Ray Comfort

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Ray Comfort
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Ray Comfort is disappointingly a creationist, not a soft-core porn star or at least the owner of a chain of casual restaurants inevitably located off interstate exits.
—Scott Lemieux, Lawyers, Guns, and Money blog [4]

Ray Comfort is a New Zealand-born deep-cover atheist who is working to discredit creationism from within.

Comfort is perhaps best known for the banana fallacy, which he now claims is a hoax perpetrated by atheists.[1] He is also known for mass producing Christian literature and video, where he repeats himself over and over again. His ministry Way of the Master operates in Bellflower, Los Angeles, California. In 2010, his ministry made $108,000. [2] [3] but naturally Comfort is a Man of God and in no way in it for the money.

Contents

Background

Ray Comfort was born in New Zealand before coming to America. Ray Comfort was a minister at the Calvary Chapel Fellowship, as well as his son-in-law Emeil Zwayne. The Calvary Chapel, founded by Chuck Smith, believes in the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Ghost) and they believe that the Bible is inerrant. They believe in the Rapture, the time of Tribulation, the Second Coming of Christ, and in Christ’s thousand-year reign as King of the Earth, see Millennialism. Calvary Chapel doesn’t require any seminary training of its pastors – which is a good thing since Ray Comfort has no formal training.

Chuck Smith was a student at Life Bible College, founded by Amy McPherson - a female Pentecostal preacher, a faith healer and manizer, and outspoken anti-evolutionist. McPherson was sued by the families of people who died after the evangelists told them to ditch the medical care they needed. Amy McPherson died of drug overdose.

Ray Comfort often provides the following biography in his books and websites;

Ray Comfort is a best-selling author and co-host (with Kirk Cameron) of the award-winning TV program “Way of the Master.” Comfort was a platform speaker at the American Atheists Inc. Convention and, along with Cameron, debated atheists on ABC's “Nightline.” He is the author of more than 60 books, including The Evidence Bible (a Gold Medallion Award finalist), God Doesn't Believe in Atheists, and The Way of the Master. He and his wife, Sue, live in Southern California, where they have three grown children.

On Amazon.com, Ray Comfort basically includes the same biography, but includes the following: Comfort blogs daily, debated atheistic evolution on BBC, and his "Atheist Test" booklet has sold more than one million copies.

In summary: Ray Comfort is practically a nobody. He has no degrees in religion, theology, science, history, or of any type.

Comfort brags he was a “platform speaker” at the American Atheists, but that is just a cute way of saying “he had a debate with the President of the American Atheists” were he lost. He did not fare any better when he and Cameron debated the Rational Response Squad on ABC's “Nightline”. So what we have here is a man who likes to share that he was in two debates, thinking that alone makes him so special despite the fact he did not win either. When Ray was on BBC in 2009, he had a 5-10 minute discussion with Rev. Henry Brinton, senior pastor of Fairfax Presbyterian Church in Fairfax, Va. Brinton accepts the theory of evolution, and while Briton brought forth many good points, Ray Comfort resorted to repeating the same old arguments that have been refuted a thousand times. Finally, simply being accepted into a debate does not put you on the same or higher intellectual level as your opponents. In all debates to this date, Ray Comfort has not presented a scientific or rational case against evolution whatsoever.

Lastly, Comfort brags that he is an author of many many books and blogs a lot. Publishing 60 or more books may seem impressive until you learn that most of his works are basically copies of public domain material. Some of his other books are books like “101 Annoying Things About Air Travel" or "101 Annoying Things about Other Drivers." The rest that deal with Christianity and science, basically they all repeat the same exact things from previous books. Every time a person buys a books from Ray Comfort, they expect to see some new material, but they get is the same thing in the previous books they already bought.

Media presence

Way of the Master

See the main article on this topic: Way of the Master

Together with D-list actor Kirk Cameron, Comfort produces the Way of the Master series including TV and radio shows as well as internet articles. The masterly way is apparently the art of conversion by laying a massive guilt trip on followers and seekers, exactly like Jesus did (wink wink, nudge nudge), intellectual argument clever rhetoric plays a much smaller part. It's worth noting that though they frequently pontificate about the nature of God, and the path to morality, neither Comfort or Cameron have any training in theology or Biblical studies.[4] [5]

The Comfortable message amounts to:-

  1. You have broken the Ten Commandments.
  2. You will go to hell if you die just now.
  3. You cannot be forgiven unless you do exactly as Ray Comfort tells you.

