Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Catholic Reply to “How to Suck At Your Religion”

An anti-religious (and specifically, anti-Catholic) webcomic is making the rounds on the Internet right now. It’s part of a webcomic called The Oatmeal, and is called “How to suck at your religion.” I have to warn anyone clicking that link that it’s really offensive: profane, lewd, and blasphemous, all at once. Honestly, if you don’t have some reason to read it, just go ahead and skip it (and this whole post).  Whatever your religious views, this webcomic simply doesn’t enrich the discourse, or advance the debate in any positive or meaningful way.

You would think that something this over-the-top would cause even non-religious people to balk at posting it on their Facebook feeds as indicative of their own views. Apparently not. I’ve already gotten two e-mails from people who had friends share it, and who wanted to know how to respond.

There is a temptation to say, “It’s a webcomic, don’t take it so seriously!”  But the truth is, while it’s supposed to be funny, it’s also supposed to make a serious point. In my view, it fails on both counts, but I’m really only concerned about the latter.  Nearly every panel raises a different argument against certain types of religion, with most of the vitriol saved for Catholicism. Each of these arguments collapse on closer inspection, and it’s clear that the sheer quantity of arguments cannot overcome the dearth of quality of any given argument.

So here are my thoughts, by panel:

  1. The first panel depicts a Catholic priest (with a Roman collar) confidently damning all those who don't belong to the Church. This is just a lazy straw man. While She's canonized thousands of Saints, the Church has never declared anyone in Hell. On a related note, one of the obnoxious things about atheist attacks on Christianity is that they act as if Catholicism and Evangelicalism / Fundamentalism are basically the same thing.  On of the things that Dr. Mark Gray said, in the article I linked to last week, was that: “It’s interesting that so much of the rhetoric of New Atheism seems to really be directed at Evangelical Christians—those specifically who take the Bible literally word for word. Many New Atheists seem to think anyone who is religious holds similar beliefs. Yet, this cannot be equated with the mainstream Catholic point of view.”  If you’re going to argue against something, it helps to at least understand the thing you’re arguing against.

  2. This gets the Galileo affair completely wrong. A much-needed corrective here, or a thousand other places, for those who actually care enough about the facts to check them.

  3. Jewish twins kept alive at Auschwitz
    for the sake of human experimentation.
    Were those who opposed this barbarism “anti-science”?
    This also grossly misrepresents why Christians oppose embryonic stem cell research (and falsely accuses us of being against all stem cell research). But I suppose the author has to misrepresent the Christian view, because otherwise, it makes a lot of sense. If human life begins at conception (which, scientifically, it does.... and is the only reason embryonic stem cell research is even possible), we're talking about doing medical research that profits off of mass killing. This has been done before, and those who opposed it on moral grounds weren't "anti-science," and aren't today. The term you're looking for is pro-life.

  4. So... religion is fine, unless you actually believe in it? Should parents not pass their political, ethical or moral views on to their children as well? What parts of parenting would be left if parents were to avoid passing their views on to their kids? The irony here is that silence is itself a statement. Avoiding any mention of God to your kids sends as clear a message as talking about God: specifically, it tells your kids that God's existence is either untrue, unknown, or unimportant. Because if you knew Him to exist, surely you'd share that knowledge, right?

  5. This next section is probably the worst, because it's just an incoherent argument. A kid asks, “Dad, what happens to us after we die?” The author compares providing the Christian answer to this question with correcting your kid for having green as a favorite color. What??  That just isn’t a coherent argument.  In what world are those two ideas parallel, or even comparable?

    According to the webcomic, good parenting is to pretend to be agnostic, and say that “no one really knows for sure.” Of course, if the Resurrection is true, that claim is false. So to be a good parent, you apparently have to deny the Resurrection and embrace agnosticism, treating beliefs about the afterlife as mere matters of personal preference like having a favorite color. This is just… stupid. There’s just no other way of describing it. Imagine if we treated everything that way. “Dad, what’s 3 x 3?” “No one really knows for sure. What do YOU think 3 x 3 is?”

  6. Raphael, Adam and Eve (1511)
  7. The idea that a religion is bad if it gives you “weird anxieties about your sexuality” is naïve. What I mean is that sexuality is much more powerful and truly awesome than the author lets on. If sex is just no big deal, recreational fun, then adultery’s no problem, right?

    Of course not. Agnostics and atheists have “weird anxieties” about sexuality, too, precisely because sexuality is powerful, and can cause a heck of a lot of damage when treated carelessly and casually. Everything from broken hearts and broken homes to rampant STDs and AIDS to millions of unplanned pregnancies and abortions would seem to have made all of that really clear by now.

  8. Religion is bad if you believe enough to try to tell other people that it's true. Why, exactly? As a society, we freely try to convince each other of specific worldviews all the time, including really speculative ones, like political worldviews. Why is all of that positive, healthy democracy, while treating religion the same way is evil?

     The author specifically advocates that good religions are ones that make it hard to join. Again, why? If having the right relationship with God is the best thing, not only for me, but for anyone, then trying to prevent others from that right relationship would literally be about the worst thing that I could do.

  9. This just grossly misrepresents Christianity.  As I said before, if you’re going to argue against something, it helps to at least understand the thing you’re arguing against.  In Monday's post, I mentioned that one goal we should have in inter-religious dialogues and debates is to be able to describe the other person’s position in a way that they would recognize, and acknowledge as their own.

    Needless to say, that’s not what happens here. Instead, there’s mockery and sneering of a ridiculous distortion of Christianity: mocking beliefs, in other words, that no Christian actually holds.  Edward Feser has a great response to this sort of cheap shot, showing that this same asinine approach could be used to make science look stupid (provided that no one bothered to listen to scientists about what they actually believed).

  10. Do you need to read the Bible to know
    that killing him is immoral and unethical?
    I don't think anyone votes based solely on religious beliefs. I also don't think that being against abortion is a “religious belief.” The belief consists of three propositions: (a) human life begins at conception, (b) the intentional ending of innocent human life is murder, and (c) murder is bad. Which of these beliefs requires being a Christian?

  11. Invoking the Muhammad drawing controversy is just a reminder that the reason Christians are targeted for this mockery instead of Muslims is that smug atheists are afraid of Muslims. They bully us precisely because we're not the violent, intolerant psychos that they pretend we are. If there really were a “Christian Taliban,” folks like this would be too afraid to mock us, as they are with Muslims. So in this sense, all of this is a beautiful reminder that, for all our faults, there really is something to Christianity.

  12. In condemning killing for religion, the author conflates it with “hurt[ing], hinder[ing], or condemn[ing] in the name of your God,” right after a lengthy tirade condemning Christians. Not even a hint of irony.

  13. Good religion is apparently placebo religion, and it's okay only as long as we keep it to ourselves. The author then indulges the mandatory use of profanity to show us how calm and reasonable he is.
In Scalia's dissent from Lee v. Weisman, he accused the majority of treating religion as “some purely personal avocation that can be indulged entirely in secret, like pornography, in the privacy of one's room. For most believers it is not that, and has never been.”  This really does capture two competing views of religion.

Lucas Cranach the Elder,
Head of Christ Crowned with Thorns (1510)
One view, the view taken in the webcomic, is that religion consists of a set of ideas that we latch on to, not because they’re true, but because we happen to like them. Because our religious views aren’t objectively true, but just subjectively nice, they’re as personal (and insignificant) as our favorite color. It’s just a way of coping “with the fact that you are a bag of meat sitting on a rock in outer space and that someday you will die,” and that all existence is utterly meaningless. But someone who takes this view of religion can’t even be reasonably described as religious. After all, they’re essentially saying, “I know religion isn’t true, but I wish it was.”

But the other view is that religion describes something, and Someone, utterly real… the very ground and sustenance of reality, in fact. What’s more, knowledge of this Truth is the most important knowledge we could possess – the only knowledge that makes an eternal difference, while all other knowledge fleets or fades. But beyond even this, a relationship with this God, our God, enriches our life here on earth, filling it meaning, not as some delusional placebo, but in the way that a story takes on new profundity when you can hear the author explain why he wrote it that way.  This is the only view of religion worth taking, since this is the only view of religion that treats it as true, rather than just a nice idea: that is, it’s the only one of the two views worthy to be called “religious.”

Beneath all the smugness, profanity, blasphemy, and sneering hipster irony, the webcomic falters in the face of this: true, substantial, real religion. The comic can mischaracterize and distort, but in the face of actual Catholicism, it’s silent. It has no coherent or compelling answer in response to the Catholic claim. Snark simply has no retort to truth.


Update: Marc Barnes (Bad Catholic) responds to the same webcomic, quite wittily.


Update: Thanks to all who have commented so far.  I obviously can't respond to every one of you, but I've written a follow-up post responding to some of the general trends that I've seen.

1,010 comments:

  1. Beati estis cum maledixerint vobis (Matt 5:11)

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  2. Fallacies are absurd, so they're funny.

    I lol'd at the Jews on bicycles.

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  3. THANK YOU, Joe. This is terrific. I saw that cartoon yesterday and wanted to bash my head into a brick wall at all the strawmen arguments contained therein!

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    1. It's a shame you didn't. One less religious person in this world.

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    2. That's pretty pathetic. Maybe you need to get a life?

