Unforeseen difficulties.

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150 Responses to Unforeseen difficulties.

  1. Stephen Maxwell says:

    wow. …very insightful.
    Science’s answers do tend to just raise more questions (problems)… so both are circular, but they are very different circles.


  2. Isherwood says:

    Ooh. This oughtta be good.

  3. James says:

    I love it, though I’d argue that the Science side should be a helix, since each cycle brings us to new problems, which prayer just takes us around to the same old complaints.

  4. Caroline says:

    I must agree with James! But this one made me snerk, especially considering today’s events and speeches.

  5. teacherninja says:


  6. Heather says:

    Gag me. You’ve obviously never experienced the power of prayer. (And I’m a scientist…. but go ahead and dismiss me out of hand anyway.)

  7. Blain says:

    Oh, the power of prayer is real and documented. It’s called the placebo effect.

  8. Lane says:

    Okay. Heather, you are dismissed.

  9. Jonathan says:

    Look, I have to agree with heather on this one. The power of prayer is a documented fact, not a placebo. Many studies have been done including those involving prayer for people who do not know they are being prayed for. Even in those cases, the patients are 50% more likely to get better or have fewer complications than the control group. Tone down your atheism just a bit.

  10. Fred says:

    Actually Jonathan, the largest and most rigorous prayer study, conducted by the Templeton Foundation (not an atheist organization) did not find any benefit to intercessory prayer. In fact, the patients who knew they were being prayed for did slightly worse:


    If you are aware of a better study, please cite it. If you can demonstrate the power of prayer yourself, you should collect the money from James Randi’s million dollar challenge.

  11. Zeekster says:

    Jonathan – Please provide a sitation for these studies you mention. We look forward to reading about them in peer-reviewed journals. Thanks!

  12. Billy says:

    Would love to see the citations of those many studies, Jonathan.

    Here are some peer reviewed, scientific studies against your case, should you care for some light reading:


  13. Bored With This Argument says:

    you can’t advance science via prayer, nor can you use science to answer prayers. they’re mutually exclusive, and they can and do co-exist. everyone has a right to be atheist or religious, but i think you’re trying too hard on this one, and causing an unnecessary rift between your readers on a day where they should be coming together in joy.

  14. AJ Hawks says:

    I want this on a tshirt, badly!

    (Maybe without the index-card lines)

  15. thegulliblecynic says:

    Can I second the t-shirt proposal?

  16. eshoe says:

    Problems solved within science?

    Are you kidding me?

    Umm,ok. Let’s start with what created the first atom.

  17. Nick says:

    All depends on what you believe prayer is supposed to accomplish

  18. Mike says:

    >Let’s start with what created the first atom.

    According to Wikipedia, the first atoms began to appear between 3 minutes and 20 minutes after the Big Bang.

    Science and religion are by no means mutually exclusive, but the lame attempts by the scientifically ignorant to pose “impossible” questions is just laughable.

    Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_Big_Bang

  19. MarlowePI says:

    Problems solved within science?

    Are you kidding me?

    Umm,ok. Let’s start with what created the first atom.

    Even better, let’s start with what cured smallpox.

  20. Fuiru says:

    Ooh, a really good one today! I like it!

    You could also add a third, with the two lines marked “problems” and “money” and call it The Rap Equation.

  21. schism says:

    Science and religion are by no means mutually exclusive,

    That depends on the religion, really. Creationism, for instance, doesn’t jive with science at all unless you contort yourself into a logical Gordian knot.

  22. John says:

    > Problems solved within science?
    > Are you kidding me?

    Seems to have done a bang-up job solving the problem of posting your thoughts on this website.

  23. Dave says:

    So no one complains about science?

    This index card seems unnecessarily offensive to those who are religious. It certainly over-simplifies the issues involved.

  24. Guru Panguji says:

    That was awesome!! Beautiful and simple and elegant and this is great!!

  25. eshoe says:

    If that’se, why is the Bible used for timeframes, and further, why even bother using it for scientific documentation?

    Science is amazing. It is beautiful and displays things we as humans couldnever create on our own.

  26. eshoe says:

    If science is so perfect, then

    why haven’t we solved it?”

    Why is there nodefinitive anser in a history book across the nations?

    Because it’s a mystery, and if you’re willing to devote you life to it, you may never understand.

  27. ali says:

    love it! simple, and obviously thought-provoking.

  28. Stephen Maxwell says:

    Heather Says:
    January 20th, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Gag me. You’ve obviously never experienced the power of prayer. (And I’m a scientist…. but go ahead and dismiss me out of hand anyway.)

    I’ve never experienced the power of prayer demonstrated in a way that can be reliably reproduced in a controlled setting. Have you, Ms. Scientist?

    One of the nice things about science is that it’s not about who says “I’m a scientist,” it’s about who _shows_ that their _idea_ is reliable. In religion, being religious will give you more credence in arguments, but science doesn’t work that way.

  29. ketas says:

    How true…

    “Unnecessarily offensive to those who are religious”?
    Yes… unfortunately truth can hurt (sometimes a lot).

  30. Horace D. says:

    This has to be the best card I’ve seen on this site. It’s funny how a simple, truthful statement about religion and science will anger those who are irrational and superstitious.

  31. Chad H. says:

    Offensive and bigoted. /me unsubscribes.

  32. Dharmamama says:

    Unless your prayer is one of gratitude, which mine are, frequently – then it leads to relief of the problem!

    I don’t need a peer-reviewed, double-blind, footnoted study to show me prayer works; it has in my own life, plenty of times, and that’s enough for me.

    If you don’t believe that, that’s cool, too, I don’t need to convince anyone of anything. I’ll just keep doing what works for me and you keep doing what works for you.

