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Jul 11 2013

American Atheists talks to Ray Comfort

Not that he’ll listen — if there’s anything I’m sure of, it’s that Ray Comfort’s mind is a rigidly solid block of matter absolutely resistant to knowledge. Still, they tried to explain what was wrong with his video. This part is most important, I think.

If you want to make a respectable documentary, let the experts speak! Do not edit their interviews to 4-second clips every 2 minutes with 4-second clips of undergraduates filling the time between. Sit down with an evolutionary biologist and have her explain to you what evolution means, give you some examples of observed instances of it, and why understanding the implications of this shows that we have no need of a god to explain speciation. Don’t interrupt and don’t redefine what she’s trying to tell you.

Even if Comfort had a valid point, even if he had discovered a weak point in evolutionary theory, this tactic he used completely undermines his efforts. I explained to him why his version of evolution was nothing like the scientific theory; I told him why his arguments were fallacious; I explained that the evidence I gave was exactly what was predicted by evolution. None of that made it to his movie. He chopped the interview into fragments and allowed no one to actually address his claims.

American Atheists speaks the truth about the movie; if you want the counter view, Ken Ham has also reviewed it. I think it says something that the atheists demand honesty, while the good Christians praise dishonesty.

54 comments

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  1. 1
    gregpeterson

    From the press release, Comfort talking: “We love the people at Answers in Genesis, and we asked them to review ‘Evolution vs. God’ to make sure it was scientifically accurate.”

    A fifth of Johnny Walker Black shot out my nose.

  2. 2
    Kevin

    And, of course, as Hitchens pointed out, even if you were to complete and totally dismantle the theory of evolution, that in no way proves the existence of your god.

    All your work is still ahead of you in that regard.

  3. 3
    Eric Ward

    I am convinced that Ray is an Atheist playing the devils advocate.

  4. 4
    keane

    I watched the film while it was still up, and the sole victory Comfort *thinks* he has is that there is not a single piece of evidence that one animal evolves into another animal that is not of its “kind.” Sure, birds can adapt, Comfort allows, but that adaptation is still a bird (Comfort’s assertion regarding the difference between Darwin’s finches).

    It kind of enraged me that those students would even allow this line of questioning, or at the very least were not able to answer it. Evolution takes a long time—time that’s difficult to imagine on a human scale. Asking for a different “kind” to be formed from an existing “kind” would take hundreds of thousands if not millions of years.

    I thought of it this way. Start with organism x. Each adaptation and mutation of x moves it farther away from the original. After, let’s say, 10,000 mutations (we’ll call that x10,000*), x and x10,000 are going to be mighty different from one another. You might even consider them a different “kind,” or whatever that even means. But, you still need all 10,000 of those mutations to get there. He’s asking you to go from x to x10,000 in a single step, which is ludicrous. But he’s so ignorant of the process, he counts it as a win.

    It’s like he’s playing chess with golf balls for pieces, and then he declares himself the winner when his opponent moves her first pawn. It doesn’t make any sense.

    *—I’m not a scientist, just a layman trying to flesh out a point, so excuse my ignorance of scientific vocabulary/jargon.

  5. 5
    Pierce R. Butler

    Did Comfort put anything at all into his notumentary that even merits a new entry in the TalkOrigins List of Creationist Claims?

  6. 6
    microraptor

    From the press release, Comfort talking: “We love the people at Answers in Genesis, and we asked them to review ‘Evolution vs. God’ to make sure it was scientifically accurate.”

    A fifth of Johnny Walker Black shot out my nose.

    That sounds painful.

    But not as painful as watching Ray’s “documentary.”

  7. 7
    billgascoyne

    If you want to make a respectable documentary

    Well, there’s your problem right there, the flawed premise. Why would you assume that Ray Comfort wants to make a respectable documentary?

