No. 118 (essentialsaltes) wrote,
No. 118

A drive-by on "You can lead an atheist to evidence..."

Long awaited by no one is my review of Ray Comfort's You can lead an atheist to evidence, but you can't make him think. But I'll repay the free gift of the book with a review.

The book is primarily made up of material from Comfort's website where he answers questions from e-atheists that troll his site. Presumably, Comfort has included the answers that he thinks redound most to his credit. The level of discourse on both sides is basically internet debate. So to the theists reading this, I well realize that Ray Comfort is not the best apologist for theism.

I'll try to start with something nice. I think Comfort is genuinely concerned that I might spend an eternity of everlasting torment in Hell, and he'd like me to avoid that. Thanks, I appreciate it. But once again, his problem is that the sickness and his proposed cure both come from the same source. Likewise, both are otherwise inaccessible to me.

It doesn't take him long to start threatening. Hell shows up in the second paragraph of the introduction.

Chapter 1 is vaguely on science, and if anything, it's worse than the Atheist Bible.

"It was also an amazing coincidence that gravity existed at the time of [the evolution of the first man and woman]. Without it, the first man and his first mate would have spun off into the infinitude of space." I find it hard to see where to even begin on that one, which may help him in debate situations.

"'Then who made God?' has a logical answer." Apparently the margin was too small to contain it, since he does not provide it.

"... it seems worth it to some [to become an atheist], because they think you then become a moral free agent." Wait, are theists not moral free agents?
[Elsewhere, he harps on the fact that everyone is a sinner and equally unworthy, so he's not charging atheists with being immoral (compared to moral theists). So if anything, maybe he is complaining that atheists are free to choose their morality, but their morality will almost certainly conflict with God's morality, and thus atheists will sin against God but not feel guilty about it, while theists will sin and feel properly guilty about it.]

"Every scientific experiment is done 'in faith.' If a scientist had the results in front of him where he could see them, why would he experiment? He conducts a test because he doesn't yet see the results."
Is it just me, or is Comfort an ignoramus? Before the test, the scientist may entertain a hypothesis about the results, but an important part of the scientific method is to discard (or modify) the hypothesis in the face of the experimental results. I would not characterize holding a tentative hypothesis as 'faith'. Even if it were, such faith is immediately dispelled by the result, which is in front of him where he can see it.

Comfort gives his anti-Catholicism free rein every now and again. My favorite example is where he blames Catholics for keeping the Bible hidden, which enabled Nostradamus to "plagiarize the prophecies of the Bible" and prosper by repackaging them.

Humans are animals
"If evolution is true, then man is simply an animal. That means he is free to embark on his sexual prowls, blah-be-blah-de-blah."
No, that means he is not a plant or fungus (rare exceptions may exist). More directly, humans are eukaryotic, multicellular, heterotrophic, motile, and lack rigid cell walls. It does sound kind of kinky (if hetero-normative). Comfort needs to review my is-ought diatribe. Man doesn't 'ought' to have nonrigid cell walls. He just does. Man doesn't 'ought' to behave like a cad. He either does or does not. There is no 'ought'. No, wait. What I meant was that the field of ethics and morality does not evaporate if we recognize that human beings are animals.

Okay, he drifts away from science. On the necessity of Hell...

"If death is the end, then God has given you the exact same wages as Hitler. That would mean that God is unjust, which is unthinkable." Um, if death is not the end, and Hitler and I go to Hell, then God has given me the exact same wages as Hitler. That would mean that God is unjust, which is unthinkable. [Yes, I could be buried head up in flaming manure, rather than head down like Hitler, but when you start to compare infinite torments, they tend to even out. I don't think Cantor's transfinite numbers are applicable here.]

Okay, I'll say something sorta nice again. When asked if gays (or other sinners) can 'change' by becoming Christian, he says: "If they seek a change, they should go to AA, get on a daytime talk show for a makeover, or see a psychologist."

Now, because I'm petty, I'll point out that the book used Armenian when it meant Arminian.

"Every moment that you and I spend arguing about theological interpretations is time we have lost forever..."

One of Comfort's other annoying habits is the non sequitur.
Question about the Flood. How can you justify this?
Five paragraphs that mention the Flood 0 times.
How could God repent unless He had done something wrong?
One big fat paragraph leading up to an examination of the questioners sins.

And then there's straight-up head-to-head internet-debate styling:
But the flood "drowned jillions of kittens"
"Can you imagine how overrun the earth would be by now if God hadn't killed those jillions of kittens?"
Tags: atheism, book, internet, religion

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