Words of Comfort

Words of Comfort is the man's blog, that’s a really original name. Most of the site's arguments against the theory of evolution and atheism are not worth debunking; he'll just keep coming back with more (or maybe even the same ones). This, however, hasn't stopped many atheists from flocking to the blog for a laugh. Comfort got so many of these readers that for a time he named the site "Atheist Central."[6] He used material posted by atheists on the site to help him write quite a bit of very profitable Godly material, including his book You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, but You Can't Make Him Think.

On the blog, Ray Comfort forbids the following: foul language (however he interprets "foul") and url links to other websites. Either of these, or failure to capitalize "God" and "Jesus", will cause an immediate deletion of their comments. The most irritating part of the rule is no links to other site or articles, especially for people who can provide the evidence Comfort demands. Well it appears Comfort loves to dwell in his ignorance.

Ray Comfort plans to focus less on atheism, saying "So, the good news for me is that I will start daily blogging again on January 1st, 2012. However, there will be a big change. The blog will be called “Words of Comfort” and it will have a much broader content than just atheism. "[7]

Dangerous views

See the main article on this topic: Critique of Ray Comfort arguments

On morality

Ray Comfort tells his followers to accept increased suffering in this life in order to avoid greater pain after death, you've got to be miserable for Jesus.

But there is no Biblical precedent for a message of life improvement upon conversion. None. In fact the Bible says you will have trails, tribulations, temptation, persecution.[8]

Christians of the Comfort type are made to feel guilty and to fear God's wrath if they glance at another person and think “Isn’t he/she attractive?” According to Comfort (and Jesus himself[9]) looking at another person with lust is equivalent to adultery.

Most modern psychologists disapprove strongly of the "Endless Love guilt" game. Psychologists have long argued that these feelings of random (but unacted upon) lust, feelings of curious sexuality, or even feelings of desire that are acted upon if no one is hurt (the same feelings that Comfort denounces as filthy and sinful), are natural and involuntary. Trying to suppress those feelings is nearly impossible and can cause psychological harm as can blaming yourself or laying guilt on yourself.[10] [11]Comfort tells his followers to raise their children under the same unnatural guilt-ridden life that the parents endure.

Unsurprisingly, those who want people to be happy in this life oppose Ray Comfort’s teachings and he calls that persecution.[citation needed]

He frequently criticises other Christians for not giving the Christian message the way he does the way Jesus wants, his effect may be to weaken Christianity but he makes people less happy or unhappy in the course of this.

On science

One of his most common arguments about the world as we know it goes directly against science and observable reality. Comfort believes the "Word of God" is literal truth, so he tells people to deny any science that says otherwise. Comfort is a Young Earth creationist, [12] stating categorically, "there is no such thing as evolution". Interestingly, for a YEC, he is totally evasive about the age of the Earth and threatens to block users from his site for asking. [13] Even when it was pointed out to Comfort during a debate with the Atheist Experience that modern day medicine depends on the theory of evolution, (eg., creating more effective vaccines), Comfort will say it does not matter. God's word is God's Word. In other words, he's a complete idiot.

Views on Christianity

Salvation

Comfort believes that once someone is born-again, God forgives them for all their sins: "[O]nce and for all and the moment you trust in him [Jesus Christ], you are completely justified and made right with God, you are made perfect by God's grace. That has nothing to do with living a good life, pleasing God because you can't because you a lying, thieving, adulterer at heart. The only thing you can do is repent and trust in him. The minute you do, in a heartbeat God justifies you. God cleanses you of your sin and you are born again. God gives you a new heart with a new set of desires and you know you are going to escape death and damnation."[14] Other Christians disagree with this.[15] He admits that any person can be saved and cleansed of sin the second they repent, making Christianity a get-out-of-jail-free card. Comfort believes that the Bible says that we are saved by grace alone, and not by works.[16] Some Christians condemn him for that.[17].

At other times, Comfort puts a serious emphasis on repentance. If you don't manage to stop sinning and to do good works, (like evangelizing and bringing Ray Comfort's message to other people) your conversion may be a false conversion and you will go to hell after all.

