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Dilbert strip offends those “not especially religious”

Last week’s Dilbert created a stir among those “not especially religious” for a story-line mocking Jesus in the weeks leading up to Easter according to Dilbert creator Scott Adams on his blog. See beginning of story-arc.

This week’s series in Dilbert caused quite a stir. It featured a new guy in the office whose name is pronounced hay-soos and spelled Jesus. I drew those strips a few months ago, and in my typical careless way I didn’t realize they would be running around Easter time. Oops

The story-line involves a new hire, named Jesus, who heals Wally of his laziness and baldness, tries to recruit 12 others to save the databases. He is later betrayed by Wally and is “downsized” but brought back as a consultant to save other employee’s pensions.

Regardless of whether you believe they were funny or offensive (I lean toward the latter), I’m not sure I buy into Scott’s line about carelessly forgetting that they’d be running around Easter.

Community Comments

#1 Dawn Douglass
March/18/2008
@ 4:13 am

I remember Scott Adams saying in early 1996 when he was really taking off because of the loss of Calive and Hobbes, that he didn’t want to be one of those typical clueless cartoonists (paraphrasing him) that stay on past their prime and past their ability to write fresh material. He said that he would retire in ten years max, after already having put in seven years at that point.

Perhaps in his “typical careless way” he doesn’t realize it’s been 12 years.

#2 Rick Stromoski
March/18/2008
@ 6:35 am

I wonder if it’s at all possible to discuss religion in this thread without getting crucified.

#3 John &Anne Hambrock
March/18/2008
@ 6:37 am

Well I totally missed the “mocking Jesus” angle (and I’m a product of parochial school).I thought Adams was, as usual, mocking all the clueless people in the office. I saw the “hay-soos” character, as he was called, as another one of those “too hip for the room” kind of characters and Wally as his usual weasel self. I can see Wally and the boss as perfect representations of Judas and Pilate respectively because they share character traits.

I don’t, however, buy the line about forgetting they would run near Easter.

#4 Anne Hambrock
March/18/2008
@ 6:39 am

Sorry for the ID of John & Anne – it was only me!

#5 Rick Stromoski
March/18/2008
@ 6:53 am

I found the letter from one of his readers that states “I used to think that your comic strip was funny, now I think it is very disgusting and not funny at all.” typical and predictable of those that hold no sense of humor for their religious beliefs. It could be because the devout regard shining any light, whether it be from a humorous or academic perspective, on their belief systems as an affront. That is why blind faith is considered a virtue in all religions, it precludes thinking too much about it’s claims.

The faithful can and do take solace that those that do not hold the same worldview will suffer excruciating pain for all eternity. At least I’ll be in good company.

#6 Anne Hambrock
March/18/2008
@ 7:07 am

“blind faith is considered a virtue in all religions”

I cannot agree with this statement. Any religion can produce or attract an “Elmer Gantry” figure that uses a religious position for personal power or gain and, in my experience, these are the sorts of leaders that promote an idea of blind faith. None of the churches or schools I attended had this religious view. Quite the contrary – each invited and encouraged thoughtful analysis and discussion.
All religions are multi-denominational on one level or another and making blanket generalizations only promotes stereotyping. There were many other comments on Adams blog that came from religious people who were not offended. You seem to have pulled out the one to best illustrate your view of religion.

#7 Wiley Miller
March/18/2008
@ 7:19 am

â??blind faith is considered a virtue in all religionsâ?

The operative word here is “blind”.

#8 r stevens
March/18/2008
@ 7:54 am

Man, I just read Jesus as a positive character too good to last in that environment.

#9 Norm Feuti
March/18/2008
@ 7:55 am

“Iâ??m not sure I buy into Scottâ??s line about carelessly forgetting that theyâ??d be running around Easter.”

To be fair, Easter is unusually early this year. I could easily fathom a cartoonist writing March strips (in January or earlier) and not even thinking about Easter.

I dunno. I think overall these strips were pretty tame.

#10 Wiley Miller
March/18/2008
@ 8:20 am

I think Scott’s response to the “offended” pastor was absolutely perfect.

#11 Matt Bors
March/18/2008
@ 9:13 am

Scott Adams’ middle name is Hussein.

#12 Rich Diesslin
March/18/2008
@ 10:07 am

Rick, it’s not possible for there to be a discussion on religion in this forum because of folks, such as yourself, that have attitudes of total intolerance and contempt for religion. If you approached the topic with even a basic level of respect for other people’s beliefs, you might not get so much flack. Hey, you asked. Just because you have some fundamentalist Christians hassling you doesn’t mean you have to hassle every Christian.

As to Scott Adams, I wasn’t offended by the cartoons, but I can easily where it would be problematic. My first reaction to reading the first of the series was “I bet he gets flack for this.” I was amazed that someone with his level of experience with daily comic strips would be so “blind” (Wiley, the operative word) as to make this kind of mistake, thinking that a Spanish pronunciation would make it somehow all acceptable. There are other ways he could have used most of those gags tastefully. That being said, some of the gags were pretty funny and some were pretty much standard miracle gags like used in Bruce Almighty and other movies and cartoons.

#13 Mark R. Engel
March/18/2008
@ 10:45 am

Adams, being most likely the smartest guy in comics, probably figured he was going to offend about 2 million people this year, why not get it over with right away? Plus it’ll put Dilbert high on the attention meter again. For all the people he’s “offended” in Dilbert’s existence, he’s still the number one strip out there. Offense is such a stupid thing to worry about because no matter how much you try not to, you’re still going to offend someone sometime. It’s like trying to avoid death.

And I agree with Mr. Miller on the offended pastor response. Hey Wiley, you’ve done many bible- or religion-based strips – ever get much flack from those?

