God Doesn't Believe in Atheists: Proof That the Atheist Doesn't Exist is a book authored by Ray Comfort, published in 1993, with a foreword by mister Kent Hovind.
In this book, Ray tries to make an argument that atheists do not exist and provide evidence of the supernatural.
BACK COVER:"Contrary to popular opinion, the existence of God can be proven absolutely, scientifically, without reference to faith or even the Bible. It is also possible to prove that the Bible is supernatural in origin. This book will do just that.
It will also show the atheist that he doesn't exist, reveal the true motives of the agnostic, and strengthen the faith of the believer."
Ray says he can prove the existence of God absolutely, scientifically, without reference to faith or even the Bible. Do not hold your breath. Ray always promises this, just like at the debate with the Rational response Squad. Ray and Kirk Cameron failed to prove the existence of God and used the Bible and faith as evidence multiple times when they claimed they would not need to. If they knew this going in, and surely they did, then they knew they had no case and God could not be prove scientifically. It is likely in this book, Ray will use and repeat the same old long-refuted claims and stunts.
In this section, Kent Hovind praises this book and attacks atheism. According to him, the debate of whether God exists or not continues. If there is a God, we should find out who he is and what he wants. However, if there is no god, we are in trouble since the earth is moving at great speeds into space with no one in charge. The universe operates according to natural law, and our safety is not a concern for the universe.
Hovind's idea and need for a god is to provide comfort and a safety relief, but his wishful thinking does not change reality.
Hovind says anyone with eyes that can see and a brain that can work can obviously spot the evidence for a creator. He uses a different version of Paley's watch argument, that if you walked through the woods and found a painting on a tree, you would assume someone created that painting. We know a painting had a painter, but the core issue is contrasting between natural design or intelligent design.
We see design in paintings, but we also see design in snow flakes, clouds, and crystals. The difference is that crystals and such form naturally with no intelligent being to shape or manipulate them. Ray Comfort and Kent Hovind claim to see design in the universe, but they have not provided any proof on intelligent design. They just label everything as intentionally designed by some supernatural agent. However, labeling something does not alter reality and the it's true nature.
Hovind claims in his 33 years of examining the creationism vs. evolution debate, he never encountered an atheist who did not use evolution to support his worldview. Hovind claims not a shred of evidence has been found to support evolution, and it requires a leap of faith to accept evolution, as well as to accept that there is no god. He claims that both atheism and evolution are religions.
Some atheists do not accept evolution, but evolution is not required for atheism. Many Christians, Popes, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and more accept evolution. There are mountains of evidence for evolution, Kent Hovind has been criticized as a charlatan and shameless scientific-illiterate liar. Evolution nor atheism requires faith. Evolution has many evidence to support it, and atheism is the lack of faith in any deity. Evolution as religion has been rejected by the courts:
Assuming for the purposes of argument, however, that evolution is a religion or religious tenet, the remedy is to stop the teaching of evolution, not establish another religion in opposition to it. Yet it is clearly established in the case law, and perhaps also in common sense, that evolution is not a religion and that teaching evolution does not violate the Establishment Clause.
The court cases Epperson v. Arkansas, Willoughby v. Stever, and Wright v. Houston Indep. School Dist. Atheism is also not a religion. Atheism has no doctrines, rituals, places of worship, saviors, priests, creation myths, tenets, sacred texts, and such. Although some religions do not worship any deities, such as Buddhism, Raelism, and Satanism, they are indeed religions.
Hovind ends his remarks by claiming this book is meant to open the eyes of atheists to make them see the evidence for a loving creator and they all must repent of their sins. And this review will show when and where the evidence presented stands up to scrutiny and if indeed Ray comfort made his case if there is a creator.
Ray Comfort shares a story that he offered to debate atheists, such as the American Atheists Inc. They turned him down. He then challenged Ron Barrier (a spokesperson of American Atheists) to a debate, who at first turned him down, but then later challenged him due to, according to Ray, pressure from other atheists. Ray concluded that the Bible was right, "with God, nothing is impossible."
Chapter 1: Who made God?
According to Ray, there are only three explanations for the misery of the world:
- There isn't a god
- God doesn't have the power to control his own creations, or won't, "which makes him a tyrant"
- The Bible tells you the reason for the state of the world.
Faith is for Wimps
Here, Ray wonders why using the word faith is "offensive" to nonbelievers. Ray makes the argument that we all have faith of some sort, such as that we believe the milk we drink is safe because of faith, rather than for a reason, such as that it is pasteurized in health-inspected facilities. He claims that we cannot know if Napoleon existed or who discovered America. For the small things in life, Ray says we "trust" that the coffee cup is clean or trust the taxi driver to keep his hands on the wheel. Ray argues that we have faith in information provided by others, such as weather men, historians, or scientists. Therefore, Ray concludes that atheists have faith in "erroneous information" and think they are "atheistic in [their] beliefs."
Using the word "faith" has different effects on nonbelievers. Perhaps the main reason why many nonbelievers do not appease to Ray who use that word is because "faith" is because that word implies belief without evidence. When trying to have a rational conversation, when applying faith to know something means their claims are unsupported, baseless, and meaningless, which would mean the whole dialogue does not make any progress. Faith is an anchor that holds people into irrational beliefs, which is why many nonbelievers find it irritating to try to have a rational conversation with those who refuse to engage in a rational conversation. So the word "faith" is no 'offensive' but rather irritating.
We all do not have faith. This perspective is one put forward by a lot of people in our world, when something like faith is questioned and denounced. It expresses a general misunderstanding of the concept of faith. We do not blindly trust our loved ones though, nor do we get into a car and simply drive without any thought. Trust is contingent on evidence and experience. We tend to trust people who we know, people who have not wronged us in any significant way. Our love for a person may occasionally drive us to trust someone we would not normally trust, but as I stated before, misguided reasoning is not the same thing as faith. If you reason that your loved one deserves your trust, and you accept the risk of having it violated, you have still used reason and not acted on the blind thoughtlessness of faith.
As for the driving example, we do typically factor in some evidence and logic before we head out on the road. If it is particularly bad weather or if your tires are flat, most sane people will not just ignore such things and try to drive anyway. It is not operating on faith to go about one's day without taking every little possible worry into account either. It is possible that you could die in a car wreck, but experience tells us that we have survived many trips in the past, and unless there is some good reason for us to fear for our safety, it is perfectly rational to take the risk involved with driving. Faith is not a part of it, but reason certainly is. Indeed when we do drink milk, we check to see if it is not expired and safe to drink. We trust that whoever put the deadline on the carton is accurate, based on their calculations have often been tested and well understood. If the milk was not ready or the date was off, there are systems of correction (such as health inspection) before it reaches the grocery store.
We can know if Napoleon existed, because we have actual empirical proof that he did. We have letters and journals written by his own hand; portraits of him; hundreds of independent, contemporary, unbiased eye-witness accounts; artifacts made for him or by him; he left a legacy behind; he altered nations and policies; and much more. Also, if we did use Ray's logic, then we cannot know if Jesus Christ existed, although it is certain Ray would disagree because the Holy Bible is infallible and never lies - but his only justification for such a belief is blind faith.
Trust is not the same as faith. Faith is belief without evidence. We can drink coffee from a cup, but we often check to see if it is clean. Many times we know it is clean because we just washed it or washed it recently and thus know it is clean.
We do not have faith in the weather man, historians or scientists. Each of them have qualifications and they have evidence they base their claims on. They may often be wrong, such as the weather man who bases his claims on the instruments he has but weather is always in a constant state to change. Historians do deep research into several fields, and they base their works only on the data collected. Scientists are often the most trustworthy, because they test their work and they have other qualified people peer review their work and try to disprove it. When they cannot disprove it, it is accepted as true.
It is also illogical to suggest that one can have faith in the non-existence of anything. Do we take it on faith that leprechauns or fairies don't exist, or is it the belief in those creatures that is based on faith?
Here Ray addresses the question "Who Made God?" Ray dances around this question by saying anyone can find the answer by being reasonable. Ray claims that God has no beginning and no end, and God is not subjected to time since he created time. Of course, Ray quotes Scripture to support his claims (such as 2 Peter 3:18 and Hebrews 6:19). Ray says that God can "flip through time as you can I can flip through the pages of a history book." Ray believes prophecies is enough evidence to support this claim.
First noting 2 Peter is considered by the vast majority of critical scholars as a forgery. Also, simply being "reasonable" is not enough or an excuse to accept the existence of the concept the universe was created by "invisible pink fairies" who are not bound by time. To be reasonable is to test and evaluate such beliefs and see if there is any truth to them, and Ray has not provided any.
Is God bound by time? Did God create time?
- P1) God is defined as the arbiter of all things, including time;
- P2) A decision requires transition from indifferences to will (requires time)
- P3) Since time cannot exist prior to its existence, God cannot choose to create time;
- P4) If God cannot choose to create time, he is not arbiter of all things;
- P5) Therefore, a personal entity cannot be the ultimate arbiter of all things;
- P6) Therefore, God as defined is internally inconsistent
- C) Therefore, there is no God.
