Tom the Dancing Bug: God Man in "A Necessary Invention"




  1. God is everywhere and in all things. . . including pornography, diarrhea, nuclear weapons, LSD, acne, grilled cheese sandwiches. . . .

    1. ITT channel “God is a Groovy God” by Fish Karma:

      God is everywhere, God is everywhere
      he’s in your salad bowl, he’s in your pubic hair
      he’s crouching in the closet, he’s lurking in the restroom
      he’s hanging from the ceiling, he’s under every fork & spoon
      he pushes when you pull he’s in the thick
      yellow crust
      that you find
      in your eyes
      when you first wake up in the morning

      he will take you to the cleaners
      if you covet your neighbor’s wife

      he will give you a rabbit punch
      if you make a graven image

      he will short sheet your bed
      if you bear false witness

      he’ll put you on the rack
      suspend you from a rope
      he’ll stuff you in a grinder
      break your jaw and cut your throat

    1. u got 10,000 other comic-oriented blogs out there to pick from dude. Why are we subjected to you not getting lost in their endless universes?

        1. Yup, you are wrong. I’m wrong too. In fact we’re all wrong, but it doesn’t stop you from your whinging, does it?

    2. I know, eh?

      These government scientists come into my cell every time a new comic comes out, strap me to a chair, force my eyelids open, and put the comic in front of me. Then, just in case I found it funny on first reading, they explain the fricking joke to me in tedious detail.

      What about you, is it government scientists, or are you held captive in a secret Nazi bunker under Antarctica, having comics directly inserted into your dreams whenever you fall asleep, like my cousin Howard?

      1. The relevance is modern political dialog is saturated with disinformation that “scientists hate god”. Look at the rhetoric of deniers of global warming or abiogenesis, for example.

        The politicians who find science opposing their power grabs miiight possibly be behind this phenomenon…

        The disinformation is a false dichotomy – a “fallacy of the excluded middle”. Scientists do not claim God doesn’t exist. Carl Sagan, for example, was agnostic, not an atheist, because he knows that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”.

        God created scientists, too, and God says there’s a perfectly reasonable scientific explanation for everything.

        1. OMG someone has got to do a Steampunk Wheelchair Stephen Hawking already! (Why is it always me who thinks of these things right when I don’t have a complete blacksmithy to hand!!)

      1. That is western Heaven & Hell mapped onto the Karma ideal. A better way to state that ideal is “you are learning in this life what you are simultaneously un-learning in parallel lives”.

  2. he’ll fill your head and heart
    with dreams that can’t come true
    spend his weekends thinking up
    different kinds of flu

    he’ll slaughter the innocent
    just to test their faith
    put glass under your tires
    spit tobacco in your face

    he’ll fill the world with roaches
    slugs and jellyfish
    he’ll give you years of horror
    for every second of bliss

  3. Snarf? They’re comics people. We’re not talking high art here…just irony and funner (perspective pending). I tend to like this guys comics. Not all of em, but most of em.

  4. It does feel like there’s a trend of increasingly judgmental and whiny BB comments lately. Such outrage when a Wonderful Thing isn’t sufficiently Wonderful for one’s personal satisfaction. Such a sense of entitlement. Such a downer.

  5. Well I thought it was a great little gag. Not sure why BoingBoing readers have this particular comic regularly lavished on them in preference to the many other funny/insightful comics out there, but I’m not complaining.

    1. Because Ruben Bolling is a contributing editor to Boing Boing, that’s why.

      He was introduced here.

      You can skip his posts just like you could skip Cory’s or Xeni’s or anyone else’s.

  6. Guys, Laissez’s Fair is gone and with it the political comics thread so I’m afraid you’re gonna have to work this stuff out for yourself. :(

  7. … No one has yet recorded an observation on the Nietzsche reference and the humourous and insightful reconciliation of the Hegelian discoursal matrix built by Science-Man’s accomplishments …

    So let me.

  8. I thought it was funny and insightful. I took it as an observation of our tendency to celebrate things without understanding or appreciating them. When Captain Sullenberger landed his plane in the Hudson, everyone seemed to ignore his lifetime of training and his knowledge of aeronautics in order to label it “a miracle.”

    1. Good analogy. Still, on the heels of the collection of insanely vituperative comments about the woman who has to go into hiding because she called for “Draw Muhammed Day”, we should play it safe and kill Bolling.

