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Monday, June 30, 2008

Arrogance of Theology. Humility of Science.

"The most important scientific revolutions all include, as their only common feature, the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal after another of previous convictions about our centrality in the cosmos." -- Stephen Jay Gould

So, I was listening to the latest Way of the Master radio show (I'm a masochist), and there was something very revealing about the way theists think about Scripture and why we hear what we do with them about science. A person had emailed them about the new perspective on Paul, and he responds as such:
Why do we need a new perspective on Paul? There's an assumption that is built into the premise of the question and that is there is something wrong with the old perspective. Or is it that time has changed the Gospel that Paul delivered? Either one is ridiculous, so out of the shoot I say: if I'm going to take a look at a new perspective on Paul that means that every great man, every great woman who have [sic] gone before me and studied Scriptures and understood very clearly what Paul's perspective was, they were an idiot! I'm not buying that. [... brief digression on recent trend to bring new perspectives or thoughts...] It's not needed and it's not good!
That... is very revealing. Firstly, Scripture does change. It has changed a lot. How many hands has it gone through? You must not only have faith that it is the word of God, but you also must have faith that it has not been corrupted by intent or accident as it has been passed along. Then, it is a fact that it has been through many translations and you can look up where things have been lost in translation, lost to scribal errors, and lost in the evolution of language.

But let's just take the false premise as true, that it does not change. You know what else doesn't change? The physical world; how it operates. The mechanics which governed the natural world three millenia ago (the oldest that the Bible is dated) govern it today. Science is all out understanding it. When Newton put forward his law of universal gravitation, it was based on the unchanging world. If scientists were as obstinate as you, Einstein would have simply said:
Why do we need a new perspective on gravity? There's an assumption that is built into the premise of the question and that is there is something wrong with the old perspective. Or is it that time has changed the way gravity operates? Either one is ridiculous, so out of the shoot I say: if I'm going to take a look at a new perspective on gravity that means that every great man, such as Isaac Newton, who has gone before me and studied gravity and the physical world and understood very clearly what Newton's perspective on gravity was, they were an idiot! It's not needed and it's not good!
You know why it's needed and why it's good? Because if you are seeking veracity of your beliefs and not just the confirmation of them, you are continually open to new ideas in one area as new truths have been discovered in others. This is why it is good that men do not live forever, or else our understanding would be so bound to those who have come before us that no new understanding can gain ground and we lose something quite profound -- or rather, we will fail to gain something profound.

This should be something you would think people would be more than willing to embrace about the Bible. If they think it is truly the Word of God, that means that they think a perfect being, with perfect understanding and perfect wisdom and perfect knowledge wrote the Book. Shouldn't that, by the very premise, mean that they could not possibly perfectly understand it, if even at all? As Ray would say: how dare you? You are not omniscient! Only God is.

Arrogance, ignorance, intransigence, and obstinance.

"Blind" Ignorance and Blatant Dishonesty

Well, I started this blog too late to weigh in on Ray's now infamous Thank God for Science. I decided, when I started this blog, I would not go back through his posts to pick apart past articles (unless they contribute to a recent post) for two reasons:
1) It would overwhelm you with too many posts, and
2) Ray's a broken record; he will keep repeating the same arguments and untruths, so it's just a matter of waiting for another post to surface.
The aforementioned article, though, is creating some waves of blog posts I thought I would apprise you of. Ray thinks that light is invisible. That is, he thinks that visible light is invisible. I suppose we can't be too surprised that he thinks this, given that:
1) He is utterly ignorant (not agnostic) when it comes to science. After all, this is the man who thinks a magic man is sending down lightning and withholding rain in California to punish the legal developments regarding homosexual marriage. Not to mention that he thinks the Universe is only a few thousand years old, denies evolution as both theory and fact, and thinks a banana proves the existence of God.
2) He has a special Dictionary of DisComfort he uses which says that a liar is someone who has told one lie and that parody means to compare two things so as to infer another similarity. So, why should we be surprised that he thinks "visible" means "invisible"?
So, here are just a few blog posts to check out that I found humorous:
Atheist Blogger: Ray Comfort: "Light is invisible."
Atheist Blogger: Ray Rewrites
The Seeker: Ray Comfort: What the Fuck, Man?
Feeling Kind of Blue: OMG OMG R U Serious?

What we learn from this post is, not only is Ray as scientifically illiterate and ignorant on this science subject than any other, but it's also another submission to the evidence lockup that Ray is dishonest. He makes a post, people expose that he doesn't know anything, and then he unscrupulously rewrites it without posting any sort of notice or indication. That's called dishonesty.

A New Comforting Quote Mine!

The header has been updated with two new Ray Comfort quotes. This does mean that the Hawking quote had to be removed, but I quite prefer that as I rather dislike the idea of summing up the beliefs of a man like Hawking from one quote in a header image.

As for the two new quotes, as with the two previous quotes, I am not like Ray. As such, I will provide the proper context for these two quotes.

First Quote:
I want you to know that I believe Jesus Christ is the only way to God; there's no other way! Not Hinduism; not Buddhism; not Islam. There's no way you can get to God but through Jesus Christ. I'm what you call a bigot; a fundamentalist. I believe what the bible says and there's a reason for that. (source)
Fourth Quote:
Here's the build-up to my question: Some say Jesus of Nazareth was a great teacher. Others say that He was crazy, while others (a few) think that He didn’t exist at all.

I think that "great" teachers don’t say the sort of weird things He said (believe His words and you have everlasting life, that His voice would raise the billions of the dead human race, etc.), and if He didn’t exist, who said these amazing words? So, I think that there are only two reasonable options. He was either a crazy liar, or He was the Son of God. (source)
As an atheist, my mission in life is to edit everything Ray Comfort writes so I can make him look like an idiot.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Today's Theist Memory Verse, Vol IV

[Sorry for posting this one early. I will be taking a trip out of town tomorrow, so I am not sure if I will have a chance to update. I wanted to leave tomorrow's quote for sure, though, and I will post on whatever Ray has to say by Tuesday :-)]


A passage of immorality for today from the "Good Book." To set this up: God comes to Moses tells him to war against the Midianites. So, Moses raises an army of 12,000 to "execute God's vengeance." The army kills every single adult male Midianite, but saves the women and children (along with a bunch of other plunder). They come back...
And Moses was angry with the officers of the host, the captains of thousands and the captains of hundreds, who came from the service of the war. And Moses said to them, Have you saved all the women alive? Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against God in the matter of Peor, and so the plague was among the congregation of God. Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that has known man by lying with him. But all the women-children, that have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. (Numbers 31:14-18)
The total number of virgins that they kept was thirty-two thousand (Numbers 31:35).

I chose this one as it's one Paine uses in Part II of Age of Reason, which I am rereading this week. Let me provide a Theist Memory Quote from this:
Whenever we read the obscene stories the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon rather than the word of god. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it as I detest everything that is cruel.
Before introducing this Bible passage, Paine has to say of Moses, that:
The character of Moses, as stated in the Bible, is the most horrid that can be imagined. If those accounts be true, he was the wretch that first began and carried on wars on the score or on the pretence of religion; and under that mask, or that infatuation, committed the most unexampled atrocities that are to be found in the history of any nation.

Prime-evil Ignorance

I think I have read too much of Ray's writings, as he and I seem to have had similar dreams recently, as described in his latest post. Here's mine...
I dreamed I was a doctor. I was stationed in the darkest of places, fighting a deadly disease among a very primitive tribe. This tribal group were particularly vicious by nature, and what’s more, they didn’t like me at all. Their witch doctors made up stories about how I was an evil being because I didn't believe dancing naked around a fire could make their lives better.