#14 Dave Krainacker
March/18/2008
@ 11:38 am

One of the many “Non-Sequitor” cartoons I have hanging on my office door is from September 2003. It is titled “God Does the Talk Show Circuit”. God is telling Jay Leno, “My best creation was a sense of humor. The irony, of course, is that the people who claim to believe in Me the most are the ones least likely to have one…”

Not to be preachy, but we have become so quick to take offence. The cartoons, to my mind, were harmless and pretty funny. (I’m a practicing cradle Catholic.) Blessed Easter everyone!

#15 Rick Stromoski
March/18/2008
@ 2:10 pm

“Rick, itâ??s not possible for there to be a discussion on religion in this forum because of folks, such as yourself, that have attitudes of total intolerance and contempt for religion.”

When one has intolerence for religious intolerence does that make one intolerent? My sentiments in my earlier post were reserved for the types that get their panties in a bunch over what a cartoonist lampoons in his strip and takes the time to write him about it. Contrary to what you may think, Rich , pretty much all my friends are religious to some extent, my daughter and I do volunteer work at a Baptist church and I play golf with the pastor there and I get along with them quite fine, we even have the occasional discussion on belief and my lack thereof and there is no bloodshed.

“Any religion can produce or attract an â??Elmer Gantryâ? figure that uses a religious position for personal power or gain and, in my experience, these are the sorts of leaders that promote an idea of blind faith.”

American Heritage dictionary: faith-Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.belief that is not based on proof

Preservation of faith is the single most important thing in any religion. Without it any religion would die. For example, If a person does not take on faith the virgin birth, death, reanimation and ascension of Christ , they cannot call themselves a Christian. Looking at the claim from a scientific viewpoint, you’d have to conclude that it is impossible for a person to die and rise from the dead. So you are taught that you must have faith that this claim is true even when your own common sense tells you that it is impossible. You can foster discussion and thoughtful analysis all you want but at the end of the day you better come to the conclusion that what the religious claim is true, otherwise you’re not a Christian in the eyes of the church. Questioning any of it labels you a heretic or worse “intolerent”. Scott Adams did a very good job of lampooning some of the basic tenets of the Jesus story, just as he did the Wizard of Oz.

My original point was that those who chose to write Scott in offense (and Anne, it wasn’t just the one, Scott wrote that the one he posted was typical of “many” that he recieved) most likely take offense because the lampooning of one’s beliefs forces you to examine them in a different light. Those with the most tenuous grasp on those beliefs are usually the one’s that protest the loudest.

#16 Wiley Miller
March/18/2008
@ 2:49 pm

“Hey Wiley, youâ??ve done many bible- or religion-based strips – ever get much flack from those?”

Yeah, and I’m going to steal Adams’ retort!

#17 Wiley Miller
March/18/2008
@ 2:55 pm

American Heritage dictionary:
faith-Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.belief that is not based on proof

As we are now at the 5 year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq…

#18 Garey Mckee
March/18/2008
@ 2:58 pm

“Man, I just read Jesus as a positive character too good to last in that environment.”

Yup, that’s Jesus alright.

My feeling is, if one writes a strip or series of strips that receives flack, wether you feel it’s justified or not, one shouldn’t back peddle in such a lame manner as Scott Adams did here.

“I didnâ??t realize they would be running around Easter time. Oops”

Yeah, right. So if they ran during another time you would stand by them? Their publish date doesn’t change their content. Grow a pair and stand by what you write.

#19 Anne Hambrock
March/18/2008
@ 3:40 pm

Rick, there is a difference between faith in things one doesn’t witness personally or can’t prove and “blind faith” which, dictionary or not, is a loaded phrase implying a lack of reasoning. I don’t take issue with your position that blind faith exists in some denominations – I take issue with the blanket statement that it is an inherent quality in all forms of religion. For me the operative word is not “blind”
but the linkage of “blind”, “virtue”, and “all”.

#20 Wiley Miller
March/18/2008
@ 3:54 pm

If faith is as the dictionary defines it, where it is based on something without proof or evidence, then how can it be anything other than blind?

#21 Anne Hambrock
March/18/2008
@ 4:11 pm

Blind implies “unseeing”. It is the difference between approaching something with one’s eyes open or closed. Or even further with one’s mind open or closed. It also implies a lack of sensiblity. When I believe in something scientific that I do not understand (like how a series of 1’s and 0’s form the system on which all computer language is based – I still completely don’t get how that one works!) it does not mean that I believe in it without any reasoning or sensiblity.

#22 Rick Stromoski
March/18/2008
@ 4:52 pm

>> When I believe in something scientific that I do not understand (like how a series of 1â??s and 0â??s form the system on which all computer language is based – I still completely donâ??t get how that one works!) it does not mean that I believe in it without any reasoning or sensiblity.

That difference being that even though you may not understand it, you could take the time to learn it and comprehend it fully because it is provable by evidence. Transubstantiation completely belies any evidence and requires “faith” to give it credence. You cannot ever know the claims of the religious because there is no hard evidence, hence the reliance of “faith” for it to be true.

#23 Anne Hambrock
March/18/2008
@ 6:01 pm

Rick, I will absolutely concede your above point about faith because you used the term “faith” as opposed to “blind faith”. I don’t seem to be successfully making my point. “Faith” is a term that does not imply a negative connotation. “Blind faith”, especially within the context of your earlier comment, usually is a term of denigration. It implies a lack of sensiblity on the part of the person who has it. I will readily grant you that there are people of all religions who see blind faith as a virtue – I just did not like your blanket statement that all religious people or religious leaders see it as such.

The statement on Adams’ blog that you pulled most probably came from someone who fits the stereotype you are describing and who also does not seem to have much of a sense of humor. I just felt that equal attention should be paid to the great number of people who also posted on his blog that they were religious but enjoyed the series and found it funny.

The series ran in my local paper and I thought it was some of the funniest stuff Adams had done in a long time. I particularly enjoyed the one where Wally grew hair and his coffee turned to wine. Ironically, I have spent this whole thread defending religion when my own attendance is sporadic at best. I guess I just like a good debate.

