User:Feredir28/The Atheist Experience debates Ray Comfort
On 27 March 2011, Ray Comfort from Way of the Master 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.
This article will provide a side-by-side commentary from RationalWiki, pointing out all illogical arguments made throughout this debate.
 Debate Walkthrough
|AE Debate Ray Comfort||RationalWiki Responses|
 Kick off: Reality and Truth
|Matt begins by clarifying that they have different perspectives of reality, that is Ray believes the God of the Bible exists while Matt and Russell do not. Matt asks Ray what is the best model or method to come to agreement of what is true or not. Ray responds with that he is uncertain if Matt can put his finger on much truth, but Ray says he can because he is a Christian. As a Christian, according to Ray, he can find absolute truth because Jesus said "I am the truth" and no atheist can point to any atheist who said that. Here Russell takes up that and proclaims himself as the truth and the way, while Ray responds he would believe that if Russell can raise himself from the dead. Matt asks Ray how does he know that happened? Ray responds that Christians are not going on by a belief, but rather the power of God. Ray believes in Jesus but on the day of his conversion, Ray came to "know" God and claims Jesus is the very "source" of life.||So Ray believes only Christians have the potential to know anything absolutely.
Is Jesus the truth? Examining the historicity of Jesus reveals very little evidence to support a historical Jesus. Ray only believes on blind faith that Jesus is the truth, even though Ray constantly says he does not like to take things on faith. But Ray provides no model or method to show how accurate or truthful Jesus was in comparison with other biblical, pagan, or mythological figures.
Ray did not provide any proof or supporting evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus, but it does not seem to matter to Ray. What seems to really matter is personal experience, which dictates what religion he will believe.
 Personal Experience Evidence
|Matt points out the problem that when making a claim such as that, external evidence is lacking. Matt tells Ray he is appealing to an experience that he had, but how can anyone who has not had a similar experience know there is a god? Ray responds with people believe in electricity (who can't feel it, smell it, taste it, etc.) but when a person sticks a fork in a light socket they experience the power of electricity. Ray says the person no longer believes in electricity, but they know it and feel its power. The same with a Christian, says Ray, because they move from the "realm of the intellect" to personal experience. Russell then backs up a bit and discusses Ray's comment of "moving out of the intellect" because the realm of the intellect is exactly how we know there is electricity and all the details of how it works. Ray says there is a difference from intellectually acknowledging it is real then experiencing it.||Experience alone is not knowing. Believing is 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 who’s 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.
A person is more than capable of feeling electric shock, and every person is capable of feeling some extraordinary experience. 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. But Ray provides no model or method to distinguish between an actual divine experience with a natural experience in the brain. He does not provide any empirical proof that his own conversion is not the result of natural experiences that seem supernatural.
|Matt again points out that Ray is still appealing to personal experience as his direct proof, and asks again how can a person who has not had such experience can tell if there is a god or not. Ray says all you need to prove the existence of God is a brain that can work and eyes to see. He repeats his argument a creation requires a creator, and says the "new atheists" say there is no creation and thus remove the creator so they cannot remove the moral responsibility to that creator. Ray says that atheists say nature created itself. Matt points out that last statement of nature creating itself is nonsensical, and Rays line of thinking has some grammar errors as well. Matt argues that Ray cannot just label something a creation or assert it is a creation without demonstrating that it is a creation to begin with. Matt says Ray's comment on nature creating itself is a grammatical problem, falsely making it appear as some kind of thought process, it is just Ray has failed to objectively show that existence requires a creator. Ray responds with "well, you tell me what was in the beginning without saying 'I don't know.'" Matt asks why can't he say that? Ray proclaims that is ignorance and an atheist cannot have that. Matt corrects Ray and says yes you can because atheists are not proclaiming absolute certainty. Ray says Christians DO, and they know there is a creation an a creator. Matt repeats himself by telling Ray that he is just asserting that it is a creation, which is different from demonstrating that this knowledge is true.||What Ray does here is basically saying I can label it as I wish because no one else can explain it to me. Ray is still simply asserting that everything is a creation without providing a shred of proof that it is the result of divine creation, and failure to explain it in a natural process does not mean his position wins by default. Ray claims to "know" that it is a creation, but if he cannot demonstrate it, then he does not know it.|
 Naturally or Supernaturally Created?
|Ray says he does not have to demonstrate to a reasonable person that a painting had a painter. Matt asks Ray does he know why? Ray asks why, and Matt responds with that we have observed many times a painting had a painter and that we can distinguish and contrast a man-made artifact from a naturally occurring artifact. Matt asks how can we determine what is naturally occurring or intentionally designed? What Ray is arguing is similar to that of Paley's watch argument and Matt is saying that Ray is not finding a watch on a beach but finding a watch in a universe of watches and claimant it is all designed. Ray comes back to Matt by saying that Matt sees design from the atom to the universe, and sees order and not chaos. Matt quickly points out that is incorrect, because he specifically said that something may have the appearance of design but was not intentionally designed and is naturally occurring. Matt points out that order itself is not a product of design, using sand dunes as an example have patterns that look orderly but they are naturally occurring and not intentionally designed. Russell points out that people used to claim things were designed to explain away that which they did not understood how things came to be, and they often use analogies (like claiming the eye is like a camera but it is not literally a camera).||Design can be detected in nature, but how do we determine what is intentionally designed or not. Ray provides no model, just the assertion that everything is a creation, but he does not explain why or how.