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    3. You two are the perfect specimens of why any of this is such a big deal. On one side we have the ultra religious person who is willing to bash her head against a wall for someone having a radical opinion. And the other, someone who thinks all religious people are insane, narrow minded minions who have no free will or can't think for themselves.

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    4. Crawford, don't be an ass. I am on The Oatmeal's side too, but you're being ignorant and rude.

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    5. I was raised Catholic. I attended years of Sunday School and Confirmation Class. I'm sure my name is in the annals of Vatican somewhere as part of the flock. I wrote my history thesis on the Gnostic Gospels and the early codification of Christianity. While possibly focusing unfairly on Christianity (though it is the dominant religion in the US, and thus the obvious choice) the comic is mostly correct. Christians do believe all none believers are going to hell. The Church may not have come out and said that some specific person is hell-bound, but one of the core tenants of the religion is that only those who accept Jesus as their savior can go to heaven. So by default, all none believers are going to hell.

      Also, if you want to compare the body counts of various religions, Christianity wins by a long-shot. The crusades, the 30-years war, the inquisition, etc etc... just because western civic laws have thankfully become secular, doesn't mean it wouldn't happen again. Just look at Christians and Muslims killing each other in Africa today.

      I could go on and on, but I think you get the gist...

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    6. Maybe you can tell me what a straw man arguement is without googling it before commenting, and maybe you'll see that you and this arguement makes no sense

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    7. Religion isn't meant to be logical.

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  4. Very well said. I read the comic yesterday and wasn't surprised, it's getting pretty common, but it's still annoying.

    At least they could argue actual points if they want to argue. I don't get all the lies.

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    1. He's made several posts with actual facts in them. His readers know this and have not taken this single post out of context. What's the point i making good points based on fact, anyway? You wouldn't listen. Just like most atheists wouldn't listen to a Christian presenting 'facts'. And yes. I put quotes. Because Christianity is a readaptation of religions that existed long before it that are now clouded by Christianity and 'The son of God'.

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  5. "Clever" academics are finally wising up to the notion that secular neo-liberalism is actually, shocker of all shockers, an ideology as well, and so the belief that all religious belief should be kept to oneself is actually, for all intents and purposes, the same as any other religious belief.

    The comic is clever, and hits the roots of many peoples objections to religion. While it might be true that the Church has never said anyone is definitively in Hell, it has surely speculated that it is a popular place at many places and times. And I'm sure that it still teaches that one willful, fully consented, act of masturbation makes me worthy of eternal damnation. I can see how our theology might rub (pun half intended) the wrong way.

    Pamphleteering has been a problem since its inception (Luther and his boys had some real scatological gems - nearly the same substance as the comic in question!). We can sigh, ignore, or make our own! Nobody loves wit and snark more than Catholics, so I'm sure we can up the ante a little bit.

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  6. To quote from the master himself: "...it is generally the man who is not ready to argue, who is ready to sneer. That is why, in recent literature, there has been so little argument and so much sneering." -GK Chesterton

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    1. Funny, that quote sounds an awful lot like sneering.

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  7. On Patheos, an excellent--and laugh out loud funny--rebuttal to the original webcomic from The Oatmeal has been posted here:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/badcatholic/2012/07/how-to-suck-at-your-religion.html

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    1. That is a great response. I actually wrote this post yesterday. Before writing it, I checked Marc's blog to see if he'd written it, since it seemed like the kind of thing he handles well.

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  8. Atheists are far from afraid of Islam. You hear more criticism and mockery of Christians because we live in a country populated mostly by Christians with few Muslims, but Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and other prominent and less prominent atheist writers, bloggers, columnists, etc. certainly criticize Islam. Atheists (and others) participate in an "Everybody Draw Mohammad Day" every year in protest against the Danish cartoon backlash. If you don't see it, you simply aren't looking.

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    1. Here’s what I was responding to: “Are you so dangerously extremist that even a silly web cartoonist can’t draw a picture of your prophet without fearing for his life?” That’s obviously autobiographical: the webcomic’s author (Matthew Inman) saying that he can’t draw a picture of Mohammed without fearing for his life. That message is reinforced by the “picture” it captions: a rectangle containing only the words “There’s no drawing here.” He’s making it abundantly clear that he’s afraid to make jokes that Muslims will find blasphemous… so he makes blasphemous jokes against Catholicism instead. Someone who makes jokes only at those that they think won’t fight back just comes off as a bully.

      Of course, you’re right that some atheists feel comfortable mocking Islam – particularly when they do so in big groups, like “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day.” I’m not suggesting that atheists should blaspheme or harass more religions. I think it’s childish and cruel. There’s a reason I didn’t include a picture of Muhammad in this post; but it was out of respect, rather than fear.

      I don’t think the solution to atheists bullying turn-the-other-cheek Catholics is to encourage them to bully Muslims. I think it’s to encourage them to act like adults.

      I.X.,

      Joe

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    2. "He’s making it abundantly clear that he’s afraid to make jokes that Muslims will find blasphemous" - It's called sarcasm. Talented comedians use a plethora of witticisms in order to get their point across. Clearly you've never had a good laugh in your lifetime, seeing as how incredibly stuck-up you are.

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    3. "saying that he can’t draw a picture of Mohammed without fearing for his life"
      "He’s making it abundantly clear that he’s afraid to make jokes that Muslims will find blasphemous"

      HAHAHAHAHA Not at all. That's exactly the joke. It's in reference to that magazine that posted an drawing of Mohammed passionately kissing another man, and the author and the magazine received death threats. Why don't you try to educate yourself before spreading false claims? ooh right, your catholic...

      Obviously you'll defend your religion, but to anyone that is not attached to a religion, that comic is spot on.

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    4. It's actually a comedic technique called "betraying expectation." the tone of the comic had us expecting a drawing but it wasn't there. funny to most of us.

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    5. Joe, I notice you are continually making jabs at atheists for mocking religions. I was brought up Lutheran, but I am now an atheist, living in such a conservative rural area, I am sometimes ridiculed for my beliefs. My brother is also atheist and his response to their ridicule was to backlash with his own insults. Sure at the time he was not acting like a level headed adult, but neither were his tormentors. Perhaps you should think about why atheists are the way they are. I know I'm bitter towards religious people. I've had to make a conscious effort to not say hurtful things. It is simply human to treat others the way you've been treated, and as an atheist I've been treated like a shit (there really is no way to say it without profanity). You complain about our childishness, but you made us this way, perhaps we wouldn't be so quick to mock if you weren't so quick to judge.

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    6. the fact that so many of these atheists and agnostics have to sink to this vitriol is really a witness against them. if you're so confident that you're right, why not rise to the level of actually engaging Joe's arguments? why resort to the tactic of a three year old? come on, i dare you to actually be reasonable: what do you have to lose?

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    7. Joe, you're missing the point he's trying to make. Let me try to explain.... He's trying to show why some muslims suck at their religion, and by doing so he uses that illustration of nothing as a joke, sarcasm, illustrating how some people are afraid of doing that.

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  9. To be quite honest, that guy from "the oatmeal" seems like the kind of attention whore simplistic, irrelevant atheists usually are. I wouldn't bother replying to him in any shape or form whatsoever. Let it be. I don't think he is really that relevant anyway. As a matter of fact I didn't know that comic even existed, and I even read some obscure webcomics like Red Meat and even Sexy Losers.

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    1. I initially had the same reaction, after the first e-mail I got about it. I made these same points privately, via e-mail. But when, less than an hour later, another person had e-mailed me the same link, I decided that it had gotten sufficiently big enough that it was worth responding to, rather than ignoring. You're right, though, that there's always a tension there -- oppose? Or quietly let it die on its own?

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    2. Hello, Joe. Wonderful site.

      Marc Barnes rebuttal has seen a flood of "new visitors" (good for its google search, bad for the discourse) - most are atheists or agnostics - due to the article being linked from Redditt. I have little experience on the overlapping of Christian and secular sites, and if members of each belief system tend to visit the other site often, but I have noticed that new atheism have produced a bitter group of people.

      I regularly visit conservative sites, some rather obscure, and probably only known to those who are like minded and WOM, so I wonder why do such people "hunt down" these types of sites? I post on tumblr and the amount of "tumblrs" dedicated to mocking Catholicism is plentiful. I have no doubt that Matthew Inman's webcomic will find a wide following on tumblr with much added commentary in favor of it.

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    3. Reddit*. You accidentally a letter.

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    4. Matthew Inman (aka The Oatmeal) just raised over $200,000 for charity, specifically the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation. Sounds like a really terrible guy.

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    5. Funny how Joe makes a point out he fact that The Oatmeal is stereotyping christians and other religious people, when you do the same thing towards atheits. Because surely, saying "To be quite honest, that guy from "the oatmeal" seems like the kind of attention whore simplistic, irrelevant atheists usually are." is kind of mean right? Because id suppose that you don't hear much from the atheists that AREN'T attention whores.....

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    6. Yeah, he likes attention. Otherwise, he wouldn't have made a website genius. You know who else likes attention? The guy who created this website! He must be one of those "simplistic, irrelevant atheists" you were talking about. And just because something hasn't made its way into your small world doesn't mean he isn't relevant. I never heard of this website either. But I am certain that there are more people know who The Oatmeal is than there are who know who Shameless Popery is.
      P.S. Congrats on your knowledge of obscure webcomics. That gives you mad street cred!