The act of creating the universe is meaningful only in time. Is God in time or outside of it? Time isn't absolute. It’s elastic and is stretched by accelerating motions or fields of intense gravity, such as those around a black hole. A God contained in time would no longer be powerful because he would be subjected to the laws of time. A God outside time would be omnipotent, but unable to help us, since our actions happen in time. If God transcended time, then he would already know the future. If he knew everything in advance, why would he bother to become involved in the struggle of humankind against evil? God must be immutable and unable to create or else he is inside time and is not immutable. So how can an immutable entity create something? If there is an act of creation, is the creator involved or not? If he isn't then why call him the creator? If he is involved, then because creation inevitably occurs in stages, the something or someone involved in these stages is not immutable. Creation remains a process, and any process, whether temporal or not, is not compatible with immutability.
God is also defined as being omniscient, however if he is then Ray Comfort and other Christians who hold similar beliefs must admit there is no free will. For instance, imagine a person was walking down a road and approaching a left or right turn only. God, being omniscient, knows that the person will turn left. And then the person turns right, and God is surprised and thus God is not all-knowing. However, if the person did turn left, how is that different from not having free will. If god knows every action and decision we will make throughout our lives before we are even born, then he knows where we will spend eternity after death. And he would have know all this eons before he ever thought to create earth and humans.
Finally, Ray tries to persuade readers that atheists do not exist. He provides a false definition of agnosticism and claims that atheists make an "absolute claim" that God does not exist. According to Ray, one must possess all the knowledge of the universe in order to make such a claim.
However, Ray contradicts himself when he makes the absolute claim that God does exist. Atheists do not have to have absolute knowledge to not believe in green horses galloping on the surface of the sun, because there is no evidence to support such a idea. An atheist is someone who lacks a belief in a god (not "believe" there is no god), that is atheists do not buy what religion is selling. If theists like Ray Comfort claim to "know" God exists, they should be able to provide empirical data and evidence for their god, and to date not a single one has. It doesn’t matter how convinced you are; belief does not equal knowledge. The difference is that knowledge can always be tested for accuracy where mere beliefs often can not be. No matter how positively you think you know it, if you can’t show it, then you don’t know it, and you shouldn’t say that you do. Nor would you if you really cared about the truth. Knowledge is demonstrable, measurable. But faith is often a matter of pretending to know what you know you really don't know, and that no one even can know, and which you merely believe -often for no good reason at all.
Later in this book (pg. 71) Ray confidently asserts, “It doesn’t matter how many thousands of years pass, elephants don’t have giraffes, nor do monkeys have men.” How does Comfort envision himself escaping the snarky retort that, because he isn’t omniscient and didn’t witness the birth of every animal that ever lived, he cannot deny evolution? God doesn’t believe in creationists!
Ray ends this chapter with a tale of Mussolini. It is said that Mussolini stood on a pedestal, shouted "God, if you are there, strike me dead!" when God did not, he concluded that he did not exist. Ray says his prayer was answered later.
This was not an answered prayer, it is simply the result of time and fatal force.
Chapter 2: Banana in hand
In this chapter, Ray provides arguments for "Creation." Among them are the coca-cola can, the banana argument, an apple, and other examples. His argument is basically that these could not have formed naturally and creation requires a creator.
Using the coca-cola can, he provides a straw man argument of the Big Bang theory.
The Big Bang does not claim anything came from nothing, nor does it comment or have anything to do with abiogenesis or evolution. The only one who does claim everything came from nothing is Ray Comfort, who believes his God created everything ex-nihlio by using incantations (i.e. MAGIC). So in an ironic sense, whenever Ray ridicules people who believe everything came from nothing, he is addressing himself while falsely disguising every other position as the same as his.
In a section, he says his arguments are scientific because science provides evidence that a creation must have a creator.
No, science is about testing and observing. Ray provides no empirical data that there is a creator, and even if we allow Ray to make such a claim he provides no evidence that this creator is his narrow version of the Christian God, multiple gods, or any infinite deities that can theoretically exist. When Ray was on The Atheist Experience, he admitted his idea of testing was "common sense." Common sense is not testing, nor is it reliable. By Ray's logic, does lightning have a lightning maker? We see patterns and design in snowflakes and crystals, but we know they come about through purely natural forces without the help of the supernatural. What Ray has failed to do is provide proof or any data whatsoever that life is not the result of natural forces like a snow flakes.
He adds that atheism is a dying movement, providing quotes from articles but provides no reference.
However, the actually polls show that church attendance is declining across the globe and atheism in America has recently doubled in the past decade. Atheism is not dying, it is rapidly growing. In fact, polls show more people leaving Christianity not only in America but around the world. In fact, last year 180,000 Catholics in Germany left the church.
Chapter 3: Seeing is Believing
In this chapter, Ray claims the evidence of God is self-evident.
However, seeing is believing but not knowing. Believe as hard as you want to. But convincing yourself however firmly still can’t change the reality of things. Seeing is believing. But seeing isn’t knowing. Believing isn’t knowing. Subjective convictions are meaningless in science, and eyewitness testimony is the least reliable form of evidence.
For example, if I go into my front yard and I see a large sauropod walking down the middle of my street, I will of course be quite convinced of what I see. I may be even more satisfied when I follow the thing and find that I can touch it, maybe even ride it if I want to. When I gather sense enough to run back for my camcorder, I may not be able to find the beast again, because I don't know which way it went. But that doesn’t matter because I saw it, I heard it, felt it, smelt it and I remember all that clearly with a sober and rational mind. But somehow I'm the only one who ever noticed it, and of course no one believes me. Some other guy says he saw a dinosaur too, but his description was completely different, such that we can’t both be talking about the same thing. So it doesn't matter how convinced I am that it really happened. It might not have. When days go by and there are still no tracks, no excrement, no destruction, no sign of the beast at all, no other witnesses whose testimony lends credence to mine, and no explanation for how a 20-meter long dinosaur could just disappear in the suburbs of a major metropolis, much less how it could have appeared there in the first place, -then it becomes much easier to explain how there could be only two witnesses who can’t agree on what they think they saw, than it is to explain all the impossibilities against that dinosaur ever really being there. Positive claims require positive evidence. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and that’s what I’d need –since what I propose isn’t just extraordinary; its impossible. But since there's not one fact I can show that anyone can measure or otherwise confirm, then my perspective is still subjective -and thus uncertain. Eventually, even I, the eyewitness, would have to admit that, although I did see it, I still don’t know if it was ever really there –regardless whether I still believe that it was.
It doesn’t matter how convinced you are; belief does not equal knowledge. The difference is that knowledge can always be tested for accuracy where mere beliefs often can not be. No matter how positively you think you know it, if you can’t show it, then you don’t know it, and you shouldn’t say that you do. Nor would you if you really cared about the truth. Knowledge is demonstrable, measurable. But faith is often a matter of pretending to know what you know you really don't know, and that no one even can know, and which you merely believe -often for no good reason at all.
Back to Da Vinci
Ray provides a whole section repeating his argument a "painting had a painter." He then says that since man has not been able to create something as complex and magnificent as the human eye, it must have been specially created.
What Ray refuses to acknowledge or admit is that nature through natural selection can and has created numerous types of eyes. There is more types of eyes than the human eye, much that are simpler and some more complex. All the steps to making an eye are known to be viable because all exist in animals living today. Nilsson and Pelger (1994) calculated that if each step were a 1 percent change, the evolution of the eye would take 1,829 steps, which could happen in 364,000 generations (a blink of an eye in geological times).
Just because man cannot create something does not mean by default anything Ray or anyone can imagine exists or is responsible for the creation of anything. Ray's line of thinking also begs the question. How does Ray know that the eye, if it was created, was crafted by magical invisible pixies or Aton rather than the God of the Bible?
Ray further argues that atheism is a position that claims everything came from nothing, and challenges any scientist on the planet to create something from nothing.
This is a deliberate lie invented by Christians to make atheism look foolish. Atheists and atheism does not make any claims about origins. Ray continues to use this straw man of the Big Bang theory, which he interprets everything came from nothing. However, this is not at all what physicists claim. Dr. Sten Odenwald (Raytheon STX) for NASA, Education and Public Outreach program, 2001 spelled out what scientists mean when they say "nothing:"
How can 'nothing' do anything at all, let alone create an entire universe? When physicists say 'nothing' they are being playful with the english language, because we often think of the vacuum as being 'empty' or 'nothing' when in fact physicists know full well that the vacuum is far from empty. The primordial 'state' at the Big Bang was far from being the kind of 'nothingness' you might have in mind. We don't have a full mathematical theory for describing this 'state' yet, but it was probably 'multi- dimensional', it was probably a superposition of many different 'fields', and these fields, or whatever they were, were undergoing 'quantum fluctuations'. Space and time were not the things we know them to be today because our world is a lot colder than the way it started out. Nothingness was not nothing, but it was not anything like the kinds of 'somethings' we know about today. We have no words to describe it, and the ones we borrow (that are listed in the Oxford English Dictionary) are based on the wrong physical insight.
