He’s ineffable, but bossy.

A resurrection today, from just over 4 years ago. Mo has been given more lines this time. Seems fair.

Original inspired by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor.

Discussion (52)¬

  1. Keegan says:

    We certainly can’t understand him, but clearly we know exactly what he wants.

  2. Beggars Belief says:

    Sorry to digress from the strip so soon but WOW to the murder of the US Ambassador to Libya, allegedly incited by a US film that insults Mo; and further WOW to Hillary Clinton’s reaction: “The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.”

    Please stay safe, Author. And very anonymous.

  3. WalterWalcarpit says:

    Spot on. Really hit the head on the nail there, Author.
    I always giggle when I hear that first line.

    What God is cannot be defined but what God wants can be – and so often with pernicious precision.
    Is there a fancy phrase for this particular contradiction? I mean, it’s not quite a Catch-22 is it?

  4. Beggars Belief says:

    And by ‘wow’, I probably more accurately mean ‘eek’. Or worse.

  5. Alfie Noakes says:

    Great strip, Author.

    @Beggars Belief – yes, scary times indeed. Justifies killing any Dutch politician for the making of Fitna, etc. Islam truly produces the most frightening and unhinged individuals.

  6. Thanks again, Author. So precise in your skewering. And as BeggarsBelief said, stay safe and anonymous. Those fuckers are crazy.

  7. peter says:

    “God thinks like You” – says it all really

  8. Tomas (the doubter) says:


  9. Dan says:

    Does everyone else see echoes in the recent attacks in Muslim countries on US Embassies in retaliation for a US film seen as ridiculing Muhammad of how British Embassies were attacked in Christian countries after the release of The Life of Brian?
    No? Me neither. I wonder why.

  10. Tomas (the doubter) says:

    @Alfie Noakes
    I don’t think (American) right wing christians are even a little bit less scary or unhinged…

  11. Alfie Noakes says:

    @ Tomas
    There aren’t many right wing American Christian suicide bombers. Unhinged maybe, but definitely not as scary – just stick the Fox channel on and they’ll be happy enough 😉

  12. Alfie Noakes says:

    @Dan – that’s because The Life of Brian was a better film 😉 But, good point.

  13. Brother Daniel says:

    The tag “selective ineffability” says it all.

  14. Al West says:

    There’s been a definite escalation in Libya – first the Sufi shrine and library destroyed and burnt by nutters, and now this. Distressing.

    Almost as distressing (well, not really) is the comment in the BBC article about how this event – the death of a human being, for science’s sake – will put the campaign emphasis back on Obama’s foreign policy.

  15. machigai says:

    I can’t see the comments.

  16. machigai says:

    There they are.

  17. Poor Richard says:

    Nobody understands ME. Do I thus win at least a semi-demi godhood? The claim that god cannot be defined or understood is a masterstroke, the greatest dodge of all time. Why doesn’t it work for me, especially in the undergraduate classroom?

  18. truthspeaker says:

    If anyone is old enough to remember when “The Last Temptation of Christ” came out, then you’ll understand that American Christian fanatics aren’t quite as scary as Muslim fanatics, but they’re pretty close.

    They don’t blow up movie theaters, but they do blow up abortion clinics and gay bars.

  19. Dan says:

    @bitter lemon,

    If the trigger for the observation process is entirely part of the QM system then we still haven’t let free-will in unless we start tinkering with the random.

    If the trigger for the observation process is in a separate metaphysical realm we’re slap bang in the middle of Cartesian Duality with triggering observation in the Copenhagen Convention model as the conduit between the realms.

    My problem is that the theory is entirely speculative. I have no problem with Dualism. It’s never been disproved but also the need for it has never been shown either.

    My view is that the Copenhagen Convention is ultimately a fudge and will eventually be a definition of observation that has nothing to do with consciousness and everything to do with certain macroscopic interactions causing wave-form collapse. That would take us almost full circle a non-determined but still mechanical universe unless we start to suspect the randomness as being a misunderstood ‘conduit for intent’.

    I do think these questions are interesting but I also strongly believe that their answer has no bearing on morality.

  20. HaggisForBrains says:


  21. steeve says:

    I don’t know anything about the film that has triggered this appalling murder. Does it suggest that Islamists are violent and tend to over-react?

  22. thalio says:

    When a believer tells me he can’t really describe God, I take him at his word. He literally doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  23. silverstreak says:

    American Christians are pretty scary if you are a woman. When they deny abortions for women even if it causes the women to die for lack o of one. Pretty scary. The next step for the Teabaggers is to reconstruct the witch. Pretty scary. If women and men of good will don’t vote them out in this next election, men will have to go to another country to get a wife cause there won’t be any women here to marry. NOt that I am in favor of marraige.