Their primitive beliefs were certainly strange. They were utterly convinced there was a magic, invisible man at all places at all times. They were utterly convinced that he sneezed them into existence a few thousand years, and that they originally came from a pile of dust.

In the dream, I wanted to run from their abuse, from their constant name calling, from their history of burning doctors at the stake and stoning them to death. But I couldn’t because I knew that they needed to be inoculated, or they would all die from their brains atrophying from a lack of exercise. My job was to convince them that they were in serious danger and that they needed to hold still while I plunged a needle into their hard, stubborn flesh . . . a difficult task indeed.

It was hard because these tribal people were particularly arrogant and naive, and thought that they needed nothing and knew everything. When asked how, they said that the magic man knew everything and therefore they knew everything.

They were so primitive in their thinking that they made up superstitious claims for completely natural phenomena. They actually believed diseases were caused by bad acts they had done to make the magic man angry. So they were particularly resistant to the belief that there were natural, observable microorganisms causing the disease and it had nothing to do with their bad acts, and that the deadly disease that was killing them was being promoted by their unsanitary lifestyle. I could not convince them to merely take scientific preventative measures to combat the disease, as they insisted dancing naked around the fire would rid them of it. If that didn't work, that simply meant one of the people were not dancing hard enough.

Then I awoke to the fact that it wasn’t a dream at all, and that I have a difficult task ahead of me, but one from which I will not run.
I find it funny that we enlightened, rational individuals who have been elevated to a never before seen level of knowledge due to scientific progress and discoveries are the primitive tribe in his dream. Isn't that odd? He is, after all, the one basing his life entirely on some writings by some Bronze Age tribesmen living in the desert a few millenia ago... and we're the primitive ones because we do not believe the primitive superstitions in a book of dubious origins and authors?

Well, what else can you expect from a mind which is plagued by such primitive beliefs?

Ray Proved Evolution

Ray is my hero. His intellect knows no bounds. After all, he came up with a bulletproof argument which proves God:
If there is a building, that proves there was a builder since the building necessitates a builder.
If there is a painting, that proves there was a painter since the painting necessitates a painter.
If there is a car, that proves there was a car maker since the car necessitates a car maker.
Therefore, if there is creation, that proves there was a Creator since the creation necessitates a Creator.
Spot on! Creation necessitates a creator. You have proven it beyond contestation. See, this is why Ray is my hero, being such a source of infallible arguments. As such, I have emulated my hero by using his wise, bulletproof argument to prove evolution. Observe:
If there is a building, that proves there was a building process since the building necessitates a building process.
If there is a painting, that proves there was a painting process since the painting necessitates a painting process.
If there is a car, that proves there was a car making process since the car necessitates a car making process.
Therefore, if there are evolved beings, that proves there was evolution since evolved beings necessitates evolution.

No, The Banana *Is* Proof

I thought I would have to make a post today about things my fundamentalist father had told me while growing up and becoming a man which convinced him of the truth of the Bible. Thankfully for you, my readers, Ray Comfort has made a monkey out of himself with his latest post today.

In my inaugural post, I made the following remark on why I am doing this blog:
Sometimes he makes arguments which sound very nice to the average reader. When he talks about atheists not having absolute knowledge of God, someone needs to be there without absolute knowledge of Bigfoot. When he says that God controls the rain and fires ripping through the gay-marrying California, someone needs to be there to point out that God also controls the rain and lightning flooding the non-gay-marrying Midwest. And every time Ray holds up a banana, someone needs to be there to hold up a coconut.

This blog is my personal coconut.
Where does this banana-coconut thing come from? Here is a (humorized) one-minute segment of Ray Comfort presenting his banana argument:

This is, of course, a fallacious argument from design. This one is asinine as he makes the argument that the banana:

  1. Is shaped for human hand
  2. Has non-slip surface
  3. Has outward indicators of inward content:
    Green — too early
    Yellow — just right
    Black — too late
  4. Has a tab for removal of wrapper
  5. Is perforated on wrapper
  6. Bio-degradable wrapper
  7. Is shaped for human mouth
  8. Has a point at top for ease of entry
  9. Is pleasing to taste buds
  10. Is curved towards the face to make eating process easy
You can check out the Iron Chariots article debunking this ridiculous argument. When I first heard the argument, my first thought was: If the banana proves God, then the coconut must disprove God. I remember my first time trying to eat a coconut; I had no idea how it was done. I must have spent fifteen minutes banging on it and trying all sorts of things until I found out that you must: drive a screwdriver into the one soft spot in it to drain the liquid, wrap it up in a towel (to prevent damage and losing parts of it), whack it with a hammer or the thick end of a butcher's knife, whack it many times around its circumference, then use some sort of tool to separate the meat from the shell.

But anyway, Ray made a post on the argument he conceded two years ago by remarking that:
Thanks to Youtube I realize that I will have to say this over and over. Many times I have compared a banana to a coke can (with its tab at the top, etc.) using something called "parody." This is arguably a humorous way of making a point. Atheists removed the coke can and said that I believe that the banana is proof that God exists. In doing so they did a good job and making a monkey out of me.
A "parody"? What exactly is a parody that it must be surrounded in quotes? "Parody" means a humorous way of making a point? Nice try Ray, but I happen to have a dictionary at my disposal.
parody (v): to imitate (a composition, author, etc.) for purposes of ridicule or satire.
That's another entry for the Dictionary of DisComfort. What Ray was actually doing with the coke can and banana was called "analogy":
analogy (n): Logic. a form of reasoning in which one thing is inferred to be similar to another thing in a certain respect, on the basis of the known similarity between the things in other respects.
Indeed, what Ray has done is taken William Paley's watchmaker argument and substituted it with another false analogy. Just as his watchmaker argument has been debunked, as has Ray's banana argument been debunked. The difference is, though, that Ray's version has even more wrong with it, which is why he conceded the argument when being interviewed on it by an atheist:
Alleee : I'm just saying that, that there are very few plants, and we argue - with some environmentalists a lot who don't believe in bioengineered food, because all, because most of the food that we eat of course is farmed, and is done through horticulture, and we've engineered these - these fruits and vegetables to be more tasty to us. So actually, the banana seems to be not, not made by God at this point, it's more like um... what, what came first, the banana or the hand ? [laugh] You know ? Man took the banana and made it better for man...

Ray Comfort : Okay, you've got that one. You can have the banana.
While Ray's latest post is entitled that the banana isn't proof, I must disagree. It is indeed proof; proof of his dishonesty. He makes no mention of why he conceded the argument or that he even conceded it. In fact, he continues to make the argument at the end of the post, merely omitting bananas:
The banana isn’t proof that God exists--the whole of creation proves that there’s a Creator. This includes apples, oranges, pears, peaches, apricots, grapes and other succulent fruits that God has placed into our hands. They didn’t come from a big bang. That is mindless. They came from the creative genius of a benevolent and holy God, who also gave you life itself, and eyes to look at that which He has so kindly lavished upon you.
Either he never learns, is foolish, or is dishonest. We can chalk this up as at least another example of dishonesty, as he stands with egg on his face.

What's very humorous about the post, though, is the cartoon that accompanies it:
Hi there, I'm an atheist!
It's my mission in life-
To edit everything Ray Comfort writes,
So I can make him look like an idiot.
Hmm... doesn't this sound like someone we know...
Hi there, I'm Ray Comfort!
It's my mission in life-
To edit everything Einstein writes,
So I can make him look like an idiot.
After all, an idiot is what he makes Einstein look like by claiming he takes the fables of the Bible as inerrant, wise, and divine.

