1496 Prime Directive.

First off, I want to apologize for the comments on the previous page. I wanted to see just how dicktastic they would get if I just let them go. Generally I don’t need to do much moderating. For the most part people can have conversations without it turning into gainsaying and bullying, but when religion comes up, and its relation to science, people get all touchy and have a desperate need to prove things about themselves and others. On the science side you tend to get people who need to set their superior intellect down in the public record, and they can very rarely do so without being insulting. Basically they Reggie it up. At their core they mean well, but can’t reconcile things when people believe in the unprovable. Of course the other side does similar things, but the logical side tends to want the rules of debate to be observed, while sometimes forgetting to follow them. All that said, things still didn’t deteriorate into a total shitstorm. So my disappointment is tempered by the fact that things remained relatively civil. I’m pretty sure no one got compared to Hitler at any point, so points for that guys. Sometimes we need to fight things out though. Sometimes taking a few punches, and giving a few back, clears the air. At the end of a heated debate I always try to be the one to offer an apology and a hand. Even if you don’t agree on everything we’re all just trying to make sense of our existences, and it’s much better to do it with joined hands rather than clenched fists.

I didn’t involve myself in any of the “debate”, but I would like to talk about something that stuck in my head when I read it, and that was one commenter didn’t see religion as part of a person’s heritage, and I think that’s just incorrect. Most people inherit their religion from their parent, so it is literally part of their heritage. If you choose to convert that’s one thing, but the religion you were raised in, or even atheism, is part of your heritage. The definition of heritage is anything you inherit, so there’s a massive number of things that can include, from eye color to belief systems. Maybe that person has a different understanding of the word.

As long as I’m at it, since it’s not something everyone will, or have, been able to pick up on, Thomas’s statues in the dark line is him passively testing Carol to see how invested in her religion she is. He’s trying to start something, even if he isn’t consciously aware of it. If they can’t come to terms over this issue their relationship won’t last. If she flips out over a relatively benign slight that’s a big warning sign. Luckily for him it flows over her without much pushback. Plus he’s not against the idea of his kids being raised in a particular religion as long as it doesn’t make them likely to infringe on the rights of others. Of course this will only get clearer as the conversation progresses, but I felt like touching on it.

Oh, I almost forgot. Ed’s portrait is up on patreon, and Alex will be along soon. I’m having trouble gathering reference images for some of the cast. If you have any suggestions for real life people the characters look like to you please send them along. It will help the artist make the rest of the images. Carol and reggie are covered, but pretty much everyone else are still up in the air if I haven’t posted their images yet. Anyway, the patreon link is, as always, Nina’s sidebar picture.


Hey, been following this for a while now. Thought I’d leave a comment telling you how much I appreciate your comic. You make everyone fleshed out and three-dimensional, no one is ever flat or a one-trait/archetypal-cliche. Thanks for that. Thank you for writing and drawing this in general. Keep on keeping on.

Hm, yeah. I was wondering about what Thomas was doing.
I’m not an expert on Thomas, but his line about statues did seem kind of unusual, for him to say.
Maybe this is not an exact comparison, but it kind of felt like Thomas was saying a bizarre thing like:
[Do you want to teach our kids how to hunt deer? Are you going to make the do that odd ritual, where after they kill their first deer, they have to feast on its raw organs?]
And by [feasting on organs], I’m not talking about some sex thing. I swear. Some people can think like a buncha philistines. ; )

There are actually two parts to the whole “Feasting on raw organs” thing. In primitive societies, there is no such thing (* gasp! *) as refrigeration. The meat — meaning, the muscle — will survive the exposure to the elements long enough to get it home without spoiling, but the internal organs (particularly the heart and liver) will become toxically rancid quite quickly in warm weather. “Hey, did you bring the George Foreman Grill and an extension cord?” “Um, yeah, I think we’re going to have to eat these things raw…

The other half of the concept is, how you get the kids to remember how to keep the soft tissue from turning into Dr. Ptomaine’s nightmare? Make them repeat it, have them write it down, or maybe make a ritual out of it?

Yeah, I can see a ritual working, for something like that.
I don’t think I could do it myself, however. I sometimes get bugged by germs. Usually, I can’t eat a Big Mac that’s fallen on the grass. That’s life, I guess.

Whether as seen from a scientific or religious standpoint, Thomas’ words in the last panel are 100% correct.

If you believe in any particular god, then destroying your god’s creations for one’s own self-interest is a fucking bad thing. I believe the terms “hubris” and “judgment” can and will be used against you.

And likewise for the scientist. Our environment is a balanced system. Interruptions to that balance fucks things up, and while the world will eventually compensate for that disruption, there will be more devastation before things become right again.

And now for the narcissistic douches who only think of themselves. Just stop fucking shit up. No-one is impressed by your shit, and we will stand idly by when a bear inevitably tries to maul you.

I like it.

I love your warning to the narcissistic douches.
It reminds me of the original, hack-and-slash and sometimes kill, I-am-going-to-scare-kids-into-being good, Grimm’s Fairy Tales. :D

A bit cruder, perhaps, than I would phrase it, but I feel that we are in complete accord.

I might add that those who choose to not believe in a Deity can still support this thesis, since reciprocity does seem to be a form of universal constant, whether expressed as karma, “what goes around…” Or whatever. To decide to destroy life is to threaten, on some level, one’s own. To attempt to save life is to work to ensure one’s own, and one’s progeny.

A few random thoughts – coming from what I suppose I would describe as ‘an atheist by considered thought and native inclination’ :)…

“If you believe in any particular god, then destroying your god’s creations for one’s own self-interest is a fucking bad thing. I believe the terms “hubris” and “judgment” can and will be used against you.”

