Sep 14 2012

Get ready to rumble!

On Monday at 10pm EST, AronRa will be debating Ray Comfort on internet radio. I’m planning to tune in, even though I suspect Ray will just babble out his usual, familiar schtick and never engage any of the arguments.


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  1. 1
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    No good can come of this.

  2. 2
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Also, rumble? This will be like watching a chef slowly chop an opnion while the onion insists all along that it really is a banana.

    Shit. At least Hovind has some tricks up his sleeve. Gish could gallup. Behe knows big words. Comfort travels with the kid from Growing Pains, FFS.

  3. 3
    Gregory in Seattle

    @Antiochus Epiphanes #1

    No good can come of this.

    For Comfort, that is.

  4. 4
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    onion, dammit. No typing and eating.

  5. 5
    Akira MacKenzie


  6. 6

    So, the creationist will spout his standard nonsense. The scientist will defend evolution using facts. The religious loonies who tune in will say “Ray destroyed the scientist!”, and the science-oriented listeners will say “The creationist looked like a fool, like they always do”.

    Net gain? Nothing.

    End result? Lots of snarky comments from both sides, and lots of time wasted. Nothing is gained from these “debates”, and they’re not even debates in the end.

    Note to rational people: You don’t convert people to facts by engaging in these nutty “debates”. They are pointless, useless, an utter waste of time. In fact, they’re counterproductive because rational people have been snared into wasting precious time. The only benefit is self-satisfaction.

    I couldn’t care less about the Ray Comforts of the world, but there’s an inexhaustible supply of atheists who LOVE to hear themselves talk. How about some action instead, you know … just for a change of pace.

  7. 7

    Antiochus @ 2:

    Comfort travels with the kid from Growing Pains, FFS.

    Point well taken (and amusing at that).
    I can’t help but get this picture of Laurel and Hardy or Abbot and Costello debating abstruse ideas– great sketch comedy.

  8. 8

    No thanks.

    Comfort will keep to his trite formula and will not budge one inch. He’ll bring up straw arguments against evolution (he was the inventor of the crocoduck, FFS), and will infest every comment with presuppositionalist nonsense.

    Aron is a glutton for punishment.

    The best response to a request for a debate from Comfort and his fellow travelers is chilly silence. Or open mockery.

    Good grief, the man believes the following is absolutely true:
    1. A magic genie created the universe in order to create one single planet that would have life.
    2. On this planet, he created a petting zoo, which he called a “garden”.
    3. In this petting zoo, he created every “kind” of animal in existence today.
    4. He created man from mud, and woman from the rib of the man.
    5. The two humans were dead-dumb stupid. So stupid they did not know they were naked.
    6. The magic genie also put a tree that bore IQ-raising sin fruit in the petting zoo. Along with a talking snake.
    7. The talking snake convinced the man and woman to eat the IQ-raising sin fruit, which instantly gave them (and all their descendants) knowledge of right and wrong.
    8. The magic genie was so pissed off at this turn of events that he kicked the man and woman out of the petting zoo. But gave them and their “kind” dominion over the earth. (WHAT? Why?)
    9. Eventually, the magic genie tried to drown every creature on the planet because he was displeased with the way humans were behaving. The only creatures that had any knowledge of right and wrong.

    And on and on. Comfort believes this is actual history – not just a loose collection of “just so” fables.

  9. 9
    Glen Davidson

    Bozo the clown wouldn’t debate, or what?

    Glen Davidson

  10. 10
    Dick the Damned

    The banana man can debate? I just can’t imagine anyone so egregiously stupid being able to participate in a meaningful conversation. Surely, this bozo can do little more than quote bible verses, ad nauseam?

    Okay, i can conceive that he has a cunning intelligence sufficient to construct eristic arguments to support his preconceived ideas, but meaningful debate, surely not?

  11. 11
    Aratina Cage

    I will listen simply to be mesmerized by AronRa’s god-like voice.

  12. 12
    Russell Glasser

    Since I’ve debated Ray Comfort also, this is my main piece of advice. Ray’s biggest weapon is asserting absolute certainty where he has none. He is very persistent about this — “You can’t say with certainty what came before the big bang because science doesn’t know. But I do.”

    Aron Ra should get really really comfortable with this phrase: “No you don’t.” Make sure you match his directness at all times.

    Also get real familiar with the parachute analogy, he loves that.