(Edit 6-29-08)
I forgot to make this point here until I made it in a comment to the post. I always try to point out when Ray makes claims to pull out his absolute knowledge shtick, so I thought I'd copy it from my comment to here:
Also, you say that atheists clipped out the coke can portion, but how do you know that? It could have been a fellow Christian who simply spotted a bad argument. As you have posted before: To say that an atheist did it you have to have absolute knowledge. To make such a claim means that you are omniscient. But you aren't. Only God is, right?

Today's Theist Memory Verse, Vol III

I was going to do an immoral passage from the Bible today, but decided instead to do a humorous one. I'll always try to do those which most probably haven't seen before.

To set this up, Judah has had three sons, two of whom are Er and Onan. Judah has taken a wife for Er, but Yahweh didn't like Er, so he killed him, and...
Then Judah said to Onan, "Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform your duty as a husband’s brother to her, and raise up offspring for your brother." Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground in order not to give offspring to his brother. But what he did was evil in the sight of Yahweh; and he killed him also. (Genesis 38:8-10)
(EDIT 6-29-08)
The main reason I chose this passage is because it's humorous. It's humorous because (1) the way it is written/worded, and (2) God killed Onan over something so trivial.

I selected it for another reason, for which I am making this edit. This passage is where the concept of onanism comes from. This concept is where we get two of the most inane Church doctrines:

1. Masturbation is immoral / wicked / condemned by God.
2. Contraception is immoral / wicked / condemned by God.

Yes, indeed this is the only passage these are based on. The traditional concept of onanism referred to masturbation, but has changed to reflect more of contraception. In the case of the Catholic Church, this passage condemns both masturbation and contraception as immoral.

When additional passages are tried to be used in conjunction with this passage, that is when it gets really twisted. We come to Ray's favorite passage of Matthew 5:28 wherein Jesus (incorrectly) defines adultery as simply lusting after a woman. So, even if onanism isn't condemning masturbation, they hold that this is, as it is likely that a male who masturbates is lusting after a woman, and is thus committing adultery. However, since this is the vile concept of a thoughtcrime, this leaves open a rather bizarre loophole: you may masturbate as long as you do not lust after woman.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Bleeding Heart Prayers

Well, this blog may still be in its infancy, but that hasn't stopped some good Christians telling me that they are going to pray for me already. If you're willing to help me out so much by saying a prayer, let me ask you for a favor, then...

Please don't pray for me; instead, put that time to better use by donating blood. How long would a prayer be about me? It has been a while since I prayed last, but I would imagine a "good" prayer would be about two minutes (unless you do it half-heartedly). I am estimating two minutes as you must pray for God to shine light on me, Jesus to enter my heart, let me realize the wickedness of my ways, etc. And how many times would you pray for me? Does it take just one prayer to save me, or would you include me in your nightly prayers for a week?

Let's assume the latter case. So, you would spend about 10-15 minutes to pray for me in a week. Why not put that time to actual use and donate blood? Blood donation takes 7-10 minutes. If your God hasn't revealed Himself to me like he has done so for you, obviously he doesn't want me to believe in Him anyway, so why try to change his mind? And even if your prayers succeeded, that took 10-15 minutes to save one person. Had you taken 7-10 minutes of that time, you could have donated a pint of blood which could have saved three people. If you're a good bleeder, you could have donated two pints within 15 minutes, and thus saved six people.

Since Christianity is so big on sacrifices, allow me to sacrifice my salvation by having you save up to six people by donating blood than saving one person by praying for me. And, if you're really wanting to save people, why not also be a platelet donor like me by also donating platelets? It may take up to 90 minutes per donation, but you can donate 1.5 gallons of blood and also almost 10 gallons of platelets every year. You can donate platelets to save many children whom God has cursed with leukemia or you can waste your time trying to save someone who God has cursed with rationality.

It just adds up: blood donation > prayer.

Today's Theist Memory Verse, Vol II

Yet another one from the Qur'an. Tomorrow I will select a humorous one from the Bible.
They misbelieve who say, "Verily, God is the Messiah, the son of Mary"; but the Messiah said, "O children of Israel! Worship God, my Lord and your Lord"; verily, he who associates aught1 with Allah, Allah hath forbidden him Paradise, and his resort is the Fire, and the unjust shall have none to help them. (Koran 5:76)
As you can see, Christians will not make it to Heaven (Paradise) and will be cast down into Hell (Fire). Surely, quoting from a book which Christians disbelieve in order to convert them to Islam is as asinine as quoting from a book which atheists disbelieve in order to convert them to Christianity.

1 aught (n): anything whatever; any part

The Dictionary of DisComfort

Ray likes to play war of the words in his evangelism. It's obviously a successful strategy of misdirection as I see people parrot his arbitrary definitions and liberal uses of words in their comments. Case-in-point, in response to my providing context to a Hawking quote Ray mined, a commenter made the following comment to mine:
So Hawking is still leaving it open that either there is a self contained universe or a Creator, thanks for the added quote. This just shows that Hawking is agnostic(ignorant) to just how the universe began. All Ray is trying to show you is that some of the most brilliant men won't settle on speculative claims of the origin of the universe. You beleive [sic] your scientists, I beleive [sic] Gods word. So yes God did it.
To the point on Hawking, the reader obviously does not know what a rhetorical question is or a figure of speech. This reader is guilty of quote mining in his own mind. He scanned through the paragraphs of context I put and honed in on the concluding statement:
But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator? -- Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time pg 141
He ignores the entire chapter wherein Hawking argues and demonstrates the self-containment nature of the universe. He concludes with a sentiment by saying that if the universe really is self-contained, then there's no role for a Creator. This would be the same if you were to give me a recipe for Rock Soup. The basics of it is that you cook an entire soup with a rock sitting next to the pot. I could write a response to you, detailing all the ingredients and how they contribute to it, so as to show how there's no need for the rock. I might conclude such a response with: "If all of these ingredients individually contribute to the taste of the soup and the rock never touches it (so as not to add any of its own taste to the soup), it would gain nothing from the rock. What place, then, for a rock?" It would be false to conclude that I am thus arguing that either the soup's taste is defined by its ingredients or the rock gives it it's taste, simply because I have phrased my conclusion in the form of a question.

But I have digressed again from the point of this post. The point refers to the comment's next sentence:
This just shows that Hawking is agnostic(ignorant) to just how the universe began. (emphasis added)
Atheists are often called arrogant. This statement reminds me of that pageant queen who challenged Hawking to a debate on black holes. Blacks holes and the big bang are Hawking's area of expertise, and you have the arrogance to say that he is ignorant?

I can't fault the commenter too much, though, as he is using Ray's terminology of agnostic = ignorant (and Hawking may be agnostic about the origin). As such the point of this post is to outline some of these terms he liberally redefines:

Ray on Agnosticism and Ignorance

Ray attempts to redefine agnostic to mean ignorant. Why does he do this? To make an ad hominem attack (and logical fallacy). Sadly, it seems many are taken in by the fact that both concern knowledge, so they fail to look them up for themselves. It is also redefining agnostic so as to make it as an insult, as has been tried to be done to the word atheism. Let's define these terms:
Ignorant (adj):
1.lacking in knowledge or training; unlearned: an ignorant man.
2.lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact: ignorant of quantum physics.
3.uninformed; unaware.

Agnosticism (n): the philosophical view that the truth value of certain claims is unknown or, depending on the form of agnosticism, inherently unknowable.
Ignorance is a statement about a person's lack of information/education on a certain subject. Agnosticism is a view that the truth of a particular claim is unknown or even unknowable.

