That’s Christianity dealt with. Frankly, it’s hard to see how it can recover from this.

Congrats to Marc from Germany on winning this month’s raffle prize! He became a Patron in February, and now gets a signed, dedicated copy of the most recent J&M book, Wrong again, God boy.

You can join the fun here:


Discussion (109)¬

  1. Nassar Ben Houdja says:

    Why does Christianity
    Attract theories of insanity?
    Why does creation
    Find itself an abomination
    Presenting religion as a worthless vanity?

  2. Pavel says:

    ha ha, very good ๐Ÿ™‚
    beating the table with my head laughing like jesus :))

  3. arensb says:

    Let’s not forget that if Jesus is God, then had sex with his own mother to get her pregnant (with himself).

  4. Someone says:

    Not difficult to see why so many Christians have sexual repression and/or strange fetishes.

    Let’s really think about the phrase “Spare the rod, spoil the child”.
    It’s something they seem to love and practice frequently, especially the more conservative types.

    Just how many deeper meanings lie below the surface you have to wonder. With that train of thought, it’s also not difficult to see why there are so many instances of vile abuse to go with it.

  5. W. Corvi says:

    See? Christianity (and most every other religion) makes complete sense. You just have to not think about it much. At all.

  6. J Ascher says:

    I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time! Thanks, author.

  7. John B. Hodges says:

    “People just need to acknowledge that sacrifice and they are saved”…. This is a widespread modern theology, but it does not remotely resemble what Jesus is reported to have said in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. See these two links:

  8. Grumpy says:

    Nailed it Barmaid.

  9. Trev says:

  10. FreeFox says:

    Best. In. Years. XD

  11. cjsm says:

    The image is now burned on my retinas.

  12. WalterWalcarpit says:

    Another classic.

  13. The other child taking my spanking worked just fine in my childhood, as long as I kept my mouth shut except for denial of guilt.
    Thank you, Author/barmaid, for explaining so clearly the great mystery. It has puzzled me for years. On second thought, the mystery remains: how could millions of intelligent people have accepted this nonsense without smashing their heads into the bar.

  14. dr John de Wipper says:

    On second thought, the mystery remains: how could millions of intelligent people have accepted this nonsense without smashing their heads into the bar.

    Only reason I can think of: lack of a bar….

  15. Michael says:

    The Jesus sacrifice never made sense to me.

    First of all, it’s not a sacrifice. According to the propaganda Jesus didn’t die. He spend a miserable afternoon hanging around the cross and then, a day and a half later, he’s all better.

    Next, if Yahweh is unhappy with humans for being human then he doesn’t need a sacrifice. Since he’s omnipotent he can just make himself all happy again.

    Lastly, I agree with Esmeralda Weatherwax: “Sin, young man, is when you treat people as things, including yourself.” (Terry Pratchett, “Carpe Jugulum”) The Christian god makes a habit of treating people as things, so he’s a sinner as well. I don’t need or want forgiveness from someone who sins longer and harder than I do.

    Nope, I’m not seeing the rationale behind the Jesus sacrifice.

  16. pink squirrel says:

    the mystery remains: how could millions of intelligent people have accepted this nonsense without smashing their heads into the bar.

    the answer to that lies within that question DH

  17. wrinkel42 says:

    Another great aspect of jesus,
    but if mo did it, it he would only
    be a pillow.

  18. wrinkel42 says:

    Sorry for the extra it. Thanks Author.

  19. UncoBob says:

    This Trinity stuff does awful things to the mind if you think too hard, as several other commenters have said. Thanks for a good Thursday morning chuckle, Author et al.

  20. LD50 says:

    Actually, the original sin apple thingy was more like leaving a loaded gun in a child’s playroom and saying, “don’t play with *this* toy!”

    That would be considered irresponsible parenting these days. Especially if you *knew* in advance what was going to happen.

  21. stevegallacci says:

    I suspect an awful lot of the emphasis on the relative superficialities of the crucifixion and the whole heaven and hell biz was to work the cheap seats. To be a transcendent active moral agent is hard, to play the awe/guilt card of sacrifice and carrot and stick morality is easy. It just doesn’t stand up to intellectually honest scrutiny, but that’s not the target market.

  22. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    To add to LD50’s comment above (welcome to the C&B, by the way), God set man up to fail, so the whole creation thing was just God’s way of enhancing the anticipation of the damned good spanking he wanted to give himself, and of ensuring an audience.

  23. To those who may be interested, the previous thread seems to be still active. Freefox had a go at me, and it was kind of fun.

  24. Graham ASH-PORTER says:

    You gave me stomach ache, laughing so much. Thanks.

  25. Some Dude says:

    The whole atonement thing doesn’t make any sense, but what actually worries me is that it’s deeply immoral: why should someone else pay for MY sins?? I want to take care of the shit I do, I don’t want my responsibility to be swept away!

    Besides, it makes religious people take comfort in believing, as if that were the only thing necessary to be moral. It makes really awful people (as some in my own family, I sadly admit) think they’re perfectly decent and good, as long as they believe that Jesus Christ did magic tricks. Atonement is not only stupid but harmful as well.

  26. Son of Glenner says:

    Well said, Some Dude. I couldn’t agree more!

  27. smee says:

    As a commited atheist, who was educated in the Anglican Christian faith from birth until the age of 14 (The age of confirmation);Which much to my mothers chagrin and my fathers joy I refused (my father was a Sunday golfing zealot) I quite understand the bottom spanking aspect of Christian theology and religious scripture?

    What I’ve never understood is the Christian church’s theological justification for buggering small boys, which I was lucky enough to avoid, and which appears to have been quite an obsession for late twentieth century theologians?

    I presume that their sick urges derive from a misinterpretation (by theological perverts)of Mathew 19:14 to read that Jesus said “Suffer the little children and let me come all over their face”

  28. Some Dude, the C&B is obviously a meeting place for like minds. Now I’m starting to worry about the social bubble I’m in, a bubble made glaringly obvious by the U.S. election. I’d welcome a fundie to join us, just to give us a chew toy. I rather miss Mohammad. Have to make do with Freefox, but he’s far to eloquent and reality based to add the needed perspective, the batshit crazy side of humanity.

