Today’s comic inspired by a funny little guy called Hugh Ross.

Discussion (50)¬

  1. M27Holts says:

    The bible was cobbled together in the 4th century CE and the koran around the 7th century CE…as such times bows and arrows were still emerging technologies….This god geezer they think exists was very much as pig ignorant as the cocks who wrote the shite supporting his existance….strange that isn’t it…

  2. Jesus F Christ says: Hugh Ross. Fascinating reference Author, thanks. Nothing I’ve read clears up the conundrum. Not Sagan, not Aristotle, not Hawking. We still have no sensible answers: Go to the end of the universe. Take another step…where are we? Go to the beginning of time. What happened the “day” before that? Christ are we ignorant with no hint of how to get a clue.

  3. OtterBe says:

    ‘A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry’

    Apologies for completely OT spam, but I couldn’t resist the title of this blog by Bret Devereaux. He’s a history professor with, IMO, a good, balanced writing style: packed with information, but not dry. Easy to read. I particularly enjoyed his Textiles collection. Fair warning: he has a drinking game in many of his posts on military history. I dozed off in part 3 of Fortifications-and I had substituted a mild herbal intoxicant.

    No footnotes, but he does provide a bibliography-and will occasionally note ‘I’m not going to get into that detail here, but more can be found at xxxx’. I found the blog enjoyable and informative, and, having been directed to much delightful info here, thought I’d share with my fellow patrons.

    Now, back to our regularly scheduled meandering

  4. Deus_Ex_Mamiya says:

    @Jesus F Christ:
    “Go to the end of the universe. Take another step…where are we?”

    This is a common misconception. There is no boundary to the Universe. In the same way as you can fly around the Earth indefinitely, in any direction, without ever hitting a boundary; just extrapolate that to another dimension.

    “Go to the beginning of time. What happened the “day” before that? “.

    Think a little more about your statements. How can there be a day (a time) before the beginning of time itself?

  5. M27Holts says:

    He just thinks he is being clever…when he clearly aint…

  6. MarkyWarky says:

    Author, please don’t do that to me again, ever. I followed the link and saw only a teaser – no actual explanation of how the Bible gave us the scientific method (I was interested because that’s actually an argument I’ve never heard before). So, I started browsing and lost too much time reading his nonsense – time I’ll never get back again :(.

    His basic approach appears to be – pose a genuine and reasonable question about the existence of god, look like he’s answering it using proper reasoning, but actually don’t address the central question.


    He defends the premises of each of the arguments for god (erroneously, mainly), except for in the case of the Ontological Argument – that fails on premise#1, but he doesn’t even attempt to justify it!

    It’s bloody infuriating and I wish you hadn’t made me look!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    M27Holez. I was reflecting on the material in Author‘s suggested reading of Hugh Ross. Take a look. It takes imagination to understand an absence of boundaries. Like boundaries on polite discourse. It seems like you have one, but some creative individual can transcend it with simple childish attacks.

  8. Solo Hands says:

    JFC, picture the evolving universe as a cube. Yes, I know this is simplistic, stupid and reductionist to an alarming degree but I wish to illustrate a single point so please bear with me for a while.

    The lower left corner of the cube is the “beginning”. “Time” is represented by the diagonal going up, back and rightwards. Still with me?

    Okay, as “time” gets larger, further from the Origin, later the surface representing our 3D universe gets wider and deeper. The model “expands”. Still with me?

    Right, here’s the thing: as you go :back in time”, or retreat towards the Origin, the surface mapping the real cosmos to the interior volume of the cube gets smaller and smaller, the model “contracts”.

    In this model, this simplistic, silly model, there really is no movement, no expansion, it is all just geometry. The real cosmos isn’t so simple. Still we can see the essential point I wish to make.

    In our model, there is no “before the Origin”, no “before Time begins”, no points that are negative. There is only the origin, the disagonal we are calliing “Time” and the surface between the three axes that we are using to represent “spacetime”. It is meaningless to ask “what is before the Origin”.

    Okay, so we live in a cosmos that seems to have a beginning. It seems to be very large, perhaps infinite, it seems to be a “flat” space and it seems to be expanding as Time progresses.

    As with my simplistic cube-space-time, the real universe may have no “before the beginning”. The phrase may have no meaning.

    It may well be nonsense, like asking “what was less Wednesday than blue?”