  9. Two quick items:

    1) Shouldn’t God-man look a little more like Jesus that God, since God is God and Jesus was both fully God and Man?

    2) Let’s see if you can one with Mohammed the prophet in place of God. That would be explosively funny.

    3) As a Christian, I didn’t find it offensive but mildly amusing.

  10. “All things dull and ugly,
    All creatures short and squat,
    All things rude and nasty,
    The Lord God made the lot.

    Each little snake that poisons,
    Each little wasp that stings,
    He made their brutish venom,
    He made their horrid wings.
    All things sick and cancerous,
    All evil great and small,
    All things foul and dangerous,
    The Lord God made them all.

    Each nasty little hornet,
    Each beastly little squid,
    Who made the spikey urchin,
    Who made the sharks, He did.

    All things scabbed and ulcerous,
    All pox both great and small,
    Putrid, foul and gangrenous,
    The Lord God made them all.

  11. For my next act I will kill some babies with a tsunami and watch as the faithful try to chalk it up to my mysteriousness or some kind of free will BS. Truth is, I’m really just a dick. -God

  12. Actually, only a small minority of major scientists are agnostic, and even a smaller percentage are actually religious. The large majority are quite openly atheistic. There was a study in Nature (vol 394:313 1998) that showed that of members of the National Academy, 72% said they were atheists, 21% agnostic, and only 7% said that they actually believed in a god! Kind of the inverse of general society, at least in the US.

    1. I don’t see why it matters whether scientists are or are not religious, personally, but I am fascinated by the contortions people will go through to “prove” one or the other. Religious folks attempt (often badly) logical rigor, and the irreligious abandon logic entirely.

      You’ve just made the claim that because a tiny subset of all scientists shows certain characteristics, one can conclude that all scientists conform to the same character distribution.

      Sounds like a faith-based argument to me! Certainly it isn’t scientific.

      1. Drawing a conclusion from a subset of a larger population isn’t a faith-based argument, it’s inductive reasoning – a tool used in science.

        Also, the “irreligious” don’t “abandon logic.” I can’t speak for all of them, but many are atheists because they believe in epistemology as the basis for knowledge. I don’t believe in a god because I’ve seen no evidence of one. I can’t disprove the existence of a god, but I can’t disprove the existence of invisible unicorns either.

        Please, if you see some flaw in my logic, let me know.

        1. The only flaw I see is in your misinterpretation of what I said, and that is probably due to my poor writing skills. I see no errors in your logic.

          When I said “the irreligious abandon logic” I was intending to refer specifically to those irreligious persons who attempt to prove that scientists overwhelmingly agree with them, and not to the (much larger, I hope) group who see no need to invoke dubious claims of support to back up their views.

          Similarly, my comment about religious folks butchering logic, was aimed at those clergy who try to abuse science to justify faiths that are essentially illogical and faith-based. They usually end up embarassing themselves; I think they would do better pointing out how their faith strengthens and supports them instead of mucking about in enemy territory.

          I am religious because I am an empiricist. I find it impossible to deny the concrete presence of the divine without discarding reason, logic, and the evidence of my senses. Here’s my reasoning; it is pantheism of the essential monist flavor.

          You cannot prove the existence of something without stating what it is you are proving; a definition must be made. Many religions, languages, and peoples make conflicting claims of the nature of God. The closest thing to an common trait is that God is the greatest thing that exists, therefore that is the only trait that is useful for defining the meaning of the word. Everything else is schismatic and useless for semantic and logical purposes.

          Therefore, God is defined as the greatest thing that exists.

          Again by definition, anything that is contained is less than that which contains it; a tree cannot be greater than the planet’s ecosystem that encapsulates it. This is an axiom that provides a minimally useful definition of greatness.

          Therefore, God is the set of all things that exist, at a minimum. You and I are part and parcel of God and with God.

          Therefore, God exists, ergo cogito sum. This is the basis of pan-theism, all-is-god. It is logically consistent and scientifically defensible and makes a fine basis for religion.

          If you want to get into the nitty-gritty of semantics and theology, and wrestle with panentheism .vs. pantheism, you can posit that the set of things that exist and the set of things that do not exist is greater than the set of things that exist, but I recommend not going down that alley at this time. It’s not very empirically useful and tends to infinite recursion.