What is ironic is that Ray is the one who claims everything came from nothing by supernatural/magic methods, and yet provides zero evidence to support this belief.
Does not believing in something mean it does not exist? Ray says of course not. He argues a blind man may not believe in color, color still exists in the same way God exists.
However, a blind person can be aware of color, but Ray does not believe that Allah exists although he is sure that Allah does not exist. What atheists argue is that it is unreasonable to hold such beliefs if they cannot be shown to be true or proven. Ray Comfort and other theists continue to make the positive claim that god exists, and so the burden of proof is on them to provide positive evidence, however what they are proposing is extraordinary and thus require extraordinary evidence. Thus far, Ray has used various logical fallacies; wishful thinking; and appeals to emotion and arguments from ignorance.
Can we believe in things we have never seen? Ray says no and uses the human brain as an example. Since you have never seen your brain before, do you conclude it does not exist?
Unfortunately for Ray, we can see our brains. We can see them through operations, x-ray, or even cutting into a corpse. Ray is also wrong in his conclusion. We can believe in things we have never seen. Ray is living proof of this. Ray has never seen a supernatural being create a grain of sand from nothing, a man walk on water, or angels and demons. Ray believes in angels and Satan, but he has never seen one nor can he describe what Satan looks like. He can speculate all he wants on what he may look like, but he cannot provide proof to how he knows it but more importantly Ray cannot prove that Satan exists in the first place.
Ray also quote mines Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking deliberately to make it seem as they believed in god; however, neither of these men held such beliefs.
Ray ends this chapter by repeating the fine tuning argument, that is our earth is just in the right state of being for life to evolve.
This argument is flawed, weakened by the fact that it is a tautology, and proven false by quantum mechanics, the M-theory, the multiverse, and the Copernican Principle. Theists like to use the anthropic principle as proof that life can only be the result of divine creation, but there are several flaws in this argument. One such problem is the only form of life we are familiar with is here on earth which are carbon-based, there may be simpler forms of life elsewhere in the universe that are not carbon-based. Not to mention, theists like to portray earth as having all the right requirements down to such a precision to allow life. But what the anthropic principle fails is that it implies the universe is fine-tuned for life, however if the universe was fine-tuned for us, surely a bit more of it would be habitable. The numbers are so absurd that it defies comprehension. It is equivalent to a person after exploring 1.6 BILLION rocks like our Moon and finding one single virus particle on only one of the moons and collectively they are fine-tuned for life. Or having six MILLION Olympic-sized swimming pools that can collectively hold no more than a single molecule of water, yet claiming they are fine-tuned for water storage. Or claiming that a hard-drive the size of the earth that can only store one bit (1/0), or a hard-drive the size of Jupiter hold cannot even hold a single tweet on twitter is fine tuned for storing data. Or claiming that 2 MILLION 50 ton cranes that cant collectively hold more than a single proton are fine tuned for lifting. Or claiming that a plane at full speed travels less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the diameter of a proton over 10 billion years is fine-tuned for speed. If you think these examples are ridiculous, then you would agree that so too is the argument that the universe is fine-tuned for life. It does not take a genius to realize how absurd and flawed this argument truly is.
The Copernican Principle is the opposite of the Anthropic Principle and states that humans do not occupy a privileged place in the universe. Successive astronomical discoveries seem to support this principle. In the Middle Ages it was assumed that God created man in his image, and such, man and the earth were at the center of the universe. Copernicus and Galileo abolished the illusion that the earth was the center of the solar system and put the sun in its rightful heliocentric place. It was then found that the sun was not at the center of our galaxy, and Hubble showed that our own galaxy, the Milky Way, was not at the center of the universe. Finally, the multiverse concept suggests our universe may be just one of many constantly sprouting new universes, further diminishing the Anthropic Principle conclusion that the universe is here just for us. The Anthropic Principle emphasizes the rarity of life and consciousness while the Copernican Principle forces us to realize it was not all done just so we could exist.
Chapter 4: Strawberries and garlic
Ray begins this chapter by asking a series of questions, such as "Where does your hair grow from?" and "If you ever decide to get false teeth, will you have them made, or will you wait for 'chance' to make a pair for you?" in a attempt to drag the reader into wonder by thinking such instances can only be done by a creator.
Ray then uses arguments of irreducible complexity proposed by Michael Behe. Such examples include the blood clotting mechanism and argues such a system could not have evolved by small steps through natural selection.
However, this has been debated and settled for many years that indeed the blood clotting system can evolve, both in the lab, nature, and in court. In the court case Dover v. Kitzmiller, Michael Behe testified after years of research, no one has found a way how the irreducible system could have evolved. However, he was presented with many volumes of books, science articles, and peer reviewed tests that explain and demonstrate the evolution of the systems he claimed were "irreducible." However, Michael Behe, without examining any of them, said they were not good enough. This caught the attention of the judge as willful ignorance and deliberate deception.
Blood clotting is not irreducibly complex. Some animals -- dolphins, for example -- get along fine without the Hagemann factor (Robinson et al. 1969), a component of the human blood clotting system which Behe includes in its "irreducible" complexity (Behe 1996, 84). Doolittle and Feng (1987) predicted that "lower" vertebrates would lack the "contact pathway" of blood clotting. Work on the genomes of the puffer fish and zebrafish have confirmed this (Yong and Doolittle 2003). How did the blood clotting system evolve? The blood clotting systems appears to be put together by using whatever long polymeric bridges are handy. There are many examples of complicated systems made from components that have useful but completely different roles in different components. There is also evidence that the genes for blood clotting (indeed, the whole genome) duplicated twice in the course of its evolution (Davidson et al. 2003). The duplication of parts and co-opting of parts with different functions gets around the "challenge" of irreducible complexity evolving gradually.
Ray goes on to list several organs that seem irreducibly complex, such as the brain and the ear, and concludes that only a creator could design such features.
This is an argument from incredulity. The brain is not irreducible. Brains come in many different sizes. The sea slug (Aplysia), for example, has only about 20,000 neurons in its entire nervous system. Coelenterates have an even simpler nervous system consisting of a nerve net and nothing even close to a brain. There are innumerable intermediate forms of brains between humans and brainless animals; gradual evolution of the brain presents no challenge. When Ray moves on to the eye, he quote mines Charles Darwin in his book The Origin of Species that even Darwin admitted that the eye could not have evolved. Ray commonly uses this quote-mine, even though he knows he is being deliberately dishonest. Darwin never meant at all that the eye could never evolve, he predicted that several small simple steps can create a complex system, which we have proven to be the case with the eye, ear, and brain. Darwin's predictions turned out to be true.
Ray ends this chapter by stating that even atheists stand in awe at such wonders of nature (Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, etc) and questions "How much more should we be humbled by the maker of these things?"
Here, Ray is making up stories. For someone who constantly claims to not believe things on faith or settle for things that can be "absolutely" known, he makes a lot of generalizations that he has no way of knowing or verifying. Not all atheists are the same and many have different views of nature. Some may find wonders in nature, but they do not irrational equate such beauty to unprovable entities like leprechauns or sky pixies. Atheists and rationalists understand that nature contains beauty because we are a species who are biologically built to recognize and detect patterns. However, there is a difference between natural design and artificial design. We see design in paintings, but we know through observation and experience that paintings are artificially designed. We also see design, patterns and order in sand dunes, snowflakes, clouds, crystals, and such but we understand that these are naturally occurring and do not require any supernatural interference, which is what Ray is arguing for. Thus far, Ray has not provided any proof for such a belief or provided any model or method to distinguish how we know this universe is artificially designed.
Chapter 5: Stronger than Sex Drive
In this chapter, Ray plays on people's fear of death and appeals to emotion. Since we all die, we have an inner feeling to avoid death. Unable to find an answer for how or why this is, Ray concludes this feeling is given to us by God. Ray promises that faith in God will present us everlasting life if we repent.
This is an argument from incredulity. There is an explanation for the need to avoid death. Every species has a tendency towards survival, which is an evolutionary trait. Creatures who are more prone to avoid death survive more than those creatures that don't. As for why humans want to seek life after death, the fear of death has a lot of explanatory power.
Ray uses an analogy similar to one he presented at the Nightline debate Rational Response Squad of a television and signals. He says radio waves are invisible flowing through the air and our minds are transmitters. He says if we just push the power button, we will receive signals and see a picture. The same, according to Ray, will happen if we accept God and Jesus Christ: we will have evidence of his existence and know his laws. He claims that people just "won't" find god, and chooses not to try.
If such a thing was provable as he says, then why does Ray's beliefs rest on faith? However, many people already have tried it and have not gotten the same results Ray has. He contradicted himself to, because he claimed that this is "provable" but then why has man made thousands of religions throughout history?