For example, Ray Comfort is ignorant about Hawking's religious views of a Creator-God when Ray (incorrectly) believes that Hawking believes in a Creator-God instead of (correctly) believing that Hawking views the universe as entire self-contained and with no role of a Creator-God. Ray is ignorant on this because he lacks information and education on Hawking's views. Ray would be agnostic if he were to claim that knowledge about Hawking's religious views is unknown or unknowable.

Ray on Liars

Ray's typical spiel when he's on his soapbox is:
Ray: Have you ever told a lie?
Person: Yes.
Ray: What do you call someone who tells lies?
Person: A liar.
This is very effective as the logical fallacy he commits is very subtle. Here is the structure of it:
Premise A: If you tell lies, you are a liar.
Premise B: You have told a lie sometime in your life.
Conclusion: Therefore, you are a liar.
In this, he has changed the definition of liar from "one who tells lies" to "one who has ever told a lie." Which one is the correct definition?
Liar (n): a person who tells lies.
One could easily flip this fallacy on him with the following:
Premise A: If you tell truths, you are truthful (or a truth-teller).
Premise B: You have told the truth sometime in your life.
Conclusion: Therefore, you are truthful (or a truth-teller).
The reason the above is a fallacy is because the person could have never told the truth ever in his life, except once. As such, just because he has told the truth once does not mean he is truthful. Similarly, Ray's is fallacious because the person could have never told a lie in his life, except once. As such, just because he has told a lie once does not mean he is a liar.

Ray on Thieves

This is exactly the exact same of the above, except stealing instead of lying.

Ray on Adultery

This is one of the more humorous ones, as it's ridiculous ("causing or worthy of ridicule or derision"). His spiel goes:
Ray: Have you ever lusted after a woman?
Person: Yes.
Ray: Jesus said in that whoever has lusted after a woman has committed adultery. Therefore, you are an adulterer.
Jesus redefined adultery in Matthew 5:28 with:
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
There are two things wrong with this. Firstly, the definition Jesus gives is wrong, adultery is not the same as lust.
Adultery (n): voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse.

Lust (n): intense sexual desire or appetite.
He has just redefined adultery to arbitrarily mean lust. Secondly, this is fallacious as the structure of the argument is:
Premise A: Adultery is the lusting after a woman.
Premise B: You have lusted after a woman.
Conclusion: You are an adulterer.
Ray has committed two logical fallacies (besides the false premise):
1. Bare assertion fallacy: premise in an argument is assumed to be true purely because it says that it is true.
2. Appeal to authority: where an assertion is deemed true because of the position or authority of the person asserting it
I could just as arbitrarily redefine adultery and make a conclusion:
Premise A: Adultery is the posting a blog entry which mentions a woman.
Premise B: Ray has posted a blog entry which mentions a woman.
Conclusion: Ray is an adulterer.
Ray on Atheism

Ray redefines atheism to mean "knowing that there is no god or gods." This is so he can do the following spiel:
To be an "atheist" one needs absolute knowledge. The atheist with integrity must admit: "With the limited knowledge I have at present, I believe that there is no God, but I really don't know ." So the professing atheist is actually an "agnostic"--one who doesn't know.
I will ignore the problems with his above "logic" and instead cut straight to the point and give the proper definition of atheism. I was considering an article called Militant Atheism from Atheist Revolution for inclusion in my top ten list as it does a straightforward job about what atheism is and what atheists believe. I will just copy/paste what vjack writes about atheism:
Atheism comes from the Greek "a - theos," and since the "a" prefix means "without" or "the absence of," we must first make sure we understand theism. Theism refers to the belief that some sort of god or gods exist. A theist is one who accepts the theistic claim (i.e., some sort of god or gods exist). An atheist is one who does not accept the theistic claim. That is, atheism means "without theism" and refers to the absence or lack of theistic belief.
I'll save burden of proof for a later post when Ray posts on it again. But as you can see, Ray has distorted and redefined atheism not only to set up an ad hominem attack, but also to create a straw man argument. Let me give you the following quiz:
Question: Regardless of whether you know or don't know, regardless of whether you have any evidence or no evdience at all... Do you believe that a god or god exists.

Possible Answers:
1. Yes
2. No
3. I am unsure
If you answered anything other than "Yes," then you are, by definition, an atheist. Atheism is a statement of belief; it is not a statement of knowledge.

I'll go into this more when Ray makes a post about atheists not existing.

The Rational Sabbath, Vol. I

I have decided to start a weekly post called The Rational Sabbath. Instead of taking the Sabbath to rest, I will do something useful and make a post comprising of about 5-10 of my favorite blog posts or news releases of the week. They are not necessarily about Ray Comfort; however, if I do find any post about Ray Comfort, I will include it here. I will also make no more than one recommendation of each which I find to be exceptional or interesting which you should visit/subscribe to:

* A Blog
* A Video (or series)
* An Audio File (or series/podcast)
* A Website
* A Book

So, let's kick this off! If you like this segment, please comment and let me know, and I will be sure to continue it.

First, a listing of a top ten articles, countdown to my favorite.

10. Mourning Glory by Christopher Hitchens from's Fighting Words

This week we have lost Tim Russert. He was a straight-shooting, first-rate journalist. Following his death, the media was filled with flowery tributes, descriptions of miracles surrounding his death, and venerating idolatry. Hitchens attacks the superstition of the myth-making media and the cult of celebrity: "I think this media mythmaking, however tongue-in-cheek some of it may be, helps our understanding of why people are theists."

9. Guess Who’s Picketing George Carlin’s Funeral? by Hemant Mehta from The Friendly Atheist

This week we of course lost the great George Carlin. He brought a great deal of rationality to this world through comedy, and inspiring other great atheist comedians such as Bill Maher.

This blog post is appropriately terse, as it is announcing that the homophobic Christian organization Westboro Baptist Church will be picketing his funeral. They have a one-page news release titled "God Killed Potty-Mouth Comedian George Carlin, and Cast Him Forthwith Into Hell." Mehta accurately notes that "Carlin would have loved it."

8. Dinesh D'Souza On Genesis Chapter One by John W. Loftus from Debunking Christianity

Yet another top spot for this excellent blog. In this short article, he discusses how miserably Dinesh D'Souza has failed at reconciling the Creation myth with the scientific theory of evolution and the big bang model in his latest book What's So Great About Dinesh D'Souza. If you like the premise of this article, I would also recommend buying the most recent issue of Skeptic Magazine as it has an article review of his book entitled What's So Great About Dinesh D'Souza.

7. What's Wrong with Pledging Allegiance, Under God? by Austin Cline from's Agnosticism/Atheism

The Pledge of Allegiance is before the courts again and in question is the phrase "Under God." Austin addresses the question: What's wrong with having "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance? In this post he actually makes some interesting arguments against it I have never thought about, specifically that "patriotism must be linked to particular religious or theistic beliefs." His main points:

* Pledge of Allegiance is Intended as a Religious Statement
* "Under God" Promotes Belief in a Particular God, Not Theism Generally
* Pledge of Allegiance Teaches that Atheists Cannot be Patriotic
* Pledge of Allegiance Teaches that Atheists are not Trustworthy
* Pledge of Allegiance Attacks Veterans who were Atheists
* Pledge of Allegiance Teaches Children that Atheists are Inferior
* Under God vs. Under No God

6. Ray Comfort Answers a Question by PZ Myers from Pharyngula

I, of course, cannot pass up a mention of Ray Comfort by PZ Myers! PZ comments on the "answer" Ray gave a questioner regarding the weather in California. The question was basically wondering why there's flooding in the non-gay-marrying Midwest whereas there's no rain in California, which is no gay-marrying. Ray's response? There are fires ripping through gay-marrying California which were started by lightning -- and then he notes that God is in charge of lightning and the lack of rain. PZ appropriately ridicules Ray Comfort on this notion of God smiting the Californians through meteorological processes.

