49 thoughts on “Evolution of a joke

    1. .. maybe the quantum approach could be used to explain the Trinity.

      “Three quacks for Muster Mark!”

  1. At the risk of writiing ‘outside the box’ in a posting about evolution, Catholicism and jokes I recall (not exact reproduction) the following questions ostensibly posed to Gautama Buddha by a monk named Malankyaputra (certainly the transliteration is not correct:) in 6th century BC. The questions goe somewhat like:

    (1) Does the Universe has a beginning OR It has neither a beginning or not a beginning OR it has both a beginning and not a beginning (probably the same question about the end of the Universe’)

    (2) Is the Universe finite or infinite? OR is it neither finite nor not infinite OR is it both finite and not infinite? (or perhaps none or even all of the above)

    (3) Does the Arahat (Buddhist term for a ‘liberated person’) exist after death or not exist after death OR is it not exist after death or NOT (not exist) after death OR both exist after death and not exist after death?

    I may not Exactlly get the contents of the question correct but that is the essential drift of the questions. I did not check either the web (or blogs!) or books before I make the posting but please be aware that (1) I am not propagating or for that matter commenting on Buddhist metaphysics (2) I am not equating or even analogzing the ‘evolution a joke’ with the questions apparently asked by the monk of Gautama Buddha (3) Please note that the questions were asked 2500 years ago in India and though question one and two has been studied and ‘answered’ by modern physics and could have some commonalities with other philosophic ponderings and trends including Greek thought say (Democritus, Epicurus) about roughly to a few dozen decades later question number 3 is peculiar to and rooted in the Buddhist religious milieu apparently of more interest to some Buddhsit metaphysicians than whether a Creator (‘Brahma’) exists which occupies a more promiment position in Western philosophical debates.

    I recall the Buddha’s answer to the questions but will not summarize here. I mention the questions only to narrate the thoughts that came to my mind after reading the postings.

    Again, I emphasize that it is a ‘spill-over’ thought of mine after reading the postings and the reporduction from memory of the three questions is not intended to equate,analogize. compare, contrast them with Jerry’s posting and subsequent comments.

    1. This post is not relevant to the thread, and is in fact a trolling post. Please refrain from ever doing this again.

      1. “It has to be True and Not True unless its true and not true”. That was the comment o above which gave rise to the thoughts I mentioned with quotes from ancient India. Is the Universe finite and not finite at the same time, does it have a begiining or not a begiinning at the same time ? The question was asked not only by astronomers and evolutionists in the 20th century but 25 centuries ago in ancient India. I think a- yes- -tangential but I submit ‘not troll-like’ link could be made that appartently contradictory ideas can be seen at the same time: the subject of the two preceeding comments before mine.

        I do not think it was ‘trolling’ and I did state that it was ‘spill over ‘ after reading about among others ‘quantum Cathollism’. I do not attack, critique or ‘spam’ any body. Is the comments only to be limited to evolution, anti-religion, anti-Christianity? In my rare postings here I thought I had made what I consider to be related or spill over issues and the ‘screening’ or evaluations of the comment is to borrow an American constituional parlance ‘content neutral’ ? Is it not the case? Thanks.

        1. 1. The best place for your own “tangential spill overs” is your own blog.

          2. Derailing a thread is not good manners, even if your intent was benign.

          3. Some questions are not as profound as they seem; they are word salads and the fact that they are not immediately understandable or answerable is not necessarily a sign of their profundity but of their being essentially meaninglessness.

          1. Some questions [or statements] are not as profound as they seem; they are word salads and the fact that they are not immediately understandable or answerable is not necessarily a sign of their profundity but of their being essentially meaninglessness.

            QFT. Gawd, how I wish writers and other professionals in the arts understood this.

              1. For your information, since you query, they are NOT Japanese Koan but excerpts in translation from Buddhist Indian writings. Though not directed to the comments I reproduce (since they are not Koan) the use of the word ‘shit’ is, to quote the previous attacks against me is not in accordance with ‘Netiquette 101’. You can reply but I will not be reading them.

          2. (1) You can write your own comments on what ever topic you want to write but do not order me to do so what I can write or not. In any case you are not the owner of this blog.

            (2) I do not derail this blog. If what my posting is of no interest to you, you ignore it don’t make personal attacks. My comments were based on the immediately preceding statement ‘both true and untrue’ and I was citing a translation from a historical document. If you think it is derailing you are entitled to that opinion but personal attacks about ‘good manners’ do need a response especially when the tone and tenor of your statements are condescending, offensive and insulting and they are not good manners.