Some people learn that Ray's premises are fallacious, and many others find other deities. The human brain is capable of producing many religious experiences that seem real. A number of investigations have shown that deep temporal lobe stimulation in the area around the amygdala and hippocampus of the limbic system produces feelings of intense meaningfulness, of depersonalization, of a connection with God, of cosmic connectedness, of out-of-body experiences, a feeling of not being in this world, déjà vu (a feeling that something has been experienced before), jamais vu (a feeling something is happening for the first time even though it has been experienced before), fear, and hallucinations. Since the amygdala and hippocampus, all part of the limbic system, is closely connected to the frontal lobes (the area of the brain that senses what is real -touch, taste, smell, etc.) simulations of the amygdala and/or hippocampus is often perceived as real.
In the last paragraph, Ray says (bold emphasis added)
"[Christianity] maintains that the invisible God of creation can supernaturally reveal himself to you. Despite the fact that it is illogical, I have more that an air of confidence because what I am saying is provable."
Ray asks skeptics to stop doubting and dares them to believe (despite the hundreds of reasons they can give why it will not work). He claims that people just "won't" find god, and chooses not to try. He says those who refuse to look at "willfully ignorant of the truth."
If such a thing was provable as he says, then why does Ray's beliefs rest on faith? His proofs, which are not "proofs," are just as valid if you replace God in the equation with Allah, invisible pixies, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. He contradicted himself too, because he claimed that this his beliefs are "provable" but he does not provide any proof that the "creator" is his particular version of the creator. Why has man made thousands of religions and deities throughout history? Ray must know that what he is proposing is illogical, he openly admitted it. His only support is personal experience, which does not provide any empirical proof. He tells us to seek and we shall find, but that requires that we must first perceive that god exists before we actually prove god exists to start with. This is similar to a person off to seek Big Foot, the person already believes Big Foot exists without first verifying that such a creature exists. It is also similar to seeking aliens/extraterrestrial life, ghosts, spirits, and such where they all have already assumed these things exist without question or prior evidence that they exist in the first place.
Chapter 6: Atheist Obstacles
Ray goes on to explain why atheists cannot defend their position.
This only further shows Ray's misunderstanding of atheism. Atheists have no position to defend, they are not the ones making any positive claims about origins or the cosmos. The ones making the positive claims have the burden of proof. Ray Comfort is the one making the positive claim that God exists, but he repeatably fails to provide any positive evidence to support his beliefs.
"It is because the atheist is neither omniscient nor omnipresent that he then takes an illogical leap by concluding that there is no god, because it cannot be proven that he doesn't exist. Such reasoning is absurd."
The problem with this reasoning is that it is based on a fallacy. No one can prove a negative, the one making the positive claim (i.e. God exists) have the burden of proof to provide evidence to support their view. Since fairies and gnomes and many other mythical creatures that can theoretically exist cannot be disproved, by Ray's logic, we should accept they exist as well.
Ray goes on to prayer and miracles, claiming since atheists do not pray, they will not see miracles. Ray uses a story of a dying child to prove miracles. If a child dies of some disease while the family attempted prayer to save them and the child dies, the atheist counts that as an unanswered prayer; if a child lives, it's again unanswered, because the child's body simply healed itself. Next Ray claims that the prayers were answered because, according to Ray, even if a child dies, because god "took him to heaven because he wanted the child there."
Basically god answers prayer whether or not anything happens, and whenever a person dies God wills it so. This would mean God has planned all murders, abortions, miscarriages, homicides, wars, genocides, sacrifices, accidents, natural deaths, etc. If God wills a person to die, then prayer would be pointless. Likewise, the results of a person praying to God would get the same results praying to Allah, invisible pixies, or even a milk carton. There are no statistics or evidence that prayer works.
Ray talks about his car, and if it should become damaged, Ray argues, "What would be my intellectual capacity if I concluded that it had no manufacturer simply because I couldn't contact them about the dilemma? The fact of their existence has nothing to do with whether or not they return my calls."
The problem with this is that this does not take faith, since anyone can transport their cars to have them repaired. Ray is again confusing (willfully or not) that atheists claim that artifacts have no creator because they do not accept nature had a creator. As pointed out several times, there is no model or method to distinguish if this universe had a special creator. Thus far, Ray has not provided any proof that the universe had a special creator of any sort. In fact, science has shown that matter and energy cannot be created and thus did not require special creation.
Ray concludes in this chapter that God answers all prayers.
Well, Ray, you can argue that a milk carton answers all prayers too.
Ray then urges all readers, who are people in a failing airplane, to put on their parachute (faith in Jesus) and be saved before its too late.
This however, is an flawed argument known as Pascal's Wager. Ray Comfort says his parachute (provided by his invisible friend) is safe and harmless, but suddenly another passenger tells you "Don't use his parachute, it has holes in it. Use mine provided by my invisible friend." Then a third passenger announces “My invisible friend slashed all the parachutes on board. He takes care of his chosen people, and as none of you were born into the correct lineage, it’s too bad for you.” Some people refuse parachutes and urge others to do the same, because it would interfere with the master plan of the father of their invisible friend (these are the same people who refuse medical care in favor of prayer and faith healing). The drama goes on with the rest of the passengers, until you demand to actually see proof of a doomed plane and which parachute does work. Some say you must not demand for evidence and just have faith. Regardless, you inspect the plane and the parachutes. The plane is operating just fine in every way and each parachute has holes in them big enough you can fit your head through them. Some of the parachutes terribly constrict people, harming them. The plane reaches its destination safely, but the drama continues through the terminal, security, all the way out beyond the airport. You learn from airports around the world that many people have harmed many others and themselves due to their faith in their parachute provided by their particular invisible friend.
Chapter 7: Worms transformed
Ray goes on to repeat another of his favorite arguments against evolution. He claims that each male of all species must find a mate, who also must be equally evolved and have a desire to mate, that is they both must have evolved sex organs that fit each other. Like bolt and nuts, according to Ray, they are meant to fit each other.
This argument is absurd since some animals reproduce asexually and Ray continues to fail to realize two things: the female (not the male) is the foundation of the species, and evolution and change takes place in a population not an individual. Also, regarding his bolt and nut analogy, many people know that some people cannot reproduce since their sexual organs are too small or too large.
Ray also ignores the vast scientific depth into the evolution of sex. Many hypotheses have been proposed for the evolutionary advantage of sex (Barton and Charlesworth 1998). There is good experimental support for some of these, including resistance to deleterious mutation load (Davies et al. 1999; Paland and Lynch 2006) and more rapid adaptation in a rapidly changing environment, especially to acquire resistance to parasites (Sá Martins 2000).
When Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron ask how is it that leaves fall in a straight line and how our human bodies are like a car - perfectly designed with "little squirters called tear ducts."
This is a simple repeat of intelligent design arguments, which do not stand up to scrutiny. The human body is complex and shares several functions that resemble that of car parts. Both Ray and Kirk asked how can leaves fall to form a straight line, implying how did the row of leaves extend or build up? Likewise, a car can be build from multiple smaller pieces. A car can also be broken down into smaller individual parts. For instance, a battery still functions as a battery. Take off the wheel, but the wheel does not lose its function. A car can still function without a motor or battery, it can function as a cart — a device that has been is use for centuries to carry goods. The motor just makes it easier, and thus more favorable.
Chapter 8: Tombstone face
In this chapter, Ray tries to persuade the reader to choose Christianity over all other religions. He uses his old guilt trip tactic "are you a good person?" in which he sets up a problem for everyone that only his God can fix by using the Ten Commandments.
The Ten Commandments are not evidence of God just as the Five Pillars of Islam are proof of Allah.
Chapter 9: I'll resurrect her for you
Ray begins this chapter with a series of questions and asks why "pseudo intellectuals [who] know the answer to everything except the issues that really matter...they haven't the faintest idea what they are doing here on earth."
In a section called "The Assumption" Ray calls evolution a fairy tale since there is no evidence to support it.
This is a lie and willful ignorance of the massive amounts of evidence that support and confirm evolution.
Ray asks his readers to listen carefully to the language scientists use: believe, surmise, suspect, think, assume, perhaps, maybe, possibly, etc.
What Ray fails to understand is that science does not claim to be infallible or always correct, since everything scientific must be falsifiable. Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron both use this type of language, but often use more absolute terms.
Ray then quotes Darwin, "I was a young man with unformed ideas, I threw out queries, suggestions, wondering all the time over everything: and to my astonishment the ideas took like wild fire. People made a religion out of them."
The problem with this is, this was never spoken by Charles Darwin. This is a quote from a woman who goes by the name "Lady Hope" (Believed to be Elizabeth Hope, a British evangelist) who supposedly was with Darwin at his death bed and reported that Darwin recanted. However, she was never near Darwin when he died, making all her claims about Darwin demonstrably false.
Moving on, Ray goes on to say those who believe in evolution is because of carbon dating. Ray quotes from an article by Time to show that carbon dating is faulty and cannot be trusted.
This article is taken out of context and Ray ignores the vast amount of other dating methods scientists use.