  33. Sprity says:

    I think it means that new problems will arise no matter what we do.
    Those circles keep going around and around.

  34. I am very hesistant to write anything at all, because everything I’ve read indicates no one listens to anyone else anyway. I suppose, though, that that’s no reason to give up trying. The following five points really all fall under ‘playing nice.’

    1) I sadly will be removing Indexed from my blogroll. I cannot support a blog which moves from advocating atheism to attacking other people’s faiths.

    2) If you want to convince someone, don’t simply call them irrational and superstitious. Try to understand where they are coming from and explain your point of view from that perspective. You would expect that others did the same for you.

    3) If you insist on insulting religious people and dismissing whatever they say, then please do not include among your criticisms that religions do not listen to outside opinions. If you really want to make this argument, then please a) be open-minded yourself and b) read things like “One Name Only?”, the Vatican II documents, and other religious works encouraging dialogue. Do your homework.

    4) And to religious people: do not insult anyone, or refer to vague and possibly fictitious studies, or suppose that you have irrefutable evidence of anything. You would be upset if anyone tried that on you, so don’t do it yourself. And learn about the Great Prayer Experiment. It has huge holes, yes, but you need to know what those holes are before you start claiming that they’re there.

    5) For everyone: Please wait at least 5 mintues before deciding to type anything. During that time, decide whether you need to say what I want to say, and whether you can phrase it in such a way that is less offensive than perhaps you want it to be. There is a difference between things that are true and offensive to the overly-sensitive, and things that are actually unnecessarily offensive. Try to think how your readers will react, OK?

    I will not be checking this again, so if you want to insult me over this, I won’t know it. If you want to talk to me or whatever, my website should be accessible.

  35. disappointed again says:

    oh, now I remember why I havent visited this site in 2 months….

  36. Mike says:

    When I looked at this this earlier there were only 4 comments. I thought that strange. I see things have changed.

  37. ali says:

    ok, i have to add one more thing…

    you guys arguing religion and athieism and bigotry.. guys, its a joke. i know to people who are religious that it might hit too close to home, but it is simply intended to be humorous. i don’t think its in either side’s interest to get into snarky commentary about who believes what. this is not the place for any of that.

    man, Jessica, you’re brave… started a shit-storm!

  38. Alex says:

    Awesome. Subscribes to offset Chad’s intolerance of ideas.

    Don’t take offense to something as simple and as trivial as a comic.

  39. Peter says:

    Hah, I like this card. I also love how anything like this always draws out the irrational commenters on the internet. I’m glad most of us here think rationally.

    I’d also love this on a t-shirt.

  40. Peter says:

    To the people that are getting all offended and “removing this from their blogroll”, what a stupid thing to ditch a comic for. It’s not my problem you’re depriving yourself of entertainment for such a silly reason.

  41. Collin says:

    Waiting for all the self-proclaimed rationalists to objectively examine the “offending” statement, i.e. that in prayer there is merely an endless cycle of problems and complaints. Hint: it doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny.

  42. yefet says:

    i love this entry. thanks jessica!!!

  43. Daywalker says:

    Enjoyed this comic as always, your comics always brighten up waiting for the college bus.

  44. Amanda says:

    I’m totally not understanding how the comic itself is “offensive and bigoted.” I’m not religious, but I have many friends who are so I do tend to get annoyed when people dismiss religions–but I wasn’t offended at all. I think it just says that either way, we still have problems and there is no Grand Solution that will answer everything. So to all those who are pissed off, well… don’t be. Just because a comic refers to religion without praising it doesn’t mean it’s insulting it.

    I also think Fuiru’s Rap Equation is awesome.

  45. Ryan says:

    I consider myself both a scientific mind and a believer in God, and this is the first time this blog has disappointed me with an unjustified cheap shot. As far as I can tell, no prayer I’ve ever prayed has *generated* complaints, as the graph asserts. The only type of prayers I know of that create complaints are the kind that are performed in the public sector and could be considered a violation of the First Amendment.

    Disappointed, really.

  46. Jamie says:

    One brick at a time the sad wall of religion is being dismantled. It’s about time.

  47. Stef says:

    I read this blog every day. It’s insightful, witty, and refreshing. Thank you, Jessica. (And thank you, to everyone that leaves such… er… thought-provoking comments.)

    Today’s was no different. No matter your outlook or how you deal with the day-to-day, you’re always going to have problems. Whether you’re more scientific or religious, you’re going to be looking for a better way of life (or a way of preserving your current one). Fuiru, you rock.

    Exceptional as always.

  48. Mandy says:

    You are my hero. Nicely done, as always.

  49. Wes says:

    Attacking religious beliefs. How so very clever and witty of you. I thought you better than this.

  50. eshoe says:

    This is your life.

    Draw your own lines.

    Make your own choice.

    You will live with it forever.

  51. Jack says:

    I like all the crap this started.
    It’s absolutely hilarious. Every card on this site that so much as touches the word “religion” sparks unprovoked, belligerent defenses from bible-thumpers just waiting to tear someone else’s objective-based ideology to shreds.
    Love it.
    If you’re all so religious, why try to prove it to anyone else? Your own conviction is the only thing that should matter to you–not trying to admonish the poor misguided objectivists.
    Just leave the joke to those who appreciate it, and go back to praying to the president–oops, I mean god, sorry.

  52. Rick Miller says:

    THANK YOU for posting this one!

    Don’t listen to anyone who says it isn’t good.

  53. Daniel says:

    Richard Dawkins, the most brilliant leading atheist/scientist against the intelligent design theory, says in the movie “Expelled” that aliens might have created life on earth. That’s amazing!!! Wait a minute??? Maybe science should be regulated by scientists and not the government.