            (3) I do not claim or infer that the statements are either profound or trivial. For your information, and among others,
            one version of translation of the statements I reproduced can
            be found in Walpola Rahula, What the Buddha Taught (1967, Revised version) at page 15 and also perhaps in other English translations of Buddhist works made by Dr and Mrs Rhys Davids (of the Pali Text Society, in UK) , I. B. Horner and Max Muller. If you think the statements translated into English and perhaps other languages by such scholars are ‘verbal salads’ you are also entitled to your opinion but a personal attack such as this do need a response especially when (a) I did NOT state that these are my statements (b) I did base my comments on the previous statement ‘both true and untrue’ and (c) I do not claim or infer that they are profound.

            You can reply to your heart’s content but I will not be reading this thread.

            1. You have FOUR times on this page said “You can reply to your heart’s content but I will not be reading this thread.” (or words very close to that).

              I have conclude that you are not being honest with yourself.

        2. Your innocent “who – me?” act is cute but unconvincing.

          One major defining factor of trollish behaviour isn’t necessarily spamming or attacks but attention-seeking behaviour, which is precisely what your lengthy, obtuse & completely off-topic ramble constitutes.

          I also think anybody who uses ‘these fecking quote marks’ that often in one paragraph should be labelled a troll, regardless of whatever other content they post.

          Back to Netiquette 101 for you.

          1. (1) I am not trying to be cute to you or to convince you.
            (2) ‘Attention seeking behavior’ is personal attack. You sit in your own couch and psychoanalyze yourself if you wish to do so but it is also ‘Netiquette 101 for you’ not to
            make personal attacks and write in a condescending manner
            (3) You also want to be both grammarian and psychoanalyst by commenting on the use of ‘fecking quote marks’ . This phrase if it is not expletive then it is an offensive personal attack.

            You can reply to your heart’s content but I would not be reading them.

      2. Oh is that what this is? I thought maybe he was trying to show us what a really stupid bunch of questions looks like. I wasn’t sure because while the questions make no sense the English could have been part of the reason for this.

        1. You are entitled to your opinion as to the stupidity or otherwise of the questions but when you post about them attacking it as ‘stupid’ especially when I have not claimed
          them to be profound calls for a response . These are NOT my questions and I wrote from memory of what I recall from Buddhist Indian texts from 2500 years ago which have been translated into English and other languages. I won’t ask you to go and read them (in English translations) but the condescending –and patronizing nature- of your attacks about the ‘English’ needs a response. You can reply to your heart’s content but I would not be reading them.

  2. Kudos, Dr. Coyne, on your artful avoidance of the word “blog”.

    I just wanted to say that this is the only (ahem) “skeptic website” in which I make a point of reading the comments. It’s such a high level of conversation, and yes, sometimes LOLzy!

  3. Someone could easily have made a joke about dogmatism but they went with catechism instead. Probably so they could get on the front page. It worked very well. Very clever. Congratulations.

    1. (digs into his bag of chestnuts… where is that one?… ah, here it is)

      My karma ran over my dogma.


      (hides behind bag of chestnuts)

    2. Actually, it was an instant word association. I was thinking about Catholicism, and then I saw “cat” and my brain shouted “catechism”. There was no free will involved 🙂

          1. LOL, yes.

            Actually, cateschism does fit the original post. In psychological terms, splitting is the way people handle cognitive dissonance. Andrew Sullivan’s attempt to reconcile his beliefs with his life is an example.

  4. Considering that the whole point of Christianity is that Jesus is both dead and undead, both mortal and unkillable, both ordinary and unbelievable, “Schrödinger’s Catechism” really does seem quite apropos.

    Was Jesus’s the greatest story ever told, the spectacular manifestation of the divine force that created Life, the Universe, and Everything, sparking the genesis one of the world’s Great Religions and directly inspiring the #1 bestselling book of all time? Or was Jesus just some random schmuck in a backwater province whom nobody but the members of the minuscule secret cult he founded cared about, so of course it’s perfectly understandable that he made absolutely no impression whatsoever on the historical record? It all depends on how you observe him!



    1. The Living Dead D&D racial trait allows its possessor to decide its own life state in each instance for the purpose of effects which differentiate between Living creatures and Undead creatures.

  5. As someone who has been reading Sullivan’s books/blogs for a long time, there is a reason he displays such consistent cognitive dissonance…

    It basically comes out every so often, mostly when he is giving talks in person but he has kinda ‘broken down’ a couple of times and admitted the reason he believes is basically because he is really afraid of dying.


  6. At least you can beat Moran, since the general drift of the conversation here is not anywhere near neutral.

    [Rather, I would suggest its fitness is more due to all LOL selection.]

  7. I move we enshrine teh Win that is “Schroedinger’s Catechism” as an acceptable replacement for “sophisticated theology.”