  29. LD50 says:

    AoS: thanks
    DH: did FF give you a metaphorical spanking? ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Darwin, do you really miss Mohammed and his ‘sex the road like dogs’ craziness? Personally I preferred Epphy-whatsisface; he was fun.

  31. LD50 (love your nim, by the way, the amount of poison it takes to kill half the population) “DH: did FF give you a metaphorical spanking? ????” Not really, but given his proclivities I’m sure he would if I asked.
    I think my foxy friend is just pointing out that I can get very smug in my attitudes, and this is something I can’t deny.

    Acolyte, I do truly miss Mohammed. The combination of fundie crazy and very poor English was something worth studying. But really what I would like is intelligent and informed dissent to our hive mind opinions, political as well as religious. I’ve been reading Scott Adam’s blog on occasion (author of Dilbert). He won’t admit to being a supporter of Trump, but he does give the man far more respect than anybody in my social bubble would give him, calling Trump a “Master Persuader” and giving credit of the doubt far more generously than anybody else I know. I disagree with him most of the time, but at least he argues for a contrary position with some logic. We tend to live in our own echo chamber, and it’s shocking when reality denies our world view, as it just did and big time. I’m still in shock.

  32. Some Dude says:

    @DH: I agree. People in general tend to surround themselves with people they agree with, since it’s rather comfortable but intellectually lazy, I must admit. I understand your concern about the bubble, as you say, and I would love to have a religious dissenter here too, mainly to discuss and ask questions. I think it would be quite interesting.

    However, in the particular case of the C&B, I don’t think it’s our fault that there are no pious Christians or Muslims commenting here since, on the one hand, J&M is not the kind of stuff they’d read in their spare time (I guess) and, on the other hand, it’s not a very well-known strip, let’s face it.

    I guess this comment section might have become a kind of a “safe space” for unbelievers, sadly.

  33. Son of Glenner says:

    Re fundies: I used to know a “born-again” fundie who regularly tried to engage me in discussion, no doubt thinking it his Xian duty to convert me. Unfortunately he was completely incapable of anything resembling rational debate, so I eventually just ignored his attempts to start a discussion. I think the turning point might have been when he asked me “what I got out of being an atheist”.

  34. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Some Dude, enough of the safe space horseshit, if you please. I can’t think of any topic that’s barred from discussion here, we do none of that trigger warning stuff, and we tend to give snowflakes of all flavours short shrift.
    Safe space for us miscreants! I think not.

  35. LD50 says:

    @SD: AoS gets triggered by “safe space” ๐Ÿ™‚

    @AoS: I think SD simply meant it’s a similarly homogeneous space. Not that we hide here, afraid of conflict. More that there’s no one to – well, not attack, as such, but – you know…

    Not regarding fundies, I’d actually be interested in how apostates, ones who *really* believed, managed to escape. Does that ever happen?

  36. Deimos says:

    I must admit to having a severe aversion to safe spaces, they tend to actually be unsafe spaces for any who don’t subscribe to a very narrow set of safe opinions. I don’t think there should be any safe spaces as all opinions, comments and acts come with consequences. Taking responsibility for all we do is the first step on the road to being human. So naturally I’m not putting my real name on this comment..

  37. Some Dude says:

    @AoS: I was being a little pesimistic, going along with DH’s comments. I’m glad that you don’t think this is some sort of “safe space”, I don’t want it to be. I kind of liked your reaction ๐Ÿ˜‰

    @LD50: That’s what I meant, thanks for your clarification :).
    On the issue of leaving the religion, I don’t know if I could count as an “apostate”, since you’ve explicitly stated a strong requirement for being one: to have “really” believed. I was raised Catholic and I was baptized, and even though I actually believed that there was a God, he’s never talked to me, even though I really wanted him to. To your question “Has anyone managed to escape?” my answer is: I guess so. Have you ever heard of Dan Barker? Look him up.

  38. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    LD50, pretty much the only thing that triggers me is people talking @ people rather than to them.

  39. LD50 says:

    Dear AoS,
    I hope you will forgive my careless and inappropriate misuse of glyphs. Causing trigger was far from my intention. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    @Some Dude. Thanks for the link. I’ll read up on what he has to say when I have better internet. I don’t know whether you count or not. I suppose I’m interested in whether one can state the standard arguments and have a True Believer (TM) respond, “you know, put like that, it does all sound a bit silly. I’ll have to go and think about it now.”

  40. LD50 says:


    Do you perhaps have a PayPal account one could send money to (for free)? Getting a credit card company’s miserable exchange rate (GBP -> USD -> GBP) and possibly paying them and/or Patreon fees puts me off a bit. Also, I need to go through ALL the strips again to find my favourite, for signing ๐Ÿ™‚

  41. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    LD50, that’s quite a task you’ve set yourself, but for my money has to rank in the top 5 all-time greats.
    Oh, and apology accepted. Sorry if I came across a bit grumpy but that feckin’ @ gets right on my tits. I’m not always that grumpy…..honestly. Have a virtual one on me; just ask Barmaid to put it on my tab.

    re. ex-believers; we have had a couple of people come here claiming to be ex-atheists, but after a little gentle questioning it turned out that they were just your standard Liars for Jesus.

  42. Jim Baerg says:

    Re: someone who really believed & left the religion. See the author of this blog.

  43. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    You know, rather than giving himself a spanking there’s the possibility that the big guy in the sky bottled out of it as soon as he realised that crucifixion was bloody painful. As soon as the first nail perced the flesh of the body he had possessed (in both senses of the word) he decided he’d had quite enough of that, thank you very much, and buggered off sharpish, which is why Jesus cried out his ‘Father, why hast thou forsaken me?’.
    So, was Jesus really the son of God or just an unfortunate bloke possessed by an alien spirit from birth? Either way, he got hammered on a friday and didn’t rise until monday, which is nothing special. That was my weekend every weekend in my mis-spent youth.

