AronRa

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Aron Ra, also known as the Texan Tank.
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You can present any question you want — I will never cower. I do not fear truth, and if you were to show that I was wrong on anything I would thank you for pointing out the error, but that is not your way. You do fear truth, which is why you cower from the definitions I try to provide for you, you cower away from the proof that I offer to you. You plug your ears and move away — 'I don't want to know', and that's the problem. You know on some level that everything you believe is a matter of pretend.
—Aron Ra, during his debate with Ray Comfort[1]

Aron Ra,[note 1] also known online as AronRa, former real name L. Aron Nelson (1962–), is an atheist vlogger and activist.[2]

His videos focus on biology, with an emphasis on countering creationist claims, and advocating rationalism in science education. He also posts written material on his website LocoLobo[3].

He is the Texas State Director of American Atheists. He was also previously a co-host on the podcast Dogma Debate[4] with David Smalley.

Science: It's kryptonite to creationists[edit]

Aron's videos focus on the scientific evidence for evolution, normally avoiding the theological discussion. This is sensible, since scientists should not have to read Superman comics in order to refute the claim that a mild-mannered reporter took an unprotected stroll on the moon.

Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism[edit]

This is a seventeen part series of videos[5] in which Aron addresses the most popular claims of creationists. The series is highly critical of the methods employed by creationists - describing the ringleaders as liars - some of whom having a financial interest in the beliefs they're pushing. The series is aimed at the general public who he feels are being deceived by the purveyors of creationist misinformation.

Aron's criticism of religion is normally restricted to the claims conflicting with science. It is asserted that many scientists are themselves religious, and the choice of "evolution or God" is a false dichotomy. Science by its very nature can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God, although it can disprove naturalistic claims made by religions and their texts. The series runs as follows:

  1. "Evolution = atheism"[6]
  2. "Scriptures are ‘Gods Word’"[7]
  3. "Human interpretation = absolute truth"[8]
  4. "Belief = knowledge"[9]
  5. Evolution(ism) part one - "the religion of atheism"[10]
  6. Evolution(ism) part two - What evolution is and isn't[11]
  7. "Evolution is random"[12]
  8. "Mutations are rare, harmful decreases in genetic information"[13]
  9. "No transitional species have ever been found"[14]
  10. Cladistic phylogenetics - exploring Darwin's tree of life[15]
  11. Macroevolution has never been observed[16]
  12. Intelligent design creationism in opposition to material science[17]
  13. "Evolutionist hoaxes" and creationist frauds[18]
  14. "Creation is evident" - part one (Warning: Contains Kirk Cameron; viewer discretion is advised)[19]
  15. "Creation is evident" - part two[20]
  16. "Evolution has never been proved. It's still just a theory, not a fact." (Part I)[21]
  17. "Evolution has never been proved. It's still just a theory, not a fact." (Part II)[22]

In 2016 Aron released a book and audiobook with the same name and structure, based on this series, where he explores those topics in greater depth.[23]

Systematic Classification of Life[edit]

Aron developed this video series "to help people appreciate the beauty and scientific power of cladistics or common ancestry" and thereby convince creationists of their folly.

The series includes the following episodes:[24]

Aron Ra and Ray Comfort[edit]

On April 24, 2009, shortly after the Rational Response Squad debate with Way of the Master, Aron Ra made a video pointing out Ray Comfort had no evidence and accused Comfort that his only intention was to preach his sermons. Ray Comfort also challenged atheist biologist Richard Dawkins to a debate; Dawkins declined for several reasons, one being that Comfort would pretend that his own insane ravings were somehow comparable to the consensus held by the worldwide scientific community. Comfort would pretend that, in refusing, Dawkins was afraid to debate him.

In response to Comfort's unaccepted Dawkins challenge, Aron addressed Ray Comfort and offered to debate him. While Aron respects Dawkins and his work, Aron deeply dislikes it when Dawkins describes himself as a "Darwinist". It was scheduled to be an online debate, not a live one "because in science accuracy matters more than the performance behind the podium."[75] The debate would consist of a dozen or so mutual exchanges opening with a three-and-a-half minute statement on one specific position, and keep the discussion focused only on that topic. Aron also offered Comfort to choose what the topic would be.

At some point, Ray Comfort finally did accept Aron's offer to an online debate.[76] On September 17th, 2012, Aron was made a guest on Radio Paul's Radio Rants, with Ray Comfort calling in as a second guest.

Debate synopsis[edit]

Surprisingly, Ray claimed to be anti-religion and named many atrocities caused by religion such as the Crusades. He then attempted to insist that he was not religious, failing to recognize that his own ministry, Way of the Master, neatly falls under the definition. Regardless, this wasn't enough to dissuade him from sermonizing towards the end of the show after providing no evidence. Aron was quick to point out that Ray's position doesn't provide evidence of any kind, and that his god was not demonstrable. Ray attempted to warp the debate by asking Aron if he had a wife and subsequently, if he had faith in his wife. Aron pointed out that there are two different definitions of "faith", and that Ray was trying to switch context. Aron told him that one context details having reasonable expectations based on probability (Ray tries to interrupt Aron at this point, pushing his false context of faith, but fails); the second context of faith, however, details having a firm conviction without and in spite of reason, separate from evidence, and in that regard Aron has no faith in his wife because he does not require it- he has plenty of evidence to believe that his wife is real.