  8. 8
    dangeroustalk

    Here is my Review: Evolution vs. God – The Movie – http://t.co/l8SDeRmSBa

  9. 9
    bengilder

    Maybe Ray could be of use to science, seems his brain could be the perfect high density material to make a small scale neutrino detector. Wait! Hold the phones, maybe he’s receiving neutrino signals as we speak? Neutrinos are the real god particle!! Of course, why didn’t I see it earlier.

  10. 10
    Glen Davidson

    Even if Comfort had a valid point, even if he had discovered a weak point in evolutionary theory, this tactic he used completely undermines his efforts.

    And since he has nothing but denial and lies, the tactic that he used completely supports his efforts, since it makes the best use of denial and lies.

    It’s sort of like the Gish Gallop, only it doesn’t allow anyone to truly answer anything at all. If he can’t answer it, he can make fun of it.

    Glen Davidson

  11. 11
    Glen Davidson

    If he can’t answer it, he can make fun of it.

    Well, of course he can’t answer anything, but I mean that if he doesn’t even have a cheap shot that can take at a serious point, he can just laugh at, say, the idea of our being related to bananas.

    Glen Davidson

  12. 12
    Sili

    American Atheists speaks the truth about the movie; if you want the counter view, Ken Ham has also reviewed it.

    I was about to ask if he really reviewed his own film, until I scrolled back and rechecked the names.

    It would amuse me greatly if there turns out to be significant theological differences between the Hovinds and the Hams.

  13. 13
    Sili

    I am convinced that Ray is an Atheist playing the devils advocate.

    And Jerry Coyne thinks Obama is an atheist.

  14. 14
    wyobio

    Knowing full well that this was going to happen, why did you let him interview you? Are you really dense enough to keep feeding that troll? Yes, Ray is a sleazy liar who *will* distort whatever you say to him. Ergo, don’t say anything to him. If you’re retarded enough to give him an interview, shut up and don’t be a whiner when he acts as you damn well knew he was going to.

  15. 15
    chigau (違う)

    wyobio
    Don’t use “retarded” as an insult.

  16. 16
    Akira MacKenzie

    But Ray was nice enough to send PZ a gift basket!

  17. 17
    throwaway

    Knowing full well that this was going to happen, why did you let him interview you?

    Probably because those whom he might convince with obvious and blatant quote-mining dishonesty are already convinced without the quote-mined dishonesty. Taking part as a credible person is a way to expose that dishonesty to those people who may have an open mind about such things. It gives us something to point to in a meaningful if anecdotal way and say: “Look, there’s a trend of people saying they’ve been quote-mined to distort the truth of what they said, don’t you think that’s a bit dishonest on Ray’s part?” Pointing out his dishonesty is not whining, it’s showing the world what a lying viperous fraud he is, thus his opprobrium is evidenced rather than alluded to.

  18. 18
    Jackie, all dressed in black

    wyobio,
    You could do better? Cool. Get to it. Go show PZ how this standing up against Creationist propaganda should be done. He’s only been on the front lines of this fight for ages. I’m sure you could teach him a thing or two, what with you being such an expert on the “right” way to do this. We’ll all hold our breath while you fix the problem of fraud pressing it’s way into our schools. I’m sure you’ll be a dynamo of awesomeness and no one will ever twist your words or misrepresent you. I expect you’ll have the problem solved by the end of the week, you keyboard cowboy.

    ..and listen to chingau.

  19. 19
    Jackie, all dressed in black

    Chigau,
    Sorry for mis-typing your nym.
    I can do typing!
    (No, not really. My typing sucks mightily.)
    :(

  20. 20
    johnmckay

    Aside from offering him a banana, I can’t imagine what I’d have to say to Ray Comfort.

  21. 21
    davidgentile

    It’s tragic for everyone if the believers see this as a Win.

    Doubly tragic for the believers when they perceive the boundless inanity of Comfort and his ilk.

  22. 22
    Akira MacKenzie

    I honestly don’t get how anyone can stand in Comfort’s presence (or any other religionist, capitalist, new age chalatan, conservative/libertarian, etc) at all and NOT feel seething, face-reddening vein-pooping, rage. This man and the millions of others who agree with him are evil. They are fucking up this world, dragging it down into another Dark Age. How can anyone be civil to that?