  54. Annie says:

    “As far as I can tell, no prayer I’ve ever prayed has *generated* complaints, as the graph asserts.”

    I have to agree with Ryan here. Underlying controversy aside, this graph wasn’t quite as sharp as others usually are. And I do think it’s kind of a cheap shot against people who are religious. Does prayer necessarily solve anything? Probably not. (Check out the statistics quoted above.) But if it makes someone feel better, why attack it?

  55. Mason says:

    “eshoe Says:

    This is your life.

    Draw your own lines.

    Make your own choice.

    You will live with it forever.”

    No we won’t!

    “As far as I can tell, no prayer I’ve ever prayed has *generated* complaints, as the graph asserts.”

    I think the main complaint generated is: “Why isn’t my prayer working?”

  56. Jane says:

    Did anyone else think that this could be interpreted a different way?

    Maybe instead of a diss on religion, the comment on prayer could be saying that even if the individual’s problems are solved, they create their own problems by constantly complaining about them instead of helping themselves. The old mantra, “God helps those who help themselves” comes to mind.

    To be fair, this could also be applied to the science portion. In our attempts to create solutions to problems, all we do is open up a whole other can of worms. Again, this goes with the theme of man making his own problems. For example, the overuse of antibiotics and the rise of multi-drug resistant bacteria.

  57. Crow says:

    Over 50 comments and almost every one has the same theme: Science Vs Religion. As a scientist and a devout believer, I can (with some athority) state the following:

    THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS “SCIENCE VS RELIION,” or should I say “There is no such thing as true scientific curiosity vs. honest faith?”

    Generally speaking, religion cannot cure smallpox just as much as science can not give us purpose and meaning.

    This false construct that two principles oppose each other is propigated by people on both sides of the debate. People do this in an effort to build up themselves and thier power bases. This is one of the sadder parts of human nature. We tend to create a false duality: in this case, science vs religion. Then we lable one “good” and the other “bad.” Then, we try to tell everyone that we are on the “good” side, so as to cultivate followers.

    Both science and prayer can serve a purpose. Science, when rigorously (and responcibly) applied, has answered many physical problems. An honest application of prayer (if you were to seriously try it and not dismiss it.) has ammazing effects on the personal level.

    Both science and religion can be greatly misused. The misuse of religion is well documented (Crusades, inquisitions, and general hatred.)

    However, I would like to point ot that it was science that gave us nerve gas and biological weapons. Also it was in the name of science that some of the worst atrocities of WWII were preformed.

    Also both tend to create rather pompous pricks. (The intelectuals and relgious have that in common.)

    Basically, both science and prayer are wonderful, but people (as with everything) misuse them. That is where the real problems arise.

  58. Speaker-to-Animals says:

    Look, the only yardstick that matters is how your beliefs affect how you treat others and yourself, and that varies from person to person even when belief systems are apparently identical. If it helps you love your neighbour and yourself and be a good person generally, it rocks; otherwise, it stinks.

    For me, if I was in my car on the train tracks and my car was running and a train was coming my way and I had a choice between praying for salvation and stepping on the gas, well, I’d put the pedal to the metal and assume if there’s a Big Guy upstairs He probably knows my heart is filled with prayer in that moment, so I don’t need to spell it out for Him. On the other hand, I might find praying to be more loving would augment my ability to improve that — always provided I was willing to back it up with some action and accepted responsibility for keeping to my resolution.

    And I think it’s a given that when it comes to the explanation of nature, religion must yield the floor to science.

  59. Justin says:

    People, listen to Amanda and Stef, and consider, just for one moment, that the idea behind the comic was not to critique religion or necessarily contrast science and religion to claim one superior to the other. Is it possible, then, that the idea may have been merely to draw a parallel between the two showing that no matter your philosophy or approach to the world, we always encounter new problems? Perhaps the word “complaint” could have been better chosen, but if you see nothing but a criticism of religion here, maybe it says more about you and your own world view than it does the comic.

  60. Yoon Kit says:

    Nice one. Im always irritated when people say: “Our prayers go out to whomever” as it means virtually nothing in terms of helping.

    Whereas, doing something about the problem does.

    However doing something is not exclusive to scientists, which may have caused so much heartache to the religious respondents.

    Perhaps the circles should have read instead:

    On the Left:

    On the Right:

    … would have left less room for them to Complain about.


  61. Stephen Maxwell says:

    Regarding pretty much everything above me (including my own previous posts):

    And thus, we see how any regular commentary (blogs are now pretty much the standard for this) eventually is only read by people with almost identical viewpoints as the author. Everyone who significantly disagrees is “quitting forever” Everyone who really agrees is “so happy to see the really smart post.” But many of those same happy people will, someday, be “really disappointed” with the unfortunate turn for the “stupid,” leaving Jess with only the people who agree with this _new_ opinion (plus newer readers who haven’t been offended by anything yet). Even the most innocuous blogs will eventually become subject to this effect. How sad that the human brain is pretty much programmed to ignore anything that it disagrees with. Because of this I have made it a point to seek out things that I will disagree with. Anybody have any suggestions for me?

    (sorry if this sounds incredibly smug and egotistical. I’m currently drunk, so missing my usual “don’t post this it’ll just piss people off and accomplish nothing” filter.)

  62. Shadowbird says:

    Being a bright myself, I’d have to say that B should be in the science circle as well. The only difference between the two circles is that without science, prayer just brings us back to the same problems that we had in the start, while science/action solves them and by doing that creates new ones (especially if solved badly/wrongly), which inevitably entails new complaints as well.