  8. “I still claim that I have the funniest commenters of all the skeptic websites.”

    It sure keeps me coming back on a daily basis.

  9. Reminds me of the central Discordian “catma” (Discordian don’t have dogmas): Any affirmation is true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true and false and meaningless in some sense.

  10. I don’t know if MrDeity reads your blog… but you should send this to him. I think they could easily make a whole episode around “Schroedinger’s Catechism”.

  11. Dr. Colin Patterson, Sr. Paleontologist, British Museum of Natural History – Address at the American Museum of Natural History New York City. “One of the reasons I started taking this anti-evolutionary view, was…it struck me that I had been working on this stuff for twenty years and there was not one thing I knew about it. That’s quite a shock to learn that one can be so mislead so long. …so for the last few weeks I’ve tried putting a simple question to various people and groups of people. Question is: Can you tell me anything you know about evolution, any one thing that is true? I tried that question on the geology staff at the Field Museum of Natural History and the only answer I got was silence. I tried it on the members of the Evolutionary Morphology Seminar in the U of Chicago, a very prestigious body of evolutionists, and all I got there was silence for a long time and eventually one person said, ‘I do know one thing — it ought not to be taught in high school’.” Many, many more quotes, many newer, many from more intelligent professors, with more PH.D’s. It is easy to lead the blind and dumb when they chose not to question nor hear.

      1. The only problem sir is this is not a lie. Evolution folks just don’t have any answers expect anger and calling people liars. That is it. Why is it that animal phylla was found 500 million years ago in rock strata all fully formed. No evolution found? I got a quote from your hero’s book “Origin of the Species” by Charles Darwin – To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction os spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, ABSURD in the highest degree. How about mutations. In nature mutations are bad, yet evoluationist are trying to tell us that threw 1,000’s and 1,000’s of mutations evolution created more and more species. That goes against everything science knows of mutations and genetics and the DNA. Also why would a single cell (which is so complex the idea it could come from soup and lightening is laughable) that could split and reproduce by itself, evolve to need a male and female to reproduce? That makes no sense. Now instead of anger or saying this is a lie, which it isn’t. You answer the question. You also do know that one of the finders of the DNA strand believes life may have come from outerspace?

        1. Wow, more and more quote mining and appeals to authority. Not two mention a small troop of straw men added in for flavor. Would it shock you to realize that, yes, 200 years ago natural selection was hypothetical? And that, in that 200 years, a lot of science has been done to support Darwin’s hypothesis? It’s called “modern evolutionary synthesis”, look it up. Or, better yet, as Jerry suggests, read his book. At this stage of the game, attacking Darwin in order to say “evolution” isn’t true (though Darwin’s theory was about natural selection, evolution was already fairly well established, most of even the most religious naturalists had long given up the concept of “poof there it is”) is like attacking Newton in order to disprove modern physics.

          Besides, I provided you with answers. A link showing your often parroted Patterson quotes were taken out of context, warped, and are therefore out and out lies, and, as we all know: everytime you tell a lie, you make baby Jesus cry. Leading an argument with a lie and then following with unsupported claims with no references forces me to consider you an untrustworthy person and your arguments suspect.

          Besides, you have so totally hijacked this comment thread for your own purposes. If that isn’t the earmark of a troll I don’t know what is. There are hundreds of articles on this site specifically regarding evolution and you picked the one about an unrelated joke to seed your little rants. If you know of a creationist that is capable of engaging in an honest discussion on the subject, then send him on over, he might learn something.

      2. Mr. Justin Zimmer; here is another little quote from a certain hero of the evolution battalion; Charles Darwin, 1858 – You will be greatly disappointed (by the forthcoming book); it will be grievously too hypothetical. It will very likely be of no other service than collocating some facts; though I myself think I see my way approximately on the origin of the species. But, alas, how frequent, how almost universal it is in an author to persuade himself of the truth of his own dogmas.” He also made a quote that if science did not find a whole bunch of missing link or todays mutation fossils that his theory would be worthless. Well you know that those mutation fossils just seem to be missing. In fact since there are suppose to be so many mutation fossils you figure there would be more mutation fossils than anyother type of fossils, yet we can’t find any mutation fossils. We do find a whole ton of fully formed fossils. WOW I wonder why?

        1. Glenn,

          Your comments are way off the mark; you’re simply parroting creationist tripe. Go read my book, which is the title of this website, and then come back after you’ve read it. You are remarkably ignorant of the fossil record that supports evolution in the highest degree. And there is no such thing as a “mutation” fossil.

          As I said, please go away and learn about evolution (I suggest looking at the fossil record of the human lineage, of whales, and of birds); you’re simply not well enough acquainted with it to criticize it.

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