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Saturday, June 14, 2008

I am apparently NOT the centre of the universe

Reader-submitted question: Are you a Ray Comfort fan?


I sort of see why you might think that, though. Uriel has mentioned him a few times.

Ray Comfort is the host of The Way of the Master, a Christian evangelism show. He is also known for street preaching: he hangs around with a TV camera, ambushes unsuspecting passersby, and asks them to answer a few simple questions: if his religion is true, will they personally suffer all of the torments he suspects they deserve? Their responses are broadcast on TV for Ray's fans to cackle at.

Ray's blog has become a hangout for fundamentalist Christians and atheists. Yes, it's an odd group. They try to convert or de-convert each other. Some are really vicious: mostly the Christians, who threaten their critics with eternal damnation.

I almost never go to his blog, but when I do, I almost always end up doing a Uriel post because I become so annoyed with his fans. Uriel is not Christian -- she is a member of a splinter sect that meets only on the Internet and prays together on message boards -- but she has a lot in common with Ray's fans. Well, she's currently having a crisis of faith that was brought on when she showed kindness to a traveling missionary, but I suspect she'll find her way eventually. Actually, I got the idea to write about the missionary by thinking about Ray's fans: would they convert to another religion just because someone told them to?

However, I have developed a new appreciation for Ray himself. I am starting to think that he is a satirist. I haven't been to his blog in a while, but I see that he has just posted a how-to guide for spotting a con:

  • "Blind the simple with pseudo-eloquence";
  • When you ask for ONE transitional fossil, complain because there are too many examples;
  • Use a unique definition of "transitional fossil" and "survive"; and
  • Insist that even if all of the evidence points to evolution, it is really proof of creation.
As I write this, no comments have been posted on this particular post, but it's just because Ray moderates comments. By the time you click that link, there will probably be dozens of responses, about half thanking him for proving the atheists wrong, a quarter patiently explaining why he's made a mistake, and a quarter explaining his mistake much less patiently.

I was planning to answer this question today anyway, but finding this post at the top of his blog this morning is a perfect coincidence. (Wait -- Ray probably doesn't believe in coincidences.) I really do think he might be a satirist. He thinks people should complain because there are TOO MANY fossils?

No, he can't be serious. This has to be a joke. His fans just haven't figured it out yet.


Anonymous said...

Of course, the anti-evolution silliness is dumb. However, I really appreciate the street evangelism/confrontation they do, which makes people to confront the real ten commandments. That's a gift. Anyone who helps you see the truth gives you a gift.

Torq said...


I wonder if you can really call those people who strut about insisting that everyone who disagrees with them is headed straight to hell vicious. It would be if you believed in hell, and they might even be trying to be vicious. It's just sort of like threatening to give someone forty lashes with your imaginary flail.

Of course if viciousness is to be determined by the intention of the one who initiates the thought and not by the one receiving it than it would still seem to be vicious. Of course, at that point we would need to consider if the person who is actually making the claim is trying to be vicious or if they are actually trying to do the other person a favor, (which I am sort of thinking is the intention of most who take this particular line).

It would seem either way that we shouldn't really think of them as being vicious hate mongers. Either they are threatening us with a joke or they are trying to help, albeit in an admittedly misguided fashion. I might be mistaken here, not having spent more time than it took me to write this thinking about it, but it's a thought.

Anonymous said...

I think Ray proved he was a joke when he started claiming that the shape of a banana proved the existence and benevolence of God...


Megan said...

Not only the shape, Ben. Bananas are colour-coded, so you know when they're ripe. They are tasty and easy to open. Naturally, this is why the existence of coconuts proves there is no God. Therefore, there can be no such thing as coconuts.

Ray's biggest problem is that he really appears to believe that if anything in the Bible is not true, that means the entire thing is wrong. He refuses to accept that anything in it might have been intended as metaphor, or even as what people in that region honestly believed even though they were mistaken. He's willing to twist himself into knots to defend the absolute truth of everything in there.

He takes the same approach to science: he's constantly searching for one tiny thing that will bring the whole system down. That is, unless I'm right about him being a satirist. In that case, I feel a bit sorry for his fans who lap up every word he says.

There's a Uriel post in there somewhere, I think.

Anonymous said...

I think you have "hit the nail on the head." Ray's problem is a problem he has given to himself: his artificial problem of justifying all the "scientific" and "historical" implications of the Bible.
For my part, I expect some poetry in my religion. Obviously, the writers of the Bible expect some poetry, too. It's LITERATURE, for God's sake!
Nonetheless, I'm still a Ray Comfort fan. Bananas may not disprove the evolution of the species, but they certainly display the goodness of God. They are delicious!


Anonymous said...