  63. Dick says:

    Every time a card is put up that covers a touchy subject you people come out of the wood works to gripe and moan.
    In my entire time reading this site it has been nothing but clearly liberal, atheist and in general a bit of a downer to the conservative right and/or heavily religious.
    Why are you surprised, why do you insist on taking time out of your day to complain? Why would you come to this site on a regular basis if you find it so offensive to your religion. Either accept the occasional zinger or stop reading. You sound like someone complaining about how bad McDonald’s is while sitting in the place eating their burgers. If you’ve come this far you’ve made your choice, leave your complaints at the door.

  64. Kevin says:

    I’ve never commented before on this blog but I read it every day and I just wanted to say keep up the good work!

    The comments section is usually fun but it gets boring fast when contributers harp on about how some card is in someway offensive.

    To those people – if you’re precious about your beliefs to the point of objecting to absolutely any criticism, I’m amazed you can even stand to be on the internet never mind a humourous website!

  65. Jamie Fehr says:

    I just wanted to comment that my personal experience with prayer is not accurately reflected by the above chart.

  66. (x, why?) says:

    Shucks, I’m a day late with the comments. Interesting exchanges above.

    Prayer leads to answers. Just not always the same answers that Science leads to.

  67. Brigno says:

    I just want to comment that my personal experience with prayer is accurately reflected by the above chart.

  68. Fluidly Unsure says:

    Like all good blogs, the discussion that it causes is worth any inaccuracies in the OP.

    However: me thinks thou dost complain too much.

    Get over it people!

  69. Brigno says:

    Prayer answers: Yes, No, Later.

    The same answers anyone can get with our prayer.

  70. Matt Heath says:

    To several people above: expressing the belief that another belief is false is not attacking it (at least not in any negative sense of “attack”).

  71. Jason says:

    @Kevin “The comments section is usually fun but it gets boring fast when contributers harp on about how some card is in someway offensive.”

    Hey, that’s the fun of reading these comments! Comments are the only reason I bother reading the local newspaper online. Like the other people above me who were right, I believe in both religion and science. They are clearly two different fields of study… maybe that’s more obvious when we refer to philosophy instead of religion specifically. But the best part is watching how people get so bent out of shape over a silly index card… surely some psychology grad students are studying this phenomena, or should we religious bigots should we just pray for you all?

  72. Elizabeth says:

    As a scientist working in a military biodefense lab and someone who believes in prayer, I know that the two can be reversed and are still very true. So yes, some loss of respect here, though I can’t say I didn’t see the comment storm coming.

  73. Obama says:

    Great we have people working in our biological weapons labs that believe in the power of prayer.

    You can’t be a religious scientist because religion asks you to violate the scientific method with a leap of faith. That’s anti-scientific and you all deserve your scientist cards taken away for saying such non-sense.

  74. Kapture says:

    “1) I sadly will be removing Indexed from my blogroll. I cannot support a blog which moves from advocating atheism to attacking other people’s faiths.”

    If your faith is that prayer is more efficacious than action… and science isn’t a belief, it’s a set of activities, then maybe it’s worth lampooning. God helps those who help themselves, right?

    Or as the punchline to the joke goes, “God: I’m trying to help you out, here, but you have to buy a lottery ticket, first.”

    “Both science and prayer can serve a purpose. Science, when rigorously (and responcibly) applied, has answered many physical problems. An honest application of prayer (if you were to seriously try it and not dismiss it.) has ammazing effects on the personal level.”

    The problem being that many people believe that they’re prayers move things in the world, not just in themselves. It answers their physical problems. Kind of like Uri Geller. But in this case, it sometimes kills them or their children.

  75. QT says:

    Wow. It’s kind of saddening to see how bent out of shape people can get over something so simple. It’s not like this is a difficult or controversial point, either.

    If you had contracted a serious case of pneumonia, and you had the choice between either staying home and praying or going to the doctor for some antibiotics, which would you pick?

  76. D says:

    yeah, because thinking about your problems (praying) never yields any solutions.

    oh, wait.

  77. Andy says:

    As a Christian, it disappoints me that prayer would be perceived as mere complaint. The prayer of a mature believer is an expression of trust in a loving father. The fact that more people don’t know this tells me that my fellow Christians and I are not representing God correctly. For that, I am sorry.

  78. Tim H says:

    Just have to add, my own life has gotten massively better ever since I stopped praying regularly. Just a coincidence I know.

  79. blah says:

    Who gives a … about who is removing indexed from their reading list? How important do you think yourself?

    Anyways great card, plus it’s making fun of both sides, so all you religious nuts out there don’t get all worked up. How can you possibly expect others to take you seriously if no one is allowed in any way to critisize your doings?

  80. Miguel says:

    I’ve prayed asking for no more comments; you can judge the result. No more comments, please. (Of course, pun intended).

  81. Benjamin says:

    Prayer sure worked for Sarah Palin… and I guess Gawd’s will was truly done… just as she said. Huh? Hah. Religion is a fracking joke, get over it.

  82. Dave says:

    Although I initially found this index card offensive to those who are religious, the more I thought about it, the card says some pretty negative things about science, too. Science may help to address (if not solve) some problems, but doing so almost always leads to more (sometimes different) problems.

    In that light, the card is more of an indictment against science, which professes to solve problems, than against prayer, which in many faiths doesn’t profess to solve problems so much as to change the heart of the one praying.

    The use of the term “complaints” I think shows a fairly naive understanding of the role of prayer, which may have been what I initially found offensive.

    At any rate, many of the comments here are undeniably offensive. Given how well spoken and respectful some of the comments are, it’s clear that many of the comments are *unnecessarily* rude–that is, they could have made their points more effectively without turning off those of religious backgrounds.

