil for the peasants to hate, something for the congregation to focus on apart from the expanding waistlines of the boss priests and the decreasing numbers of child virgins in the village. The thing they choose is “evil” and it almost always comes in the form of infidels, unbelievers, False Believers, heretics and heathens. Those and witches. Priests need evil. Without it there is nothing to “fight”, nothing to hate, nothing to despise and nothing to attack. Without evil the ones paying for the lavish lifestyles of the priests might just look at the priests themselves and see them as the great evil.
    So religion does not only do evil it creates evil. Religion, organised religion with fat, lecherous bosses on top of tiny children thrives on and demands the existence of evil and must therefore have a third class of people: the satanic infidel.
    All organised religions, from that of Ra and Mammet to those of Mary, Mo and Joe Smith, are simple frauds set up to allow an elite to pocket the loose change and rape with impunity.
    Even such simplistic “New Age” religions as Wiccan. It may seem to be very accepting and tolerant but it has upper-classmen, bullies, and it has “The Enemy”, the people who don’t fit.
    All religion is divisive. All religion has hate. All religion has bosses and their pimps.
    Sure, the Roman Catholic Church also has CAFOD to scrape a few pennies from the tithings and scatter them among the poor. But compare the spending on the poor to that on the Vatican. Or on one single occupant thereof. The many milliards of poor come off as a very poor [pun intended] second.
    Every church spends far more on its priests and itself than it does on charity. Every single one. They have to to survive and to grow. Advertising costs money and bribing judges isn’t cheap.
    Mr. Gates is far more charitable than every single church that has ever existed. Hell, so am I.
    All religions, all organised religions are out for themselves.
    And all are evil.
    There are still two hundred girls out in the jungle being mass, serially and gang-raped and sold off to savages for the profit and pleasure of a bunch of religious fruit-cakes who call themselves “Book-learning is bad”.
    They are not an extreme. They are the essence of all religions. You do not need to take my word for that, merely wander around the Bible Belt of the U.S.A. where the idea of learning from one and only one “book” is firmly part of their culture and any intellectual who reads two in his lifetime is treated with great suspicion and hostility. “Book-learning is bad” is a well-used refrain.
    And every single other church on the planet is supporting and condoning them. For they all see the obvious, if they break ranks and condemn Boko Haram then they must condemn themselves, too...
    Religion is evil. Religion made evil. Without religion two hundred girls would be learning from “evil, satanic” science books and “Cosmo”.
    Without religion the bombings would stop.
    Without religion the killings would stop.
    Not all of them but a vast majority.
    You are wrong, mafanoo, religion does implicitly cause suffering, by its very nature it must.
    Religion is the root of most evil. Lust covers much of the rest.
    What else in this world mandates the stoning of a rape victim?
    And has a whole town witness and enjoy the fun?
    Religion is evil. And sick.

  27. LastResort says:

    Religion is evil. Religion made evil. Without religion two hundred girls would be learning from “evil, satanic” science books and “Cosmo”.


  28. Stephen Mynett says:

    LastResort, great post, a lot of good points.

    Mafanoo, check out the many stories, all evidenced, of children accused of witchcraft in Africa, especially DR Congo. Churches make a lot of money from accusations of witchcraft, about three times and average wage in Congo is the cost of an exorcism.
    Many children are made homeless because of the witch accusations, they may be the lucky ones as others are tortured and/or murdered. All of this is done in the name of religion, which is inspired by western evangelical teachers. That is a direct link to religion and suffering.

  29. LastResort says:

    Thanks, Stephen.
    I tried to avoid specifics as those can often be spun by the godly as being unusual and the province of strange cults with weird and fanatical perversions of the true faith. That is even true in many cases but once the accumulation of atrocities committed by a variety of offshoots of the “main faiths” reaches a certain level it is impossible to divorce the nuts from the chocolate. After thousands of cults have perpetrated milliards of obscenities it becomes evident that there is a general cause to the effect, a cause that must be common to all and that this cause can only be religion itself.
    It is not a belief in evil witches or evil witchcraft that allows rape and murder on a massive scale through the generations, it is a faith that demands that there be evil for its own survival. That faith is the organised religion of the Jew, the Christian and the Islamic. The religion of the book.
    There was a chance to eliminate it forever two millennia ago when it was weak and causing very little pain but the Romans, who were usually such a pragmatic and realistic people, wimped out and let it live.
    It would have cost far less to exterminate the faith of the book then than the endless squabbling over trivia has done even in only this Century.
    I wonder if the Romans could have done it had they known what was to come?
    I wonder if it would have been right?