  44. wnanig says:

    DH, Re: “Iโ€™ve been reading Scott Adamโ€™s blog … itโ€™s shocking when reality denies our world view, as it just did and big time.”

    Have you tried letting Jonathan Pie explain it to you?

    President Trump: How & Why
    The US Election: An Idiots Guide
    The Fear of Language
    Pie does God!

  45. GE says:

    @Son of Glenner: Been there. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    As with most requests/demands to support a null hypothesis, while I could answer it to my own satisfaction, I honestly don’t see any need to answer it at all. It’s the wrong question.

    The question isn’t “What do I get out of being an atheist?” Atheism is lack of of god-belief, and if there’s a bright center to the core of my world view, atheism (while still in this far, far away galaxy) is on the planet it’s farthest from. (Wait, did I miss the Fourth for a true reference win?) Only theists assume that, since theism and the question of whether deities exist is the central tenet of their world view, it simply must be the central concern of the world view of someone who has already simply and firmly answered: “Nope, they don’t exist.”

    The more salient question is: “What do I avoid by not buying into theism?” And with my answer to that, I’d likely be able to write enough theses to nail them to a door. ๐Ÿ˜€

  46. dr John de Wipper says:

    Well, in my view, judaism, christianity, and islam all are 99.75 % correct.

    All 3 state that of the estimated 40,000 gods, all but one are fake/forgeries/fantasies.
    Except for that 1 (a different one for each of the 3) I totally agree.
    Only .25 %, but WHAT an impact!

  47. FreeFox says:

    Hey, DH, I’d fight you in an honest bar room brawl if you asked. As for proper spankings, my ‘proclivities’ as you put it go more towards recieving those than giving them. But not from anyone. ^_^

    I’m sorry I am not crazy and illiterate enough for you to debate me on theological matters. It’s tough when you have argue with an intelligent, critical theist instead of some literalist idiot, isn’t it? But then, if you all want to know my take on the “safe space”, as funny as the strip often is (and I do count myself amongst its most loyal, long-term fans – though I gladly leave the noble position of “oldest” fans to those of you more deserving of the title) you are all just taking cheap shots at strawmen here. I’ve met a lot of religious people from many different faiths, in many different countries, and I have met few who actually believe the literal religion-for-science idiocies that are passed off for actual belief here. (And oddly, the vast majority of people I met that actually do believe this sort of flat-earther rubbish have been American Christians.)
    And we can see the dangers of this sort of unrealistic demonisation of religion in the US where the combined scaremongering ranging from Bill O’Reilley to Sam Harris and even Hitchens helped elect a lunatic like Trump, and now in France, where rampant islamophobia has married gays vote for LePen, because they are more scared of Muslims than of Nazis.
    And the worst irony of this is that the real culprits behind the destruction of the white middle classes that really fuelled Trump, LePen, Brexit, and the rest of this right wing upswing are ice-cold godless capitalist oligarchs who have been using fake Christian televangelists or supposedly “christian” conservative criminals like O’Reilley to manipulate the American public to vote for politicians who are just as fake Christians and in the pay of those oligarchs. Which again makes even those truly nutty American Christian literalists more victims than perpetrators, while the decidely un-christian oligarchs are doing everything to literally destory our planet’s ability to support human life.
    So, DH et al, if you want to have some debates, CMV on these theses: (1) Most religious people are much less of a threat than you want to admit. (2) The dangers posed by Islam are pathetically small compared to those by supposedly Christian billionairs. (3) All you “outspoken atheists” are part of a huge distraction to keep us all occupied with a few bombs and the sexual contradictions of a handful of religious leaders to ignore the real dangers to all of us. (4) Picking a smattering of contradictions and obsolete bits of scientific ignorance from books that are centuries or even millennia old is nothing but creating strawmen religious opponents that in reality are a vanishing tiny percentage of the billions of religious people in the world. (5) Where religion commits atrocities, from ancient crusades to modern wars, it is in the vast majority of cases nothing but a convenient pretext, like the modern Western pretext of “humanitarian action”, when in reality completely unreligious greed for money or power are almost always the real cause.
    Shall I go on? I am certain I can find many more fundamental challenges to the humming circle-jerk self-satisfaction of this safe space.
    Oh, and since you are all so happy with the funny line about atheists just disblieving one more god than everybody else, here’s another challenge: once you let go of your life-raft of clinging to the letters of ancient writings and take on religion as a part of human life that predates humanity, you will see that in fact religion itself is present in every human culture except Western liberal atheism. So maybe you are the ones who are just missing something and like the old folks sitting in the back of Plato’s Cave you are the ones congratulating yourself smuggly on your smarts when others are trying to point you towards the light.

    Consider the mike dropped.

  48. Author says:

    I’ve been thinking about installing this like/dislike plugin for a while, but wasn’t sure. FreeFox’s latest comment made me decide to give it a go. Let me know what you think by liking or disliking this (my) comment. Or commenting on it, of course.

  49. FreeFox says:

    *blushes* Moi made you change your site? Why, I am honoured. I expect to get into the top ten disliked comments! ^_^ (Seriously, though, could you please NOT facebookify the Cock & Bull? We’re all annonymous enough, aren’t we? At least here, if someone took offence to my words – or I took to offence to Darwin’s or Dr. John’s – we had to buck up and tell them to their virtual faces. With words. Sometimes even arguments.)

  50. FreeFox says:

    Also, the thumbs seem to have come at the cost of the edit function…

    Edit: No, it didn’t. It just took a moment to pop up. My bad.

    Edit 2: Are you still fiddling with it, author? Now the ability to rate my own posts is gone… ๐Ÿ˜›

    Edit 3: Um. It’s possible to give as many thumbs up or down as one likes. I am not sure that is very helpful.

  51. FreeFox says:

    Oi. Now you’re messing with me. ^_^

  52. FreeFox says:

    I can still add more thumbs, as long as I reload the page.