The sand dunes is a good example. We see design in snowflakes, clouds, and crystals, but we all know they come about through natural process. The rock formation in Maui's Iao Valley State Park resembles the profile face of President John F. Kennedy. The eroded mountains on Mars look like a face. The eagle rock off the 134 freeway in Southern California that overlooks the town of Eaglerock. Other examples exist, but how can we tell the difference between natural design and artificial design? We perceive nature to be intelligently designed based on our experience of human artifacts. We know a painting had a painter because we observe them being made and have no experience of them coming from nonhuman intelligence and no experience of a supernatural agent.
|Ray responds with that wherever we look in the universe we see design and order, but both Matt and Russell quickly point out that is not correct. Ray says they do not see it, but Ray does. Ray goes on to say that the most intelligent person cannot create a grain of sand, a leaf, an eye, or a brain from nothing. Ray adds that to say that nature creating all of this without a creative designer is disingenuous because it cannot make itself. Matt, not knowing where to begin to describe how wrong that statement is, responds with Ray is still using the fallacy that creation coming from nothing, and the best method we have to understand the reality of nature has been the scientific method. Matt says that Ray is falsely asserting that if the smartest person cannot create a grain of sand from nothing, then an external supernatural force wins by default, but Ray quickly says he did not say that. Ray repeats himself that the smartest person of earth cannot create a grain of sand from nothing, we can only change matter (God-given matter). Matt repeats himself that Ray is simply asserting that God created matter, and the only method Ray is using is an appeal to experience (which Ray admits that alone is not empirical proof). Ray backs up and asks Matt and Russell if they agree that the smartest person on the earth cannot create a grain of sand from nothing, they agree but also say the smartest person 50,000 years ago cannot create a self phone even with all the parts presented to them.
Ray then asks Matt to define the scientific method for him. Matt says there are several definitions, but the core principle of them all is how the scientific method works: start with an observation, create a hypothesis, perform tests that can be falsified, submit your work for peer review, and if it passes it becomes a theory (the best explanation at present). Matt points out when people who are well educated in the fields of science point out to Ray when his claims are wrong, why does Ray's arguments remain the same? Such as in Ray's book You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, but You Can't Make Him Think, Ray says he does not know the age of the earth but science does not know either. In Ray's book, he said that 100 years ago they thought the earth was millions of years old, now its billions of years old, but Matt points out it has never came close to the absurd date of six to ten thousand years old. Ray says he never claimed that the earth was young, instead that science keeps changing the dates of the earth. Matt says the date at the time was the best available based on the evidence they had and knowledge keeps building with new information continually coming in. Ray points out that in the future science may change our modern date of the earth, but Matt points out that Ray is relying on knowing on absolute terms and science does not ever do that nor should any rational person. Matt points out that Ray is basically saying if science does not know the age of the earth down to the precise second or day, then everything is just as justifiable such as a young earth. Ray hammers the point the date changed by the billions and he does not like that. Matt is sorry Ray does not like that, but that is what happens when we learn more.
|Again, Ray does not "know" there is a creation. Ray has not and cannot demonstrate that it is a creation and it is unreasonable and ludicrous to assert that it is while calling others unreasonable for not accepting it without empirical proof.
All Ray provides is the mere assertion that we live in a creation, despite the fact the laws of physics stating clearly that energy and matter cannot be created, all based on the presupposition that his narrow-minded version of God exists as well as his narrow and biased interpretation of the Book of Genesis (which the literal interpretation has been scientifically proven to be completely impossible).
When Ray claims to "know" he is speaking purely based on blind faith. Creationists are well known to take their interpretation of the Bible over observable and testable reality, and proudly proclaim that they treat this bias as a virtue. For instance, online evangelist Bill Kochman said, “I am referring to the modern branches of science which call God a liar, and which call His word a lie. Archeology, paleontology, and astronomy to name a few. They all claim that the Earth and the Universe are billions of years old in direct conflict with the Biblical record. Between God's Word and man's word, I will take God's Word any day.” (There is another way to paraphrase this: when reality conflicts with your favorite fables, close your eyes and pretend otherwise.)
Regarding the point on Ray and the age of the earth. In Ray's book Evolution: A Fairy Tale for Grownups, Ray used several references that promoted a young earth worldview were humankind coexisted with dinosaurs.