#24 Dawn Douglass
March/18/2008
@ 6:12 pm

Faith is common to every human being, religious or not. Does your spouse really love you? Will you have a job next year? Is your child going to be successful?

There is no solid proof for any of this, but we believe based on our interaction and experience and understanding of what we see feel and experience on a daily basis.

I would never be so arrogant, ignorant and crass to tell somebody that his faith in his wife, his job and his child is based on nothing but his own delusion, weakness, stupidity….

#25 Rick Stromoski
March/18/2008
@ 6:43 pm

>>I would never be so arrogant, ignorant and crass to tell somebody that his faith in his wife, his job and his child is based on nothing but his own delusion, weakness, stupidityâ?¦.

I would beg you to point out anywhere in this discussion where those terms were used.

#26 Josh McDonald
March/18/2008
@ 6:49 pm

” When I believe in something scientific that I do not understand (like how a series of 1â??s and 0â??s form the system on which all computer language is based…”

A better example might be the scientific concept of “Dark Matter” which, if I correctly understand what I’ve read, cannot actually be detected or measured in any way but scientists know it’s there because of its effects on the universe around it.

It’s been my experience that people who exhibit a truly religious faith have had profound spiritual experiences which inform and strengthen their beliefs. This kind of faith is the foundation and bedrock of most religions, and it is anything but “blind”.

#27 Josh McDonald
March/18/2008
@ 7:05 pm

That said…

I agree that Scott Adams’s response to Pastor (name deleted) was perfect.

#28 Rick Stromoski
March/18/2008
@ 7:14 pm

>>Itâ??s been my experience that people who exhibit a truly religious faith have had profound spiritual experiences which inform and strengthen their beliefs.

Imagine a scientific paper submitted for peer review entitled ” The case for dark matter predicated on my profound spiritual experience that has informed me of their existence and therefore has strengthened my belief they exist” by I.M Scienceguy.

It would not get very far in “proving” a case for the existence of dark matter would it?. One needs to show evidence. By your own admission , Science makes it’s case because it provides evidence based on the effects it has on the rest of the universe. Profound spiritual experiences, revelation or inherited dogma is not a very good foundation to find the truth about the origins or makeup of the Universe and it certainly isn’t proof of anything other than one’s personal insight that may or may not have many alternate explainations. Religion requires faith, blind or otherwise (although I fail to see the difference) to work.

#29 Dawn Douglass
March/18/2008
@ 7:28 pm

Okay, Rick, first you say this: I would beg you to point out anywhere in this discussion where those terms were used.

Then you say this: Religion requires faith, blind or otherwise (although I fail to see the difference) to work.

So…

I would never be so arrogant, ignorant and crass to tell somebody that his faith in his wife, his job and his child is based on nothing but his own [fill in the blank, Rick, and we’ll know the terms you ARE willing to use straight out, instead of backhandedly]

#30 Rich Diesslin
March/18/2008
@ 8:09 pm

Rick, sorry to over categorize your attitude on religion, I’ve just never observed you discuss it with any sort of respect (that I could detect). So far though, the discussion is going well and you aren’t crucified yet, so I guess we were both wrong on that (since we were both expecting it) … but there’s still time! ;)

Science lives quite a bit by faith, especially astro-physics, they can’t prove much of what they theorize. But even the very basic levels of science use postulate and axioms which are nothing more that assumptions that, while not provable seem to allow the rest of science operate and a generally acceptable level (e.g. euclidean vs. non-euclidean geometry). Most science and faith arguments can and do employ logic, but they are both (and all) circular-logic to you set of assumptions, postulates and/or axioms. Not many call it blind science except perhaps total extremists … basically science had it’s roots in religion … even though they’ve been allies and enemies at various times and to various groups. I generally hear blind faith used when it is especially uniformed, except when used all the time for every faith (and, no surprise, by extremist).

Just think, if you didn’t believe in the dictionary it would be hard to make your proof at all. ;)

Anyway, back to Dilbert … I just don’t see how Adams could possibly be surprised by the response. I haven’t heard of one editor pulling them though, so it must not have been as bad as Wiley’s “racist” chicken joke.

#31 Alan Gardner
March/18/2008
@ 10:22 pm

Firstly, let me congratulate us all on getting to 30 comments and we’re still being civil. I love it.

A year or so ago, I read Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time.” I wondered if I’d find the book at odds with my beliefs in a supreme creator. In the end I found the book engaging and in many ways added to my understanding of a Creator. Science discovers and explains the how things are created, maintained and perpetuated. Religion, at least for me, provides the why it matters. There are still things I can’t reconcile between the two (dinosaurs come to mind), but religion is very real to me. I’ve had too many experiences (that can not be laboratory proven) that have offered me suggested evidence that there is a higher power or being (“an invisible old man who lives in the sky” as Rick would suggest). But science is real to me as well. The important thing to understand is that spirtual/religious things need to be explored, tried and tested in a spiritual context. Trying to prove spiritual matters scientifically is like trying to prove astrophysics by picking up a shovel and digging in the ground.

#32 Mike Peterson
March/19/2008
@ 2:52 am

As an editor, I’d have run the strips, but I’d have braced myself for some angry readers. And I’d have wondered why a good cartoonist would spend four days on a basic gag that I remember from summer camp in 1965, when the first Puerto Rican kid named Jesus showed up. I don’t think the name disappeared for the intervening 43 years, and I’d rather catch flak from readers over a strip that intelligently criticized blind faith than one that simply appears to satirize their scripture.

There could be a good, humorous storyline in which a simple, Christian-believing lad is thrown to the corporate wolves but IMNSHO it’s not a type of storytelling that works in Adams’ minimalist style. And people would misinterpret that version, too, so you really have to ask if the laff is worth the grief. Most of these made me shrug, and I usually get more than that from Dilbert.