  83. Well done, ((golf claps)) well done.

  84. Jeandré du Toit says:

    “Does prayer necessarily solve anything? Probably not. (Check out the statistics quoted above.) But if it makes someone feel better, why attack it?” — Annie, January 21st, 2009 at 12:41 am

    “Not only is there nothing to be gained by believing an untruth, but there is everything to lose when we sacrifice the indispensable tool of reason on the altar of superstition.” – Freedom from religion foundation

    “Not to care whether a thing is true or not, so long as it makes you feel good, [is like] not to care how you got your money as long as you have got it.” – Edmund Way Teale, 1950, Circle of seasons.

    “The fact that a believer is happier than a sceptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.” – George Bernard Shaw, 1912, Androcles and the lion

    “For Carl [Sagan], what mattered most was what was true, not merely what would make us feel better.” – Ann Druyan

    “If anyone can show me, and prove to me, that I am wrong in thought or deed, I will gladly change. I seek the truth, which never yet hurt anybody. It is only persistence in self-delusion and ignorance which does harm.” – Marcus Aurelius

  85. Bret says:

    I actually don’t have an opinion on this one, I just wanted to push the comment count up by one.

  86. Isherwood says:

    I was right. It was good. :-)

    Glad to see a good turnout from the rational community. Some days I think I’m the only one in my county.

  87. Robert says:

    Whew-Jessica as soon as I saw this one my first thought was “Man, I’ll bet she gets a TON of reply posts on this one!”_I received this in my inbox at 4:40 A.M. and it’s now 3:00 P.M. and there are 88 reply posts already. What I’m curious about is this: Is this a record, and what is the record for the most number of replies-not counting, of course the ones that solicit replies as you did recently-either total or in a specific interval, such as 11-12 hours as in this case?

  88. Leonardo says:

    You did it again, Jessica. Congrats. And I would buy a t-shirt of this one for sure.

  89. Chaz says:

    I love the way that all the “rational” folk are making broad generalizations based on specific case examples. I guess that means we’ve cured AIDS completely in the world, then, since there have been isolated cases of its vanishing from certain patients.

    I don’t think that prayer causes complaints; it gives an outlet for those who would rather not be complaining. And there are, and always will be, things for which prayer is a greater comfort than science.

    I’m not even religious, and the bigotry being spouted here (the comments, not the card) is ridiculous. Have an open mind, people. It doesn’t matter if you think they’re being foolish; your opinions, strangely, don’t matter an iota more than theirs.

    Besides, in the end, we all just die and then nothing whatsoever happens, so your thoughts and concepts of “science” are just as irrelevant to the whole of humanity.

    Chew on that for a while. And no, I’m not a depressive or a nihilist — just going on what science wants me to believe. Oh, wait! There’s no proof of that! Ha. What a joke.

  90. MorsDei says:

    man I hate whiny religious people

    If you’re so confident it works, you can keep talking to yourself all you like.

  91. Jamie says:

    I found this hilarious and I’m a deeply spiritual (though not religious) person.

  92. Rui says:

    You smart.

  93. Arcan says:

    What’s with everyone misreading this one? It’s not saying prayer CAUSES complaints (as many have suggested), it’s saying that prayer is the cycle of problems leading to complaints leading to problems. It also doesn’t claim that science solves all problems, as problems also arise from the solutions in the science diagram. Why is it that whenever these two are mentioned in the vicinity of each other, people stop reading and just assumes they understand? Is it just because it is easy to be offended and difficult to understand?

  94. Paper tiger says:

    I have to say that I hate it when people use the excuse that it was just a joke, but I’m tempted to here. Yes, the bias of the writer is showing a little, but really. It’s one comic out of a great number, so I don’t see the need to purposefully announce that you’re unsubscribing. It just seems juvenile to me. If you unsubscribe, do so. If you subscribe, do so. It’s your choice to view or not to view. That being said, I don’t think Jessica meant to offend. I like it, personally.

  95. Daniel Johova says:

    Brilliant as always!

  96. Daniel Johova says:

    Oh, and I know I’m a little late, but the 10th Poster, Jonathan, Is dead wrong. I challenge him to find me one study proving prayer’s “power” or effects. He apparently likes using the word “studies” without actually providing studies.

    Here’s a $2.4 million dollar study proving prayer is ineffective.

  97. Matt says:

    Before i saw the card and noticed the 101 comments, i thought, “This has got to be good” and “Brace yourself”. In the interest of not fanning the flames, I won’t say anything beyond that its smart and funny, and that its okay to toe the line. You may have crossed it here a little bit, but thats why we love Indexed.
    On a complete side-bar, anyone else notice the technicolour index card today? ;D

  98. Justin says:

    Jonathan Says:
    January 20th, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    “Look, I have to agree with heather on this one. The power of prayer is a documented fact, not a placebo. Many studies have been done including those involving prayer for people who do not know they are being prayed for. Even in those cases, the patients are 50% more likely to get better or have fewer complications than the control group. Tone down your atheism just a bit.”

    Isn’t it a bit ironic that Jonathan’s argument relies on using the scientific method to prove that prayer works?

  99. Rui says:



    No studies. Crazy talk. Go create an entire hospital based on prayer and compare skull count.

  100. Jeff Frazier says:

    The problem with the graph is a fundamental misunderstanding of the biblical purpose of prayer.

    Read the Lord’s prayer,

    Our Father, which art in heaven,
    hallowed be thy name;
    thy kingdom come;
    thy will be done,
    in earth as it is in heaven.
    Give us this day our daily bread.
    And forgive us our trespasses,
    as we forgive them that trespass against us.
    And lead us not into temptation;
    but deliver us from evil.
    [For thine is the kingdom,
    the power, and the glory,
    For ever and ever.

