And Christians would display their faith by wearing little glass tumblers around their necks.

Discussion (74)¬

  1. HaggisForBrains says:

    As a committed supported of assisted dying, I thank you for this one.

  2. Ant says:

    I love the glass tumbler idea!


  3. botanist says:

    Two in one week – thanks Author! T-shirts with a little glass tumbler please.

  4. Nice chain of thought….but Christians walking round, wearing necklaces with a small representation of Christ slumped in a comfy chair or a nice big bed…not quite so much “impact” for their faithful.

  5. Eric says:

    Or Portland, OR.

  6. W. Corvi says:

    I’ve always wondered why god wouldn’t have seen Adam and Eve eating the apple, and done more than just tell them not to. I’m not even sure why he was so intent on putting the tree there in the first place. But I REALLY don’t see why he couldn’t just say, “New rules; gates open again.”

    Either he isn’t very omniscient or he isn’t very omnipotent.

  7. Nassar Ben Houdja says:

    A lot of people are lazy.
    Can’t grasp the concept which is hazy.
    Freedom of choice is a gift.
    But they get terribly miffed.
    When finding out that their selection was crazy.

  8. Rob says:

    Reminds me of a joke in the Paul Hogan film, Charlie & Boots.
    To paraphrase: it’s a good job that Jesus was crucified and not killed by a swarm of killer bees. If he had been, instead of the gentle sign of the cross, Christians would have to do the panicked flail of the stung.

  9. DiscoveredJoys says:

    There are many Christians that reckon that the Resurrection was the most important thing about Jesus, after all anyone can just die. So rather than a mini execution device, Christians ought to wear a mini empty tomb around their neck.

  10. David Amies says:

    The author should get the Nobel Prize for Literature and a Pulitzer as well!
    Fucking brilliant!
    David Amies

  11. But if he’d waited a couple of thousand years then the Vatican wouldn’t have the authority of a couple of thousand years behind it, and that wouldn’t do.

  12. Peter says:

    a cracker!

  13. Yoav says:

    I always thought of it as more of a suicide by cop.

  14. Awesome comic. Never would have made that connection. Brilliant!

  15. hotrats says:

    Raises the thorny issue of the role of Judas – the suicide-assistee ‘villain’ without whom there would be no arrest, no crucifixion, no redemption of sin, and thus no Christianity. The NT paints him as acting in hatred of God, wheras had he chosen to do the ‘right’ thing, there would have been nothing to write about. Some heretics have even suggested that gratitude may be in order.

  16. The scholarly consensus on the historicity of an actual Jesus is that there was one. I think that the death knell on that scholarly consensus is imminent. The scholars who are saying there was never an actual Jesus have presented very convincing arguments. The scholars who attempt to rebut those arguments are presenting almost nothing and then coating it with a patina of ad hominem attacks. Therefore I feel pretty confident when I say that there was also no historic Judas character. This is where Judas came from:
    Good news! Our savior did something wonderful for us!
    That is good news!
    The bad news is he had to sacrifice himself.
    Oh, that’s bad.
    And we really need to blame someone.
    Oh, that’s really bad.
    So I have come up with a new game called, “Blame it on the Jews”
    Hurrah! That sounds wonderful!
    I call my arch villain Jewy McJewinstein.
    A little obvious, don’t you think?

  17. This is only my second visit to your website. After the first visit, I was shocked, disgusted and one of my legs fell off – for no apparent reason it must be said – however, despite my earlier experience, I thought I should give you a second chance. I have now given you that chance and you won’t be getting a third, following the loss of another limb. Whilst I can’t prove your site is responsible for this, I think it’s a little suspicious to say the least. If I visit again, it will be through a third party.

  18. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    I always wear a gold toilet pendant round my neck to remind me of Elvis.

  19. hotrats says:

    I think most of us take it for granted that the historicity of any characters in the bible story is endlessly arguable, and ultimately irrelevant to the doctrinaire uses to which they have been put. The point is that the believers only care about emotional truth, which for them trumps historical dubiousness, scriptural contradiction, medieval misconceptions, etc.