          Most atheists I talk to on-line are heretic christians; the God they disbelieve is the Christian God, and like all other Christians they categorically reject any fundamentally non-christian definition of God. They are like Satanists in that way; they are defined by their enemies and not by themselves.

          However, most of the atheists who attend my church are non-christian, and several of them have an atheism that is orthagonal to and completely compatible with agnosticism (they have no God because they don’t know how God should be defined).

          1. The important question is not “Does God exist?” so much as “Supposing God exists, how does this affect us?”

            Providing the abstract definition of God as “the greatest thing that exists”, the second question then has no meaningful answers and acts as a misdirection from the central discussion: has the Judeo-Christian explanation for the origin of mankind and our world lost its relevance in light of scientific evidence against them? To put it another way, does this mark another turning point in history where major religions will have to adapt to scientific discovery (just as they have when we discovered the world was round, and again when we discovered that the sun was the center of our solar system).

            Whether Steven Hawking believes in some all-powerful entity is irrelevant; in saying “God is no longer necessary” (to paraphrase) he meant that he sees no need to use such a figure to explain our origin.

          2. Regarding the ontological argument…

            It doesn’t fly. As in, it’s not consistent.

            The outcome of a ‘that than which nothing greater can be conceived’ is a ‘set of all sets’ notion – a notion known to be inconsistent from Cantor’s theorem.

          3. I do not make or ascribe to ontological arguments. You are confusing me with Descartes, perhaps. A man’s perceptions may influence reality (according to the quantum boys, anyway) but one’s lack of perception or limitations of conception do not force reality to be limited to that which can be perceived or conceived.

            If you’ve read something of mine that seemed ontological, either you’re misread me or I’ve represented myself poorly. People who do not understand Spinoza’s arguments often mischaracterize them as ontological; I agree with Spinoza on many points and have attempted to use his argument here, so perhaps that’s where the red herring flopped in.

      2. I think it is quite relevant to consider the viewpoints of extremely successful scientist who have contributed vastly to our understanding of the universe, especially if one hopes to become a successful scientist oneself. If it had no bearing on the issue, the religious distribution of scientists should mirror society at large, and it just doesn’t.

        1. If it had no bearing on the issue, the religious distribution of scientists should mirror society at large, and it just doesn’t.

          You have not proved anything of the sort, yet you are stating it as fact. You may be right (anyone can get lucky) but you based your conclusion on a insanely small sample, which is not good science. It’s not even good rhetoric.

          I have worked as a scientist for three decades. The three finest mathemeticians I have personally worked with are Newbold (a Quaker), the late Dr. John Hendrickson (Anglican) and McNair (atheist).

          If I used your reasoning, I would conclude that two thirds of mathematicians are religious in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and atheists are a minority.

          However, I will not draw conclusions with insufficient sample size, so I prefer to say what I just said: I have known scientists with many different beliefs and philosophies. My spouse is currently working with a confucian scientist.

          1. The same authors did an earlier survey (Nature 386: 486) of about 600 scientists, and found that 40% of respondents believed in god, while the other 60% professed disbelief, agnosticism or doubt. The respondents in the 1998 survey consisted of about 50% of the 517 members of the National Academy of Sciences in core disciplines (physical and life sciences, including mathematicians).

            I would say that that is a more representative sample than the 3 mathematicians you know.

          2. I would say that that is a more representative sample than the 3 mathematicians you know.

            No, *sigh* that’s my point. Exaggerated bad science is still bad science. You haven’t even sampled one percent of the population you are attempting to characterize.

            I used to work in rocket science. One of the things my employer made was explosive bolts for cockpit ejection systems. You know how you test explosive bolts? You don’t, really. Because they’d be blown up and useless after you tested them.

            So you test a statistically significant sample. If you don’t test enough bolts, your data is meaningless and you may as well have just rolled dice.

            What comprises a statistically significant sample is a matter of some small dispute, although there are industry standards. We chose to greatly exceed industry standards, and tested 33.3% of our bolts. For that reason they sold very well, thank you.

            You don’t need to have a bunch of impressive bald men in white coats on your side in order to be right. It wouldn’t matter if every scientist in the world was a committed, card-carrying, screaming pastafarian – appeals to authority have no bearing on the existence of God or the viability of atheism (see which is an explanation of the logical fallacy at work here). But it rhetorically undermines your argument when you use bad science – such as statistically insignificant data sources – in any attempt to describe something as being supported by science.