Once again, Ray goes on to cast doubt upon the readers on evolution. Ray asks "Did the fish first that crawled out of the ocean to be come an animal have lungs or gills?" and how could the giraffes neck evolve?
Comfort is now using a straw man against Lamarckian evolution, not Darwin's theory of evolution. Lamarck's concept pre-dated Darwin. Under Lamarckian evolution, physical traits were passed from parent to offspring (i.e. the muscles of your left arm were particularly strong from constant weight lifting, therefore your offspring will have a more muscular left arm).
Fossil evidence and the swim bladders of some modern fish support evolutionary theory regarding the evolution from gills and gill-like features to lungs in the earliest amphibians. Modern amphibians still posses many of these traits, though modified. Ray, in attempting to make this sound as absurd as possible, relies on our inherent inability to properly conceive of large spans of time, portraying one individual creature, at one point in time. This oversimplification of speciation doesn't accurately reflect scientific explanations.
Ray himself quotes from several people, appealing to authority, such as Sir Arthur Keith, Malcolm Muggeridge, and other articles from Time.
Quotes from Keith cited by a number of creationists, appears to be completely fraudulent. Firstly, Sir Keith died in 1955 and couldn't have written the forward to the 100th edition of Origin of Species in 1959. He did write an introduction to an edition of Origin of Species but in 1928, over 30 years prior to the centennial. The quote attributed to him does not appear in that edition or in any other known work. As for Muggeridge (an obviously flawed argument from authority) Muggeridge is a non-scientist, fundamentalist Christian who was never involved in scientific research. The quote does nothing to further Ray's stated goal of demonstrating that the theory of evolution is 'unscientific'. What is unscientific is Ray's attempt to discredit evolution. The opinion of any individual, philosopher or scientist, has no bearing on whether a proposition is true or false.
Next, Ray talks about how scientists have been fooled by several hoaxes like Java Man, Heidelberg Man, Piltdown Man, etc. Ray goes on to basically say "dogs produce dogs. Cats produce cats. Horses produce foals, and so on and so on."
100 years ago, the only human fossils yet known were a few Neanderthals, Cro-Magnon, and Homo erectus. Then an English attorney and amateur archaeologist presented bones and associated artifacts of what appeared to be an as-yet unidentified species. British Imperialists were generally accepting of the news, but French and American scientists were skeptical, doubting that the skull and jaw even belonged together. The British museum touted the “Piltdown man” as authentic, but the American Museum of Natural History displayed it only as a “mixture of ape and man fossils”, which is what it eventually turned out to be.
There was no way to adequately examine such things back in 1915. Chemical tests –common today- didn’t yet exist and we didn’t yet have a practical understanding of radiation. And before the first australopiths were discovered, we didn’t know exactly what to expect of the links that were then still missing between humans and the other apes known at that time. But as we began filling in the gaps in human evolution with thousands of legitimate fossils, a pattern emerged which left Piltdown an increasingly obvious anomaly. Consequently it was taken off display and stored away almost continuously for decades. It lost importance in most discussions because, in light of everything else we discovered over the next few decades, it just never fit, and was eventually dismissed from the list of potential human ancestors for that reason.
As the years wore on, criticism arose against everyone who ever promoted the Piltdown collection because there seemed to be so much wrong with it. Finally, in the 1950s, it was taken back out of the box and scrutinized via more modern means. First fluorine dating revealed that it was much too recent, and it was shown to have been chemically-treated to give a false impression of its age and mineral composition. Then it was finally determined that the jaw must have come from an orangutan, and that it had been deliberately reshaped with modern tools in a well-crafted and deliberate forgery.
No one knows who did it either. And more importantly, why? Errors were already known and previously reported, but few ever suspected fraud because, what would be the motive? Nearly everyone who stood accused was a man of high reputation and credentials. Maybe that was the motive. Maybe Piltdown man was just a joke that had gone too far. But no one was laughing, and they weren’t going to let it happen again.
Even before the Piltdown hoax was officially exposed, an American paleontologist earned himself a life-time of embarrassment when he found a tooth from an extinct species of pig in Nebraska, and mislabeled it, Hesperopithecus. The cheek teeth of pigs and peccaries are fairly similar to ape molars, and this one was badly worn such that Henry Fairfield Osborne initially believed it to be human. But the real embarrassment came when he publicized his find in a popular magazine rather than submitting it for peer review first.
Creationists like to say that scientists were as duped by Nebraska man as they were by Piltdown man. But they weren’t. Everyone who saw the fossil agreed that it did look like an ape’s tooth. But with only a couple tentative exceptions, the entire contemporary scientific community either immediately rejected the accuracy of Osborne’s assertions, or they demanded more substantial evidence to back them. He obviously couldn’t provide that evidence despite another five years of searching. Eventually, he came to the sad realization that his fossil probably wasn’t really human after all. His more skeptical associate, W.K. Gregory then published a formal retraction in scientific journals.
Creationists often accuse scientists of contriving the illustration of Nebraska man and of conjuring a whole skeleton and facial construct out of a single tooth that was never even human in the first place. But the fact is that the magazine commissioned their own ‘artist’s impression’, and scientists of the day, including Osborn himself, immediately reacted with harsh criticism. As a result, the article was never reprinted.
Ray discusses the Big Bang theory, and how an explosion only produces chaos instead of order, and thus evolution cannot be true.
What Ray fails to grasp is the the Big Bang deals with cosmology, not biology. Neither rely on each other for the other to be true.
On page 73, Ray adds "Mother nature can't do anything to stop the thousands of diseases that plague humanity. While evolution carries on for all of the animals, there will be no new lungs for those humans with emphysema and no new brains for those with brain disorders....The noses of those who live in Southern California will not evolve a smog filtration system, neither will orange pickers who have longer arms survive over the short-armed orange pickers. Men will not have their right hand evolve into a remote control, neither will drivers evolve hands-free cell phones on their chins."
Ray finally ends this chapter by claiming "If evolution is true, then the bible is not the creator's revelation to humanity."
But this is a deliberate lie, since evolution does not refute or disprove any god(s). The Bible is a work of man, not any deities revelation to humanity.
Chapter 10: Who wrote the letter?
Comfort begins this chapter with a story of his conversion to Christianity. He is grateful that he has been given eternal life in Heaven and promised to read the Bible ever since to check if it is authentic and reliable.
Ray mentions and compliments the Dead Sea Scrolls, claiming they show Christianity has not changed.
However, the Scrolls do little to help Ray Comfort's positions. The scrolls do not mention Jesus and the Gnostic writers had a different view of Christianity. Different Christianities did exist with opposing theologies and world views.
To prove the Bible, Ray goes into discussing the scientific foreknowledge found in the Bible. The first one he brings up is Job:26:7 "He hangs the earth on nothing." Ray claims that this passage means that the earth simply floats in space while, according to Ray, science thought that it sat on a large animal, or giant.
This is false, since scientists held no such view (even Ray fails to provide a reference to his claim). The problem with this verse is that the earth does not "hang" nor is it above nothing. "Beneath" the earth is open space, cosmic dust, stars, and more. Unfortunately, that is not "nothing."
Ray then uses an out of date quote from Time to claim that science is in agreement with the creation account of Genesis. "Most cosmologists...agree that the genesis account of creation, in imagining an initial void, may be uncannily close to the truth (Time, December 1976)".
Scientists now agree that the universe could be eternal. The law of conservation of mass and energy states that mass and energy cannot be created or destroyed, but can only change forms from one to another. Based on this, the universe is most likely eternal, and was never "created."
Next, Ray claims: "Science expresses the universe in five terms: time, space, matter, power, and motion. Genesis 1:1-2 revealed such truths to the Hebrews in 1450 b.c. " In the beginning [time] god created [power] the heaven [space] and the earth [matter]…And the spirit of god moved [motion] upon the face of the waters…"
This line of thinking is flawed and misleading. Authors of bible had a concept of time and space, though they may not know how to explain them. But claiming that the bible "revealed" these "truths" to people through scripture is an enormous overstatement.
Not stopping there, Ray claims the Bible reveals "the earth is round" from Isaiah 40:22. There are other Bible verses that contradict the concept of a round earth, but rather a flat earth with ends (Matthew 4:8, Isaiah 11:12, Revelation 7:1, Psalms 67:7, Daniel 4:20, Luke 4:5, and much more).
However, the verse Ray uses varies depending on translation. Some say "circle" but the earth is not a circle since a circle indicated a flat disk. If we use "round" it is still problematic, because the earth is closer to a sphere. Plus, there is some suggestion that the Egyptians knew of the earth's spherical size and shape around 2550 B.C.E. (more than a thousand years before Moses). The Greek philosopher Pythagoras, who was born in 532 B.C.E., defended the spherical theory on the basis of observations he had made of the shape of the sun and moon (Uotila 1984). If this information was known by educated Greeks and Egyptians during biblical times, its use by Isaiah is nothing special.
Ray repeats the misquote of Albert Einstein in Chapter 3 to make it seem he believed in God.
Einstein did not believe in a personal god; he may have been a deist.
