RationalWiki will be going through an upgrade cycle this weekend. This will cause some down time, details are at the tech blog. As a reminder, we try and add information to the tech blog during any outage, you can always refer to it for details or as a form of communication if the site is down.

from Tmtoulouse (Talk), group Site wide (urgent) at 15:23, 18 April 2014

User:Nutty Roux/Ray Comfort (copyedit/cleanup and organization) (all are welcome to edit)

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Ray Comfort
Icon banana.svg
Banana.gif
Partners
Moments of Hilarity
Books

Ray Comfort (born December 5, 1949) is a New Zealand-born non-denominational protestant Christian evangelical minister, author, video producer, and street preacher.

Comfort's most widely known project is his Way of the Master series, operated as a project of his Living Waters Publications out of Los Angeles, California. Comfort and former child-actor Kirk Cameron produce videos, tracts, books, and radio and online media with the aim of teaching Christians strategies for sharing and defending their faith to non-believers. Comfort is a prolific author, having written dozens of books on the subjects of atheism, creationism, evangelism and salvation.

He is best known in the atheist and skeptical communities for his banana fallacy video, in which he claimed that the perfection of the design of the banana is an example of God's hand in creation.[1].

He is also widely known among atheists and skeptics for several video debates and interviews with Matt Dillahunty of the Austin Atheist Community's Atheist Experience television program and YouTuber Thunderf00t, among others,[2] on the subjects of creationism and existence of his god. As with all such media, there is a sharp divide long religious and atheist/skeptical lines in opinions of the respective discussant's performance. He appeared on ABC's Nightline to debate the Rational Response Squad[3]

Comfort's You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, but You Can't Make Him Think was published in 2009 by right wing WorldNetDaily to the bemusement of atheists and skeptics for its repetition of a number of tired PRATTs.

Contents

[edit] Background

Ray Comfort was born in 1949 in New Zealand. He was a minister at the Calvary Chapel Fellowship, as was his son-in-law, Emeil Zwayne. The wp:Calvary Chapel, founded by Chuck Smith, teaches the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Ghost) and that the Bible is inerrant. Calvary Chapel espouses a premillenial eschatology in which Christ's Second Coming and thousand-year reign as King of the Earth will occur prior to the rapture and wp:tribulation.

Despite lacking any formal training in theology or ministry[4], Comfort moved his family from Christchurch, New Zealand to Southern California in 1989 to begin his Way of the Master ministry, which he based on insights and lectures originally published at some point between 1982 and 1984 in "Hell's Best Kept Secret." [5]

Ray Comfort provides the following biography in 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.

[edit] Media presence

[edit] Way of the Master

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

Together with actor Kirk Cameron, Comfort produces the Way of the Master series, including TV and radio shows and internet articles. The masterly way is based on converting evangelists with scare tactics around issues of salvation and hell.

[edit] Words of Comfort

Comfort blogs at "Words of Comfort." 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]

[edit] Beliefs and Dangerous views

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

[edit] 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.

Perhaps, his most popular argument of all, the are you a good person?[10] 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.

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.[11] [12]Comfort tells his followers to raise their children under the same unnatural guilt-ridden life that the parents endure.

[edit] On science

Comfort's most common arguments in favor of his young earth creationism and categorical claim that "there is no such thing as evolution" directly conflict with science and reality. Consequently, he preaches that science contrary to the literal word of he Bible is not science at all.[13] Interestingly, for a YEC, he evades questions about the age of the Earth and threatens to block users from his site for asking. [14] 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 stuck to his biblical inerrancy.

[edit] Russia will attack Israel

Ray Comfort firmly believes that the Bible (particularly Ezekiel 38) prophesies that Russia will attack Israel at the end times (or “the latter days,” v. 16). Ray Comfort interprets the reference the “Prince of Rosh” in Ezekiel 38 as Russia (using Smith’s Bible Dictionary, p. 584 as proof). Ray Comfort says the Bible prophesies that Russia will combine with Iran, Libya (in Hebrew called “Put”), and "communistic" Ethiopia (in Hebrew called “Cush”) and attack Israel (vv. 5–8). Comfort claims, "This will take place after an Israeli peace initiative has been successful (v. 11). The Bible even gives the Russian reasoning for and the direction of the attack (vv. 10–15), as well as the location of the battle (Armageddon—Revelation 16:16)."

[edit] End of Days

Apart from Russia attacking Israel, Ray Comfort believes that the end of times as predicted in the Bible is coming. And when it comes, he will be free from punishment and enter Heaven. Comfort compares himself to a man at court, where the judge asks to see evidence of his sin, where his lawyer gets up and says "there is no evidence of his sin. Jesus washed it all away." Comfort says the signs reveal the coming end of days, which are[15]:

