Ray is preaching my stuff!

I just checked the latest post from Ray Comfort and submitted the following response. I’m doubtful that he’ll post it and I’m very doubtful that we’ll ever have any sort of dialog…but, darn it, I just can’t stop trying. I guess I’m a bit more masochistic than I thought.

For those that don’t want to read Ray’s post, the short version is: the OT and NT gods are the same, righteous, perfect and equally stern in their pure justice. This version has only a single change…I’ve actually provided the link to the wiki, as I can pretty much do whatever I want to do here. :)

Thanks, Ray…for (almost) preaching the very sermon I’ve been preaching for years.

So many Christians (and many non-Christians) dismiss the Old Testament view of God in favor of the cheek-turning compassion of the New Testament version. The mistakenly think that the NT version is better, softer or more kind.

There’s just one tiny area where we disagree (actually, there are several beyond this, but I’m only addressing the comparison)…you think the OT and NT versions are equally good, righteous and perfect. I don’t.

While some non-believers might agree with you, but opt for ‘equally bad’ as the appropriate description, I simply don’t agree. The NT doctrine is far worse.

Your cartoonish oversimplification of the wages of OT sin being “Hell” is not consistent with Jewish tradition and not Biblically supported without anachronistic reinterpretation of the OT. The very understanding of death and what happens after death is rather nebulous in the OT and much more vivid in the NT. This renders the NT version of God far worse than the OT version – because the immoral doctrines of original sin is compounded by the unjust concept of eternal punishment for finite ‘sins’ (though you’ll probably point out that sins against a God are necessarily infinite…that’s just a convenient interpretation that isn’t supported theologically, logically or Biblically).

The idea that it is just to punish people for their thoughts, doubts or disbelief is a perversion of any reasonable concept of justice. The system is further polluted by the claim that it rewards belief, regardless of, or in preference to action.

While you’ll find this sad, possibly offensive and may even refuse to publish it, I have no problem at all asserting that my moral values are superior to those of any character in the Bible, including the various characterizations of God. In fact, I’d argue that the God of the Bible may be one of the least moral characters in that entire collection of ancient writings.

When you sacrifice your humanity, your decency and your rational sense of justice in order to claim that the tyrannical acts of a more powerful being are intrinsically just, appealing to the banality of ‘might makes right’ – you’ve lost the battle.

The Euthyphro dilemma begins to make this point about fiat-morality…but it’s worth extending.

If you’re so impressed with the Sermon on the Mount, I’d be curious to hear your take on my response to it.

Ray Comfort on WDAY AM 970

I’m listening to Ray Comfort spew nonsense on WDAY this morning and losing an IQ point a minute. You may recall that he was supposed to debate PZ Myers on today’s show, but there was a change of format. PZ will be on tomorrow at 10:00am, so I can regain my lost IQ points.

Some gems from the show include Ray’s agreement that the Catholic Church tortured people during the Inquisition, but “don’t blame that on Christians.” This was after a caller pointed out that the church imprisoned Gallileo for suggesting that the earth revolves around the sun. Just a few minutes before that, Ray had commented that “In a hundred years time we will laugh at what science believes.” The man truly has no sense of irony.

He also thinks there’s “absolute, 100% proof” that intelligent design is true. Well, we already knew that Ray, but where’s the proof? He had the temerity to use the old “no building without a builder” canard and to further demonstrate his misunderstanding of evolution by asking the host, “Can you make me a cow from nothing?”

No Ray, but you’re doing a pretty good job of making an ass of yourself from nothing. Aside from your gross misunderstanding of evolution, you have a habit of pretending you can’t hear the callers who disagree with you. Of course, your hearing miraculously returns for the YECs recommending Answers in Genesis as a source of science information.

In short, nothing new here. Same old creationist nonsense, same old intellectual dishonesty.

I make nice with Ray Comfort

No surprise, Ray Comfort offered a jeering post about Patrick’s threat of a lawsuit on his blog. That’s the biggest problem with taking this kind of ill-conceived action, and it’s completely predictable. It gives the opponent completely justified moral high ground from which to criticize you, when before he was just slinging a fairly juvenile insult.