Many religions would, however, consider that humanity is the whole point of the world’s creation, and therefore it is fine to at least use your god’s creations to ensure humanity’s well-being – and that often involves a degree of harm. You can’t harvest the crop and feed yourself without reaping it. You can’t cure your illness without destroying the living things (bacteria or parasites) that are causing it. All life survives at the expense, lesser or greater, of some other life.

The *degree* of harm inflicted is the big sticking point. Utter destruction of (say) a crop, with none left for replanting, is self-evidently self-destructive in the long term. On the other hand, if your children or your elderly parents are going to die of starvation without the complete consumption of the crop, then who are you to say they must starve to ensure your long-term survival? Or that the survival of the crop-plants is more important than theirs; or yours? When faced with stark choices, most people tend to look after the here and now, and cross the bridge of the future when they come to it. And, I suppose, when looking at fundamental conflict between people over limited resources, to consider morality when they have the security and leisure to contemplate it.

Of course, one of the huge problems facing humanity is the extraordinary capacity we now have to inflict harm at great distance, through many layers of removal, with the harm arising not through the actions of any one individual, but through the combined actions of many. There’s not one person contributing to these comments (myself included) who isn’t, through use of electricity and the rare elements used in computer technology, making their own small contribution to *potentially* catastrophic global harm. To people as well as plants and animals.

Thomas may believe the protection and creation of life is paramount, but living as one of the unbelievably safe, comfortable, and privileged few (on a global scale), he isn’t entirely living his life according to his own beliefs.

*phew* Ok, meandering rant over. Fire away! :D

You have a point. Humans have been wrecking nature for as long as we’ve had a word for “nature”, and probably longer. Fossil records show humans have been burning and causing extinctions of species for several millenia…

But we’ve gotten to the point where we are not even trying to live with nature anymore (myself included, for obvious reasons). We are either poisoning water sources to extract fuels to burn (when there is a giant nuclear explosion in space farting out enough light, heat and radiation every second to put a potential (read: inevitable) World War 3 to shame), or siphoning them dry so we can sell it back to people as a luxury item at like 1,000 times its cost to “manufacture”.

We make shit which doesn’t last for a cheap price, we throw it away when it inevitably dies, and buy a new one because “it only cost $[insert value here]”. How many places offer recycling programs? Speaking of, what sort of incentive is there to recycle? Doing your bit for the good of the planet is all good and well, but people like to see a return on investment.

I guess we are all kind of hypocritical in that respect, if you take the broad view. But if you take God’s name (or any particular deity of choice) to push your personal agenda to spread hate and fear with one hand, while simultaneously using resources to destroy land/life/whatever with the other hand, then that is truly evil and you will be punished, body and soul.

PS: my rant probably went off topic. It usually does. Sorry.

Libertarianism is often boiled down as,”Don’t hurt people. Don’t take their stuff.”

Thomas’ sentiments sound fine, and his first speech balloon is OK if we’re talking species rather than individual organisms (until we can totally mimic photosynthesis on an industrial scale, even the most devout vegan has to destroy some life forms to eat) but creation of life being paramount in all activity (rather than trying to maintain some kind of steady state) seems like a good way to wreck things in the long term. The world is very far from infinite.

The whole point of the process of life is about balance. Take an apple, for example. Plucking the apple from a tree effectively kills the apple. It is cut off from its source of life, after all. You eat the apple, leaving only its core, providing energy to keep your body going for a time. You have effectively taken life from the apple and given it to yourself.

But you take that core and bury it in the ground. If it is good soil (how that is defined I have no clue, I am neither a horticulturist or agriculturalist), you water it and tend to it properly (see previous statement), and you will have an apple tree, which in time will produce new apples for consumption. You have given life back to the earth, and are rewarded with renewed life. We as a species have kind of forgotten that…

I agree with Thomas’ heartfelt sentiments, but now I can’t stop this from playing in my head…

That said, I’m not giving up eating meat in this lifetime. I’m just a jerk that way.


“Generally I don’t need to do much moderating.”

“I’m pretty sure no one got compared to Hitler at any point…”

If you deleted or edited any comments (well, any of mine, I don’t care about anyone else’s), then by the Unwritten Law of the Online Forum, you already are Hitler!


John Wesley’s three simple rules, 1. Do good. 2. Do No harm. 3. Stay in love with God. I used to think that was easy to do. Then I grew up, went to seminary and realized it was damn hard. :)

“All other life”, does he mean collectively as a whole ecosystem?
as a species, or each individual organism?
does this “goal” apply only to the present ecosystem?
or should it also be applied retroactively, and potentially to include all life that ever existed or will exist or evolve?
And does he mean plants and animals, or only animals?
what about micro-organisms?
what is more important to him, the life of a deadly virus, or the life of a sick human?
do you kill the virus or allow the human to die?

those are very good questions, every creature that exists is harming other creatures just to stay alive. they consume other organisms for nourishment and their immune systems kill countless invading organisms in self-defense. and just by the act of existing every organism competes with other organisms as the nourishment they extract to survive is nourishment that is no longer available for another organisms.
plants are among the most vicious strangling and starving out their competition nearly constantly.

ether way you look at it Thomas is advocating mass murder ether through promoting life that kills other life for survival or by entirely removing life so that it cannot then cause harm.

even if you restrict his statement to just humanity, there’s limited resources and the survival of one person generally means that someone else does not survive.
every job, every meal, everything you have is something that another person cannot have. it’s why we go to great lengths to ignore the homeless because to acknowledge their humanity is to stare this truth in the face, it’s a harsh and dark world out there and with all of our science and technology we manage only to obfuscate the truth of it from ourselves with comforting lies.

in the end all you can do is to survive and do what you can to ensure that it is the people you care about that also survive.

This philosophy… This is my philosophy. And much like Thomas, I’ve never been able to put it in words before. Thank you for doing it for me.

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