    Edit: And now even without reloading. ๐Ÿ˜›

    Edit 2: Okay, going to let you sort it out without messing any more with you, Author. ^_^

    (Edit 3: If you want to you can delete these last three comments from me. They were just metastuff about the new functions anyway.)

  53. Author says:

    FreeFox, thanks for beta-testing the experimental new function! I think I’ve managed to forbid multiple votes now. So the nine downvotes were all from you, were they? Fair enough – but I don’t think it’s that bad an idea. The people who want to express themselves with words will continue to do so as always. It’s the quiet ones who just want to nod or shake their head at any particular comment who now have a way to contribute. Give it time. Although it’s not a democracy here (more of a benign, hands-off dictatorship), I’ll get rid of this feature if it’s unpopular.

  54. Bones'sDog says:

    The perils of opening one’s mouth in a theocracy.

    Nice “like” function. Thanks.

  55. Bones'sDog says:

    Author: “… ! I think Iโ€™ve managed to forbid multiple votes now.”

    Nope. Not quite yet. Sorry.

    The post-send edit functionality has vanished, though. Was that intended?

    Firefox on a Mac, if it helps.

  56. Bones'sDog says:

    GE, you may have missed the fourth but remember, “Only the Sixth speaks in absolutes.”

    Which, being an absolute …

  57. Son of Glenner says:

    Author: I could do fine without the thumbs function, thank you.

  58. Author says:

    It seems the thumbs function messes with the edit function, so one of them’s got to go.

    Edit: That’s not true.

    Edit: And I can’t vote more than once, either.

  59. Bones'sDog says:

    Author, are you seeing multiple votes from me on some of the comments? I am but I can’t be sure they are propagating through the cache.
    Checking them on another machine in my house, if I had one, wouldn’t tell me anything as that would be on the same router cache.

  60. Author says:

    Bone’sDog, yes I’m seeing lots of votes on eg my previous comment (10). Is that you? I can’t vote more than once.

  61. Bones'sDog says:

    No edit, but I can vote many times though sometimes I do need to refresh the page.

  62. Bones'sDog says:

    Author, your cache cascade is behind my typing. I have more than ten upvotes for that comment. Maybe you need to use a Mac? And Firefox? IE and Edge are not really standards compliant.
    Chrome mostly is.
    Safari is, usually.

  63. Author says:

    Could be a cacheing issue. I’ll give it another day or so. If problems persist, I’ll decommission. Thanks for your feedback.

  64. Author says:

    Bones’sDog, all cache’s cleared and cloudflare “development mode” is on. Can you still do multiple likes? I use a Mac, running Opera Developer.

  65. Bones'sDog says:

    Okay, Author, it looks like it’s single-vote only, now.
    I’ve even killed my Firefox window and restarted it and I can vote on comments I’ve not yet ticked but not on ones I have already approved of.

    It looks like your nice edit function has gone the way of the irony meter, though.
    Of the two, I vote for the edit function, but I’m a perfectionist at times and I don’t care how many people don’t like me.
    I already know it’s a great heap of a lot.

  66. Author says:

    I agree the edit function is more important than the like/dislike. Let’s give it a day or so to see if it comes back. If not, I’ll kill the thumbs. Thanks for your feedback, BD. Much appreciated.

  67. Bones'sDog says:

    I’m only too happy to help, Author, though my contribution was tiny.

    When I voted for the edit function I expected to be overridden by Authoritative Authority and popular demand. Nothing I’ve ever voted for has ever happened. Even when I picked football teams as a joke between me and the wife mine would always lose.
    Hers usually won.
    These small bits of consistency are rather nice in a universe of chaos like ours. It’s good to know you can count on something, even if it is being wrong every time.

  68. Bones'sDog says:

    Last comment, Opera is a good browser, too. Better, in many people’s opinions, than Chrome, Safari or Firefox and much better than Internet Exploiter and Edge.

    That last isn’t much praise. The “Daily Sport” is a better web-browser than IE or Edge.

    I’ve read the entire J+M archive … did I already mention this? Now what do I do?
    I suppose sleep might be useful?

    Author, thank you. And thank you to all of the commenters, you lot are often nearly as funny as the comics and you certainly teach things.

    Hey!! EDIT’s BACK!
    Cool, thank you, Author.

    I’ve even still got the tickies.
    Nice, Author, good work, you deserve a cookie.

  69. Okay, my turn to beta test, and to respond to Freefox, who accuses me of only attacking straw men while making a straw man out of ME and my mates here. He always has delusions of being far more intelligent then the crowd here, but it’s a trifle insulting to tell me that I only attack the flat earth literalists.
    Funny thing is, I agree with just about everything in his world view visavis religion as distraction and corporate greed and billionaires owning religion. Only thing I disagree with him on is his insistence that spirits and god actually exist, in some undefinable nebulous form accessible only to the most erudite and sophisticated thinkers. Like him. I find his “everybody in the world is religious except you lot” argument truly pathetic.
    Freefox claims to have met very few religious people who actually believe the dogma of their religion. He’s been lucky. I have met, and continue to meet, far too many of them. Listen to any Christian church service and you will hear about Christ dying for our sins. If those people don’t believe that crap, why on earth do they continually spout it. Is it some kind of membership code?
    In past threads, Freefox has pointed me at some of his more sophistimicated apologetics. Just struck me as meaningless rhetoric and bafflegab. I have one fundie friend who voted for Trump because of the gay marriage issue and the abortion issue (yes, I have friends who are assholes) I ran some of his dogma past him once and asked how he could possibly believe such nonsense, nonsense he swears he blieves. His response: “I’m thinking with my spiritual mind.” Well, okay then. That’s about as sophisticated as it gets, eh.

    My problem with the thumbs up and thumbs down thing is that I’m not sure what it means. I’m often happy to read a comment, and would give it a thumbs up, while disagreeing with what the comment says, or wanting to argue with it. A simple like/don’t like seems too… simple. For example, I gave Freefox’s long comment a thumbs up, because I liked parts of it and am happy to engage in discussion with him. But I dislike his attitude towards us, as is probably clear by now. Can I give a thumbs up and a thumbs down, just to indicate I read it?