  30. Stephen+Mynett says:

    LastResort, it is something I have often wondered, had Constantine failed in his attempt to become ruler whether Christianity would have taken off the way it did.

    There is some interesting stuff on this site:

    Perhaps some of it is a bit OTT but, in general, I think there are some good points made, especially about the historicity of the bible, things like Nazareth did not exist at the time the Jesus character was supposed to.

  31. Anyway, not only do we Americans kill ourselves in record numbers, we make crazy movies, too. I know this is annoying, but as a personal favor to a loyal Paetron, please click and laugh at this

  32. Jerry www says:

    Or, to save thinking, how about Occam’s razor?

  33. Robert,+not+Bob says:

    Mafanoo: Obviously you mean inherently. Encouraging people to believe things against evidence is harmful, because it leads to harmful behavior, such as forgoing real medicine in favor of homeopathy or faith healing. Even if religion did consistently help the poor, instead of enriching itself at the poor’s expense which it has done since thousands of years before capitalism, that itself would be a harm.

  34. Chiefy says:

    LastResort, in the last thread you said, “But it is an interesting question: where do the rules come from if the ultimate authority is me?”
    Easy, from you of course. More generally, whether mankind makes the rules directly, or has the god they created make them, the source is the same.

  35. LastResort says:

    Chiefy this is very difficult for me to do but imagine my rules stop me from thieving, stop me from killing or torturing and stop me from lying, cheating and evading taxes (but still allow me to avoid them if I can find a legal loophole). So far, I’m a good guy, right? So what if I also see females as less than property and existing only for my personal fun? {That’s the difficult bit.}
    Would that “me” still be a good guy?
    No, he’d be a flaming rapist.
    I really can’t see me in there but if I make the rules then there is no real reason why I can’t be that guy.
    To me, he’s wrong. He’s very, very wrong but there is no objective measure that makes him wrong.

    “The good of the many outweighs the good of the few, or the one.”
    Hundreds of thousands of years of civilisation and that’s the best the Vulcans ever came up with. It’s true enough as far as it goes. It is easy to count bodies and to determine which scale has more of them on it, but that is not morality. It is not civilisation.
    I once saw an advertisement from the recruitment office of the UKlander Police Force. It said something like: “To protect the many against the one … and the one against the many.”
    They are supposed to protect the many vulnerable kiddy-winkles against the nasty, vile paediatrician and to protect the pedagogue against the newspaper-driven mob of illiterates. That is civilisation.
    And how does that relate to my rules for me? Well, I certainly don’t want to have be forced against my will to have relations with some sweaty, smelly. hairy, fat, ugly old man so the idea that women should just accept it is a definite one-forcing-itself-on-many and is wrong. It is even wrong by the simplistic Vulcan measuring rod.
    However, forcing me to smack my head against the floor while listening to some ancient crock and waving my bum in the air is also wrong. It is contrary to the second part of the Policeman’s Creed.
    The problem comes in that the bum-waving enforcers are being highly Vulcan. They are waiving my rights in favour of their own because they outweigh me. They outweigh me by a milliard to one. They also out-gun me. By the Vulcan IDIC they are in the right.
    By theirs, too.
    By my rules taking what I want from women is wrong and forcing me to bum-high-for-Jesus is also wrong. By theirs the first can often be the proper mode of behaviour {have you read the sacred porn?} and the second is often mandatory on pain of death or worse.
    So what makes me right?
    What makes me right when the Islamics, the Christians and the Vulcans say I’m wrong?
    In my view what makes me right, or less wrong, is that I harm fewer people. It is not a huge distinction but it is the best I have. I am a good being because I do not harm.
    In my view that makes me far better than every religion and every church ever constructed, including all present ones.
    But I’m a rather arrogant bastard.
    And I hate Vulcans.

    I would have taken the ship.


    And the paediatrician remark was deliberate. That kind of slip is why innocent autodidactic pedants get beaten up in schools and erudite pedagogues get thrown out of countries. I’m sort of surprised bicycle pedals haven’t been banned …

  36. Chiefy says:

    The code might be: “So far as it is within your power, harm no one, help some, and try to be fair.” All that remains is to define the terms “harm”, “help”, and “fair”, with as much objectivity as we can muster.
    I think I agree with you, LastResort. The problem lies with those who claim objective standards for their rules, based on their purely subjective concept of god. They just use the name “God” to lend credence to their own preferences.