    Assuming that the icons of the faith have a factual historical basis is an obvious if unspoken pre-requisite to any belief, so don’t expect to get anywhere with the faithful by rocking that particular boat.

  20. DocAtheist says:

    Author, this one is absolutely your very best and most brilliant! How did you come up with it? Most of all, thank you for sharing this idea with the rest of us. With luck, the new meme will go viral in no time.

  21. Truly great reasoning, Author. Brilliant as usual. No, brilliant beyond the usual, even for you.
    BTW folks, the arrogance of the believers and apologists continues to amaze me. Don’t you love it when somebody calls you a liar when you tell them how you feel about something? Check this out.

  22. This guy, Damon Linker, has some nerve, calling me a liar when I talk about how I feel. What presumption. What if I claim that believers are lying about their beliefs, and tell them that they really don’t believe anything so stupid? What If I say that believers really aren’t comforted by their beliefs because they know their beliefs are silly? Where are the honest Christians? Uh, hold on. I’ve said these things, come to think of it. I guess I can be as arrogant as they are.

    What a pile of crap this article is. So I’m lying if I claim to be happy and comfortable as an atheist? The only thing the religious can accept is that I admit to being miserable? What stupidity. What gives them the right to call me a liar about how I feel or think? Here’s the news, folks. I’m totally comfortable with all the things this article says should make me unhappy: “we’re alone in the universe, that no one hears or answers our prayers, that humanity is entirely the product of random events, that we have no more intrinsic dignity than non-human and even non-animate clumps of matter, that we face certain annihilation in death, that our sufferings are ultimately pointless, that our lives and loves do not at all matter in a larger sense, that those who commit horrific evils and elude human punishment get away with their crimes scot free” To disbelieve any of these things is the ultimate in arrogance and self delusion. I’ll take truth and reality over delusion any day, and feel good about it.

    I do take great comfort from my atheism. I’m very happy that the evil bastards of the past are not punished, but simply gone for good. I don’t need to imagine that I will live forever, and I find the fact that I won’t gives my life great intensity. Damon Linker can call me a liar for saying this, but that just makes him a pompous fool.

  23. Anonnynonnymouse says:

    It seems to me that that the entire posited redemptive value of Jesus’ putative death springs from the reported ” Father forgive them for they know not what they do ” quote. A long bow drawn tight indeed.

  24. botanist says:

    I agree with DH 🙂

  25. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    The guy’s a numpty, DH. It sort of reminds me of the weird ‘atheists who don’t do bad things really believe in god’ argument I got from the LDS idiot a few months back. Still, at least the link to Linker’s piece you supplied led me to this one
    Far more interesting than the blatherings of Linker.

  26. Don says:


    But if my personal identity does not outlast the physical universe then what was the point?
    Moments of joy, love, awe, tenderness and wonder have no meaning unless they continue for ever and ever and are sanctioned by an eternal authority. It is not enough to have those feelings, they have to be approved by Nobodaddy.

  27. UncoBob says:

    This was the best J&Mfor a long while. Isn’t it marvellous what a shift in perspective can do.

    And in response to Don – I’ll stick with the now for the good times – probably the bad ones as well. An infinitely extended personal existence sounds more like punishment to me rather than reward and validation: sort of like Douglas Adams’ Wowbagger the infinitely prolonged.

  28. AofS yes, interesting article. I find it interesting to think that entire continents may have been folded under the earth’s crust, and who knows what was on them. Could be a whole new field of archaeology, or would that be paleontology?

  29. MarkyWarky says:

    But DH, surely you’d accept that, given that wishful thinking plays a major role in supporting belief, it will also be key in defending it as its attacked?

    Of course whether or not the absence of god is a depressing prospect has no bearing on whether its true or not. I find the existence of tsunamis depressing, but could never argue that because of that, I don’t believe that they are real.