#33 Rick Stromoski
March/19/2008
@ 4:08 am

>>>Rick, sorry to over categorize your attitude on religion, Iâ??ve just never observed you discuss it with any sort of respect (that I could detect).

I give it the same level of respect that most people give to Scientology, astrology, psychics, dowsers, aura readers, holistic medicine, past lives, Zeus, Thor, Posiedon and alchemy. All of these make claims based on personal experiences and strong belief systems that cannot be substantiated through testing and rely on faith to be true. Some people demand a bit more than that, especially when it’s misused and does great harm. Which seems to be the norm from the religious these days.

We are pattern seeking mammals with highly evolved brains that have made us aware of our own existance as well as our own eventual demise. We seek explanations for the world around us and we’d rather have an unsubstantiated explanation than no explanation at all. Not knowing why is disturbing and frightening so we make things up and believe them because it’s comforting. But just because something is comforting doesn’t make it true.

As for arrogance, is it not arrogant to believe that one is so important to the universe that when death comes we believe “Why, this can’t possibly be the end of me!” …a status we give no other living creatures. That if there was an omnicient all powerful creator of the universe that he would take an interest in our personal lives and intervene if we lobbied him enough? Such arrogance is mostly demonstrated in survivors of natural catastrophes when they claim that God spared them. But what of the elderly faithful who lived good christian lives who during Katrina slowly watched the water levels rise until they drowned praying to God in their attics? Were their prayers for mercy not sincere enough? Usually the explanation is that God has a reason that we do not understand. The convenience and vapidity of that explanation allows one to continue to hold on to belief because the alternative is far more frightening.

#34 Dawn Douglass
March/19/2008
@ 4:51 am

Rick, you have a very warped idea of what faith in God is. It’s actually a lot easier, cheaper, and more convenient NOT to believe, because then you don’t have the responsibility of having to seek to know His will and then work to do His will, instead of what you would want to do.

There is plenty of scientific evidence for God. For example, certain saints have died and their bodies have not corrupted. Evidence of apparitions of Mary have been left behind, like the Our Lady of Guadalupe image that also hasn’t corrupted. Accounts in the Bible have been backed up by archeological evidence and today’s forensics can explain how Jesus really did sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane.

When the children at Medjugorje were seeing Mother Mary, an unbeliever came to prove they were fake. He did lots of tests on them, including monitoring the reactions of their eyes. All six children’s eyes reacted to the light of Mary at the very same split second, though nobody else could see her. He went away believing that it was all true.

On October 13, 1917, 70,000 people witnessed the sun dancing in the sky in Fatima, Portugal. The accounts were written up in the newspaper. Again, it was Our Lady who had been appearing, telling the people to watch for a sign. Most didn’t believe it, but then it happened on the day she told them to gather. You can read the eye-witness accounts.

There is plenty of concrete evidence. But then, thousands of people witnessed Jesus’s miracles of healing and so on, and they still shouted for His death.

It’s not a matter of proof, like you say. For those who don’t want to believe no proof is enough. Just like for you, no discussion is enough because no matter what anybody here says, you bring up the same old grudges against religion every chance you get and we all once again waste our time reacting to you.

Yes, there are countless examples of Christians and people of all religions not living up to their faith. That doesn’t disprove anything, either. We’re all human. We’re all failed sinners. At least some of us try.

#35 Dave Nelson
March/19/2008
@ 5:52 am

Anyone who relies on keeping readers happy has got to be concerned about offending, and I’m sure Scott thought about what he was doing. The flip side is creating a strip that offends no one and as dull as dry toast (my big fear). I believe Jesus wants his followers to think for themselves, and I think Hay-Soos was a pretty funny character.

#36 Wiley Miller
March/19/2008
@ 6:02 am

The difference between faith and science is questions. Faith requires unquestioning belief while science requires constant questioning of theories. One is undermined by reality, the other strengthened.

#37 Eric Burke
March/19/2008
@ 6:09 am

I’m neither religious nor a Fan of DilbertGet Fuzzy occasionly wanders down the political path and I never feel the strips come off well.

Seems Scott Adams is getting desperate in his ideas for the strip. His legend was made writing a comic strip satirizing office life. People tell me he does that very well. I don’t think he’s the kind of writer that can use his characters to satirize religion any more than he can be a successful general manager for a restaurant.

It may be time to take a Trudeau-like sabbatical to reorganize the cubicle…

#38 Rick Stromoski
March/19/2008
@ 6:11 am

>>>Itâ??s not a matter of proof, like you say. For those who donâ??t want to believe no proof is enough.

It’s not a matter of not wanting to believe, it’s more that a definitive case has never been made and alternative explanations seem more likely. Nothing you stated above could not have an alternate explanation for the phenomena you claim is proof. History is rife with examples of mass hysteria regarding celestial events misinterpreted by primitive cultures. It would be far more compelling if the sun darted around the sky above Manhatten in 2008. We know that if the sun actually did dart around the sky our planet would be destroyed in a mater of moments. Yet these claims always occur in third world countries decades or centuries ago to individuals or populations of the already devout. The song of Burnadette was a Wonderful movie but it was a movie nonetheless…even less compelling than the account it was based on.

If David Blaine lived during the time of Jesus he would be considered a miracle man, just as Jesus was. But we know that David Blaine’s apparent miracles aren’t divinely inspired because we’ve moved on from the unsophisticated and gullible societies we once were. Yet to an ancient culture, he would be considered a man who could do miracles.

If the darting eyes of children, tree bark, diffused lighting and grilled cheese sandwich burns are proof to you of the Holy Mary then you’re welcome to it. You must understand and appreciate the fact that some people require a bit more than that.

