Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ evidence

Today’s Jesus and Mo strip, called “flood”, came with an emailed addendum:

There was a rabbi on Radio 4’s Thought for the Day last week. It was one of the better episodes, but he did make the reference in today’s strip. I think only UK readers can access it.

Actually, I can access the three-minute segment as I have somehow subscribed to the BBC. The speaker is Chief Rabbi Efraim Mirvis, who blathers on about how different people react to environmental issues (e.g., global warming) in different ways. He then connects that to the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, which can be viewed in different ways.   Referring to global warming, he adds this:

“I believe that not since the Flood in the days of Noah have we faced a series of challenges shared by every human being on the planet. These challenges have the potential to unite us as never before, but sadly, we are hampered by our inability to respond to them together.”

Blah blah blah. At least the rabbi admits that climate change is real, but then acts as if Noah’s Flood was real, too. Science has shown that no such flood ever occurred, so shouldn’t the good rabbi, who urges us to accept evidence, accept global warming but deny the flood? The Jesus and Mo artist takes the rabbi apart:

Why is Thought of the Day nearly always religious? Can’t secularists have Deep Thoughts, too? I know Dawkins was once on it, but I’ve also heard that nearly all the “Thinkers” are believers.


  1. Mark Jones
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Why is Thought of the Day nearly always religious? Can’t secularists have Deep Thoughts, too? I know Dawkins was once on it, but I’ve also heard that nearly all the “Thinkers” are believers.

    Humanists UK have been running a campaign to have TFTD broadened to include all members of society, but the BBC have religiously denied non-theists that right. Just last year the BBC said:

    Thought for the Day features speakers from the world’s major faith traditions reflecting on topical events and issues. We considered its remit as part of last year’s religion review and concluded that in the context of the BBC’s overall output it serves a distinct purpose and does not need changing.

    Richard wasn’t even allowed on the TFTD slot when Tim Berners-Lee requested it as editor, but was allowed to broadcast a secularist thought in a different slot –

    That was big of them. It is blatant discrimination against the non-religious, but par for the course for the BBC.

  2. phoffman56
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    “…not since the Flood in the days of Noah have we faced a series of challenges shared by every human being on the planet.”

    So the threat of thermonuclear annihilation isn’t a challenge faced by every human??

    • Kevin
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      Are you nitpicking???

      • phoffman56
        Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

        Well, nits ARE a problem, but swimming around looking to catch a ride with Noah would likely get rid of them!!!

    • Posted October 17, 2019 at 5:03 am | Permalink

      We are in the middle of the anniversary of the Cuban Missiles Crisis – ironically.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted October 17, 2019 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      The average person on Earth isn’t at threat of thermonuclear annihilation – the bombs are aimed mostly at military bases and population centres of other nuclear powers. I rather doubt that the average Indian villager, Brazilian McSludge farmer, or Chinese iPhone-solderer is going to die in thermonuclear fire. Subsequent starvation is perfectly reasonable, but we can get that without triggering the nukes.

      • phoffman56
        Posted October 17, 2019 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        By “annihilation” I simply mean death. You apparently mean something else, perhaps instant death. That the extinction of the human species as a result, perhaps within 3 or 4 generations, of a large scale thermonuclear war, is something I regard as a definite possibility, not sure just how high the probability is. It sounds as though you also do??

  3. Posted October 16, 2019 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Why is Thought of the Day nearly always religious?

    Because the BBC sees itself as having a duty to promote religion. Any religion is fine (Sikhism, Islam, Judaism all fine), the only thing they won’t accept is non-religion.

  4. Posted October 16, 2019 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Professor Alice Roberts, President of Humanists UK, is still attempting to be the first humanist to be on TFTD. She even once quipped that she’d bring pastries, but to no avail. The BBC is not neutral where religion is concerned, but then again it’s no longer neutral in its political coverage either, so what use is a public broadcaster if it is so partisan!

    • Dominic
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      The whole point is the BBC HAS to give a sop to religion –

      • Posted October 16, 2019 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

        A sop yes, gross over promotion absolutely not.

        • Posted October 17, 2019 at 5:04 am | Permalink

          You call one four minute slot in the midst of three hours of current affairs “gross over promotion”?

          • Posted October 17, 2019 at 10:26 am | Permalink

            A current affairs programme does not comment on ethical world views. TFTD is different in that respect. Furthermore, it is part of a much wider group of religious programmes. There are even plans to bring more Christian characters into soaps. When only a small and decreasing percentage of the UK population identify as Christian this is clearly over-representation.

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted October 17, 2019 at 7:40 am | Permalink

      ‘what use is a public broadcaster if it is so partisan!’

      I don’t think that is a fair assessment of the BBC. It is striking that people on both the left and the right of politics in Britain whinge that the BBC is biased against them. On the whole I do’t think it is and programmes such as ‘Today’, ‘Newsnight’, ‘Andrew Marr Show’ and so on subject every politician they interview to a pretty thorough challenge.