  24. Dan says:

    It’s odd the the religious say if you understand then you don’t understand but when we point out that’s a category called ‘non-rational belief’ they get uppity!

  25. Yenebo says:

    Holy Zeus. I forwarded this to all my “casual” or “recreational” Christian friends that see the amazing and stupefying dumbassicisty of current politically correct bigotry. There’s a chance they’ll see the real light.

  26. Nassar Ben Houdja says:

    The profits find it not funny
    The deity which they serve requires money
    Those manipulative slobs
    Should get regular jobs
    Most of the population are neither dhimmi or dummy.

  27. Mutton dressed as lobster says:

    This particular strip works because while mystically inclined, liberal type Christians (e.g me, love this site btw) would be fairly comfortable with the language of the first two frames, the anti-gay anti cell research anti whatever brigade wouldn’t, they’d say God is knowable through his Holy Word and through his incarnation in Jesus, to which I’d say bollocks. In reality the two language games barely acknowledge each other, the humour comes through their collision here at the bar.

    I give you Niels Bohr: “How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress.” and “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it. ” Contemplation of the fundamentals of existence brings you up against mystery, whether your discipline is physics or philosophy. Scoff away at silly religious people, they deserve all you can throw at them, but atheists are only the demolition squad. For constructive enlightenment I look to the artists, the dreamers, the mystics, those for whom the existence of ANYTHING is a source of awe.

    Incidentally I look forward to seeing Mo’s defence of he Pakistani laws on blasphemy …

  28. Dan says:

    Mutton, I don’t think Bohr expected to stop there.
    He didn’t and we probably haven’t understood QM but we’re not expecting or expected to turn back.
    The most objectionable part of religion of critical thinkers is that it tries to roadblock enquiry in certain directions.
    No one has the slightest explanation as to why a God with infinite power can only achieve his ends by deliberately causing the untold suffering of the things he loves. However rather than admit there are many contradictions in religion that no one can explain we get the sort of tripe in the first few frames.
    I’m still not a fan of “atheism” as a philosophical camp but at least they tend to accept that ‘I don’t know’ is better than obfuscation and flowery bulls**t.

  29. Tom says:

    Dan has missed the boat somewhere but hit the nail on the head. I am both “religious” and a follower of the idea of the non-rational belief in God. There is a great deal of life lived non-rationally. It is a mistake to assume that human beings are rational or irrational creatures. To be non-rational neither supports nor denies the existence of God. To not know is not the end – only the beginning of the search.

  30. Laexis says:

    I’m waiting for your stellar take on the recent ado over the Innocence of Muslims. Keep ’em flowing and keep off the radar!

  31. Dan says:

    I’m pleased to see at least some religious people accepting their beliefs are non-rational. I agree human beings aren’t rational or irrational.
    What I object to is the way non-rational beliefs are presented as knowledge (they aren’t) and used politically to try and gain leverage in political discourse.

    Non-rational beliefs are also known as emotions and feelings and if more people accepted that religion and spirituality is an often confused way of talking about feelings I think we’d all be better off.

  32. Peakcrew says:

    Regarding Libya and the other North African states, it has been a bit of a mystery to me for some time why US and British forces have been deployed to get rid of leaders of countries that were keeping the worst Islamic extremes under control. An area that was a little unstable is now massively unstable due to the west backing the wrong people.

  33. FreeFox says:

    *stares at peakcrew* you mean it’s only tyranny and human rights violations (and murder) when it happens to white liberals?

  34. Beer Monster says:

    If you don’t like the humo(u)r, line on the left, one cross each…

  35. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Poor Richard “Nobody understands ME. Do I thus win at least a semi-demi godhood?”.
    No, but you get the runner-up prize of a course of elocution lessons.

    Dan, where’s this atheist philosophical camp? My invite must have got lost in the post. Seriously though, I had no idea that being atheist was a philosophical position; it’s just a non-belief in big-or-little-g gods. I do not believe in Nessie either; is this a philosophical sub-camp?

    Peakcrew, it’s not that much of a mystery. The oil business has no religious affiliation, just a lack of tolerance to threats to its own survival and to Hell with the human – and environmental – cost. Plus, of course, it does have its own private military force…er, the ear of the military and governments in certain Western nations; conspiracy theorists can make what they will of the film, the (carefully orchestrated?) backlash and the fore-mentioned forces already en-route to the ‘hotspots’ – maybe to do a little more ‘regime-changing’.

  36. hotrats says:

    Islamists were hardly ‘kept under control’ even by the brutal repression seen under Saddam, Mubaarak, Gadaffi and Asad, all of whom operated under a fig-leaf of Islamic piety and used the support of the mullahs to entrench their positions, in fact they were given carte blanche to run the education systems as Islamic indoctrination factories.