#39 Steve Sicula
March/19/2008
@ 6:15 am

A wise old man once said…wait…I can’t remember if he was wise, old or even a man, but never the less someone once said (I’m paraphrasing here), for those that believe, no explanation is necessary, for those that don’t, no explanation will suffice. But now I need to go, I just spilled my grande non fat hazlenut latte and I see the image of (insert favorite religious icon here)in the stain…..KIDDING! It was actually a tall cafe Americano.

#40 Eric Burke
March/19/2008
@ 6:15 am

Apologies…the quip about Mr.Adams not being able to be a general manager was a cheap shot that I would have edited if I had that omnipotent blog power.

Cheap and uncalled for…sounds like some of my XGF’s(cue rim shot).

Now back to our regularly scheduled religious donnybrrook now in progress…

#41 Rick Stromoski
March/19/2008
@ 6:26 am

An interesting video from TED that discusses how some people see things they wish to see like divine apparitions. It’s about 15 minutes and funny as well as informative.

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/22

#42 Alan Gardner
March/19/2008
@ 6:30 am

The difference between faith and science is questions. Faith requires unquestioning belief while science requires constant questioning of theories. One is undermined by reality, the other strengthened.

Yes, it does come down to the types of questions one is asking, but to say “faith requires unquestioning belief” is completely false. Faith, for those truly trying to live their religion, is questioned and tested everyday – but it is tested in a spiritual context – not a laboratory.

And to say that science undermines religion is grossly generalized. Like I said previously, Stephen Hawking’s book, was fascinating book that fostered my faith in a Creator – it did not undermine it. Scientific discoveries shouldn’t shake anyone’s faith as they only increase our knowledge and intelligence – two attributes we claim god has and we should aspire to (speaking from a Judeo-Christian perspective).

#43 Mike Lester
March/19/2008
@ 6:37 am

“Faith is the illogical belief in the occurance of the improbable.” -H.L. Mencken

“Let ye who is without sin, buy the first round.” – M.Lester

“A huge part of (America’s) freedom is freedom of inquiry” -Ben Stein

Ben’s got a new documentary on the current topic you might find interesting:
http://expelledthemovie.com/blog/2007/08/21/bens-blog/

God Bless Thor,
ML

#44 Anne Hambrock
March/19/2008
@ 6:44 am

“faith requires unquestioning belief”

Well, I’m sure that is true in some circles, but there are religious people who have what may be called a “questioning belief”. I put a pastor who cannot tolerate questions about religion or belief into the same category as a parent who expects to be omnipotent and omniscient “because I said so”. A parent with the best interests of the child at heart does his/her level best to patiently explain things and, when unable to do so, admits to not having a concrete answer. While I have admittedly met many of those “because I said so” folks, I have also met many religious leaders who welcome questions and have some of their own.

When I am not working on comic strips ( and checking in on this excellent blog) my other life is as a professional musician. I play an average of 30 weddings a year of any and all denominations and faiths (including secular/ court marriages) and I have pretty much seen the gamut. (One of my favorites was a Jewish-Buddhist wedding with a polynesian themed jewish canopy painted by the buddhist groom). I have listened to any number of marriage sermons. Some made me cringe, some were uplifting. Some of the people seemed unquestioning, some didn’t. Religion and faith are too large and broad a topic for sweeping generalizations.

#45 Josh McDonald
March/19/2008
@ 6:55 am

“An interesting video from TED that discusses how some people see things they wish to see like divine apparitions.”

The operative word, of course, being “some”.

I actually agree with Rick to this extent: much harm and evil is done by those religious who see only what they wish to see in their faith, and use beliefs and dogma to support their own prejudices. That kind of blind faith tends to do more harm than good.

But those I would call truly Religious are those who have intense, life-altering spiritual experiences that challenge their preconceptions about life and the universe. Many Saints and Religious leaders have been led by their faith away from their own self-interest, away from their own comfortable prejudices, toward ideas they might perhaps not want to hear but need to.

#46 Wiley Miller
March/19/2008
@ 7:14 am

The responses from the faithful here have proven my point. There is far more solid evidence of the existence of Big Foot and aliens visiting from another galaxy than the examples of “evidence” cited here as proof of Biblical faith. Yet belief in aliens or Big Foot is laughed off and won’t be believed until an actual body of either is produced, while belief in Bible stories goes unquestioned. And if anyone ever questions the legitimacy of the mythologies of faith, it is always met with a “how dare you question my religion!” response.

No one is questioning anyone’s right to believe in whatever they want. That is the very foundation of freedom of religion. But there are two sides to that coin. It also means freedom from religion. So just as cartoonists will make fun of Big Foot and aliens from another planet, so too will rather ludicrous fables from the Bible be subject to satire.

#47 Dawn Douglass
March/19/2008
@ 7:52 am

“So just as cartoonists will make fun of Big Foot and aliens from another planet, so too will rather ludicrous fables from the Bible be subject to satire.”

Yes, just as there are crude jokes by ignorant bigots who don’t understand gays, blacks and other people they are afraid of and don’t wish to seriously engage in intelligent conversation but dismiss mockingly as intellectually and morally inferior.

How nice for you, Wiley, to have somebody left you can do this to in public newspapers.

#48 Wiley Miller
March/19/2008
@ 8:30 am

So now I’m an ignorant bigot for not believing in, say, the Noah’s Ark story?
Thanks for, again, validating my point, Dawn. The faithful demand all the tolerance and offer none.

#49 Dawn Douglass
March/19/2008
@ 8:42 am

No, Wiley, the unfaithful demand all the tolerance and offer none to the faithful.

Unfortunately, the faithful too often demand intolerance, hence your bigotry.

#50 Wiley Miller
March/19/2008
@ 8:46 am

Let’s see… you’re resorting to name calling rather than civil discourse AND claiming to be tolerant?

All righty then…

#51 Dawn Douglass
March/19/2008
@ 9:01 am

Wiley, you’re the one who is announcing your belief system. Would you call Native American beliefs “ludicrous fables” in a public forum and equate them with belief in big foot and aliens?