    As for the edit function, that is far more important. And now I shall join the beta testers.

    Okay, the edit function is still here. Whew.

    But since I went in to edit, my thumbs up/down has disappeared. Maybe it will come back when my minute and 27 seconds are up.

  70. Nope, it seems the edit function killed the thumbs up/down ability. Maybe others will see it on my post, but I can’t. I’ll see what happens when I refresh the page. Oh, this is sooo exciting.

  71. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    FreeFox, this straw atheist you’ve cobbled together is about as recognizable as the straw believers you accuse us of attacking, but I’ll have a pop at your questions anyway. Not tonight, though, I’m knackered, but I will point out something that I expect you already know and suspect you pretend not to because it would spoil the argument.
    A lot of humour involves picking up certain aspects of the subject being mocked and exaggerating them as far as possible; think Basil Fawlty, all the worst aspects of perceived ‘Britishness’ taken to the extreme and rolled into one character. The butt of a lot of our humour here is religion’s Basil, its scapegoat, if you will.
    Now it’s cocoa and bed for me. G’night all.

    Edit: I see I’ve cross-posted with you, Darwin, so my apologies if my post sounds like a weak re-hash of yours. It’s late and I can’t think further than my bed (and mug of cocoa).

  72. Chiefy says:

    LD50: “Iโ€™d actually be interested in how apostates, ones who *really* believed, managed to escape. Does that ever happen?”
    It certainly does, as it happened to me. I was a born-again evangelical Christian, as true a believer as anyone can be. Although that fact may be denied by current true believers. As to how it happened, for me it was a process of trying to honestly live the faith while not shutting out real life. The cognitive dissonance eventually forced me to accept that one or the other was not real. Either the spiritual world or the physical world is the real one, not both.
    Eventually, it will all be in the book. In the mean time, you can pick apart my ideas at my blogs.

    FreeFox, I agree with much of what you wrote. I have been saying for a long time that religion, per se, is not the problem. Faith is. The religion poked fun at by the patrons of the C & B and by the Author is not an abstract one, but the common variety, full of irrationality and cruelty; the kind I generally encounter.

  73. dr John de Wipper says:

    โ€œIโ€™d actually be interested in how apostates, ones who *really* believed, managed to escape. Does that ever happen?โ€
    I don’t know if I can be counted as *really believing* but here it comes.
    I was born in a good catholic family; my grandfather (in whose house we lived my first years) was the churchmaster — doing finances and schuduling lay duties etc. My kindergaten was run by the local nunnery; which also was teaching the lower classes of Basic Education.
    In the last and penultimate grade my teacher was a stern believer.

    My “cracking” was when he in all ernest explained, that all fossils etc were placed there deliberately by god “to test our faith”.

    In short, I failed THAT test; and from that moment on ever more aspects of my faiyh were caught in the avalance.

  74. LD50 says:

    Gosh! Thanks everyone who replied (and gave links) about ex-believing. I still have to read up on everything mentioned, but *how* (and to whom) this can happen seems really important.

  75. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    I never believed, I tried to, because I did feel that I was not seeing something that everybody else could, and that rankled with me, but I found that no matter where I looked, what I read, who I spoke to, there was simply no connection I could find between the information and arguments I was given and the ‘therefore God’ conclusion. I suppose I’ve always been a rational-minded sort, and once one applies rationality to religion it’s like adding a glass of water to a pan of boiling oil; no matter how many times you do it, they just won’t get along.

    FreeFox, in answer to your first question, I don’t see religious people as a threat, it’s the religious ideas they hold that are the problem. I’m pretty sure that if it were not for their beliefs, mobs of Hindus wouldn’t be beating people to death across India for eating dead cow, nor would anybody uttering anything against Islam (or religion in general) in Pakistan risk machete-wielding gangs baying for blood.
    Were it not for the beliefs of their parents, how many children would still be alive in America had they not been prayed to death rather than taken to medical professionals?

    Even on a less violent and tragic scale, religious ideas are still retarding the education of too many, whether it’s the teaching of Bible-friendly science in American schools and homes – and the equivalent in Islamic teaching, or if it’s the denial of education to girls beyond absolute obedience to the men. Plus, of course, returning to the tragic, were it not for their religious ideals, would men have forced schoolgirls to stay in their burning school and suffer horrendous deaths rather than save them by merely unlocking the doors and by not pushing them back through windows into the blaze because the girls were not dressed modestly? “You can’t come out until you have your hijabs on. What’s that? You can’t reach the cloakroom because of the flames? Ah well, better you die than offend Allah and invoke our uncontrollable lusts with your slutty hair and skin”.
    How about the women refused contraception and abortion services despite risks to their own health? Are religious-minded people not a threat to them?
    So, no, I don’t feel at all personally threatened by believers, but just because religious armies aren’t rampaging through (most of) the world it doesn’t mean that that their beliefs don’t cause real suffering to a shitload of people.

  76. LD50 says:

    I hope these discussions don’t get acrimonious, because I’d like to engage in exchanges about some of these points. I’m not even out to try and change anyone’s minds, I’m just confused ๐Ÿ™‚

    Yes, much of the humour here may appear to reside in the cheap/easy knocking down of strawmen religious people/arguments.

    On the other hand, I think you’re using the No True Scotsman technique to counter what you consider to be the strawman technique.

    Clearly there *are* lots of truly nutty literalist idiots (as you call them) — principally some American Christians as well as Islamic fundamentalists — and there is the very real danger/effect they have on actual policy and people’s everyday lives (and deaths).

    These people deserve (imho) to be countered, and ridicule is one way to do that. And if you ask these people (millions of them) what it is that makes them do what they do, I assume they’d say something along the lines of love/fear of God/Allah/Jesus and his will. That’s religion, even if your religion is different.