          3. AIt wouldn’t matter if every scientist in the world was a committed, card-carrying, screaming pastafarian – appeals to authority have no bearing on the existence of God or the viability of atheism…

            I think the original comment that started this was “Scientists do not claim God doesn’t exist” (#12). On that topic, a sample of what scientific authorities say is actually very relevent.

          4. As others have said, the study merely suggests that scientists are more likely to be atheists. That, in itself, is not meant to be a justification for atheism. In terms of the survey size, it would be difficult to argue that several hundred scientists is not a large sample. What matters is whether it is a *representative* sample. Do you have any reason to think that the 600 randomly selected American scientists in the earlier study would systematically differ from American scientists in general?

            Also, two notes about your reasoning for the existence of god. First, you’re begging the question ( You define god as “the greatest thing that exists,” thus assuming that god exists a priori. Secondly, defining god as the set of all things removes any need for debate. Few would argue that all things that exist don’t in fact exist, but as post #69 notes, many would contest that definition of god. It isn’t “logically consistent and scientifically defensible” it’s logically flawed and scientifically irrelevant.

          5. I can’t stick around to talk right now, so my apologies for the post ‘n’run here.

            In order to correct the phrasing to remove the logical fallacy, please change it to “God is defined as that which is greater than anything that exists” instead of “God is defined as the greatest thing that exists”. Thank you for pointing out the problem, although it lies in my poor exposition rather than in Spinoza’s argument.

            I have not assumed that god exists a priori, although that’s a very reasonable objection to what I wrote. I have assumed that the word “God” can have a definition, and proposed a definition that would inevitably lead to a conclusion that God exists, unless that definition can be shown to be a false axiom, or my other axiom is false.

            Let me provide an example: if I want to prove that an apple exists, and I start by showing you an apple in my hand and saying “this here thingy is an apple” we both know that I will in fact be able to prove it exists (by feeding you a slice) unless you wish to discard all empiricism and pragmatism. You can say, “no, that’s not an apple, it’s a pear” – but it’s not really fair for you to accuse me of begging the question of it’s existence simply because I’ve shown you an extant object to define the term “apple”.

            What means would you use to define God, if you do not wish to pledge your adherence to the liturgy and dogma of a specific religion? Atheists purposely define God as a being who can’t exist and then say they’ve proved something; I call that circular logic, because they have not attempted to join their self-serving definition of God with the rest of humanity’s shared perceptions of what God means. Christians say that God is the God of Moses and Abraham – that’s not consistent with the non-Judeo-Christian religions, and neither of us is Christian, so why should we value that definition over any other?

            Long before Jesus or Mohammed was born, people rejoiced in the knowledge that we are all part of a single great shared existence. It is my religion, and the religion of millions of other people.

            Sorry about the scatter here. Gotta go.

            Ittōsai out.

          6. First, let me say that I’m enjoying this debate, so I’m sorry to take so long to respond. I hope you still check this even though we may be one of only a handful still returning to this page.

            Oddly, your new definition of god as “that which is greater than anything that exists,” establishes the opposite of what you are trying to prove. Sorry to push this point, but loose language is the reason that such “proofs” are often problematic. Not to mention that the rest of your argument fails with this as a premise. Perhaps you mean to define god as “the greatest thing that could conceivably exist”? If so, you have all the same problems as Anselm’s ontological argument (

            In your apple analogy, you prove that the apple exists by pointing to it and calling it an apple. In your proof of god, you point to the set of all things and call it god. As I said, few would contest that the set of all things exist.

            If this is the case, and to you “god” is what others refer to as “the universe,” as someone noted above, then it is just a matter of semantics. I would suggest, however, that “universe” provides a better label for the set of all things, as it isn’t fraught with supernatural connotations.

          7. Another name, which many prefer to “universe”, is Nature. God doesn’t mind being called by other names, though; the Hindus say Brahman, the Sikhs say Vahiguru. Nature can’t be super-natural, super-natural is a term from dualistic dogmas that holds little meaning for pantheists.