  37. Empiricist says:

    hotrats quoting Joan Rivers: You make the beds, you do the dishes, and six months later you have to start all over again.

    “Don’t bother with the dusting. After the first twenty-five years it doesn’t get any thicker.” Me, mis-quoting the irreplaceable Quentin Crisp., one of the truly great Englishmen.
    His version : “There is no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse.” can be found here.

    I never liked Joan Rivers, nor Phyllis Diller, they always struck me as too obvious, too raucous, just too loud. I think I missed a lot of fun.

    LastResort You paid by the word? Like, heavy, dude. Have a beer, man and chill.
    It could be worse. The Muslims could have invented the Internet …

  38. Empiricist says:

    Empiricist :”It could be worse. The Muslims could have invented the Internet …”


  39. Empiricist says:

    To get almost back on topic, we have this. (No spoilers.)
    Delightful man.

  40. LastResort says:

    Empiricist: “LastResort You paid by the word?”

    Do you mean to tell us that you are not?
    Wait, you don’t get paid more than me, do you?

    Chiefy, “fair” to me means I get some and you get some and neither of us feels cheated. “Fair” to some means they get the pork chops and I get pigs ears and knuckles. “Fair” is an unfair and divisive term.
    “Harm” and “help” can often be agreed upon by quite reasonable people but “fair” is something that even the most agreeable of folk can argue over.
    Someone posted this in a newsgroup:
    “During special meals, my wife would have half a plate full of mushrooms and she would give me one. That was because I didn’t like mushrooms much but we agreed that I would eat one so I was sharing the experience.” (Paraphrased from memory.)
    To me, and him, that sounds fair. I assume it was fair to her, too.
    Unequal is not always unfair.

  41. LastResort says:

    Empiricist, Quentin has a younger namesake, none of whose writings I have read. I wonder if they are anything alike? If I ever get the time, I’ll look up and read some of his work. After I’ve done the other fifty million things I mean to get around to.
    No, I’ve not suddenly gone all delusional, I am not thinking that the name is the territory so all Quentins must be alike, I just find it interesting that there is a real person named after the man.
    His parents must either not have liked him or had zero sense of humour.

    Robert not Bob homoeopathy is based on the magical idea that the map and the territory are one. That a root that resembles a pair of lips should cure … errr … cold sores and that a drink touched by the magic of that root should have the same curative powers no matter how diluted it may be. It is an interesting concept that just happens to be contrary to physics as we now understand it. Today, homoeopathy is as silly as crystal healing and the wearing of magnetic bracelets to cure Dengue but it was a valid theory once – because it often works. People given expensive water in small vials do sometimes recover.
    If you know nothing of how infectious diseases work attributing the recovery to the drink makes as much sense as anything else.
    More so as those who do not recover never get reported in the statistics. They don’t complain about failed cures. It is a system with a built-in confirmation bias.

    What is sad is that such magical thinking is still the mainstay of much of the cultural baggage in the corner part of Africa where Ebola is now quite popular and that it interferes with the real work being done to stop the bug. And that the same is true n regions where HIV rules.
    It is also sad that the same thinking makes spittle a highly-prized soup, hair a valued aphrodisiac and toe-nails a male fertility enhancer in a vast nation of people rich enough to support poachers of the animals that supply these “medicines” and “delicacies”.
    Birds’ Nest Soup is no better than several chefs spitting into a bowl. Rhinoceros horn has no more magical powers than my pubic hairs. Tiger foreskins have no more medicinal qualities than my toe-nail clippings, maybe less as my clippings should have traces of yeasts which provide B1.
    Magical thinking is killing entire species for nothing.
    It is also hampering a resolution of the current Ebola disaster and causing much harm where HIV is prevalent.
    I wish I could wave a wand and totally eliminate all magical thinking.


    Should I add a smilie, now?

  42. Robert,+not+Bob says:

    LastResort, it sounds like you got my message backwards.

  43. LastResort says:

    In the interesting meme category, we have this.

    And I just had this terrible thought: if that Darwin guy was right and we’re all mere products of evolution that means girls only look pretty because my DNA is telling me to like them and it’s processing their image through a go-get-them filter.
    So what the hell do they really look like?
    And when I find out will I be really, really scared? Of them.
    More than I am now?