Ray has obivously read it, as he attempts to poke fun at people like me who have been criticizing him lately for his quote mining by posting "mined quotes" from the comments to that blog post.

5. A Brief Essay on the God of the Gaps Fallacy by Robert_B from Debunking Christianity

Robert_B gives a concise, but thorough, analysis of the god-of-the-gaps argument. He explains why this is a fallacy and how it fails on both premises and the non sequitir conclusion.

4. Do You Really Believe That: Abrogation by Ebonmuse from Daylight Atheism

Ebonmuse earns a second spot on my top list this week. This short article introduces the concept of Abrogation of Islam and how ridiculous it is. In the Do You Really Believe That series, he addresses such topics that lead a rational person to inevitably ask: do you really believe that? Abrogation is a somewhat controversial topic in Islam that God dictated a set of practices and rules to Muhammad only to issue new practices and rules later which cancel it out. It relates it to the idea Muslims hold that the Qur'an abrogates the Bible because it was corrupted. But, if God didn't protect the Bible from corruption, why do they believe he has protect the Qur'an from corruption?

3. Giles Frasier on Morality and Non-Belief by Alonzo Fyfe from Atheist Ethicist

Fyfe does an interesting job on the question of morals, desires, the Bible, and decision-making. I think this is a must-read for both theists and atheists. He takes a route of explaining why the "morals" in the Old Testament are so bizarre from a utilitarian stance. He also points out the hypocrisy of moral requirements and prohibitions. He concludes the post by addressing the fact that atheism does not provide any morals or moral checks (as it is inherently amoral, since it is simply a position on a single question).

2. A Cold and Sterile Heaven by Ebonmuse from Daylight Atheism

I really enjoyed this article. It is a perspective I have never considered: what company would you be keeping in Heaven if these Christians like Ray Comfort, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell are correct?

"This cold and sterile heaven doesn't seem like any kind of paradise I'd want to live in. Why would I want to share eternity with these boring, repetitive, dogmatic preachers, those whose greatest achievement in life was the unvarying repetition of words written by others? It's as if people were selected specifically for their lack of independent thought or creativity. What a tiresome, monotonous place that heaven would be!"
After discussing the company kept in Heaven, he then addresses in the second half: Just think of who'd be missing from the rapture-fanatics' heaven. Imagine people who disbelieved in their version of God and had no allegiance to dogma. You would not be able to share paradise with Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Thomas Paine and discuss politics with them. You would not be able to share paradise with Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking and discuss science with them. (You would, however, be able to discuss science with Isaac Newton, but by all accounts he was a very unpleasant man.)

1. Synchronicity by tracieh from The Atheist Experience

In this lengthy article, Tracieh discusses Morton’s Demon -- a thought experiment regarding confirmation bias. This article is not (explicitly) about religion. In this she addresses a friend's argument about drilling in Alaska. She does not discuss the pros and cons about it and in fact states that she is agnostic about it. Instead, she simply picks apart her friend's "logic" and the effects of confirmation bias. This article may be long, but it is a fun, easy, light read.

She concludes with a discussion of compartmentalization and the hanging questions:

"Can I hold to an unreasonable belief that informs all of my most basic human values and interpretations, and not also require protection from information in nearly every other area of my life? Is that realistic? Is it even possible?"

BLOG RECOMMENDATION OF THE WEEK Agnosticism / Atheism -- Main Contributor: Austin Cline

I had many ones to pick from for this one and it was hard to choose one for this inaugural post in the series. It was difficult to choose one as I subscribe to many good ones.

This one has top-notch articles. Austin Cline discusses issues related to logic/debate, religion, agnosticism, and atheism. He has an excellent post rate of at least once a day. His posts cover a range of issues, from general questions, to response to comments, to book reviews, to current events. He also keeps resources up-to-date for atheists, such as sites, books, blogs, etc. This week he has posted on the following subjects:

* Pedantry in discussions/debates and its flaws.
* A current event of a doctor berating lesbian patients.
* The "Under God" phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance.
* Existentialism and its role in psychology.
* Why theists dismiss skeptics' and atheists' demands for evidence.
* The fate of Christianity in the United States.
* Universal salvation & Christianity (and also salvation through alternate routes).
* Christian claims that atheism is the worst sin possible.
* Rearing a child as an atheist.
* Civility versus decency, and the role it plays in religious discussions.
* Atheists should seek greater understanding and knowledge, and perhaps organize and take on mentors.
* Nihilism and its relation to atheism.
* The arrogance of atheism?
* Book review: regarding the American Eugenics Movement.
* Humanist metaphysics.
* The illusion and inane fetish of virginity in Islam.
* Atheists are fools?

My personal favorite from that list is a toss-up between the Pledge of Allegiance one and the one concerning atheism and a greater pursuit of knowledge. The latter article emphasizes that as atheists and in line with our advocacy of rationality and education, we should seek to always better educate ourself in science, literature, and philosophy. He discusses the obstacle of atheism being inherently disorganized and scattered. To better educate ourselves, he proposes we seek to organize educational groups with fellow atheists and perhaps take on mentors.


I had a tough decision here as well. I have gone with The Atheist Experience. It is the weekly television show of the Atheist Community of Austin. It has been on the air for over ten years. The shows is aimed at non-atheists and addresses prepared topics each week, interspersing it with live calls from the viewers. I think it's a must-view for all atheists and theists. I would recommend to first watch any episode that has both Matt Dillahunty and Russell Glasser, as they are my favorite personalities. Matt was a former fundamentalist evangelical Christian (like Ray!) and was aspiring to become a preacher. After some thirty years of this, when he was studying arguments for and against God so as to be able to address them when witnessing, he realized the flaws of his religious convictions and adopted a rational view of the world.


Hands-down, there was no tough decision here. It goes to the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe. This is an unbelievable podcast. It focuses on skepticism, science, and logic. It's main aim is not against religion, as that is treated like any other irrational claim, such as chemtrails, alien abducations, and Bigfoot. They approach every topic with a skeptical mind and discuss it. They discuss currents events in science. They have a regular segment called Name That Logical Fallacy where they pick apart an argument (regarding anything). It concludes with a challenge to the panelists of three articles of recent discoveries, two of which are true and one of which is fictitious. The goal is to identify the ficitious one with reasoning and skepticism. It earns my highest recommendation.


I had many choices here. I had to decide between a humorous type site or a serious site. I decided on the latter for the inaugural edition. Iron Chariots gets my highest recommendation. It's still a pretty young site, but still good (and nice to contribute to). It is a counter-apologetics wiki run by The Atheist Experience TV show recommended above. It responds to Christian apologetics as well as arguments for God. They devote a few pages to Ray Comfort and The Way of the Master. They have pages on his banana argument, a dissection of their episode on atheism, and his usual questioning of whether you are a good person. It covers common logical fallacies, such as Ray's favorites: appeal to authority, argument from personal incredulity, begging the question, false dichotomy, and straw man. They even debunk the 50 reasons to believe in God which has been circulating around the Internet recently.


Of course, I have many many many here. I decided to recommend Stephen Hawking's bestselling (over 10 million) A Brief History of Time. It was written in 1988. He revised this with A Briefer History of Time in 2005 which aims to clarify some things, make it more accessible to a wider audience, update the graphics, and introduce some of the latest developments of the past two decades since the first book. I am only halfway through the 2005 edition, so I am giving the recommendation of the 1988 version. I can tell you, though, that both of them are fantastic and I highly recommend reading both of them.

