This is the conclusion of my book review of Ray Comfort’s Fat Chance: Why Pigs Will Fly Before America Has an Atheist President. (Start with part 1 here.)
Is Ray’s pig book an evangelistic tool aimed at convincing atheists of the rightness of the Christian position? So far it doesn’t look like it. Let’s wrap up our critique.
Rays of brilliance . . . or something
I’ll wrap up with a few more claims from the book that I can’t let stand without rebuttal. Can we call these Rays of brilliance? Or maybe Ray’s brain farts.
(I’ll put the page numbers in where I don’t give a quote. Where I do give a quote, you can look it up in the book to find the context if necessary.)
- “Even today, the president is sworn in by raising his right hand toward Heaven and placing his left hand on a Bible while taking the oath of office, typically ending ‘So help me God.’”
“Typically” is right. There is no obligation to include any Bibles or God stuff.
- “Christians . . . know that no one is good in God’s eyes.”
Wrong again—read your Bible, Ray. Job was “blameless and upright” (Job 1:1). Noah was blameless and faithful (Genesis 6:9). The New Testament says, “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin” (1 John 5:18). Anyway, why fret about humans being imperfect? God made them that way—you should celebrate God’s perfect plan to make us imperfect.
- He compares God to a judge. If someone pays your fine, the judge lets you go. Jesus paid your fine, so God can dismiss your sins and declare you eligible for heaven (page 60).
Human judges are bound by a law they didn’t create. God as a judge can simply dismiss the charges or change the rules. (Why must the atheist explain to the Christian how omnipotence works?)
It’s true that someone else can pay your fine, but someone else can’t do your time. That’s not justice. Imagine that someone served a full term in prison and then new evidence overturned that conviction. No one thinks that since the term was served, there’s no need to find the actual perpetrator or that, once they do, that time served counts for anything.
- Sir Isaac Newton said, “Atheism is so senseless and odious to mankind that it never had many professors.”
Have Newton live today; he’d be an atheist. Consider how dramatically society has changed since then—Newton’s position at Cambridge had a faith requirement (that had to be waived since his faith was heretical). No scientist at a legitimate institution has a faith requirement today. Christian scholars are sometimes hobbled by what they must sign at Christian universities (more here and here).
- Atheists don’t understand Christianity. They think that Christians strive to be good to earn their place in heaven (page 61).
Doing good works is indeed a way to get into heaven. Read the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31–46). More here.
- “[Another] reason atheists aren’t trusted with high political office is that they (by definition) are foolish. While many deny it, because it’s an intellectual embarrassment, they believe the scientific impossibility that nothing created everything.”
It’s the Christians who are obliged to believe things, Ray. Atheists simply have no god belief; they don’t have obligatory beliefs about cosmology.
Science has no consensus of why we had our Big Bang, so don’t tell me that cosmologists all believe that nothing created everything. Furthermore, when there is a consensus, you can be sure that I won’t be getting it from you.
- “The existence of God can be proven reasonably, simply, and scientifically—to those who are reasonable.”
Another fallacy! This time, it’s No True Scotsman. Every reasonable person agrees with Ray, and if you don’t, then you’re not reasonable!
I can understand Ray’s motivation, though—it’s a lot easier to simply make statements like this and ignore that whole evidence-and-good-arguments thing. What a hassle that is.
- “Count how many of [atheists’] lawsuits are against Muslims, Hindus, Jews, or Buddhists. They are only against Christians. This is because the US is soaked in a Christian heritage, and that’s what is held dear by so many.”
The lawsuits are filed where there are problems. If they’re all against Christians (I suspect instead that they mostly are), then maybe that’s because it’s the Christians who are crossing the line. And Christian heritage isn’t the problem, the problem is unjustified Christian privilege.
The ACLU defends freedom of speech, regardless of whose rights have been trampled on.
- “In truth, these anti-Christian atheists have brought disdain on themselves.”
Disdain because we defend the First Amendment? Disdain for speaking the truth like Martin Luther King? That’s good company to be in.
- “They are the playground bully, preying on Christians—those they consider to be weak-minded and meek—knowing that they will turn the other cheek and not pick up a machete.”
Ray imagines that all Christians are cut from the same cloth. I’m not sure he wants to be lumped in with the hateful pastors saying that the Orlando gay-nightclub shooter who killed 49 people didn’t finish the job or that Orlando was due to God. Consider the pushback from Christians annoyed when their privilege is challenged and then tell me that Christians always turn the other cheek. As for picking up machetes, that unfortunately brings to mind the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which Christian Hutus killed an estimated 70% of that country’s Tutsi minority—about a million people. Machetes were a primary weapon.
- In an interview with TheBlaze, Ray said, “Having to prove the existence of God to an atheist is like having to prove the existence of the sun, at noon on a clear day. Yet millions are embracing the foolishness of atheism, particularly in the United States.”
And again, Ray gives us nothing to respond to. The argument is: God exists! He just does!
- “Most American believe we were created by God with certain unalienable rights—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—and that our freedoms come from God, not from the government. Yet atheists are attempting to take away our most precious freedom—the freedom of religion—through an abuse of the court system.”
I guess “abuse of the court system” means “filing lawsuits to roll back Christian privilege, which is wrong because it makes me sad.” As for unalienable rights, keep in mind that that’s from the Declaration of Independence, a historic document, rather than the Constitution, which is the law. You can imagine whatever you want about what God provides, but in this country, the Constitution calls the tune, not the Bible.
- “[It is] a bitter blow that [American] liberties are being attacked by atheists whose hatred for God outweighs any respect for those ideas or any love and concern for their fellow Americans.”
I hate God like you hate Zeus—they’re both just mythology. Show me where your rights (and unwarranted privilege is not a right) are under attack, and I stand with you. You’ve not shown a single example.
Ray’s final word
Not that Ray has been subtle or unclear, but let’s close with this attack on the idea of an atheist president.
To give the most powerful position in the world to one who doesn’t even have a moral rudder—but who alone determines right and wrong for himself—would be the height of foolishness and lead to devastating consequences for our great nation. So nowadays, if someone is an out-of-the-closet atheist who wants to run for political office, he may as well change his name to Judas Benedict Arnold and let it be known that he’s a pot-smoking, divorced, homosexual Muslim rapist.
“To give the most powerful position in the world to one who doesn’t even have a moral rudder”? You mean someone like Donald Trump, who claims to be a Christian? Your fellow evangelists have destroyed your argument for me by voting for that.
This handwaving has all been slapped down above. Atheists get their morality from the same place Christians do (Christians may imagine a supernatural grounding that they can access, but Ray has done nothing to show that it exists). There are good and bad atheists, as is the case with Christians. Ray is right that Christian voters have unfounded biases against atheists. That will hurt atheist candidates just like it has hurt groups tarred with the “Other” label in the past—homosexuals and Muslims, for example.
The atheist community will probably advance in the public mind as the percentage of Nones continues to grow. Think of the progress made by the homosexual community. Perhaps the even-larger atheist community will follow a similar path, and hopefully more quickly.
As for Ray’s pig book, I’m amazed that he can consider this mindless and insulting tract to be an evangelistic tool.
who you live in fear of offending?
Aren’t we all disappointing enough people in reality?
— Bill Maher
(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 7/4/16.)