Just Say No

Courtesy of Least I Could Do by Ryan Sohmer and Lar Desouza:

The rest of the comic is here.

Cheesy? Perhaps.

But it makes a good point: It’s that easy to break the spell of religion.

All you have to do is say no.

(Thanks to Jason for the link!)

  • Indriel

    But what is God? God is love, right? What do you mean love doesn’t exist?! :)

  • TheDeadEye

    Someone is confusing the Christian God with Cupid, neither which exist.

  • Indriel

    Who say’s I believe in the Christian God? I’m not bound by religious teachings. Who said I needed to be?

  • Larry Huffman

    I think that the comic is pretty accurate, in a very simplistic way.

  • ash

    Indriel, if god is love, why confuse the issue by calling love god? unless you’re saying that love possesses supernatural powers [citation needed!] or maybe that the concepts of ‘love’ and ‘god’ both have the power to make people believe, say and do crazy things…either way, being creative with language has it’s place, and can be marvellous, but it does tend to mean no-one else has the foggiest what you’re talking about.

  • http://madmansparadise.blogspot.com Asylum Seeker

    I think that that was Indriel’s point (though I could be wrong). Hence, the smilie. Poe’s law in effect (?).

    Speaking of which, I kind of think that the comic may actually be, due to its simplicity, a jab at some strawman of atheism and/or science itself, by suggesting that answers are leapt to hastily and without investigation. But, I dunno, it could just be a humor that is lost on me. That tends to happen.

  • Indriel

    Indriel, if god is love, why confuse the issue by calling love god?

    Because, before we can say God doesn’t exist we need to say exactly what God is. Otherwise, the correct answer is “It depends” or (I’m trying to be fair, here) “I don’t know”. You’d be surprised how many religions do not define God as a being who sits in the sky answering prayers all day. Try the Church of Religious Science, the Scientology Church, the Unity School of Christianity, the Buddhist Community, the Pagans or the Kabbala Jews. You really do need to specify God before saying he doesn’t exist. Otherwise we’re going to have to say no, it’s not so easy to break the spell of religion.

  • Awesomesauce

    It seems more like a jab at the news, considering that’s the means through which he arrived at his conclusion.

  • Siamang

    You really do need to specify God before saying he doesn’t exist.

    And yet you get to declare he does exist without specifying AND without evidence?

    Sorry, since I’m not a believer, I’m not in the business of specifying exactly every single conception of God that I don’t think exists.

    Why don’t you tell us what this God thing is to you, what your conception of it is, and then show us the evidence that this thing actually exists and specifically in the form you have conceptualized it and then we can tell you if you’ve convinced us.

    Otherwise you’re jumping in the middle of what for most of us is a multi-decade philosophical journey and not understanding what has brought us here.

  • ash

    Because, before we can say God doesn’t exist we need to say exactly what God is.

    do we? isn’t that like saying you’d need specs of an alien autopsy before you could deny alien abductions? if it doesn’t exist, it is not universally definable. people claim god/s exist all the time without a clear concept of what it is (inscrutable + ineffable are not clear concepts). the burden of proof generally lies with the claimant. plus, as Asylum suggested, there is no one agreed definition of god, but i don’t think that means i have to believe in it, or leave it as ‘answer pending’ – i just leave myself the option of changing my mind if anyone can actually prove it.

    You’d be surprised how many religions do not define God as a being who sits in the sky answering prayers all day.

    if you limit yourself just to specific religious groups to see how god/s/supernatural are defined, you’d be surprised at how many individualistic takes there are within specific doctrines that claim overarching authority.

  • Awesomesauce

    But, if we don’t define what god is, then nobody can prove us wrong :P

    We get to keep believing and just wait until something good enough is found. Then we can say that the thing we found was what god was the whole time!

    Either way we’re right :)

    (Btw I used to think this was a good argument)

  • http://teenatheist.com/ Teen Atheist

    Mythbusters, yaaaay! Jamie Hyneman, one of the show hosts, is an atheist. :D

  • Richard Wade

    Awesomesauce,

    It seems more like a jab at the news, considering that’s the means through which he arrived at his conclusion.

    I saw the newspaper in the cartoon differently. He’s not getting his “nope” opinion from the media, he’s answering off-handedly while reading the paper because he sees it as a trivial, silly question like “Do fairies exist?” He’s reading the newspaper because he’s interested in what’s happening in the real world rather than fantasies that soothe childish fears.