    Eight specific phrases, only one of which is a request for a physical benefit, and even that is for the most meager of things daily bread, which is nothing more than the calories needed to survive until the next day.

    7/8th of what Christ said should be our model prayer is made up of requests dealing with the state of mind of the person praying. Lead us not into temptation, deliver us from evil, etc, these deal with the person praying. It boils down to asking for God to help you better understand his will and to make you the kind of person who can best respond to what needs to be done.

    The entire prayer is about molding the prayer to the will of God, not asking god to mold creation to the will of the prayer.

    If there is any physiological benefit it would be the reduction of stress that comes from this state of mind, which can be substantial, though is not exclusively a property of prayer, laughter can produce a similar effect.

    I am a dedicated Christian, and a masters student of biomedical technology, I apply the same level of scrutiny to what I believe about my faith as I do to what I believe to be true in science. Just because a preacher tells you prayer has x purpose does not mean that that is what God/Christ meant it to be, they can be wrong.

    Prayer can work miracles, but 99.99% of them are miracles that take place in the heart of the prayer, the miracle of a changed soul, which when you realize how human nature operates, is the greatest miracle possible.

  101. *bangs head on table* says:

    I wish the people on both sides of this argument were more articulate. BY THE WAY YOU MISSED THE JOKE (regardless of which position you are taking).

  102. ent says:

    “I wish the people on both sides of this argument were more articulate. BY THE WAY YOU MISSED THE JOKE (regardless of which position you are taking).”

    I agree with what *bangs head on table* is saying.

  103. Tom says:

    Brilliant graph. Two comments depressed me a bit though.

    If science is so perfect, then
    why haven’t we solved it?”

    Because science is a way of looking at the world, working out how it works and (optionally) using this knowledge to improve ourselves. You might as well ask why we haven’t solved art or music.

    And the fool who said they are a Bright, please don’t. It makes you sound like an egocentric idiot who considers ‘atheist’ beneath them. Richard Dawkins may well do it but the man is not infallible.

  104. Mike says:

    >That depends on the religion, really. Creationism, for instance, doesn’t jive with science at all unless you contort yourself into a logical Gordian knot.

    Not IMO. Creationism as a belief is completely compatible with science. The conflict only begins when people try to cast Creationism *as* science.

    I don’t know why creationists feel so threatened by evolution. I don’t know why they think popularity is the same as correctness. “The majority is always wrong.”

  105. Seasmith says:

    One word: Yes

  106. Robert says:

    Jessica-you are wonderfully evil-this has been such fun-throwing a Rottweiler and an Ocelot in the same room and watching the fur blizzard erupt.

    I haven’t enjoyed a mixture of humor and horror this much since I spent an afternoon perusing 4chan/b/.

    Of course, the level of reasoned discussion there was noticably higher.

  107. Pingback: links for 2009-01-22 | Yostivanich.com

  108. whatever says:

    I just like the fact that Stephen Maxwell posts comments while he’s drunk… at 5:14 AM. How hard does that rock??

  109. laurafin says:

    On the nose and insightful. I don’t find it attacks anyone or any specific faith, nor specific sciences. There will always be problems.

    I’m so very saddened to read the comments from other readers. I love this blog but the readers make me sick.

  110. Kane Gruber says:

    Jeez, more proof the religious are little babies. Jessica, keep up the good work.

  111. Cate says:

    I don’t find this to be very anti-religion OR anti-science. I do find it witty and interesting, though!

  112. Cyrano says:

    Am I the only one who read this as, regardless of prayer or science, it tends to just lead to more problems anyway? I figure that’s why it’s a circle.

    If the insinuation was science solved everything, it wouldn’t point back into the cycle of problems.

  113. Andy says:

    Why is there the assumption that the religious are irrational?
    <= has Masterses from MIT and Princeton Seminary

  114. Andy says:

    Or perhaps I should have asked, “Why is there the assumption that ALL religious are irrational?”

  115. Stephen Maxwell says:

    You may not be irrational, but you have at least one irrational belief. Everyone holds some irrational beliefs, it’s impossible to avoid it as a functional human being. For some people, Religion is one of those irrational beliefs (you can’t empirically, logically prove god… it has to be a belief. That’s why we use the word “faith”… it it were clear and logical, you wouldn’t have to have faith). Just because it’s irrational, doesn’t make it bad or even untrue.

  116. Fareed says:

    Excellent, as always! Keep up the insightful work — if you occasionally make anitrational people this upset, you must be on the right track!

  117. Joshua says:

    If I had a flat tire and was stranded on the side of the road, I’d rather a world full of religionists than a world full of scientists.

  118. boom says:

    Funny, Joshua. Me though, would be hoping for the opposite. Just as a wild spotlight fallacy generalisation, compare a) how many serial-killer types are deeply religious; and b) how many people shoot each other over scientific disagreements. I’ll plump for the unlikely-to-be-nutty professor, thanks.

    Oh and good comic Jessica. Not the best ever, but extra points for controversy.

  119. Stephen Maxwell says:

    Joshua, you’d better hope that the religion in this “world full of religionists” doesn’t arbitrarily declare you a bad person. God smote you with a flat tire, you must have done something wrong (some people would say). Scientists would ignore all that BS, and since you’re an actual HUMAN BEING, they’d help you.

  120. Kukn says:

    I found the index critical of both science and religion, but also somewhat ignorant of religion (the word “complaint” shows a misunderstanding of what prayer actually is, as has been explained by several people before me here), and criticism with a false/ no foundation is an attack (or in other words an offense). To suggest another word (though far from ideal): “acceptance” – “problem” (etc.)