      Often the BBC is at its poorest when it tries too hard to provide ‘balance’ between opposing view points as in some of its coverage of climate change.

  5. Roger
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    What is the Rabbi thinking? Surely Xenu’s genocide of billions his own frozen subjects with hydrogen bombs dropped into volcanoes was more challenging that the flood. Okay so they were tricked into being frozen and had no idea but still.

  6. John A CRISP
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    As a Brit, albeit one who doesn’t live in the UK but still often listens to BBC radio 4 (the channel that broadcasts Thought for the Day), it drives me effing crazy. Quite apart from the fact that the majority of the UK population is agnostic at least, if not atheistic, the contributions are so formulaic. Take a an event in the news, talk about it sententiously for a minute, then relate it to something purportedly said by Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Moses, Guru Nanak Dev, or some story from their respective holy books, and hey presto, you have a “thought”.

    • Posted October 16, 2019 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      “Sententiously” — now there’s a great new word for me, in honor of PCC(e)’s challenge in today’s Hili Dialogue.

  7. Serendipitydawg
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Part of the BBC’s charter requires it to feed religion; it used to basically be for the benfit of the church of England because, well, catholics. These days they emcompass everyone as long as they aren’t scientologists or simmilar monorty cults. Desert Island Discs automatically gives the complete works of Shakespeare and your religious book of choice (used to be the babble), but humanists like Dawkins don’t get a philosophy book instead, having to use their one book choice instead.

    I would choose a bible as long as it was on soft paper and perforated in one corner for easy hanging.

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Apologies for the typing errors (not babble, though). I am just not concentrating today 😀

    • Posted October 16, 2019 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      I think the Desert Island Discs thing is just to stop people being boring. Having the Nth person that month ask for Shakespeare or the Bible would get tedious.

      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted October 16, 2019 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        Nope. It was down to the original presenter who felt that culture, in theform of Shakespeare, and religion, in the specific form of the St. James bible, were prerequisites for civilised existence ( he said as much in interview). The additional book was for the punters own interests.

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted October 16, 2019 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

          Still not concentrating… King James bible. Deary me!

        • Steve Pollard
          Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

          Are you quite sure? The version I heard was that the original presenter (Roy Plomley), or his producer, got so fed up with people choosing the Bible (or, more lately, the Quran), the collected works of Shakespeare, or an encyclopedia as their book of choice, that they gave them those three for nothing and asked them to pick another one, and justify their choice.

          Anyway, the blanket refusal to allow guests to reject one (or more) of the three in favour of something that means more to them seems increasingly unreasonable.

          • Serendipitydawg
            Posted October 17, 2019 at 7:15 am | Permalink

            Pretty sure – unless I have a false memory! The interview was soon after I was married, so slighly less than 46.75 years and possibly the reason I can’t remember either the venue or the interlocutor. The Reithian imperatives were probably more in evidence in 1941 than they are today so it could have been a device to get the original series commisioned, but I can clearly remember Roy stating that a lack of Shakespeare and the bible would be uncivilised. I have no idea when they started offering an alternative religious text; there were Jews like Stanley Rubinstein in 1969, and probably others much earlier, but I don’t know what they were offered. The first name I can find that might potentially have been someone with very different requirements is Omar Sharif in 1978, but I don’t know his religion and I don’t know what he was offered.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted October 17, 2019 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      I’m wondering if anyone has specifically asked for the Bible to be printed on thick, absorbent paper? A run of such requests, along with “if you cut that you can’t use any of the programme you’ve just wasted several hours of recording studio time on” clauses in the contract might finally persuade the religionistas that “any publicity is good publicity” isn’t necessarily true.

  8. Jon Gallant
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    We have to keep in mind that religionists have special powers, including direct communication with God and knowledge of who gets to enjoy the afterlife. In Israel, Rabbi Shalom Cohen of the ultra-orthodox Shas party has pronounced as follows, according to the Jerusalem Post: “I say here to Lapid and Liberman: if you now join a government with the ultra-Orthodox [parties], you will merit a divine voice that will come forth [from Heaven] and declare ‘Liberman and Lapid are invited to the world to come.’”

  9. Steve Pollard
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Time for another shout-out for Platitude of the Day, a site founded and run by the heroic Peter Hearty for over 15 years, for the purpose of satirising and mocking TftD: Mirvis got the full treatment, naturally.

  10. Shirley Beaver
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I’d never heard of TFTD, so I googled it. All references on the first page were “Terror Of The Deep”. Seemed appropriate, somehow. A bit disappointing to find it really means “Thought For The Day”…

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted October 17, 2019 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      Second generation of XCOM, wasn’t it? There’s an open source release workalike of it somewhere … there it is.

  11. rickflick
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    When the Rabbi got to “since Noah…”, I nearly choked:

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