Saturday, February 13, 2010

Believe It!











(To see this cartoon in a bigger-sized way, click on the xkelrtoi stabilizer switch on the wall)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Miracles.

I never know how many people will be confused by a given cartoon but I'm guessing this one caused its share of puzzlement. What I'm referring to here is the Church of Scientology, which has followers all over the world but is headquartered in Los Angeles, and whose faithful believe something similar to ancient space aliens are living inside them. Yes, it sounds like a strange basis for a "religion," but then it was devised by a science fiction writer, so what do you expect?

I often wonder how otherwise rational people can believe these things, but then again, all religions are pretty outrageous when you look at them objectively. They usually involve virgin births, half-man/half-gods, resurrections from the dead, magical healing, evil creatures who can get inside you, and eternal beings who float around the universe. You might think these are Judeo-Christian concepts but they are found in the vast majority of belief systems throughout human history. They are ubiquitous concepts in many faiths that predate the Bible and they persist today.

I finally saw Bill Maher's film, "Religulous" and although I fully expected to enjoy it, it was far more entertaining and enlightening than I had anticipated. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys the rational examination of human behavior and a good laugh, regardless of their faith or lack of it.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

it's a little bit like our economy..."The free market will provide...jobs, wealth...believe in the free market..."

James said...

Taking on Scientology... hopefully those fools won't decide to sue you.

Also, again, the whole "Cheney is evil" thing is too cliche to be funny anymore.

hawkgirl said...

I used to live a few miles from the Church of Scientology in L.A. One day I walked by, tracked back, and went inside. All the answers that were missing finally fell into place. So please don't knock what you don't know, Dan. Please. Nah, the only part that's true here is the first sentence. I'm just totally being a smartass.

Yeah, Religulous is good for a bellylaugh. Another documentary you might like if you haven't already seen it is The Yes Men. Two guys impersonate the World Trade Organization to make a public spectacle of it. Kinda like what your wife does. You can even watch it free on Hulu.com. You'll really like the recycled burgers....

Michelle said...

We recently saw Religulous too... our small town video store owner refused to bring it in so we had to wait for a trip to the big city to rent it.
I found it entertaining too, but also scary! All of those people soooo convinced of their beliefs! Yikes!
I prefer to remain open minded, so I guess I am agnostic.
Bill Maher did a great job... and then I saw him a few nights later when we watched "I Am An Animal" the story of Ingrid Newkirk of PETA... I am in awe of Ingrid for being able to keep up the battle after all she has seen and been through....

Chriss Pagani said...

Good one, Dan! Of course, you know how I feel about this stuff so...

As long as you aren't the special guest at a clam bake.

Keep up the good work!

Inga Huff said...

Love the magical healing link. It's almost as funny as your piece. Very nice.

Allan Koay said...

aliens! a whole bunch of them! woo hoo! thanks, Mr Piraro.

Prospero said...

Actually, Scientology's headquarters is in St Petersburg, FL, not in CA. My sister works in St Pete and I have been past their HQ many times.

June said...

Religulous should be required viewing for everyone past the age of believing in Santa Claus. And while I'm at it, I would also recommend the movie Jesus Camp for all parents to see before sending the kiddies off to Sunday school.
By the way, Dan, I think you might like Pat Condell's take on religion.

Piraro said...

@James...it's not that it is surprising or laugh-out-loud funny, but Cheney is the literal embodiment of pure evil, so when I look for a picture link for the Devil, I just always go straight for him.

@Prospero...Wikipedia has it listed as L.A., that's where I got it.

doug nicodemus said...

independence day - why is it that holliwood is always trying to convince us the nut cases aren't...

James said...

Dan: What about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? He has put gays to death simply for their sexuality, oppresses and murders dissidents, and wants to annihilate Israel. Wouldn't you say that's evil?

I'm sorry, but when you resort to these ad hominem attacks, you're no better than the right-wing nuts that call Obama a socialist or compare him to Hitler. I disagree with Cheney, but I don't think he's evil. This is one of the reasons that I feel nearly every Democrat and Republican is a sheep; because they're so quick to rely on hostile attacks and demonizing everyone who isn't on "their side". It's sickening and it does nothing but further the pointless partisan divide.

Piraro said...

@James...
You make a good point, there are plenty of evil people in the world, possible worse than Cheney. But I don't think I'm a sheep by demonizing him.
I don't like conservative politics of any kind, but I don't think all conservatives are "evil." Cheney is. As VP of the world's largest and highest profile democracy, he advocated and now defends torturing SUSPECTED enemies, in spite of the overwhelming historical evidence (and advice of experts in the field of interrogation) that it does not work. This is but one of his many assaults on our constitution from his unique position of power. I'm not at all certain that if he was afforded the kind of autonomy that Ahmadinejad enjoys that we would be able to tell the difference.

Plan 9 said...

Saw Religulous. Thought it was interesting, but it was preaching to the choir and a little mean spirited (Bill Maher in general). I doubt it converted anyone. Unfortunately, his humor is designed to divide and belittle.

I didn't sense any of that in Dan's entry here; neither in the pane or in the post. I think it's easy for people of faith to think Atheists are calling them stupid when the history of mythology is discussed, but no where did I see Dan make that inference. It's ok. We feel the same way when you're talking to us.

Fortunately for Atheists, we don't have to recognize a leader of the movement (which would be a bit hypocritical anyway). So I can say with complete confidence that Bill Maher is a pompous, egotistical prick, Christopher Hitchens is just a douché bag who is convinced he's better than everyone else and Richard Dawkins is (while INCREDIBLY smart) also a bit condescending and jaded from having to confront religious wackos on a constant basis.

My version of Atheism is less assholish. My version tries to be a bit more compassionate. See Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Julia Sweeney and Dan Dennett.

If you haven't seen Julia Sweeney's Giving Up God, Netflix it NOW. All of the reason, all of the struggle, none of the "ex-smoker-ish" attitude. A lack of faith can be guided by compassion too. Sounds like common sense, but it's not.

Piraro said...

@ Plan9...very nice comment and excellent point. I'm not always so level-headed about it, and have done my share of condescending on this blog, but I do make a conscious effort to leave out the judgments when writing posts these days. Thanks for noticing. :)
Mahr's approach still makes me laugh, though, something of a guilty pleasure.

ojeano said...

Re: postcard of scientologist celebrities pic linked: I read somewhere reliable that Will Smith isn't one, but has friends who are and doesn't like people making assumptions about him based on them. I don't even know the guy so I guess I'm only trying to elucidate the reality of his mere persona.

Plan 9 said...

Ok, so politics aside, tell us about the process of deciding how the aliens were going to look. You must have a reason for making them less X-Files-ish, even though that look can be comical too, if not too monochrome... The helmets are a nice geeky touch - a little "This Island Earth."

I got a good chuckle out of the fact that your spaceship has a brake pedal though. Or maybe that's the trunk release.

Christina said...

Scientology's HQ, their "Mecca" is in Clearwater, Florida. 10 min. from my current house. I'm moving to Northern California next week.