Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin 1937-2008

My favorite Carlin routine

Think about it.

Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time!

But He loves you.

Joe bless you, George.


Francis Ocoma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Francis Ocoma said...

It's amazing how ridiculous the concept of a deity sounds when:

- You imagine him as just an "invisible man" with uber-special powers. Never mind that he created you (if he exists at all). He's just an angry dude with a lightning bolt (again, if he exists at all).
- You imagine the fairy-believers really believe in the theologically immature image of "bearded guy in the clouds".

Once you have that straw man setup, then of course it's funny when you hear about that messed up guy named God getting angry and unfairly using his powers to punish those who were mean to him, like a whiny emo kid with a bat.

"Silly Joe. Why don't you take on someone your own size?"

Then the punchline comes in. The psycho loves you. The hilariously creepy image of a lovey-dovey bearded guy (with a lightning bolt) trying to kiss you suddenly comes up.

Ha! Hahahahaha! Ha!

There's a difference between laughing at a caricature of a thing, and laughing at its bare form. Everywhere I look I only see Divine Straw Man being laughed and sneered at. Yet somehow the sneerers tend to be funnier.

Oh George Carlin, I would say rest in peace, but now you're just a non-existent entity represented by a meaningless corpse. You might wish to believe that your soul's been thrown on a roof, and will stay there, but you're wrong. Your soul doesn't exist at all. Only your memes and maybe your genes remain, and even those will pass into oblivion eventually.

See, I'd like to say that the joke's on you, but there's no more "you" to speak of, is there? You're now on the same level as the dead billions who thought they wouldn't really end when their bodies started to rot. Well, they don't exist anymore, and neither do you.

What, am I being insensitive to you, Carlin? How could I be insensitive to something that is now just a figment of my imagination? Huh?

Just kidding, Carlin. I am still hopeful that at the end of all your comedies, you have finally found the real Comedy that we're all in. Rest in peace.

Francis Ocoma said...

Here is what Carlin said, rephrased to highlight his flawed implications:

Religion wants us to believe in and follow God. Here is why that is stupid: Assuming that God is equal to us, nothing more than a glorified man, with the same flaws, merely invisible, it is wrong for him to act as a Big Brother dictator, using highly sophisticated surveillance to obsessively micro-manage our lives, giving us arbitrary laws to obey. It is also wrong (read: extremely reprehensible) for him to punish those who are too enlightened to follow his arbitrary laws with a never-ending sadistic torture. Lastly, it is of the utmost hypocrisy for such a man to torture his enemies while telling them that they love them.


Here are my responses to the errors:

- Literature, even religious ones, employ figures of speech. Although God did become Incarnate (whose human nature is limited by physics), and although he is often described as having human qualities in religious literature, there is absolutely no reason to assume that his Mind, in its divine nature, is fettered by the same limitations of a human mind. This includes the human limitation of not knowing what's inside other people's heads.

- The accusation of arbitrariness is utterly ridiculous when thrown at the Creator of Reality, assuming he exists. It is like saying reality has an unfair theological bias. You cannot, by definition, be arbitrary if you yourself defined what reality is.

- Heaven is, by Christian definition, a place of experiencing perfect holiness (the "Beatific Vision"). Even if God was a liberal hippie who wanted to bring everyone to heaven, those who do not want holiness will not find it pleasant at all. In fact, that could just be what hell is: the terrible hell of experiencing what the holiness you rejected really is.

- God has shown that he has a plan for mankind, a plan centered upon two things: his becoming Incarnate and (a) acting as both the mediating Priest and as his Sacrifice, and (b) founding a Church that will spread the truths he wants us to know. You call this a myth. I call it a story. The story of a God who created something. And because he loves it, he is actively planning to share his glory with it.

It is a metaphysical story, a Divine Comedy, but it is by no means unreasonable nor ridiculous, no matter how much Carlin tried to make it seem so.

missingpoints said...

Yes it is.

The fact that you need to go through all manner of mental contortion just to justify the stupidity of it all means it is utterly ridiculous.

Francis Ocoma said...

Sir Pat,

I envy your wit. Oh, if only Aquinas and those other fairy-believing idiots of old gave up on their mental contortions for a few brief rhetorical statements, I'm sure all philosophical problems would have been solved.

That it takes more than a few words to convey my abstract thoughts might mean that I am an untrained speaker. It might mean that I haven't mastered English, yet. It might also mean that my abstract thoughts have slightly more complexity than, say, the typical atheistic sneer. But it doesn't prove my ideas ridiculous, per se. At least, not in the same way that Carlin's irrational treatment of God as an unfair and psychotic dictator is ridiculous.

I have tried (successfully, I think) to honestly show what Carlin really meant, trying to avoid religious bias to see the logic behind his humor. Then I tried (unsuccessfully, apparently) to show why his logic was based on problematic assumptions, and therefore didn't really make any sense in reality. And all I get for it is "Ha! Watch that monkey-boy's mental contortions!"