    Regarding Godless capitalist oligarchs, fake Christian televangelists and supposedly Christian conservative criminals: These are a mystery to me. Perhaps some of them don’t believe in God at all, but I suspect that most of them do, just like their supporters.

    How they reconcile the “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to pass the gates of heaven” (quote from memory) with their billions gained at the expense of misery, poverty and death of millions of people, I don’t know. But they do! Phrases like ‘cognitive dissonance’ and ‘confirmation bias’ are somehow inadequate. It appears to require a sort of Religious Thinking which is beyond me.

    Regarding your points:
    (1) I’d say many, not most, but I don’t have figures one way or the other
    (2) agreed. But only because Muslim Theocracies are not a threat, militarily.
    (3) I don’t get this. Dawkins et al are distracting us from saving the world (ecologically) from extreme capitalism?
    (4) smattering of inconsistencies and scientific ignorance: these are simply pointed out as *evidence* that these texts cannot be considered the literal truth. What remains is cherry picking, isn’t it? Or rather, which bits do you consider to be true/not ridiculous? The virgin birth? The resurrection? Are these obviously metaphorical or are they literal truth? I can’t tell and I can’t guess how you might answer.
    (5) undoubtedly religion is/has been used as an excuse by people whom we might consider bad. But a) I think they may have “believed” in the same way The Rich and Powerful do, b) religion didn’t stop them and c) if religion was abused in this way then religion *can* be abused this way.

    Finally, the thing about religion being almost universal through human time and space has always seemed to me to be an argument against religion: if humans are predisposed to worshipping a coconut, a rock, a mountain, the wind or whatever, in order to make sense of the world doesn’t that just indicate that humans have a need to make sense of things and will *make up* anything to satisfy that need?

    Thank you for your attention (anyone who read all of this) and thanks to FreeFox for being here. I’d like to avoid circle jerking if at all possible.

  77. dr John de Wipper says:

    Or rather, which bits do you consider to be true/not ridiculous? The virgin birth?

    I seem to recall already having stated this before:
    Mary’s virgin motherhood was only established (by a narrow majority vote) in 325, in the Council of Nicea.

    Hardly sound proof in my book.

  78. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    LD50, there is an infallible method of knowing which parts of the Bible are true and which are metaphorical or analogous: Everything is true until disproven, at which point it miraculously turns into metaphor.

  79. wnanig, thanks for those links to Jonathan Pie. I’d only seen one of them before, the rant about Trump, and I finally got around to watching all the ones you sent. The man sure has a way with words. I’m envious.

    Unfortunately, Pie does nothing to illuminate my social bubble. I agree with everything he says, particularly his rant about fear of language. And his rant about god would sit very well on these pages too. No, what we really need here is somebody with some logic and brains explaining why the Untied States should NOT have single payer government sponsored health care like every other civilized first world country. We need somebody who can put up a good argument for why they NEED an assault rifle. Or why abortion should be illegal, despite the fact that making it illegal doesn’t reduce abortion but only kills women. Or why it is a good idea to put some checks on the EPA and allow corporate America to rape their wilderness. Or why the equal rights amendment deserved to be defeated. There must be people out there who can argue for these positions in a way that is not offensive and actually makes us consider alternative positions to the ones we hold. There certainly are a lot of people who hold these views, and they can’t all be evil idiots. Or maybe they are.

  80. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Darwin, I’d certainly appreciate it if somebody could explain the logic behind a set of what appears to me to be conflicting ideals held by many on the Christian Right in the states, namely the pro-life / pro death penalty / anti-welfare trilogy. To paraphrase American comedian Reginald D. Hunter, that’s not a debate on the right to life, it’s Christian Conservatives trying to work out how old poor people have to be before it’s ok to kill them!

  81. Someone says:

    Trying to find logic in the agendas of Christian Conservatives, especially in the US, is like trying to treat leukemia with a fleam and a couple of leeches. You can find the most basic results but they will be far from a viable solution. Especially for those who desire a more sane approach to modern reality.

  82. Acolyte, I wish I could help you understand that contradiction. I can’t. They purport to value the unborn, but don’t give a flying frog about children. But when I accused my fundie friend of this, he went on at great lengths about how HIS church group is trying to help unwed pregnant women, and how much work they do for charities that benefit the poor children. I suspect most of the “help” involved simply praying for them, and getting them to accept Jesus into their hearts. In any event, they sure don’t want the evil government offering any support. That would only encourage welfare mothers to have babies. They want small government. Except when it comes to dictating their version of morality. Then intrusive government is just the ticket.
    As for the death penalty, well, that’s just logical, isn’t it. People who do bad things should be punished. “Even if we make a mistake sometimes,” to quote Pete Seeger.

  83. LD50 says:

    I may have mentioned this before (maybe a comment on a strip from 2007? ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    Anyway. My (?) theory is that we decide what we want in a tiny part of the brain (thalamus). The massive cerebrum is then tasked with figuring out how to get what we want and make up excuses for it.


    Lizard Brain: I want to screw these people. But I also want to feel good about myself. Cerebrum, go!

    Cerebrum: well, clearly these people don’t deserve to be happy. It’s their own fault. Any good stuff would be wasted on them. In fact, I’d better take any good stuff they have and look after it myself.

  84. LD50 says:

    AoS, DH and Someone,

    Indeed one has to wonder at the Do unto others as you would have them do unto You idea.

    If I were to live in a tropical rainforest I’d certainly want someone to come and chop down all the trees, kill my friends and family and poison the rivers with mercury, wouldn’t I? No? Well maybe if I got to live in a tin foil shack in the mud, wear a Disney t-shirt and let Jesus into my heart. Then, sure!

  85. LD50 says:

    Just a thought,

    Is it hypocritical to call someone a hypocrit if one’s a hypocrit oneself?

  86. LD50: First comment, yep. Pretty much how it works.

    Second comment, I think they would tell you that the do unto other thing is an ideal they strive to live up to. We’re not Christians because we don’t sin, they will tell you. We’re Christians because we are sinners and need redemption.

    Third comment, we are all hypocrites. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t call out the most egregious of our kind. People who live in tin shacks shouldn’t throw can openers.