Chapter 11: Benevolent Jelly
This chapter mainly consists of Ray Comfort preaching and repeating his usual theological arguments. He reminds people about sin and salvation through the blood of Christ and such.
Chapter 12: The real thing
In this chapter, Ray delves into the topic of Christians who perform horrible acts in the name of God (murder, war, genocide, etc.). Ray calls them "hypocrites" "pretenders" and "not real christians."
This is a fallacy called No True Scotsman. There are over 30,000 denominations of Christianity, each claiming to be correct, so there is no way of knowing which is the right kind of Christianity.
There are many examples of Christians, who wholeheartedly believed they were doing the work of the Lord, and committed terrible crimes. Even to this day Christians condemn witchcraft and homosexuality in Africa, resulting in torn families and hundreds upon hundreds dead. Some Christian parents refuse to have their children treated with medicine because they think it would interfere with God's plan, their sick child has no say in the matter. This has resulted in the death of hundreds of innocent children and infants.
Chapter 13: Death Sentence for error
In this chapter Ray talks about bible prophesy, and how, if a prophet wasn't one hundred percent accurate, they would be put to death. This explains why many prophets spoke in very vague language, predicted inevitable outcomes, and often faked their prophecies.
If "prophets" were put to death because their prophecies were not 100%, then the fate of Jesus being executed surely then points to that Jesus was a failure.
Ray goes through all of these different "prophesies" and cites things that have happened in the world, such as murders, earthquakes, etc., and claims these are proof of the bible's prophesies.
Unfortunately, these are not valid proofs. These things have happened throughout the history of mankind, and the world. Murder, earthquakes, and such are all things that constantly happen throughout history. People always engage in war, people get diseases, people kill others, etc.
There are several mundane ways in which a prediction of the future can be fulfilled:
- Retrodiction. The "prophecy" can be written or modified after the events fulfilling it have already occurred.
- Vagueness. The prophecy can be worded in such a way that people can interpret any outcome as a fulfillment. Nostradomus's prophecies are all of this type. Vagueness works particularly well when people are religiously motivated to believe the prophecies.
- Inevitability. The prophecy can predict something that is almost sure to happen, such as the collapse of a city. Since nothing lasts forever, the city is sure to fall someday. If it has not, it can be said that according to prophecy, it will.
- Denial. One can claim that the fulfilling events occurred even if they have not. Or, more commonly, one can forget that the prophecy was ever made.
- Self-fulfillment. A person can act deliberately to satisfy a known prophecy.
There are no prophecies in the Bible that cannot easily fit into one or more of those categories. The Bible also contains many unfulfilled prophecies [http://www.answering-christianity.com/bibles_unfulfilled_prophecies.htm</ref> and "imaginary" prophecies .
Other prophecies in other religions exist, although Ray does not accept them. There are fulfilled prophecies in Zoroastrainism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Native American, and Mormon. Why does not Ray accept any of these fulfilled prophecies? Because he knows the evidence supporting them is lacking, the prophecies are vague, and of course he already has a presupposition that they are all false — meaning he does not have to look at a single one of them before declaring them all wrong.
Chapter 14: Bizarre to the insane
This chapter discusses information that governs our thoughts. Ray warns us what information we accept. This goes into the theory of evolution. Ray says, "If you believe a drink contains poison, you won't drink it. If you believe it is safe, you will drink it. If you believe evolution is true, and from that premise believe that the bible is false, then you won't repent."
The last part is incorrect because there are theistic evolutionists who claim evolution is compatible with the Christian faith. Evolution does not rule out any deity and Ray knows that, but he continues to portray evolution as atheistic to mislead readers and make Christians fear evolution as damaging to their faith.
Ray concludes information will determine where your soul will remain after death, but Ray has not provided any proof that a soul, in all sense of the word, actually exist and survives after death.
Ray tries to explain how a Christian hides from such information that may harm their faith. Ray states that, like a caterpillar that wraps itself in its cocoon, a Christian likewise wraps himself/herself "with the rules and regulations, hiding from the real world in the cocoon of Christianity."
This is actually one of the few honest things Ray has ever said. He admitted Christians do not live in the real world, which is accurate since they believe in fantasies like angels, talking snakes, drinking the blood of a ancient god, and prayer to certain deities. Hiding themselves from a world called reality and censoring themselves to observable facts, tested data, and proven theories like evolution.
Ray repeats an old argument known as Pascal's Wager.
The chapter ends with Ray asking the reader to imagine and pretend Christianity is true and there is a Creator, Heaven, etc. "But if what I'm saying is true, the atheist will get the shock of his life - at his death. He will wake up dead, and will find that he truly has 'passed on'. I ask again, is it possible that you could be wrong? Come on, bend a little. Just between you and me, have you ever been wrong? Are you divinely infallible? Are you different from the rest of us?"
It is weird for someone who claims that atheists do not exist keeps referring them as atheists. Of course humans are fallible and make mistakes, but the evidence does not support Ray's position and thus atheists remain unconvinced. Could Ray be right about what happens after death? He could be, but so can every other imaginable scenario. A person could die and go to Valhalla, or Hades, or Avalon. Since any imaginable scenario is possible, this means that there are theoretically an infinite possible scenarios of what happens to a person after death, making Ray's narrow version of Heaven nearly impossible. Possibly, there could be a Heaven, but it is only a place for atheists. Say that the universe was created by a deity, but then comes along a trickster and deceives the world that there is a creator but that creator is the trickster. This means everyone in the world can be fooled, even Christians, and the creator only rewards those who do not fall for the trickster's deception. Since atheists do not worship or acknowledge the trickster as the creator, the true creator will reward them after death for not worshiping the trickster.
Ray has been asked many times "what if you are wrong and Christianity is not true?" of course Ray admits he could be wrong, but he does not "bend a little" because his beliefs are dogmatic. Ray has no interest in "bending a little" instead what he wants is more gullible followers. Professional creationists like Ray Comfort are making money hand over fist with faith-healing scams or bilking little old ladies out of prayer donations, or selling books (and Ray Comfort publishes several books every year and the books often are just repeats of previous books) and videos at their circus-like seminars. All of them feign knowledge they can’t really possess, and some of them claim degrees they’ve never actually earned. Were it not for this con, they’d have to go back to selling used cars, wonder drugs, and multi-level marketing schemes. They will never change their minds no matter what it costs anyone else.
Chapter 15: Going for the spider
Ray hopes the reader is convinced by his arguments by now. He addresses atheists as intellectually embarrassing. Ray repeats his argument a plane had a plane maker and we are all in the plane but will all have to jump.
He uses an analogy that we are sinners and doomed to an eternity in hell. We are all like people on a plane that will soon fail. We can be saved with a parachute, and in this case faith in Jesus is our parachute. However, those passengers who accept evolution will not put on the parachute and wait for one to "evolve" under their chair.
This is a feeble straw man of evolution. Evolution explains the diversity of life, it does not state or imply that man-made artifices will sprout from seat cushions. As already explained in Chapter 6 of this book, Ray's parachute argument is a feeble and flawed rework of Pascal's Wager.
The Main Objections
Here Ray addresses and generalizes non-Christians. By now, he expects us to be convinced that there is a Creator, now he moves on to talk about Judgment.
Ray says he is not here to convince anybody that the Moral Law exists, because everyone already know it exists because the Bible says so (Romans 2:15).
This could not be more incorrect. Christianity's moral views are not shared by everyone, nor is it shared by all Christians. Quoting the Bible is not proof that everyone is aware of Christian moral values. Saying the law is written on our hearts is no more credible than the Islamic Primordial Covenant, which states that Allah's law is written on our souls before we even entered our bodies at birth. Ray says he is only focusing on trying to show us the "consequences" of breaking the law. What Ray has failed to show is that consequences will even take place.
Ray portrays God as: see's your youth days; see's your thought life; and he is perfect, just, good, holy and utterly righteous. Then Ray begins to move through the Ten Commandments while taking a person down the are you a good person? routine.
Bear in mind, this is only Ray's beliefs and projections of what God is like. Ray claims the God of the Bible is "just and good" and yet anyone can open the Bible and find God committing atrocious acts: making families eat their children, kill people for working one particular day a week, purposely deceieve people and then kill them for believing the lie, commanding forced abortions, and much much more. How do we respond to these acts? Declare them just? We know killing those known not to be responsible for the sins being punished is quintessentially unjust. Do we concoct an elaborate justification for anything Yahweh did? No, when we indulge any impulse to excuse or defend these acts, we are already going dangerously astray. If we justify these acts, what won't we justify? Do we brush Yahweh's atrocities under the carpet of symbolism, claiming they are not meant to be taken literally? Nothing in the Bible makes clear that Yahweh is acting symbolically, but even if they were the idea of an omni-benevolent baby punisher makes no more senses as a symbol than as a literal being. Do we claim that these particular passages are just merely beyond our understanding? Not only is that unconvincing, when we condemn humans who act this way without hesitation, it represents one of the most deplorably irresponsible attitudes towards morality and justice we encounter.