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  10. That guy at oatmeal is disgusting

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    1. How quaint. What a wicked burn, any other astounding pieces of rhetoric you wish to rock my world with?

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    2. a disgusting person who donated $211,223.04 to charity this month. http://theoatmeal.com/blog/charity_money

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    3. have you ever seen him eat? he doesn't even use a napkin! at least he signs his name to the posts...

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    4. He just raised a lot of money for cancer research, what did you raise money for, another steeple on your church?

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  11. Actually ALL religion is placebo religion. And I don't even personally like The Oatmeal but I'd disagree that he misrepresents Christianity. He might exaggerate it: it's a comic. But the principles are pretty accurate.

    Anyway, I didn't even read most of your babbling, but here's a thought on the child's question about the afterlife: you can PROVE that 3x3 is 9. It's easily observable. It is 9 no matter if you or your priest say it's 10, or 20, or yellow. Meanwhile, it's laughable that you think your ridiculous idea of an afterlife should be taught to children when all of you crazy cults can't even reach a consensus on what happens after death.

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    1. Felipe,


      In the legal field, when someone makes assertions without even attempting to back them up with evidence or reasoning, we call those allegations “conclusory.” What you have here is a series of conclusory allegations, coupled with visceral and hyperbolic language (“babbling,” “crazy cults”), and an admission that you couldn’t be troubled to actually read the post before criticizing it.

      My point is, in any context (religious debates or any other), that sort of approach is ridiculous. Imagine if I trolled random atheist articles, leaving comments like, “Christianity is true! I didn’t bother reading this article, but it is dumb, and you atheists are cultists.” How seriously would you take me?

      It’s a shame, because as badly as you sabotage your own credibility in the first paragraph, you raise a point worth discussing in the second. Specifically, you note that “3 x 3 = 9” is observable in a way that the afterlife is not. That’s probably fair (although math people will tell you that it’s much harder to show that “3 x 3 = 9” than you think). But even granting that the afterlife isn't observable in the way that basic arithmetic is, there are all sorts of facts that we tell kids that are no more or less verifiable than the Resurrection: for example, almost all of history that occurred before our lifetime. Should we tell kids that maybe Julius Caesar was head of the Roman Empire? Or do we trust a bunch of first century eyewitnesses?

      One of the problems that the New Atheists frequently run into is that they expect everything to work the way that math or the natural sciences do. The rest of life just doesn’t work that way, as those who practice other disciplines will tell you. Christianity makes lots of philosophical, metaphysical, and historical claims. Yet philosophy, metaphysics, and history aren’t things that a physicist or a mathematician is ordinarily trained to analyze. So to expect that they’re going to work the same is naïve – regardless of whether or not we’re talking about religion.

      I.X.,

      Joe

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    2. Felipe,

      There’s one more thing that’s been sort of nagging at me. You claim that all religion is placebo. Mind you, that’s demonstrably untrue: there are plenty of people for whom religion involves a life of self-sacrifice and struggle that atheism wouldn’t (honestly, is it merely coincidental that the turn towards atheism so frequently coincides with a turn towards the sexual sins?),

      But let’s ignore that, and let’s also ignore that Catholicism is true. The fact is, you think that religion is a placebo, and yet apparently go around comboxs trying to debunk religion… and thus ruin whatever placebo effect it has. That seems sort of … sick, doesn’t it?

      If tomorrow, you found out that the pain pills your grandma was taking in response to chemotherapy were actually placebos, and shouldn’t be working in the way that they are, would you tell her? Or do you go around playgrounds, telling kids that Santa isn’t real, so that they can’t derive pleasure from something that’s untrue? What sort of person purposely mitigates the placebo effect, unless there’s a really good reason?

      I guess I’m just genuinely baffled about your motives. Is it really so paramount to you that you feel vindicated in your belief (and that you make total strangers know that you’re right) that you’re willing to intentionally inflict damage on those innocently deriving a placebo effect from their faith in God?

      I.X.,

      Joe

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    3. First of all trying to validate religion's effect by saying that it requires a life of self-sacrifice and struggle proves nothing. If that is all it takes to prove a religion's validity then there are several activities in today's world that can provide that effect and more. With those meager requirements you could say that a belief in Santa Claus has the same demostrable effects because the self-sacrifice and struggle required in being nice instead of naughty all year long.

      Then you claim that atheism requires no struggle and no sacrifice and is just a bail-out for sexually perverted people that couldn't hack living by your "high" standards (let's not even touch the hypocracy of the sexual abuse scandals). Let me remind you that this country is still predominantly theist (especially Christian). Do you honestly think that being openly atheist/agnostic and attempting to voice secular concerns is welcomed, tolerated and without sacrifice? Many atheists I know of have had to give up more than a few hours on Sunday. They have lost friends, family, significant others, and the respect of their former peers simply for having the balls to demonstrate a belief that is unpopular to this supposedly free nation. You on the other hand will experience overwhelming support from the government, your peers, family, friends, and especially congregation. What sacrifice does it take to blend in with the masses, go with the flow, and receive approval from 80% of those around you?

      You are right however, religion is not a placebo, sadly it is more often a detriment to those who are forced to embrace it. If it were a placebo there would be no cause for concern among those who are without it. It would be better for religion to have no affect (like santa claus) then to be what it is, making slaves out of men and sinners out of the innocent, but it does. It is for that reason that it is important to question and protect ourselves against the wishes of the faithful zealots who want to cover the land in atheist blood and purge our country of any free thought and critical thinking.

      The truth is when you ask someone to have faith in God you must ask of them to forget all other knowledge, to suppress any and all thoughts that may question their belief, and cast them out as evil spirits and workings of the devil. You ask them to subscribe to your political agenda believing that it is also part of the unquestionable will of God. You ask them to forgo human compassion, reason, and true love at the command of a God who is not there, and permit them to do heinous acts if it can be justified by "God's will".

      The worst part is that no one is ever asked. What a pity that this indoctrination begins before a child has had a chance to think for themselves. They are forced to subscribe to this bullshit and become a prisoner in their own mind before the light of knowledge and thought has reached them.

      You want to know why it is important to stand our ground? Grandma is not taking an empty pill. A child is being force fed a mind suppressing agent that will rob her of her life here on earth and force her to join the band of zealots. She will be told to submit her body to her husband and her mind to the Priest, told to give 10% or more to the pigs behind the pulpit, live a life of submission and then die still believing that she is not worthy of the grace of the God she served.

      From the lucky few who have questioned and broken away from this, I ask you sir how can we stand by and watch the lives and mind's of others being snuffed out and do nothing? Most of us were in that same situation. Would it more sick to act or to stand by and watch as you would have us do?

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    4. rock,

      Not sure which country you live in, but here in the United States the government gives anything but support to Christians. Christian social service providers are being forced to shut down or go against their religious convictions or be taxed for not doing so.

      Pax,
      Phil

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    5. > "Anyway, I didn't even read most of your babbling..."

      I would have thought that the rational course of action would be to read someone's argumentation before trying to debunk their arguments.

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    6. Rock,

      Do you really believe your own comment? Do you really believe, for example, that believers “want to cover the land in atheist blood and purge our country of any free thought and critical thinking”? And that you must therefore act to stop us, since you can’t just stand back and what “watch the lives and mind's [sic] of others being snuffed out and do nothing”? If you really do believe this, pray tell, what’s stopping us? If you’re right that “80% of those around [us]” are on the same page, why haven’t we started the atheist genocide yet? There’s a line between “overwrought” and “outright paranoid,” and you’ve just sort of sprinted over it.

      Or what about your claim that religion requires us to take “all other knowledge” apart from faith in God, and “cast them [sic] out as evil spirits and workings of the devil.” Can you show me even one Christian who preaches this? This is just incoherent: how could knowledge (good or bad) be an evil spirit? Do you have any clue what Christianity actually teaches? Or do you just not care to get the facts straight before telling us what we believe?

      But it’s not just the paranoid portions. Even when you characterize my arguments, you do so in a way that’s so dishonest it’s laughable. Rather than argue against the arguments I make, you just make up stupid arguments, and answer those. For example, you actually wrote this: “you claim that atheism requires no struggle and no sacrifice and is just a bail-out for sexually perverted people that couldn't hack living by your ‘high’ standards.” You even put quotation marks around “high,” as if you were referring to something specific that I’d said.

      Re-read what you wrote, and then try to find where I said anything close. Hint: you won’t find it. Nor will you find any examples of me trying to “prove a religion's validity” by saying “that it requires a life of self-sacrifice and struggle.”

      Those are all stupid arguments, which is why I didn’t make them. On the contrary, Felipe had made the absurd claim (which even you reject) that “ALL religion is placebo religion.” I pointed out that this was demonstrably untrue, since (particularly for those struggling with sexual sins), “there are plenty of people for whom religion involves a life of self-sacrifice and struggle that atheism wouldn’t.” That doesn’t necessarily prove Christianity true. It just proves it’s not a placebo.

      And what’s more, this statement is obviously correct. For plenty of people, like those who struggle with same-sex attraction, or are dealing with lust while they’re still years away from marrying age, Christianity calls them to self-sacrifice in a way that atheism doesn’t. Do you actually disagree with this? If so, on what basis? You can’t just ignore my arguments, and say stupid things like that I’m claiming that “atheism requires no struggle and no sacrifice and is just a bail-out for sexually perverted people.” In addition to being dishonest, you’re wasting both of our time.

