This was inspired by the last interview of this video in which Jonathan Miller elegantly tells theologian Denys Turner to shut up and stop talking bollocks.

(You might need to view the vid via a proxy)

EDIT: To see the vid by proxy (necessary if you are in UK), try installing this plugin into Firefox and following the instructions. It’s a fantastic video. There’s enough material in there for several months’ worth of J&M scripts.

Discussion (38)¬

  1. Keegan says:

    Hilarious as always! A great way to start the day. Well done, author.

  2. HaggisForBrains says:

    @ Author – “

    (You might need to view the vid via a proxy)

    How does that work then?

    Love the joke BTW.

  3. Nassar Ben Houdja says:

    Opportunity missed to be quiet
    Should never be missed, sometime try it
    It appears very smart
    Not to verbally phart.
    Or worse, literally schit.

  4. Par says:

    Jonathan Miller 25:01

  5. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Oh Nassar, that bordered on brilliance but the last line really let you down. Too few syllables there. If you have 9 syllables each in line one and line 2, then you need the same in the last line.

    It never ceases to amaze me how they can tell us that god is outside of space and time and therefore cannot be known, then in the next breath tell us what that self-same god thinks. Amazing.
    Very astute pun there Author.

  6. Author says:

    @Haggis – The easiest way is to intall this plugin to Firefox and follow the instructions. I’ll make a note in the post…

  7. FreeFox says:

    Hm. Love this one. ^_^ The “God is beyond understanding” cop-out is even more silly than the “talking about religion hurts my feelings” cop-out (and probably on par with the “but do you want to live in a world without” cop-out.)

    Though listening to the blokes on the sceptics’ side reminded me once more of how many Christian or other religious memes beyond the blatant deism/interventionism remain unchallenged: Free will, human agency, any sort of teleological thinking (i.e. purpose, goals, etc.), natural in-born rights, equality, etc. Stripping the memesphere (including language, I suppose) of all those will be quite a task.

    PS.: Thanks for the proxy link. http://www.vtunnel.com/ is also a pretty useful and very accessible one for youtube and similar sites. It gets easily confused by frames, flash apps, and other stuff beyond simple html, though.

  8. HaggisForBrains says:

    Thanks to FreeFox for the proxy link which works for me.

    OMG, Author, that video is the mother-lode! I need a new irony meter now my old model has gone spoing!

    Rolls Royces evolving from Volkswagens!!! What kind of dumb interstellar-capable alien could think that. (Rovers perhaps, but VWs :-O).

    Must watch more, but difficult to watch and facepalm at same time.

  9. kikainonakanoyuurei says:

    Great strip Author!! The video is incredible also ~ if those mental gymnastics could be coverted to a physical routine it would be a gold medal Olympic performance. Thanks for the morning laugh!!

  10. Ketil W.Grevstad says:

    have a nice day everyone 🙂

  11. Love the “He’s famous.” argument from authority. Anybody who’s famous must be right about everything. Starting with Aristotle, who thought the brain functioned as a radiator, producing snot to cool the head. Come to think of it, for the famous Phelps family maybe he was right.

  12. FreeFox says:

    @DH: rofl… how so? Do they never sneeze and are therefore overheating their heads?

  13. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    @ DH & FF: It’s the same principal that causes so many ‘celebrities’ to be infesting the adverts.
    From constipation remedies to loan sharking, if a ‘famous’ name’s extolling the virtues of their shitty (sorry!) product it’ll sell like hotcakes.
    Which reminds me; I was browsing the books at a local ‘Sally Army’ charity shop on monday (one where I have made some good finds, like a 1st ed. Bronowski and an early Asimov ‘Foundation’ box set for 20p and 30p respectively); they keep the religious tomes seperate and among them was a guide to faith (whatever that means) by that great comedy duo ‘Cannon & Ball’…..If that pair are promoting religion then we may just have lost the battle. Sorry to Dawkins, Harris, the Hitch, Sagan et al. but religion’s played it’s ace, and it’s the ace of spades.
    “Rock on, Tommy”!

  14. @Acolyte of Sagan This from the Cannon and Ball wikipedia entry:
    “The pair are devout Christians and published a book called Christianity for Beginners.[5] Ball became a born-again Christian in 1986 and Cannon in 1992, their conversion having a lot to do with the re-kindling of their broken friendship. They now regularly feature in their own gospel and “an audience with…” show in churches around the country.”
    Looks like we’ve lost them. Sad.