Merely being sorry for your sins, or confessing them to God won't help you. You must turn from sin (repent)...[18]

A different group of Christians condemn him for that,[19] but his followers apparently overlook the contradiction.

Religious arguments

'Common sense' proof of a god

Comfort believes that God can be scientifically proven. Comfort clearly doesn't know much about science. His argument is that "common sense" "proves" God, he then implies this is "science."

A common response to the question "how do you know there is a god?" Comort replies that one knows who God is (and therefore, one supposes, knows there is a god, in some back-first logic handstands) the way one knows a spouse; that is, personal experience.[20] You feel the love you have for your spouse or child, and you fell the love you have for God. Your spouse or child exist, therefore, God exists. Otherwise (one again supposes), why would you love Him?

Also, so many people say they know God, and talk of their love and experience of Him[citation needed]. Clearly, that is overwhelming evidence for God's existence. Of course, many other people claim direct, personal knowledge of Allah, Buddha, or Ganesha. Clearly this is evidence for the Devil's deception.

Are you a good person?

Perhaps, his most popular argument of all, the are you a good person?[21] tactic. Hardly a program, book, or interview goes by where Ray Comfort does not use this argument. It is also presented in practically every gospel tract printed and distributed by Way of the Master.

Basically, the argument uses the Ten Commandments as a model for discovering sin. Comfort asks you if you have ever lied, stolen, committed adultery in your heart by looking with lust, or taken God's name in vain. If a person admits to any of these, Comfort jumps in and declares this is why that person should turn to Jesus. Of course this argument is a perfect example of begging the question, The argument needs God, to prove God.

The parachute argument

The parachute argument is basically a reworking of Pascal's Wager. The premise is basically that there are lots and lots of good things out there, like famous art, money, a new Ipad... but when push comes to shove, only some things can actually save you. If you were on a plane that was crashing, and you were handed a Mona Lisa, you would cast it aside - it's nice, but not when your life is on the line. The same applies with cash, or a new car. But if someone hands you a parachute you take it, cause it will save you. God is the parachute. We're not sure why we are supposed to believe this, much less know it, but Comfort says it's true, so it must be.

Criticism of evolution

As blood began to evolve, it couldn't get around the body, so he evolved a heart to pump it around. The heart would take a long time to evolve, and it also needed a complex system of blood vessels to evolve. So survival was impossible for the first pre-human primitive life form. But that doesn’t matter to an atheist. It just happened. Evolution-did-it."[22]

Ray Comfort strongly opposes the theory of evolution. Like most people who do not know or understand science, he argues against science by the playground tested method of 'name calling': "fairy tale for grown ups; a farce; intellectual-free zone; bogus science". A large portion of his objections against evolution are argued for the "common man", and are non-scientific, including argument from ignorance, god of the gaps and argument from incredulity.

It is evidently clear Comort knows little about science:

  • He has no specific education in science much less biology. [23]
  • He compared "evolution" to Cinderella's pumpkin turning into a chariot.
  • He intermingles the theory of Big Bang and abiogenesis with evolution; freely interchanging all three terms (or ideas, abiogensis is a hard word for Creationists to say).
  • He constantly pipes up the old one liner: "there are no transitional fossils" and slips in the old "kind" argument.

"Kind," in creationist jargon, generally refers these days to groups larger than a species but still thought to be related by common descent, such as entire genera or families (e.g. the "cat kind"). There are "species-to-species" transitions in the fossil record (e.g. Stephen Gould described a sequence of transitional fossils between two species of the snail genus Cerion), but presumably if you bothered to consider that rather than simply regurgitate your standard list of slogans, you dismiss this example as "they're still snails" (which of course is on some other creationist's list of standard slogans). Since "kind" is undefined, it's difficult to find a good example of a "kind-to-kind" transitional series....The fault isn’t with the definition of the word "kind." It hasn't changed in the slightest. One more time; here’s the definition: dog-kind, cat-kind, horse-kind, snail-kind, human-kind, etc. The atheist's difficulty is with the so-called evidence for evolution. There isn't any."[24]

Comfort is also known for deliberate quote-mining, with many instances able to prove it. In his book Evolution: A Fairy Tale for Grownups, he openly admitted in the Introduction that he knew he was quote-mining but went ahead anyway because lying for Jesus is justifiable. Comfort repeats the old and refuted creationist quote mines, perhaps the one constantly reused: Charles Darwin on the eye. Ray Comfort is a big fan of the argument from design, and loves to talk about how amazing the human eyes is and does not accept that the eye evolved. Comfort does not even accept that the human eye has a blind spot. "I don’t have a blind spot in my eye. Both of them see very well and I am thankful for the 137million light sensitive cells that make sight possible. Do you have a blind spot in your eye? If you do, I suggest that you see an optician and see if he can either fix it, or get you another eye." [25] [26] Unfortunately for him, we all do have a blind spot. Click here to see an exercise for you to see for yourself where the blind spot is.