I don’t see how anybody can make such statements and then get upset because somebody notes them for what they are.

#52 Rick Stromoski
March/19/2008
@ 9:01 am

It comes down to fear of the unknown. Most cannot fathom the idea that this is all there is, our one shot at consciousness for all eternity before and after this blip we call our life. If more people came to realization that all religion is just manmade and this is our only shot, there’d be a lot less planes being flown into buildings and wars being started predicated on lies and greed. Life would become more precious due to the realization that it’s so improbable that any one of us is here in the first place.

“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here…After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with color, bountiful with life. Within decades we must close our eyes again. Who, with such a thought, would not spring from bed, eager to resume discovering the world and rejoicing to be a part of it?”-Richard Dawkins

#53 Dawn Douglass
March/19/2008
@ 9:26 am

“Life would become more precious due to the realization that itâ??s so improbable that any one of us is here in the first place.”

Life is more precious to people who don’t believe in God? What nonsense! People who have sincere belief in God don’t commit suicide. They are also much less likely to abuse drugs and partake in all other forms of destructive, life-draining behavior, including murder.

#54 Wiley Miller
March/19/2008
@ 9:32 am

“Wiley, youâ??re the one who is announcing your belief system.”

How in the world did you come to this conclusion? Kindly show me where I’ve espoused a belief system.

“Would you call Native American beliefs â??ludicrous fablesâ? in a public forum and equate them with belief in big foot and aliens?”

Yes, if it was presented as fact. Why would I treat one mythology differently from another?

“I donâ??t see how anybody can make such statements and then get upset because somebody notes them for what they are.”

I’m not upset. You’re the one playing the victim role and resorting to name calling rather than discussing the issue in a calm, civil manner.

But since you brought it up, do you honestly believe the Bible story of Noah’s Ark, for instance, is credible? If so, what in your life’s experience, knowledge of nature and climatology would lead you to believe it’s a factual account?

Finally, under your dictum of what would be considered offensive (thus, bigoted), no cartoon could ever be drawn, as someone, somewhere, will find offense in any subject that is lampooned.

I have always been of the belief that God has a great sense of humor and that She can withstand some silly cartoons.

#55 Rich Diesslin
March/19/2008
@ 10:22 am

Okay, well this has digressed to the same old debate. Nice while it lasted as a discussion. I’m glad to see that at least some secular humanists can be pro-life (based on Rick’s assessment of potential lives), although I’m not sure the prevailing attitude of the non-religious is to value life any more than the religious (and generally less I’d guess). Generally I see it (non-spiritual) as leading to a more selfish life-view, not that the religious/spiritual get a pass on that either. I also contend that science is rooted in unquestioned assumptions too, called postulates and axioms, that make it an act of faith as well. Certainly God does have a sense of humor to have created humanity.

As to what this has to do with Dilbert, I think it really doesn’t. He simply made some cartoons that had the potential to offend a larger portion of his readers than most gags normally have the potential to do. Thus, if he got flack, no big surprise. Wiley, your white supremest chicken got more flack than I’ve heard Dilbert get for his series on Hey-soos. That surprises me because your gag seemed to follow along the PC trail (bashing intolerance) thus not too controversial (except in Wisconsin), while Adam’s gags could be view as sacreligious. The fact that they weren’t, except be a few (and apparently no editors) perhaps is because most Christians do have a sense of humor OR quit reading the daily paper a long time ago (and editors have no soul … er … I mean are secularists).

Anyway, enjoyed the chat folks. Keep on thinking free!

#56 John Auchter
March/19/2008
@ 10:26 am

Related to the theme, Garrison Keillor has a brilliant article in today’s Salon webzine: http://www.salon.com/opinion/keillor/2008/03/19/easter/

It’s a thoughtful and funny reflection on faith and doubt and the ongoing process that is the human condition to reconcile the two. In any case, it’s a welcome respite from those who think they have it all figured out….

#57 Rick Stromoski
March/19/2008
@ 10:31 am

>>>People who have sincere belief in God donâ??t commit suicide.

It would be obvious that those that believe in an afterlife would not choose suicide since the one unforgivable sin the religious could commit is taking your own life and guarantees an E ticket straight to Hell. So it stands to reason why those who do not believe would have a higher rate. The religious hesitate at committing suicide because it is unforgivable whereas any other crime is potentially redeemable through confession or repentance.

>>>They are also much less likely to abuse drugs and partake in all other forms of destructive, life-draining behavior, including murder.

According to the federal bureau of U.S. prisons the religious affiliations of inmate populations overwhelmingly fall under religious believers and the vast majority of those are of the Christian faith Catholics making up the largest percentage at 39% followed by Protestants at 35% and Muslims at 7%. Those that profess no religious affiliation or atheists make up only 0.2% of prison populations. Atheists actually do better than believers at not committing crimes since they make up about 15% of the general population so the lions share of crime (including murder) is committed by religious believers and overwhelmingly those of a christian variety.

#58 Rick Stromoski
March/19/2008
@ 10:37 am

Garrison Keillor emailed me once to lambast me for a bad pun. It was on of my favorite fan letters. I got to call him a tw@t in return.

#59 Matt Bors
March/19/2008
@ 10:39 am

Dawn D: “People who have sincere belief in God donâ??t commit suicide.”

9/11.

#60 Wiley Miller
March/19/2008
@ 10:43 am

“Thus, if he got flack, no big surprise. Wiley, your white supremest chicken got more flack than Iâ??ve heard Dilbert get for his series on Hey-soos. That surprises me because your gag seemed to follow along the PC trail (bashing intolerance) thus not too controversial (except in Wisconsin), while Adamâ??s gags could be view as sacreligious. ”

First, there were several newspapers that didn’t run my White Supremacist chicken cartoon, and there were papers that didn’t run the Dilbert series.

