29Jan

Discuss: Evolution vs God

Instead of giving my thoughts, I will let you discuss this in the comments, but I will say this: Ray Comfort made the professors look like ignoramuses here. Now, whether the questions posed were fair or posed an actual understanding of evolution is a different matter altogether. How would you respond to the questions in this video?

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12 comments

  1. This seems like the atheist version of “Religulous” by Bill Maher, which had answers and responses way more hilarious and retarded. Most of these questions asked are easily answered, though I admit I skipped around a bit. I’ll watch the whole thing when I get home.

    I’d like to see the dudes reaction if he ran into Shelly Kagan and started trying to grill him about moral accountability!

  2. Oh man, Ray Comfort. Ok look, I have seen videos of this guy doing this exact same type of thing before. Picking people “at random” (we have no idea the credentials of most of these people) he takes this quickfire approach designed to put them on the spot and give them less than 5 seconds to answer a question which is 99% of the time not a question that would even take 5 seconds to answer. Then every time they speak and perhaps begin to put a coherent thought together, he pulls the mic away and tries to ask another question! Then he edits the whole video to try and select only the most ridiculous responses he got and pieces it together with this smug “hahah I showed them up” attitude.

    I cannot stand this guy because he represents some of the worst of intellectual dishonesty and ignorance in the Christian community. I’m not a student of evolution, and even I can see that he is grossly ignorant when he tries to pin down a momentary example of a change in “kind”. If he’s talking about speciation, then the example of finches is a perfectly valid example. If he’s talking more broadly then that, then it is silly to think that there was a “moment” where a fish suddenly became something other than a fish, or the ape-like ancestor of a human suddenly “became” a human. When you’re talking about such a gradual process as evolution, it makes more sense to look at things like homology in vestigial structures (e.g despite big differences between frogs and birds, there are certain structures common to both – such as the presence of similar groups of bones, albeit adapted to different uses). Again, I am not even a scientist or student of evolution, and even I can see that if Mr Comfort genuinely wanted answers to some of these questions, they are out there for him to freely find. But he doesn’t, he wants to look good on camera to prove a point which he holds to dogmatically. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: evolution and God are not mutually exclusive, at all. It is only people like Ray Comfort and Richard Dawkins who are determined to believe that they are.

    • This is exactly right. At one point in the video he fires off reasons that the person didn’t really elaborate on and says “evolution is a all about survival of the fittest and you have given up on looking for truth,” yet the understanding he gives for evolution is very elementary. It’s like you said, Ray Comfort is more interested in making random people look like fools instead of honestly seeking the truth. The people were more than willing to listen to him, yet none of the clips showed him being interested in what they had to say.

      Not to mention that he’s the person who said this at one point, which in turn simply makes me question his knowledge of everything related to evolution.

      • Mate, that video of him with the banana was the first time I saw Ray Comfort – I honestly thought it was a parody! I knew nothing about him and assumed it must be a troll vid that was done masterfully well. I really wish it had been, it would have been amazing.

  3. Have you seen that video (I think it’s either Canadian or Australian), that was on some tv show, where the guy claims to show how “stupid” Americans are by asking a selection of people (you don’t know if they are genuinely random, or stooges) random questions. The videos shows these people being unable to quickly/correctly answer things like “how many sides does a triangle have” or “point to Australia on this map”. That is what Ray Comfort reminds me of!

  4. LOL, yeah, that banana argument was just bananas. I remember seeing it back when I used to actively defend creationism and even I thought that was ridiculous :P But I think you guys are spot on. I had the same thoughts about this. I’m not going to charge him with dishonesty though because I do appreciate that he evangelizes and seems to show a real concern for people’s well being (contrary to Westboro) so I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. However, I do think this is a poor means of going about refuting evolution. Instead, he should say that every creationist acknowledges evolution, even to the level of speciation. However, the debate is whether there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the mechanism of evolution (mutations and natural selection) is capable of producing the kind of information that could *lead up* to a change in kinds – especially the widespread degree to which evolution claims is possible.

    • That is fair enough, I’m sure he is at least genuinely concerned about these people (to some extent). Perhaps it is not dishonesty – the problem is that the only alternative I see is that he is ignorant of why his methods here do not constitute good science or good critical thinking. I mean, it has to be one or the other doesn’t it? Either he doesn’t know, or he knows and is trying to hide it! If he is indeed ignorant in the matter, then I would say he does have kind of a responsibility to make sure he informs himself BEFORE making such a video. For example, I know I am ignorant of the intricacies of quantum physics…..but I at least KNOW that I am ignorant, and so wouldn’t go and make a video purporting to prove conclusively that quantum physics is a load of nonsense by means of a video like this.