    The idea of something “outside of the universe” may, or may not, similarly be nonsensical. There are conjectures of super-spaces, under-spaces, sub-spaces and hyper-spaces that may “contain” our spacetime. If these exist then “one step beyond” may have real, physical meaning and existence.

    Or not. We don’t yet know.

    There may even be orthogonal “time” that can “contain” our Time so even though the idea of “before the beginning of Time” may be meaning free, there may have been “something” when our Time did not exist. Something that could be considered to have been a sort of “before”. It would, or they would, eally have been more of an extension or outside of our Time but it or they could semantically and imprecisely be mapped to the idea of “before” if you squint a little.

    We don’t really know very much at present. Not much fundamentally but we’re trying very hard to learn stuff.

    Some of us.

  9. MarkyWarky says:

    @Deus_Ex_Mamiya, your illustration of no distance boundary to the universe presumably means that time is also limitless, with no beginning and no end? If we assume that we travel at the speed of light towards the edge of the universe (but it doesn’t matter – it could be any speed), by transposing speed = distance/time we get time = distance/speed. If distance is infinite, then the result of that would be infinity for time also?

    I really don’t get why some people have to assume that time started at some point. I know everything we experience has a beginning and an end, but why should time itself start (or finish?). I genuinely see it as the same as distance – our lives are a finite period of time inside an infinite bowl of time, just like walking a mile is a finite distance inside an infinite universe.

    Looked at like that, the big bang wasn’t the beginning, just an event that started at some point in infinite time, which continues to fill more and more of the infinite space available.

    Does that correspond with any mainstream scientific thinking?

  10. MarkyWarky says:

    @Solo Hands,

    “Right, here’s the thing: as you go :back in time”, or retreat towards the Origin, the surface mapping the real cosmos to the interior volume of the cube gets smaller and smaller, the model “contracts”.”

    So anything that had happened at say 50% of the “time” diagonal line, no longer exists? It simply didn’t happen, if you find a way to go back towards the origin?

    Why does the cube logically have to contract? Why, once it’s been created, can’t we travel back along the line toward the origin without undoing what’s already there, just like we could travel across the distance surface? That is, as long as we had the mechanisms to do the traveling.

    Or is it our view of the universe, both in time and space, that contracts, leaving the actual things and events intact but out of view?

  11. Donn says:

    I don’t get what’s with “undoing what’s already there”? When Solo Hands uses “as you go back in time” to present his model, he isn’t proposing that something (you) in the model could go back – it’s you looking at his model, moving your focus from one place in the model to another.

    What he’s describing is an Origin. In a topological sense, if that’s the right term, where it’s the origin of time and space. It seems to me that every dimension is infinite in that model, and there’s no way to determine where we are in the “cube”.

  12. Laripu says:

    As far as the physics of it all, it’s important to not confuse the model of reality with the reality. The model works really well here and now, where here and now mean some time interval and space interval around us. Maybe millions of miles and millions of years, maybe much more, but still some interval.

    If the model breaks down when you trace it back to big bang time, that doesn’t mean that reality did something woo-woo. It just means that the model isn’t accurate under those conditions. Just like Newton/Einstein doesn’t completely invalidate Newton, just limits the usefulness.

    Also, space could be finite, yet unbounded. If the physics was arranged so that the closer you got to the edge the slower you moved, and the more energy it took to accelerate, you could construct mathematical rules (for a simulated finite universe) in which you could travel forever and never get to the edge. Anyway, how would you know? If beyond the edge there was nothing, no information would come from there. No reference. Maybe beyond the edge the probability of any quantum event is 0. How would we know?

    BTW, a Woo Woo is apparently also a cocktail. I imagine it’s consumed by very young people looking for excuses to be naughty.

  13. M27Holts says:

    I am reading MUH. Currently. The proofs for flat infinite space are gaining momentum or so it seems. But your average religious know nowt has read nothing of these proofs, which slowly but surely leave no gaps for their invisible friend to hide…

  14. Solo Hands says:

    Laripu, I think there are few models of spacetime that allow for a finite, unbounded cosmos with flat space and, as M27Holts said, flatness is becoming more and more and observed certainty – if one takes a very, very large scale view. Our cosmos is lumpy as badly made porridge on small scales, it has things like planets in it but on extremely large ones it looks to be nicely flat.