  15. FreeFox says:

    @DH & AoS… uh… I just checked out some C&B sketches on youtube… I have to say… compared to, say, Carlin, Penn & Teller, Gervais, or Eddie Izzard it’s not really a great loss.

  16. FreeFox says:


    *snorts and giggles* 😛

    okay, okay, I’ll stop…

    (Hmm… can I still in good conscience tick the no spammer box now? Probably not… please don’t smite me, Author…)

  17. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Heh heh!
    Such a tragic loss, please tell me The Chuckle Brothers won’t be next.
    FF, you’ll have some REAL fun looking them up………..I promise 🙂

  18. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    @DH; I just re-read your post because I had the feeling that I had just read something so incredible that my brain was refusing to process it….I was right.
    ” They now regularly feature in their own gospel”
    Holy shit! The Gospel according to Saint Tommy and Saint Bobby (rock on, your holiness)? That I have GOT to see. Unbefuckinglievable.

    And my mind is still a-bogglin’.

  19. FreeFox says:

    Look, mates. Er. Bopping around on YouTube laughing my head off at comedians talking about religion, I stumbled across this, rather serious interview with Penn of Penn & Teller, telling the story of how he became an Atheist at the age of 16.
    And… well… he says he became an Atheist by actually reading the bible, cover to cover. Not because it was illogical or verifiably scientifically wrong, but because the world it presents, filled with slavery, murder, war, child-abuse, sexual abuse of women, homophobia, etc. was not one he WANTED to participate in. (At least that is how I understand him.)
    Which is the one big problem I have with this approach towards Atheism: Just as it doesn’t matter whether a Theist doesn’t WANT to believe in a world without God, it doesn’t matter if a morally upright Atheist doesn’t want to believe in a God who calls for the murder of little children. I mean, I can understand that you don’t LIKE such a God. But, well, look around in the world. Exactly what Penn describes, well, that is how the world really is. When I was little our teacher in religious instruction (a dried up Lutheran) kept telling me about this world of Love and Fairness and Equality, and I kept looking around in my life, and I thought: Fuck that? Where is that in any way relevant to my life? To the world I live in? It’s all fucked up, full of hatred and revenge and unfairness and violence and crime and passion.
    But I did read the bible, too, then. (And I’m not talking about the scientific literal side, I totally agree that’s utter bollocks of course, but as a literary description of, I dunno, emotional truth, or meaning…) Well, I though, yeah. That’s it. The God of the bible, passionate, vengeful, wrathful, at times loving and caring, but, like, for thieves like Jacob and charismatic, lecherous, murderous madmen like David, and at time loving in an outright sadistic way, like with Moses or Abraham, or Joseph, well… yeah, that’s it. A God like that explains everything. Everything that doesn’t make sense in the world otherwise. You know, like Monty Python is singing: “All things sick and cancerous, all evil great and small, all things foul and dangerous, the Lord God made them all.” So, from that perspective, the bible makes totale sense. I think.

  20. HaggisForBrains says:

    Yes FF, Izzard is excellent, and Dara O’Briain is another hugely entertaining atheist, particularly, like Dave Allen, as he is a Catholic atheist. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0123R6vjIoE

  21. FreeFox says:

    @HfB: Thanks for that vid. Hadn’t known D O’B before. Got tears running down my cheeks. Ta! Brilliant. *still giggling*

  22. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    @FF; That’s the only way that the bible makes any sense, the desert ramblers recognised that we live in a fucked-up world and invented a convenient scapegoat (for years one of my daughters referred to ‘escapegoats’, something Python-ish about that that still tickles me) to dump it on. “It wasn’t me Guv, goddidit..honest”!
    Then the holy rollers just wrote it down arse-end forwards to put god before the bollocks (and on re-reading for edit, that line is cleverer than I thought…Shit, pride’s a sin. Saint Bobby please forgive me).

    I can’t believe you haven’t come across O’Briain before. Does that clip show him explaining how back in Ireland, not believing in god doesn’t make one an atheist, just a ‘BAD’ Catholic?