The fact that Ray does not like it that science keeps moving the date of the earth older and older is no excuse if you care about truth. To obtain the truth, you must try to be accurate as possible. As technology and knowledge progress, so does our understanding of the planet. Ray Comfort, on the other hand, prefers to live under the delusion of faith. Faith assumes its own conclusions, believes impossible things without reason, and defends those beliefs against all reason to the contrary. So it can’t help but be wrong to some degree to start with, and any errors will never even be acknowledged, much less sought out or corrected. So that situation can never improve. However wrong it already is is however wrong it will forever be. So faith offers no way to discover the real truth about anything, but it’s a great way to stay wrong forever and never admit it –even to yourself.
|Ray asks Matt what would he think if [Ray] kept changing to something unreasonable, such as a person claiming there is no creation when they already know there is a creation. Matt points out that is indeed there are people who do not know or accept that there is a creation, and thus prove Ray demonstrably wrong. Ray says that he [Ray] knows there is a creation and it has always been called a creation.||Again, simply asserting this universe is a creation does not make it so. Likewise, a person could repeatably and staunchly asserting without a shred of proof that we are all living in a sub-reality (similar to the matrix) or we are all under control of alien technology and "we have always been so." Unless evidence is actually provided, there is no reason to accept Ray's assertions or the alien-controlled conspiracy pusher.|
|Russell asks about the grain of sand analogy if Ray had ever personally seen any intelligent being whatsoever create a grain of sand. Ray says that he does not have to because he can see creation everywhere. So Russell points out that while Ray demands that atheists point out and explain every detail in absolute terms, Ray would like us to accept what he is saying when he himself has never observed such a thing ever happening. Ray responds to Russell by telling him to apply the scientific method to that which is all around him. Russell asks how can he apply the scientific method when there is no observations, measurements and tests to determine a universe with a god and a universe without a god. Ray says there is: common sense. Russell asks Ray is that what he thinks the scientific method is? Ray answers that is all you need to have and look at the beauty of nature. Russell points out when Ray says his method is consistent with the scientific method (Ray says science means "knowledge") but all Ray is doing us just thinking about something, applying common sense, and conclude the personal belief someone holds is therefore true. Ray says that we see beauty in nature that must be designed because we cannot create anything from nothing.||So Ray does not have to see something in order to believe a fable is true? This is not surprising, given that Ray Comfort embraces blind faith, and his religion cherishes and blesses blind faith (Hebrews 11:1, 2 Corinthians 4:18, 2 Corinthians 5:7, John 20:29).
Ray avoided Russel's point: why does Ray expect atheists to prove everything in absolute terms, and if they cannot then why is it that Ray can therefore assert that the unexplainable can only be explained by God? Ray's response "common sense" is not an answer at all (rather it is pathetic and immature come back). Common sense is what told us that the earth was flat. If we observe the universe as Ray suggests, and see all the beauty of nature, how does common sense tell us that it must have been created by a God. For all we know, seeing this "beauty in nature" could be an illusion, and we may really be living in a sub-reality or the matrix.
 Science and Evolution
|Matt asks Ray if he ever goes to the doctor. Ray says all the time. Matt says that while medicine has changed in the last hundred years, Ray still goes there because it is the best place for medical health that is base on the scientific method, but yet Ray disregards the same exact scientific method when it comes to other things like biology. Ray says he does not have to because his health does not depend on the theory of evolution. Matt points out that indeed his health does depend on the theory of evolution. The theory of evolution helps us build stronger vaccines, and Ray admits that he did get the flu shot. Matt asks again how does Ray accept medical science as the best science available, but refuse to accept the same scientific principles that come up with conclusions that contradict Ray's presuppositions. Why is Ray cherry-picking what science he accepts? Ray says he does not have a presupposition of the earth and says the theory of evolution is not slightly scientific. Ray says he no longer believes in evolution, because he does not like having blind faith in something.||So Ray thinks that doctors create new vaccines based on faith? They do not test their medicine before distributing it, instead they just assemble a bunch of molecules and "hope" they will work? No, the evidence for evolution is not based on faith but on observable evidence.|
|Russell points out that the vast majority of scientists agree that evolution is a fact. Ray says he is willing to go along with the great minds who accepted that God created the universe, Matt points out those people are centuries of years old who did not have the present evidence we currently have and Ray is willing to stay in the Dark Ages. Ray says no, he just does not want to accept something by faith. Matt says he does not accept anything on faith, including evolution which is supported by actual evidence such as DNA. Matt brings up Francis Collins, a evangelical Christian and scientist, said that even without any transitional fossils (which there are plenty), DNA would support and prove evolution on its own. Matt points out speciation has been observed as well and does not understand how anyone can say to accept evolution is to accept it based on faith. Ray backs up and addresses Matt on transitional fossils. Ray asks Matt to name one species-to-species transitional fossils. Matt says everything is in constant state of change, but Ray cuts him off before he can explain further.||Ray doesn't want to accept something on faith....SERIOUSLY! Then why does he believe that there was a Jesus despite the huge lack of historical evidence for him? Does he have any scientific evidence for the resurrection? No, rather Ray says all the evidence he needs is conversion and "feel" the spirit of Christ enter him. This is not evidence, people can believe and sincerely "feel" that they have had encounter with ghosts, Krishna, aliens, and so on.