            People raised in Judeo-christian environments usually believe that their ideas are the standard; the patently absurd tale that some bearded man in the sky assigned humans as his agents, to rule over nature, has become patterned into their minds as the very definition of what religion is. That’s simply not true; it’s like equating chocolate with ice cream because you’re unfamiliar with any other flavor. It’s also very culturally insensitive; judging the value of other systems based on the lack of value in ones’ own.

            The anon above, who said The important question is not “Does God exist?” so much as “Supposing God exists, how does this affect us?” has it right.

            Must run again, got to tap out a carb needle seat. Sorry! I have enjoyed your cogent questions and wish I was a better preacher. But not being evangelistic hampers me in this regard.

          8. So you test a statistically significant sample. If you don’t test enough bolts, your data is meaningless and you may as well have just rolled dice.

            What comprises a statistically significant sample is a matter of some small dispute, although there are industry standards. We chose to greatly exceed industry standards, and tested 33.3% of our bolts. For that reason they sold very well, thank you.

            Statistical significance is not based on the ratio between sample size and population size–a sample of 2000 scientists is going to have a high degree of statistical significance regardless of whether the total population of scientists is 4000 or 4 trillion (assuming there was no systematic bias in the sampling procedure, so it can be treated as a random sample of the larger population). In the frequentist view of probability one often considers a theoretical “population” consisting of an infinite series of repetitions of the same experiment, as in this example from wikipedia’s sampling article:

            In other cases, our ‘population’ may be even less tangible. For example, Joseph Jagger studied the behaviour of roulette wheels at a casino in Monte Carlo, and used this to identify a biased wheel. In this case, the ‘population’ Jagger wanted to investigate was the overall behaviour of the wheel (i.e. the probability distribution of its results over infinitely many trials), while his ‘sample’ was formed from observed results from that wheel.

          9. Did you read that link? It says the opposite of what you are claiming.

   is even more explicit.

            Sample methodology and sample size both have to be related back to population size in order to know anything about the confidence you can place in a claim made about a population based on surveying a subset of that population. It’s all linked – which is why most polls are not scientific, and claiming they are isn’t science.

            Scientists respond to criticism with research and re-evaluation. Know them by their works; they can admit mistakes and will acknowledge the difference between opinions, trends, and facts.

            Dogmatists never, ever change their initial position.

          10. Did you read that link? It says the opposite of what you are claiming.

            What specifically in the link do you think contradicts anything I said? Note that I did not say that population size was completely irrelevant when calculating statistical significance–of course it is, if my sample size is 100 and I’m sampling without replacement, obviously I can be more confident about my result if the population size is 101 than if the population size is 10 million! My point was that Ito Kagehisa was incorrect to imply that the ratio of sample size to population size is all-important, so that any small ratio would automatically imply a low statistical significance. As I pointed out, even with an infinite population a reasonably large sample size can have a high statistical significance; likewise, if I sample with replacement from a finite population, this is statistically equivalent to sampling from an infinite population with the same probabilities of different possible outcomes.

            As a numerical example, if I am sampling from an infinite collection of marbles where each random pick has an 0.5 probability of giving a red marble and an 0.5 probability of giving a blue marble (or equivalently if I am picking from a jar with 50 red marbles and 50 blue marbles, but each time I pick one I put it back in the jar before making another pick), then if my sample size is 2000 then the probability my sample will include more than 1100 red marbles (i.e. the probability I will get more than 55% red marbles in my sample) can be calculated using the binomial distribution, in this case the probability of getting more than 1100 red marbles would only be 0.00034%! So, even though the population is infinite and my sample size is 2000, in this case I can have a high degree of confidence that my observed ratio is within 5% of the actual ratio of red to blue in the entire population.

          11. To add to my previous comment, if you are randomly sampling from a finite population without replacement (as in most opinion polls), the probability of getting a given number of “hits” would be calculated not with the binomial distribution but with something called the hypergeometric distribution. So let’s again say that in the population as a whole 50% have one trait (say, being an atheist) and 50% have the opposite (being a theist). And say we again sample 2000, and want to know the probability our random sample will happen to include more than 55% (more than 1100) with the “atheist” trait. If the population is much larger than the sample, say 200,000 people, then the probability will be close to the value of 0.00034% I calculated earlier using the binomial distribution which assumed an infinite population or sampling with replacement–you can use the hypergeometric calculator to see that in this case (with Population size=200000, sample size=2000, number of successes in population=100000, and number of successes in sample=1100) the probability of getting more than 1100 atheists in the sample is 0.000308%. So you can see that in spite of the fact that the sample size is only 1/100 of the population size, it’s still very unlikely that the proportion of atheists in the sample is greater the proportion of atheists in the population by more than 5%.