  23. 23
    Glen Davidson

    I honestly don’t get how anyone can stand in Comfort’s presence (or any other religionist, capitalist, new age chalatan, conservative/libertarian, etc) at all and NOT feel seething, face-reddening vein-pooping, rage.

    Well, no, not vein-pooping rage.

    I don’t really get watching that drivel, though, it’s so stupid that all I could do is listen while doing other stuff. I doubt that I missed anything in the visuals.

    Glen Davidson

  24. 24
    Akira MacKenzie

    Well, I do, and it’s gotten me into more than my fair share of trouble. Just today I was howled down by on a FB thread for pointing out that Orson Scott Card is a “magic-underwear-clad piece of shit.” The consensus was that while Card’s homophobia is inexcusable, my attacking his “ethnicity” (yes, Mormonism is a ethnicity now) was just as bigoted.

    Now, was I out of line there? If anything I thought I was being reserved.

  25. 25
    vaiyt

    I watched the film while it was still up, and the sole victory Comfort *thinks* he has is that there is not a single piece of evidence that one animal evolves into another animal that is not of its “kind.”

    And “kinds” were created when the “species don’t evolve into other species” argument got old. Now, all Comfort has to do is run away with the goalposts whenever a new connection between taxa is found.

  26. 26
    Akira MacKenzie

    vaiyt @ 25

    Given the well-documented limits of Rray’s vocabulary, he’d probably claim that his ministry shouldn’t have to pay taxa.

  27. 27
    Nes

    wyobio @ 14,

    PZ was in a lose-lose situation. Ray probably walked up to him with the camera already rolling. If PZ declined, Ray could spin it as evolutionists being afraid of creationism, or, “Evilutionists can’t face The Truth™,” or some other such thing. At least by responding, PZ can explain what he really said and point out that Ray is being a duplicitous piece of excrement.

  28. 28
    Akira MacKenzie

    Nes @ 27

    You have a point, but without the unaltered footage in Ray’s possession to comparebwith the finished product, your strategy of posing Comfort as a “duplicitous piece of excrement” becomes a game of “Ray-said-PZ-said.” If a creationist wants to interview an atheist, the latter better be allowed to have their own recording crew on site, otherwise no deal.

  29. 29
    throwaway

    Akira: If a creationist wants to interview an atheist, the latter better be allowed to have their own recording crew on site, otherwise no deal.And we can all be sure, given the preponderance of projection creationists and IDists exhibit, that they will claim the evolutionist’s crews are there to quote-mine and make the creationists and IDists look silly…

  30. 30
    throwaway

    My first borkquote.

    Akira:

    If a creationist wants to interview an atheist, the latter better be allowed to have their own recording crew on site, otherwise no deal.

    And we can all be sure, given the preponderance of projection creationists and IDists exhibit, that they will claim the evolutionist’s crews are there to quote-mine and make the creationists and IDists look silly…

  31. 31
    Nes

    Akira MacKenzie,

    a game of “Ray-said-PZ-said.”

    True. Like I said, it’s pretty much a lose-lose situation.

  32. 32
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @24. (but not really 24?) Akira MacKenzie :

    Well, I do, and it’s gotten me into more than my fair share of trouble. Just today I was howled down by on a FB thread for pointing out that Orson Scott Card is a “magic-underwear-clad piece of shit.” The consensus was that while Card’s homophobia is inexcusable, my attacking his “ethnicity” (yes, Mormonism is a ethnicity now) was just as bigoted.

    Now, was I out of line there? If anything I thought I was being reserved.

    I have mixed feelings here.

    I loved Orson Scott Card’s novels as a kid. Loved the ‘Enders Game’ series and some of his other works. In those Card seemed like a good bloke who was pretty compassionate, understanding and highly intelligent and empathetic.

    Then later, many years indeed a decade or more later, I found out about his Mormonism and, worse, his rabid, surprising* homophobia. Which made me think : What the fuck O. S. Card!? That news, that stuff I found about about him later, cast him in a whole new, decidedly unpleasant light.