If you don't want to accept something on faith, then you should provide verifiable evidence for your claims. Ray loves to assume that we live in a creation, but he has never produced any model or demonstration that this universe was created via supernaturally. Rather, Ray has admitted that he does not require proof to believe anything.
So, here we have Ray Comfort, in his own words, saying he does not want to "accept something on faith" but at the same time would never be "foolish" to test God, and therefore has nothing to pove to skeptics and nonbelievers. rather, he would wish for us to accept his views (Christianity) on faith. See the problem?
|Matt says Ray has a fundamental misunderstanding of evolution. Matt guesses that Ray is looking for a cat to dog transition, but Ray says no. Ray explains he is looking for "a change from one kind to another." When Matt asked what is a "kind" because it has no scientific meaning, Ray responded with how would Matt define "species." Matt then gives Ray several examples of transitional fossils. Russell asks if Ray understands what a species is, Ray says that there are 16 or 17 different biological definitions. Russell asks for the main one and for Ray to explain his understanding of evolution, because many people educated in the field have corrected Ray in the past but it seems to flow over Ray's head. Ray repeats himself that Russell cannot define "species." Russell then explains two species cannot interbreed with each other, and based on that many species to species transitions have occurred and have been shown. Ray asks Russell if he is referring to bacteria. Russell says not just bacteria but several other examples as well like flies. Speciation observed in laboratories have to have a short life-span so they can change in an observable time. Ray asks do they change to another species? Russell answers yes. If you put that new population of flies with the previous species of flies, they cannot interbreed and thus they have speciated. Ray asks is that the proof for Darwinian evolution? Russell and Matt that is just one of the proofs, not the proof. Ray says that is the best evidence atheists have, but they receive it on faith based on what some unknown person observed in a lab.||Many examples of species-to-specie transitional exist, not just in bacteria and flies. Notice ray did not define the word "kind: instead he moved the goal posts for Matt and Russell to define "species."
As for the definition of species, species are expected often to have fuzzy and imprecise boundaries because evolution is ongoing. Some species are in the process of forming; others are recently formed and still difficult to interpret. The complexities of biology add further complications. Many pairs of species remain distinct despite a small amount of hybridization between them. Some groups are asexual or frequently produce asexual strains, so how many species to split them into becomes problematical. Different definitions of species serve different purposes. Species concepts are used both as taxonomic units, for identification and classification, and as theoretical concepts, for modeling and explaining. There is a great deal of overlap between the two purposes, but a definition that serves one is not necessarily the best for the other. Furthermore, there are practical considerations that call for different species criteria as well. Species definitions applied to fossils, for example, cannot be based on genetics or behavior because those traits do not fossilize.
|Matt then tries to explain faith, such as if Russell told him something then Matt would trust him and accept it, but Ray jumps in and says trust is faith. Matt says he does not trust Russell completely, but based on a measurable and reasonable degree based on the actual evidence. If Russell told Matt that he was abducted by aliens, it does not matter to Matt how much he likes Russel, he would still be skeptical and demand proof. But moving back to evolution, Matt explains the origins of the languages of Italian and Spanish deriving from Latin. Groups of people divided to new lands and overtime their language differentiated and thus became two new languages.||We know that Spanish, Italian, French, and Portuguese all evolved from Latin, a vernacular which is now extinct. Each of these newer tongues emerged via a slow accumulation of their own unique slang lingo –thus diverging into new dialects, and eventually distinct forms of gibberish such that the new Romans could no longer communicate with either Parisians or Spaniards. Similarly, if we took an original Latin speaking population and divided them sequestered in complete isolation over several centuries, they might still be able to understand each other, or their jargon may have become unintelligible to foreigners. But they won’t start speaking Italian or Romanian because identical vocabularies aren’t going to occur twice. It works the same way in biology. Mutations are degrees of variation which are usually quite subtle but cumulative, normally harmless, and occasionally advantageous. Any change in information is different information, not already present, and therefore can only be considered “new”.|
|Going back, Ray and Matt clarify why Ray does not believe in evolution because Ray does not like to take things on faith, but Matt explains that accepting evolution does not require any faith. Ray says Matt is basing it on evidence he believes. When Matt asks why he does not believe the evidence, Ray answers with: "I know God, I have known god since 1972 (25th of April at 3 in the morning) and his word tells me that he created man in his image with a moral responsibility (that is what separates man from the animals) and he made man with the ability to recreate after his own kind with male and female. The theory of evolution does not give me any of that information, you guys do not know where we came from, I have never had any evolutionist explain to me why male and female are everything but -" Russell breaks him off and says indeed several people have explained it to Ray, and he had sources to prove it "-I have never had an evolutionist explain why we have 1.4 MILLION different kinds of animals, such as slugs or worms, has male and female. We keep coming back to this 'population thing' I ask how can this be. I ask people did we all come from fish, they say yes and they explain to me that fish came up in groups to develop lungs or to evolve lungs while on the land or developed lungs under the water, and I just can't believe that sort of faith."||The evidence for evolution does not require belief or faith. Evolution is observable just like gravity, and one does not believe gravity works - they know it works. How can you know it works? you can test it repeatably and it constantly works the same. It is the same with evolution, it has been observed, repeatably tested and proven beyond a shadow off a doubt.