This recommendation stems from the recent attack Ray Comfort has made by mining a quote from this book. He mines a quote from it to make it seem Hawking believes in God when, in fact, he has a tendency in the book to show that there's really no need for a Creator. It's not an atheist book, though, it's a popular science book. He brilliantly explains such things as the uncertainty principles, black holes, the big bang theory (the model and evidence for it), history of physics/astronomy, the theory of relativity, the origin and fate of the universe, and much more. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I learned much from it. Hawking has a delightful sense of humor throughout the book and writes it in a very accessible manner with much lay language. At the end of the book he devotes some biographical pages to Einstein, Newton and Galilei. The chapters from the 1988 version are:

1. Our Picture of the Universe
2. Space and Time
3. The Expanding Universe
4. The Uncertainty Principle
5. Elementary Particles and the Forces of Nature
6. Black Holes
7. Black Holes Ain't So Black
8. The Origin and Fate of the Universe (where Ray quote mines from)
9. The Arrow of Time
10. The Unification of Physics
11. Conclusion

The chapters from the 2005 version are:

1. Thinking About the Universe
2. Our Evolving Picture of the Universe
3. The Nature of a Scientific Theory
4. Newton's Universe
5. Relativity
6. Curved Space
7. The Expanding Universe
8. The Big Bang, Black Holes, and the Evolution of the Universe
9. Quantum Gravity
10. Wormholes and Time Travel
11. The Forces of Nature and the Unification of Physics
12. Conclusion

I guarantee you will find a love for science and physics after reading this book. I also recommend this for Ray Comfort, so that he will quit denigrating Hawking and also learn a little science while he's at it. You learn things about the nature of the universe which are must-knows, such as the nature of time and space.


This concludes the first weekly Rational Sabbath. Please let me know your thoughts. I know there won't be many for this first one, as the blog just launched this week. The next post, the focus will return to Ray Comfort and DisComforting Ignorance.

I hope you have enjoyed your day of rest from Ray Comfort's inanity on this day, the Rational Sabbath.

Lord, Liar, or Lunatic?

Ray has posted an article entitled For Atheists Only wherein he posts a few verses from the New Testament about believing in Jesus and God will go to Heaven, asks us atheists to read it without the notion of whether or not God exists, and then builds up to his question:
Here's the build-up to my question: Some say Jesus of Nazareth was a great teacher. Others say that He was crazy, while others (a few) think that He didn’t exist at all.
I indeed read it with an open mind and, once finished, I reread it again before seeing what it was all about. I am sure there are much better answers to this question than I am about to present (which I will include some links to at the bottom), but here's why this has failed to convince me...

Firstly, I would like to point out the part of "while others (a few) think that He didn’t exist at all." How does Ray know this? Isn't this what he lambasts everyone about? When we speak of the scientific consensus that evolution is supported by over 99.9% of the scientific community (which it is), isn't his first response: prove it. Or, in fact, let me post his exact words he said to an atheist:

To say an absolute statement such as only a few thinking He didn't exist at all means that you are omniscient. You are not God, Ray. He is omniscient.

But I digress. To the point: do I believe Jesus existed as a historical figure? Since there is a scientific consensus (to my understanding, there is) that he existed, then yes, I believe he existed. This area is tenuous, though, because historians' opinions would be influenced by their pre-existing belief that he existed. From what I have studied, it seems there is historical basis for this. But of course, as Ray would point out, it's foolish for me to say I believe Jesus existed as I do not have absolute knowledge.

But I digress... again. To the point of his question.

I think that "great" teachers don’t say the sort of weird things He said (believe His words and you have everlasting life, that His voice would raise the billions of the dead human race, etc.), and if He didn’t exist, who said these amazing words? So, I think that there are only two reasonable options. He was either a crazy liar, or He was the Son of God. Am I wrong?
The first thing I would point out is that it does not matter if He existed or not. We have irrefutable evidence that Joseph Smith indubitably existed. Joseph Smith is of course the founder of Mormonism. His account of the origins of the Book of Mormon is that an angel came down and gave him some gold plates on which ancient prophets had written. The Book of Mormon is much longer than the Qur'an. There's many outlandish claims in there as well

So, Ray, what have you? Was Joseph Smith either a "crazy liar," or He was the recipient of divine revelation? If he didn’t exist, who said these amazing words?

We can move on to the Qur'an next. The origin of the Qur'an is that the angel Gabriel revealed the Qur'an to Muhammad from God. Muhammad memorized it and began reciting it. It was eventually written down and spread. Plenty of outlandish claims here. So what have you, Ray? Was Muhammad either a "crazy liar," or He was the last prophet sent by God? If he didn’t exist, who said these amazing words?

We could continue to do the same with all religion. This is one of the main reasons this argument it is unimpressive.

When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours. -- Stephen F. Roberts
To another point in Ray's post:
[I]f He didn’t exist, who said these amazing words?
By the own biblical account, He didn't. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John did. The Gospels were written after Jesus was dead and they didn't even know him. That would actually explain why they have such eratic and conflicting accounts. Since you, as a Christian, reject the Qur'an as the Word of God, then obviously you reject that the angel Gabriel revealed it to him for the Lord. So, if it wasn't divine word, who said it?

This ties in with him now leaving us with a false dichotomy:
He was either a crazy liar, or He was the Son of God. Am I wrong?
As illustrated, there are plenty of other options available. Let me outline some of the ones I see:
  • He could have been misinterpreted or misunderstood by his followers.
  • He likely never even spoke the words (for reasons outlined above).
  • He (or those who wrote it) may have been insane -- just look around at all the people today who continuously sprout up claiming divine revelation.
  • Yes, He (or those who wrote it) may have even been a liar, another likely explanation so as to compel people to follow their religion.
  • Also, he gives some pretty bad advice, so that reinforces the idea of liar or lunatic.
  • The texts may have been compromised.
  • Another great possibility is that of legend status. Since the four men did not exist until after Jesus was gone and buried (so to speak), he would have been that of legend by then. They could have been writing just what they've heard people tell, which as an account goes around, it is inherently subject to change as it passes from person to person. This would also explain the eratic and conflicting four accounts. So with this, the four men aren't lunatic or liars, but simply fools for believing what they've heard.
  • The list goes on...
Other answers to this question:

* The Trilemma -- Lord, Liar, or Lunatic? by Jim Perry
* Lord, Liar, or Lunatic: C.S. Lewis and the Jesus Trilemma by Austin Cline
* Philosophy of Religion 4: Lord, Liar, or Lunatic by Peter Smith
* Lord, Liar or Lunatic? An Analysis of the Trilemma By James Still
Beyond Born Again-- Chapter 7: A False Trilemma By Robert Price

This is a wholly unimpressive argument. Is this the best argument to be mustered for Christianity? If so, I expect all other arguments for it to be equally as underwhelming.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Answers-in-Genesis: Answers-for-Comfort

Answers in Genesis shares Comfort's anti-science view of the world in that it is a young-Earth creationist organization. Like I do with Ray's blog, I subscribe to Answers in Genesis. The thing I find most humorous about Answers in Genesis site is they write volumes of articles aimed at fellow young-Earth creationists to dissuade them from obviously flawed arguments so as not to be further embarrassed by them (such as this 20 page article urging young-Earth creationists to stop making biblical arguments for geocentricity).