Non-Christians who cite biblical cruelties are often accused of cherry-picking. In fact, non-Christians can freely acknowledge both kindness and cruelties in the Bible. Particularly the cruelties that should concern any decent person are those who ignore and overlook the immoral content of religious scripture, who are truly cherry-picking. Theists who discard the less palatable parts of Scripture should at least be honest about the standards by which they do this and concede that they are applying their own independent judgment to Scripture. Obviously when we use our own moral sense to separate god and bad in Scripture, when we revise our interpretation of it to reflect the more enlightened view of our time, it is not Scripture guiding our morality. It is our morality guiding our perception of Scripture.
The hypocrisy of Ray is demonstrated in this chapter. The back of the book said that he would not use the Bible to convince you of God, yet he has quoted the Bible continuously throughout the book, and has used a specific selection of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) as a witnessing tool.
Not Even a Groan
Ray walks the reader through his interpretation of the Ten Commandments, starting with blasphemy. He wonders why people use Jesus Christ as a curse word rather than Buddha.
Many people use a variety of words as curse words, but perhaps the greatest reason that people use Christ as a curse word is because Jesus Christ has been used as a justification to curse, persecute, suppress, etc. others which gives it more weight as a curse word.
Diamonds or Water?
Ray asks the audience if he handed him a fistful of diamonds or a bucket of water, which one would they choose. Ray says anybody in their right mind would not choose the diamonds. However, Ray changes the scenario that if he offered the same options to a person in the desert, the person would choose the water or else they would die. Ray says Christianity offers the choice of sparkly diamonds of sin or the water of everlasting life.
The chapter ends with Ray explaining why automobile safety commercials show us dummies wearing seat belts and then crashing. They show us these scenarios to scare us, because of the risk of a car accident is fatal and thus we should wear a seat belt. Ray says that we should put on our seat belt: faith in Christ. Ray admits this is why he uses fear tactics, so we will know we must always wear the seat belt.
The difference between with scenario with faith in Christ is that the seat belt and dummy incident is testable. We can see and test accidents occurring and how to protect ourselves. Unlike Ray's "everlasting life" and God, we cannot test such things. At one point in history, cars were not made with seat belts until much later when the government mandated that cars include seat belts because it was rational and it kept people safe from physical harm. Ray's irrational pleas of hell and appeal to emotion have no evidential support, they cannot be tested as seat belts can, and there has been no proof of an afterlife. Fear is not a valid tool or a pathway to truth. Ray has not proven a god, an after life, judgment, or his particular version is the most accurate.
Chapter 16: The Repellent
Throughout this chapter, Ray appeals to emotion, hoping the reader is uneasy and feels guilty for not following God's law and the Ten Commandments. Ray makes no further attempt to provide any proof for his claims, he just plays with people's fears and provides a solution that only his God can help. This ploy is called snake oil.
Ray addresses the readers conscience, questioning if it is functioning correctly and parallel to God's laws and sin. If the readers conscience is not pointing in the right direction, Jesus' sacrifice will guide us once we accept and acknowledge our sin and guilt.
Ray only uses the Commandments from Exodus 20. What he keeps hidden from the reader is that the only time the Commandments are called the "Ten Commandments" are the ones listed in Exodus 34, and none of the ten mention lying, theft, murder, adultery, etc. at all. As long as Ray's audience remains unaware of knowledge such as this, his words will prey on people's fears that will bend people to his particular religion.
On Ray's website for taking the test if you are a sinner, he asks have you ever told a lie, stolen anything, lusted, blasphemed, etc. Even if you answer "No" to every question, the result is still the same: you are a sinner. So, in reality, this ten commandments ploy is nothing more than a little marketing tactic; like a trick question, in order to make you feel guilty in order to make you feel as if you need their god.
Chapter 17: A Hopeful Presumption
At this point, Ray continues to make the reader feels uneasy and begins to ask if the reader is ready to accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior. He assures it's readers to have faith, and in time God will fulfill all his promises.
Once Ray is finished with this approach, he shares a personal story of experiences what it is like to become a Christian. He talks about his home New Zealand and voyage to the United States.
Chapter 18: Watch and Pray
Ray shares his experiences in street preaching and his thoughts on the violence in the United States. He explains that he thought the best tool to counter this suffering is prayer.
Unsatisfied with the role of religion in America, Ray shares his thoughts that churches and missionaries should return to preaching of hellfire and brimstone. Ray's idea of addressing the people is that they need to know God is an angry, vengeful God and will destroy us unless we repent. According to Ray, many preachers are immoral (such as cheating on their wives) and not following an example of God's law.
What Ray does not get into is why preachers do what they do. The common answer is to spread the good news, but there is another driving force: money. Based on how poorly this book is written, and that Ray publishes and distributes many books just about every year reveals something Ray is not admitting to us. Ray lives in a luxurious house in Southern California.
Chapter 19: The Lost Altar
Ray continues this chapter examining the ills of America. His reasons why these problems exist are predictable: not enough Christians (by Ray's definition) and the good news of salvation is not being widely distributed throughout the country.
Based on this, Ray instructs the reader what they should do to counteract the ills of America. This includes indoctrinating your children into Christianity.
Indoctrination has been strongly argued to be a form of child abuse, stripping the children of their individuality and ability to choose. Children are vulnerable and are used to accepting authority, so indoctrination takes advantage of them before they have developed critical thinking skills. Also, religion tends to separate children (that is Catholic children attend Catholic school, not an Islamic school). It is universally agreed that young children are too young to decide where they stand in politics, so why should we label them based on their parent's views of humanity within the cosmos?
Since Ray believes the lack of evangelical Christians in America is the source of the ills of this country, he has not considered that Christianity may be a source of the problem? And of course he does not want his readers to be aware of this. Throughout American history, Christianity has brought upon this country many ills, even to this day. Such examples include the following: suppression of Native American, women, homosexual, and atheist rights; endorsing slavery; murdering doctors; fanaticism; fundamentals promoting pseudoscience and anti-science; church sex scandals; promoting faith healing and exorcisms over medical treatment; blood libels; using tax money to build creationist parks and Arks; and so on.
Chapter 20: Tampering with the Recipe
In this chapter, Ray talks about how to make a marriage last. The advice is good, but can simply be reached through common sense really (like don't argue in front of kids).
At the beginning of the chapter, Ray talks about how christian marriages last, while others' don't, and how "nowadays secular and christian divorce statistics run hand in hand."
Wrong. According to a 1999 study done by a christian sociologist, George Barna, atheists have a 21% chance of divorce, while born again christians have a 27% chance. A six percent difference, but still a difference, with atheists in the lead having the lowest divorce rate than any other religious affiliate. It's clear though, that having a particular religion doesn't guarantee a couple to have a good marriage. There are people who have different religions, and their marriages are great. However, religious beliefs can also tear couples apart too.
Chapter 21: If the average girl knew
Ray starts off with telling the reader about an experiment. Two people were placed in separate rooms (they could still see each other through a window) and each person was told to hit a button as fast as they could once they saw a light come on. The one who wasn't fast enough in reacting to the light, was shocked by the winner, and the winner could choose the amount of shock that the loser got. The scientist did the experiment with sober, and intoxicated individuals, and when intoxicated, people sent a higher voltage of a shock into the person, than when they were sober. Ray concludes that this "proves" that people are born "wicked," and states this is exactly what the Bible predicted. Ray argues all the scientist had to do was open the bible to learn of this "truth."
Human beings being evil by nature is debatable. This example just seems to be an observation of human behavior, by human beings, which made the claim as to the "deceitfully wicked" nature of man. Not that it "proves" the bible is inspired.
Ray next talks about a woman who wrote him about being terrified about potentially having homosexual thoughts. Ray goes into his bullshit about how people have been "hoodwinked into accepting many lies, and one of the greatest is that homosexuals are 'born that way'. If that is true, we are all born homosexuals."
Ray continues to talk about the "sinful nature" of humans, and how when you're a christian you should be even more aware of the fact that you're sinning all the time, it's just that when you're a christian, you feel guilty about it.
Next, Ray lists some things a person can do, in order to fight their feelings of "sexual lust" and of course claims that this is yet another sin.
Diving or Falling
Ray talks about how a "pretend christian" will "dive" into sin, while the true christian will "fall" into it. Basically, he's claiming that a true christian will do whatever they can to avoid sinning, yet Ray talks about his feeling guilty about taking "the biggest piece of chocolate cake," and that he can't help it, because of his sinful nature.
This is a contradiction because if Ray didn't want to "sin" and have the bigger piece of cake, then he should have had the self control not to. This entire concept doesn't make the slightest bit of sense, because according to Ray his supposed sin is against his will, yet he willfully sins. If he looks at a woman and finds her attractive, or if he feels greedy by taking that bigger slice of cake, it's your own response to the women...you turned your head, you took the cake, and therefore you are responsible for your actions. Blaming it on some mythological concept of sin does not excuse you for being unable to control your behavior. That's simply a cop out.