    I agree with Linker’s sentiment ONLY in the sense that religion has played a role in society that secularism hasn’t yet taken over, and there is pain to be had during the transition. Pain for society that is, as one structure is dismantled and another built, not for individuals who make the jump.

    Never the less though, the transition is necessary if the human race is to advance.

    For me the only depressing things about being an atheist are the time the change is taking, and the realisation that I belong to a far less intelligent species than I thought I did.

  30. “I belong to a far less intelligent species than I thought I did.”
    MarkyWarky your comment made me laugh because I’ve just been arguing on facebook that intelligence has nothing to do with what we believe. Very intelligent people believe very stupid things. It seems that the main use and purpose to which most people put intelligence is to defend their beliefs and attack the beliefs of others. This naturally entails ignoring facts and information that doesn’t support our beliefs, while clinging desperately to anything that does. Couple that with the theory of cognitive dissonance, which says that the more we have invested in a belief, the more difficult we will find it to give that belief up, and we can see why your transition is so slow in coming and painful.
    Believers invest their whole self identity, plus time and money, in their beliefs. Do you want to believe that something you have been doing since childhood, falling on your knees and throwing your ass in the air several times a day for example, has been a complete waste of time and emotional energy? Or that those hours spent in church, and the money thrown in the collection plate, could have been better spent on just about anything else? Hardly.
    Given this apparent fact of human nature, it surprises me that we’ve made any progress at all.
    I’ve also read that paradigm shifts in science require a new generation of scientist who have not invested in the old paradigm. If that carries over into the shift to secularism, it may take another generation or two before we see the transition completed. I note that in my own family I seem to be the only vocal atheist of my generation, and the generation before me had none at all, but that the next generation down is absolutely riddled with happy godless free thinkers. We may have to wait until the believers die off to see our side win. And that will be too long for most of us, since that’s our generation I’m talking about.

  31. MarkyWarky says:

    I think it depends how you define intelligence. In this context, I meant intelligent behaviour, and using personal intelligence to hold onto beliefs in the way you describe is not intelligent behaviour. My depression comes from the fact that I see massive personal intelligence all around me, with all the potential that that creates, but with it being misdirected.

    Of course believers would accuse us of doing exactly what you describe; using our intelligence to defend an untrue position at all costs, and it does worry me at times; how do I know I’m not doing that? In order to be true to my belief in rationalism, I do need to make sure I’m not!!

  32. MarkyWarky says:

    Perhaps I should have used “pragmatic” in place of “intelligent”? It’s just that I regard pragmatism as a mark of truly intelligent behaviour, and our species suffers from a remarkable lack of that. I guess it’s part of the price you pay for having evolved as a social animal?

  33. henry ford says:

    Why does everyone want meaning in life?

  34. henry ford, I think you have over-generalized unless I’m not part of “everybody”. I don’t want nor expect meaning in life. I’m okay with life being meaningless, except for the meaning I give it for my own personal reasons. That is, i choose to care about things. I know I could make other choices. That is personal responsibility. But there’s no ultimate meaning.

  35. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    MarkyWarky and DH, it’s not often I’ll quote from a film to make a serious point, but combining the question of intelligence with the generational theory, I can do no better than quote Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent K from the wonderfully silly Men in Black (no, not the “Elvis ain’t dead, kid, he’s just gone home” line);
    “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Everything they’ve ever “known” has been proven to be wrong. A thousand years ago everybody knew as a fact, that the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was flat…”
    And to date, most everybody ‘knows’ that goddidit.

    By the way, the Darwin Racist (now there’s a sockpuppet name for you, DH) debate is still active two comics back if anybody’s interested.

  36. Dan says:

    @henry ford & Darwin Harmless,

    How about:

    Why are so many people so vain and self-aggrandising to think that they want/demand/pretend the meaning they project on to the world to be somehow underwritten as singular and special?

  37. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Dan says:
    March 10, 2013 at 11:29 am
    @henry ford & Darwin Harmless,

    How about:

    Why are so many people so vain and self-aggrandising to think that they want/demand/pretend the meaning they project on to the world to be somehow underwritten as singular and special?