    Its kinda hard to reconcile the author as seemingly expressed in his books with the later Mormon douchebag. Which ones’ the real one?

    So, no, I don’t really think Card is a “piece of shit” but I do detest some of his views on some subjects. Whether you went too far or not I can’t judge either not fully knowing what you said and in its context.
    But using Mormon as an ethnicity is absolutely and utterly bullshit. A culture and ideology certainly but “ethnicity” – fuck no!

    * In at least one of his SF series Card had some very sympathetically portrayed and seen as admirable gay characters especially I think for the time when he was writing.

  33. 33
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @27. Nes

    wyobio @ 14, PZ was in a lose-lose situation. Ray probably walked up to him with the camera already rolling. If PZ declined, Ray could spin it as evolutionists being afraid of creationism, or, “Evilutionists can’t face The Truth™,” or some other such thing. At least by responding, PZ can explain what he really said and point out that Ray is being a duplicitous piece of excrement.

    Exactly. That’s the Catch-22 and whatever he’d said or done, you just know there will always be spin whatever PZ (or any other actual scientist) does where the Creationists are involved.

  34. 34
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ Akira

    “magic-underwear-clad piece of shit.”

    Now, was I out of line there?

    No.

    Here is a simple question, you could use as a rule of thumb: “Does the person I am criticising have the ability to change that which I criticise?”

    If you are criticising a person for holding a mormon world-view, that is fine. The person can remedy that. It is actually the world-view that is being criticised. On the other hand, for example, if one were to criticise someone for having a brown skin, that would be (completely) out of line.

    Orson Scott Card proves to be a piece of shit, by virtue of their bigotry. You are right to call it out when you see it (the others on FB at least agree on this).

  35. 35
    Ichthyic

    Let me go on record as saying that not only is OSC a definable piece of shit, but that I have never cared what StevoR had to say about well, anything.

    cheers!

  36. 36
    Ichthyic

    . Just today I was howled down by on a FB thread

    well, there’s your problem.

    The amount you should worry about what people say on FB, or Reddit, or Youtube, is inversely proportional to how popular the particular OP in question has become.

    things with over 100 responses? you should care what people think about what you say there about as much as what people think about the color of your toenails.

  37. 37
    salahhesali

    Does anyone seriously thinks ray Comfort believes any of his crap? The only reason he doesn’t actually believe the theory of evolution to be true is because he doesn’t give a shit whether it is or not. It doesn’t matter what the truth is. Truth don’t bring anyone money. “Fighting for god” does.

  38. 38
    Lofty

    Quite frankly Bananaman is just a regular con-man. He knows his target audience and knows how easy it is to part the rubes with their dollars. Honesty not required. Charm and deflective tactics are. He has no need at all to believe what he trumpets, only to be consistent.

  39. 39
    ianderthal2

    Some thoughts to bear in mind:

    Not all Christians are young Earth creationists.

    Not all Christians are dishonest like Comfort and Ham ( I’m sure there are plenty of dishonest Atheists too).

    Atheism is completely irrelevant to science. It is no more relevant to science than Christianity.

    To claim that science proves Atheism is true is dishonest.

  40. 40
    Rey Fox

    Not all Christians are young Earth creationists.

    Nobody ever claimed they were.

    Not all Christians are dishonest like Comfort and Ham ( I’m sure there are plenty of dishonest Atheists too).

    Nobody ever claimed there weren’t.

    Atheism is completely irrelevant to science. It is no more relevant to science than Christianity.

    Christianity put forth claims testable by science. They have all failed. That’s the reason that some Christians have declared their god and related phenomena to be “out of bounds” for science.

    To claim that science proves Atheism is true is dishonest.

    How?

  41. 41
    David Marjanović

    To claim that science proves Atheism is true is dishonest.

    “Proves”? Proof is for math, formal logic, and American alcohol. What science does here is make an argument from parsimony: the assumption that any deity exists is simply not necessary to explain anything.