  44. LastResort says:

    Robert, not Bob I don’t think I got your message wrong. You were saying homoeopathy is bad because it encourages magical thinking which gets in the way of modern medical techniques which actually work.
    I just agreed with you but I used far, far more words.
    I had a go at oriental “medicine” while I was at it. It is not quite so much a non sequitur as it first appears.
    Empiricist was right. I used too many words and I need a beer.

  45. JohnM says:

    @LR I’m sort of surprised bicycle pedals haven’t been banned …

    Or even just walking at a slow, steady pace on the sidewalk.

  46. white squirrel says:

    Empiricist :”It could be worse. The Muslims could have invented the Internet …”

    muslims inventing a method for the free exchange and debate of knowledge and ideas

    it would never have happened

  47. Suffolk+Blue says:

    @Last Resort – top ranting, my friend. And spot on with your observations.

    As regards the morality of “least harm”, it made me think of this – the last verse of Frank Zappa’s The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing:

    Do what you wanna
    Do what you will
    Just don’t mess up
    Your neighbor’s thrill
    ‘N when you pay the bill
    Kindly leave a little tip
    And help the next poor sucker
    On his one way trip. . .

  48. Suffolk+Blue says:

    Here’s the whole lyric, in case you’re interested:

    “The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing”

    Some take the bible
    For what it’s worth
    When it says that the meek
    Shall inherit the Earth
    Well, I heard that some sheik
    Has bought New Jersey last week
    ‘N you suckers ain’t gettin’ nothin’

    Is Hare Rama really wrong
    If you wander around
    With a napkin on
    With a bell on a stick
    An’ your hair is all gone…
    (The geek shall inherit nothin’)

    You say yer life’s a bum deal
    ‘N yer up against the wall…
    Well, people, you ain’t even got no
    Deal at all
    ‘Cause what they do
    In Washington
    They just takes care
    An’ NUMBER ONE ain’t YOU
    You ain’t even NUMBER TWO

    Those Jesus Freaks
    Well, they’re friendly but
    The shit they believe
    Has got their minds all shut
    An’ they don’t even care
    When the church takes a cut
    Ain’t it bleak when you got so much nothin’
    (So whaddya do)
    Eat that pork
    Eat that ham
    Laugh till ya choke
    On Billy Graham
    Moses, Aaron ‘n Abraham…
    They’re all a waste of time
    ‘N it’s yer ass that’s on the line

    Do what you wanna
    Do what you will
    Just don’t mess up
    Your neighbor’s thrill
    ‘N when you pay the bill
    Kindly leave a little tip
    And help the next poor sucker
    On his one way trip. . .
    (Aw gimme a half a dozen for the hotel room!)

  49. Robert,+not+Bob says:

    LastResort, I used homeopathy as an example of the sort of thing encouraged by religion-inspired magical thinking. Read it again. We agree that homeopathy is bad because it doesn’t work.

  50. hotrats says:

    Suffolk Blue +1 (if that’s not too predictable, coming from a miscreant called hotrats)

    You can find more of the master’s wit and wisdom here:

    My own favourites are his take on the Garden of Eden:

    The whole foundation of Christianity is based on the idea that intellectualism is the work of the Devil. Remember the apple on the tree? Okay, it was the Tree of Knowledge. “You eat this apple, you’re going to be as smart as God. We can’t have that.”

    …The subtext is, All the suffering you have is because you wanted to find out what was going on. You could be in the Garden of Eden, if you had just kept your fucking mouth shut and hadn’t asked any questions.

  51. LastResort says:

    Robert, not Bob, okay, sorry. Won’t do it again.

    hotrats and Suffolk Blue there are some very smart people among them there long-haired gee-tar playing folks. Some of them even make really interesting music, too.

    See, my empirical friend, I can do short ones.

  52. Robert,+not+Bob says:

    LastResort, nah, you probably will do it again-and so will I. Imperfect, y’know. 😉

  53. Suffolk+Blue says:

    Thanks for the link, hotrats. Most of those quotes were familiar to me, but there were a few I’d never seen before.

    In fact, I think you and I may have briefly discussed the great man before on here. I listen to an unhealthy amount of his music.

    Great googalie moogalie

  54. Mark S says:

    AoS: You said:

    If they (Palestinians) fire rockets from schools and hospitals they have no right to complain when Israel bombs those schools and hospitals. Every dead Palestinian kid is their own fault. (paraphrasing from an interview she gave last month).