Secondly, one has to be a member of the particular religion in order to commit sacrilege. I don’t know what religion, if any, Scott Adams is a member of, so calling calling his work sacrilegious is a bit presumptive.

#61 Rick Stromoski
March/19/2008
@ 10:47 am

>>> Iâ??m glad to see that at least some secular humanists can be pro-life (based on Rickâ??s assessment of potential lives), although Iâ??m not sure the prevailing attitude of the non-religious is to value life any more than the religious (and generally less Iâ??d guess).

You could not have mangled the intent or interpretation of that passage any worse than that statement.

#62 Rick Stromoski
March/19/2008
@ 12:47 pm

The Pope in all his infallibility has declared 7 new mortal sins. For those not indoctrinated into Catholic theology a mortal sin is a sin so aggregious that to die with one on your soul condemns you forever to Hell..it usually was reserved for breaking one of the 10 commandments. The new sins are polluting, genetic engineering ( there goes any hope of stem cell research), being obscenely wealthy (isnâ??t the pope and the church obscenely wealthy?), taking drugs ( addiction, a health problem is now an E ticket to the lake of fire), abortion , pedophilia (thereâ??s the pot calling the kettle black!) and causing social injustice.

#63 Dave Krainacker
March/19/2008
@ 3:16 pm

“The Pope in all his infallibility has declared 7 new mortal sins.” Actually wasn’t an infallibility declaration. Infallability has only been invoked twice in Church history, both about Mary.
This thread sure has veered off the Dilbert controversy. Obviously, religion and its discussion strikes both believers and non-believers at a very deep level. Not only here. Anywhere on the web religion is discussed you often get these sorts of dichotomies. Is it part of our nature?
Anyway, I thought “Cow and Boy” was pretty funny today.

#64 Dawn Douglass
March/19/2008
@ 3:40 pm

Okay, once again I don’t see how spreading lies about the Church in order to stir up hate is any different from hate mongering against blacks, gays, or whomever.

(1) The Pope did not declare this using his authority of infallibility.

(2) This is not doctrine.

(3) Even the original Seven Deadly Sins are not mortal sins; they are “fatal” only to spiritual progress.

(4) The Church’s scandal wasn’t pedophilia. 90% of the victims were adolescent males. It was homosexual molestation. It’s the media that preferred to wrongly call it pedophilia — which is sexually abusing pre-adolescent children of either sex — for PC purposes.

(5) No, neither the Pope nor the Church are obscenely wealthy. Yes, we have a lot of priceless things, because we’ve been around for 2,000 years and have had the benefit of the world’s greatest artists of all time. But this is wealth that will never been spent and which belongs to millions of people, not a few individuals.

Matt, I said “sincere belief in God.” The Muslim faith does not condone suicide or murder. 9-11 was a perversion of sincere belief in God for politics.

Wiley, I’m not a fundementalist; I don’t take those stories literally. And I didn’t mind these cartoons. But your statement equating decades’ old Bigfoot and alien abduction stories to “ludicrous fables of the Bible” that in whole or in part are the basis for the world’s three major faiths, which have thousands of years behind them, and are considered Holy scripture by the vast majority of people on this planet is extremely demeaning and offensive, especially during this Holy Week.

#65 Rick Stromoski
March/19/2008
@ 4:11 pm

The catholic church is the largest owner of private real estate in the world. It’s assets rival the GNP of most countries. It systematically protected child rapists for decades by moving them from parish to parish to prey on children of both sexes by the tens of thousands instead of handing these predators over to the authorities. The cover up extended to the Pope JP2 who is now in consideration for sainthood ironically. To infer that adolescents are not children and blame what happened on homosexual behavior is not only grossly innacurate it’s patently dishonest and an example of the same type of denial that church used to protect their own at the expense of children. On this point alone you prove my point about the dangerous delusional nature of the religious.

#66 Dawn Douglass
March/19/2008
@ 4:28 pm

Facts are stubborn things, Rick, as the presidential candidates keep telling us. 90% of the victims were older adolescent males and by its very definition that’s not pedophilia. It is what it is.

Of course, I’m appalled by what happened in the Church. I’m equally appalled that thanks to the teachers unions protected by Democrats, the same thing is happening today in schools all over the country — molesting teachers are being quietly reassigned to new schools instead of fired and civilly punished.

Regarding the private real estate…like I said, we’ve been around for 2,000 years and don’t tend to sell things.

And regarding your statistic that .2% of the population of prisons list themselves as atheists, I had to LOL. There are no atheists in foxholes either, Rick.

#67 Chris Hardiman
March/19/2008
@ 4:31 pm

Religious flame war! Can’t say I’m surprised.

Getting back to the “Dilbert” controversy, I am surprised to hear about it, frankly. In retrospect, anything dealing with religion, especially when poking fun at it, is bound to offend someone. Nonetheless, I thought that the strips were not the most offensive I’ve seen and were rather funny — inspired, even. I’ll echo what I myself wrote on Scott Nickel’s blog earlier this week:

“I agree completely about this past weekâ??s ‘Dilbert’ storyline. It was very funny, very inspired, and very well-executed. Furthermore, it seemed like a throwback to the ’90s when ‘Dilbert’ had more offbeat humor such as the Worldâ??s Smartest Garbage Man or the Bob Dinosaur strips, along with more extended storylines. In the last couple of years, however, Iâ??ve been thinking that the strip has gotten more and more repetitive and less and less funny. So the Jesus storyline (pronounced ‘hay-soos’) was a breath of fresh air, and indeed this year so far has been much better and much funnier than the previous ones. Scott Adams is having a bit of a resurgence, I think.”

Scott’s writing is excellent, but it showed more when he expanded beyond the daily “working in a cubicle sucks and managers are jerks” shtick, as he did in the ’90s. He is a good enough writer that it is often funny in spite of this, but this series was the first time in a couple of years where I truly thought that a “Dilbert” series or strip was great.