Ray has recently written a series of blogs defending his use of quotes from Hawking and Einstein to paint the picture that they believe in God. This is, of course, an obviously flawed use to any educated individual. Like they so often do, Answers in Genesis has published an article urging young-Earth creationists (like Ray Comfort) to stop doing this.

...Hawking's phrase [to know the mind of God] is shorthand for the Theory of Everything. All three physicists — like most physicists of this century — describe themselves as agnostics or atheists. They do not believe in a Person who created the Universe.' Likewise, Professor Davies does not believe in a personal creator-God either.3

Physicists tend to use religious terminology because it graphically expresses the religious/philosophical nature of their thoughts and the sense of almost religious reverence they feel about their subject. Like the 'liberal' theologians, they use the language of orthodox Christianity, but in using the words they do not mean what we may think they mean.

Ray should really take a note from his anti-science fellows. Quote mining is despicable, especially when done by the anti-science uneducated.

Another Toe-Stubbing Post on Hawking

Congratulations everyone! Ray has finally given context to the Stephen Hawking quote in his header with his latest post. Or... has he? Here is what he gives us:

"In the hot big bang model described above, there was not enough time in the early universe for heat to have flowed from one region to another. This means that the initial state of the universe would have to have had exactly the same temperature everywhere in order to account for the fact that the microwave back-ground has the same temperature in every direction we look. The initial rate of expansion also would have had to be chosen very precisely for the rate of expansion still to be so close to the critical rate needed to avoid recollapse. This means that the initial state of the universe must have been very carefully chosen indeed if the hot big bang model was correct right back to the beginning of time. It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us." Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time, p. 127.
Yes, that is what is written at the end of a paragraph on page 127 in chapter eight. Referring to the book which I own, it is the concluding paragraph of a four page discussion of what the anthropic principle is The chapter is concerning the origin and fate of the universe. Since it is concerning the origin of the universe, he naturally brings up the perceived role of God, as he does elsewhere in the book. What Ray neglects to mention is that the chapter ends on page 141.

What happens between pages 127 and 141? What happens is the context he does not give you. He sets up the rhetorical proposition on page 127 and after explaining more of the origin of the universe and how it started, he revisits it briefly on page 136:

If Euclidean space-time stretches back to infinite imaginary time, or else starts at a singularity in imaginary time, we have the same problem as in the classical theory of specifying the initial state of the universe: God may know how the universe began, but we cannot give any particular reason for thinking it began one way rather than another. On the other hand, the quantum theory of gravity has opened up a new possibility, in which there would be no boundary to space-time and so there would be no need to specify the behavior at the boundary. There would be no singularities at which the laws of science broke down, and no edge of space-time at which one would have to appeal to God or some new law to set the boundary conditions for space-time. One could say: "The boundary condition of the universe is that it has no boundary." The universe would be completely self-contained and not affected by anything outside itself. It would neither be created nor destroyed, It would just BE.

It was at the conference in the Vatican mentioned earlier that I first put forward the suggestion that maybe time and space together formed a surface that was finite in size but did not have any boundary or edge. My paper was rather mathematical, however, so its implications for the role of God in the creation of the universe were not generally recognized at the time (just as well for me). At the time of the Vatican conference, I did not know how to use the "no boundary" idea to make predictions about the universe. [...] (emphasis added on parts about God)
After a little more explaining about the implications of his proposal, discussion of evidence, discussion of the nature of time, he concludes by weighing in on the rhetorical proposition which he set up on page 127 by concluding the chapter with:

The idea that space and time may form a closed surface without boundary also has profound implications for the role of God in the affairs of the universe. With the success of scientific theories in describing events, most people have come to believe that God allows the universe to evolve according to a set of laws and does not intervene in the universe to break these laws. However, the laws do not tell us what the universe should have looked like when it started -- it would still be up to God to wind up the clockwork and choose how to start it off. So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator? (emphasis added on parts about God, which happens to be all of it)
Ray's extraction of one or two sentences or even an entire paragraph is the essence of quote mining:

Quote mining is the practice of purposely compiling frequently misleading quotes from large volumes of literature or speech.
Again, we (theists and atheists knowledgeable in the writings of these great men) do not protest because we wish to have these great men on "our side" (which especially isn't the case for protesting theists); we simply want these men's beliefs accurately portrayed and not mangled by the likes of Ray Comfort. To the point, one of the greatest men, if not the greatest man (at least in science), to have ever lived was Isaac Newton. We do not protest when Ray trots his name out as Newton was a devout Christian and wrote at lengths on it. Using Newton as an argument for theism, or Hawking and Einstein as an argument for atheism is ridiculous, though, as it is a fallacious appeal to authority.

As a final thought, I think it's interesting the nature of the rhetorical proposition Stephen Hawking made. He makes the statement that it seems that there must have been a Creator, based on the origins of the universe. There's a famous quote mining example from Darwin wherein he makes a similar rhetorical proposition that there seems there must have been a Creator, based on the complexity of the eye. In fact, Ray also does quote mining on Darwin with this very passage. The embolden part is the part which is quote mined from it:

To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree. Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself first originated; but I may remark that several facts make me suspect that any sensitive nerve may be rendered sensitive to light, and likewise to those coarser vibrations of the air which produce sound.
Ray was being deliberately dishonest in this latest post by making it appear he's giving it context. In fact, he's not giving you anymore context; rather, he's just taking more out of context. Given the context of the rest of the chapter, it clearly shows he is using it as a rhetorical statement.

Does this matter to Ray? Of course not. He is disinterested in the truth or sound arguments, as it seems.

Stepping on a Comforting Quote Mine

The header has a new quote from Ray Comfort! The first quote of the image used to respond to the Einstein one Comfort has in his header to suggest that Einstein believed in the type of God Ray does. My quote used to be:

I do not believe in a personal god and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly.
This has been replaced by a quote of Ray Comfort regarding Einstein:

I have never said that Einstein was a Christian, that he believed in Jesus or in a personal God. He wasn't dumb.
He made this in a comment to Quote-mining From an Atheist Site. Let me play Ray Comfort towards the above quote. Ahem: "As you can clearly see, Ray concedes that Einstein was an atheist. He admits he wasn't a Christian and did not believe in a personal God, so therefore he believes in no form of a God whatsoever. And as you can see from the concluding sentence, Ray also concedes that anyone who is a Christian, believes in Jesus, or believes in a personal God is dumb. These are not my words, they are his. Read them for yourself!"

Of course, just like Ray does with Einstein, Darwin, Hawking, and countless others, I have performed a minor form of quote mining wherein I took it out of context (it isn't exactly quote mining, though, because it isn't taken from a large volume of text). I have been dishonest and compromised my intellectual integrity, just as Ray does every time he does the same. I have lied to my readers by deliberately misleading them, just as Ray consistently lies. By analyzing his quote out of context, I am dishonest. By analyzing others' quotes out of context, Ray is dishonest.

To redeem myself somewhat, I will do what Ray never does. I will give you the context I have excerpted this quote from:

"Benjamin Franklin said... seriously, Ray, I think that it is disingenuous of you to have that quote from Einstein at the header of your website.Einstein was not a Christian, and he did not believe in Jesus, nor did he beleive in a personal God.You should remove that quote and replace it with some bible verse."

I have never said that Einstein was a Christian, that he believed in Jesus or in a personal God. He wasn't dumb. He knew there was a Creator, because creation couldn't have created itself. Something that didn't exist, can't create itself...because it didn't exist. It's impossible. Whatever created, had to be eternal. That's obvious to a thinking person. (emphasis added)
While I have provided you the context for Ray's quote, it is shameful, utterly shameful, that he does not do the same for his readers when he sullies the good names of great men like Einstein and Hawking to distort their words to conform to his own warped ideas.