The rest of the chapter is simply Ray using examples from the Bible, about Peter, and his sin, and yet again contradicting himself, because he has used the bible...and for the remainder of the chapter too, for his so called proof.
At the end of the chapter, though he restates his position in his book about atheists only using that as a label as a "weak and transparent shield for sin," and quotes the Bible, Psalm 14:1: "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no god'." Ray says "you no longer have to be a believer in the religion of atheism. You know there is a God. Your faith has been shattered. You don't believe you are an atheist."
Here Ray resorts to blatant and dishonest accusations. Atheism is not a religion in any sense. Atheists do not believe they are atheists, they know they are atheists. Theists are they ones who do not know there is a god, because faith does not produce knowledge. Knowledge is based on facts, which are testable and observable, not on blind dogmatic faith that Ray holds dear.
Appendix: Reasoning for the Faith
This last part of the book goes over questions that Ray found at a "Hollywood atheist organization" (page 179), whatever that is, and attempts to answer them. Some of these questions Comfort doesn't even answer and goes around the question. For example: on the very first question, it asks how you would define god, and why you're so convinced there is one, and Ray simply states that "god is the creator, the upholder, and the sustainer of the universe. He revealed himself to Moses as the one and only true god" (page 179). He doesn't even really answer the question as to why he's convinced there is a god...unless it's because of what the bible says, though that's not a logical answer to say the least.
- Question 3: "how can something that cannot be described be said to exist?"
Ray responds that since color cannot be described, it does not mean color does not exist. He also mentions plant life beneath the sea and planets not seen or described by man, but they nevertheless exist.
If they have never been seen by man, how do we know they are plants? Unlike these examples Ray provides, God has not been shown to exist in reality. In fact, many have argued why God cannot exist in reality. Almost every religion tries to set itself apart from the rest and from the common definition of the word “religion” in some way, such as Buddhists claiming to be a philosophy. Rays answer is not satisfactory, but rather shown to be false based on the testimonies of ex-evangelical ministers. Religions have rituals, sacred texts, creation myths, and worship, and indeed Christianity has all of these.
- Question 4: "Since there are countless religions in the world today claiming to be the one true religion, why do you think yours is truer than theirs?"
Ray answers no religion is "truer" than any other. He says religions strive to make peace with their creator, but Christianity does not do so. Instead peace has been given to man by Jesus. Ray concludes that Christianity is not a man made religion, but a personal relationship with Jesus.
However, Christianity is indeed a religion. Buddhism often tries to separate itself as a religion, however it remains a religion.
- Question 5: "Can more than one of these religions be right?"
According to Ray, "Jesus discarded all other religions as a means of finding forgiveness of sin." Ray then quotes Bible verses that supports Jesus as being the one true God (John 14:6, 1 Timothy 2:5, and Acts 4:12).
Basically, this is self-promotion and provides no empirical data to support this claim. Note: 1 Timothy is considered a forgery by the vast majority of critical scholars.
- Question 15: "If God of the Bible is "all good," why does he himself say he created evil (Isaiah 45:7)?"
First Ray offers a translation for the word 'evil' in that verse. He says it means "calamity" or "suffering." Ray says God uses good and bad things to bring us to a relationship with him, but he did not bring evil into being. Ray goes on to tell the story of Adam and Eve in the garden, and God gave him a choice to obey or not. Once they were aware of good and evil, it was up to them to choose between the two.
Ray does not really address the question. Ray has admitted that God created all things, but will not say that God created evil. Does this mean good and evil exist independent of God? If so, then why would we need God to tell us what is good and bad?
- Question 16: "Is there a better way than reason to acquire knowledge and truth?"
Ray simply answers no. He then goes on to mention from the Bible "'Come now, and let us reason together,' said the Lord." Ray then mentions Paul reasoned with King Agrippa and Felix.
Comfort fails to mention certain important Christians like Martin Luther who said "Reason should be destroyed by all Christians."
- Question 17: "If you answered #16 with "faith," then why are there so many contradictory faiths in the world?"
Ray says that at least every nation acknowledges there is a Creator. However, Ray says they worship the sun, moon and idols. Ray says no one has ever found an atheistic tribe, because they were not that ignorant.
Ray pulls no punches from insulting other religions and those with no religion. Even if we could not find one atheistic tribe in the world, that does not give religion special credibility.
- Question 18: "If you believe, as many do, that all religions worship the same god under different names, how do you explain the existence of religions which have more than one god, or Buddhism, which, in its pure form, there is no god?"
Ray simply responds that those who do not worship the one true god will find any replacement, whether it be multiple gods or small wooden idol.
Again, Ray pulls no punches from insulting other religions, even his fellow Christians. He seems to have missed that some religions do not find a "replacement" because there is nothing to replace.
- Question 19: "What would it take to convince you that you are wrong?"
Ray does not provide a suitable answer. Ray's respond is that he already has been convinced, during the 22 years of his unconverted life.
He does not share what would be the first step to show his beliefs are incorrect, perhaps he does not want them to be incorrect. This just reveals his dogmatic beliefs.
- Question 20: "If nothing can convince you that you are wrong, then why should your faith be considered anything but a cult?"
Ray defines a cult as a "system of religious worship and ritual" which reflects every man made religion.
However, as Ray already described, he does not believe Christianity is a religion but rather a relationship with Jesus. He also argues he does not have a belief system, but rather a experience system once a Christian has felt the Holy Spirit. See the response to question 3 regarding Christianity not being a religion. Also, the human mind is capable of producing many types of experiences. Ray does not provide any data or criteria to explain what he is experiencing is real or accurate. Also, Comfort is quick to dismiss religious experiences from every other religion, but he will not critically examine his own?
- Question 21: "If an atheist lives a decent, moral life, why should a loving, compassionate God care whether we believe in him/her/it"
To Ray, it does not matter how much of a moral life we live we are still born in sin and violate the Ten Commandments, and thus we are damned.
It is common for religions to set up a standard that no one is safe from unbelief. Basically Ray admits that God is not all-loving or all-merciful, otherwise we would not be punished just for being good or even born. Don't forget, Ray is only using his particular selection of the Commandments, but what about the Ten Commandments in Exodus 34?
- Question 22: "How can the same God who, according to the Old Testament, killed everybody on earth except for eight people be considered anything other than evil?"
After examining their lifestyle, Ray claims those people who did deserve to die. They rejected God. When a judge finds a criminal guilty, criminals never see the judge as righteous.
Ray wonders why people do not take him seriously regarding issues of morality. If Ray thinks that people who reject God deserve death, then about 90 percent of the population of Sweden deserve death, among several billion others around the globe. During the flood, God killed small infants to young to know anything about God, and unborn babies in their mother's womb.
- Question 23: "Must we hate ourselves and our families to be good Christians (Luke 14:26)?"
Ray says no, that bible verse is a "hyperbole." Ray says we should love God more than our families and ourselves. To place love in anything else, Ray considers it idolatry.
Here, Ray cherry-picks what is a hyperbole, metaphor, or fable. He does not provide a definition or criteria of what constitutes as a hyperbole or what is literal.
- Question 24: "Since the ancient world abounded with tales of resurrected Savior-Gods that were supposed to return from the dead to save humanity, why is the Jesus myth any more reliable than the others?"
Ray says, unlike those other myths that died off, the Jesus myth is true and provable. All one has to do is accept Jesus into their heart and experience the truth.
However, these experiences do not change reality. The mind is capable of producing many experiences that seem spiritual, but all this proves is that these experiences are just products of the mind and not the supernatural. Also, when examining the historicity of Jesus, it strongly seems Jesus was a myth.
- Question 25: "If the Bible is the inerrant word of God, why does it contain so many factual errors, such as the two contradictory accounts in Genesis?"
Ray says there are no contradictory accounts in genesis. Gen. 1 explains creation while Gen. 2 goes into detail.
What Ray does not share is that the two stories get several things backwards. Neither does he mention or address Genesis account that plants came before sunlight. As for the other factual errors, Ray claims after reading the Bible everyday for 30 years he has never found an error. Then how about you read Dr. Helm's book "The Bible Against Itself."
- Question 26: "Why isn't the Bible written in a straightforward way that leaves no doubt about what it means?"
Ray says it is clear to those who obey God and those who are closed spirituality will not understand it.
This does not really address the question. Many people who no longer believe in God have had such spiritual experiences (and can produce them again), and they can fully read and understand the Bible. Ray does not mention why he does not follow certain demands included in the Bible, such as cutting off your own hand if you sin, which early church fathers did do and encourage their subjects and all Christians to do the same.
- Question 28: if anyone has ever been killed in the name of atheism?
Ray responds with the usual absurd argument about the communist regimes, and claims these were a result of atheism.
As explained to him many times, communism is a form of state worship and not a single person was killed in the name of atheism. And if communism was the cause for all the deaths, then it is actually a problem for Christianity since communism predates Marx and can be found in the book of Acts. That's right, communism found in the perfect Word of God.
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