Ray Comfort’s appalling ignorance

Both P.Z. Myers and Larry Moran have commented on this but I want toget my own licks in. Ray Comfort (AKA Banana-Man) has squatted down and grunted out a fresh piece of “literature” attacking atheists (whatever) in which he also goes after evolution (which he mistakenly considers to be synonymous with atheism). Apparently his tripe isn’t selling as well as he thinks it should and so he gone on a whine-fest about how this is due to some sort of atheist conspiracy in a posting over at WorldNutDaily.

The article quotes him on one of his reasons for believing that evolution is an “unscientific fairytale”:

“I simply expose atheistic evolution for the unscientific fairy tale that it is, and I do it with common logic. I ask questions about where the female came from for each species. Every male dog, cat, horse , elephant, giraffe, fish and bird had to have coincidentally evolved with a female alongside it (over billions of years) with fully evolved compatible reproductive parts and a desire to mate, otherwise the species couldn’t keep going. Evolution has no explanation for the female for every species in creation,” he said.

Ye gods! Folks, this is a discussion stopper. It is beyond the pale. It is stupidity squared.  If you are someone who thinks that evolutionary theory requires that the origin of new species involves the separate, independent, origination of each sex of said new species, that this must happen each and every time a new species evolves, and further that this is to happen by coincidence, then you are far, far, too ignorant of the subject to even think about criticizing it.

Let me try and reformulate this in theological terms for anyone out there that might harbor some misguided sympathy for Mr. Comfort’s views.

Imagine if someone came into your church (to put it specifically in Christian terms) and said, with all seriousness, that they thought Christianity was a fairytale: “Because I can’t believe in this Jesus guy with his blue skin and eight arms. Nor can I accept his teaching that the only way to get to heaven was to die bravely in glorious combat.”

How seriously would you take such a persons critiques of the Christian faith?

Well that’s exactly how Comfort comes across to anyone with even a basic understanding of evolutionary theory when he utters nonsense like this. He either has absolutely no clue as to what he’s talking about, or he is deliberately misrepresenting things (lying) to score rhetorical points.

Either way he has disqualified himself from participation in any serious discussion of the subject (not that anyone was taking him seriously to begin with).

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10 thoughts on “Ray Comfort’s appalling ignorance

  1. Nonetheless (yes, I agree that this isn’t the most promising attack on evolution ever), the evolution of the sexes is a problem. There are only fairytale stories of how it began. And why do we have sexes in the first place? You give up 50% of your genes, which just got a new great addition like the ability to create an eye after your DNA got hit by a cosmic ray?

    You will answer that there are answers: but they are stories that are no more than hand waving. It could have been this, or that. They are not falsifiable, and the next taxpayer dollar sponsored scientist that comes along and asserts something different can be as happily accommodated.

    The best answer evolutionists have come up with with regards to how and why did the sexes evolve is: we don’t know, but we know it did, because evolution is true, and we wouldn’t be here to talk about it.

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  2. Hi Berend,

    Nonetheless (yes, I agree that this isn’t the most promising attack on evolution ever), the evolution of the sexes is a problem.

    To say that it isn’t a promising attack is to put it mildly. It isn’t an attack at all, it is an embarrassing (or should be) public demonstration of abject ignorance. And yes the evolution of sex is a ‘problem’, in the sense that there are lots of interesting questions left to be worked on regarding the origins of sexual reproduction. It is not however a ‘problem’ in the sense being a fatal flaw in the theory of evolution.

    There are only fairytale stories of how it began.

    Fairytale stories are what you get when you give up asking questions and simply assert that God, or some other supernatural agency, brought something about in an unknown and unknowable manner for unknown and unknowable reasons.

    In science, on the other hand, while the natural, evolutionary, origins of sexual reproduction are difficult to test (because we are talking about something that happened a billion or more years ago, that didn’t leave fossils), it is not necessarily impossible.

    And why do we have sexes in the first place?