    That’s actors (and Bono) for you.

  38. JesusinHebrew says:

    I almost got my Internet taken away because my parents saw J and Mo in my history. Does anyone know how to come here without people being able to find out?
    (I’m typing this at a library)
    Also, the comic was hilarious, thanks for writing them Author.

  39. Don says:


    Bit of a quibble, but Agent K was wrong about that. A thousand years ago some people insisted on a geocentric universe, but it was scarcely unquestioned ‘fact’ More goon-enforced dogma in some local areas. And five hundred years ago only the unlettered believed in a flat earth.

    One of the many things I like about not-beleving is discovering for just how long people have not believed. Almost as soon as we have coherent records of people explaining their view of the universe we also find the awkward squad, whether in classical aniquity or India, saying ‘This whole ‘god’ thing just doesn’t work. Let’s try another approach.’

    Sometimes that has been a respected position, sometimes it has been suicidal.

  40. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Don, I know the ‘facts’ spouted by K are dodgy (but that’s Hollywood, making the facts fit the plot), but the point it makes about human nature is still valid.
    I suppose it’s understandable really, since in the grand scheme of things we are a species in its childhood. Children want to feel special, and children are gullible.
    Let’s hope DH is right, and we are at last reaching cynical adolescence.

  41. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    JesusinHebrew, can’t you just delete the browsing history once you’ve finished? Or, if your parents would find that too suspicious, just delete the J&M pages from the history list, not forgetting to remove the J&M-specific cookies too, whilst leaving the rest intact.

  42. Suffolk Blue says:

    That Damon Linker article can be dismissed with two words: Wishful Thinking.

  43. hotrats says:

    I can’t in good conscience recommend techniques to hide any aspect of your home internet use from your parents. Deceiving them is never a good idea, it is very painful for a parent to discover that a child is untrustworthy. Even if you are lucky enough not to get found out, deception and lies will still breed guilt and suspicion. Reading J&M in the library may be less of a risk, but it will still be a guilty secret you would be better not having to keep; reading it at home, in direct disobedience, is more or less guaranteed to create more serious consequences.

    I hate to say so, but you would be better advised to avoid J&M until you are old enough to make your own decisions about the suitability of your reading choices. We’ll still be here, It’s a great comic strip and meeting place, but that’s all it is, entertainment for people who enjoy that kind of thing; I hope I speak on behalf of other miscreants when I say, it’s contrary to the spirit of this place for it to become the focus of a family argument.

  44. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    When somebody tries to stifle a child’s independence, it’s a safe bet that they are either a member of the clergy…or a teacher. And any parent that explicitly bans a child from doing something that is neither illegal nor harmful, without offering a valid reason why, has either forgotten what it’s like to be a child, is a member of the clergy….or is a teacher.
    JesusinHebrew, this miscreant says that reading J&M isn’t illegal, so if you can deal with any guilty conscience you may develop over deceiving your parents over such a minor issue, then I for one welcome you to the Cock And Bull. Just don’t ask for alcohol unless you’re over 18′.

  45. IanB says:


    Most of the modern browsers have a private browsing option. The next Firefox has it in individual tabs and also for the first time in it’s Android incarnation. That way there’s no simple trail left.

  46. steve oberski says:

    hotrats, I have to disagree with your advice to JesusinHebrew.

    His/her relationship with his parents not a consensual one and there is a major power imbalance in favour of the parents.

    I would suggest that while in general honesty is the best policy, JesusinHebrew is not obligated to place himself in harms way by admitting to behaviour contrary to their demands.

    I would also claim that the onus is on JesusinHebrew’s parents to assist him in becoming a fully functioning member of society and not to try to force him into some preconceived image.

    Imagine if JesusinHebrew’s parents were creationists (they may well be) and JesusinHebrew was looking for information on evolution, would you advise him to avoid learning as much as he could about evolutionary theory ?

  47. JoJo says:

    Imagine their faces when Jesus turns up 3 days later for a refund..