      Again, this is speaking as a layman, but I think one has to be very careful using phrases like “change in kinds”. As far as I know, “kinds” is not a recognized taxonomic rank, and I know that it is certainly unscientific to be assuming some sort of metaphysical “class” or “kind” which is fixed and unchanging. The naming and classification of animals is done by humans, and is a constantly changing process. In other words, we shouldn’t put the cart before the horse. It’s not that there are fixed metaphysical “kinds” which all animals neatly fall into. Rather, animals evolve and we then categorize them (with a pretty complicated system of nomenclature which covers the very general right down to the very specific). If one accepts that mutations and natural selection take place (as well as speciation), and also understands the way animals are named and categorized, I kind of don’t see how a person could deny that many small changes over a long period of time could eventually lead to very large changes when measured over a great time scale – thereby leading humans to have to adjust their nomenclature. Example: you have no playing cards on a table. You start adding 1 card to the table every day. Each day only represents a tiny differences in the number of cards, and a tiny added thickness. However after 52 days you have a full deck of cards sitting on the table. Measured over a long enough time scale (i.e. 52 days) you have witnessed the “leap in kind” from an empty table to a full deck of cards.

      • Or another example: the person with the worlds longest finger nails didn’t get to that overnight; it was a gradual change over years. One day she was a normal person, the next year she became Wolverine.

        Also, it really helps to illustrate just how long millions of years is. Think of the change in stocks from a huge company in Apple – having 46% or the market share from 48% doesn’t look like big on paper, but considering the size of the market and how much money Apple makes? It’s an absolutely massive amount of change, though it might not look that way on paper. 100 million years is literally so massive that the human brain is not complex enough to comprehend it.

        • Oh, those are much better analogies than the ones I had in mind. I was thinking of something like the evolution of the car to demonstrate how naive the objection is. Apple stock is a good one too, haha. I think those responses would work against Ray Comfort. But you’re right Mike, I do believe it is ignorance. Not sure if it is willful ignorance because that is a possibility, or perhaps a blindness due to one’s own preconceived interpretation or whatnot. You’re exactly right with your point about Quantum Physics. I feel precisely the same way about evolution. Not sure if you recall the TeenSpot days when I debated WhiteMage, but after some time, I realized that I shouldn’t be debating an issue with strong conviction if I am not knowledgeable in scientific matters.

          But you’re correct, I only meant to use kinds in a loose sense where one sees a significant difference between say an “ape” or a “human”. There are similarities of course, but the differences seem significant enough that they can be loosely called kinds (e.g, they cannot procreate with each other). So like you said, in the history of evolution, one simply assigns kinds in “hindsight” but as the process of evolution unfolds, it is not possible to say this is a different kind from this unless you comparing something significantly different. Does that seem agreeable to you?

          I know that some of the more fair creationists would agree with this response, but would argue that their objection is with regard to the source of that information. They would suggest that speciation is the result of “information” that was already present within the genome but selected due to the animal’s environmental needs. Or with regard to mutations, they would object to this method of producing “new” information because it is just not sufficient – even over a period of a million years – to the produce the kind of changes among living things today. They’d appeal to things like genetic entropy, Haldane’s dilemma, etc to diffuse this idea that millions of years makes it possible or even likely.

  5. There are similarities of course, but the differences seem significant enough that they can be loosely called kinds (e.g, they cannot procreate with each other). So like you said, in the history of evolution, one simply assigns kinds in “hindsight” but as the process of evolution unfolds, it is not possible to say this is a different kind from this unless you comparing something significantly different. Does that seem agreeable to you?

    Well, so long as we are both clear that “kind” is neither a scientific or binding term. In other words, if we wish to describe apes and humans as different kinds for the sake of communication, sure. But using the word “kind” does not imply any difficulty with the idea that an ape-like ancestor could have evolved into a human over time. Ray Comfort seems to think that using the word suggests such a difficulty (e.g. “give me evidence of one KIND of animal evolving into another KIND”).

    I don’t think it’s about fairness or unfairness, to be honest. There is science, and there is not science. Creationists (whether we consider them fair or not) basically have an axe to grind which means it doesn’t matter how great the body of evidence that supports the theory of evolution. They will try to find one or two points which they choose to believe are absolutely damning, and they will hold onto them for dear life. Haldane’s dilemma being a good example (it is actually not such a dilemma for the scientific community – I’m pretty sure talkorigins actually has a nice, succinct little entry on it). Creationists have to cling to this stuff because it is the only way you can continue to deny something with such a preponderance of evidence, and still convince yourself you are being rational. It’s just not science, that’s the bottom line really.

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