What does the "image of God" mean? How does that give us any value? Does any Christian even have a hint what the "image" of God means? They cannot agree, meaning it remains unknowable. If we are created in this "unknowable image" then we have no idea who we are.
It has been explained to Ray many times how the sexes evolved, but unfortunately Ray does not understand the first thing about biology. Ray admits he was told about populations, which plays a major role, but cannot grasp or understand it.
|Matt said he understands Ray and what Ray just said is something that Matt brought up earlier that Ray denied. Matt says Ray does not believe the evidence because he has a presupposition that it is wrong. Ray jumps in and proclaims there is no evidence. Ray says there is just changes in bacteria and flies that cannot interbreed with each other. Matt says no, there is much more to it than just that, but goes back to that Ray has a presupposition and does not believe the evidence because he already believes what the Bible says about origins. Ray says yes, and Matt points out that is called a presupposition. Matt asks Ray is he infallible, could he be wrong about God. Ray admits he could be wrong, but God is never wrong. But Matt asks Ray if he can be wrong about his personal experience, how does he know he is right? Ray answers for 22 years he was wrong, admit that he was wrong and God is right. Russell asks how does he know that, but Matt says for 28 years he [Matt] was wrong because he believed in something very sincerely until he realized that what he believed was not in accordance with the evidence and reason. Matt points out that Ray, when presented with the evidence and then claim there is no evidence because it does not related to Ray's presuppositions.||Ray purposely misses the point. When a species split into to species that cannot interbreed, they are new species. This is called speciation, which has been documented and observed hundreds of times, and yet Ray openly denies this when the facts are right in front of his face.|
 Who Knows God?
|Ray asks Matt if he knew Lord? Matt clarified if he thought he knew the Lord, but Ray says did you actually know the Lord? Matt says he clearly didn't and does not think anybody else does either. Ray tells Matt he cannot say that, he can only say that Matt did not know the Lord. Matt replies with "no, I can say I do not think anybody else does." When Ray says Matt does not know if everyone else does not know the Lord, Matt responds that he does not use absolute certainty or knowledge of any point in discussion. Matt asked himself did he think he was a genuine Christian who followed the Lord, absolutely but he did not know the Lord. When Ray says that Matt did not know the Lord, therefore Matt was never a true Christian. Matt agrees under Ray's definition of what a Christian is, but Ray says his definition is a biblical definition. Matt clarifies, the definition of Christianity that Ray uses that a Christian is someone who knows God, Matt was not a Christan because there was no possible way for him to know a god and then not believe it later.||How can a person "know" something that does not exist? How can Ray tell what he perceives to know is not just the chemical reactions in his synapses? What model is there to determine and distinguish a natural chemical reaction in the brain and a supernatural interference?
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.
|Russell, retelling he is an atheist, tells Ray when Ray says he "knows" the Lord, Russell does not believe him and under that definition Ray is not a christian either. Ray says "that's right." When Russell asks how is the audience (the undecided) going to verify who is right, Ray says all they have to do is obey the gospel and examine themselves through the ten commandments (jesus said those who look at a woman with lust have committed adultery in their heart) and come to the cross and have their sins forgiven. Matt agrees with all that when he was a believer, but eventually Matt became a nonbeliever. Ray says that is because Matt did not know the Lord. Matt says he was just like Ray, and suddenly Ray shouts "no, you were not like me, you did not know the Lord. You were deceived. For 28 years you were deceived." Matt continued and asked Ray how is it that ray can say this is all you have to do to be a true Christian and know God, and yet despite Matt's sincere seeking of God (going to church, studying and reading the Bible, praying, giving his life for Christ, training to be a minister, and so on) why did Matt not "get it"? Ray responds with "probably because of this: you never had a genuine knowledge of sin. You never looked at the spiritual light of the commandments, knew that God sees your thought life..." Matt said he absolutely understood all of those. Ray asked Matt if he truly repented? Matt said yes, several times. Ray tells Matt that he [Matt] was the product of modern evangelism that Ray implores (the music, manipulation of your hearers, etc). Ray hates that because it produces a lot of false conversions.||Obeying the gospel is not a model or method to determine what is truth or not, and Ray knows this. Ray right now does not know the Lord since it is impossible to know something that does not exist. Matt did everything and understood every aspect of Christianity and sincerely tried, but when everything failed to convert Matt, only Ray's excuse is Matt was never a true christian.