    Sorry. Just woke up. Cerebral cortex isn’t fully functional yet. Coffee needed.

  87. dr John de Wipper says:

    My theory is that we decide what we want in a tiny part of the brain

    Like I mentioned once before here (too lazy to look up when or in response to whom): Work through ISBN 978-0-00-655128-7 “Quantum Evolution” by Johnjoe McFadden’. Already over 15 years old, but for most, a real eye-opener.
    Personally, I would LOVE to work through a recent update!

  88. two cents' worth says:

    Darwin Harmless, your friend who talked “about how HIS church group is trying to help unwed pregnant women, and how much work they do for charities that benefit the poor children” probably has ideas about government and society that are different from yours. There are people in the USA (and elsewhere, for all I know) who feel that it is the responsibility of charitable organizations, not the government, to help the poor. As I understand their argument, helping the poor should be a voluntary act of charity. They point out that taxes must be paid whether one wants to or not. They want their taxes to be as low as possible, and are willing to pay taxes for things such as national defense, but feel that their tax dollars that go to help the poor are essentially being stolen from the taxpayers by the government.

    (Some people who think this way do change their minds. I have heard of one woman who changed her mind about this once her mother became very ill. When she found that she could not give her mother the care she needed, and could not find a charitable organization that would provide that care, she decried the government for not meeting this need.)

    Many fundamentalist Christians seem to put at least as much stock in the Old Testament as the New Testament. Being in favor of the death penalty is in line with “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” “Be fruitful and multiply” is among the first divine commandments in the Old Testament, so to fundamentalists abortion is obviously wrong.

    Many of the first English settlers in what became the USA had the belief that wealth was a sign that God approved of you. That belief is still alive and well here. The idea is that, if you are poor, it’s your fault; you need to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps (even if you’re barefoot). The fundamentalists condemn abortion and infanticide alike. Beyond that, they consider a baby’s parents and relatives to be the ones who are solely responsible for nurturing the child. This is why many charities focus on young children, because people who are too young to work cannot be held at fault for being poor.

    However, these attitudes may be due to human nature–religion may be serving as a justification. Some people are against abortion because they feel that it is killing an innocent human being–to them, a human being is a human being, regardless of the stage of development (zygote, embryo, fetus, baby, toddler, child…you get the idea). As for killing guilty human beings, that’s fine–it satisfies the thirst for justice, the urge for revenge, and the need to protect oneself from known dangers. (Killing a murderer is like killing a man-eating tiger. There may be other murders/man-eaters, but at least this one wonโ€™t kill again.) As for better-off people caring for the poor, well, it they’re not genetically related to those poor people, what’s in it for them? And even if they are genetically related to those poor people, if there’s no social pressure to care for one’s poor relations, wealth is better spent on one’s children and grandchildren than on some Nth-cousins-many-times-removed.

    Darwin Harmless, you wrote: โ€œThey want small government. Except when it comes to dictating their version of morality. Then intrusive government is just the ticket.โ€ I suspect that some fundamentalists feel the same way about people like us using government to enforce our ideas of morality, such as gay marriage.

    How can we talk to fundamentalists and other conservatives in a way that will persuade them to support, or at least tolerate, liberal views?

  89. two cents' worth says:

    dr John de Wipper , thanks for the tip about Quantum Evolution. I’ve put a hold on it at the library, and I look forward to reading it soon.

  90. dr John de Wipper says:

    Brace yourself, and take your time.
    No easy reading.

  91. Two Cents Worth, yes. Everything you say is true indeed. I’m going to enjoy seeing what happens to those attitudes when NOBODY can find a job. That’s coming. And fast.
    How can you put somebody down for not working when there is no work for anybody? There’s going to have to be a fundamental change in our social system, and the role of government, or blood on the streets. Sigh.
    I’m optimistic, but not naive. May you live in interesting times.

  92. LD50 says:

    DrJdW: thanks, I’ve ordered it.

    2C’sW: I can understand much of religious/fundamentalist/conservative/neoliberal thought but my feeling is that it involves a lot of self-deception/hypocrisy/dishonesty/stupidity. Now, “they” might have the same opinion about me and my thoughts. But I believe there have been various studies showing that “they”, on average, simply aren’t very good at thinking and try to avoid it.

    So it’s very difficult to change their minds using reason. One can get them to think contradictory things using endless repetition and advertising.

    We, on the other hand, are eminently reasonable, sensible and immune to advertising ๐Ÿ™‚

  93. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    two cents’ worth, re. “However, these attitudes may be due to human natureโ€“religion may be serving as a justification”

    That pretty much sums up the Abrahamic religions, all based on the one original text written by men to justify their or their rulers’ actions, rules, and ideology, and written in such an ambiguous form that even today it can still be interpreted – however tortuous that interpretation has to be – to justify anything. Every awful act so interpreted is one less thing for the believer to feel guilty about or responsible for, so once they can wrestle a justification for not helping or contributing towards the poor, for example, then basically they can say “Fuck the poor” with a clear conscience, a smile in their hearts and an ‘Amen’ on their lips.

  94. LD50 says:


    I have found *the funniest* strip! ‘Tis

  95. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    LD50, yes, a good one. Have you read its back story?

  96. LD50 says:

    Yes, I’ve seen the video. But as FF pointed out, making fun of morons isn’t difficult. Some theists (not the majority, unfortunately) are more sophisticated.

    More sophisticated, but still not convincing. I’m still interested in FF’s explanation of which bits of the bible (or other holy books) are to be taken literally and which are metaphorical.

    The other question is: There have been and are many different and mutually exclusive religions. Why is it that the one *you* were indoctrinated with is true and all the others are false?

  97. LD50 says:

    DrJdW: As I said, I’ve ordered the book, but having read the first few pages online, I have a horrible suspicion I’m not going to like it. I don’t so much mind people coming to different conclusions but I feel I’ve wasted my money if someone’s axioms are wrong (IMHO) to start with. The whole logical argument is then pointless. I don’t know if that’s going to happen in this book, but I fear it may.