  48. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    JoJo says:
    March 11, 2013 at 11:03 pm
    Imagine their faces when Jesus turns up 3 days later for a refund..

    Very funny, love it.
    Imagine Jesus’ face when Veritas point out that their refund policy doesn’t cover acts of god.

  49. I’m so torn by the advice to JesusinHebrew. On the one hand, I see Hotrats point. On the other hand, his parents don’t sound like the type to let an enquiring mind explore the world, and preventing that is criminal. I vote for allowing the lad to have his privacy. His parents don’t trust him already, and that’s obvious. He should ive up to their expectations and read whatever you want. There is a limit to the rights of parents to control their children.

  50. PZ just posted a great rebuttal to the Linker article. http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/03/11/might-christianity-be-both-true-and-terrible/
    I do admire his way with words, and with reasoning.

  51. Suffolk Blue says:

    Thanks for the PZ link, DH. Great stuff. 🙂

  52. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    DH, I read PZed’s rebuttal late last night. It is a well written piece, and a good precis of what we’ve all been trying to tell Christians for years, that their god is a wicked despotic monster. Sadly, their general counter has always been the one that FreeFox and I got into a debate over sometime last year, namely the ‘that’s not the god I believe in’ response.
    We can tell them exactly what their Bible says about god’s darker side until we’re blue in the face, but like abuse victims since time immemorial they just flatly deny it (except the Catholics and certain fundie-Christian sects, both of whom know all about the monster and revel in it). Could it be that they, just like abuse victims, know but daren’t admit to anybody that their god is abusive for fear of retribution? Or do they discount the OT version in favour of the warm and fuzzy ‘baby Jesus meek and mild’ version of their Sunday school days, because J’s death made god love us all again (or some such bollocks).
    At least we atheists can admit to our heroes faults, eh Mr. Zitzer? Which reminds me; if you’re still around, Leon, there’s still a debate going on two comics back which could do with your input to clarify a point or two.

  53. MarkyWarky says:

    Several points there AoS.

    1) I get the “mysterious ways” answer more often than the “that’s not my god” one. When I ask why they worship this god (as distinct from believing in him but thinking him a shit), who apparently requires us to suffer in order to complete his mysterious plan, they invariably answer that it’s because they trust him; it’ll all be revealed and come good in the end. You simply cannot win!

    2) Recently I had this debate with a Christian, who’s answer was that the new covenant in the NT overrides the OT. The harsh rules and behaviour coming from god in the OT were necessary for the survival of his people, but mean nothing now! At the same time, this idiot was quite happy to refer me to the OT when it suited him, AND is a literal creationist. It’s the dishonesty of this position that erks me most.

    3) Yes, it is exactly like an abuse victim, but I think not because of fear of retribution. It’s a desperate need to believe themselves loved. It’s like the abused wife saying “yes, but I know he loves me really”. Sick. Plain sick.

  54. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    MarkyWarky says:
    March 12, 2013 at 1:44 pm
    Several points there AoS.

    1) I get the “mysterious ways” answer more often than the “that’s not my god” one. When I ask why they worship this god (as distinct from believing in him but thinking him a shit), who apparently requires us to suffer in order to complete his mysterious plan, they invariably answer that it’s because they trust him; it’ll all be revealed and come good in the end. You simply cannot win!

    2)[….] The harsh rules and behaviour coming from god in the OT were necessary for the survival of his people, but mean nothing now!

    I think there is a truth in there somewhere, though not exactly as your friend would have it. There is a case to be made that the OT god was a neccessary invention for the times*; in such a lawless, harsh, and brutal era, the only way of keeping some semblence of order was to postulate a more brutal, harsher, higher power. In those pre-scientific times, the various gods were already the default position for explaining how everything came to be, so it was only a small step to using them as sticks to beat the ignorant into obedience; the Abrahamic tribes made theirs as scary as possible for maximum effect.
    As civilisation developed and people got used to living relatively peacefully in the new urban conurbations, with tribes mixing and integrating rather than warring, and with the advent of organised governments and legal systems, the brutal god would have been in danger of becoming redundant, and it was probably also recognised that the populace was turning against the monstrous version. To keep their religion going they had to give it a PR makeover, so along came JC and, Hey Presto! the god was rehabilitated in line with a more sophisticated (or at least a less ignorant) era.
    “The Bible II. He’s Back! And this time He’s smiling”. Gordon Brown’s advisors tried the same with him. It didn’t work.