Aron then points out that Ray can't know that god exists because actual knowledge is demonstrable and requires evidence to demonstrate it - if Ray can't show it, then he doesn't know it. Even if Ray wanted to deny that any woman he was shown was Aron's wife (in fact, Ray started to comment on this direction that he could never know for sure), he still has documents, pictures, video of a wedding and testimony from relatives to at least support the claim that Aron is or was married- Ray, however, does not have similar evidence to prove that his god exists. At this point, Aron bluntly states, "Your greatest strength, Ray, and possibly your only strength, is in pretending that you don't understand simple things."

Ray demanded to ask the questions at this point, starting by the assertion that, as an atheist, Aron must therefore believe that "something was created from nothing", which Aron outright rejected. As Aron tried to explain in as basic a way as possible so that Ray might understand (and it's clear he did not), Ray interrupted by trying to get Aron to state that scientists don't know. Aron freely admits that scientists don't know - and that they will not (like Ray) provide explanations (like god) to which there is no evidence and present it as "fact". The discussion inevitably turned to the theory of evolution, where Ray demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge on the subject by, as usual, resorting to gross misrepresentations of science as well as the examples Aron attempted to provide. At one point, Ray requested that Aron dumb down his language so that everyone could understand it, and as a result tried to use this against Aron by constructing shoddy straw men.

This did not work. Aron was quick enough to point out most of Ray's fallacies, and commented that for someone who had been arguing against and rejecting the theory of evolution for at least a decade, Ray still did not have a clear idea of what the theory actually entailed. It got worse when he failed to understand what the word "arboreal" meant, as Aron described a common ancestor to cats and dogs. Meanwhile, Ray resorted to show-stoppers like "I'm going to have to stop you right there" and "you gotta let me speak", strongly suggesting that he didn't want Aron to speak too clearly and point out Ray's logical fallacies. When Aron attempted to walk Ray through a lecture about how humans are apes based on their morphological features, Ray attempted to dispute phylogeny and morphology by claiming that he was a pig, justifying this by saying that he has hands, legs, eyes, ears, a nose and a mouth, just like a pig does - completely missing the point. Aron points out that Ray doesn't possess hooves, but whether it was because Ray didn't hear him correctly or doesn't actually know what hooves are, he seemed to miss it and ignore it, muttering that Aron couldn't prove anything.

Towards the end of the show, Aron points out a bit of dishonesty Ray exhibited once, made during his release of his edited version of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin; Ray (or rather, the writer from whom Ray plagiarized his introduction from) claimed that Charles Darwin wrote the book years before the death of his daughter, Annie. This is the correct chronology, but a few months later, during an appearance Ray made while being interviewed by Pat Robertson, Ray claimed that the book was written after, and as a direct result of, Annie's death. He also disputed Ray's claim (made on the same show) that Darwin was a bitter man, by pointing out he was viewed very favorably by scientists and historians alike due to his devotion to his family and his moral positions (having expressed disgust towards the abuse and mistreatment of non-whites, and a financial endorser of slavery abolitionist movements). After this, Aron goes on the offensive, stating that Ray fears truth, shying away from definitions and evidence which needs to be explained to him and committing ignorance instead.

At this point, the show begins to end, with the host letting Ray have the last word. He thanks Aron for speaking with him then goes on an irrelevant tangent about how he's a good person and environmentally conscious by riding a bike to work, how he hates wars but isn't a pacifist, and wishing Aron and Paul well.

Zopdoz[edit]

On June 27, 2010, Aron posted a video, sharing his introspections on philosophy, symbology, belief, and his personal atheistic label. While he is an atheist, he sought a more descriptive and specific term. For example, an atheist may not believe in God, but an atheist could still follow a secular religion. Aron was not satisfied with agnosticism, for many of them are atheists and they do not even know it. After going through names to pick: realist, empirical rationalist, freethinker, secularist, and skeptic; the one that seemed to fit as someone who has no faith at all, does not endorse religion, and is antitheistic was infidel. However, that word has negative implications, such as someone who is disloyal, but Aron claims he was never loyal to any religious belief in the first place.

When people were searching for a symbol to identify atheists or people who discard faith, the result was a scarlet "A". However, Aron came up with his own symbol for godless infidels, which he still uses and so do a few of his fans. Aron's design and invention was called the Zopdoz, a word Aron's son created. The shape was a vertical triangle with an umlaut, which makes it 'metal', and a single point in the center of the triangle (zopdoz picture can be seen here). It can be composed as "◬̈" (U+25EC U+0308) or as "˙◬˙" (U+02D9 U+25EC U+02D9).