  13. 13
    Anthony K


    How divisive.

  14. 14

    Oh fuck, seriously? This is a joke right? I suppose he’ll be debating that wing nut ComingOutOfAtheism on YT next.

  15. 15

    I think I’ve already seen this debate. Didn’t it go something like this:

    Scientist: [Facts]
    Creationist: *spews out incoherent bullshit*
    Scientist: Wrong because [More facts]
    Creationist: Nuh uh. *spews out same incoherent bullshit*
    Scientist: But, I already addressed that. REBUTTALS DON’T WORK THAT WAY.
    Creationist: Nuh uh. *spews out same incoherent bullshit*

    And I believe that the above sequence more or less repeats itself until time runs out or until the scientist commits suicide.

    Am I in the ballpark?

  16. 16

    ” Ray’s biggest weapon is asserting absolute certainty where he has none. He is very persistent about this — “You can’t say with certainty what came before the big bang because science doesn’t know. But I do.””

    Perhaps Aron should jokingly take a quote from Ken Ham and reply “Where you there?”

  17. 17
    Eric R

    I agree with the seeming consensus above, AronRa is a glutton for punishment. He will come armed with all the facts and in the end all he will have done is given some credibility to Comfort. Who will claim victory regardless of actual outcome.

    I suppose one could argue that if one person watching the debate was convinced of AronRa’s rational arguments it might be worth it, but somehow its hard to imagine anyone who follows Comfort close enough to care about this “debate” is at all susceptible to facts and or reason.

  18. 18
    A Hermit

    Great…what are the odds that after Ray Comfort claims victory we can look forward to reading his new blog on “Big Think…”

  19. 19

    What rumble? Rumble in this context usually implies a fight.

    Now the rumble of a giant bouldering bounding down a rocky slope to squash a bunny with delusions of intellectual adequacy…

  20. 20

    jaxksmith #6 wrote:

    Note to rational people: You don’t convert people to facts by engaging in these nutty “debates”. They are pointless, useless, an utter waste of time. In fact, they’re counterproductive because rational people have been snared into wasting precious time. The only benefit is self-satisfaction.

    Well, as an empirical matter you’re wrong here — and probably have to admit you’re wrong, because your claim is obviously too sweeping. All it takes is just one person in one place at one time who at least started on the process of rejecting creationism because of some debate he saw somewhere between two some ones and you’re wrong. That’s a hell of a lot of leeway. I’ve seen more than a few testimonials to that effect, but I don’t think you’re really going to need to see the citations in order to grant that okay, it has probably worked at least once.

    Your real argument is that it doesn’t work often enough to be worthwhile. Which is more likely.

    But I think it more likely that you’re still wrong. Comfort’s audience — and creationists in general — are a very large group with a lot of diversity beneath the surface. Like all groups, they’re a group of individuals, not a monolithic block. And unlike science-based rationalists, very few of them were really persuaded to be creationists from an objective examination of the evidence. They believe because of childhood indoctrination; they believe because all the people around them believe; they believe because they think the alternative view leads to immorality; they believe because they want to be the kind of people who believe; they believe because they believe that most of the world’s scientists really do consider evolution a theory in jeopardy; and they believe because the creationist arguments sound pretty good and they’ve never really encountered the other side.

    The same motivations which tend to make them invulnerable to reason (“you can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves in to”) also, ironically, make them very vulnerable. Because they haven’t thought their positions through — and we know that, once they DO start to think, they’re in trouble.

    They’re also vulnerable because they think they HAVE thought it all through. They think they’re right. They think the facts are behind them and so is God so they’ve got nothing to fear. Bring it on. This is no problem. They can listen. Their faith is strong — but it doesn’t have to be strong because they’re also right.

    Cocky — and wrong. That is a bad combination.

    Combine that with dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people all at different points in their lives, all with personal issues and all putting a different weight or a different spin or a different state of mind or a different educational background onto and into this event and I think it’s more than just possible that something in this particular debate will resonate with someone … and put in some tiny little crack of doubt in the Brick Wall of Faith-based Certainty. Nothing dramatic, probably. But something. Maybe just the realization that there IS honest disagreement or that the issue isn’t as simple and easy as it sounds in church or Sunday School. Something.

    After all, if you’re right about how certain, how blind, how insulated, how ignorant, and how intractable the creationists all are (every single one of them! in the same way!) — then there is nowhere for AronRa to go but up.