    @HFB, Allen was a genius, one of the few that could make me literally weep with laughter.
    “Goodnight, and may your god go with you”; his closing line was pretty deep. There’s a meaning there that’s hiding just behind the assumed one that took me a long time to actually see.

  23. Henry Ford says:

    After a nice day in kew chasing down the handwriting of an unidentified collector of ferns it is just so nice having J&M to come home to

  24. Joaquin Consonant says:

    I’m really getting to like “Mo” as a character in this thing. He’s kind of smartass in his way. And Jesus comes off better here than in “the book” – humanized, without a bunch of sycophants following him around, feeding his ego.

  25. HaggisForBrains says:

    @AoS – that would be this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUVNZFylTdo

  26. @FreeFox I’m not an atheist because I don’t like the Christian representation of God. Or any other representation for that matter. The argument from consequences doesn’t work for me at all, not in favour of there being a God or against. I’m an atheist because the probability of there being such a personage seems incredibly remote to me, and the possibility that such a personage would have put this whole show together just for us, with a wait of a few billion years before we arrived on the scene, seems even more remote. I’m offended by the claims that we are somehow not animals, somehow special, created in God’s image, given dominion over all other creatures and all creation. This just seems stupid to me. So the bible may be an accurate description of humanity, but so is War and Peace, or A Tale of Two Cities. The whole concept of god is downright silly. There’s no logic there that works.

  27. Some Matt or other says:

    @FreeFox, I’ve had that thought, but not about the biblical god, but rather about polytheism. The notion that the world is run by unseen, competing deities has even more explanatory power. And of course, the more deities, the more sensical it all becomes, until eventually the deities are so finely-ground as to be functionally nonexistent.

  28. FreeFox says:

    @HfB: Brilliant, mate. Ta.

    @SomeMatt: Yeah… so coming towards A-theism via Infini-theism would be most-sensical! ^_^ (And yeah, I am a multi-pantheon polytheist… but DH and I went through all that a while back and at the end he didn’t really like me anymore for a time…)

    @DH: “Argument from consequence”, that one didn’t catch before. Like that. Though, I mean, are you certain? There is so much we keep bc of that. I think it was Daoloth who used this “I know it’s not precicely true but it’s such a convenient black-box shortcut to making sense” approach to Free Will, which of course doesn’t exactly exist in the real world either. If you view God on the same level as gravity or electromagnetism, no, it is an utterly illogical, nonsensical concept and you can only keep it up by either lying to yourself through your teeth or by willfuly suspending your sanity and turning yourself into a moron. Of course. But… like… the same is kinda true about, hm, human agency.
    Of course there is no “you” in you that thinks about things, comes to decisions, makes choices or any of that. Any sense of self, of personality, of causal agent in yourself or others is an illusionary side-effect of a complex and entirely soul-, sense-, and meaningless autonomous electro-bio-chemical system. You (and me and anyone else) aren’t in anyway more real personalities than anyone on the Sims. Just vastly more beautifully programmed.
    But for convenience sake and because, well, it would be very lonely and pointless and gloomy in a world where we in all scientific honesty just regarded ourselves and all others as arbitrary random meat-machines – because, in other words, we do’t want to live in such a world – we willfully suspend our rationality and predend we’re real people. (And also bc we got these little self-conditioning endorphin pumps that makes us all gooey and happy inside when we “connect” with each other, on that illusionary level).
    And on THAT level, to me, as such a black box shorthand for “world and meaning”, a God, brutal AND passionate, as described in the bible, kinda does make a lot of sense to me.
    But yeah. Just like “The Lord of the Flies”, and “The Little Prince”, and “Naked Lunch”, and all the other great works of human literature make sense, without being literally, scientifically true.
    (And God of course is by far not the only useful meta-metaphor… if you go for, I dunno, Mother Nature, or for Rampant Hedonism, or some misanthropic aethetic minimalism, hell, as long as it helps you make sense of the actual world instead of distracting you from it, yay for you.) ^_^