Following the Ten Commandments (the actual ones are in Exodus 34) does not "prove" God anymore than following the 5 Pillars of Islam proves Allah.
 True and False Conversions
|Matt asked how can we tell between a true and false conversion, but Russell shares that both Russell and Matt have been to a lot of churches in Texas and met a lot of people who think they are true Christians and are saved, then Russell asks Ray if he thinks they are currently being deceived? Ray says yes. Russell then asks how do we know Ray is not one of them? Ray responds with you cannot know, you must check him according to the Scripture. Matt asks Ray if he can tell what is a true Christian, Ray says "of course not." Matt agrees, but Ray carries on and says "Jesus said you shall know them by their fruits." Ray says Hitler was not a Christian, even though he thought he was. A Christian, according to Ray, are people who will love their enemies and not slaughter them. Ray says people who steal, lie, commit adultery, and such are not true Christians.||Only under Ray's definition of what a Christian that these people are not Christians. A Christian is a person who believes in God and Jesus as their Savior. But if a person does something bad, then they are suddenly not Christians? How about Paul? How about the unknown authors who manipulated and fabricated the holy Bible?|
|Matt asked "so no Christian can do a bad thing?" Ray responds with "no Christian should do so deliberately -" Matt points out "should" but earlier Ray said they "can't" but Ray says "they are not fruit that should be evident in a true Christian." Russell then asks Ray if Ray had ever told a lie? Ray answers he had lied many times in his life, he had sinned and thus he needed a savior. Matt asked had ray lied since he became a Christian? Ray answers "not knowingly." Russell then asked if he ever looked at a woman with lust in his heart? ray answers "yeah, but not deliberately. I do not want to be a hypocrite so I say 'God please forgive me.'" Russell says by his fruits, it seems that you cannot know what a true Christian is. Hitler would be a more extreme case of that. Ray agrees and says that on Judgment you will find the genuine from the false. Matt says if Ray cannot know, then maybe Matt is the only true Christan. Ray says make sure you are right with God, but Matt assures him he is well aware of the verses and messages in the Bible.||If no Christian can deliberately do something bad, then Ray himself is not a true Christian. He deliberately lies constantly about science, and he knows he is. Under Rays definition of a true Christian, how about sincere followers of Christ who rely on faith healing and prayer over medicine but their children die of untreated diseases. Are these Christians true Christians? They denied their children medical help, resulting in the death of their child. How about Christians who condemn condoms, which resuult in the death of millions of Africans every year. Are they true Christians?|
 Pat Robertson and the Old Testament
|Matt moves on to say that it is possible that Ray and Matt can come to agreement on theological grounds based on Scripture. Matt uses Pat Robertson as an example, Matt says his television predictions are constantly wrong, and Ray laughs and says "yeah, he is crazy." Matt moves on to talk about the Ten Commandments, but wonders why Ray does not follow other parts of the Old Testament like slavery and slaughtering people. Granted they were Jews, but how can we tell the good fruits off God's chosen people? Ray does not address the question, instead he talks about slavery. Ray says we perceive slavery through the cruelty of American slavery (Matt says he does not), but in biblical terms Ray calls them servants. Ray says that Israelites took enemies as slaves and bought and sold them, but Ray does not agree that the Bible sanctions slavery. Matt says "but it's in the Bible" but Ray suddenly replies with "well, there are a lot of things in the Bible I don't agree with." Matt then says a good god should have put "Thou shall not own another human being as property" in one of the Ten Commandments, but Ray goes on about what the punishment for people in debt is. Ray says a person in debt is put into prison for 20 years, but in biblical times they can sell themselves as a bond servant to pay off their debt. Matt points out that is a Jew enslaving another Jew (Ray agrees) but a Jew enslaving a non-Jew was instructed to hold them as property (Ray again agrees), but Matt also notes that the Jew can trick a person to be a slave forever by giving them a wife and kids. Matt is glad Ray does not agree with slavery even though it is in the Bible, but he stresses the point that slavery is one of the most vile aspects of the Bible (which is supposedly called the "Good Book."). Ray admits the Bible is full of horrible acts, such as babies being ripped out of their mother's wombs; heads cut off; but Ray says God will judge the world on the basis of righteousness. Russell points out that often God is commanding these acts. Ray asks Matt and Russel if they think these stories actually happened? When they say no, Ray asked what are they upset about? Matt says he is upset that many people actually do believe these stories did happen and still call it the "good Book" and a moral book while handing it to children and cherry-picking 10 of the 613 laws as God's moral law.||Of course the Bible is clearly not a moral book, even Ray himself said there are many things in the Bible he does not agree with. Just the simple fact of a person owning another as property is immoral, and yet God of the Bible fully endorses it. Most of the stories in the Bible did not happen, but people base their life and ethical standards on such stories, such as interpreting the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah to not allow homosexuals to live. Beliefs like these that instigate violence and suffering should upset any ethical person, and yet Ray is not discouraged at all.|