  • There will be false Christs and many false prophets who will deceive many. False Bible teachers will have many followers, be money-hungry, and slander the Christian faith (see 2 Peter 2:1–3).
  • There will be blasphemy; cold-heartedness; intemperance; brutality; rebellious youth; hatred of those who stand up for righteousness; ungodliness; pleasureseeking; much hypocrisy (even within the Christian church).
  • Wars and rumors of wars; Nation rising against nation and intimidate each other; people will be fearful of the future and people will cry for peace
  • Famines, disease (pestilence) and increase in cancer, heart attacks, and there will be earthquakes in various places
  • Lawlessness (forsaking of the Ten Commandments)
  • The gospel will be preached in all the world.
  • Knowledge and science will be greatly increased.
  • Signs from heaven (in the sun (sunspots?), moon, and stars) and the sun shall "darken" (which could be that dark smokes block all sunlight)
  • Persecution against Christians in all nations
  • Men’s hearts will fail them for fear of the future; humanity will be selfish, materialistic, arrogant, proud.
  • Homosexuality will increase. The institution of marriage will be forsaken.
  • Increase in occult activity (astrology, horoscopes, Satanism and perhaps Halloween) as well as an increase in cults.
  • Vegetarianism will increase
  • Men will scoff at the "fact" that God once flooded with earth (as well as Noah). Their motivation for hating the truth will be their love of lust (2 Peter 3:1–7). Comfort says "The Scriptures tell us that they make one big mistake. Their understanding of God is erroneous. They don’t understand that God’s time frame is not the same as ours. They think (in their ignorance) that God’s continued silence means that He doesn’t see their sins. In truth, He is merely holding back His wrath, waiting for them to repent and escape the damnation of hell. Jesus warned that the sign to look for was the repossession of Jerusalem by the Jews. That happened in 1967, after 2,000 years, bringing into culmination all the signs of the times. (These are combined from Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; 1 Timothy 4; and 2 Timothy 3.)"

When people say that these things have always happened, Ray Comfort jumps on them and says "What you said is is exactly what the Bible said you would say, therefore you prove the Bible yet again!"

[edit] Salvation

Comfort's distills his doctrine of salvation to:

It really doesn't matter if someone says that he doesn't believe that the Bible is the Word of God (or that they don't believe in Hell or Judgment Day). If we have rightly used the Law (the Ten Commandments -- to bring "the knowledge of sin"), we merely say, "It doesn't matter that you don't believe the Bible. You still have to face God on Judgment Day, and you've admitted that you are a liar, a thief and that you have committed adultery in your heart." His conscience will afirm the truth of the Commandments, and the Word of God (regardless of his or her lack of belief in it) is faithful to bring conviction throught the power of the Holy Spirit.

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."[16] Other Christians disagree with this.[17] 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.[18] Some Christians condemn him for that.[19].

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)...[20]

A different group of Christians condemn him for that,[21] but his followers apparently overlook the contradiction.

[edit] Claims regarding God's existence

[edit] Anti-Evidentialist

Comfort's approach to proving the existence sometimes consists of [[anti-evidentialism similar to presuppositionalism:

I don't have to prove anything to you. I would never be so foolish myself as to put God to the test.

[edit] 'Common sense' proof of a god

Despite refusing to engage in evidentialist apologetics when convenient, Comfort believes that God can be scientifically proven.

[edit] The parachute argument

The parachute argument is a reworking of Pascal's Wager. The premise is 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 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 asserts it's true.

[edit] Pseudoscience and criticisms of the Theory 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 Comfort knows little about science:

  • He has no formal education in science;
  • He nonsensically compared "evolution" to Cinderella's pumpkin turning into a chariot;
  • He freely intermingles the Big Bang theory and abiogenesis with evolution;
  • He repeats that old creationist chestnut: "there are no transitional fossils" and asserts that all animals were created by God according to their "kind".

"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."[23]

Comfort is also known for deliberate quote-mining. In his book Evolution: A Fairy Tale for Grownups, he openly admitted that he knew he was quote-mining but went ahead anyway because lying for Jesus is justifiable[citation needed]. Comfort's blatant quote mining even includes using Charles Darwin's commentary on the evolution of the eye, a quote that even "leading" creationists Creation Ministries International advise against using[24], out of context to suggest that the eye is not the result of evolution, but rather design. 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 137 million 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 argument from design.

Comfort's design argument essentially follows Paley's: "A painting had a painter, a watch had a watchmaker, therefore creation must have a creator." In ascribing intentionality and agency, Comfort assumes into existence exactly that which he purports to prove by simply asserting a priori that we live in a creation without reference. 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?

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. What Comfort fails to understand is that there was no first dog; there were male and female creatures that were able to reproduce together from the beginning of their emergence as a species and that gradually evolved to become more dog-like. [27] And yet Comfort is perfectly happy accepting the far less plausible claims that Adam and Noah lived for hundreds of years, and that Adam and Eve were created ex nihilo.

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.

A few of Comfort's anti-evolution arguments are so incredibly feeble and outright ridiculous that some commentators wonder if he is actually a poe .[28]

[edit] Notable debates

Ray Comfort is quite the attention seeker. Apart from the constant street preaching in Los Angeles and confronting hundreds of laymen in public areas, Ray Comfort has challenged Richard Dawkins, Eugene Scott and Bill Maher to debate the theory of evolution and intelligent design.