  21. 21

    Death by inches is the best we can do.
    Have you thanked a punishment-glutton today?

    Certainly, some people will never be swayed, no matter the proofs. They’ll always have an argument from authority or personal experience to fall back on, and soon they’ll be back to waving the cosmological argument around like a pool noodle.

    But willful folks like AronRa doggedly pursue these debates. And other people hear these arguments. And maybe *those* people set aside the cosmological argument. And maybe wonder: If Buddhist can conjure up a religious experience through meditation, can a Pentecostal be sure they are experiencing God?

    And if these people bring up solid arguments around the proverbial water cooler, that break-room/bus-stop/coffee-break-at-church becomes less group-thinky. We’re talking culture change, not flash-of-light-everyone-is-reasonable.

    If AronRa speaks well, maybe he’ll get invited back, or invited to speak to a larger audience, of a different background. And cast stones in that pond.

    So give those prolific debaters, or that one person who made that one good point that one time, a big ol’ hug next time you see them. I hear some of us are pretty good at it.

  22. 22

    Oh. What Sastra said. :D :D :D

  23. 23

    Besides, my guess is that the sloppy but annoyingly popular trope that “the truth is usually somewhere in the middle” operates even on people in a fundamentalist church who listen to Ray Comfort. If AronRa doesn’t scare them all stiff with his flowing hair and satanic mustache, they’re probably going to want to see themselves as people who are fair-minded enough to grant something to the Other Guy. Something small.

    “Roy was right here and here and here, but yeah, that were a couple good points from that Egyptian or whatever he is. I’m open enough to admit that there’s always something to be said for both views. The truth, you see — and this is something I’ve come to on my own, you know, with my experience of life and all — the truth is usually somewhere in the middle.”

    Got ‘em. Considering where they start out, nowhere to go but up.

  24. 24

    And what tyler said :D

  25. 25

    I’m planning to make tacos and then play video games all night. Seems like more fun. No offense meant to AronRa, I just can’t stand listening to people as willfully ignorant as Comfort. Trying to reason with his child-like mind is futile. If this had an audience of people who could be reached I might think differently (charitably, formal debates are attempts to convince the audience, not the other participant), but the only listeners are going to be Aron’s fans who already have heard Comfort’s sales pitch and aren’t buying (make no mistake, Comfort’s idea of a debate is two people alternating rehearsed sales pitches), and Comfort’s followers who have shown to have an impossibly high saving throw against reason. It’s going to be Aron trying to engage Comfort, Comfort hawking his crap as if Aron isn’t even there, and me eating tacos. In the end, everyone loses. Except me. Because I have tacos.

  26. 26
    Patricia, OM

    can a Pentecostal be sure they are experiencing god?


  27. 27

    I hope you’re right. My natural cynicism combined with a frustratingly long work week make me see a positive outcome as unlikely.

    Regardless, best of luck to AronRa. Hopefully he can help give the gift of rationality to at least one listener.

  28. 28

    On one hand, a person can argue that a Buddhist is experiencing God and calling it meditation. A marginally open mind would admit that the opposite is possible. Chipping at faith.

    “Ray Comfort” on the marquee will draw in a different crowd than “AronRa” alone. Some in that crowd are shoulder-deep in it. Looking down and admitting to what they’re standing in would be ruinous. They might feel like the loss of faith would destroy Who They Are, and some way they’re right. (But if you lose a lie, should you morn the loss?)

    There will also be habitual or weekend theists. These are the people who support theism. Ray Comfort and his ilk can rile them, but they pay the bills. We need to give them doubt, and feed it.

  29. 29

    Um, he DOES know that Comfort will edit the debate and lie to people about it, right?

  30. 30
    Martin Wagner

    Well, Aron will have his own complete recording available, so that’ll work for about two seconds.

  31. 31
    Dr. Strabismus

    “On Monday at 10pm EST”

    I think that should be EDT, no?

  32. 32

    I was briefly very interested in this debate, untill I remembered which of the creationist answers to ‘Ray Comfort’. The only way I’m gonna bother with this show now is if AronRa makes his rebuttal by body slamming the little turd.

    *looks again- What, internet radio?? I’m out, I’ll get the highlights later.

