The song almost didn't make the record (True North). Before meeting for pre-production, Brett decided to double-check the song files on his computer and clicked on the song - which was half finished and didn't have any words because he didn't think it was going anywhere. Upon hearing the song, he thought it sounded pretty good and so he decided to bring that one along to the studio; just in case. Even though it wasn't entirely finished, the band recorded the music anyway.
In the studio Brett and Greg started talking about lyrical ideas and the concept of the song changed twice but finally became “Dharma and The Bomb.”
Brett finished the lyrics and the melody in the studio and wanted to have a California surf kind of dialect. As Greg is from Wisconsin he doesn't have that sound to his voice and was therefore having a tough time singing it. So Brett did a placeholder vocal to show him how the lyrics should sound over top the music; but Greg could never get it right. That's when Brett decided it would be him singing the song himself.
Jay: "When it comes right down to it, it’s kind of about terrorists having a dirty bomb and India having an atomic bomb."
Jay: "It’s an odd Bad Religion song, and I don’t mean odd in a negative way, and I like it. It’s one of my favorite songs ever. (...) I remember when we got the song tracks all down, and everything was done. The sequencing was done. The mixing was done. I got my first copy and I called Brett, I think “Dharma and The Bomb” into the next two songs in a row [“Hello Cruel World” & “Vanity”], may be the best few minutes of Bad Religion I can remember hearing."