    Anyhow, I got the best laugh from the people who come here to post things like: “I’m so very saddened to read the comments from other readers. I love this blog but the readers make me sick.” – If you actually read through all the comments, you’ll find that more than half of them are articulate and polite (and opinionated, which is how it should be) – of the other half there are some dumb comments from believers and some dumb comments from atheists, but even most of those are not agressive or super-crazy. So basically, nice discussion.

    Have a nice day, I’m off to bed.

  121. Stephen Maxwell says:

    I agree with Kukn… it’s these sorts of discussions that start to renew my faith in humanity. It shows that people are interested in discussing and trading ideas. If everyone just read this in silence, and didn’t compare it to their own beliefs and think about the implications, then I would be worried. The fact that this has sparked an engaged debate is a really good thing.

  122. R.j. says:

    Love this one.

  123. Defec9 says:

    how dare you you atheist heathen; DEfile the word of GOD!

  124. Matias says:

    The comic is true, but it should have clarified that A = PHYSICAL PROBLEMS, cause trying to solve those with prayer DOES amount to complaining.

    If A were MORAL PROBLEMS though, C would definitely NOT be SOLUTIONS.

  125. Stephen Maxwell says:

    Hah! Matias hit the problem on it’s head there!

    Even as an atheist, I agree that prayer helps solve moral problems!

  126. mike says:

    That is a great comparison between the two.

  127. Fluidly Unsure says:

    It looks like I am not the only one who appreciates Matias’ comments. His and the one about all humans having irrational thoughts.

    An example of common irrational thought in the scientific camp today involves global warming. How do we “know” what the temp was before temps were taken and how do we “know” the temp will be in the future? I’ve yet to see a time traveler with a thermometer big enough to measure globally.

  128. Hudini says:

    join the two circles,you will get the answer…complains,problems,solutions and so round and round, because fhisical and psychological (moral and so…) are all one ,one afect’s the other and vice versa. so use science and pray , it’s like ying and yang.

  129. James S says:

    I didn’t find this card to be all that funny or witty. I’m not really disappointed, just not struck by the juxtaposition. It’s an age-old humanist-leaning dichotomistic argument. Science, in the end, is no less of a faith than religion.

    It mis-represents or misunderstands true prayer, but as a Christian, I have seen very few Christians who showed the world what real prayer is all about. Jeff Frazier phrased his comment well – prayer isn’t about what you want after all is said and done.

    ‘Controversy’ shouldn’t be encouraged – dialogue, surely, but straight-up controversy is usually just the result of not putting enough thought into your actions and beliefs. If the cause of this controversy was truly compelling, long discussions would make sense. Controversy for its own sake is just trolling.

  130. Helz says:

    hilarious! Definitely a t-shirt idea!

  131. Parkylondon says:

    “prayer isn’t about what you want after all is said and done.”
    Then why bother? Surely asking for favours from an invisible man in the clouds isn’t rational behaviour?

    In talking about the effectiveness of prayer I would ask people to read the following.

    Is god willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?


  132. Simone says:

    All you religious people who are freaking out, just CHILL! Ok?

    Besides, science vs. religion is a false debate. Science deals more with “What?” and “How?”. Religion really deals more with answering “Why?” questions.

    There! Both you atheist scientists AND religious zealots just got pwnd. PWND!

  133. A little bit frusterated says:

    have any of you read the god delusion? i will not inflict my beliefs on anyone that isn’t inflicting theirs on me.

  134. escapedlabmonkey says:

    Hahahaha! Solid. Gold.
    When is the tshirt coming?

  135. Jonathan (another one) says:

    In skimming through many of the replies, I see the basic concept that if something cannot be studied in a controlled laboratory environment, it cannot be believed. I see others putting forth that until they see a study put forth in a peer-reviewed major journal, it has no credence.

    There’s a problem with both of these concepts, regardless of what belief system you espouse. Not everything in the universe is capable of being subjected to the type of rigorous test methods required to prove a scientific law. Yet, there are a great many things we accept as true every day based purely on the opinions of others around us, something we read in a book whose author we know nothing about, or our own intellectual analysis.

    Just to take a big one, the origin of the universe has gotten some mentions in this discussion thread. Yet I have yet to see anyone post a peer-reviewed journal article about how they created a new universe by sitting for several billion years in an environment identical to the pre-bang one and letting natural law take its course. No one has been able to recreate the origin of the universe, by either evolutionary or divine methods. Yet people who claim to require absolute scientific proof for something to be taken as fact, continue to claim the big bang as unassailable fact. This creates an intellectual double standard, as you require a proof from the religious that you cannot yourself provide.

    Epicurus’ questions are presented as if they represent the sum total of all possible answers to the situation. Yet they rest upon a foundational supposition that a good God would never allow suffering to occur. Here’s the religious viewpoint. God created a world without suffering. A perfect world. He created man within it, desiring a relationship of affection with man just as most good parents desire a relationship with their children. Yet, relationship and affection require a choice of free will by the other party. An omnipotent God could certainly have made a creature that was incapable of doing the wrong thing. But that creature would have been no more than a biological robot. So he created a man who could choose to obey or not to, and gave that man a single rule, along with a loving warning of the consequences of disobeying it. Whence cometh evil? Man chose it. Being told that one act would bring him pain and suffering, being surrounded by all the good things he could dream of, he still chose of his own free will to do the one thing he’d been warned not to do. He judged that one thing he didn’t have, one thing he’d been warned would harm him, was more important to have than everything else he did have.

    So he brought suffering on himself as a natural consequnce of his action. Yet that suffering turned his attention back to the Creator, to seek to right the wrong in his relationship. Consequences exist to guide those who won’t do the right thing simply because it is right into doing the right thing because they don’t want the consequences.