    *Don’t pick it to pieces too much, fellow pedants, there isn’t the time or space to give it the book-length treatment it deserves, so this is just a very basic outline.

  55. AoS,
    “Don’t pick it to pieces too much…”
    Just a bit then?
    Your thesis: The monstrous god was useful to keep people being monstrous to each other at certain points in history.
    Give us a few examples of which specific stories and to what time frame they were written (which ties them to the era in which the unruly needed to be kept in check).
    The reason I pick is this; the most monstrous story is the flood story. It was adapted from the Babylonians during the exile in about 580 BC. This was only 3 or 4 decades after the Jewish priest class had declared that the Israelis would now cease to be polytheistic and all priestly power would be consolidated under the priests of Yahweh. (Josiah was a boy king and this was a super coup for the priests of Yahweh.) So I think this story wasn’t to keep people in line behaviorally. Rather it was to convince the unbelievers (probably nearly everyone) that the new monolatry was backed by a really powerful dude.

    Other monstrous god stories: the exodus, Joshua, your pick. When do you think they were written and what specific social unrest do you think they were useful for controlling. Maybe you see my example above is the kind of thing you are speaking of. If so I misunderstand you because my example is to the advantage of the lying priests only, but I think you are saying the monstrous god is for the advantage of the congregation whether they know it or not.
    I’m not arguing, but you said there was too much to go into here. Just give me a little taste man and I’ll go do some research on my own.

  56. ZenDruid says:

    Hotrats, re your advice to JesusinHebrew, I think you’re ignoring the point that nothing is more efficient than religion when it comes to teaching a child to lie. That a young one needs to lie is unfortunate to begin with, but aren’t lies and hypocrisy the common specie of Abrahamic religions?

  57. ZenDruid says:

    Oh yes… brilliant work as usual, Author.

  58. WalterWalcarpit says:

    DH, My thanks also for the link to a brilliant piece. As AoS says it addresses the conviction in a capricious god that has long confused many of us. What is so great about that particular piece is that it expresses so eloquently how terrible it would be if Christianity was ‘true’. I had ever quite thought of it that way but my! it is a powerful argument. I mean, if that’s all there is, we really are stuffed.

    It is almost as if Linker pretended to write a review of a book he clearly had not bothered to read simply to pave the way for Myers to write a response.
    Now that is intelligent design.

  59. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    FKS, the monstrous god was certainly not an invention for the benefit of the congregation, though it may have turned out that way, but for those wanting a way to acheive or consolodate their own power. What better way to control a tribe of largely illiterate, superstitious people, to get them to bend to your will or wage war on other tribes, than to claim the orders come direct from a deity that will inflict terrible vengeance on them if they disobey? How better to enforce laws in the absence of organised government or legal system than the promise of punishment in this life and the next?
    I wasn’t referring to any specific events. The god model of maintaining some semblence of control was manifested among peoples worldwide; many of them required regular human sacrifices to keep them benevolent, or demanded regular tests of faith from its people. For the tribes of the Fertile Crescent, as one lot defeated or amalgamated with another, so their god myths were merged until the Abrahamic monster was created, a creature so powerful (all-mighty, in fact) that it killed off all the other gods throughout the Middle East and into North Africa.
    This is the point where I think the monstrous god model eventually benefitted the general populace of the area. With most of the tribes united under the one god, albeit with varying sects branching off, there would have been less time spent on warring with rival tribes, more integration of previously disparate peoples, better organisation in the swiftly growing towns and cities and so a more settled populace.
    It’s possible that when a greater, better organised fighting force came along in the form of the Romans, the Abrahamic leaders knew that they had no real chance of defeating them in combat, and the Romans certainly wouldn’t want to take on their nightmarish deity, so if they wanted their religion to survive, some recognised that they would have to soften it a little, leading to the new, improved Christian god
    I apologise if that is all a bit of a jumble, but it’s an idea I’ve been kicking around for a while and this is the first time I’ve actually tried to put it down on paper, so to speak. It is simplistic to say the least, but now I’ve started, then if for no other reason than to stop me getting bored in my dotage, I may just do some actual research into the idea. Who knows, maybe there’s a book in it after all.