    But you are right about models. Mine is idiotic and to be used only to picture the expanding universe from an origin point. It is descriptive only with zero maths behind it. I just thought it would help JFC with his inability to imagine a cosmos that begins. It seems that I was wrong.
    hJFC, the model I gave has an expanding “sheet” or surface between the three axes, the X, Y and Z axes of the cube. Or, if you prefer, the distance Right, Back and Up from the Origin. If you pretend the R-B-U-wards diagonal is “time” then that surface is smaller as X, Y and Z are smaller, as the three variables approach the zero point.

    Inside the cube, there can’t be a negative value for the diagonal because I made it so.

    If you pretend that this is a model, albeit a simplistic and stupid one with little value, of the real expanding universe then you can see that there is no way to model “before the Big Bang”.

    As to why the cosmos “gets smaller as we look back in Time”, well it just does. This is, or seems to be, a FACT, and observable condition of the universe itself. I didn’t make it up. I just modelled it, in my simple model as an ever growing 2D sheet. OR ever shrinking if you move towards the zero point in the T-diagonal.

    Happy now?

    If not, I don’t care. I surrender. You win. Before the beginning of our Time there were elves, gods, demons, dark worlds, six infinity stones, a bake sale for weapons for the Hadean Army and Newton Mearns.

    Goodbye. Have a lovely new year.

  15. Postdoggerel says:

    I don’t always comment on math or physics, but when I do I always remember that in an infinite universe anything is possible. That can’t be true because there is a special someone who will never (m27holes (!) fill in the blanks).

  16. M27Holts says:

    Solo Hands….I am not having “Newton Mearns” !

  17. M27Holts says:

    Anyway , science will always lose against religions and woo…it removes the comfort blanket of life after death…and for the weak minded that is the clincher….

  18. MarkyWarky says:

    @Donn, thanks. As a description of a model that makes sense – my question is, is the model one of reality as it actually is? In other words, it’s a very good way to describe an origin, but why does there need to be an origin? Clearly some things have origins, but does the universe need to have one? By universe I mean “everything”, or Universe with a capital U, not just “that which began at the Big Bang”, or the universe with a small u. Why can’t the universe just be a part of the Universe, with the universe having a beginning but the Universe having existed forever? BTW, I’m not equating Universe with god – it’s simply a natural “thing” that were yet to observe, like a dust mite probably is yet to observe the earth.

    @Laripu, that’s kind of what I’m saying – maybe the Big Bang and it’s consequences are just a part of the whole, is all we can observe so far, and is finite, while the “whole” that we can’t observe yet is infinite?

    Yes finite but unbounded makes sense to me, like each new step taking you half the remaining distance to the edge – you’d never get there. You might know if you could see but never quite reach the edge, or if you had some other point of reference, but you also might not.

    @Solo Hands, it was me, not JFC that came back “at” you. By asking questions I wasn’t disagreeing with you, I was trying to understand.

    Your model, and everything else you’ve said, makes perfect sense now it’s been clarified. My uncertainty now is whether what you call the cosmos/universe, which appears to have an observable origin, is everything, or whether instead it is just one of possibly many “things” that exist inside the whole, which in turn might or might not have an origin.

    Final question – does something that’s intimate have a beginning? Is infinity a number like all the others, which starts at 1 and counts up, the only difference being that with infinity you never stop counting, or is it truly without limits, so no end AND no beginning, like a circle. If it’s the latter, then nothing that has an observable beginning, even if it has no end, is infinite?

  19. MarkyWarky says:

    Duh; infinite, not intimate!! Intimate very clearly does have an end 🙁

  20. Rrr says:

    MarkyWarky, a closed loop like that would really be intimate!

  21. M27Holts says:

    Does something intimate have a beginning? Aye, usually an expensive meal in my experience…

  22. MarkyWarky says:

    Hmm, so if something intimate does have a beginning, my question is; when will it begin?? 🙁

  23. Donn says:

    The addition of other universes is not provably wrong, but it seems kind of by definition meaningless. Like there’s no practical difference between this and fantasy. Once it involves any detectible phenomenon, it’s in our universe, no?

    If we say there’s a Universe that contains our and other other universes … could there not be a U-Universe that contains our and other Universes? Would it matter?

    As for “forever”, though – I think infinity will fit in Solo Hands’ model. You know Zeno’s paradox, where Atalanta is headed for some destination? First she covers half the distance, then half the remaining distance, etc. … and she never reaches the end of this series, so she never gets there. That’s absurd inside the model, but we don’t see the Origin from inside the model.