    God is capable of ending evil right this moment. But there are only two ways of doing it. Either you destroy all life so there is no one to DO evil, or you destroy free will and take direct ‘remote control’ of the actions and thoughts of every living thing on the entire planet so that no evil thing can be thought of or done ever.

    There’s also one more matter of perspective, which is what enables the many Christians through the centuries who’ve been tortured and died for their faith. The perspective that any suffering here is only temporary and brief compared to eternity. It’s a faith that the ultimate reward is worth the temporary pains here. God keeps Christians here amongst the suffering because He has work for us to do, so that others might escape something much more damaging than what happens here. A just God punishes all evil in the end. In our impatience and pain, we want him to do it now. Yet it is in His mercy that He waits, because we too are evil. And He witholds his punishment to give us a chance to turn. Pain is a natural consequence of mankind’s evil choices that serves to keep reminding us that those choices are not in our best interest, and that there must be something better. Otherwise, we’d never search for it. If no one ever suffered we’d never realize anything was wrong and seek to correct it.

  136. Jonathan (another one) says:

    A comment, regarding studies proving prayer is not effective.

    Logically, the effectiveness of prayer is dependent on the one being prayed to, and their inclinations towards the subject of the prayer and the one praying.

    Put it this way: I can ask Donald Trump to give me a million dollars. It’s highly unlikely that Donald Trump will give me a million dollars. Yet it doesn’t prove that asking does nothing, or that Donald Trump doesn’t exist. If Donald’s daughter asked for a million dollars, she might get it, because she has a relationship with him that justifies asking for things and may incline him to approve her request. Yet, he also might not. He might feel like just giving her a million dollars would be a bad thing, encouraging bad habits or funding bad decisions. There’s many reasons he might decide giving her that money was not a good idea. There are plenty of people that ask other people for money and get it; there are plenty of people that ask other people for money and don’t get it. There are a host of reasons why each of these happens. Just because in a given group of people more of them didn’t get the money than did, doesn’t prove that asking for money doesn’t work. It just proves the conditions weren’t right for a majority of that one group of people to receive what they were asking for from whom they were asking for in the reasons, manner, and timing in which they were asking for it.

    There are hosts of scientific studies proving alcohol can have health benefits for the body. There are hosts of scientific studies proving alcohol will kill you. Both are conducted by valid scientists searching for different results using different methods and parameters. Even scientists are human, and not immune to biasing their studies, even unintentionally, by the test subjects and methods they select.

    I’ve personally known someone I cared about who was cured of cancer nearly overnight, to the point that even the doctors were using the term miraculous. I’ve also known a dear Christian friend who had a whole church praying for her and died of cancer. Why? I can’t give you a definitive answer. I’m not God; I don’t know. I can tell you that each of those outcomes had a powerful positive effect on a number of people. Including the family of the one who died, which grew closer together in the aftermath of it. Beyond that, I don’t know. As Gandalf would say, “Even the wise cannot see all ends.” I trust that God can, and that He knows what He’s doing.

    Science is man taking his best guess about something and trying to test it as many ways as he can in hopes that if something were wrong with it he’d have found it by now. This is why so much of science is still classified as theory rather than law. We’re allowing for the possibility it might be disproven down the road.

  137. Vaclav Havel says:

    The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility.

  138. JonnyCon says:

    Jonathan (another one), I could just hug you right now.

    I am a Christian (hOMG a Christian on the Internet), so I didn’t really appreciate the comic when I first read it. But reading through the comments has been great fun (well, the articulate ones, anyway).

    Also, I would like to remind people that it is only the Internet, for goodness’ sake. Be nice to people, yes? :)

  139. Nirav says:

    Very interesting,

    However, it is applicable only in certain cases. If science is used religiously, its the best thing for mankind.

    Science = Medicine
    Prayer = Hope

    If not used religiously, it is a disaster.

    Science = Nuclear Weapons
    Prayer = Peace

    Science = Gun
    Prayer = Love

    I am fortunate to be blessed by both, science as well as religion :)

  140. Nirav says:

    A -> Science + Prayer -> C

  141. Baran says:

    @Nirav: holding science responsible for the creation of weaponary is just ourageous, people demanded new and more efficient ways of killing other people, so science provided it(I must also state that I am deeply disturbed of referring to science like a person).

    Religion, on the other hand(and please nobody speak about “I am a believer/follower, not a religious person” crap), is a belief, and unfortunately it does not only concern the person himself, but also his/her children, as they are thought to believe in that person’s belief from a very early age, making it impossible for the child to form “free” thoughts.

    this is what we are concerned, pretty much nobody cares about what you think in your head, don’t flatter yourself. nobody is attacking “your” beliefs, as they are not yours only, they are also most likely your children’s beliefs.

  142. James says:

    One sma..uh, not so small mistake, Nirav:

    Science = understanding of nuclear reactions

    Science + Politics = nuclear weapons.

  143. Fredrik Boström says:

    “However, I would like to point ot that it was science that gave us nerve gas and biological weapons. Also it was in the name of science that some of the worst atrocities of WWII were preformed.”

    Sorry, no, Hitler did _not_ scream out “for science!” when murdering jews.
    Science was _used_ for _all_ atrocities though – just as burning someone on the stake uses science (fire has been known to hurt and kill -> use it on the witches)

    Hitler was more or less a catholic, even if he was not there is _no_ indication that he acted “in the name of science”.

    This is another repetition of the most inane, pathetic (and popular (sic)) argument against atheism.

  144. Erich says:

    Love it!.., and love the long replies too –> are you trying to convince somebody/yourself? :)

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