Einstein MUST Have Believed in a Creator

One of the many things I genuinely appreciate about Ray Comfort (and there are many) is that he actually reads and replies to some of the comments in his blog. He does not ignore them, nor does he only reply to those praising him. As such, I was going back through his recent posts since he posted that despicable post about Einstein believing that the Bible is the "Word of God." In a comment to the post Quote-mining From an Atheist Site, one individual writes:

Seriously, Ray, I think that it is disingenuous of you to have that quote from Einstein at the header of your website.

Einstein was not a Christian, and he did not believe in Jesus, nor did he beleive [sic] in a personal God.

You should remove that quote and replace it with some bible verse.
To this, Ray had the following to say:

I have never said that Einstein was a Christian, that he believed in Jesus or in a personal God. He wasn't dumb. He knew there was a Creator, because creation couldn't have created itself. Something that didn't exist, can't create itself...because it didn't exist. It's impossible. Whatever created, had to be eternal. That's obvious to a thinking person. (emphasis added)
Firstly, from this I have a new quote I can mine to put in my header, namely:

I have never said that Einstein was a Christian, that he believed in Jesus or in a personal God. He wasn't dumb.
But secondly, I think this comment really sheds light on why he uses these mined quotes and also how he could so mangle a quote by reading his own view into it as to argue that Einstein believed the Bible was the "Word of God." It is because Ray's argument is that Einstein must have believed in God. He says that Einstein knew there was a Creator and then tacks on his argument about creation couldn't have created itself. Where has Einstein ever said this? Where has he ever said there was a Creator? He lived a little before the time of Hawking's developments, but I am sure he wouldn't play a god of the gaps type argument.

Nonetheless, this post shows why Ray interprets the quotes the way he does. He doesn't understand how someone could not believe the same as He. As such, he reads his own arguments, understanding, and definitions into the writings of great men. To his oft-repeated argument:

Something that didn't exist, can't create itself...because it didn't exist. It's impossible. Whatever created, had to be eternal. That's obvious to a thinking person.
Then, as a "thinking" person, Ray, you must also concede that the Creator must have at a Creator-creating Creator. After all, the Creator "can't create itself... because it didn't exist."

I know what he's thinking: "But ah! JT! That only applies to things that didn't exist; God, however, always existed." That's Ray's false premise. "Something that didn't exist." Absolutely, something that didn't exist could not create itself. But that argument for God only works if you assume that everything at one point didn't exist and that God always existed. That is called the fallacy of begging the question and an arbitrary false premise.

As anyone who has read Stephen Hawking's many books and articles knows, which you must have seeing as how you quote him in your header. The quote Ray has mined from Stephen Hawking comes from Chapter 8: The Origin and Fate of the Universe from his bestselling book A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes (it may have also come from A Briefer History of Time, but I am still in the middle of that book). The quote comes from roughly the middle of it when he is discussing the governance of the universe and some people's view of the role of God. In the same fashion as Ray, I will also quote from the same Chapter 8, with context, by leaving you the concluding paragraph of that chapter:

The idea that space and time may form a closed surface without boundary also has profound implications for the role of God in the affairs of the universe. With the success of scientific theories in describing events, most people have come to believe that God allows the universe to evolve according to a set of laws and does not intervene in the universe to break these laws. However, the laws do not tell us what the universe should have looked like when it started -- it would still be up to God to wind up the clockwork and choose how to start it off. So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?

Today's Theist Memory Verse

Ray occasionally posts short blurbs called "Today's Atheist Memory Verse." In it, he quotes the Bible regarding atheists or something that may cause atheists to reconsider their non-position. I've chosen to do the same. My memory verses are for theists. I will pull them from the "holy" books I have (Koran, Hadith, Bible, Book of Mormon, Gnostic Gospels) and are intended for theists, mainly Christians.

The unbelievers among the People of the Book and the pagans shall burn for ever in the fire of Hell. They are the vilest of all creatures. (Koran 98:1-8)
People of the Book refers to any holy scriptures revealed to man from God before his final revelation to the prophet Muhammad. It is especially used for Christians and Jews. The moral of this verse is that you Christians are going to "burn for ever in the fire of Hell" for believing in the divinity of Jesus and the integrity of the Holy Bible.

If this does at all not bother you or give you pause, then maybe you see why when you say we atheists will burn in hell forever neither bothers us. The only reason you think it should cause us concern is because you believe it to be true. The reason it doesn't cause us concern is because we do not believe the Bible is the "Word of God." Similarly, Muslims believe the above to be true about you; the reason it shouldn't give you pause is because you don't believe that the Koran is the "Word of God."

Expelled's Quote Mining

Ray Comfort posted a singing praise about the Expelled movie. The review itself really exposes how frail Ray's mind is if he can succumb so greatly to a propaganda fluff piece. This post isn't a review about Expelled, as many (many, many, many) have already done so and pointed out its flaws. There's two things I wanted to note about it, though. Firstly, Ray fell right through the trap door of it linking "Dawinism" (whatever that is) to the Holocaust. That he can believe that the cause of the Holocaust and the cause of Action T4 was the scientific theory of evolution speaks monuments about his intellectual dignity. It shows he is blithely ignorant of history and the fact that eugenics actually had support of Christians in America.

Nevertheless, I had always thought something special of Ray for using the correct term instead of "Darwinism" until this review. It showed that he could be taken in by simple propaganda slogans. Why do they call it Darwinism? So that they can do the following spiel: "Darwinism leads to Social Darwinism which leads to Nazism which leads to the Holocaust." Nevermind the fact that actual Darwinism or even the theory of evolution has absolutely nothing to do with Social Darwinism.

Just as the Nazis had their 100 scientists dissenting from Einstein, the Discovery Institute (the thinktank for the Darwinism leads to Social Darwinism propaganda) had their 100 scientists dissenting from Darwin. Too bad modern dissenters from Einstein (notably the Christian geocentrists who think the Sun orbits the Earth) don't have the strategists from the Discovery Institute or they could have made a fluff piece like Expelled by calling the theory of relativity "Relativism." Then, they could come up with the slogan "relativism leads to moral relativism leads to Nazism leads to the Holocaust."

But I digress. The second point of this post goes to the issue covered in the last two posts: quote mining. The Expelled creators, just like anti-science Christians like Ray, like to mine quote. Just as Ray takes quotes completely out of context and mangles them, as did the propaganda piece Expelled. To show that Darwin was racist and a proponent of forced euthanasia, they mine the following from his masterful Origin of Species:

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. Hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.
It's easy to see why an uneducated mind, such as Ray's, which has never been exposed to a reading of Origin of Species could fall for such a mined quote. The actual quote, in full context, with the omitted parts in bold, is:

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.
Yeah, that Darwin! He was an evil man indeed.

You can effectively measure how much a person's mind has been compromised by the anti-science propaganda against the scientific theory of evolution with the following five questions:

1. Do they refer to evolutionary theory as Darwinism?
2. Do they refer to defenders of evolutionary theory as evolutionists?
3. Do they state that evolutionary theory teaches that humans evolved from monkeys?
4. Do they state that evolutionary theory teaches that life just happened or came about from "lightning striking a mud puddle"?
5. Do they link evolutionary theory with atheism?

If, on the above five accounts, you have answers of "Yes," then you are dealing with an uneducated person who has been taken in by propaganda. Ray Comfort, like Ben Stein, fail on all five accounts. It's difficult to judge from his blog, but I wonder if Ray shares Ben's sentiments that "science leads you to killing people"?