Patreon[edit]

Like many other youtube personalities (atheist or not), Aron set up a Patreon account in the summer of 2014 and it has skyrocketed. It opened on July 1st and on July 4th it had reached nearly $1000. In mid-July, it was reaching $1500 per video. The only comparable success is Thunderf00t's. Among the goals that were (quickly) reached was more content, a podcast and improved video quality.[77]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. Pronounced more like "RN", not "Aaron"

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. AronRa VS Ray Comfort RPRR 9-17-2012 (46:08)
  2. http://www.thinkatheist.com/profile/LAronNelson
  3. LocoLobo.org
  4. Dogma Debate
  5. Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism
  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnJX68ELbAY&feature=PlayList&p=126AFB53A6F002CC&index=0&playnext=1
  7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFrkjEgUDZA
  8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnj7PlqmJ5o
  9. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80nhqGfN6t8
  10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzmbnxtnMB4
  11. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3k0dDFxkhM
  12. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8Q2Db17v5U
  13. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TU-7d06HJSs
  14. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qfoje7jVJpU
  15. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MXTBGcyNuc
  16. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dm277H3ot6Y
  17. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TkY7HrJOhc
  18. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myfifz3C0mI
  19. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYsnVMjG4lk
  20. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XHbRGiQccM
  21. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wv6kgjOEL0
  22. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGmLDKQp_Qc
  23. https://books.google.co.il/books/about/Foundational_Falsehoods_of_Creationism.html?id=F-rvDAAAQBAJ
  24. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXQP_R-yiuw&list=PLXJ4dsU0oGMLnubJLPuw0dzD0AvAHAotW
  25. Systematic Classification of Life - ep1, The Root of the tree
  26. Systematic Classification of Life - ep2, Eukarya
  27. Systematic Classification of Life - ep3, Metazoa
  28. Systematic Classification of Life - ep4, Eumetazoa
  29. Systematic Classification of Life - ep5, Bilataria
  30. Systematic Classification of Life - ep6, Deuterostomia
  31. Systematic Classification of Life - ep7, Chordata
  32. Systematic Classification of Life - ep8, Vertebrata
  33. Systematic Classification of Life - ep9, Gnathostomata
  34. Systematic Classification of Life - ep10, Osteichthyes
  35. Systematic Classification of Life - ep11, Sarcopterygii
  36. Systematic Classification of Life - ep12, Stegocephalia
  37. Systematic Classification of Life - ep13, Reptiliomorpha
  38. Systematic Classification of Life - ep14, Amniota
  39. Systematic Classification of Life - ep15, Synapsida
  40. Systematic Classification of Life - ep16, Sphenacodontia
  41. Systematic Classification of Life - ep17, Therapsida
  42. Systematic Classification of Life - ep18, Theriodontia
  43. Systematic Classification of Life - ep19, Cynodonts
  44. Systematic Classification of Life - ep20, Eucynodontia
  45. Systematic Classification of Life - ep21, Probainognathans
  46. Systematic Classification of Life - ep22, Prozostrodontia
  47. Systematic Classification of Life - ep23, Mammaliformes
  48. Systematic Classification of Life - ep24, Mammalia
  49. Systematic Classification of Life - ep25, Theriiformes
  50. Systematic Classification of Life - ep26, Holotheria
  51. Systematic Classification of Life - ep27, Trechnotheria
  52. Systematic Classification of Life - ep28, Cladotheria
  53. Systematic Classification of Life - ep29, Zatheria
  54. Systematic Classification of Life - ep30, Tribosphenida
  55. Systematic Classification of Life - ep31, Theria
  56. Systematic Classification of Life - ep32, Eutheria
  57. Systematic Classification of Life - ep33, Placentalia
  58. Systematic Classification of Life - ep34, Boreoeutheria
  59. Systematic Classification of Life - ep35, Euarchontoglires
  60. Systematic Classification of Life - ep36, Euarchonta
  61. Systematic Classification of Life - ep37, Primata
  62. Systematic Classification of Life - ep38, Haplorhini
  63. Systematic Classification of Life - ep39, Simiiformes
  64. Systematic Classification of Life - ep40, Catarrhini
  65. Systematic Classification of Life - ep41, Hominoidea
  66. Systematic Classification of Life - ep42, Hominidae
  67. Systematic Classification of Life - ep43, Homininae
  68. Systematic Classification of Life - ep44, Hominini
  69. Systematic Classification of Life - ep45, Hominina
  70. Systematic Classification of Life - ep46, HomoGenus
  71. Systematic Classification of Life - ep47 Sapiens 1 of 3
  72. Systematic Classification of Life - ep48 Sapiens 2 of 3
  73. Systematic Classification of Life - ep49 Sapiens 3 of 3
  74. Systematic Classification of Life - ep50 Human Races
  75. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEnAnU36gag
  76. Aron and Ray's Debate, Though the introduction claiming two "titans for their causes" might be misleading, as Ray is nothing of the sort.
  77. https://www.patreon.com/aronra