      And for what it’s worth, if your examples of the “sacrifices” that atheists are called to are that they might have to go to church with their families on Sunday, and alienate people when they denounce Christianity, you might try to think of something a little more compelling. Those are some pretty first world problems, Rock.
      I.X.,

      Joe

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    7. @ Felipe:

      >> Anyway, I didn't even read most of your babbling,

      The irony. For some reason I sense I know your reading list of "non-babbling" articles and books just by that one statement.

      Delete
    8. Joe: "In the legal field, when someone makes assertions without even attempting to back them up with evidence or reasoning, we call those allegations 'conclusory.'"

      The entire underlying principle behind the legal process is: "The burden of proof rests upon he who makes the claim." That's why the entire "beyond a shadow of a doubt" idea is so powerful. The prosecution must CONCLUSIVELY prove their claims that the suspect is guilty, or they are to be found not guilty. This is also the reason why the court system doesn't operate on the principle of "Prove the defendant DIDN'T commit the crime." That would be ridiculous.

      Therefore, if you're going to evoke legal examples, why not go all the way, an look at the big picture? The burden of proof rests upon he who makes the claim. You claim your gods are real, skeptics doubt this.

      Prove your case. Prove it using testable, repeatable, independently-verifiable means. Do it in such a way that you remove all possibility of doubt.

      Until you do this, your assertions have no validity, and no place in a thinking, progressive world.

      Delete
    9. Joe, to your second reply regarding the "placebo effect".

      Don't you think what you say goes both ways?

      So you should tell others if you are religious, because "it's part of parenting", but you should not if you are not, since then you are sick for destroying other peoples healing effect?

      Why can't everyone just be happy with what he/she believes in, and keep it happily to himself? (which was the last statement in The Oatmeals post).

      Delete
  12. Re: "That is a great response. I actually wrote this post yesterday. Before writing it, I checked Marc's blog to see if he'd written it, since it seemed like the kind of thing he handles well."

    If you are Marc's friend, please send a message to him from me. I haven't been successful in contacting him myself about the matter, though I was rash in my e-mail. If you want to discuss this privately, and wish to delete this comment, you can contact me here: murrsona@yahoo.com (I don't know your email, so I unfortunately couldn't email you this)

    At http://www.1flesh.org/support Marc says, as a way to bring sexy back, "Troll Planned Parenthood’s Facebook page,..."

    Trolling is uncharitable, and thus ought to be avoided. It might also be a sin or a vice, but not sure on that. In any case, it's uncharitable, since it annoys and frustrates others and can lead to unjust anger.

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    1. Ha ha ha, did you just equate trolling to be a possible sin?

      Silly Nick,

      Delete
  13. I find this article HILARIOUS! They only bash it because the assume that you are an Atheist!
    ATHEISM IS THE DEFAULT PEOPLE!!! YOU ARE HOLDING SOCIETY BACK!!!!! But no matter how hard we try, you will never agree with us. And you will force your dogma on every child you see! notice how no one has ever joined catholisism as an adult, only children, who's parents force them too are put in. I know because the same happened to me. I had the good thought to change, but every child that is forced into religion before they can even SPEAK, might not get that choice. I know that you guys think that you are doing something good, but I'm sorry, you are not!

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    1. Shotgun217,

      From the first sentence, I’m not sure if you know where you are. Did you think that this blog is the Oatmeal? Who assumes that I’m an atheist? Who are you talking to?

      [N]otice how no one has ever joined catholisism [sic] as an adult”. That’s fascinating, since every year, over 100,000 people join the Catholic Church in America ... and that’s not including infant Baptism. You just deny that these people exist? Try telling that to folks like Jen Fulwiler or Leah Libresco, both of who(m) were not only adults, but atheist bloggers, before converting to Catholicism. Meanwhile, fully 70% of those raised as atheists abandon go on to abandon their atheism.  So you’re free to keep telling yourself that atheism is the “default position” and that religion only exists because parents indoctrinate their children, but those pesky facts are going to keep making your argument look ridiculous.

      I.X.,

      Joe

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    2. > "ATHEISM IS THE DEFAULT PEOPLE"

      In what way is it the "default"? Atheism is comparatively new. In fact, to be an Atheist means to conclude that 99% of the humans in throughout history have been utterly deluded.

      Delete
    3. Atheism is not comparatively new by any means. Atheism has always existed, and was in fact LESS frowned upon BCE than it is now.

      Delete
    4. > "ATHEISM IS THE DEFAULT PEOPLE"

      Means that, when you're born you don't believe in Christ, Buddha, etc. It's "taught" to us.

      The best argument I know "against" the delusional religious beliefs of the world is that there are so many of them. The idea that one of them is right and the others are wrong seems laughably arrogant and completely illogical. If you look at the world religions objectively it's pretty obvious they're simply a means of dealing with the mysteries of life "explaining" things we don't understand yet. They're a crutch for people who need everything neat and tidy in life and everything explained to them. Something happens, we don't understand, must be God... that kind of thing.

      Also - many rationalists have a pretty hard time swallowing this term Atheism - as it implies we believe there is no God. While this is in the ballpark it's not really accurate. We don't have a blind, unshakeable belief that there is no God, we just find no evidence to support that there is one and generally feel that the available evidence points towards God not existing so far.

      Kind of like Loch Ness... I don't "believe" it doesn't exist... that implies some sort of leap of faith. I believe there isn't evidence available to prove it's existence though.

      It's just a rational way of looking at things. If you have $100 in your pocket - take it out and show me - don't expect me to just blindly believe you have said $100 in your pocket because a you read about it in a book or it came to you in a dream or some other no-win argument.

      Delete
  14. Great response. *sigh* Normally, the Oatmeal is so funny...

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  15. the oatmeal was spot on. why else would you spend so much time trying to dismiss it. if your religion sucks, own it brotha.....

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    1. "the oatmeal was spot on. why else would you spend so much time trying to dismiss it."

      That's the worst reasoning I've ever heard. So people can be expected to take the time to refute true allegations rather than false ones? LOL.

      Delete
    2. Fascinating reasoning. So the only reason that Christopher Hitchens wrote “God is not Great” is because he knew that God was great?

      Delete
  16. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hfYJsQAhl0

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  17. Wow...I literally searched the title of your blog post yesterday when I was trying to find a quick answer to all these allegations for my girlfriend (who just wanted to learn to respond to "criticisms" like these). Lo and behold, today appears a post with just the title I searched for! Thank you so much for writing this.

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    1. Deleted, since it linked to a pornographic website. For anyone who didn’t see, the commenter claimed that the Oatmeal wasn’t anti-Catholic, since “Discrimination (the anti- prefix) is hostility or prejudice toward, and not criticism of, something or someone. Example: antisemitism,” and the webcomic at hand was simply “fallacious criticism for humor's sake, not hostility or prejudice.”

      If you genuinely can’t see how this webcomic is hostile to Catholics and other believers (not just critical of them, but actually hostile), I think you need to get out of atheist echo chambers on the Internet, and become friends with believers. Perhaps a question to ask yourself: is there anything that the New Atheists say that you see as anti-Catholic?

      I.X.,

      Joe

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  19. Shotgun217 hasn't a clue. Thousands of adults join the Church every year through the RCIA program. Dude - Do some research. Buy a clue. Oh, and God bless you and save you from your ignorance ; )

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    1. Jim,

      Strangely enough, Shotgun wasn't even the only atheist in the comments thread to make that argument: Rock61992 said something very similar, claiming that the “worst part is that no one is ever asked. What a pity that this indoctrination begins before a child has had a chance to think for themselves.”

      There’s this myth, popular among atheists, that the only reason religion still exists is that we’re raised to believe in it, and that if we were just brought up free of religious instruction, we’d all be atheists, too. But as I said above, a whopping 70% of those raised atheists go on to leave atheism. So we already know that this is just a myth.

      I’m reminded of Marxism. Before Marxism was ever put into practice, I can understand how some people might naïvely imagine that if only the entire country were Marxist, it’d be a utopia. But after it was repeatedly put into practice, and failed time and time again, it takes something more than naïvity: specifically, it takes a doctrinaire resistance to facts. If the atheist myth was true, the retention rate of those raised as atheists would be nearly 100%. It’s 30%. To continue to believe the myth despite this takes a similarly doctrinaire resistance to facts.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      Delete
    2. Hey Joe, I'm an ex-jew, and consider myself athiest (I'm 16 right now, so my beliefs are still evolving as I grow older). I respect you and your beliefs, and I appreciate your long and awesome responses to everyone, but I wanted to point out something..

      "Strangely enough, Shotgun wasn't even the only atheist in the comments thread to make that argument"

      Just like some Christians give other Christians a bad name (probably the ones that the Oatmeal was mocking), atheists can give other atheists a bad name. So, while I respect your replies, I don't belief that the statement you posted was fair.

      Respectfully,

      Richard

      Delete
  20. One thing I know for sure is that it's easier to be an atheist when you're not dying of cancer.

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    1. Yeah because of all the science that is being used to try to keep you alive?

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    2. I had extremely advanced cancer, cured by modern medicine, and I'm no more religious now than I was before, which is not at all. Thanks for playing though.