    In fact it is moot whether Salafists can be controlled at all; the recent mindless and deadly rage over a pitifully amateurish anti-Muslim video, demonstrates that they cherish their right to throw ostentatious tantrums over percieved offence and have no concept of free speech, let alone dialogue with unbelievers.

    The genie of implacable religious hatred and intolerance is out of the bottle, and it is hard to see any future not littered with the corpses of infidels and other insufficiently batshit-crazy fellow Muslims.

    The de-fundamentalisation of Christianity took over a century, based on the marriage plans of Henry VIII and the despotism of several popes, and was not achieved without bloody civil wars, and a growing appetite for freedom of thought and conscience that is unlikely to emerge in Islamic countries (hard to see this process getting a toe-hold in a religion that has the death penalty for even implicit criticism of its dogmas).

    In the spirit of ‘flooding’ as a phobia cure, perhaps overkill could work – an intense, open-ended campaign of no-holds-barred mockery of Islam via anonymous digital media would be impossible to control, and after trashing a few embassies and weeping hysterically for the news cameras for a few months, eventually they might just have to accept it as a fact of life and get over themselves.

  37. Dan says:

    AoS, I don’t think Atheism is a philosophical camp either. Some religious tend to construct it as one. One of my worries is that Atheism+ will reinforce that projection from the other side.
    So when I talk about Atheists as a group I’m keen not to fall into the trap of reinforcing the fallacy myself.

    I don’t believe in blue bananas playing tennis in Alpha Centauri but I would actually love someone to jab a finger at me and say “That’s typically of you non-believers in blue bananas playing tennis in Alpha Centauri”.

  38. Suffolk Blue says:

    Whenever I hear that particular religious argument, I feel like paraphrasing Brando in The Wild Ones.

    God-Botherer: What God don’t you believe in?

    Me: What have you got?

    (BTW – Yenebo – “recreational Christians” – LOL – love it!)

  39. Suffolk Blue says:

    Dan – agreed. I had a big argument with a religious friend who kept calling atheism a “system of beliefs”. How can not believing something be a “system of beliefs”?

    He went on to say that the atheist “system of beliefs” fills a god-shaped hole in atheists. WTF!

  40. JustATeensyBitStrident says:


    “Non-rational beliefs are also known as emotions and feelings”

    Point of order, but I don’t see how a belief can be described as an emotion or a feeling. If I see something sad, I feel sad; if someone lets me down, I feel angry and betrayed. There doesn’t seem to be anything irrational about that. I agree that a belief can give rise to an emotion (eg believing in unicorns gives me a nice warm fuzzy feeling), but the belief isn’t itself the emotion.

  41. WalterWalcarpit says:

    @hotrats, all well said; Islam has not had an Enlightenment and it is hard to see how one could take root. Ironic that the Moorish universities were forerunners – but that was in the middle ages and so little has changed since.

    So perhaps the solution is simply to laugh at their idiocy. Crying isn’t helping.
    The funniest thing about this episode is that the greatest offence caused by the film is one against art in general and the craft of filmmaking in particular.

    The least funniest thing is that it has been knocked off the headlines by photos of a topless princess.

  42. Peakcrew says:

    Yes, but therein lies the confusion – stability is good for business. I am aware that human rights abuses happened, and are still going to happen regardless of who is in charge, Freefox, and it makes no difference as to skin colour or place of birth. However, it has always been foreseeable that messing about in the Middle East would introduce theocracies, and that the West’s interests would be negatively impacted by this. It seems odd that the status quo was so dramatically disrupted because of this.

  43. PW says:

    It seems to me that these Islamic rioters are insecure, because they do not wholly believe in Allah/God ! Surely a true believer would have confidence in God punishing an evil-doer much more efficiently than he could, and would not need to anticipate God’s work? And a reading of Job shows that we can not understand His way of thinking so easily, surely.

  44. hotrats says:

    Belief, i.e. holding something to be true by assertion rather than evidence, is irrational by definition, so ‘non-rational belief’ is a pleonasm. ‘Rational’ beliefs are called verifiable facts, and there is general consensus that they apply to all of us.

    No belief is verifiable, all are speculation; nobody knows, and there is no consensus. Belief can be as various, contradictory and extreme as you can concieve of, because it has no reality outside of your head, indeed no obligation to intersect with reality at all. That’s what makes it so insidious and dangerous.

    @Suffolk Blue:
    _How can not believing something be a “system of beliefs”?_

    It’s easy; you start by assuming that not only are your beliefs correct, but that believing them is necessary for your welfare and that your actions are directed and informed by your belief. From this point on, you cannot conceive of life without belief, so anyone who says they don’t believe must be lying or deluded.