Comfort has build an extensive list of ridiculous arguments on his own. At the top of Comfort's ridiculous arguments against evolution is the banana. Another favorite of his is trying to disprove evolution with mating seasons. He used the dog as an example on Pat Robertson's show: there is a big bang, life forms, and after millions of years a dog evolves. It is the first dog. He has got legs, tail, teeth, eyes - and it's good he has good he has eyes because he has to look for a female, he has been blind for millions of years but now he can see. He has got to find a female. She has got to be evolved at the right place at the right time with all the reproductive organs and a desire to mate. Because without a female, he is a dead dog. Is that how Darwin described it? Is that how any evolutionary scientist ever described it? Absolutely not. What Comfort fails to understand to this day is that animals certainly do not live for millions of years and then suddenly grow features along with a mate that comes from nowhere. There was no first dog, there were carnivores, males and females able to reproduce together and gradually over millions of years evolving to become more dog like. [27] And yet Comfort is perfectly fine to believe that the wives of Cain and Seth just appeared out of nowhere and certain biblical figures (like Adam and Noah) lived for several hundred to thousands of years.

While most of his anti-evo arguments are run-of-the-mill, a few have been so incredibly feeble and outright ridiculous that some commentators wonder if he is actually a poe .[28]

Favorite creationist arguments

Ray Comfort demonstrates the technique of squeezing the lower part of the shaft before enveloping the head with his mouth

First and foremost, the banana

See the main article on this topic: Banana fallacy

Ray Comfort sets out to prove that God designed bananas, in reality human plant breeders designed bananas. The wild bananas do not have the design features that Comfort points to in cultivated bananas and neither do some other fruits like pineapples and coconuts.

Creation requires a creator

See the main article on this topic: Argument from design

Here, Comfort's argument is structured as "A painting had a painter, a watch had a watchmaker, therefore creation must have a creator." What Comfort is doing here is simply asserting and assuming that we live in a creation without any verification or justification. His only and best response to this is "common sense." Common sense may suggest there is something inherently implausible about a loving God who allows hell and that’s just one example where Christianity goes against common sense. It looks like common sense applied only in ways that Ray Comfort likes and common sense should be disregarded whenever Comfort and/or other fundamentalist Christians dislike the conclusions. Not to mention, the logic fails when you ask certain questions; like if everything requires a creator, who created God?

While the laws of physics states that matter cannot be created, Comfort continues to assert that matter must be the result of divine creation. After all his faith demands that his God must be responsible. Comfort goes a bit further into absurdity by reasoning since the smartest person in the world cannot make anything from nothing, then God must have been responsible for creating everything. Basically, since we cannot demonstrate that matter can come from nothing, then Comfort says God made it magically out of thin air. And it has to be the god of the bible, not any other god or gods.

Notable debates

Debate with the Rational Response Squad

See the main article on this topic: Rational Response Squad debate with Way of the Master

On May 5, 2007, RRS co-founder Brian Sapient and RRS member Kelly O'Connor participated in a live debate aired on Nightline with Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron. Comfort and Cameron claimed they were able to show the existence of their god without the use of the Bible and faith (spoiler: they were wrong).

Debate with Thunderf00t

See the main article on this topic: Thunderf00t debates Ray Comfort

On July 24, 2009, Ray Comfort and YouTuber user Thunderf00t had a recorded debate. There was no moderator or audience, just the two of them sitting down and freely addressing any topic they wished. Afterwards, the debate was posted online (the whole debate is available on Thunderf00t's channel).

Debate with the Atheist Experience

See the main article on this topic: The Atheist Experience debates Ray Comfort

On 27 March 2011, Ray Comfort was a call-in guest on The Atheist Experience, with hosts Matt Dillahunty (a former Baptist seminarian turned atheist and founder of Iron Chariots) and Russell Glasser. You can check it out here.