    She may have had a wicked sense of humour but religion poisoned even that well.

    I think I’m missing something.

    This quote seems to be about who bears the responsibility for the collateral damage when you intentionally deploy your forces so that any enemy response has a high probability of killing non-combatants. This is not just a matter of the fighting passing a school and the school receiving some collateral damage — it is a matter of specifically deploying your forces onto the school grounds so that the enemy response will inevitably cause collateral damage and civilian casualties.

    This is, unfortunately, a key strategy in modern asymmetric warfare. But it only works because neutral observers (i.e. us) do not consider it a significant war crime for your forces to hide behind children.

    It sucks the be used as a human shield, and we should condemn those who do it. But they will continue to do it as long as we keep giving them sympathy and support for the loss of their human shields.

    So it seems your paraphrase of the quote is actually a quite reasonable statement. How is religion even involved?

  55. JohnM says:

    @ Mark S “I think I’m missing something.”

    Nope. Spot on.
    Although you are missing a seemingly unfortunate tendency to “bandwagon” with whichever side’s media gets its message first-up on search engines.

  56. Ken Kukec says:

    Re: linked Telegraph article about Dominic Grieve:

    It’s not enough that England has a State church? It needs to grant special dispensation for Christians to proselytize to captive audiences on someone else’s time?

  57. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Mark S “How is religion even involved?
    What? Israel v Palestine?
    I guess you had to actually see the interview I referenced, and listen to the ranting tone of the old girl to get the full context of the quote.

    JohnM and MarkS, bandwagonning my arse. If you think I need media soundbytes to form an opinion then you’ve obviously not read a thing I’ve written here over the last five years.
    A similar scenario to the one I was talking about; yet another American arms himself to the teeth and climbs onto a school roof during lesson time to take pot-shots at passers-by. Would the SWAT team then be justified in dropping a ton of high explosive onto the school to neutralise the threat?
    The kids in the school would be as innocent of involvement in the gunman’s crimes as the pupils of the Palestinian school were innocent of involvement in the war, yet I’m sure there’d be an even bigger outcry over my hypothetical American scenario.

    And considering that at least two of Israel’s targets were supposedly under U.N. protection, the resultant response from that organisation has been underwhelming at best. I wonder why that is?

  58. Thoth says:

    You couldn’t make it up… or can you?

    From an Interview with the former attorney general, Dominic Grieve, in the Sunday Telegraph 23rd August 2014.

    “The ‘appalling’ scenes in Iraq, which have seen Islamic extremists behead and crucify religious minorities including Christians, showed that it was ‘more important than ever’ for people to express their religious beliefs, he said.”

  59. JohnM says:

    @AoS “A similar scenario to the one I was talking about; yet another American arms himself to the teeth and climbs onto a school roof during lesson time to take pot-shots at passers-by. …”

    If I was i/c SWAT at your hypothetical scenario I’d simply move the passers-by to a distance that exceeded the range of any weapon the psychopath may have. So if despite other options the high explosive was used then, yes, I’d be pretty damned upset – and very much part of the outcry.

  60. Robert,+not+Bob says:

    Just before the next one comes out, I’d like to comment on the point of the panel. To certain folks, the violence is not the problem. The problem is their group not having more power.

  61. Mark S. says:

    AoS: I did not accuse you of bandwagoning. I presented an alternate interpretation.

    I don’t think that every statement about the Israel/Hamas conflict is inherently religious. Yes, both sides make mutually exclusive claims based on religion. But strategy and tactics can be topics of reasoned analysis independent of religion. I am neither Jew nor Muslim, but I conclude that some portion of the Hamas faction (which happens to be Muslim) is satisfied with the current outcome, or else they would not have re-initiated hostilities. They must think that escalating the conflict will somehow get them what they want. They know that Israel will retaliate against missile launch sites, and they choose to launch from schools and hospitals anyway. Actually, it is a win-win for them: maybe Israel refrains from retaliating, or maybe the kill a school.

    I take your example as rather informative. It would appear that one reason we disagree is that I consider “war” and “policing” to be two distinct activities.

    Police have a duty to protect the innocents in the area where a crime is occurring. (Ok, that’s a stretch — the police are not required to intervene just because you are being murdered, but let’s say it’s a close enough approximation of their duty.) We expect that police will not shoot through a hostage to wound a criminal. In fact, they are not allowed to use excessive force because we aren’t even sure that they are confronting a criminal or not.