  24. DC-Toronto says:

    I guess JFC can’t come back to the conversation. He’s probably busy celebrating his second birthday today with his orthodox friends.

  25. MarkyWarky says:


    “Once it involves any detectible phenomenon, it’s in our universe, no?”

    I’m not so sure, unless by “our universe” you mean “everything we can detect”. If instead our universe turns out to be a step between galaxy and true Universe, i.e. is a finite “thing”, then I see no reason why one day we shouldn’t be able to see what’s outside of it, just like I can see what’s outside my house from inside it, without those things needing to be inside the house.

    “If we say there’s a Universe that contains our and other other universes … could there not be a U-Universe that contains our and other Universes? Would it matter?”

    There could if the Universes were finite, but if our one is infinite, can it by definition be contained within anything else?

    Bottom line is that “infinite” is a very difficult concept to get your head around, and if overthunk throws up potential paradoxes, like something infinite being inside something else infinite – the one is by definition big enough to contain anything of any size, while the other is by definition too big to fit inside anything!!!

    Does it matter? Not today, but possibly one day in the far distant future, when we can detect it and it makes some or other technology possible, or not.

  26. MarkyWarky says:

    I guess Zeno’s paradox is as good a definition, or at least illustration, of infinity as any. All other things being capable of surviving, the time taken is infinite even if the distance isn’t (it remains measurable even if we can’t get there).

    Or is it? The journey started at a point in time, so is it truly infinite?


  27. Donn says:

    No, distance is infinite the same as time. It isn’t measurable. We’re inside the model.

    Outside the model, distance isn’t meaningful.

  28. Donn says:

    “Science fiction” stories occasionally feature intersections of one kind or another between different universes. That’s the fantasy aspect of science fiction – like a lot of other convenient features that don’t really make any kind of sense but help make an interesting story if you don’t mind that it’s nonsense. (Telepathic communication for another example, is practically universal in science fiction, because too many story lines couldn’t happen otherwise. Nonsense for the real world, but who cares.)

  29. MarkyWarky says:

    Surely distance and time are both measurable as long as we have finite start and end points – I can measure my desk, and am certain it’s not infinitely long, and although it feels like they are, meetings at my workplace are not in fact infinite in duration! The available distance or time might be infinite, but our finite uses of them can be measured.

    In Zeno’s paradox, distance HAS to be measurable, otherwise how would anyone know she was moving half the remaining distance at each step – half of infinity is meaningless? if she got close enough to the unobtainable destination (i.e. within the capacity of her tape measure), and there was something at the edge to measure to, she could measure it, even if she couldn’t get there herself. The paradox itself defines the distance as finite by making use of half of it, though the time taken to travel it is infinite.

  30. M27Holts says:

    I thought xeno’s paradox was a race betwixt achilles and a tortoise?

  31. Donn says:

    That paradoxical guy was author of more than one paradox, though those two have a lot in common.

    Did I mention that the paradox is absurd as constructed by Zeno? It is. That’s why it’s a paradox. But in The Model, as viewed from the outside, there’s no paradox, it’s just how things work. Everything is smaller near the Origin – time dimension as well as spatial dimensions – so infinity is achieved. There is no perceptible difference – inside the model – between a point/time nearer the Origin or more distant from it.

    Of course I’m making some assumptions about a model Solo Hands says is idiotic, so my assumptions are presumably idiotic by extension but may not coincide with his.

  32. M27Holts says:

    I can dimly remember our maths teacher explaining the paradox then fixing it using calculus….interesting days at school….

  33. M27Holts says:

    Almost as interesting as Alison Plant’s pants….talking of another inside/outside dichotomy…

  34. Deimos says:

    Scientific method, Rhythm method, method acting. Is this some kind of methodism ?
    Weeeeeee my brain is in freefall from all this hyper intelligent commentary ? Has
    J&M been replaced by competitive “Nobel prize buzzword bingo” ?
    Hopefully next week my brain will have caught up and Happy New Year to all you clever bastages.

  35. M27Holts says:

    Mars-moon…I did try to show the dichotomy of my adolescent reveries from the scientific to the base human desires….

  36. Getting back to the topic: NOT THE NATURE OF GOD OR OF EXISTENCE OR THE PHYSICAL WORLS!!! Rather the origins of the scientific method:

    Almost everyone I have asked has agreed with my observation that almost everyone, everywhere has become more stupid / ignorant over the past two years.