  29. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    @DH; You said ” I’m offended by the claims that we are somehow not animals, somehow special, created in God’s image”.
    I agree wholeheartedly with that statement, yet what surprises me is that this idea of seperation of man/animal is not confined to the faith heads, but is remarkably rife among the sceptic ‘community’. I’m referring to people who claim to understand and accept Darwinian evolution as being right, yet have an incredibly anthropocentric view of the order of things. There was a thread on a well-known site dedicated to reason some time ago regarding chimps showing compassion towards a very sick member of the troop, and possibly an awareness (though certainly not an understanding) of her death. Almost instantly there was post after post accusing the scientists involved in the study of anthropomorphising the chimp behaviour; of childishly attributing what they considered exclusive human behaviour to ‘mere’ animals, whilst conveniently forgetting that we and the chimps are very closely related animals, and that both chimp and human behaviour, emotional capacity, etc, was inherited from a recent common ancestor. We both feel the same emotions, the main difference being that humans understand why we feel them, yet these diehard ‘Darwinian evolutionists’ still somehow cling to the idea that once we became human we automatically became something ‘other’ than an animal, and to compare us to animals somehow insults their human-ness, and they get more defensive of our species the further back along the line one goes.
    I know, for example, when my dog is happy. I wouldn’t suggest for a second that the dog is aware that he’s happy but it’s blindingly obvious that he is experiencing an emotion relative to what we would call ‘happy’. If I dared to suggest that on the site alluded to above I would be crucified (sic) for my immature anthropomorphic projection, because (and I’ve just realised this) to accept it would be a massive blow to their egotistical superiority complex (they are the same ones who hate the idea of popularising science so that us non-university educated plebs can have a slice of knowledge because it makes them feel less special).
    So, faith heads believe that god made us seperately from the animals; cranium-up-rectum intellectuals believe that evolution achieved the same end. I’m glad to be in the middle of that particular bell curve and can accept that no god was involved and that I am just a clever animal.

  30. FreeFox says:

    @AoS: Hehe. Well. I know, for example, when my dog is happy. I wouldn’t suggest for a second that the dog is aware that he’s happy but it’s blindingly obvious that he is experiencing an emotion relative to what we would call ‘happy’.
    I would say, ‘being happy’, i.e. experiencing the signals of happiness in its brain, your dog is of course ‘aware’ of being happy. Unless you mean you by dint of being human have a special awareness that other creatures don’t have, instead of just a more differentiated one, like you dog has a more differentiated awareness of smells. 😛 You still have the same idea of “otherness”, it is culturally bred so deeply into us, it’s nearly impossible (and rather frightening) to truly let go of, innit?
    (Perhaps of course, we consider ourselves human by dint of our “other” – illusionary – awareness…)

  31. mano says:

    All these devilish theological conundrums sort of fade away if you’re willing to reject the existence of a god. Simple really.

  32. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    @FF; There’s a misunderstanding here and it’s my fault. What I’m saying is that I see no reason to apply ‘special-ness’ (as in ‘exceptional to the species’) to human emotion specifically (there’s that ‘species’ link again), or to humans in general. Yes, we’re a damn clever species, but unless we learn to effectively communicate with other species we simply can’t know just how alike we may be.
    You don’t need to go back very far to find a time when certain races were considered as something less than human simply because they were different, an attitude that sadly continues with some even today (in Russia, monkey calls are still directed at black footballers by the crowd). Only with the realisation that we are all just African apes did that begin to change.
    In conclusion, I don’t see my dog, or a chimp, as something less than human; more just another intelligent animal.

  33. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Or to put it another way; In the same way that you and I may perceive ‘yellow’ in totally different ways, yet still effectively see the same colour (we’d both point to the same colour on a chart), I think it highly likely that the intelligent species may perceive emotions differently from each other, yet feel the same result of that emotion. Different, but the same.

  34. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    And as if they were reading my mind;

  35. durham669 says:

    Watching that video was sickening especially the rationale for evil in the world and the notion that it’s not god’s fault. How can rational, thinking adults believe in a book about talking snakes, a worldwide flood, people living past the age of 500 years old, the notion that rainbows were created by god as a sign of love (no rainbows before the flood, eh?), that Jonah survived in the belly of a big fish for three days, that multiple languages are the result of the Tower of Babel, etc? And from the very same book, a man (also god) born by a virgin who supposedly performed great miracles who was killed and then resurrected three days later (three days just like the story of Jonah) body and all into the ether of heaven.

    It boggles the mind.

  36. Tamfang says:

    So, about this proxy thing. Is the movie blocked in Britain because it’s impolite to religion, or for some copyright reason?


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