  60. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Just to clarify, where I said ” the Romans certainly wouldn’t want to take on their nightmarish deity” I did of course mean it in the sense of accepting it for worship, rather than taking it on in the ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’ sense of the words.

  61. WalterWalcarpit says:

    AoS good to have that clarified!
    Somehow I think that Jehovah would have been a bit much even if all the Roman gods united to form a coalition of the willing – most of them had gone a bit soft by then.

    Seriously though, I think you are onto an interesting interpretation, perhaps even an explanation of the development of a couple of entire religions. FKS seems to have a historical knowledge that might feed in well. May I humbly encourage the pair of you to continue? Perhaps we will find someone has already followed such ideas (probably turn out to be called Leon 🙂 ) but I am reading it as novel and potentially erudite.

  62. Just wanted to pop in to say that this is the best local in the world. I think we need to attract a few more women to the conversation, but I’m enjoying it immensely. Thanks to all who contribute.
    I’m working on something rather big and intimidating myself right now. I’ll derail another thread when it’s time to ask for help with it.

  63. botanist says:

    DH – I cannot access your website today – do I have a problem or do you? It’s always been OK before…

  64. botanist says:

    DH – sorry – my problem, which a reboot has solved.

  65. Botanist, no problem when I try, but I think it might have been down for a short time. I had trouble yesterday. And now this thread has moved on. Thanks for checking out my site.

  66. AoS,
    I am understanding your thesis better now.
    “…How better to enforce laws in the absence of organised government or legal system than the promise of punishment in this life and the next?”
    I agree with this entire paragraph. I only snipped off most of it because I thought the final sentence summarized it so well.

    For the rest of your idea, I think we are in agreement on the gross details of assimilation, but I think our time lines are out of sync by 500 years or more. I am guessing that you think that Israel became monotheistic in old testament biblical times. (Remember that the history of the old testament ends about 540 BC.) I think as I state above that King Josiah declared that Judah was monolatrous in the late 7th century BCE, but I don’t think the common people really accepted monolotry. My reasoning is three-fold. 1) I read that. The author I read it from stated it like a fact with no support, but also 2) it isn’t human nature to change your religion because you are told to. 3) Archeology continues to find household statues of other gods in the homes of common Israeli people up through 150 BCE. I think that Israel became monotheistic as Egypt, Greece and Rome became monotheistic. I think the Greeks and Egyptians lead the world towards monotheism and the Israelis followed as they became more and more Hellenized. (Remember that Israel was under Greek occupation from 332-53 BCE).
    Rereading your post, you mention disparate peoples. From history and archeology, the land of Palestine contained groups of disparate peoples from about 1200 BCE until about 870 BCE. Prior to that the land had been ruled from Egypt. King Omri established and then King Ahab ruled the first Israeli Kingdom about 870 to 880 BCE. So putting my spin on history together with your post I am coming to the conclusion that you put the invention of monotheism some time prior to 880 BCE.

    Clearly my dates could be completely wrong for your idea, but I have at least provided some framework to work with (or argue with).
    Looking forward to your next post.