Ray Comfort is not interested in any intellectual debates, rather he is more interested in a large audience (the bigger the better). However, his tactics and methods of getting a debate are rather immature and despicable. For instance, once Ray Comfort debates someone, he announces he is somehow on a equal intellectual playing field as scientists like Prof. Dawkins (even though Ray Comfort does not have any degree of any kind). However, whoever Ray Comfort challenges (and often offers thousands of dollars for the person's time) but declines or ignores the offer, Ray Comfort replies in a rather immature whining manner by taunting them and calling them scared. Ray Comfort twists disinterest into fear. For instance, when Ray Comfort challenged Bill Maher, Ray Comfort made the following comment;

“I am beginning to suspect that some men may have evolved from chickens, or at least that’s the impression I get when it comes to evolutionists standing up for their convictions,” notes Comfort. “Mr. Maher can choose the place of the debate. I don’t mind if he has it in front of his audience. He can bill it as ‘Another simple-minded Christian being thrown to the lions.’"[29]

So basically, Ray Comfort looks like a intellectual "big shot" either way; he is smart enough to debate a qualified scientist OR the scientist is scared of Ray Comforts arguments. The simple truth is that Ray Comfort is a nobody who uses faulty logic and numerous illogical arguments that have already been refuted a thousand times already, debating him is practically pointless. All he wants is an audience to preach to. Perhaps the biggest audience he ever has was the debate with the Rational Response Squad on Nightline television, where Comfort revealed he could not prove God scientifically and his whole arguments rely on faith and belief.

Scientists like Dawkins and Eugene Scott do not waste their breath on people like Ray Comfort, a man who has no intention whatsoever of changing his mind or actually acknowledging valid scientific evidence. Ray Comfort's presupposition and blind faith in his religion demand that he believes regardless of proof, whereas scientists are interested in honest discussions and a honest approach to discovering truth. So instead, Ray Comfort usually debates positive atheists who have a remarkable audience, such as leaders of atheist groups, radio hosts and vloggers.

[edit] Debate with Ron Barrer at the 2001 Atheist National Convention

See the main article on this topic: Ron Barrier debate with Ray Comfort

On April 2001 in Orlando, Florida at the American Atheists' National Convention, American Atheist national spokesperson Ron Barrier debated Ray Comfort. Within the debate, Comfort used the banana as an argument for design and proof for God.

[edit] 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).

[edit] Debate with Thunderf00t

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

On July 24, 2009, Ray Comfort and YouTuber vlogger Thunderf00t had a recorded debate (eventually they met a second time and had another discussion). 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).

[edit] 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.

[edit] $10,000 challenge

Comfort currently has a standing $10,000 challenge to anyone who can show him a transitional fossil[30]. 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.

[edit] Plagiarism

Ray Comfort has faced accusations that he copied the work of Stan Guffey without giving credit, see Accusations of plagiarism where evidence of his plagiarism is set out. [31] [32] 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. [33] Comfort knows that was naughty, Comfort said so himeslf.

[edit] Publications

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

[edit] See also

Icon fun.svg For those of you in the mood, RationalWiki has a fun article about Nutty Roux/Ray Comfort (copyedit/cleanup and organization) (all are welcome to edit).

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

  1. Comfort claims the "Bananaman" video is a hoax perpetrated by atheists.[1]
  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2FskTKrx40
  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-rKiGJrcNw
  4. http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/story?id=1735434&page=3
  5. Comfort, Ray, "The Way of the Master," p. 3, 5
  6. [2]
  7. [3], 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. Iron Chariots definition
  11. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex-dawn/201004/sexual-repression-the-malady-considers-itself-the-remedy
  12. http://recoveringcultist.blogspot.com/2011/08/sexual-repression.html The case history is from a former Christadelphian but can be generalized to other religious people who try to suppress sex.
  13. http://www.brianathomas.com/archives/2009/03/02/kirk-camerons-and-ray-comforts-way-of-the-master-series/
  14. 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
  15. [4]
  16. http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Mormonism_%28Way_of_the_Master%29
  17. https://s3.amazonaws.com/Website11/Comfort.htm
  18. 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.
  19. https://s3.amazonaws.com/Website11/Comfort.htm
  20. [5]
  21. http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Wolves/ray_comfort.htm
  22. http://raycomfortfood.blogspot.com/2011/04/genesis-on-trial_27.html
  23. http://raycomfortfood.blogspot.com/2011/04/genesis-on-trial_26.html
  24. http://creation.com/arguments-we-think-creationists-should-not-use
  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.wnd.com/2006/05/36099/
  30. http://www.intelligentdesignversusevolution.com/arguments.html
  31. http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/12/it_couldnt_happen_to_a_sleazie.php
  32. http://aigbusted.blogspot.com/2009/11/ray-comfort-plagiarist.html
  33. Stealing intellectual property is also theft, see What is intellectual property?.
  34. And decided to omit a few crucial chapters to make room for his own Hitler-obsessed introduction.
  35. http://blog.leagueofreason.co.uk/reason/ray-comfort-is-180-degrees-from-reality/ See here for counter-arguments.
Personal tools
Namespaces

Variants
Actions
Navigation
Community
Tools
support