Despite that, as a (not especially religious) Roman Catholic I can see why many people were offended even if I wasn’t. Personally I think these people need to lighten up about this. Adams wasn’t making fun of the Christian religion, he created a storyline funny because of its parallels with the Passion. And let’s be honest; many cartoonists use religion as fodder, especially in single panels. How many times have we seen a strip involving Moses and some forgotten 11th commandment, or something with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, or someone like “Cow and Boy” pondering theological questions? Many. I know that involving Jesus is different because He’s considered not just a prophet but a savior by Christians — but it’s not like Adams was directly making fun of Jesus Christ or the Christian faith. If people are very offended by this, we should thank our lucky stars they don’t watch “Family Guy,” of which I am not a fan, because that show has mocked Jesus, shown Him as an immoral guy, or depicting him suggestive situations. I was offended when I saw such things, and as I said I was not offended by the “Dilbert” series.

Dawn, while the religious regard the “dancing sun” etc. as scientific evidence of God, many regard it as evidence of alien visitors. So it really doesn’t mean anything.

Is the pope infallible? I am a Catholic, but I don’t really think so. Does that preclude me from being a Catholic? Maybe. Does not believing that these ten new sins are all sins preclude me from being a Catholic? I don’t think so.

#68 Rick Stromoski
March/19/2008
@ 5:13 pm

From the unabridged American Heritage dictionary
adolescent-noun
teenager, youngster, young person, youth, boy, girl; juvenile, minor; informal teen, teeny-bopper.
adjective
1 an adolescent boy teenage, pubescent, young; juvenile; informal teen.
A young person who has undergone puberty but who has not reached full maturity; a teenager.

Pedophile-noun
An adult who is sexually attracted to a child or children.

American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
pederast [(ped-uh-rast)]

A man who engages in anal intercourse with boys.

homosexual-adjective
1. sexually attracted to members of your own sex [ant: bisexual, heterosexual]
noun1. someone who practices homosexuality; having a sexual attraction to persons of the same sex

Facts are stubborn things especially the definition of words.

#69 Rick Stromoski
March/19/2008
@ 5:22 pm

>>>There are no atheists in foxholes either, Rick.

Actually, you’re wrong about that as well Dawn, there are entire organizations devoted to just that.

http://www.atheistfoxholes.org/

#70 Dawn Douglass
March/19/2008
@ 6:00 pm

You didn’t give the CLINICAL definition of pedophilia, Rick.
http://www.minddisorders.com/Ob-Ps/Pedophilia.html

“Pedophilia is also a psychosexual disorder in which the fantasy or actual act of engaging in sexual activity with prepubertal children is the preferred or exclusive means of achieving sexual excitement and gratification.”

Get that? Or do I need to get you the definition of “prepubertal”?

“Dawn, while the religious regard the â??dancing sunâ? etc. as scientific evidence of God, many regard it as evidence of alien visitors. So it really doesnâ??t mean anything.”

It doesn’t mean anything? Tell that to the people who were there:
From Wikipedia:

The Miracle of the Sun is an alleged miraculous event that was witnessed by as many as 100,000 people on 13 October 1917 in the Cova da Iria fields near Fátima, Portugal. Those in attendance had assembled to observe what the Portuguese secular papers had been ridiculing for months as being the absurd claim of three shepherd children that a miracle was going to occur at high-noon in the Cova da Iria on October 13, 1917. [1]

According to many witness statements, after a downfall of rain, the clouds broke and the sun appeared as an opaque, spinning disk in the sky.[2] It was said to be significantly less bright than normal, and cast multicolored lights across the landscape, the shadows on the landscape, the people, and the surrounding clouds.[2] The sun was then reported to have careened towards the earth in a zigzag pattern,[2] frightening some of those present who thought it meant the end of the world.[3] Witnesses reported that the ground and their previously wet clothes became instantly dry, down to their under clothes.[4]

Estimates of the number of witnesses range from 30,000-40,000 by Avelino de Almeida, writing for the Portuguese newspaper O Século,[5] to 100,000, estimated by Dr. Joseph Garrett, professor of natural sciences at the University of Coimbra,[6] both of whom were present that day.[7]

Chris, it was quite clear where the miracle came from, and it wasn’t aliens.

And since you’re a Catholic, you should look up what infallible means to the Church and not misuse the term to mean that the Pope is without sin or error. Of course, he has plenty of both, as we all do.

#71 Dawn Douglass
March/19/2008
@ 6:04 pm

Here’s the link about Fatima, which is just one example of the pile of evidence that is out there if people really want more than “blind faith.”
http://www.ewtn.com/fatima/

#72 Rick Stromoski
March/19/2008
@ 6:20 pm

>>>You didnâ??t give the CLINICAL definition of pedophilia, Rick.
http://www.minddisorders.com/Ob-Ps/Pedophilia.html

I guess you neglected to read further from the passage you use as a source from your own link.

“The focus of pedophilia is sexual activity with a child. Many courts interpret this reference to age to mean children under the age of 18. Most mental health professionals, however, confine the definition of pedophilia to sexual activity with prepubescent children, who are generally age 13 or younger.

You seem to be attempting to make a case that there’s a difference between a catholic priest who has sex with a 13 year old versus having sex with a child under thirteen years old. You obviously haven’t looked into the dynamics of the scandal since you take the apologist position and blame the media, democrats, homosexuals as well as implying that the victims were compliant to some extent as opposed to laying blame where it belongs…on the perpetrators and their enablers. It’s not surprising. It’s well documented that many parishoners turned on the victims when their stories broke and continue to either defend the churches actions or live in a state of denial of what occured.

#73 Dawn Douglass
March/19/2008
@ 6:27 pm

Rick, you’re being beyond ridiculous. I’m not going to waste any more time with you.

#74 Alan Gardner
March/19/2008
@ 6:43 pm

Well we got into the 60s (number of comments) before the conversation went upon flames.

That’s progress.

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