  67. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    FKS, to be honest I had no fixed timeline in mind, just an idea that may explain the spread of such a vile creature as the OT god.
    The dates and other information you’ve supplied will certainly help me develop the idea further, and I’ve a feeling that I have a book somewhere (probably in one of the dozens of boxes of books in the loft) which examines the OT in light of archeological finds, tying in events, places, and times – not in an attempt to prove the Bible is a proper historical document, more to get to the real roots of the stories before they were distorted beyond recognition by word-of-mouth re-telling and religious agendas. I’ll try to dig it out and, along with your info, I’ll see where it leads.
    It could be a fascinating study, and I hope we’ll be able to continue this discussion as and when I can get things in some kind of logical order.

    Finally, thanks to MarkyWarky for the post that led me to start thrashing ou the idea, and to Walter for your encouragment. Much appreciated, both of you. And DH, you know that if you need any help, you only need ask; I’m sure I’m not the only one here who’ll assist in any way I can.

  68. AoS,
    I look forward to continuing the discussion in the future. I find the actual history of religion to be very interesting.

  69. Mary2 says:

    AoS, Interesting thesis about the Romans leading to the softening of Yahweh. I’m guessing that, as you say, if you are a group who has been united and held together under fear of a vengeful god who are occupied by a more powerful group with gods, for the choosing, who thrive, not on restrictive and complicated signs of compliance but on celebrations of food, sex and fighting, then you might be keen for your own god to show more carrot and less stick. I do not know enough about the biblical timeline to nave any evidence for this but it makes intuitive sense.
    After reading FKS’s response, we may have to change ‘Romans’ for ‘Greeks’ and there is certainly no immediate cut off point from God A (for angry) to God B (for beneficent) but I do not see any conflict with the idea that the common people were not monotheists. We see similar patterns now within religions like Buddhism where, technically, there are no gods and nothing to worship, but in individual communities the practise of the common people is mixed with ancestor worship, local spirits and gods. Even within Christianity a case could be made for the ‘worship’ of saints among Catholics and the inclusion of non-Christian beliefs like tarot cards or horoscopes among some believers.

  70. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    That was a point I’ve been thinking about, Mary, from FKS’s comment 2) it isn’t human nature to change your religion because you are told to.
    He’s right, but we’re talking about conversion by the sword. It would certainly be human nature to pay lip-service to the gods of our conquerors whils worshipping our own in private, as has been seen worldwide throughout history. From the Mddle East and the Conquistadors of South America, to the Africans taken as slaves, all have a history of carrying out their own, private religious rituals whilst on the surface ‘converting’ to their conquerors or oppressors religion. Even in England, except for the 3-year reign of James II, Catholicism was banned, but Catholics paid lip-service (I believe that this is actually the origin of the phrase) to the official Protestant church whilst practising their own in private. Many of the large manor houses and stately homes belonging to Catholic families had ‘priest holes’ – bolt-holes built behind panelled walls or accessed through hidden trapdoors in floors for the visiting Catholic priest to hide in if the authorities came calling. Many also had secret Catholic chapels complete with icons and reliquaries, often behind false walls in seemingly Protestant chapels, and examples of both can still be seen in a lot of the old houses now open to the public.

  71. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Shit! “…Catholicism was banned between the 16th and 19th Centuries.” That’s better.
    And I’ll pretend not to have noticed the missing possessive apostrophes. Damn, it’s late.

  72. JesusinHebrew says:

    Thanks for the advice, I’m using Google Incognito.
    There is still a risk my parents will catch me but I think it is worth it, I owe a lot to J and Mo. Seeing a comic like this one was the first thing that made me seriously consider the fact Christianity could be incorrect. I’ve always loved science so I had a lot of cognitive dissonance going on. Once I started to think of the possibility of a world without God life just made so much more sense.

  73. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Welcome, JesusinHebrew. Quite ironic that you join us on a thread that meandered into discussing enforced religion.

  74. Tinkling Think says:

    Something I found on the Internet:

    “We should be grateful that Vlad the Impaler had nothing to do with that little drama in Judea.
    “Had he been in charge, we might now be seeing millions of nuns waving around Jesus dolls with a stick up his bum.”

    On the other hand, having a tumbler hanging around all the time could be useful. It might have saved History’s barmaids a little work.


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