  33. 33

    Martin Wagner @ #30,

    The problem is that anybody who doesn’t already know that Comfort is a liar will only hear his version of events. He’s the one with the publicity budget and unquestioning masses. So few people seem to get what quote mines are, even after they’re explained. Hell, I’ve had people tell me that their pet pundits weren’t quote mining when I showed them the original, unedited version of what they had just claimed was whole and accurate.

  34. 34

    I agree with @jacksmith (#6) for the most part, although I guess there can be some entertainment value in it, for instance, watching the Hitchens brothers debate a few years ago or … watching Hitchens debate anyone, especially four believers (five counting the moderator): at once.

    Jack said: “They are pointless, useless, an utter waste of time. In fact, they’re counterproductive because rational people have been snared into wasting precious time. The only benefit is self-satisfaction.”

    And it goes both ways. Of course, while it may be a waste of time for “rational people,” it pales to the amount of time wasted by believers, not to mention resources and money thrown at religion.

  35. 35

    It will be fun only in a train wreck sense. Although I’ve seen Aron Ra debate fundies, and he gets quite, shall we say, animated (and there’s that voice)…
    As a general rule, I think we should stick to not attempting to debate these people. We don’t try to reason with hamsters either, after all.

  36. 36

    I am ambivalent about this. On the one hand I admire Aron Ra (no sarcasm). This could prove pretty much shooting fish in a barrel. On the other hand “debates” elevate nutters like Comfort – give them additional “credibility.”

    The silver lining here is that Aron Ra’s superpower I have noticed is that he is particularly good at nailing down specious arguments, not allowing himself to get side-tracked, halting dishonest misdirection and best of all, asking them questions that they either

    1.) Can’t answer at all
    2.) Can’t answer without sounding utterly and completely incoherent even to someone on their side
    3.) Reveal their dishonesty

  37. 37

    Sometime in 2011 the Journal Synthese allowed free downloads of the April 2009 issue which featured a series of articles about creationism vs. evolution. The one of these that addressed the pedagogy is Kelly C. Smith’s Foiling the Black Knight. He uses the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail in which Arthur hacks off the Black Knight’s arms and legs. As he leaves, the knight cries out “Get back here! I can still bite you!” Smith uses this as a metaphor for debating creationists to good effect.

    The article explains the folly of trying to have a “debate” when not only the opponent but also the members of the audience do not have the slightest grasp of the fundamental principles of the enlightenment. It’s really a clear explanation of the underlying principles that win over whoever could be won, not the particular details of the science or even the evidence. I highly recommend it for anyone debating one of these jokers.

  38. 38
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    22:00 Eastern Standard Time? So that’s 23:00 Eastern Daylight Time, right? So that’s when we should tune in.

  39. 39
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Coyotenose, that’s surprising & disheartening! More of that notorious authoritarian stubbornness?

    Sorry about the duplicate post about time. I searched for “Standard” and didn’t see it.

    It would be hard to edit AronRa and still leave him any words.

  40. 40

    I understand how creationists are only “relevant” (I use the term with an incalculable amount of looseness) when they find someone who could be considered an authority on science and simply sitting down with said authority is the entirety of all credibility the creationist will ever have, but I think this can really swing people who are honestly clueless about the subject. Someone who is perhaps in a strict Christian home and is honestly ignorant and curious about the subject will hear about Ray from a friend and come across this video.

    @Post 10, I have to disagree with your sentiment that it is a useless endeavour. These debates are only worth it for the people who aren’t rooting for either side, and I think the resulting people who see this as an early exposure to the creationist hijinks and how science addresses their claims.

  41. 41
    David Marjanović

    8. The magic genie was so pissed off at this turn of events that he kicked the man and woman out of the petting zoo.

    Oh, not so much pissed off as afraid that they’d discover the tree with the fruits that give eternal life and that he had, in all seriousness, planted in the same garden! The fear that they’d “become like us” is palpable in the text.

    watching Hitchens debate anyone, especially four believers (five counting the moderator): at once.

    I just watched half of it (3:02 of 5:55). The echo is horrible, and so is the background noise. I understand barely half of what Hitchens is saying.

    Also, “debate”? It’s at least 3:02 of Hitchens talking alone.

  42. 42

    Oh, not so much pissed off as afraid that they’d discover the tree with the fruits that give eternal life and that he had, in all seriousness, planted in the same garden!

    I hear the fruit in question was a banana.

    Ray Comfort told me so!

    sorry, someone had to.

  43. 43
    David Marjanović

    :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

    Day saved!!!

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