    There are several possible advantages to the exchange of genetic material. For example it creates genetic diversity which enhances the survivability of a species in the face of environmental change. And there is a fair diversity of ways in which living things go about doing this, from bacteria simply absorbing bits of genetic material floating around in their environment (horizontal gene transfer) to full blown sexual reproduction found in metazoans.

    You give up 50% of your genes, which just got a new great addition like the ability to create an eye after your DNA got hit by a cosmic ray?

    Yes not all of your offspring may inherit a new beneficial mutation, but some will and sexual reproduction allows such mutations to spread through the population. So you have it a little backwards.

    You will answer that there are answers: but they are stories that are no more than hand waving.

    No, I answer that there may be answers. There are several hypotheses, and natural hypotheses are, at least potentially, testable. ‘God did it’ is a pseudo-answer which is a scientifically uninteresting dead end.

    It could have been this, or that. They are not falsifiable, and the next taxpayer dollar sponsored scientist that comes along and asserts something different can be as happily accommodated.

    So scientists are not really interested in trying to understand how sexual reproduction originated; they just periodically make up ‘just-so-stories’ and bandy them about without concern for testability, is that it?

    If you really think that is what scientists as a group are about, then you must not know many scientists nor do you understand one of their primary motivations (hint: curiosity).

    The best answer evolutionists have come up with with regards to how and why did the sexes evolve is: we don’t know, but we know it did, because evolution is true, and we wouldn’t be here to talk about it.

    More like they don’t know all about the how sexual reproduction evolved (why is a little easier to understand after going back and checking a few references I retract that, why is also an ongoing research question) and are still working on the problem(s). But even if you’re right a simple ‘we don’t know’ would still be preferable to re-labeling their ignorance with the phrase ‘God did it’ and then claiming to have knowledge.

    And yes we are pretty darn certain it did because the evidence for evolution in general is overwhelming and nothing about the origination of sexual reproduction appears to be an insurmountable problem (no magic bullet), evolutionarily speaking. If we come to a better understanding of the evolution of sex, that’ll be great. If not then we still know that evolution occurred even though we don’t know every detail (and we never will).

    To argue otherwise would be like arguing that O.J. Simpson couldn’t possibly have murdered Ron Goldman and Nicole Simpson, despite the mountain of damning evidence showing he did, because the murder weapon (knife) was never found.

    See:

    CB350. Sex cannot have evolved

    Evolution of sexual reproduction

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  3. Troy, thanks for your time.

    You wrote: For example it creates genetic diversity which enhances the survivability of a species in the face of environmental change.

    I can see that of course, but that’s an ID argument. Evolution is blind and does not work toward goal. A species needs to have pretty much of all it working before it can enhance survivability wouldn’t it?

    Troy: So scientists are not really interested in trying to understand how sexual reproduction originated; they just periodically make up ‘just-so-stories’ and bandy them about without concern for testability, is that it?

    I’m mainly talking about evolutionists here. Yes, that seems to me the truth. I think a minimum claim for a scientific theory might be falsifiability isn’t it? Or in better terms, I’m a realist after all, as Richard Feynman says: the test of all knowledge is experiment.

    Stories might satisfy one’s curiosity, but it doesn’t make a story teller a scientist.

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  4. Berend: did you click on the two links at the bottom of Troy’s last post? The evolution of sexual reproduction is not a “story”; it’s science.

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  5. Nerend wrote

    I can see that of course, but that’s an ID argument. Evolution is blind and does not work toward goal. A species needs to have pretty much of all it working before it can enhance survivability wouldn’t it?

    Um, identifying a potential current selective advantage for the evolution of sex — genetic mixing — is an ID argument? Baloney. Read the references provided.

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  7. Ray confused mind is largely influenced by his holy book, where his god create the First Man Adam, and, an hour after, realizing His blunder, do surgery on Adam to create his wifey Eve.

    So he imagine the First Elephant, let’s call him Dumbo, and –as he deludes himself– Dumbo is mateless and will stay mateless because there is no convenient evolutionary deity to provide Dumbo with his mate Heftie.

    Ray is unable to grasp the mecanism of evolution within species populations, where is never a First Elephant, no more that there were ever a First Frenchman.