    Would it really have much effort to do a search This is just one over 5M hits resulting from a search on? My search on: Church creates “scientific method” returned over 5.3M hits. This was at the top This came out of a belief that since god created the world according to his laws, the humans could divine something about the nature of god by studying his creation and how it worked.

    You might want to do a search on the idea of Galileo saying that Mathematics is the language of god

    There is a reason that systematic exploration of the physical world, NOT engineering of problem solving, but systematic exploration of the physical world for the reason of finding out it worked, NOT to build a bridge, did, with the exception of a few individuals, (as in NOT entire cultures) came from a culture that had a law giving god at its center. This is NOT an argument for the existence of a god, or what its nature might be, but an explanation of the evolution, if you will, of human thought

    Galileo may have been the first with this idea of science being a way to know god, but he was not the last: GStephen Hawking, yielding to the temptation in A Brief History of Time (1988), declared that this scientific achievement “would be the ultimate triumph of human reason — for then we would know the mind of God.”.

    Seriously, if you are going to argue / fight with / whatever those in the believing world, you will do much better if you do not demonstrate some combination of ignorance / stupidity

  37. Donn says:

    I don’t think anyone had in mind to argue / fight / whatever with Galileo.

    The story I get when I follow Author’s link is “virtually every creation text in the bible, follows the scientific method.” “… as when people outside the priesthood began to read the bible for themselves, they discovered this biblical testing method, it was applied to the natural world, and that was the birth of the scientific revolution.”

    The bible, our how to guide for the scientific method. You were able to find some interesting and plausible accounts of scientific inquiry possibly being encouraged by the church. That isn’t the same thing.

  38. Troubleshooter says:

    “Not yet, indeed. As regards evidence that Christianity is the source of the scientific method, a little word to the wise:

    Don’t hold your breath!

  39. M27Holts says:

    I would wager that Hawking regretted alluding to a mind of God….such anthromorphosising by scientists is always a fucking boon for religious knobheads…best avoiding all such references to avoid such nonsense…

  40. Troubleshooter says:

    @M27Holts Einstein did much the same thing, though we both know that the “god” he was referring to was the Spinozian god of order, logic, and laws of physics. No great surprise, Einstein was immediately alleged to be a believer when he never was:

    It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.
    — Albert Einstein, Letter, 24 March 1954. Quoted in “Albert Einstein: The Human Side,” edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman

  41. M27Holts says:

    Aye. WE know that, but making anthropic references to anything they can attribute to their imaginary friend to is asking for trouble. Avoid using the word god completely in any work of science. It’s not hard to convey the absence of agency when trying to capture the nature of time and space…

  42. Len says:

    “… Is infinity a number like all the others, which starts at 1 and counts up, …”
    If we could all count to infinity (as Chuck Norris has already done), presumably we could all also count to minus infinity. In other words, we can all count to two times infinity, which seems slightly weird.

  43. Nobody else says:

    @MarkyWarky – Your sacrifice (first comment) is appreciated.

    @Len – Higher mathematics routinely handles dealing with infinities of different ‘sizes’.

  44. Choirboy says:

    There is a raised pond at the bottom of my garden with some fish in it. I have often sat on the edge and explained to them that just a foot away is a comfortable bench set in a pleasant garden on a suburban street in a northern town.
    They are still swimming round in circles.

  45. Rrr says:

    Oh Koi.
    They lost you at “foot”.

  46. M27Holts says:

    If they are Koi, try talking to them in Japanese?

  47. Author, it seems to me that Jesus and Mo must have something to say about this latest scientific breakthrough:
    Scientists have worked feverishly to develop pigs whose organs would not be rejected by the human body, research accelerated in the past decade by new gene editing and cloning technologies.
    This heart transplant comes just months after surgeons in New York successfully attached the kidney of a genetically engineered pig to a brain-dead person.
    Given that though their bodies might not reject the transplants, the Muslims would. That’s gotta be funny, eh.

  48. M27Holts says:

    Aye, been keeping an eye on that science. The muslims pig ignorance is ironic? No?

  49. Postdoggerel says:

    When Jesus solicited some
    Information on babies from Mum,
    Her answer was very
    Evasive. “Yeah, Mary,”
    Said Joseph, “where DO they come from?”

  50. WalterWalcarpit says:

    The conversation above reminded me of hiking over peaks; with everyone conquered there’s another beyond.


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