 Faith and Social Views
|Ray tells them to please be tolerant of other people's beliefs. He says we live in America and this is a free country with freedom of religion. Matt says he is happy to let people believe whatever they want, and he would support their right to believe whatever they want, but is opposed to people pushing their beliefs on others and certain beliefs suppress the rights of others. Ray asked Matt if he [Matt] thought that Ray would do something like that? Matt responds he does not know, but can guess Ray would draw a similar line and vote against something he does not believe in, such as abortion. Ray absolutely agrees that he would wish to see abortion illegal. Matt says this is where Ray's beliefs becomes a problem, because he does not get to dictate reproductive rights or any other rights for other people. Ray says to Matt if Matt voted for someone who was pro-abortion, Ray says Matt is therefore pro-abortion. Matt corrects Ray be explaining he is for reproductive rights and freedom and it not trying to strip people of their rights based on his personal views of what is right or wrong. Ray tells Matt "Yes you are, you are doing that what you are accusing me of doing. You are dictating what a woman can or cannot do with her womb." Matt again corrects Ray and explains he is not "dictating", Matt is simply giving her the option (implying freedom and choice, not restraint or limitation). Matt says this is like blacks and whites marrying, Matt says they should have the freedom to marry if they want to, it does not affect anybody else. Ray asks Matt if he [Matt] would give Ray the right to vote how he pleased? Matt says of course, but explains that Ray's beliefs that dictate how he votes is part of the problem because it limits or strips the rights of others. Ray says his beliefs are part of the problem, which is do not kill a child?||How can Ray tell Matt and Russel to tolerate other people's beliefs when he himself does not? Ray constantly insults people of other religions and even including other Christians, portraying their faith as a form of idolatry. Many times, beliefs cannot be tolerated and Christianity makes it very hard for other people to tolerate it. Christianity condemns millions of women to die every year by preventing them to be cured of diseases; preventing condoms and birth control; condemning children and women to be executed as witches in Africa; sodomizing and murdering children in India; engaging in man-hunts in South America; killing doctors, nonbelievers and gays across the globe (including in America); stripping minorities of their rights; encouraging faith healing over actual medicine (resulting in the death of thousands of adults and children); protecting pedophile priests; blood libels against Jews; endorsing slavery and racism; and much more. This is why Matt and Russell are worried that Christians should keep their religion to themselves and not force it upon others. When Christians with political power declare, for instance, that God won't allow global warming or that God won't let us run out of resources, they are effectively sabotaging our efforts to stem the serious climate issue, thus contributing to more destruction of the planet and avoidance of action to better our condition.
When Christians wish to see gay marriage illegalized or prevent gays from openly serving in the military, they are robbing fellow human beings of their basic human rights to happiness and to fight for those they love. When Ray wishes to see abortion illegal, he is stripping a woman of her right to choose what to do with her body. Governments can take away one's house, land, or possessions as they see fit. No one truly 'owns' anything except their own body, yet Christians wish to abuse political processes in order to dictate and influence policies to decree what pregnant women can and cannot do with their own bodies. Ray may be fine with people donating bone marrow or a kidney, but is not fine when a woman decides to get an abortion? What if the abortion could save her life? Some pregnancies can kill the mother, or in some countries simply for being raped and becoming pregnant could result with the death of the mother.
Ray believes he is saving a child, but does his God save children? God himself ordered the abortion of many women, he slew all the first-born in Egypt, he even murdered unborn babies in their mother's wombs during the Great Flood. If God is in control of our lives, has an ultimate plan, and knows everything, then that means God is responsible for all miscarriages. The stats for the past 40 years reveal on average there are about three to four miscarriages per abortion. Based on this, god is clearly not pro-life.
