We continue with my book review of Ray Comfort’s Fat Chance: Why Pigs Will Fly Before America Has an Atheist President (part 1).
Ray has positioned his pig book as an evangelistic tool, a book that is supposed to convince atheists of the rightness of the Christian position. Let’s see how well Ray did toward that goal.
Christians and atheists in positions of power
Ray shares his insights into how Christian voters see atheist political candidates.
Our founders understood that people in positions of power would have opportunities to do corrupt deeds for their own benefit. But if they believe in God and in a future state of rewards and punishments, then when tempted to do wrong they won’t give in.
Is that how it works in practice? Christians don’t commit crimes? They’re immune to temptation? No Christians in prison? Are crime statistics in countries inversely proportionate to the fraction of Christians?
Not really. In fact, the very-Christian U.S. does far worse than those godless European countries on measurable social metrics like homicide, suicide, alcoholism, teen pregnancy, and so on.
Oblivious to what it does to his argument, Ray brags that Christians have subverted the Constitution’s prohibition of a religious requirement (Article VI) and made it impossible for an atheist to get elected to national office. But atheists have achieved political power in other countries. Polls within science show that education and prestige correlate with atheism. And I wonder how many of America’s self-made billionaires are atheists. Bill Gates is one, and his foundation, the world’s largest private foundation, is worth $50 billion and has made $55 billion in grants. He’s using it to improve health care and reduce poverty in the developing world.
Because atheists have no absolute basis for good and evil, and don’t believe in an afterlife, they therefore can’t be trusted with public office. Whether this ‘bias’ would stand up to today’s Supreme Court scrutiny, it clearly shows the intent of our founders.
What an obnoxious moron. “Our founders” were very clear about the role of religion in government, and they deliberately kept them separate. The U.S. Constitution admits of no supernatural grounding backing up the government, and it begins, We the people.
Your bias would indeed fail a Supreme Court test because the intent of the founders was clear: there can be no religious test for public office.
I can’t imagine Ray has thought this through. Despite evidence to the contrary, he has assurance from his deity that non-Christians are bad people. Is that how a society should work? If, decades from now, Ray’s group became a minority, would he still want a religious test imposed by the majority? Or does this only apply when he’s got the power? If that future doesn’t sound good, Ray, maybe you’re seeing the value in the founders’ wisdom.
Atheists, like the rest of us, are not morally “good.” Without an unwavering moral compass to guide him, an atheist president would be easily swayed by the winds of popular opinion and his own selfish desires—doing whatever was right in his own eyes.
Demonstrate this “unwavering moral compass.” Take a contentious social issue like abortion or same-sex marriage and show that all Christians get the same God-given response. Last time I checked, Christians were all over the map on social issues. Some churches have rainbow flags, and some have signs that say, “God hates fags.”
Ray undercuts his non-argument when he denounces the many corrupt Christian politicians:
And this from people who claim to believe in a Supreme Being who will one day hold them accountable!
So then he admits that being Christian is no guarantee of moral action. He doesn’t even attempt to show a correlation. ”Christianity makes you good” is just a bold claim supported by handwaving.
Ray drops in a predictable attack on Islam. His argument is basically: Say what you will about Christianity, it’s better than Islam! Uh, okay, and say what you will about dengue fever, it’s better than smallpox . . . but I’d rather have neither.
He frets that atheism’s attack on Christianity will create a vacuum for Islam:
By dismantling Christianity’s influence in our nation, [atheists] are preparing the way, and making every path straight [for Islam].
You don’t fight fire with fire; you fight it with water. Similarly, you don’t fight Muslim illogic with Christian illogic; you fight it with reason.
The Constitution is all the protection we need against excesses from either Islam or Christianity. Don’t mess with it.
Getting the Ray Comfort treatment
You might have seen Ray’s Ten Commandments challenge on his videos. He gets people to admit that they’ve stolen, lied, cursed, or lusted. You’d feel like you haven’t gotten your money’s worth if you read a Ray Comfort book and didn’t find this flabby challenge, but the pig book has it. He concludes it with this:
God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart. Do you still think that you are good?
Yes, pretty good, though not perfect. If not being perfect is a problem, talk to my Maker.
And Ray does nothing to untangle the problem of the incompatible versions of the Ten Commandments. Given how little he understands the issues he talks about, I’m guessing he doesn’t even know that there is more than one.
I hope you’re sitting down for Ray’s next argument
Atheists, how confident are you in your worldview? Prepare to have it rocked.
Using the infallible logical fallacy of the Argument from Incredulity, Ray gives an argument that he plans to stretch into his next movie, The Atheist Delusion (critiqued here). First, he points to a book and asks, Do you believe that this book could happen by accident? When you say no, he pounces: the content within human DNA is equal to that within a thousand ordinary books. How could DNA happened by accident?
Ray hammers home the punch line:
DNA’s complexity (for any sin-loving sinner who is honest) instantly shows the absurdity of atheism, which holds that the unspeakably amazing instruction book for life happened by chance.
Wow—where does one begin?
- It’s biologists who have useful opinions about the origin of DNA, not atheists.
- Sin isn’t relevant to any issue within biology.
- Neither atheism nor biology say that DNA “happened by chance.” Mutations happen by chance, but natural selection (also part of evolution) doesn’t.
- Evolution is the consensus of the scientists qualified to evaluate the evidence. Deal with it. I’d be an idiot to reject that consensus view based on any argument from a non-biologist like you.
- “Amazing” is no argument. That you’re amazed doesn’t mean that a Designer is behind it.
DNA isn’t a powerful argument against evolution or atheism. In fact, it alone is a powerful rebuttal to the Design Argument, the popular Christian argument that the apparent design we see in nature is evidence of God.
How well would Ray do on his own Ten Commandments challenge?
Ray keeps using his simple platitudes, like DNA happening by chance, because he’s kept the one-liners that work on people and discarded those that don’t (an example of artificial selection, by the way). He’s been corrected by the best—Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, and other biologists have pointed out his errors. And yet he pops back up like a Weeble with the same stupid arguments. (This explains my subtitle of this post series, “Why Pigs Will Fly Before Ray Comfort Writes an Honest Critique of Atheists.”)
Ray, what do you call someone who makes a mistake, has it corrected by a reliable authority, and then deliberately repeats that mistake? You him a liar.
Have you thought about how you would do on your Ten Commandments challenge, Ray? Does it worry you that you lie? Or maybe you have some rationalization like it’s okay to lie for Jesus or you can lie as long as you ask for forgiveness afterwards. Or maybe you reserve the right to declare who’s an authority based on how their arguments please you. One wonders how your argument about immoral atheists being unqualified for elected office stands now that you’ve shown that even you don’t feel bound by God’s moral commandments.
Ray then makes the Appeal to Authority fallacy as he points to Antony Flew, who was convinced by the DNA-is-complex argument and went from atheism to deism. (I care nothing about the musings of a non-biologist like Flew about evolution; more here). And then it’s the Christianity of Francis Collins, who was head of the Human Genome Project. (Collins will be quick to tell you that DNA alone gives overwhelming evidence for evolution.)
I think Ray needs to select his authorities with more care.
Concluded in part 4.
“If you demand expressions of religious faith from politicians,
you are just begging to be lied to.” . . .
If a politician can win your vote
simply by claiming that they are part of the religious majority,
what do you imagine they will do?
— Andrew Seidel
(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 6/27/16.)