      Delete
    3. Exactly. Do you look both ways when crossing the street or do you trust that your "god" will protect you? I guarantee it's the former. So by the same reasoning you won't need chemotherapy because the will of "god" determines whether you live or die.

      Delete
  21. This comic isn't hostile at all. I believe you have simply misunderstood the message/didn't read it completely. The comic is designed, like most comedy, to take fallacies and heighten them. That is exactly what the Oatmeal did. He took the fallacies of religion as a whole, using historic and current events, and heightened them to comedic points. Also, if you had read the comic properly you would have seen at the end when he said everything listed above is fine to do as long as your religion DOES NOT HARM OTHERS. If it actually helps others and yourself, then by all means have one! Many of the religious groups we see in the media today are there because they harm others; e.g. Fred Phelps' followers, abortion clinic bombers, and the Taliban. I have seen both sides of belief (Catholic school for 8 years and I'm currently Agnostic/Atheist) and I have many friends of different races, beliefs and orientations. The reason we all get along so well is because of what the Oatmeal is asking for in his comic: you are free to believe in whatever you want just don't shove it down the throats of others. I find it personally offensive that you are generalizing so many different types of people. People aren't meant to fit inside the imaginary boxes of society. You generalize atheists to being smug and hostile while implying that believers are SUPERIOR to all other human beings. Don't you remember what events that kind of thinking inspired? The Holocaust, Crusades, and Apartheid are just a few of them. This post reinforces the stereotypes of "the religious nut" who is hypercritical of any opinion that opposes their own. If anything, I find this post to be hostile, bigoted, and pretentious. It actually exemplifies some of the reasons of why I stopped believing after years of internal debate. You are free to believe whatever you wish but do not decry the beliefs of others to be wrong or try and force them upon others (otherwise known as oppression. Look it up) I fully respect your right to your opinion but other and myself will enact our right to dispute it.

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    1. Abby,

      Let me get this straight. You find absolutely nothing hostile “at all” within the webcomic itself, but for responding to it, I’m a “religious nut” who is “hostile, bigoted, and pretentious,” and this somehow affirms you in your atheism?

      He says Christians are wrong. That’s okay, since it's part of atheists' collective “right to dispute” the views of Christians. I say he’s wrong. That’s bad: in fact, I shouldn’t have been able to do that, because that’s oppressive, since I am “decry[ing] the beliefs of others to be wrong.” Am I getting that right, more or less?

      And where do I generalize that all atheists are smug and hostile, and that believers are superior to all other human beings? And how are you making the jump from that to the Holocaust?

      I.X.,

      Joe

      P.S. You seem to allude to the behavior of Christians as a reason for your atheism. How does the bad behavior of Christians disprove the existence of God? Do jerky chemists disprove the existence of chemistry?

      Delete
    2. Jerky chemists do not claim that their chemicals are the one true source of happiness, justice, peace, love, compassion, humility, and generosity while showing all of the opposite effects. As a christian you should hold yourself and your behavior as a representative of your God and if that responsibility is too great then you should at least be a representative of the beneficial changes that you claim he can make. However, you would be hard pressed to prove that theists are any better as people than atheists or agnostics. In fact I'm inclined to believe(probably biased)that those with God may be worse off.

      You actually bring up a great point, it is possible to use the actions of Christians in an argument against God. If a chemist tells the world that he has found a cure for hair-loss but has a shiny bald head you wouldn't believe him. In the same way you can dismiss someone who claims he has found THE source for all of the above mentioned good attributes then turns around and shows the opposite if not worse.

      Delete
    3. Except of course that Christianity explicitly teaches that merely knowing the cure will not make you better. Just as in medicine, you must actually take it.

      Delete
    4. It sounds like you’ve finally debunked the Christian claims that “all followers of Christ are happy, just, peaceful, loving, compassionate, humble, and generous.” The only problem is that I can’t seem to find that claim anywhere in my Bible. In fact, in my Bible, one of the followers of Christ actually sells Jesus out (literally), while countless others abandon Him, act rashly (like cutting a guy’s ear off), etc. So what Christian claim does your argument disprove, exactly?

      I met a morbidly obese football coach. Does that mean that football isn't good exercise? Or might it just mean that the coach wasn't doing those things he knew he should have been doing to stay healthy?

      The answer is exactly what Mary said: the failure in Christianity isn’t that we’re following Christ too closely, but that we’re failing to follow Him closely enough. The areas you complain about here are precisely those areas where Christians fail to follow their own Scriptures. Unless you think Christianity promises a life free from sin and moral failings, this doesn’t seem to disprove Christianity at all. If anything, it’s just a reminder of the need to behave more like Christ.

      I.X.,

      Joe

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  23. Dear Abby,

    Making fun of other people's religion and misconstruing it for laughs is insensitive and rude. It is even more so when the "comedian" makes fun of another person's religion in front of a wide audience of people that the comedian doesn't personally know. Since you have friends from all different backgrounds, I'm surprised that you don't seem to get that.

    Also, many people are ignorant about other people's religions, so after reading such a comic, I wouldn't be surprised if many people end up thinking "wow, those [insert the name of a religious group] sure are crazy, but at least they're worth a good laugh."

    The comedian's disclaimer which says that it's ok to follow a religion as long as you don't hurt others, does not eliminate the injury done. In the context of the comic, that disclaimer really implies the following:
    Religion is just a matter of whimsical opinion.
    Do what you want as long as you don't hurt anybody.
    But, by the way, if you do believe you are pretty crazy and/or foolish.

    I may also suggest that when somebody thinks another person is crazy or foolish, they are likely in turn to think that that person is inferior to them in some way. Thus, I think comics like this make it more likely for people to consider religious believers to be inferior, which then brings us back to your point about the Holocaust, Stalinist purges, Apartheid, etc.

    It's fine for people to discuss and argue about religion in good faith, but I doubt that any conversation will be very fruitful, if the first salvo from one side is "you're delusional, but, hey your delusions sure are entertaining!" For that reason, the author of this blog rightfully points out that "Whatever your religious views, this webcomic simply doesn’t enrich the discourse, or advance the debate in any positive or meaningful way."

    --Kudos to Heschmeyer for expounding his points clearly and concisely. Thanks for taking the time to do so.--

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    1. Dear Joe,

      Making fun of other people's sexuality and misconstruing it for laughs is insensitive and rude. It is even more so when the "heterosexual" makes fun of another person's sexuality in front of a wide audience of people that the heterosexual doesn't personally know. Since you have friends from all different backgrounds, I'm surprised that you don't seem to get that.

      Also, many people are ignorant about other people's sexuality, so after reading such a heterosexual, I wouldn't be surprised if many people end up thinking "wow, those [insert the name of a minority group] sure are crazy, but at least they're worth a good laugh."

      The heterosexual's disclaimer which says that it's ok to follow a sexuality as long as you don't hurt others, does not eliminate the injury done. In the context of the heterosexual, that disclaimer really implies the following:
      Sexuality is just a matter of whimsical opinion.
      Do what you want as long as you don't hurt anybody.
      But, by the way, if you are heterosexual you are pretty crazy and/or foolish.

      I may also suggest that when somebody thinks another person is crazy or foolish, they are likely in turn to think that that person is inferior to them in some way. Thus, I think heterosexuals like this make it more likely for people to consider gay people to be inferior, which then brings us back to your point about the Holocaust, Stalinist purges, Apartheid, etc.

      It's fine for people to discuss and argue about sexuality in good faith, but I doubt that any conversation will be very fruitful, if the first salvo from one side is "you're delusional, but, hey your delusions sure are entertaining!" For that reason, the author of this blog rightfully points out that "Whatever your sexuality views, this webcomic simply doesn’t enrich the discourse, or advance the debate in any positive or meaningful way."

      - The entire Catholic hierarchy, who constantly slander homosexual people in public

      Delete
    2. Stella,

      Are you sure you meant to direct this at me? It looks like you're responding to the comment above you, which wasn't me. But in any case, I’d love to see one of your examples in which the “entire Catholic hierarchy, ” or any of the commenters above, made fun of someone’s sexual orientation and misconstrued it for laughs. As it is, this entire comment looks like a total non sequitur offered without any support.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      Delete
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  25. This is funny. Ká chúkwu nónyeré umú nke yá.

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    1. Even Google translate is at a loss for what that last sentence meant. Any help?

      Delete
  26. http://messianicdrew.blogspot.com/2012/07/how-to-suck-at-criticizing-religion.html

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  27. I will just stick with my own religion, and laugh about things on the internet. Honestly...most the things on the internet aren't serious anyways. Don't take the face value of what you read or see. Ever heard of Trolls? They are mean. They don't care what you think and the internet is full of them.

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  28. lol @ all the butthurt in the response to the comic above. GO OATMEAL!

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  29. Your response only makes this EVEN FUNNIER to people who understand humans have had 8900 different gods in the past ten thousand years, and that none of them were real.

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  30. As a Lax Agnostic that comic deeply offended me... or maybe it didnt.

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  31. The Oatmeal is exaggerating for comic intent and you made the mistake of taking it seriously. Actually, however, Roman Catholicism with its dogma and its rules, and its institutionalized homophobia, misogyny, and hypocrisy, IS a load of hooey.

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  32. On one hand people should respect each other. On the other people think different and they are free to express it.

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  33. Religious people are stupid, just like this article.