            This sort of analysis shows why it’s actually pretty reasonable to use opinion polls of a few thousand or even a few hundred to gauge the opinions of a much larger population, if your sampling method really is equally likely to pick any member of the population (with real opinion polls there is the problem of systemic bias where the sampling method may be consistently more likely to pick people with certain traits than others, for example if you do a political poll by phoning people with land lines listed in the phone book, it might be that people with land lines are more likely to be Republicans).

          12. The National Academy isn’t an “insanely small sample” — at roughly 2,000 members it is plenty large enough to get statistically sound results with three categories, whereas your set of three mathematicians isn’t. Also, your three mathematicians were chosen purely arbitrarily, while the National Academy objectively consists of the top scientists.

          13. 2600 scientists sampled at one time in their lives is an insanely small sample with which to characterize “all scientists”. Which you refuse to stop doing.

            Furthermore, your claim that my three mathematicians were chosen arbitrarily is false (I chose them quite carefully) and your claim that “objectively” the National Academy is composed of “the top scientists” is unsupported.

            But the whole argument is fallacious, so why does it matter?

            You can be right without claiming the sponsorship of a priesthood.

            You can be wrong if every genius that ever lived agrees with you.

            Argument from authority is invalid. Especially when your subject is theology, and you are drawing your authorities from well outside that field.

          14. The use of the National Academy isn’t as a subsample of “all scientists” (which would presumably include even science teachers at religious colleges where professing belief is even a requirement of employment) but rather to see what the most successful scientists believe. And yes, I think it is hardly controversial to claim that the National Academy is comprised of the top scientists. That’s the point of the organization; it isn’t a freely joinable society; you have to earn membership on merit.

            But there have been surveys of the wider set of self-labeled scientists as phunter has alluded to. They show a less spectacular trend towards disbelief, but still much higher than the general population.

            It isn’t an “argument from authority” for atheism; it is simply an observation from the facts. The general population in the US is extremely religious. Self described scientists less so. Those scientists elected to the National Academy are hardly religious at all. The interpretation of whether this is good is up to the beholder. I’ve even seen it claimed as evidence that scientists are “immoral” and out of touch with the American people; the correlation cuts both ways depending on how much one values science and religion.

  13. I thought the crowd was going to tear the scientist from limb to limb in God-Man’s name.

    Kinda disappointed in not seeing how that would have been rendered.

  14. OK, it’s been fun, but I have places to do and people to be.

    May you all have a fine fine night and rest in the comfy bosoms of God.

    Ittōsai out.

  15. Therefore, God exists, ergo cogito sum. This is the basis of pan-theism, all-is-god. It is logically consistent and scientifically defensible and makes a fine basis for religion.

    It is logically consistent, but it doesn’t have much to do with how everyone else uses the word God. You can’t really pray to a set, or speak about it creating things, except so far as you are actually talking about an element of that set. So I don’t see what you get by calling it that, instead of say, universe.

    I can’t tell why that’s a helpful base for a religion; it doesn’t seem like it would inform any of your other beliefs.

  16. Anon, that is a lonely thought. No thanks. I am happy to know that i will continue to exist in a better place then this dump of a life.


    If science exterminates a disease which has been working for God, it is God that gets the credit, and all the pulpits break into grateful advertising-raptures and call attention to how good he is! Yes, he has done it. Perhaps he has waited a thousand years before doing it. That is nothing; the pulpit says he was thinking about it all the time. When exasperated men rise up and sweep away an age-long tyranny and set a nation free, the first thing the delighted pulpit does is to advertise it as God’s work, and invite the people to get down on their knees and pour out their thanks to him for it. And the pulpit says with admiring emotion, “Let tyrants understand that the Eye that never sleeps is upon them; and let them remember that the Lord our God will not always be patient, but will loose the whirlwinds of his wrath upon them in his appointed day.”