"Christianity hasn't been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult, and left untried." -G.K. Chesterton

Francis Ocoma said...


I see the irony of ending a defense of my verbosity with a short quote. I think it illustrates my point, though: You couldn't possibly appreciate that quote since it was pro-Christianity. It just made you less likely to see my point of view, and now you have added one more person in your stupid-list (i.e. Chesterton). I should have controlled my indignity and left that quote out. Sorry.

Jose Jean Paolo said...

Francis, If you have failed to notice, you are acting some what violently or perhaps you answer rather aggressively to this post. Why is this? I feel as though Carlin's statements has threatened you in some way. You are throwing your ideas around just like he did, the only difference I see is that Carlin statement was done as a general statement while yours seems to be an attack on Carlin's. You focus on the "fallacies" you perceive but isn't that moot? Since I think Carlin was just wondering about the supposed "irony" of it. Are you offended that it was presented as a joke? I think you actually should be thankful because his statement influences active thinking, to question and more importantly inspires one to find more answers(to go deeper). I think you are acting from wanting to defend the faith but instead of coming across that way it just seems like you and the religion you defend are intolerant. Bottom line I think how you are answering is counter productive to what you want to accomplish.

Francis Ocoma said...


Are you saying that we should allow atheists to be skeptical about religion, but not believers to be skeptical of atheists?

You talk about Carlin making people think. Well, I did think. I did go deeper. I did question. Then I just wrote down the results of my thinking. Are my thoughts "intolerant" and therefore invalid just because I refused to laugh at some cheap jokes and just because I refused to nod uncritically at his witticisms? You talk about questioning, am I not allowed to question the questioner?

You do realize that's a double-standard, right?

And about intolerance... intolerance is the inability to see another point of view. Did I not just give a summary of my understanding of Carlin's point of view? Did I not rephrase his offensive language into something more reasonable and logical, so as to show the main logic of his words?

Tolerance ought to mean than you understand someone else's opinions even if you don't agree with them. Nowadays it's defined as accepting everything without even understanding them, merely nodding sycophantically.

I'm sorry, Jean, but sometimes you need to argue if you believe in something, even if that means hurting people. Carlin knew how to do it. Sir Pat knows how to do it. I barely know how to do it, but I'm trying my best. (Apparently, I need to work on not sounding like I'm doing mental contortions...I'm sure I'll get it someday.)

In the end, Carlin only got it half-right. Be skeptical, yes, but be skeptical even of skepticism.

Francis Ocoma said...

An, OH, the irony of defending Carlin (of all people) against an intolerant person!

Just kidding, Jean. :-P

Jose Jean Paolo said...

To your first question, nope, not at all, whatever gave you that idea?

I also never said your thoughts were invalid. What I was trying to convey was that your choice of presentation and the words you used can be interpreted as counter-productive to what I think you were trying to accomplish. I wasn't advocating double standards btw, again what lead you down that trail of thought? Question the questioner all you want, by all means. I'm not stopping you.

You seem to have a firm grasp of what being tolerant means but how sure are you that you are acting as such when your faith advocates its practice? and what do you mean the "need" to argue... I don't align to that school of thought (there is never a "need" to argue in my book)

Lastly, would you be surprised that I don't know Carlin from Adam. I am not saying he is right or even the I agree with his methods. Now that being said why do you suppose I replied to this post in the first place? (clue: I've said it over and over again, now get off your high horse, get down on your hands and knees and look for it)

Francis Ocoma said...

Jean, I'm so, so sorry for misreading your comment. Most importantly, I'm sorry for falsely accusing you of arguments you are not making, and for basically being a jerk in that reply.

Sir Pat, I'm sorry that you had to read my incompetent rants. I'll try to keep my opinions in my own blog in the future. :-)

missingpoints said...

Nah, I like your (and Jean's) comments. And their verbosity isn't your (for lack of a better term) "fault." Stanley Fish and Terry Eagleton write similar stuff in the NY Times whenever Dawkins or Harris comes out with a book. Explaining the minutiae makes for better understanding, it also makes it less funny.

Several things:

(1) It isn't a strawman. It may be wrong if you know actual religious doctrine but it's what a lot of people actually believe. Unlike you or Fish or Eagleton, most believers are unsophisticated. Don't tell me the guys who say novenas at St. Jude praying for their visas to be approved don't treat prayer the same way Carlin described it.

(2) It doesn't matter if it were true or not (that's a different and more interesting debate). In 2001 Filipinos got angry because a senator danced a jig on the senate floor so they texted each other, partied for three days at EDSA, and overthrew a president. Reduced to its most basic level, EDSA Dos IS ridiculous. Doesn't mean it didn't happen. A detailed explanation will also deflate the humor a bit.

(3) Conversely I can actually think of a decent theology for Norse gods (inherently fatalist) or Greek mythology (nihilist) that could be halfway as elegant as what Aquinas et al wrote. Doesn't make any of it true, though.