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  34. You guys probably believe Beetle Bailey and Garfield are real live characters too. In fact I think I saw Marmaduke the other day being walked by it's owner. It's a comic strip.. Also did you even read the last part of the entire message?

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  36. You should consider yourself happy that the oatmeal passed on the Church defending pedophiles.

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  38. You guys probably believe Beetle Bailey and Garfield are real live characters too. In fact I think I saw Marmaduke the other day being walked by it's owner. It's a comic strip.. Also did you even read the last part of the entire message?

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  39. I just want to throw it out there that, as a comedic author, some of his humor (in fact, if you read his work, a LOT of his humor) is based around extreme exaggeration. This is the same thing as those who took serious offense to his Nikola Tesla article. He isn't bashing the entire Catholic, Christian, or religious community. He's taking a stab at those who say 'If you don't do exactly as I do and believe what I believe word for word than God is going to condemn you to Hell.' As a Christian, I believe there is room for interpretation in God's word. I don't believe that committing one sin causes us to have to spend eternity in Hell. His point with the comic was taking those extremists and radicals who condemn others to Hell, force their beliefs upon others, etc. and emphasizing them. Not to bash the entire religious community.

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  41. I am quite amused that The Oatmeal posted this blog on his facebook. Enjoy your peaceful discourse.

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  43. You lost me at six. You barely had me before then, but I'm not going to wade through the other points when I got to six. If you're actually, straight-faced denying the church doesn't attempt at EVERY LEVEL to suppress sexuality, make per-marital sex an evil indoctrinated to very young children leaving them with serious psychological issues as they get older regarding sex, love and intimate relations with their partner, you're astoundingly absurd and naive. I can tell you from first hand experience one of the things the church does best, and has been doing so for decades, is messing with kids minds regarding sexuality, safe sex and relationships between hetro and homosexual couples. No, you're dead wrong. I'm glad you're faith is strong, good for you... but this article perpetrates the very point that Matthew Innman is trying to make his is hugely hilarious, and brilliant post on Oatmeal. You guys can't laugh at yourselves and you deny the very evil things that happen because "well, it hasn't happened to me" being the most oft used excuse, or simply denying that kids grow up with serious mental distress regarding sexuality because of what you're indoctrinated by horrible, evil Sunday school messages as children. I can tell you, it takes YEARS to get over that stuff... and you denying it happens, is the real insult. Broken homes and premarital sex have absolutely no connection to each other. You're just as likely to get an STD from someone who is super careful with partners as someone who sleeps around with dozens. Children should be taught, from an early age that there is NO STIGMA to sexuality or the discussion of it as a topic. It's not a "powerful" thing - it's a force of nature, something we're programmed to perform to survive as a species. It's not some god-ordained activity that you have to pray about or wait to perform when you're an adult. It's a natural expression of love and something you evolved to be able to do more than once and, like it or not, designed to do it with more partners than one. It's how we're programmed as a species. Feel free to disagree, but that's the science.

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  44. This would be a great rebuttal if God existed.

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  45. Let's put it more succinctly. When you push your religious beliefs toward me and through the political systems, you suck.

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  46. Bible must be the most epic book ever written. It's been two thousand years since the last book was published and people still talk about it. Sure, Harry Potter and Tolkien's novels have their own respective fanbase, but Biblelovers must be the most hardcore fans of one fictional universe I know.

    Actually, no. Qo'ran fans are more hardcore. Biblers come only second.

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  48. BA HA HA HA HA HA I didn't even bother to read all this. You all need to get a clue and stop jamming your "morals" down other peoples throats. Who gives a shit? It is a comic. Don't like it? Don't read it! HIS VIEWS on religion, and I stress HIS, I feel are quite accurate and the only reason most of you fail to see it, is because you are it. That is all I am going to say.

    ...also, flying spaghetti monster!!

    THE OATMEAL RULES!!

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  49. To criticize someone for not realizing that not everyone treats the Bible as literal word-for-word text, and to then turn around and take a webcomic, a very clear satirical social commentary, literally word-for-word......well, one must see the hypocrisy.

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    1. ...This! The point of comedy, then taken out of context and read literally, is at the heart of what the Oatmeal was saying.

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  50. While we know for sure that the answer to "what’s 3 x 3?” is 9, no one knows for sure what happens after you die. So your argument (among many others in your post) is irrelevant.

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  51. Personally I think you could argue this comic better.

    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla

    ps. I don't believe everything that happens to Beetle Bailey when I read his comic strip..

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  52. Wait a second... so a comic about people who use religion to do bad things is perceived as an attack on Catholicism as a whole? Puh-lease... In taking offense to the comic, you only prove his point further. Once you get your head out of your dogma and realize the difference between fact and faith, you'll go a long ways. Your article is the joke here, not the comic.

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  53. I am religious, I also read this comic, and you reaaaaalllyyy need to get a sense of humour. It was really not necessary to write a whole article in response! If you don't like the humour (which is fair enough) then don't read it!

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  54. Wow, this just underscores how crazy and messed up Catholics really are. Keep up the good work. I'm sure the Jeebs himself is getting a kick out of this.

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  55. You guys are way tooo uptight. Its a webcomic, its just a guy making a comic about his thoughts and adding some funny flair to it. If your truley offended by something so silly, maybe you should just smoke a bowl.

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  56. Your only real defence in this article seems to be "It's not true, because I say so". There's very little evidence here to support your side of the argument (and any evidence at all is used to correct menial points).

    OH NO, HE DREW A ROMAN COLLAR?! You mean, that inanimate object around a man's neck which gives them catholic superpowers? Oh wait, no, it's made up bullshit.

    If that's your only real defence then no wonder you believe in Catholicism. I believe in Superman. Why? Because I say he exists. Try and prove me wrong, I'll just use the 'catholic method': burying my head in the sand and shouting :"LAH LAH LAH LAH LAH LAH LAH".

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  57. I honestly just believe (see what I did there?) that you (the author of this article) were not smart enough to Understand Mr Inman's points on religion. Specifically points 1, 4 and 5. While 1 was kind of incoherent, 4 and 5 just seemed to miss the argument completely.

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  58. So if there's a really big book, like The Lord of The Rings, and it says there are Hobbits in it, then are Hobbits real?

    PROVE THERE ARE NO HOBBITS!

    They are real, cause it says so right in the book! That big, thick, book with words in it.
    May the Spirit of Gandalf serve and protect you, always.

    Freedom.

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  59. I stopped reading after the line that said you need to know what you're arguing against. The Oatmeal is decidedly NOT anti-Catholic, nor is this comic intended specifically to be about Catholicism. Furthermore, the guy is a comedian, thus he speaks in hyperbole. The general message at the end is a good one, in my opinion. That religion, in some cases is used in an incredibly negative fashion, and that's the issue he's taking with it.

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  60. your post was just hotlinked by the Oatmeal. Enjoy all the undue traffic you are about to receive

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  61. I read the Oatmeal's comic and this "rebuttal" from start to finish. Basically, you are underscoring every one of the Oatmeal's points for me.

    The most telling statement of everything you wrote here is: "Because if you knew Him to exist, surely you'd share that knowledge, right?"

    And the unwavering assurance of every religious person I've ever met that the fantastical creature known as "God" absolutely exists because they KNOW he exists is precisely what gives the rational, free-thinking segment of society absolute fits.

    And that's where you - and every other organized religion - lose me. Every. Single. Time.

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  62. His article was better, and more convincing, than yours. Nice try though

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  63. This is the stupidest piece of shit I've seen this week. And I live in southern Oklahoma.

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  64. Wait, Resurrection has been proven as a fact?? how did i miss that? could someone please link me to the explanation?

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    1. I learned that in Farcical Mythology 102 in college. It was in the same class where I learned that Chuck Berry is la Chupacabra and that the Slender Man married Chloe Kardashian.

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  65. When will people realize that religion is for weak minded fools? Christianity and Catholicism are just rip offs of older religions.
    But people keep on drinking that Jim Jones kool aid...

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    1. See, we can't say things like this. This kind of stuff is why Christians think all atheists and other nonbelievers attack them.

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  66. Joe,
    I would say that just because he wrote a diatribe against religion doesn't mean he hates it. His tag at the end states if religion give you peace and makes you want to make the world a better place then that's great. I the idea is that if you share your religion, fine. If you force it? Not fine.

    As for the commentors saying The Oatmeal's writer is a bad person? He just raised about $200K for charity - cancer research and environmental protection. He's a good guy who is good at extreme sarcasm. Most of his posts? Talking bobcats and quizes about ferrets - all very harmless and fun.

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  67. Man, some of you guys need to read this. More words do not mean better writing, especially if you're trying to put a point across.

    http://www.squidoo.com/Clear-Concise

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  70. Wow, Sure wish I could see the world in such black and white as you apparently do.

    How about this? Stop fighting over your religion being "right" and just treat people kindly? Don't force your beliefs on an ancient book on others, but reach out and listen to others with problems, help when you can, listen when you can't...

    Maybe then you will understand this comic.

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  71. Your points started out well reasoned enough, but I think in your attempt to completely destroy any credibility of "The Oatmeal's" point, you have yourself

    1. Arguing that something is not valid because of logical fallacy--is itself logical fallacy.

    2. In section 9, you summarize: I also don't think that being against abortion is a “religious belief.” The belief consists of three propositions: (a) human life begins at conception, (b) the intentional ending of innocent human life is murder, and (c) murder is bad. Which of these beliefs requires being a Christian?