    They forget to mention that he is the slowest mover in the universe; that his Eye that never sleeps, might as well, since it takes it a century to see what any other eye would see in a week; that in all history there is not an instance where he thought of a noble deed first, but always thought of it just a little after somebody else had thought of it and done it. He arrives then, and annexes the dividend.

    Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth

  18. Love Tom the Dancing Bug and God-Man is one of my favorite characters. Glad he found a home (with archives) at Boing Boing.

    This offering reminds me of when religionists ask where are the atheist hospitals and atheist charities. I reply that scientific method and rationalism made the hospitals possible, and that secular governments are tasked with trying to do as best they can for the general welfare of its citizens as well as working to remediate the ills of society on a global level, with education being key.

    Do we have to do everything ourselves?!?!

    We may not have sacred texts tasking us to do any of this, but then we don’t have hard fast rules of who to hate either.

    As was exhorted by Brian in “Life of Brian”, you’re urged to “figure it out for yourselves!”

    As Kurt Vonnegut’s son remarked –

    “We’re here to get each other through this thing, whatever it is.”
    — Mark Vonnegut

  19. I think this strip has done, from an artistic point exactly what it was supposed to do and that is to spark healthy debate… so hats off to that man.

  20. Here’s another one you might like, if you dig relevancy:

    Larry King: Do you believe in God?

    Stephen Hawking: Yes, if by God is meant the embodiment of the law of the universe.

    (Larry King Live, December 25, 1999)

  21. Ah, crap, fat fingered the enter button with a half-finished post. That’s not the first time, either… maybe I can get a friendly mod to help me out here.

  22. OK, I don’t like the way this thread ended, and it’s my fault, so I’ll see if I can fix it.

    I’m a theist. I like the comic! Science-hero is clearly Stephen Hawking; God-man is Jehovah/Allah – the anthropomorphic, misogynistic deity of the mainstream “desert monotheisms”. His followers used fire, rapine and the sword to dominate the western world politically and intellectually in ages past, so that many (probably most) westerners no longer have the ability to conceive of a God that is not modeled after the God of Abraham and Isaac.

    It’s likely that Bolling was inspired by Hawking’s recent comments to the effect that “God is no longer necessary” to explain the origin of the universe. This remark does not contradict Hawking’s earlier comments regarding God, which were either explicit endorsements of pantheism (see quote I provided above) or really clever homages to Einstein. Famous scientists are incessantly badgered by people who want them to make religious or anti-religious statements; a great many people want to directly substitute lab-coated scientists for robed priests as moral authorities in their lives, and of course the media thrive on controversy. Scientists usually find this extremely aggravating – Hawking would rather talk about stars and mathematics and physics, not about whether or not you should baptize your children.

    God, at least the god of Abraham, certainly isn’t needed to explain things like sunrise and lunar eclipses any more. Scientists like Hawking (I’m not personally a big fan of his work, although I admire his strength of will) have found various explanations for the origin of the universe that simply don’t invoke or require deity. These explanations work equally well with or without the presence of the divine; God literally “isn’t needed” for them.

    But the human race has some sort of drive, or instinct, towards spirituality; people who have a religious component to their lives have been shown to be both happier and physically healthier than those who do not, in numerous scientific studies. Even those people who show no benefit from religion in their lives, even those who suffer under bad religions, still seem drawn to faith; witness the devoutly religious gay members of religions that explicitly condemn homosexuality.

    There’s no Everyman figure in this comic; there’s actual mobs instead of a characterization of the mob. I like the way it works graphically; the mob is a seething, mindless background to the stark polarities of Science-hero and God-man, who are both literally super-human.

    And I love the way you can find what you want in the comic; a literal, surface reading that says “people are stupid and set in their ways, they cannot appreciate the wonders of science because they are god-happy” and multiple implied meanings that poke fun at Jehovah, Hawking, and the people who venerate one or the other. Isn’t it petty of God-man to accept the cheers of the crowd instead of acknowledging science-hero? Isn’t it egotistical of Science-hero to want to replace God-man in the people’s hearts and minds? Isn’t it correct that Science-hero wouldn’t exist without God-man (since in the comic, God-man is clearly a real being)? It’s an awesome, multilayered construct that (like a poem) takes meaning from both the author and from the knowledge and outlook you bring to the table, and how you choose to perceive and use it.

    Well done, Mr. Bolling!

    There, that’s better.

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