    The whole discussion about what it is that makes something alive as opposed to not is mistaken from the start.

    Things are what they are. The problem stems from trying to put complicated things into simple boxes. From being happy with simple criteria, but then being unhappy with the results they give.

    Is a toenail alive? Is it alive while attached to a living body? Is a nail clipping alive?

    These would be stupid (or if not stupid, then pointless) questions. Why do you need to know? You want to know if it’s OK (morally?) to take a blade to a toenail? Yes. It’s fine. Next! Whether and to what extent it moves of its own volition or not, whether it possesses a soul, or part of a soul… Argh!

    Perhaps I’m worrying needlessly. ๐Ÿ™‚ Although, whenever anyone who is not a physicist even mentions quantum mechanics I get ready to cringe… ๐Ÿ™

  98. LD50 says:

    2CW: “Many of the first English settlers in what became the USA had the belief that wealth was a sign that God approved of you. That belief is still alive and well here. The idea is that, if you are poor, itโ€™s your fault”

    Ok, they had/have that belief. But what is the support for that in the bible? Or rather, how does it square with the camel and the needle?

    And “it’s your own fault” wasn’t Jesus’s attitude to the poor and the sick, was it?

    Was it the Franciscans arguing with the church about whether Jesus owned the sandals he wore? If so, I’m on their side, although sandal/clothes ownership isn’t really important: he(*) clearly wasn’t rich.

    I’m sure the rich have come up with a long and very detailed explanation as to why it’s fine to be rich while the people they got the money off are starving. I just haven’t tried very hard to find it yet.

    (*) character described in the new testament. Existence of and claims made by/for this character are disputed.

  99. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    You know that God hates wealth when you look at who he gives it to.

  100. dr John de Wipper says:

    , Iโ€™ve ordered the book, but having read the first few pages online, I have a horrible suspicion Iโ€™m not going to like it.

    Try to persevere.
    The first chapters are a (admittedly: rather lengthy) intro. It is just to build a firm basis.
    Spooky as Quantum Mechanics may seem (even Albert Einstein thought so, but could not refute it!) a great many of its aspects and weird calculated predictions have been confirmed to astonishing degree.
    And then Johnjoe just applies QM, and reaches surprising conclusions.

    I found it bewildering, but could not find fault in the reasoning.

  101. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    LD50, whenever I see ‘quantum’ preceding anything but ‘mechanics’ or ‘physics’ I cannot but suspect that whatever follows will be Chopra-esque deepities. Considering that not even the best physicists actually understand the hows and whys of QM, biologists are not yet in a position to apply the ‘quantum’ epithet to evolution.

  102. Bones'sDog says:

    An update on my 6/5/17 21:07 post: apparently, Mr. Fry has grovelled sufficiently well and he will not be roasted by the Church.
    Yay! Reason and ethics and morals and sanity prevail! Life is lovely. The roses are purple, the fish are leaping and all is left with the world.
    I just thought you’d all like to know. I know you’ve been chewing your fingernails to the elbows worrying about him.


  103. dr John de Wipper says:

    The book actually –IS– about Quantum mechanics.
    In the physics of atomic distances, QM simply –IS– reality.
    And most biological processes –ARE– of about that size, so it is unavoidable to play a major role.
    McFadden did a very decent job of trying to explain biomolecular processes from a QM viewpoint.

  104. Pliny the in Between says:

    Some Dude – J+M not well known? I know obscure comics from personal experience so trust me when I tell you that in comparison to some, J+M is universally known.

  105. LD50 says:


    Normally I judge books by their covers. But I haven’t even seen this one yet, so who knows? ๐Ÿ™‚

    But the term ‘quantum’ does get abused quite a lot. E.g. a quantum leap.

    I think we’ve strayed off-topic though. So I’m going to wait until I’ve read it before making more off-topic remarks on it ๐Ÿ™‚

  106. Josh in Champaign says:

    I’m an atheist, former Christian, little under ten years. It’s funny, when I hear believers saying silly things, I find myself pulled to debate from an atheist’s point of view, but when I hear atheists say silly things about Christianity, I still feel compelled to defend positions that make more sense than atheists give credit for. No, it’s not a spanking, it’s a horrendous, horrific slaughter and nobody in Christianity applauds it, it’s horrible to think about, it’s his ascension, his victory over death and thus our victory over death that’s applauded and it’s his sacrifice that’s looked on with thanks, much like those who’ve gone to war for truly noble purposes and died where if they hadn’t, everyone at home would be dead or enslaved, it’s a solemn gratitude. This is yet another example of what keeps me away from the atheist community for the most part and those who take their intellect to be more unassailable than it really is, you embarrass yourself with “Thatโ€™s Christianity dealt with. Frankly, itโ€™s hard to see how it can recover from this.” Really? I really hope that’s tongue in cheek. I smiled at this comic, but not because it’s something I would take seriously, as a true description of Christian doctrine and life. The punishment due for sin wasn’t a corporal, temporal punishment that caused an ouch, it was death, separation from God, realizing that communion with God is all that gives pleasure, even when twisted in this life. What made Jesus special was that he had the capacity to take on death, every death of every person, for every sin and still return to life, something that no one else could do. I still have a lot of respect for the concept, I just came to see that there’s no one really there, that there are serious problems in the Bible, with the concepts of omniscience and omnipotence, etc. and now I realize that’s there’s really no sin, just conflict between our evolved natures and social harmony. Before we were able to comprehend being evolved from lesser, smaller organisms, it was a pretty decent explanation.

  107. smartalek says:

    (Some people who think this way [being forced to provide for the poor via taxation is theft, slavery, evil, etc] do change their minds. I have heard of one woman who changed her mind about this once her mother became very ill. When she found that she could not give her mother the care she needed, and could not find a charitable organization that would provide that care, she decried the government for not meeting this need.)

    Funny how that works.
    We have names for those kinds of people.
    Some of those names are rather rude — as they should be.


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