    If you accept the modern concept of “laws of war”, you’ll notice those laws explicitly accept collateral damage as a regrettable but inevitable result of war. When your enemy openly carries out attacks from within a crowd of non-combatants, they are inviting you to cause collateral damage.

    This is why I do not accept your school example as equivalent to the Israel/Hamas conflict.

    b.t.w. I keep saying Israel/Hamas because Israel/Fatah seem to be co-existing at a much lower level of conflict.

  62. LastResort says:

    Acolyte, we’ve seen in the Former Yugoslavia and much of Africa that being “under U. N. protection” simply means that the victims are concentrated and the perpetrators are protected from harassment while they work. Too often the U.N. soldiers are either utterly indifferent to the plight of peoples they have little understanding of or sympathy for or quietly side with the aggressors. Or simply do not care to get killed to protect foreigners in a foreign land whose own neighbours don’t like them.
    The U.N. could be a force for good in the world but like everything touched by politics it is a mess of compromise, compromised promise and corruption and it doesn’t work worth a damn. The only two good things to be said about it are that it is better than the old League of Nations and it just might possibly be better than having nothing at all. Maybe.

    Policing and military action are and should have forever remained completely different fields of endeavour. Military people need and should have armour and arms of the very best quality and should be relatively free to use them to defend their people. Policemen should *NEVER* be armed. Policemen should be given armour and shields to protect themselves and the public and perhaps something like a small baton or night-stick to prod reluctant drunks but no policeman should ever be armed. Not even in a riot. Especially not in a riot. Policemen in England have killed with their fists. They have killed innocent people passing a peaceful protest on their way to their homes. Surely that is sufficient to show that no policeman ever needs a weapon?
    Soldiers, yes. Their job is not to get killed, not to let their people get killed and to intimidate the enemy sufficiently thoroughly that the enemy does neither of those things. This can be a horrible task that involves using force on every level from merely standing and looking threatening to volatilising whole armies. Soldiers, and armed forces at sea and airborne, need lethal weaponry.
    No policeman ever does.
    The two jobs are not the same.
    A squad of cops can protect the public from any number of heavily-armed men simply with shields and body-armour and that is their only job. Arresting the perps is secondary. A long way secondary. And that can be done once the bad guys run out of bullets.
    If a policeman has the weaponry to kill he is a military force.
    S.W.A.T. are an army.
    The difference in thinking between fighting a war and policing a people is what could be the only solution to the various conflicts we see around us. As I semi-seriously proposed a while back (I think it was me?) using a swarm of millions of civilians to invade and conquer the ISIS or Boko or “Occupied Regions” areas, arresting anyone with a weapon, soldier or civilian, and letting the International Courts sort it all out could potentially stop many of those squabbles. Sending in policemen officers from a Police Service not a “police force” would be an act of civilised respect for the human rights of all sides.
    Sending in troops, military, from external “policing” superpowers, whether individual nations, treaty alliances or the U.N. itself merely adds yet another enemy to fight.
    To stop a bar fight you do not bomb the bar into oblivion, you arrest those still fighting and a few on the floor.
    The United Nations needs to send in cops. Unarmed cops, police officers from a policing service, whose first priority is to protect the lives of everyone including themselves.
    You can’t do that if you are armed like Terminators.
    S.W.A.T. is wrong. Armed police are wrong.
    This should never happen. Never. This is how a knife-wielding criminal should be dealt with. Left alive to face justice. It is how all criminals, even those who kidnap two hundred girls, should leave the scene.

    And now everyone thinks I’m a nut.
    Which, while true, does not detract from the message.
    Policing is not a military activity. Nor should it become one.

  63. LastResort says:

    Bummer. Before “Left alive” should have been a “/a” in angle brackets to close the link. Sloppy workmanship again. Sorry.
    I think the slopey, bold “policemen” should have been followed by a comma. There may be other errata.

  64. Empiricist says:

    Rough guess, LR, yours was being typed while Mark was sending his?

