Jesus ‘n’ Mo and the omnibenevolent God

Today’s Jesus and Mo strip is recycled (the author calls it a “resurrection”) from seven years ago (I had no idea it’s been going that long!).


“Burn in hell” of course implies torment, as is clearly stated in the Bible and Qur’an. More Sophisticated Theologians™, though, have now reconceived Hell as some sort of “separation from God”, but there’s no evidence for that except for a realization that a loving God wouldn’t burn people for eternity for horrible sins like, say, having homosexual intercourse.

However, 58% of Americans still believe in hell, and I suspect most of them think of it as Jesus and Mo do.


  1. GBJames
    Posted December 3, 2014 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    a sub from hell

  2. Posted December 3, 2014 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    I assumed Steve Grimmett already covered this.

  3. Posted December 3, 2014 at 9:20 am | Permalink


  4. bobkillian
    Posted December 3, 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink


    I wonder what the numbers are in more advanced countries?

    • Jeff Rankin
      Posted December 3, 2014 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      I’m curious too but didn’t find anything through a cursory search.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted December 3, 2014 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        A 2009 Massey University study shows 51% of NZers belive in heaven and 36% believe in hell. It’s up to you to decide whether New Zealand is more advanced. 🙂

        • een
          Posted December 3, 2014 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

          That’s hilarious – brings to mind the old Blood, Sweat and Tears line “I swear there ain’t no Heaven, and I pray there ain’t no Hell…”

          But the believers in heaven are consistent with the 2013 census results, where 55% of the population had a religious affiliation.

          Which is a bit disappointing. I’d hoped for something equally contradictory.

  5. steve oberski
    Posted December 3, 2014 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    And that early christian theologian, Augustine of Hippo, who apologists and accommodationists urge us to read before daring to criticize a strawman version of cristianity that apparently no true believer actually professes, had this to say about hell:

    So then what God by His prophet has said of the everlasting punishment of the damned shall come to pass—shall without fail come to pass,—“their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched”.

    Sounds like a literal fire and brimstone venue to me.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted December 3, 2014 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      They recommend Augustine???

      He is definitely the crusty misanthrope who created the definitive formulation of the classical Western Christian notion or original sin meaning that everyone is damned by default due to descent from Adam, thereafter a cornerstone of conservative traditional Christianity in the West. Not just a true believer in hell, but an aggressive promoter of same.

      (Eastern Orthodoxy just thinks Adam and Eve released evil into the world like Pandora with her box, it has no concept of inherited guilt, and is general much less hell-firish. This is probably why the issue of whether humanity has a single couple as ancestor is causing a bigger kerfuffle among Catholics than Greek or Russian Orthodoxy.)

      I rather like the saying of the Russian mystic Nicholas Berdaev that the fellow most deserving of hell is whoever invented the concept in the first place.

      • steve oberski
        Posted December 3, 2014 at 11:13 am | Permalink

        It’s part of the “don’t you dare criticize religion without having read absolutely everything that has ever been written about it” trope and usually Augustine is at the top of the list of authors to read.

      • gluonspring
        Posted December 3, 2014 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

        “I rather like the saying of the Russian mystic Nicholas Berdaev that the fellow most deserving of hell is whoever invented the concept in the first place.”

        Indeed. It’s a very wicked thing to teach small children. As if life didn’t have terrors enough, to fill their minds with an inescapable terror is just abuse, pure and simple.

        • Sastra
          Posted December 3, 2014 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

          Mark Twain once imagined what it would be like to watch his enemies — people he really hated — burning in torment. He described it in detail, the screams, the anguish, the pleadings of the loved ones — and said that he couldn’t stand it. He’d want it to stop.

          His worst enemy — okay, maybe a minute, tops.

          And yet God the all-loving and ever-merciful is supposed to be okay with knowing every second of their pain in intimate detail for all eternity. For millions of people who couldn’t harm Him if they wanted to.

          If Twain were writing today, he would probably have responded to that with “That’s bullshit.” As it was, he probably scribbled that down and reluctantly crossed it out to write something else.

          • Mark Joseph
            Posted December 3, 2014 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

            I’m with Twain, but I’d probably give the politicians two (or maybe three) minutes before hitting the “off” switch.

            Unfortunately, I know a lot of christians who are really looking forward to watching everyone they disagree with get sauteed.

  6. Diana MacPherson
    Posted December 3, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink


    • Posted December 3, 2014 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      One could think we are in some sort of internet flame war with Christians.

      • Jonathan Wallace
        Posted December 4, 2014 at 3:33 am | Permalink


  7. Posted December 3, 2014 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Bonafided LOL at the second panel. Priceless.

  8. darrelle
    Posted December 3, 2014 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Doesn’t the reinterpretation of Hell (Squirrel Nut Zippers! Teeth are extruded and bones are ground, and then baked into cakes which are passed around . . .)

    . . . ahem, sorry.

    As I was saying, doesn’t that, and indeed all of the myriad reinterpretations, sort of point straight at the fact that it is all man made? Or at the very least, all just speculation about something for which mankind has never had any significant evidence of? In which case, how can any of these Sophisticated Theologian types, if they are being intellectually honest, favor any religion over another? Or put any stock whatsoever in any specific religious claim?

  9. Randy Schenck
    Posted December 3, 2014 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    For the best in comedy give George Carlin a try over on You Tube at “George Carlin on Religion”
    and after you have tried that give a look at “Lewis Black on Evolution”

  10. Posted December 3, 2014 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Either way, raising a question about “how do you know?” can be interesting.