    I personally find all belief dangerous and delusional, but when I tell people that I don’t believe anything at all, the cognitive dissonance is palpable. ‘You must believe in something, everybody does.’ To which I can only reply, ‘I’m sure you believe that, but then, you would. I don’t have to’.

  45. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Peakcrew, I see your point, but a ‘Western-friendly’ oil supply is better for business than stability in oil-producing nations with strong anti-West governments. If the newly installed puppet-governments start to forget who put them there then it’s off to Mister Gepetto’s for some new puppets before the black stuff stops flowing West, then rinse and repeat until Western-friendly stability is achieved.

  46. Dan says:


    That’s a reasonable position and one of the problems when epistemologies collide.
    We know that the religious don’t have a rational empirical basis for their beliefs.
    Some religious people certainly perform the converse of your example which would be the warm fuzzy feeling believing in unicorns gives is part of their warrant to believe in unicorns (often in part due to the prospect of having to give up said warm fuzzy feeling).
    People do accept “Argument to the Consequences” fallacies and rather than consciously reason “The idea of X gives me a WFF I shall add X to my beliefs” what happens is more akin to “I have a WFF that X is true” is treated as a belief.
    I normally state “Spirituality is an often confused way of talking about emotions”. I think your point leads me to “Spirituality is an often confused way of talking about emotions that frequently omits the boundary between the emotions and reasoning”.

    In short to say that belief and emotions are (always) different is the mistake of projecting a fine piece of mental discipline onto people who frequently don’t have it.

  47. Dan says:

    Yet again, Epistemologies collide.
    Your statement “‘Rational’ beliefs are called verifiable facts” confuses the heck out of me give that immediately before that you say believing is holding something to be true by assertion *rather than evidence*. That would mean that there are no rational beliefs. I’ll try and clarify my use of ‘belief’ in the hope that helps reveal yours.
    I believe The Earth is round. Some people believe God exists. Belief is a mental disposition towards the validity of statements. How that disposition comes about, strengthens, weakens or goes away is a set of personal and cultural processes.
    To me the argument with religion is about what processes are admissible to beliefs entering a “first class” of beliefs we call knowledge, truth and fact.
    Religious beliefs has been increasingly incompatible with the processes applicable in my culture for a couple of hundred years or so based as it is on inadmissible evidence, inadequate evidence or poor reasoning including the admission of irrelevant evidence, unreliable evidence, false dichotomies and arguments to the consequences and other fallacious rhetorical devices.
    My original assertion was only my belief that religion ultimately arises from people placing too much weight on what they feel to be true than what they can find empirical evidence to support and so claiming knowledge when all they really have is a feeling.

  48. Suffolk Blue says:

    @hotrats – yep, that about sums it up. And btw – top taste in music, mon ami. I’m seeing ZPZ myself in a few weeks.

  49. hotrats says:

    Hi Dan
    I put ‘rational’ in quotes to attempt to make clear that there are indeed no rational beliefs per se, and when I say I believe the Earth is round, this is just another way of saying that I have seen plausible evidence, in this everyday sense it is a ‘rational’ belief. But you are quite right to make clear the important distinction that the dual use of the word blurs. Like ignorance, belief starts where knowledge stops.

    @Suffolk Blue –
    Lucky sod, I wish I was. To wax nostalgic, I first saw Dweezil when he was brought on by his dad to play the solo on Zoot Allures at the Wembley Arena in 1988 or thereabouts, then only a teenager but already showing exceptional talent – now if anything eclipsing Frank in his technical mastery. I hear he even does ‘G-Spot Tornado’ on guitar – something FZ could only do with a computer or an orcheatra.

    To end with one of my favourite quotes from the man himself:
    “If you want to get together in any exclusive situation and have people love you, fine – but to hang all this desperate sociology on the idea of The Cloud-Guy who has The Big Book, who knows if you’ve been bad or good – and CARES about any of it – to hang it all on that, folks, is the chimpanzee part of the brain working.” Desperate sociology – says it all.

  50. Suffolk Blue says:

    🙂 – very quotable chap, our Frank

  51. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    hotrats says:
    September 18, 2012 at 11:18 pm
    “….., and when I say I believe the Earth is round, this is just another way of saying that I have seen plausible evidence…..”

    Oblate spheroid, my old darling 😉

  52. Walter says:

    Beggars Belief says:
    September 12, 2012 at 12:41 pm
    Sorry to digress from the strip so soon but WOW to the murder of the US Ambassador to Libya, allegedly incited by a US film that insults Mo; and further WOW to Hillary Clinton’s reaction: “The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.”
    Please stay safe, Author. And very anonymous.
    Mrs. Clinton approves of Thuggee?


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