    But, if we don’t define what god is, then nobody can prove us wrong

    Awesomesauce, you’re right on target. When asked, believers get slippery and vague about the details of the thing they ask us to believe in. Taken to the extreme, this method results in thinking that the unknowability of the thing is “proof” of its veracity. What amazing nonsense.

    I’d actually respect a response like “I believe because I want to.” much more than absurd, circular and disingenuous attempts to pretend to be logical. It’s no more convincing, but at least it’s more honest.

    Hemant said,

    But it makes a good point: It’s that easy to break the spell of religion. All you have to do is say no.

    If only it really was that easy. We’d all be free of it. Unfortunately it’s more like an addiction. It’s tenacious and self-protecting. Very few people even consider breaking the spell, only a few of those try, and only a few of those succeed. The rest stay hooked and hook others.

  • Elsa

    The newspaper is The Weekly World News, the crazy parody tabloid, so I don’t think the comic is a jab at the news…

  • Richard Wade

    Oh I hadn’t noticed it’s the Weekly World News. That makes it funnier and more multi-leveled.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ miller

    Have you all considered that the comic is actually making fun of you? :P

  • http://madmansparadise.blogspot.com Asylum Seeker

    Making fun of us? Yup, I considered it.
    To be honest, it is not clear by the comic itself which way the gun was aimed. I actually kind of like it for that fact. Something to idly speculate about, and move on since it was of little consequence, but entertaining for a short time nonetheless.

  • Jonathan Dolias

    I’m going to comment in another direction. Thanks to our friend HM, I spent a good 2 hours yesterday reading half of the archive of this comic, laughing my ass off. I even managed to “work late” to make up the time I had spent on this.

  • Indriel

    Earlier I said:

    Because, before we can say God doesn’t exist we need to say exactly what God is.

    Then Ash said:

    isn’t that like saying you’d need specs of an alien autopsy before you could deny alien abductions?

    No, not really, Ash. Because if you define God as a personal (though omnipotent) being who listens to prayers and/or makes judgments, then guess what, I’m an atheist too! (I used to really be one by the way, one that believed when we’re dead, we’re dead but that’s another story). Call me a panentheist. That’s like a pantheist but believes God is beyond the universe as well. I do believe God is love. And love is the infinite all. I see God as the source of all creation. I believe we are all part of God. I believe it’s not possible to be without God. OK, that’s God to me. Fair enough?

    Awesomesauce, you’re cute:

    But, if we don’t define what God is, then nobody can prove us wrong… (Btw I used to think this was a good argument)

    But you just agreed we need to define God. What’s your definition?

  • Indriel

    And Richard, what’s yours?

  • Unrein

    When one doesn’t believe in or know any gods it gets mighty hard to define them, don’t you think?

  • Richard Wade

    People who make claims about something they call “God” should be the ones who supply a definition if they want to be understood. I don’t initiate such claims. After they make their claims, if I am interested (and often I am not) I might ask them for their definition just to be sure I understand them. Then if I am interested (and often I am not) I might ask for any evidence that they have to support their definition and their claims. Finally, if I am interested (and often I am not) I might give my impression of their claims, their definition and their evidence, if they offered any.
    After having had many, many such conversations and seeing them fall into the same tedious, predictable patterns with the same tedious, futile outcomes, I find myself less and less often interested in indulging yet another person making their claim, and more and more often I am not.

  • Gullwatcher

    @Indriel

    Because, before we can say God doesn’t exist we need to say exactly what God is.

    and

    OK, that’s God to me. Fair enough?

    Well, no. If each individual gets to decide what ‘god’ is for them, then anyone saying that they think that god doesn’t exist is automatically correct, since they mean that what THEY think of as god is non-existent. It’s a tautology.

    If, on the other hand, the speaker uses the generally accepted meaning of ‘god’, then again no, as we don’t need to redefine ‘god’ as it is already a common word with an understood and accepted definition, one good enough to allow us to discuss the concept.

    What your statements seem to be getting at, Indriel, is that you redefined the word for you, and now that you have, you are objecting to others using the standard definition. How is that reasonable or useful?