    When it’s time to railroad …

    And it serves you right, LR for being a wordy bugger. 🙂

  65. be reasonable says:

    OK, I’m going to throw in my tuppence worth, largely in response to a previous debate about whether priests actually believe the stuff they preach.
    It seems to me that part of the problem with religion is that no child is born knowing anything about religion. The narratives of religion have to be taught; they have to be indoctrinated into the child from an early age. No child is born Christian, Muslim or Hindu. They are simply born to parents who subscribe to one particular narrative, or, more often, parts of it. Whether you are ‘born’ Christian, Muslim, or any other religion is a matter of where and when you are born. The narratives of religion are transmitted by narrative symbols, by texts and by the spoken word of the prevailing local culture and the meta-culture of one particular ‘civilisation.’ (For example, my own narrative location/s would include white, working class, Anglo-Irish, ‘Christian’, British, scientific-rationalist, European).
    Each narrative is completely plastic & ambiguous; each person takes from the narrative whatever he or she most likes. Each individual has a perspective, a view of the world and their place in it, and therefore he or she will take from a narrative whatever validates that world view and ignore or vilify whatever challenges that world view. Narratives can never be true, only convenient. They mainly function as instruments of the will to power of individuals and groups, usually the dominant class or group within a society. To me, this is what makes Islam in particular so fundamentally dishonest. When we are fed the narrative “Islam is a religion of peace” it is an assertion of the will to power within one particular group of Muslims. In effect, we are told, ‘don’t be anxious, we mean you no harm, we are not interested in having power over you. (Aside: ‘at least, not until we outnumber you and can force you to submit’).
    The insanity of trying to maintain a fictitious narrative in the face of contradictory evidence is part of what makes religion watching so much fun. The problem for those who insist on the ‘TRUTH’ of their sacred texts is that their interpretation of the word ‘truth’ is absolutist. The sacred text of choice is declared to be the true word of God, Allah or Jahweh, and not one comma can be changed without bringing the whole edifice down. So, when evidence emerges that challenges the text, the true believers have to engage in all manner of logical, linguistic and semantic gymnastics to maintain the facade, even when they know, in their heart of hearts, that their narrative devices must be just that; convenient fictions.
    Apologies for the wordiness.

  66. two cents' worth says:

    be reasonable, what you wrote about the narratives of religion reminded me of something in an article written by Andrew Romano: “In the earliest episodes of True Detective, Pizzolatto established a clear dichotomy. On the one hand, there’s investigation — storytelling as a search for the truth. On the other hand, there’s religion — storytelling as an escape from the truth.” For the complete article, see

  67. WalterWalcarpit says:

    Where are my posts of last night?

  68. WalterWalcarpit says:

    Mark S, have you seen pictures of Gaza since the bombing stopped?
    How can you possibly suggest that was a win for anyone living there?

    And as for “Israel/Hamas because Israel/Fatah seem to be co-existing at a much lower level of conflict” I take it that you are unaware that it was the impending rapprochement between Fatah and Hamas that led the IOF to escalate its tactics of provocation and intimidation and a whole lot of other nastiness including reneging on just about every agreement made to end the previous war on Gaza (also initiated when the world was looking elsewhere) that preceded the pathetic resumption of missiles.
    Blaming Hamas is as ignorant as putting the cart befor the horse.

    Further to the human shields furfy, are you suggesting that Hamas, which is an elected government not an army, should fight its battles out in the open with its AK47s, mortars and slingshots to take on the tanks and aircraft of the fourth strongest army in the world? If so, which particular part of Gaza would you suggest has enough space to do that? Or perhaps that is what they were planning to do with their tunnels.

    And while you are at it please do remember that it was the IOF that first deployed human shields, and Palestinian children at that.

    Hamas’s fault. My arse.

  69. LastResort says:

    WalterWalcarpit asks :”Where are my posts of last night?”

    Where are the snows of yesteryear? Where are the dreams of last night? Where are the sunrises of tomorrow and its tomorrows? Where is the non-space, non-time that did not exist in the non-before?
    It is the ineluctable flow of time that glides past all things.

    Try a restore-last-session and a backspace or two. It probably won’t work but it’s worth a try.
    Or scrounge around among the cache files. You may find the text there.
    It is amazing how much modern computing devices store.

  70. be+reasonable says:

    Two Cents worth,
    interesting article, thanks. I’ve never seen ‘true detective’ (interesting layers of meaning in that name!) but I’ll keep an eye out for it. Nietzsche was deeply concerned that the negation of religion would lead to nihilism, but, as the article seems to say, that’s not the only response. I think a lot of people just adopt the narratives of their native culture without much thought; it is, after all, superficially easier to just go with the flow. It’s only when those narratives become absurd to us (in my case, when I was about 5 years old – bit of a late starter) that the search for truth begins in earnest.


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