    Then post an image of a nearly grown human fetus, and raise the question "Do you need to read the Bible to know
    that killing him is immoral and unethical?"

    Perhaps a better image would be one of a fertilized egg at the point of conception.

    3. How many people were burned for heresy by the Catholic Church? Heresy as simple as preaching the bible? But we don't have to go to the Tudor Dynasty for find scandals involving the Catholic Church.

    One could make single page comic entitled "How to suck at your religion" and show an caricature of an Alter Boy.

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  72. ‎"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring." - Carl Sagan

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  73. "Avoiding any mention of God to your kids sends as clear a message as talking about God: specifically, it tells your kids that God's existence is either untrue, unknown, or unimportant. Because if you knew Him to exist, surely you'd share that knowledge, right?"

    You DO NOT "KNOW" that a "god" exists. You BELIEVE IT. That's what you guys call it - faith.

    The same's with ethical norms - you do not know what is right, you believe that something is right and not. You believe any murder is bad. Someone on the other side of the world believes that murder is always good. Then there's someone who believes murder isn't wrong in some cases. And yet, there's no single truth. Because views are subjective and not something to measure scientifically.

    You can tell your children about your views, but you shouldn't force them to think exactly like you do. That's the point.

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  74. oh really?... the comic was made for a lot of things the pope has said and not just the pope a lot of religious people... you are saying that the part of Galileo wasn't true just for an article that wrote a person that din't put any bibliography on it? Please... This is just ridiculous...

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  75. I love how you internet fools actually get into pointless debates in the comment section. Must be nice to have so much free time on your hands!!!


    The Oatmeal was ON POINT btw

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  76. Actually, number 5 is called "being honest". You don't actually *know* that you have a soul which goes to heaven after you die, you have no evidence for it nor any way to test that souls exist or that heaven exists. You only have faith that this happens.

    Admitting that you have no evidence for your faith-based beliefs is not denying anything nor is it agnosticism. So I'm guessing that the rest of you so-called points are just as inane as this one.

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    1. Hi, non-Christian here. Where exactly do you make your point in a level-headed, fact-based manner in this comment?

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  78. So the creator of the universe, THE WHOLE Universe, billions and billions of lights years and constantly expanding. An unknown amount of planets and stars, so much that we cannot comprehend. Also multi-universes and parallel universes. Creator of subatomic particles that come together to make atoms which then form molecules, which then became protiens, rna, dna, cells, life, bacteria then continued and constantly continues until today at this very moment in time of the billions of year old universe where on this planet out of many many planets there exists a bunch of talking apes who hold themselves in such high regard that they claim to understand how the universe and existence itself exists based simply on books created a few thousand years ago that were based upon other books and continue through generation of generation of indoctrination. These same talking apes that think they know the universe simply based on their 5 senses, when millions and millions of years ago creatures of this planet didnt even have a sense of hearing and even before that a sense of sight. So this same creator of the Universe, this vastly expanding universe with so much life and wonder, is specifically looking at earth and saying, "Allow me to use my petty human emotions and say, yes, yes, good job Chick-Fill-A, good job not supporting the gays!"

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  79. "I’ve already gotten two e-mails from people who had friends share it, and who wanted to know how to respond."

    I find it interesting that people feel compelled to respond. Can they not simply turn the other cheek as Christ does? Or (as caricatured in the webcomic) must you shove your belief down the throat of every last person that disagrees or makes a joke. I know Jesus died for our sins, but I was pretty sure when he left he didn't put you in charge of the morals police.

    Can you please direct me to that Bible verse?

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  80. wow! fun way to pass your time, hve the oatmeal comic open in a window and lol at the explanations provided here... so much fun.i totally disagree with you on everything just because you lack a sense of humor and posted a huge and tedious reply about a COMIC! GO OATMEAL!

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  81. Is anyone else horrified by a comparison of Auschwitz to stem cell research?! I find that to be offensive and disgusting. The long-term, conscious, desperate suffering of millions of people who starved and watched their loved ones starve, shot, murdered - that's comparable to extracting cells in a lab? This is one of those moments where, as a Jew, I wish the holocaust example was off limits to Christians. To use it to make your terrible, typical Christian argument is sick, and makes me wonder exactly how persecuted you believe yourself to be. Get a life.

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  82. Actually the comic is spot on. If religion had a sense of humor, your reply would not exist. Thank you for proving the point of The Oatmeal!

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  83. If it's so wrong about your beliefs, then you shouldn't be offended... right?

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  85. *Insert meaningless point here backing up my own views and criticizing all who don't agree*

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  86. You say that this grossly misrepresents Christianity, and yet on this same blog there are two articles that I can scan and within 15 seconds can grasp the following: 1) You are willing to ask an old friend how you can get him to convert to your religion, and 2) You are willing to actually tell people that without God their life has no absolute purpose.

    Nothing further is needed to prove The Oatmeal's point, because your blog did the work without you having to type this article to defend yourself.

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  87. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PvkeuA9TZc

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  88. I believe in that the Hindu gods and the Jewish God work together sort of like The Office with Steve Carell. Prove me wrong?

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  89. Oatmeal's comic was meant to be allegorical, not taken literally. Mr. Heschmeyer, you have missed the point so compeletely, I am at a loss for words, other than to say your rebuttal offers many direct examples of sucking at your religion.

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    1. I took it the same way. Humor. I didn't take offense at all. I mean anything that says "boner demon" and a "flaccid penis is a righteous penis" is obviously humor. It's not true to my Catholic faith so I didn't take offense. I actually shared it.

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  90. Three things to add here:

    1) The jabs in the comic are primarily aimed at the people with the loudest voices, the ones you hear the most. Anymore, the religious groups (such as the westboro baptist church) are causing a bad name for those religions who wish to practice it the way they are taught to practice

    2) As with any scientific theory, the theory of god does not have enough physical or factual evidence to support it, aside from a guy named Moses writing a few books, spreading it to the Israelites, and it getting passed down and expanded upon over generations (not to say Moses started the whole thing, but he got it in writing), many of the books weren't even written by those who witnessed, it was a story about a guy, told by a guy, who knew a guy, that told a few other guys, and eventually someone wrote it down. It's one of the worlds oldest games of 'telephone'. Point is, there just isn't enough evidence to support or refute the existence of a 'deistic being'.

    3) Most of these comics are based on views, then expounded on for the sake of humor. Don't take them as 'fact', just as I don't take the bible as 'fact'.

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  91. I lol'd at the Oatmeal comic because it was hilarious. My fellow Catholic friend did the same mistake as you, responded to an eye catching comic with dry hunks of words that most people aren't going to take the time to read. Especially in an ADHD world.

    The real problem is everyone, both sides, are sooo wanting to express and force their own opinions in one another's faces. Nobody is going to listen to each side either way no matter what is sad. It is the sad truth. Nobody wants to step back and listen then respond then listen again. It's called a dialog. We all want to say I'm right, you are wrong no need to discuss I'm just going to shove my beliefs in your face and not respect yours. But I will call it educating you. What people post on THEIR fb page is THEIR business. Post what you want on your page and if you want to respectfully dialog do it privately. Don't attack their beliefs of their own page.

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  92. Really kids, it is ok. No need to freak out, just live your life well, don't be a scumbag ... live-and-let-live.

    If you want to turn your back on logic and reason and evidence, then I suppose you could choose to believe in a god .. but really, you know deep down there is no god. You're just afraid, and that is ok. You need to cling to the idea of a deity because you are afraid of the truth. Deep breath, chill, go forth and just live. It's ok, really it is.

    The universe is not as scary as you think it is.

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  93. I don't think you've captured the essence of the comic. He says it all in the last line: Feel free to keep practicing whatever religion you do if it makes you feel better about the world and helps you cope with some complex questions, but don't force it onto others. (I think "keep it to your f***ing self" is a fairly clear way to emphasize that - I'm not sure how else you'd interpret it.) Yes, he magnifies problems in several different religions to show why he doesn't subscribe to one of them, but that's what comedians do. Anyone who espouses ideas as polarizing and unsubstantiated as those in religion has to develop thick enough skin to deal with parodies like the Oatmeal's.

    And olivier is right; he could have hit on *many* more serious problems than the ones he did. He just chose the most effective ones that make everyone else laugh at people like you.

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  94. One view, the view taken in the webcomic, is that religion consists of a set of ideas that we latch on to, not because they’re true, but because we happen to like them. Because our religious views aren’t objectively true, but just subjectively nice, they’re as personal (and insignificant) as our favorite color. It’s just a way of coping “with the fact that you are a bag of meat sitting on a rock in outer space and that someday you will die,” and that all existence is utterly meaningless. But someone who takes this view of religion can’t even be reasonably described as religious. After all, they’re essentially saying, “I know religion isn’t true, but I wish it was.”

    This is it, this is what religion is, a coping mechanism for people who need or want a reason to exist. Personally I don't care either way, but it's how I view religion, especially being brought up in a an ultra conservative household.

    Overall, this is a hilarious over reaction to a web comic that basically (in the end) says, do what you want, but don't be in my face about it and you took the bait.