    Creationists routinely present strawman versions of the Theory of Evolution.
    They generally claim they have “studied” Evolution and spotted glaring “weaknesses”. Creationists also lie a lot –but they are Lying for Jesus!

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  8. HEADDESK

    The layman might imagine natural selection would be quite harsh on those species that evolved sexual reproduction but didn’t evolve the female sex. I don’t think they would have the opportunity to evolve for many generations!

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  10. I don’t even know where to begin when discussing the Rational Response debate. It was very frustrating to watch. During the debate I found myself in every one of the following psychological states:
    A) face frozen with incredulity
    B) head down in embarrassment and
    C) fists clenched and teeth gnashing.

    I can’t remember the last time I had such feelings of . . . catharsis? It boggles the mind and gives me the same nauseous feeling I get after riding Star Tours at Disneyland or driving along a two lane, mountainous road. After repeated watching, I just couldn’t cope anymore and I did what most people do when confronted with overwhelming incredulity, frustration, apathy. I laughed. I then took a deep breath and finally recognized this caricature for what he really is, a court jester.

    That thought, however, did not last too long. Primarily because I recognized a man who, despite his ignorance, was serious, sincere, and passionate. I could not let it go and wanted to understand how, in 21st century America, one could be so brazenly uninformed. I then took a deep breath and thought about it and reflected on it a little. I do know something about the subject because I myself was a born again christian for a few years in my late teens. I just couldn’t understand however, how such dinosaurs of thought had survived with such boldness.

    Needless to say, I understand who Ray Comfort is and what he thinks he is. Ray’s biggest problem is his imagination. He is a first century man. He fancies himself like the apostle Paul preaching to the Greeks and the Romans, trying to dispel them of their pagan gods, or as the Saviour himself preaching to the huddled masses. Whether it is in an ampitheater or in the marketplace or on top of a hill in Jerusalem, or a grassy knoll. These are the myths he is mimicking.
    The fact that he is living in the 21st century America is besides the point. Just substitute America for the Roman empire, or any major metropolitan area for any one of the Greek city-states and you have it. This is his mindset and why you’ll find him preaching on top of a soap box in the public square.

    Yes, Don Quixote is alive and well in the 21st century still tilting at windmills with his sidekick Sancho Cameron at his side. Of course, this modern day Don Quixote has adopted the 20st century’s technologies of disseminationtion (microphones and loudspeakers) as well as that of the 21st (the internet).

    I read on one blog where someone whom I would like to give credit to, quite brilliantly, described the Rational Response debate as if you were trying to play a game of chess with an 8 year old who advances his knight to the back square and exclaims “King me.” This is not too far from the truth. Ray Comfort is a first century man with a simple program containing a simple message based on a simple understanding of the world. This meme/program, can clearly be found in any of the Gospels or Acts of the Apostles (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:15, etc.).

    Moreover, he has insulated himself from the modern world and the advances of science, with the help of the “pearls before swine” software of the first century- “Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet . . . (Matthew 10:14).“ Of course, Ray will find some comfort to realize that Jesus himself was driven out of his own hometown by people threatening to stone him. Unfortunately for us all, he’ll not notice that in the 21st century he’ll be driven out by laughter and ridicule. But so what, the analogy, I’m sure, will be close enough for him.

    His understanding reflects the ages prior to the Scientific Revolution, wherein alchemy, astrology, soothsayers and divine relics were as rampant as the plague. As such he is playing by a completly different set of rules, the rules of checkers, than the rest of us. Unfortunatley, the advances in our scientific understanding of the world has shown us how much more wondrous and complicated the real world actually is and that the laws that govern it are as varied as the rules that govern a game of chess. Whenever Ray Comfort makes a move, one need to recognize it for the shell game that it is.

    Ray comfort will never really understand why pawns can only advance one square, unless on the first move, or why bishops can only move along a diagonal, or why the knight is the only piece that can jump over others, or why kingside castling involves a king and rook. He will deliberately misunderstand or fail to undertake the effort to understand why these moves are, or aren’t, allowed. Alas, Ray Comfort is like a man bringing checkers to a chess match.

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