So I wrote my own comment there, pointing out that Patrick does not represent all atheists, and that in fact we dedicated a fair bit of show time to criticizing him over the weekend. Ray didn’t let the comment go unedited: I tried to supply a link to the video and audio broadcasts, and he says he doesn’t allow any links from commenters. Meh? I think that’s a silly policy, but I read the rules now and it wasn’t just me. In any case, Ray was kind enough to personally post the comment himself, sans the links. So if nothing else, I know he’s read it.

If you want a score count, I estimated that the total number of emails sent concurrently to Patrick and us, as of this morning, is pretty close to 50. I’ve stopped reading them all carefully, so it’s possible that I’ve missed something. However, my back-of-the-envelope calculations show that somewhere around, um, oh, call it 100% of the emailers agree with us. Patrick’s response seems to be that they are all now self-admitted fools, and that since all the atheists in the world have not emailed him, everyone who didn’t explicitly say he’s wrong must secretly be on his side.

Face, meet desk. Ow!

Hmmm… it looks like Ray just made a special post to highlight my comment, and also claims that Patrick wishes to withdraw his suit based on these emails. I notice that Ray is aggressively avoiding a link back, even cutting out the name of the show. Typical. Now I feel better, because I can’t handle having sympathetic feelings toward Ray for too long. ;)

Ray Comfort’s imagination

If there were any lingering question that Ray Comfort deserved the appellation of World’s Dumbest Apologist, it would surely be put to rest by reading the exercise in vacuity that is his blog. Mr. Banana calls it “Ray Comfort Food,” and that’s a fairly apt title: perhaps tasty for undiscriminating people looking for a quick snack, but not healthy or nourishing in the least.

Ray’s latest post typically reflects how little is going on between his ears at any given moment. In “The Atheist’s Battle” (a puzzling title, as he never actually addresses what he thinks that is), Ray actually spends two out of three paragraphs simply restating Pascal’s Wager. Yes, Pascal’s Wager. Then, in his third paragraph he asserts that what allows Christianity to trump atheism is the Christian’s willingness to confuse imagination with fact and entertain all manner of delusions.

Like many nowadays, John Lennon imagined only sky. His mind was limited. However, the Christian’s mind isn’t closed. By the grace of God, he has expanded his horizon. For him, nothing is impossible.

Until, I suppose, the Christian tries to put that assumption to the test by standing on the roof of a 40-story building, flapping his arms with the intent to fly to the building across the street, and jumping off. In his final seconds of life, he will have an admittedly brief opportunity to contemplate that, whatever the religion you’ve chosen to embrace has told you, perhaps there are a few things that are impossible.

Like most people who’ve allowed delusion to guide their lives, Ray confuses mindless gullibility with being “open minded,” and cares not a whit whether what he has chosen to believe is actually true as long as it provides “comfort food.” What Ray lacks the ability to understand is that one’s mind is not “limited” by adopting the intellectual integrity and honesty that enables you to distinguish fantasy from reality. The believer may feel all warm and fuzzy by thinking he has “expanded his horizons” to the point where delusion and reality are a blur. But he is still living in delusion. I’m sure I could follow Ray’s advice, and choose to believe that when I die, I will go to Candyland on the Island of Misfit Toys and live in the Popsicle Palace for all eternity, and that anyone who doesn’t share this belief has a “closed mind.” But would that be sensible?

A common element I’ve heard from my fellow atheists, particularly those who were formerly Christian or otherwise religious, is that we all reached a point where we realized that it mattered whether or not what we believed was actually true, and not just comfort food. And the way you determine what’s actually true is through the reliable methodologies of science.

When you read the sad prattlings of a guy like Ray Comfort, who has decided this distinction clearly doesn’t matter, you realize that the “imagination” he so eagerly touts as the key to “open minded” thinking is really a feeble thing indeed. There’s nothing in Ray’s imagination, except the god Ray has made in his image and the fear of his own mortality he has disguised as eager anticipation of “eternity.”

If he were even a smidgen less scientifically illiterate than he is, he’d quickly find that the wonders and majesty of the real universe that science reveals to us are immeasurably more awe-inspiring than the bereft and self-centered fantasies he has embraced. Ray just doesn’t know much. He doesn’t even know how limited his mind is. If he only had a brain. But there I go imagining again.