  • Awesomesauce

    I can’t find a definition of a god I understand. My simplicity is what caused me to be here I think. :)

  • Indriel

    What your statements seem to be getting at, Indriel, is that you redefined the word for you and now that you have, you are objecting to others using the standard definition. How is that reasonable or useful?

    I’m not objecting to using the standard definition. I’m just asking you to state it. Any definition will do. It can be standard or your own personal definition. But, really, I’m going to forgive Richard and Awesomesauce. Even if we do agree on a definition we’re still going to be arguing back and forth on God’s existence. I don’t think we’ll get anywhere now.

  • Richard Wade

    Indriel, you’re the one who is trying to initiate the “Let’s talk about God” game. My first response (if I respond at all) has always been what it has to be: “What are you talking about?” Since that word seems to have millions of idiosyncratic meanings for millions of individuals, it would not make sense for me to jump to any conclusions about something that you bring up. I can only ask you for clarification of this term you mentioned. My assuming that you mean the so-called “standard definition” would be a mistake because two people who think they agree on that will quite soon discover that they disagree on important details. If you really insist on playing, then it will have to be the “Let’s talk about the thing that Indriel calls God” game because otherwise I don’t know what you’re talking about.

    I have listened openly, earnestly and sincerely to many, many, many people go on and on and on about this very popular word until I sometimes think that if I have to listen to one more, I’ll go completely mad. After all that I still know nothing about it. I can only say it is a word. From what I observe, it is a three letter, one syllable word over which people hate each other, shun each other, beat each other and kill each other, a word that divides people from each other and from themselves more quickly, deeply and permanently than any other word in any language. The only reason that I have any interest in it is that I’d like to see all that hating, shunning, beating and killing stop.

  • Autumnal Harvest

    But, really, I’m going to forgive Richard and Awesomesauce.

    That’s nice of you, I guess, but I’m not really clear on what they’ve said that needs forgiving. I, um, forgive you too, Indriel.

    I agree that, to a certain extent, many atheists here refer to “God” or “religion,” when they really mean “the Judeo-Christian depiction of God,” or “Christianity.” But really, what else are we supposed to do? Being an atheist means that I’ve never heard a religious or supernatural belief that sounds plausible to me. It’s hardly reasonable to expect me to “define God” by listing all the hundreds of things I’ve heard that I don’t believe in. A single, all-powerful, all-benevolent entity that controls every aspect of existence? Nope, don’t believe in that. A number of gods in a polytheistic mishmash, each responsible for different aspects of existence? Nope, still not sounding plausible. An impersonal, non-sentient force that pervades and unifies all of existence. Nope. A space lizard whose waking dreams define our reality? Another no. An immortal who lives at the North Pole and is primarily concerned with an annual delivery of presents to good children? Still not sounding reasonable. I could list things I don’t believe all day, but it would be a ridiculous way to start a conversation. As others have pointed out, the only way to have a reasonable discussion is for the person who believes in something to begin by explaining what they believe.

  • Autumnal Harvest

    BTW, I still have no idea what the message of the comic is. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

  • Gullwatcher

    @Indriel

    I’m not objecting to using the standard definition. I’m just asking you to state it. Any definition will do.

    If you aren’t objecting to the standard definition, then you clearly know what it is, so for what reason should I need to state it? Please… we’ve seen these little word games so many times, and it’s tiresome. Nor is the way that you have mentioned, what, three or four times? that you USED to be an atheist at all subtle. Clearly you are itching to say something, so please, just say it and have done.

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  • Indriel

    Guys I’m sorry. I’m going to have to go. Someone is messing with my comments and I don’t know what to do now.
    Gullwatcher, does it matter? I know I won’t convince you to become a theist yourself because credibility can always be attacked. Actually, I’ve already said it. I waited until a time when very few people would look at it because I just knew it would spark and endless debate. Just go back a few weeks. It’s in there.

  • Richard Wade

    Indriel,

    Guys I’m sorry. I’m going to have to go. Someone is messing with my comments and I don’t know what to do now.

    Do you mean your comments here are being changed from what you intended? If that is what you mean, I’d certainly want to know because the integrity of this blog is very important to Hemant and me. So far I have not found any evidence of tampering. If you are having any trouble submitting your comments please let us know either here or by email by clicking “contact me” at the top of the page.

  • Awesomesauce

    Richard,

    Indriel is refering to this I presume.

  • Awesomesauce

    To avoid confusion, the blockquote was unintentional.


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