|Russell comes in and talks about faulty belief systems. Russell asked Ray if he knew that the world was going to end on May 21, 2011? Ray says no, it keeps changing like the theory of evolution. Russell stays on point and says these beliefs systems can be very harmful to sincere believers. The other day before this debate, a woman slit her children's throats and then her own to save them from the Rapture. Ray admits there are a lot of "nutcases" out there.||The theory of evolution does not change in the way Ray presents it. Science is an ongoing self-correcting system, and as new information and data comes in we learn new things. The concept of evolution has changed since Aristotle, but the theory of evolution proposed by Darwin remains to this day the most well-supported theory in science. Evolution is the backbone of biology.|
|Matt goes back to talking about rights and people's beliefs dictating how to legislate rights. Matt says he picked abortion out of a bushful of issues. Matt says he cannot find any biblical verse that condemns abortion, although some people quote Jeremiah 1:5 but a careful reading shows it says nothing about the individual in the womb, nor does the Bible hint that the baby is an actual person. Matt says Jewish law does not consider it that way. Ray says even if he was not a Christian, he would still not want to kill a child in the womb. Matt points out that Ray goes back to Dark Age beliefs when it suits his personal modern beliefs, but Ray says he only goes back a few thousand years while Matt and Russell go back billions of years so their [Matt and Russell] have more faith than Ray. Matt points out that is demonstrably incorrect, because they have actual evidence and thus do not require faith. Ray says he should not have gone back to that issue because "it is dead."||The issue is not dead. Ray and many other Christians to this day deny observable reality and empirical facts such as evolution and an old earth.|
 Age of the Earth and Pascal's Wager
|Ray then goes on to explain why he does not care how old the earth is by using an analogy. Ray then uses his parachute analogy. He says every single one of us in is in falling plane and we will have to put on a parachute to survive. Ray says the only parachute that will save us in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But When Ray presents it to Matt and Russell, they asked "how old do you think this plane is?" Matt and Russel try to correct him, but Ray continues. Ray says it does not matter how old the plane is, just put on the parachute and we will talk later. Ray then says Matt "does not believe in parachutes." Matt jumps in and says "no, that is not what I would say, this is why this analogy is so horrible." Ray says "well I said it was pathetic when I started." Matt replies how does Ray know the plane is going down? Ray states you are going to die, but Russell says that he checked everything (the pilot, the instruments, etc.) and nothing hints the plane is going down. The only person going around telling everyone the plane is going down is Ray.||Ray's parachute argument is a form of Pascal's Wager. How old does Ray think the earth is? In Ray's book Evolution: A Fairy Tale for Grownups, Ray included several references that argued for a young earth and coexistence between dinosaurs and humans.|
|Ray goes on to say that we will all have to jump, pass through the doors of death, and Ray wants us to be saved. Ray says he would like to see everyone go to heaven and not Hell. Matt agrees he is going to die, the problem is that Ray is inserting something additional for which he has no proof of and cannot demonstrate. Ray says yes he can. Matt continues on saying this analogy is just as faulty as his fire analogy he used on the episode the Fire Fighter, which Matt did a point by point deconstruction of it, which can be found here. Matt says there is no indication whatsoever that his house is on fire, and Ray is appearing to him as a crazy person. Ray responds that there is smoke detector in us called the conscience, but the batteries are not included because we have not accepted Christ in our hearts. Russell is glad that science has brought us smoke detectors but have not found any sigh or shred of proof for a soul. Ray laughs and said he interviewed a biologist at UCLA about two months before this debate (Ray says he has this on camera), and the biologist changed his mind about the existence of the soul when Ray told him one thing: Did you know that life and soul are synonymous in the Bible? The biologist then said "well, since everyone has a life then everyone has a soul." Matt tells Ray that you have two atheists who would agree to Ray's somatic trick. Saying that two words mean the same thing in a book does not change reality and give every human some immaterial thing that continues on after death. Matt points out that it is entirely dishonest for Ray to even do that. Ray asked Matt "do you have a life?" When Matt says he does, Ray says "you have a life, it looks out of your eyes, speaks out of your mouth, and makes your brain work. It's your life, that's your soul." Matt corrects Ray, telling him that those are all part of his life. Calling it a soul is one thing, but then saying this "soul" continues on after death has zero evidence.||Ray failed to prove the existence of souls. His argument is no better than a Scientologist reading from Dianetics and concluding that our souls are infected with aliens.|
|With time running out, Matt wants to address one more thing (Ray asks "Bananas?"). Matt talks about Ray's book You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, but You Can't Make Him Think, in the conclusion Ray talks about the four major religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity). Ray then goes through them to asses them to decide which one people should choose. Matt points out that Ray assess them with the preconception that Christianity is true. Ray faults Buddhism for not solving the "problem of sin and the reality of Hell." Ray faults Hinduism for not solving the problem proposed in Christianity. Matt points out that a Buddhist can look at Christianity and say that Christianity does not solve the problem proposed in Buddhism. After Matt points out this biased preconception and fallacy, Matt asks Ray if he [Ray] thinks this is completely dishonest? Ray says no, it is not dishonest. Ray says it is not dishonest if you study the Ten Commandments which show you the difference between Christianity and all the world's religions (which are religions of righteousness to earn everlasting life, but only God gives eternal life as a free gift). Matt wishing there was more time left to go through why this is very dishonest, but think Ray already did just that by going back to the bible and using a presupposition (which Matt pointed out at the beginning of the debate) and Ray is judging all other religions based on that presupposition. Ray says we all do that. Matt disagrees, but time has run out. Ray says The Atheist Experience is a great show, great hosts, and it was a good talk. Matt and Russell welcome Ray to call back in the future, and with that the program ends.||It is astonishing that after all this Ray still does not realize that he judges and bases everything on his personal presuppositions. It is clearly dishonest of Ray to judge and view other religions with the presupposition Christianity is true, and it is entirely dishonest of Ray to believe otherwise.|
In conclusion, Ray lost the debate but he was a good sport and said The Atheist Experience is a great show.
 See also
- Atheist Experience's open thread about the episode.