    In the case of the milder Christians I always try to get on the good side by emphasizing that I am glad they’ve come to believe the less violent and nasty matter, first.

  11. Posted December 3, 2014 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Imagine the thermal energy required for a vast space of hell-fire, burning for eternity. What provides the energy for eternal rapid oxidation?

    • Lurker111
      Posted December 3, 2014 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

      Here’s proof that Heaven is hotter than Hell:

      It’s been around awhile; there’s even a follow-up counterarticle (same link).

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted December 3, 2014 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

      Most of the believers I know are confident that god will find some way around entropy, and figure out a way to keep people in torment for all eternity.

      If I still cared, I’d dig up some of the stuff christians have written about hell. It is a stunning insight, not into the nature of reality, but into their mindset.

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted December 3, 2014 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

      Jesus’s everlasting love?

  12. Robert Seidel
    Posted December 3, 2014 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    > I had no idea it’s been going that long!

    It started in 2005, inspired by the cartoon controversy.

    • Diane G.
      Posted December 4, 2014 at 12:55 am | Permalink

      The cartoon controversy was that long ago?!

  13. Sastra
    Posted December 3, 2014 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    The threats of hellfire coupled with the protestations of love always make God sound like a controlling, narcissistic psychopath — and the apologists for this sound like Battered Wives with Stockholm Syndrome. “But He only punishes us when we get uppity and selfish and deserve it. Praise His mercy!”

    Many religious believers are locked in an abusive relationship with reality.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted December 3, 2014 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      That’ exactly how I see it.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted December 3, 2014 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

      Now now, Sastra, don’t go around telling people the truth. That’s the way to make people hate you!

      • Mark Joseph
        Posted December 3, 2014 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

        Plus, it disqualifies you from a career in politics.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted December 4, 2014 at 4:58 am | Permalink

          Lucky Sastra!

  14. Posted December 3, 2014 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    It’s kind of hard to understand the “separated from God” thing, when the Quran explicitly describes hell as a place where the inmates will be eternally tortured with fire, growing a new skin to replace each old one as it is burned away, so as to maximize the suffering. Since Muhammad also insisted that the Quran was to be understood literally, and not as a metaphor, there really isn’t much wiggle room.

    • Phil Giordana FCD
      Posted December 4, 2014 at 2:07 am | Permalink

      I’ve always thought that, as with a persistent tooth-ache, the pain inflicted in eternal damnation would soon be numbed out.

      On the other hand, we’d get great company down there!

  15. Phil Giordana FCD
    Posted December 4, 2014 at 2:05 am | Permalink

    Ah, yes, the good old “separation from god” BS.

    Look, I don’t believe there’s a god. I don’t care about god. That YOU do is all fine and well, but don’t drag me in your shenanigans. I couldn’t care less if I was “separated from god”. It’s the equivalent of me being separated from your high school crush: I don’t care!

    I do however sometimes long for the sweet embrace of nothingness that awaits me when I die. To sleep, to dream no more…

    • Dominic
      Posted December 4, 2014 at 2:21 am | Permalink

      The idea of eternal happiness or joy or whatever-they-expect – that the bible does NOT actually describe – is just excruciating. THAT would be hell.

  16. Ken Mann
    Posted December 4, 2014 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Lest we forget at one time the contemplation of the suffering of the damned used to be one of the selling points of heaven. It was part of the bliss that you had a ringside seat at this entertainment. This attitude lives on in the present day in the resistence to social health care – it is not enough to be rich, the poor must suffer.

  17. mb
    Posted December 4, 2014 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    If god is the “ground of being” and hell is “separation from god” seems like one would cease to “be” if one were separated from one’s “ground of being.” Hell, then, would be annihilation which is pretty much what I expect my death to mean for me. Can’t be tortured forever if I don’t exist and can’t exist if I’m separated from my “ground of being.”

  18. Posted December 4, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    see skepticsannotatatedbible/quran:
    Surah 54:23 (The tribe of) Thamud rejected the warnings of Mo
    Surah 54:24 For they said; Is it a mortal man, alone among us, that we are to follow ? Then indeed we should fall into error and madness.
    Surah 54:25 Hath the remembrance been given unto him alone among us ? Nay, but Mo is a rash liar.

    But then the Coran goes on to say in Surah 54:46 that anyone who says Mo is lying is guilty of error and madness and will burn in hell for ever.
    This is an example of how the Coran attempts to make the reader afraid to think what is reasonable & correct or anything contrary to what the Coran asserts is true. So then the apologist makes huge,rambling,complex excuses for what is written in the Coran. Anything except admitting the truth that the idea was in error or just a made up story.

    Surah 54:1 claims that Mo saw the moon split in two

    Traditions transmitted on the authority of Abdullah bin Masud (642CE) describe the incident as follows:

    “We were along with God’s Messenger at Mina, that moon was split up into two. One of its parts was behind Mt Nur and the other one was on this side of the mountain. God’s Messenger said to us: Bear witness to this”

    The idea that part of the moon could appear in front of a mountain on Earth (Mt Nur) is so primitive that it is funny. Most people in the first millennium had very little idea about the stars or planets. Did they think the moon was a flat plate which rose from a crater on Earth and sank into the sea ? They thought the sun did something like this;

    Surah 18:86 Till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a people thereabout. We said: O Dhu’l-Qarneyn! Either punish or show them kindness.

    Surah 18:90 Till, when he reached the rising-place of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had appointed no shelter therefrom.

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