    Well done ;)

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  95. I was raised Catholic. I attended years of Sunday School and Confirmation Class. I'm sure my name is in the annals of Vatican somewhere as part of the flock. I wrote my history thesis on the Gnostic Gospels and the early codification of Christianity. While possibly focusing unfairly on Christianity (though it is the dominant religion in the US, and thus the obvious choice) the comic is mostly correct. Christians do believe all none believers are going to hell. The Church may not have come out and said that some specific person is hell-bound, but one of the core tenants of the religion is that only those who accept Jesus as their savior can go to heaven. So by default, all none believers are going to hell.

    Also, if you want to compare the body counts of various religions, Christianity wins by a long-shot. The crusades, the 30-years war, the inquisition, etc etc... just because western civic laws have thankfully become secular, doesn't mean it wouldn't happen again. Just look at Christians and Muslims killing each other in Africa today.

    I could go on and on, but I think you get the gist...

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  96. I had a few issues with this blog, but I will only respond to one of them as I don't want to waste too much time with it.

    "Should parents not pass their political, ethical or moral views on to their children as well? What parts of parenting would be left if parents were to avoid passing their views on to their kids?"

    Ummm... no. Good parenting is NOT about passing/imposing your views on to your kids. It's about providing them with the tools to think critically about their world, ask questions, and form their own opinions.

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  97. Ai, you just lost: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law

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  98. I was raised Catholic. I attended years of Sunday School and Confirmation Class. I'm sure my name is in the annals of Vatican somewhere as part of the flock. I wrote my history thesis on the Gnostic Gospels and the early codification of Christianity. While possibly focusing unfairly on Christianity (though it is the dominant religion in the US, and thus the obvious choice) the comic is mostly correct. Christians do believe all none believers are going to hell. The Church may not have come out and said that some specific person is hell-bound, but one of the core tenants of the religion is that only those who accept Jesus as their savior can go to heaven. So by default, all none believers are going to hell.

    Also, if you want to compare the body counts of various religions, Christianity wins by a long-shot. The crusades, the 30-years war, the inquisition, etc etc... just because western civic laws have thankfully become secular, doesn't mean it wouldn't happen again. Just look at Christians and Muslims killing each other in Africa today.

    I could go on and on, but I think you get the gist...

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  99. You know what's funny about all of this? God doesn't exist.

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  100. I'm sorry, but I don't see anywhere in this where Inman actually says that religion is bad. He merely criticizes those who use religion and hinder/inconvenience/harm others. He's not saying that all religions are inherently wrong, he just says that children should be presented to religions and choose that which makes the most sense to them (if they choose one at all). He's criticizing groups like Christian Scientists, who believe they should not nor should they let their children go to doctors. Groups like Muslim (and to be fair Christian, and Jewish) EXTREMISTS, not Muslims, Christians, or Jews themselves. If you don't believe there are Christian extremists feel free to look up the Westborough Baptist Church. Jewish extremists? They're currently fighting over Holy Land with Muslim extremists along the Israel Pakistan border. But if you use religion or any other reason to motivate you to be charitable, friendly, and helpful he's not criticizing you. He's praising you.

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  101. I'm just glad he didn't single out us Asatru, i don't think Odin or Thor would have been happy about it. I would almost say to feel glad you are getting all the attention Catholics ^.^

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  102. EXCELLENT! Carry on with your religion!*

    *Just keep it to your fcuking self

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  103. I'm catholic and I think your post is simply idiotic. You are proving him he's right. You are putting our religion to shame... It makes you and Christian-ism look stuck up and narrow-minded like people likes to described it, and you are proving them right... good job.

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  104. Point 2, corresponding to Panel 2 - you link to the "Catholic Education Resource Center" and "a thousand other places".

    You understand that this is akin to me saying "I am the second coming of Jesus", source (personal communication with myself, 2012, confirmed in my book "Jesus Pt 2" published 2011).

    If you want to be taken seriously as an intellectual, (and I'm guessing you do...) then learning to provide proper and impartial source material is Step #1. Even Wikipedia does a better job on this issue of non-biased sourcing. I'll come back when you've mastered said new skill :-) Then you'll be ready for a real chat.

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  106. This "response" is terrible, and is full of the strawmen it claims to be "debunking." TheOatmeal is spot on. Spot on.

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  108. I just want to respond to one of the points you mentioned in this article: whether or not parents should pass on their political, ethical or moral views to their children. No, they should not. The only right choice I can see is for the parent to try and give their child an unbiased look at politics and religion. That way, the child can figure out for him- or herself what he or she thinks is right. Obviously the parent should give their kids a fair grounding in ethics and morals, but if the child discovers on his own the joys of having or not having a religion, he'll either be more faithful in his own religion or more accepting of those who are religious while not believing it himself. Same goes for politics.

    Also, comparing one's favorite color to the math problem 3 x 3 just isn't logical. A favorite color is subjective while the answer to 3 x 3 is objective. It can be proven. Whether or not either of these things can be compared to religion depends if you're religious or an atheist. As a Christian, you (the author) think that what happens after we die is objective while Mr. Inman thinks it's subjective. Therefore he's completely justified in encouraging his child to guess at what happens after we die. After all, you're the one who says parents should pass their religion on to their children.

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  109. "Whatever your religious views, this webcomic simply doesn’t enrich the discourse, or advance the debate in any positive or meaningful way."

    Well, obviously it DOES, because you just wrote a whole blog piece on it and got the opportunity to defend some of the bits you thought were wrong.

    Anything that begins debate can bring information.

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  110. We can prove without a fact that 3 x 3 = 9. This is the most absurd counter argument I have seen. There is absolutely no way, and I cannot stress this enough, NO WAY to prove the resurrection... that's why it's called FAITH. You have faith that it happened, but you do not have proof it happened and you cannot prove scientifically that it happened. Just because it's written in your chosen bible does not make it so.

    I see nothing wrong with telling your child that we don't know and letting them try to decide for themselves. Forcing religion on children at a young age is nothing more than brainwashing. That I believe is the message that portion of the comic was trying to convey. If you take a young impressionable child and you are teaching them your beliefs, but at the same time you tell them that 2 + 2 = 3 and that anyone who tells you other wise is a sinner and going to hell, those kids are going to grow up believing that 2 + 2 = 3 because they are afraid of the consequences that if it is 4, they might go to hell.

    Wait till a child is old enough to think for themselves to let them decide if they want to follow a particular religion and if they chose a different path, don't condemn them for it. Let them figure these things out for themselves.

    Where is the harm in that?

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  111. You would have been better off writing an article why the Catholic Church defends pedo priests.

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  112. So you complaint about strawmen and then show a diagram of a near-full term baby with the caption "do you need to be religious to know it's wrong to murder him?" with the obvious inference being that people who are pro-choice want to murder babies.

    In reality, however, abortion takes place before the heart is even formed, let alone beating - the foetus is far, far from being the fully formed baby shown in the picture. And with stem cell research, of course, you aren't even dealing with foetuses you're dealing with tiny, formless bundles of cells smaller than a penny. So, ideally, if you want to complain about strawmen then perhaps you should avoid proving yourself a hypocrite.

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  113. This "response" to Oatmeal's comic is so messed up in so many ways that it would take forever to point out all the problems. I can say with confidence that Oatmeal's comic is totally in line with what I learned through 12 years of catholic school. But, I will pick out one particular issue and rip it up - the notion that being anti-abortion isn't a religious view. Your first premise - "(a) human life begins at conception," has never been proven by science or any empirical evidence. In fact, science tends to support the notion that a non-viable fetus is not a human life, since if you took it out of the womb and left it alone (AKA no scientific intervention) it would just die. Since science has no evidence to offer to show that "human life" begins at conception, such a belief is necessarily religious. OK, maybe I'll take down one other point. Seriously, you think no one out there votes based solely on their religious beliefs? You sir, are not paying any attention at all. There are entire political organizations based solely on the notion of organizing voters based on their religious beliefs to vote together to promote their religious beliefs as law. Sorry you are mad that a cartoonist pointed out the hypocritical behavior that many Christians are unfortunately practicing. Even sorrier that you are apparently one of them.

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  114. Brainwashed christians with blogs are hilarious. But not as hilarious (or as correct) as The Oatmeal.

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  115. The Oatmeal requires a sense of humor. Read a book, and I don't mean the Bible. I grew up Catholic, my family is Catholic, and I graduated from CCD. I've read scripture at the podium at Mass. Oh and I sang an Oh Holy Night duet at Christmas. I've also studied the Bible as literature, learning about its origins and translations and mass publication. The point is I've been there and done that and stood on your side fence, and I still find this hilarious. I am not an atheist, nor am I strictly Catholic or Christian or whatever label you want create. Relax. Get over it. If you can't laugh at yourself or the silly fun and hilarious lewd tongue-in-cheek cartoons of what is clearly a very popular web artist, then perhaps you shouldn't spend time on the internet. Seriously. Why don't you try arguing from the other point of view. Pretend you are actually debating something, and take the opposite stance. What I read above sounds very defensive and was an immediate turn off. Also, if you take two seconds to read anything else on Oatmeal you will realize how little his works are based on reality. Fin.

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  117. I almost commented something as deep and thought provoking as this comic and blog aren't, but I knew that any opinion I have would be shot down by someone one ho wants to hear them self talk about a bunch of crap. I'm Catholic and I think this comic is histerical. Now go ahead and tell me how bad a catholic I'm being.

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