$10,000 challenge

Comfort currently has a standing $10,000 challenge to anyone who can show him a transitional fossil[29]. However, not just any fossil will do and Comfort demands that someone show him a lizard producing a bird, a dog producing a cat or, even stranger, a sheep producing a chicken. The deafening silence to his throwing down of the gauntlet (outside the sound of a million face-palms) will only go to prove to Comfort that evolution is false and that transitional's do not exist.

Plagiarism

Ray Comfort faces accusations that he copied the work of Stan Guffey without giving credit and that is deceitful, see Accusations of plagiarism where plagiarised material is set out. [30] [31] Yes this is the very same guy who likes to frighten people telling them they will go to Hell because they told one or more small lies or stole anything. Even having stolen something small as a child makes somebody a hell-bent thief according to the Comfortable system, yet Comfort stole another man's intellectual property. [32] Comfort knows that was naughty, Comfort said so himeslf.

  1. Does hell really scare Comfort?
  2. Alternatively does Comfort just like to scare people who buy and promote his products who evangelise for Jesus the Comfort way and support Comfort’s evangelism financially?

Publications

See the main article on this topic: List of Ray Comfort publications

Comfort manages to churn out about 5 books a year but they are typically lightweight in both size and intellect, so this is not really much of an achievement. A lot of his "work" is public domain material he has taken from elsewhere, collated and published. For example, his [Some dead guy] Gold: Pure. Refined. books are just collections of that person's writings or speeches.

See also

Icon fun.svg For those of you in the mood, RationalWiki has a fun article about Ray Comfort.

External links

Footnotes

  1. Stupid video of Ray Comfort trying to excuse himself
  2. http://www.wearesmrt.com/wiki/images/c/c0/2010-270094016-074bd037-9.pdf
  3. This website also suggests that Ray Comfort makes rather a lot of money
  4. http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/story?id=1735434&page=3
  5. As far as we know nobody has yet discussed the possibility that Ray Comfort is some type of sadist.
  6. [1]
  7. [2], posted December 22, 2011.
  8. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can't Make Him Think, Page 95
  9. Matthew 5:27-30
  10. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex-dawn/201004/sexual-repression-the-malady-considers-itself-the-remedy
  11. http://recoveringcultist.blogspot.com/2011/08/sexual-repression.html The case history is from a former Christadelphian but can be generalised to other religious people who try to suppress sex.
  12. http://www.brianathomas.com/archives/2009/03/02/kirk-camerons-and-ray-comforts-way-of-the-master-series/
  13. http://www.wearesmrt.com/wiki/index.php?title=Questions_Ray_Comfort_Won%27t_Answer&oldid=2505#How_old_does_he_think_the_earth_is.3F
  14. http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Mormonism_%28Way_of_the_Master%29
  15. https://s3.amazonaws.com/Website11/Comfort.htm
  16. Hitler, murderers, rapists, or anyone else, can be just as wicked as they want their whole life to their last minute, but that's clearly fine with Comfort.
  17. https://s3.amazonaws.com/Website11/Comfort.htm
  18. [3]
  19. http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Wolves/ray_comfort.htm
  20. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Thunderf00t_debates_Ray_Comfort
  21. Iron Chariots definition
  22. http://raycomfortfood.blogspot.com/2011/04/genesis-on-trial_27.html
  23. or theology, or reading comprehension, or....
  24. http://raycomfortfood.blogspot.com/2011/04/genesis-on-trial_26.html
  25. Defender's Guide, page 87
  26. http://www.fstdt.com/QuoteComment.aspx?QID=67928&Page=4
  27. Elephantine error from Ray Comfort refutes a similar claim over elephants.
  28. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJ-DawQKPr8
  29. http://www.intelligentdesignversusevolution.com/arguments.html
  30. http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/12/it_couldnt_happen_to_a_sleazie.php
  31. http://aigbusted.blogspot.com/2009/11/ray-comfort-plagiarist.html
  32. Stealing intellectual property is also theft, see What is intellectual property?.
  33. And decided to omit a few crucial chapters to make room for his own Hitler-obsessed introduction.
  34. http://blog.leagueofreason.co.uk/reason/ray-comfort-is-180-degrees-from-reality/ See here for counter-arguments.
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