  42. 42
    Akira MacKenzie

    Not all Christians are young Earth creationists.

    All Christians believe that their God created the universe. Ergo, all Christians are creationists. The length of time they claim the process took is irrelevant.

    Not all Christians are dishonest like Comfort and Ham ( I’m sure there are plenty of dishonest Atheists too).

    All Christian believe in a god. That makes them dishonest by default.

    Atheism is completely irrelevant to science. It is no more relevant to science than Christianity.

    Rey Fox already touched on this one at 40. The minute you make a claim about the nature of reality, whether it’s demons exist or that you can heal disease by prayer, you are making a scientific claim. So far, the Christian have yet to give us the evidence to that their claims are actually true.

    To claim that science proves Atheism is true is dishonest.

    To claim atheism claim that science proves Atheism is true is dishonest.
    Please cite your source.

  43. 43
    Akira MacKenzie

    Damn! I need caffeine:

    To claim atheists that science proves Atheism is true is dishonest.

  44. 44
    Rich Woods

    @Akira #43:

    Damn! I need caffeine:

    Fuel up, Akira!

    To claim atheists that science proves Atheism is true is dishonest.

    To claim atheists say that science proves Atheism is true is dishonest.

    As David Marjanović said, the principle of parsimony is all that is needed. It doesn’t necessarily make atheism true, but just the null hypothesis against which claims of theism should be examined. And examination requires that evidence be presented.

  45. 45
    theignored

    If one ever wants some hard evidence that Ray has no business talking about evolution, here it is:

    Yep. He didn’t believe that snails and slugs, since they were invertebrates, were not animals.

  46. 46
    theignored

    Shit. That’s supposed to read: … were animals.

    Mental note: When making fun of another persons intelligence make sure that you don’t botch up your own post!

  47. 47
    David Marjanović

    All Christian believe in a god. That makes them dishonest by default.

    …what? How so?

    Are you perhaps applying a very stretched definition of “intellectually dishonest”?

  48. 48
    belzerbru

    Either I don’t understand what is ment with (positive) evidence for intelligent design.. I couldn’t find any the movie.. Did I miss it? Think he had better argument for ID in the Banana-Video..

    From http://www.facebook.com/official.Ray.Comfort/posts/608188179201659

    Ray Comfort: There isn’t just mountains OF evidence for intelligent design–the mountains ARE evidence.

    Get “Evolution Vs God” Here!
    Download Link –>> http://www.evolutionvsgod.com

  49. 49
    Rutee Katreya

    All Christians believe that their God created the universe. Ergo, all Christians are creationists. The length of time they claim the process took is irrelevant.

    Then ‘creationist’ is a useless descriptor. What shall we call the religious who don’t believe that their god used an actual natural process, I wonder…

    All Christian believe in a god. That makes them dishonest by default.

    No, it makes them wrong.

  50. 50
    John Morales

    Rutee:

    All Christians believe that their God created the universe. Ergo, all Christians are creationists. The length of time they claim the process took is irrelevant.

    Then ‘creationist’ is a useless descriptor. What shall we call the religious who don’t believe that their god used an actual natural process, I wonder…

    No, it’s not useless — it means what it means, and if some magical being did create the universe, then it perforce created its processes too.

    (It is you who is confused)

  51. 51
    Rutee Katreya

    What distinguishes ‘creationist’ from ‘has a religion’ in a practical sense then? The idea that, in principle, a religion might not posit its God is creator, even if that basically doesn’t happen?

  52. 52
    John Morales

    Rutee, the quotation to which you were responding was about Christians, not about religionists in general.

  53. 53
    Rutee Katreya

    And that affects my question in what way? If the definition of ‘creationist’ you’re using ultimately goes back to ‘everyone practicing a religion”, it’s not a useful term.

  54. 54
    DanDare

    I would be ok being interviewed by Ray, as long as I could make my own recording of the same interview. Then when the inevitable quote mines show up I can juxtapose with the actual content.

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